Kuşadası, Turkey.

The next stop on our cruise was Kusadasi, Turkey. Neither of us had been to Turkey so we were equally excited to see it as Greece.
We had booked a tour not knowing it began at 7am so when we found out, almost cancelled. We are both shockingly bad in the morning, particularly me, and we were dreading the alarm call from the afternoon before.
I am now so thankful we did not cancel!!!

We disembarked the ship and ambled onto the tour coach with no make up, sunglasses on and heads down! Shortly after, our tour guide came over the mic on the bus and we very quickly realised, it was going to be a fun few hours. We could tell he knew what he was talking about from the start and to boot, he had a great sense of humour. Before arriving to our first stop, we were already having a good time.

Our first stop was believed to be Mother Mary’s last home in her final years. It was a little red brick house which has been mostly redone with some of the original stone.
We couldn’t take pictures inside, but it was small and simple. There were items which belonged to Pope John Paul as well as Pope Benedict.
Amazing to think that Mother Mary lived and walked on the same floor as we walked on.

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We didn’t know what those were; we thought maybe papers with people’s wishes on them. A lot looked like they had been there for a really long time.

After that, we were on the bus again heading to Ephesus.

For someone who loves history, it was an incredible place to visit. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city built in the 10th Century BC. It once had a population of 30,000-50,000 people in the Roman period but was mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 614AD. (Though it had been abandoned years before that.)

The marble slabs were the exact same as those walked on so many thousands of years ago.

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PicMonkey CollagesdThese were toilets…… cold!

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The library was magnificent…it was rebuilt basically from scratch but using as much of the original stone as possible.  You can see the difference in the pictures between the slabs that have been there when it was originally built and the new ones. I believe our guide told us 60% of it was original. That blows my mind!!

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It was an incredible visit and one of the highlights of the trip.

Afterwards, we visited a carpet making warehouse where they had made the most incredibly beautiful carpets, some tastefully changing colour in different lights. Beautiful!! I wish I could have brought one home. Over a delicious traditional warm apple tea, we learned about the intricacies of carpet making while freshly made carpets pounded the floors at our feet in a dramatic display!

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Even though we were only there for a few hours, Kusadasi really impressed both of us with their friendly people, beautiful green mountains and incredible historic sites.

I hope it won’t be too long before going back for a proper stay.

Happy Monday!

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A few photos from the first stop of our amazing 4 day cruise around the Greek Islands.

I always knew how beautiful the Greek Islands were supposed to be and always had the dream to visit them one day.
Finally, last week, our time came to see some of the most beautiful places we have ever been to.

Mykonos. Our first stop of the cruise and one of our favourites.

We got there late afternoon and even though we would be having dinner on the ship later that night, we headed straight to try some of the local cuisine.
A big part of travelling for me, especially to new places, is trying the local food. It was a good way to immerse ourselves in the culture given the little time we had.

We stopped off at a little outdoor cafe/restaurant, ordered our hummus and pita, chicken souvlaki and baklava and watched travellers from all over the world pass us by, each with a camera swinging on their necks. Who would not want to capture every moment of a place so beautiful?

I kid you not when I say, this little roadside cafe served the BEST hummus, souvlaki and baklava I have ever tasted!!! Incredible! My mouth is actually watering at the thought of it.

Feeling full and extremely satisfied, we walked around the small cobbled streets, lined with white buildings and blue doors. Each little turn revealed new and exciting hidden treasures. Shops full of beautiful art work, jewellery, clothes, souvenirs and pottery lined the streets.

We were already wishing we had brought more than just hand luggage.

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DSC_3324Birthday Tradition! DSC_3369Birthday Tradition!As we walked back to the ship, we watched the sun going down over the city. Incredible!

DSC_3395Birthday Tradition! DSC_3397Birthday Tradition! DSC_3398Birthday Tradition! DSC_3403Birthday Tradition! DSC_3407Birthday Tradition!Beautiful beautiful place – I genuinely cannot wait to go back.

I know the first place I’ll be visiting.

Happy Wednesday!

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Beautiful scenery, beautiful people and beautiful food, Sicily was better than we could have imagined.

The week before last, Jacqueline and I visited for the first time. So often when we travel, we go back to places where we have friends or family, or where we have fallen in love with in the past, so this time it was brilliant to have a completely new adventure. It was also my first proper trip away from Noah since he was born. For the first time in 12 months, I didn’t have to worry about making sure I was home for nap times, feeding schedules and keeping up with the general day time routine. I was able to be spontaneous, relax, close my eyes and not hear a baby shouting at me. I also got a sense of enjoyment each time I heard a baby cry, knowing it was not my own!

We stayed in the most beautiful hotel on the beach with stunning views…

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There was live music every night at the hotel, an amazing restaurant looking directly over the water and to top it off, the hotel was full of guests there to have a good time. Everybody was so friendly and the staff so helpful.

We explored the town – so many little cafes and restaurants, cute alley ways, old buildings, gelato shops, souvenir and clothes shops, beautiful churches and old cars. Every second person had a camera around their necks, enjoying the fabulous scenery and attempting to capture the amazing atmosphere.

