I've had a slightly intermittent blogging period lately, brought on by traveling with no access to wifi (and when I manage to find it, it is decidedly spotty!) After leaving the University of  Limerick at the close of first semester, we traveled first to Barcelona for five days before returning to meet my family in Dublin right before Christmas! Barcelona was fantastic, as one would assume a place with a beach and tapas in mid-December to be, but there's no place I'd rather be than where I am right now. 

If you're ever looking for a creative international family vacation, especially with kids, I have the perfect idea for you! This Christmas, we rented an eighteenth-century cottage in the middle of Ireland for about a week- and it's been fantastic. The quaint thatched cottage (which my father for some reason continues to call a 'hut') is cozy and a great mix of modern touches with a truly historical home. The cottage, named Cottage Mary Rose after the owner's grandmother, is rented to tourists all year long and is in a perfect location for day trips to other fantastic spots in Ireland as it is located centrally in the tiny town of Cordal, County Kerry. So far, we've made it to the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, Cork, The RIng of Kerry, and the Dingle Peninsula- all must-sees for an Irish vacation, in my opinion. No drive has been longer than about two hundred kilometers, and it's always a comfort to return to a cozy cottage awaiting your arrival- much more fun than the standard hotel room or moving from place to place every night.

With any eighteenth-century abode, however, there are challenge as well as delights. For example, there is one stove that turns on the oven, the stovetop, and is also the furnace to the house (?). This was quite a challenge in cooking dinner, as you never actually know what temperature you are cooking at. There's also been the odd spider and leaky shower, but we've tried to take everything in stride and remember that living in a place with some character is worth the little odds and ends that come with any old house. And true to Irish tradition, the only other structures in Cordal are the church and the local pub (handily located next door to each other). 

Sitting in the cottage with the fireplace roaring and the washing machine that takes about three hours churning away next to me, I can take the time to feel grateful for all of the traveling that I, and all of the students who write for this blog, are able to do. Studying abroad is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I just can't wait for the next six months!

We are headed to London tomorrow for New Years, then on to Amsterdam and Berlin before finally returning to home in LImerick. Keep an eye out for posts about those places as well as Barcelona! And most importantly, have a relaxing and lovely holiday season.