Ireland: Dreams come true!

Ireland and heaven
Ireland and heaven

This is post #2 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here is post #1. 

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“They say the clouds are lower in Ireland…I say Ireland is closer to Heaven.”–Michael Vatis

Tags for our luggage
Tags for our luggage

I’d been dreaming of and praying to go to Ireland for years. I was so excited that my youngest daughter Leah was going, too–thankful that her boss said yes to letting her get the time off work!

I found these cute purple tags, “Adventure Awaits,” to put on our black rollerboard luggage to help identify them on the plane. Since this was an international flight, I didn’t want to take a chance on checking our luggage and them getting lost! For the plane, you’re allowed one small piece of luggage and one personal item. I bought us the rollerboards and backpacks for our “personal item” for the plane. Leah was concerned that they wouldn’t allow us to take the backpacks on board (I packed light, but they were still stuffed!). But I used to be a flight attendant, so I knew how to push them under the seat good! They barely fit on a couple of flights, but they did!

our backpacks & rollerboards for plane
our backpacks & rollerboards for plane

There are some great videos on YouTube that teach you how to roll clothes for packing. You can choose to use the packing cubes or not. I learned as a flight attendant how to roll clothes and to pack “light and tight,” but I still packed too many clothes on this trip. You really don’t need as much as you think you do! And you might want to save room for souvenirs for family and friends!

When you’re going on a long, international trip like this, you really don’t want to be lugging around a bunch of suitcases with you wherever you go! We were staying at one hotel and various B & B’s (Bed and Breakfast places) throughout the southwestern part of Ireland, and renting a mid-size rental car with limited room, so I didn’t want to deal with heavy luggage for a week. As it was, our backpacks were heavy enough, straining our necks and backs a little. But I’d made the right decision to NOT check luggage.

 Best travel tip: pack light, take lots of pics, and have fun!

Pack light, take pics & have fun!
Pack light, take lots of pics & have fun!

I’m a very organized person. I researched a LOT for this trip, reading about traveling to Ireland on Trip Advisor, blogs, and articles. I printed out many things before the trip to be as prepared as possible:

  • vouchers for “Park, Ride and Fly” where we were parking Leah’s car while we were gone (a shuttle takes you to the airport nearby);
  • the Great Value Vacation itinerary for the week-long trip;
  • vouchers for our one hotel night at Bunratty Castle Hotel and each B & B where we’d be staying each night;
  • our plane flights’ schedule and e-tickets;
  • information about our car rental at Dan Dooley;
  • conversions of kilometers into miles for driving and Euros into American dollars;
  • the most common Ireland road signs’ meanings;
  • directions to some places;
  • and a list of suggested places to visit for each city.

I put everything that I printed out into this pretty floral folder. It was like my Ireland “Bible.”

my Ireland folder
my Ireland folder

I bought Leah and me the Kangaroo brand, waterproof, passport/money holders on Amazon. I loved them; they worked great and I highly recommend them. Just a warning, there’s lots of pickpockets and scam artists in Europe, so you have to be careful and alert. I highly recommend watching YouTube videos about pickpockets and crime in Ireland/Europe, as well as how to drive in Ireland. (There are so many round-abouts, and they can be scary with all the traffic!) I watched hours of these types of videos before traveling on our trip!

I didn’t wear any expensive jewelry traveling to Ireland, to avoid possibly being robbed. I bought a $1 ring and wore that as my fake “wedding band”!

fake wedding band
fake wedding band

The Kangaroo passport/money holders are a lot more secure because you wear them over your neck (and the length is adjustable). The RFID Blocking system will guard your personal data by protecting your cards and passport from unauthorized scanning. I loved all its pockets to keep different things inside. It also had a cute, little pouch to keep your phone earbuds in! Although flight attendants hand out sleeping masks and ear buds on the flights, you’ll want your own earbuds for the plane for your music, a podcast, or a movie to watch to pass the time when you’re not sleeping. 

passport-money holder
a great passport-money holder

Usually I fly Delta Airlines when I travel, but for this trip I had to fly both American and Delta. We had numerous flights going to Ireland and back. You can see how tired Leah was before we even got there in the last pic below!

One of my biggest concerns was her getting severe jet lag, as she had never been on an international flight before. Ours was six hours going there, plus all the other flights we took. While we both had jet lag, it wasn’t severe as I feared and we both adjusted to the six-hour time difference there pretty fast!

