After being separated for nearly seven months, Jason and I were keen to take a family vacation and spend some quality time with each other and the kids. We decided Ireland would be a good choice as we’d both been wanting to go and it’s not too far from home. With two kids in tow, driving is always our preference but we weren’t loving the idea of seven days on the road in a stick shift with no cruise control. So a week before we left, we found ourselves the proud new owners of a Volvo XC90 complete with a 15″ DVD player for the kids.
We loaded the car up the night before as we had a 4am departure time. Snacks were packed, new movies purchased, and all our travel paperwork was sorted. Jason went to warm up the car only to return with a look of panic on his face. The car wouldn’t start. Neat. Apparently, we didn’t fully shut the back door when packing the night before so the battery was drained. And since our shiny new car is a diesel, it needed an extra boost to get up and running. On top of the that, the DVD player wouldn’t even turn on despite it working the day before. It was shaping up to be a magnificent trip and we hadn’t even woken the kids up yet.
Finally, he got the car started and we were off. We had a rough idea of where we were headed but hadn’t really mapped out the best route. We suddenly found ourselves in the town of Betws-y-Coed where we had stayed two summers back when my mom visited. This caused us some concern as we hadn’t anticipated a scenic tour through Wales but we just kept trucking as our ferry departure time was looming. This particular route may have been shorter in miles but it was only because we drove straight through the mountains (and I use this term loosely as a former resident of Washington state). The roads wound all around in addition to up and down and poor Lena was ready to puke. Her face actually turned green at one point. We finally made it to the ferry and after four hours in the car, we were really glad we chose the speed boat.Once we docked in Dublin, we set out to find our hotel. Yet again, our fancy new in-car GPS system failed us miserably. Dublin is not a large city yet we managed to drive around for THREE hours in search of the Ashling Hotel. We even asked several people for directions and they either didn’t know where it was, couldn’t understand our English, or were far too drunk to even form a coherent sentence. By the time we finally reached our destination, we had spent nearly seven hours in the car and two hours on a boat. Needless to say, we were all a bit grumpy. Lena also managed to lock herself in the bathroom of the hotel approximately five minutes after walking through the door. So the first day of our trip ended with room service and a drink for Jason!The next day, we got our act together a bit more and made a trip to the Dublin Zoo. It was just a short walk from our hotel and Aksel fell asleep on the way over. I was in my element with all the pretty things to take pictures of and Lena was glowing from all the one-on-one attention she got from Jason.Jason got the giggles when he saw this “who dung it” sign and swore they were trying to pass off a human turd as coming from an animal. He could not get over the fact they had a display box of poop and then, of course, “who dung it” became our motto for the trip.Lena has always loved elephants and we were lucky enough to be there at feeding time. She has also assigned a favorite animal to the rest of us and isn’t bothered about whether it’s true or not. My favorite is a giraffe (this is true) while Jason apparently likes monkeys (who knew) and Aksel is obsessed with hippos (Lena fact). There was lots of squealing when we came across each of these animals as she wanted to be sure we saw our “flavorites.”Aksel decided to wake up for the tail end of our visit and seemed quite intrigued by everything. He really wanted to crawl on the ground and wasn’t very pleased when we didn’t accommodate his request.
Lena hijacked the stroller and decided she needed a nap so Aksel and Jason got some quality time with the baby carrier. This is probably one of my favorite pictures of the two of them and I’m not mad about those boots either. My guys are both pretty handsome.