Owens in Ireland

I had the pleasure of spending a week on the Emerald Isle with my wonderful Owen family (my mom's side of the fam) this past July. It was gorgeous, fun and all around -- it was an amazing time! My aunt planned the trip in honor of her oldest going off to college this  fall - eek! Aaaaaand the rest of the Owen clan greatly benefitted from this... a big thanks to Dini for planning and Sarah heading to Wisconsin (Go Badgers)! The whole thing was booked through Exploring Vacations. For the eight of us, we had a small bus and a driver. Our driver, Bill, was from a small town in Ireland and he really made our trip extra special. He was extremely enthusiastic and gave us tons of fun Irish sayings and phrases that will keep us laughing for years. I promised Bill I would be back... maybe even move there and he promised to gift me with a cow to get me started! Seriously still considering that offer... and Cork was by far my favorite city, which is pretty close to Bill. Imagine all the Guinness and Irish Coffees I would drink.... I'll have to go back (in Bill's words) "Oh that's fer-sure!"

 After a whole week abroad with family... I think my favorite part was the stories and memories shared by my mom and her sisters. My Nana Owen was a huge traveler and she certainly instilled that in her kids and that has filter to me and my cousins' generation. We visited a lot of the places my mom had been with her mom in the 70's and it was neat to hear their memories of the places and how it had changed, or not changed!

Here's a run down of the places we visited; 

Dublin // Guiness, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Brazen Head Pub, Waterford Crystal Factory

Cork // Cork City, Blarney Castle, Blarney Stone, Cobh Heritage Center

Kenmare // Ring of Kerry, National Park, Waterfall, Muckross House

Dingle // Dingle Peninsula, Sleep in Ballyseede Castle

Limerick // Bunratty Castle, Dirty Nellie’s Pub, Knappogue Castle for Medieval Meal

Galway // Cliffs Moher, Dooliln, Burren, Small plane to Aran Islands

Donegal // Connemara Penninsula, Kylemore Abbey & Gardens

Sláinte Bill -- we Owens sure do  miss yah!

Je T'aime Paris

For Spring break this year, almost the whole Burtch clan packed up and flew to Paris for Easter! So much wine. So much cheese. So much bread. It was amazing!! The whole trip was so perfectly planned by my sister-in-law, Grace. We got to see and do so much more than if it were left up to me and D... I normally just go and figure it out once I get there, so the planning was much appreciated (mad props Grace)! Oh, and we did AirBnB. Best decision ever since we had my 15-month old niece, Nora, with us. It was so much easier to be able to eat at home in the morning before leaving. It was also nice to have so much space and common area to hang in the evenings. 

Here's the break down of the Burtchs' week abroad;
Day 1 // Arrive in the AM, get settled and venture around the neighborhood of Montmartre
Day 2 // Easter Mass at a beautiful little church in our neighborhood
Day 3 // Louvre, Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co Book Shop
Day 4 // Versailles, Eiffel Tower, Seine River Cruise
Day 5 // Normandy day trip
Day 6 // Musee d'Orsay
Day 7 // Shopping day @ Galeries Lafayette

I mean... these pictures say it all. It was an amazing week with some awesome people! Our day trip to Normandy was one of my favorite days. It was a humbling experience and it was also so beautiful at the same time. The French country side was gorgeous and when I go back, I definitely want to spend more time there. As far as the museums... Musee d'Orsay was my favorite. There was a Henri Rosseau exhibit that display not only his work, but also the pieces of the artists he was inspired by and whom he had inspired! The Louvre on the other hand was far too overwhelming and packed. Did you know that if spent 5 seconds in front of each piece of art in the Louvre, it would take you about 3 months to see everything!!  We did make it through one area to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, so that was well worth the crowds. 

Rio - NYE 2015

In late December, Derek and I met our friends Catie & Joe in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate the New Year! We had the most infuriating travels on our way there, but once we finally arrived, it was wonderfully hot!

Here's the deal with the travel... it was honestly the worst experience I have ever had. Our first leg of the flight (CMH --> JFK) was cancelled. We worked with an agent at the airport to find us a different route in to NYC. We rented a car, drove to Dayton and caught our flight to LaGuardia and hopped on the shuttle to JFK. All was grand as we boarded the plane bound for Rio, on time. We then proceeded to sit there, on the plane, still at the gate for 5 hours! FIVE HOURS!! Finally, around 1 AM the crew decided the problem was 'unfixable' at that hour and we were sent off to hotels without luggage, semi-sleep deprived and very frustrated. So in short, we arrived a whole day later than planned. The weird thing was that Catie & Joe got held up too! Weird cosmic things happening in the world of travel that week.

Anywho, despite the frustrating travels, we had the most amazing time. I have been to Brazil before with Catie and Joe (Catie and I visited Joe when he was working there in 2012). Derek, on the other hand, had not been to Rio so naturally we wanted to show him the cool touristy things we had seen the previous time that left the three of us in awe. We revisited the Escadaria Selarón in Santa Teresa and Sugar Loaf mountain for some cool views. The rest of our time was spent eating all the fresh fruit and acai we could get our hands on! We also spent a day or two at our rooftop pool and on the beach!

On NYE everyone wore white and partied in the streets and on the beach well into the morning hours of the following day. Oh so many yummy caipirinhas to be had!! Oh my, and the firework display!! There were large barges on the ocean and the show was the longest, most spectacular firework display I have ever seen!! It was a magical way to ring in the New Year!