Travel tip: eat a light, good meal before flying, take snacks, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other liquids (try to avoid lots of caffeine, sodas, or alcohol, which can further dehydrate you!). Some tips for overcoming jet lag are to keep drinking lots of water, stay out in the daylight and active (like visiting the sites), stay on a regular meal schedule, and try not to take long naps, so you’re adjusting to the new time difference.

 

Leah Jones, her first international flight!
Leah Jones, her first international flight!

 

I'm so happy to be going to Ireland with Leah!
I’m so happy to be going to Ireland with Leah!

 

Leah & me before our international flight
Leah & me before our international flight

 

Leah exhausted after all the flights
Leah exhausted after all the flights

I felt so bad for Leah when she was so tired (in the pic below), before we went on the international flight. But I knew that after we arrived, drank some water and ate, and rested that she’d be okay and we’d have fun. And we did! I had prayed at home that she would sleep on the international flight and bought her a soft neck pillow, which really helped her.

I also bought her and me a warm hoodie (planes can get cold) and warm socks. Flight attendants no longer dole out blankets to keep passengers warm, as it’s unsanitary (germs spread). It’s important to get up and walk the aisles on long flights like this to avoid blot clots from sitting too long. I’m happy to say that Leah slept some on the international flight. (I did not!) I was just glad that Leah did.

But I love flying. During the flight, I prayed, thought about many things in my life, and journaled. As a flight attendant, it never ceased to amaze me when the plane took off or landed–the creativity and ingenuity of man, who is made in God’s creative image. Each time I fly and look out at the clouds, I can’t help but think of God who made the clouds, the sky, and everything.

I love flying
I love flying

When we arrived, the first thing I had to do was get more cash out of the ATM at the Shannon airport. I’d read that the ATM’s have a better conversion rate than the exchange place (also located in the airport). The Euro is stronger than the American Dollar (one Euro equals 1.16 American Dollars), but it’s pretty close. The Euros come in bills, such as 10’s, 20’s, and 50’s as well as in coins (1 Euro, 2 Euro, and there’s also cents like we have here). It reminds me a little of Monopoly money.

I did use my business Visa bank card a few times while there, but you will need to let your bank know about your travel plans before you leave. I had to fill out a short “Travel Advisory” form at the bank. You don’t want to take a ton of cash with you, any more than you would here in the States. Most business places take Visa bank cards and you see ATM’s frequently, but most places don’t traveler’s cheques.

Euros
Euros

Then I had to go to Dan Dooley’s car rental to pick up our rental car. This had all been taken care of for the most part by renting the car online, when I paid for the vacation package. Since most of Ireland has manual cars, I had to request an automatic car. You will need to ask if you want an automatic, or they give you a manual one!

This was my first time renting a car anywhere, so this made me very happy. It was a black, automatic, mid-size car that looked similar to the car I drive at home. At first, at the airport Leah and I thought it was a manual. It just looked different than American cars and it’s a little hard to get used to switching gears, especially to neutral or reverse. The rental car was almost brand-new and drove GREAT; Leah and I wished we could take it home! You can see it in the pic below with Leah on the ferry.

Our rental car and Leah on the ferry to Kerry
Our rental car and Leah on the ferry to Kerry

The car key was also a little odd-looking: like a small steak knife! It had a button to push for the key to come out, and two buttons to unlock or lock the door. It fit perfectly inside a small pocket in my passport/money holder!

Rental car key
Rental car key

I had to practice a little in the parking lot before driving, as in Ireland they drive on the left side of the road and in the right front seat. I was scared of driving on the left side and Leah was terrified of me driving, but I did it with God’s and Leah’s help and the GPS! It was weird, but I feel I did pretty good, having never done it before! I used an app called Waze on my iPhone, which I’d read about before going over there. It did great!

Leah wasn't too sure about me driving in Ireland!
Leah wasn’t too sure about me driving in Ireland!

I just decided to for it and drove out on the highway using Waze to get to Tesco, which is like Ireland’s Walmart. That was our first stop! But before that, we had our first coffee in Ireland at a restaurant in the airport, which Dooley’s staff recommended.

I wanted to get a pre-paid, basic cell phone at Tesco as a backup GPS, but the ones with Wifi were almost $90 (instead of $20 for the basic ones), so I decided not to do that, after all. Instead, I used my iPhone with the Waze app and it worked wonderfully the entire week! I’d read on Trip Advisor posts that this app does even better than Google Maps in Ireland.

After Tesco, we drove to Bunratty to the only hotel we stayed at during our week-long trip, Bunratty Castle Hotel. It is beautiful and the staff are so polite and welcoming. I loved the cute little, white window in our hotel room.

