Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Inman's Come to Visit!

The Inmans are finally in town!  And what an amazing way to end our four years in Ireland!  Mom, Dad, and Rene were in town for 10 days and left just 4 days before we moved overseas ourselves.  Having them here so close to the end allowed us to visit all of our favorite spots one last time, showing them the city that we have come to know and love so much.  As always when with the Inman bunch, laughter was an essential ingredient that made the sights and road trip one not to be missed or forgotten!  

The trip began long before the Inmans ever stepped foot on Irish soil.  Flying over the pond, mom made a lifetime of memories for Rene, her 'personal assistant' who attended to her every need during the 7 hour flight.  With flying sleeping masks, handfuls and trayfuls of goodies, and sobs of joy over the soon-to-be prospects of seeing her kids, the journey was one of remarkability!  We didn't expect such a tearful welcome, but we gladly embraced it because of the woman whose tears they were!!  The adventures immediately began while trying to find 'espresso-less coffee'.  Unfortunately, no Tom's Place, drip coffee could be found for the week.  Espresso with a lot of water would have to do. We thought a simple shuttle ride to the car-rental would be a non-eventful task, but to our enjoyment we were sorely mistaken!  One of the many classic mom-quotes of the trip came as she curiously stared at the shuttle driver and said with excitement, "You look Irish!" His charitable and perfect response was, "You do know you're in Ireland, don't you!"  A fabulous start, wouldn't you say?!  

That day we enjoyed the beauty of Dun Laoghaire.  The pier was hopping with a carnival.  For dinner that night as we offered up a few ideas for restaurants to eat at mom says, "I want to go to the Imperial Palace."  To which Ross replies, "Mom, I think that's a Chinese restaurant in Santee..."  Well we didn't find the Imperial Palace, but we did have some tasty food :)

To our delight, the next day we were able to introduce the Inman's to our Dublin Vineyard family.  Coincidentally, there was a BBQ at the Vineyard Centre where food, Irish music (thanks to the lovely Breeda Mullens), a broom-dance (with Suzanne and Pauline swinging in full force), and an international animal sound game broke out!  The Inmans fit right in with our Irish family!  That night mom and dad moved to The Kingston Hotel in Dun Laoghaire.  This was a MUCH better fit of a hotel, so wonderful that mom declares about her new, ocean-front room, "Oh my gosh, it's like an old, old European hotel!" And Rene remarks, "Mom, that's exactly what it is!" We were just glad it surpassed her expectations!

The next day we headed off to Connemara, a peninsula on the West coast filled with a rugged and beautiful landscape.  On the way we stopped by Galway, a seaside town that has a beautiful Cathedral and colorful buildings.  Seeing the sights along the way was even exciting, especially all those castles.  At one point, mom yells out, "Oh my gosh!  Look at the castle, it's so pretty!" To which Ross replies, Mom, that's a factory.  They probably make coal."  You Irish are impressive!  You even make your factory plants beautiful!  

After many, and I mean many, tourist shops and a yummy lunch in Galway we head back on the road toward our B and B in Clifden, Connemara.  As we are driving I (Suzanne) point out the yellow flowers  that grow rampant in Ireland.  I was saying that they're actually a weed that smells exactly like piƱa colada. I was excitedly telling them how delicious they smelled.  5 minutes pass, dead silence in the car... and mom spots some in the distance and yells, "I want to stop and get some of that weed!"  The car erupts in laughter, seriously it's so good I couldn't make it up if I tried!

Our B and B was adorable with a great view of the water.  We enjoyed dinner and live music in Clifden's town centre and then crashed for the night.  The next day, we made our way to Kylemore Abbey, a stunning and breathtaking home right on a lake, with equally impressive gardens.  It is at this sentimental location that Ross forever endeared himself to our hearts while delightfully entertaining us with his midge (Irish mosquitos) impression.  

The next day, we drove to the much anticipated Ashford Castle for some tea.  It was a beautiful castle, definitely meeting up to our expectations!  From there we headed to Doolin, Co. Clare through the small town of Cong.  We could not get enough of the town's sign, "Keep Cong Tidy".  Now it might not sound funny, but oh let me correct you!  Imagine Ross repetitively saying it in a Japanese accent with every drive by and you'll catch a glimpse of the state of laughter we were in.  The road down to Doolin was quite treacherous.  As we went, Ross described it perfectly as he shouted out, "I feel like I'm trapped in a freakin' video game!  The car died and it won't start... A semi... Look out for the logs!"  Oh honey, you so perfectly put into words what we're all thinking.   

Doolin was as beautiful as always with great live, traditional music at the local pub.  Unfortunately, the Cliffs of Moher were socked in the next day when we were heading back to Dublin.  On the car ride home, as always delightful conversations filled the time.  Being done with Graduate School, a big topic of conversation we've been having frequently is when we're going to start having kids. We were chatting about how hard it is to raise kids.  So Ross asked, "So would you recommend having kids then, mom?"  To which the funniest, most random simile was shared, "Ehhh, I'm not sure. But I felt that way about granite. I mean I loooooove my granite countertops. It's not like I'm going to put Buddha and fruit on it or anything...but I really like them."  Huh.  Classic.

So with many occasions of laughter, we finally made it back home.  The next day was the BIG day!  Ross' commencement ceremony!  What a joy and delight it was to watch my sweet husband receive his PhD.  All his incredibly hard work, finally culminating with what was a wonderful celebration.  He accomplished it with such grace and determination.  I couldn't be prouder.  We celebrated with a delicious dinner at Rustic Stone and drinks with Mark Walsh at the Library Bar.

The last two days of the trip we soaked up the sights Dublin from the Hop on Hop off bus tour.  We enjoyed fish and chips and the local drink of choice, Guinness.  What a delight to share our lives with those we love.  We are so thankful for the sacrifices that were taken to have the trip made possible.  And we are overwhelmingly thankful for the people we shared it with.  Memories were made that will forever be shared with much joy and a many good, hearty laughs.  

Dun Laoghaire pier

I still can't believe this was at our doorstep!

Pier carnival 

Sibling love

So glad to have them here!

People's Park-- hard apple cider

Galway City

Cathedral in Galway

Main shopping district in Galway


Enjoying Connemara

He loves his sissy

Castle on an island

Kylemore Abbey

Beautiful manicured gardens

She sure loved this wall :)

Connemara drive at sunset

Seriously?!  The drive from Clifden to Ashford Castle

He loves his momma!

Ashford Castle

Sweet sisters

Tea in the Drawing Room

Our favorite Irish castle

This stud in his best attire

One good looking graduate

It's official!  The diploma is in hand

President Higgins, Ireland's president received an honorary doctorate

I couldn't be more proud!

Ross and Tim

President Higgins and Ross 

Enjoying the Georgian homes from the Hop on Hop off bus

The famous Leo Burdocks!

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Long Room Library


View of Trinity College from Ross' office

Well done my love!

Irish dinner & dance show

Irish dance
Tea with these lovely ladies at the Shelbourne Hotel
Delightful desserts

Love this lady with stach