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DSC_3144Birthday Tradition!-2We saw so many beautiful weddings in just that one day – what a beautiful place to say “I Do”.

We took a boat trip around the island…

DSC_3177Birthday Tradition! DSC_3204Birthday Tradition!DSC_3208Birthday Tradition!DSC_3185Birthday Tradition! DSC_3184Birthday Tradition!DSC_3181Birthday Tradition!Sicily was one of those places we knew  would be beautiful, but planning a visit there would have normally come behind visiting mainland Italy like Rome, Milan or Venice.  However, having spent a wonderful 4 days, I would highly recommend anyone planning a holiday to look at Taormina, Sicily! The beaches/coves were beautiful, the weather was perfect (late 20s/early 30s), there is a wonderful choice of hotels, great shopping and a feast of restaurants to enjoy.

It was the perfect place to enjoy some ‘sister time’!

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30 Things I want to do on Maternity Leave {1 Year Later}.

Well, I have officially come to the end of my maternity leave (almost a month now) and how the time has flown!!

This past year has been so incredible in so many ways with new and exiting changes everywhere I look.

I had made this list of 30 Things I want to do on maternity leave very early after I gave birth, so now it is time to update it.

Let’s see how I did!

30 Things I Want To Do On Maternity Leave

1. Bring Noah to Tunisia to meet his family and friends there – Done! We went when Noah was just about 2 months old and we had the best time. He had no issues on the flight, slept well when we were there, enjoyed the heat (he probably felt like he was still in the womb!) and got to meet a lot of people who are special to me. We were supposed to be going again in 3 days but our flights were cancelled because of everything that is sadly going on there at the moment. We are so disappointed.

2. Go on a weekend away without the baby – Europe – Done(ish) Alan and I spent a night in Kerry early on in the maternity leave. It was so strange to not have the baby with us, and we were so tired, we had an early dinner, spent 15 minutes in a bar afterwards and headed back to the hotel to sleep before midnight. Also went to Siciliy with Jacqueline for a few days which was my first proper time away from Noah.

3. Bring Noah to Florida (for the 1st time outside the womb!) – Done and done in style. We spent 2 months there, from November – January. We spent time on the beach, swam every day and spent great quality time with family and friends.

4. Enroll Noah in swimming lessons – Done! He started swimming when he was just over a month old and still going every weekend. He’s a pro at this stage!

5. Go for a jog initially 3 times a week (outdoors while the summer lasts) – Not even close. I went for 3 outdoor jogs initially and perhaps another 3 on a treadmill. Disappointing! I am starting a home work out though – currently on day 3!

6. Rejoin Westwood – I rejoined with ease, getting down there was the problem. I quit after a month of never going!!

7. A night/weekend down the country – see number 2.

8. Start a photoshop class – Enrolled in a 1 day long course and didn’t show up. Twice.

9. Spanish class – I’m afraid not. Do my Spanish books I read to Noah count?

10. Move into our own home – Done! Done! Done! It took a while but we have been settled in since October.

11. Throw a house warming party – Done! A few pictures coming soon!

12. Get an Irish Driver’s Licence – Done(ish) I got my provisional and have started my lessons. 1 down, 11 to go. Joy.

13. Learn how to drive stick – Decided against this as I now own an automatic!

14. Read a new book (non baby related) – Ashamed to say that this never happened.

15. Start posting on my blog at least once a week – Definitely got better at posting. It may not have been once a week, but once every 10 days – 2 weeks and I will take that as a success!

16. Go for a picnic – thanks to my fabulous sister, I am the proud owner of a new picnic basket, however the only thing to be used so far from it is the blanket. Come on sunshine and warm weather! Give me an excuse to use it!

17. Do a photo shoot with Alan and the baby – Just did one for Noah’s 1st birthday. I can’t wait to post the pictures!!!

18. Do a Sisters photo shoot – this would require a sister willing to be photographed. Come on Jacqueline!

19. Go to Disney World – Done! With Jacqueline. Amazing, as usual. Planning the next trip with the boys.

20. Spa day – Had a full body massage in Kerry for our 1 day away. The therapist told me she has never seen someone’s back so tight and suggested I see a physio. I am still working on that.

21. Decorate for every holiday/occasion – we have definitely done this I am happy to say.

22. Visit Dearbhla in Abu Dhabi – Not yet, but I hope to this year!

23. Start cooking at least 1 dinner a week – This never happened. At all. Poor Alan.

24. Start doing things on my 100 Things I Want to Do List – a few, to be updated another time.

25. Start playing tennis again – have only picked up my racket when Noah is about to bash himself over the head with it.

26. Get to 8and a half stone – not a clue, our weighing scales has been broken for months. (Ha, seriously!)

27. Get Noah’s passport – Done and stamped a few times.

28. Buy a bike- Sadly, not.

29. Sell some old clothes – Nope.

30. Donate some of my stuff to charity – See above.

Ok… could have been better, but could have been a lot worse.

Now on to new adventures… :)

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