They served a full Irish breakfast the next morning in the dining room, and it was delicious. I’d been anticipating this from looking at videos of it on YouTube. It was a wonderful place to stay and I highly recommend. Five stars for me!

our first coffee in Shannon, Ireland!
our first coffee in Shannon, Ireland!

 

Tesco is like Ireland's Walmart--our first stop!
Tesco is like Ireland’s Walmart–our first stop!

 

Bunratty Castle hotel room
Bunratty Castle hotel room

 

Bunratty Castle hotel hall to dining room
Bunratty Castle hotel hall to dining room

 

cute window in hotel room
cute window in hotel room

 

Full Irish breakfast--yum!
Full Irish breakfast–yum!

 

yogurt with granola
yogurt with granola

 

hot, creamy coffee--oh, yes!
hot, creamy coffee–oh, yes!

Ireland has many castles and castle ruins. Bunratty Castle is right by Bunratty Castle hotel, where Leah and I stayed the first night in Ireland, and we toured that on our second day there. It isn’t for the faint of heart; there’s lots of steep, winding, narrow stairs! It was hard on my knees! But Leah and I made it to the top of the roof, which has an incredible view. In my next post in this Ireland Blog Series, I’ll share more about that!

Leah by Bunratty Castle
Leah by Bunratty Castle
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My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland!

Ireland Blog Series #1

This is post #1 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah.

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible. 

“Ireland, once you live there, you’re seduced by it.”–Frank McCourt

My precious daughter Leah & I at Cliffs of Moher
My precious daughter Leah & I at Cliffs of Moher

I’ve dreamed for years of going to Ireland. Maybe the idea first started when I read about my teen-year heroine Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind, whose father Gerald was from Ireland and who had a strong Irish brogue, so Scarlett was Irish, too. Or maybe it’s the breathtakingly beautiful pictures of the Cliffs of Moher, which I longed to see. Or possibly it was from hearing fun Irish music, like the jigs Leah plays on her violin.

Me at Torc Waterfall stone bridge
Me at Torc Waterfall stone bridge

Whatever the reason, Ireland has been calling my heart. So I began to pray for God to make a way for me to visit Ireland. My daughter Leah wanted to go, too. And God did it! I give Jesus Christ all the glory for this amazing opportunity! I told Leah that this proves that hard work and faith in Jesus can make your dreams come true! Yours can, too!

August 2018 box with my book, Walking With God!
Gods’ Glory Box items for August 2018, with my book, Walking With God

How? Through the profit of selling 7,700 copies of my book on prayer, Walking With God, to the Christian organization God’s Glory Box, I was able to buy a vacation package for two through Great Value Vacations.

This package included lodging for a week at the beautiful Bunratty Castle Hotel and lovely, immaculately-clean B & B’s of our choice, the car rental for a week from Dan Dooley’s car rental, and the plane flights from New York to Shannon, Ireland and back from Dublin, Ireland to New York. The flights from Kansas City (where I live) to New York and New York to Kansas City were separately priced.

Leah at pretty spot where we stopped at Killarney National Park

Leah and I went for seven days and had an amazing time! Ireland is GORGEOUS! I miss it and wish I was still there!

Two of the main things I wanted to see was the Cliffs of Moher near Galway and Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park. These beautiful sites surpassed my imagination. The Cliffs of Moher were both mine and Leah’s favorite place.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

 

The breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
The breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

 

me at Cliffs of Moher with coffee
me at Cliffs of Moher with coffee

 

A beautiful pic of Leah at the Cliffs of Moher
A beautiful pic of Leah with coffee at the Cliffs of Moher

 

Leah at Torc Waterfall Killarney National Park
Leah at Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park

Another thing I wanted to see was Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney. This gorgeous Gothic-style cathedral was built in 1853 and has beautiful stained glass windows and awe-inspiring architecture. It is the Roman Catholic cathedral in County Kerry.

It was designed by the renown English architect Augustus Welby Pugin. The Great Famine in Ireland and lack of funds meant the work had to be stopped several times, and when it was recommenced, the interior decorations finished by James Joseph McCarthy.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney, Ireland

 

Stained glass windows in St. Mary's Cathedral
Stained glass windows in St. Mary’s Cathedral

 

Altar at St. Mary's Cathedral
Altar at St. Mary’s Cathedral

It is very true that Ireland is SO green and that is why it’s called the “Emerald Isle.” It rains frequently there, thus all the greenery. 

