May19

Eiffel Behind Building

From every angle, the Eiffel Tower is a marvel, keeping watch over Paris as tourists come and go. Meanwhile, Parisians go about their business, oblivious to the charming lady in the center of the city.

Tour Eiffel in Spring Paris in the Spring
Paris in the Spring 052
The classic view of the Eiffel Tower from Palais de Chaillot.  Eiffel in Spring
Pedestrians in front of the Effiel
A horse drawn carriage in front of the Eiffel Tower, Paris. The view of the Eiffel Tower from École Militaire.
Touring Paris Touring Paris

The view of the Tower is free, but entrance tickets to the top range from €9-15. For more information, and to schedule your own visit to the Eiffel Tower, visit the official website.

Photography by Rebekah Marenda Burder.

May12

Swell

Skellig Michael

The island appears and disappears in the distance as our boat rises and lowers with the swells. An offshore storm has made conditions just rough enough to make the journey to Skellig Michael feel adventurous. We’re unable to land on the island, a disappointment after waiting for so long. Still, the view of the island from the base is beautiful.

Climbing Skellig
Lighthouse on Skellig
Skellig Boat Tour
Skellig Lighthouse
Trail up Skellig

Waves of Atlantic

As we turn towards Little Skellig, the screams of 45,000 gannets can be heard over the sound of the engine. I’m speechless as I realize that the top of the island isn’t white because of the color of the rock, but because of the amount of bird droppings from the thousands of birds that call it home.

Skellig Islands
Small Skellig
Taking a Boat Tour
Elephant Rock
Irish Islands
Island of Birds
Boat Tour of Skellig
Portmagee

Boat tours operate daily from several different towns, including Portmagee and Ballinskellig. Prices vary from €25 – €50, based on whether you can land on the island or not. Skellig Michael is open from mid-May to fall every year. Before visiting the island, visit the OPW website for information about dates of opening and safety details.

Photography by Rebekah Marenda Burder.

Portmagee Ireland

By now, the rows of colorful saltbox houses hardly warrant a second glance. Instead of charm, I see old plumbing and drafty windows. I see the cost of replacement slate, and toilets you can barely turn around in. I’m starting to understand why Irish react so strongly when visitors comment on the loveliness of this lush island. When I told our landlord my family lives in Florida, which is the equivalent of paradise to sun-deprived locals, she responded with “Leaving Florida for Ireland?! Can you imagine?!” She, quite literally, could not understand it. But to someone who has grown up with cliffs dropping into aquamarine oceans, sheep dotting the fields, and so many beautiful things to see the signs can’t fit on the posts, I’m sure it’s hard to see why someone would choose this way over the more modern, and much less charming, American life.

Skellig Ring Signs Irish Fishing Boat
Grassy Field
Rock Layers Irish Fence Posts
Fogher Cliffs
Valentia Island Beach
Rocky Cliffs
Valentia Island Cliffs
Hiking in Ireland
Southwest Ireland
Irish Ram

We spent a half day in Valentia Island, doing a light hike around the peak of the island, and then had lunch in Portmagee. The tiny village is part of the Skellig Ring, and the launching point of many of the boats that take you to Skellig Islands. Valentia is the site where the world’s first transatlantic cable originated

Photography by Rebekah Marenda Burder.

May2

Rococo Parrot Tulip

Parrot Tulip

The tulips that we planted last November came roaring into bloom this month: white, orange, cream and tinted with purple. But my favorite were these Rococo Parrot Tulips purchased at a bargain shop in town. They bloomed like an exotic animal, full of brilliant reds.

It’s an early-blooming tulip, showing up in early to mid-April depending on your hardiness zone, and makes an excellent cut flower. You can purchase your own at Bulbs Direct (US) or Sarah Raven (UK + Europe).

Photography by Rebekah Marenda Burder.

Apr30

April Skies

Ocean on Ring of Kerry

I stand away from the group looking over the edge of a cliff, my eyes burning from the sun, while I listen to the wind as it rushes around me, lifting strands of hair away from my face. April is my reward for enduring January thru March. Three months of rain and cloudy skies give way to long stretches of sunshine and warmer temperatures. I’m still wearing a jacket, but at least I’ve been able to finally discard the heavy sweaters underneath. After a few moments, I rejoin the group for a photo, ready to tackle the next part of the drive.

Atlantic Ocean Ireland in Bloom
Ring of Kerry
Irish Beaches
Skipping Rocks Beach Pebble
Kelp  Beach Rock
Rocks in Ocean
Red Clover Skellig Trip Blog Size 117
Most Spectacular Kerry Cliffs
Group on Cliff

We drove from Kilkenny to Ballenskellig, covering the Northern and Western part of the Ring of Kerry. Notable stops included Kerry’s Most Spectacular Cliffs (entry charge of €4.50 each, but who could resist that name?!) and Portmagee. We stayed at Skellig Hostel, which was a great bargain. The hostel was clean, private, and quiet.

Photography by Rebekah Marenda Burder.

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