We arrived in Ireland on July 30th and after we rounded everyone up at the airport (which was an adventure in itself), picked up our car rentals (car hires as they call them in Ireland) we headed for our first stop, Powerscourt Estate.
Our plan was to stop here, check out the gardens, have some lunch and then head to our first hotel in Kilkenny. There has been a castle on the grounds here since the 13th century. The original castle no longer stands, but has been replaced by the current house in 1730. Part of the house was destroyed in the 1970s and it has never been restored to its original glory. Based on recommendations, we chose to skip the house tour, but we were blown away by the beautiful gardens and the views of the Wicklow Mountains in the distance. There is also a Ritz-Carlton on the grounds and it is breathtaking. I wish we had booked a night here, it would have been a great place to spend the first night.
|If you ever visit here, I highly recommend grabbing lunch from the cafe. They had a good selection and when the weather is nice, the patio is a beautiful setting for lunch.|
After lunch, we headed back into the car and made the 1 1/2 hour drive to Kilkenny. We checked into our hotel, The Kilkenny Ormonde, and then headed out to explore the town. Our first stop was the Kilkenny Castle. This amazing castle was built in the early 1200s for the Earl of Pembroke. It later became the home of the powerful Butler family in 1391 and stayed with the family until 1967. It was "sold" to the city of Kilkenny for 50 pounds. The castle has been restored and is open to self-guided tours. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures inside the castle.
|Behind the house was a huge lawn where Ava loved running around|
|We found a great playground on the castle grounds that were a gift to the town.|
I haven't written much on Facebook or on this blog about my pregnancy. I am currently 19 weeks and with the exception of some aches and pains I am feeling pretty good. Within this past week my pants have been getting a little uncomfortable, so I started using a belly band or resorting to my one pair of maternity pants. Maternity clothes shopping is a little limited here, so I had to order a bunch of stuff online.
Here at SHAPE we do not have a hospital on the base, only a clinic. The clinic does not staff an OB/Gyn, so I have to go "on the economy" for my visits. I was not happy with my first doctor and the care I was receiving, so I just switched to a hospital which came highly recommended. Unlike the US, you do not visit your doctor at a practice, instead, the doctors work for a particular hospital, which is where you go for your visits. My midwife and doctor speak English, but my midwife has been sick. So, my first visit was with a midwife who didn't speak English. It worked out better than you would expect. She used Google Translate to ask me the questions I didn't understand and I was able to speak enough French to answer all of her questions (that French class came in handy). She was actually quite impressed with my French. So far, I have had un ultrasound with every visit. The doctors here all seem to have ultrasound machines in the room. Being this is my first pregnancy, I didn't know this is not what to expect in the US. The baby looks great and was very active, but he/she had its legs crossed the whole time:( I have my morphological scan on the 9th, so hopefully then I will find out if it is a boy or a girl.
Here is a belly shot. I think I am finally starting to look a little pregnant.