Most of the eastern half of the country has between 750 and 1000 millimetres (mm) of rainfall in the year. Rainfall in the west generally averages between 1000 and 1250 mm. In many mountainous districts rainfall exceeds 2000 mm per year.  Rainfall ranges from about 151 days a year along the east and southeast coasts, to about 225 days a year in parts of the west.

Light rain on windshield in mountains
Light rain on windshield in mountains

 

Ireland is so green due to all the rain
Ireland is so green due to all the rain

I prayed before we went that it wouldn’t rain, at least hard, while we were there because I would be driving and don’t like driving in rain or bad weather. It did rain lightly there every day for short periods of time, but the sun quickly came out. As one couple on a shuttle to the airport said, “The sun (the Son!) followed us.” Leah even spotted a rainbow one day, which I had prayed would happen if it rained, before going over there!

I had bought me and Leah lightweight raincoats on sale (hers, new, at Amazon and mine at a thrift store) before we went over there due to the rain. They came in handy a few times when it softly rained and they worked perfectly! This and our rolling luggage, backpacks, and hiking/walking boots were a great investment for the trip!

I didn’t want to chance our luggage getting lost going on an international flight, so we didn’t check baggage and took the backpacks and rollerboards on the planes. I tried to pack “light and tight,” but they were still stuffed, so I had to push them under the seat to make them fit. Having been a flight attendant helps!

our backpacks & rollerboards for plane
our backpacks & rollerboards for plane

 

Leah in her blue raincoat--it brings out her blue eyes!
Leah in her cute, lightweight blue raincoat that we bought for this trip–it brings out her blue eyes!

 

A powerful pic: Leah looking at Atlantic Ocean in her raincoat
A powerful pic: Leah looking at Atlantic Ocean in her raincoat

 

Me in a cute raincoat I bought at the thrift store on sale for this trip, in Galway at lunch
Me in a cute raincoat I bought at the thrift store on sale for this trip, in Galway at lunch

 

Me looking at Atlantic Ocean in my raincoat
Me looking at Atlantic Ocean in my raincoat

Pictures can’t do it justice and words aren’t enough to describe how gorgeous Ireland is! Ireland has breathtakingly beautiful mountains, the Atlantic ocean, lakes, waterfalls, trees, and flowers! I loved it and can’t wait to go back! Leah wants to go back, too–next time to see Giant’s Causeway in northern Ireland!

Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean near Galway

 

Atlantic Ocean beach near Galway
Atlantic Ocean beach near Galway

 

mountains in Killarney National Park
mountains in Killarney National Park

I’ll be sharing more blogs and pictures from this trip, so stay tuned here at BethJones.net. Please like and share with your family, friends, and peers. Cheers! 

Leah & me at the gorgeous Cliffs of Moher, Ireland: Dreams do come true!
Leah & me at the gorgeous Cliffs of Moher, Ireland: Dreams do come true!
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The rains of life

rain
rain. Image source: Google

“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” (John Updike)

Today has been another rainy day in Butler, Missouri (a suburb of Kansas City).

As I got my hair cut and highlighted at my hairdresser Yvette’s salon, The Y Factor Hair and Nail Salon, I looked out her store’s big, front window with the twinkling, colored lights at the rain pouring down. It’s been raining a lot lately here in Missouri. 

In the Bible, rain is often associated with God’s blessing. A few verses about rain are:

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the LORD, have created it.” (Isaiah 45:8)

“He provides rain for the earth; he sends water on the countryside.” (Job 5:10)

“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.” (Joel 2:23)

Too much rain can be a curse, though, such as when the great flood came, killing everyone and everything on earth, except for faithful Noah and his family.

 For forty days the roaring floods prevailed, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the water rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely upon it;  until finally the water covered all the high mountains under the whole heaven, standing twenty-two feet and more above the highest peaks.  And all living things upon the earth perished—birds, domestic and wild animals, and reptiles and all mankind— everything that breathed and lived upon dry land.  All existence on the earth was blotted out—man and animals alike, and reptiles and birds. God destroyed them all, leaving only Noah alive, and those with him in the boat.  And the water covered the earth 150 days. God didn’t forget about Noah and all the animals in the boat.” (Genesis 7:17-24 – 8:1, TLB)

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Into each life some rain must fall.”

In this life we face troubles.

  • Marriage problems;
  • Relationship conflicts;
  • Disobedient children;
  • Financial crises;
  • Problems at work;
  • Health issues;
  • Ministry struggles;
  • and much more. 

But through it all, the “rains of life,” God never leaves us or forsakes us. The sun (the SON) will shine again. 

Jesus Christ oil painting
Jesus Christ oil painting

 

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, NASB)

 

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