Giant’s Causeway (Day 3)

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Ireland / Personal / Travel

Our last day in Dublin, so what do we do? Hop on a bus and head north!  But first, let me back up. While trip planning, we saw countless people suggesting Dublin didn’t need more than a day or two. Even when we shared our rough itinerary, including three nights in Dublin, people tried to change our minds. This did ultimately sway us and we wound up deciding to use Dublin as a “base” for two day trips (Glendalough and this one), only giving us one day to explore the city. In hindsight, Ryan and I could have easily filled at least another day exploring all that Dublin had to offer, but we were still really happy with our decision to take this day trip. I think it just means we’ll have to come back to visit Dublin again, sooner than later!

Okay, on to the good stuff. We started our day pretty darn early with another short hike to the Tourism Centre for our Giants Causeway/Northern Ireland Tour with Irish Day Tours. I was reluctant to book this tour initially, as it was one of those huge charter bus set-ups, but I was feeling pretty confident about things after having such a great experience with yesterday’s tour (we booked a smaller tour and got put onto a huge bus with a different company). By 6:30 or so we were on the road headed north. We made a quick stop at a really nice service station for coffee and snacks and from then on the drive was absolutely gorgeous…

Northern Ireland

A little while later, we pulled off in Larne for a quick photo stop and leg stretch. Sometime before the trip, I learned that my family has quite a bit of Irish history. Funny though, it wasn’t until yesterday that I decided to go back through the documents my dad shared with me and realized we made this little stop in an area they were said to be from. One of my very distant ancestors (the family of my great grandmother, who is a Blair) was said to have lived in Larne. My great grandfather’s side of the family (who are Livingstons) also came from Ireland. Lisburn, specifically. My 7th great grandfather came over in 1704 from Lisburn to South Carolina!

Larne, Ireland

I laugh when I look at these photos because I’ve always read shirts with huge logos, bright colors and what not make you look like a tourist… you know, if the gopro chest mount he’s holding onto don’t already give it away (nerd alert!). But hey, that’s what we are! Own it. Right? Next up was a stop at the Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge! Joe let us know it would be a 10-15 minute walk from the car park to the bridge…

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

and with views like this, who could complain?

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

This should give you the gist of the amazing scenery…

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and the number of steps…

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Finally, we reached the bridge, swinging 100 feet above the beautifully colored sea!

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

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You have to get a ticket to cross the bridge, if they cost anything, ours was included in the price of the tour. The man letting people through the gate was very adamant about only a couple of people going through at a time. He was also pretty strict about keeping the flow of traffic moving. He didn’t mind if you stopped to take a photo, but only if you didn’t obstruct others from getting through so have your cameras ready before you get onto the bridge.

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With the steep, narrow steps… we could see why!

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So, a little bit about the bridge! It was originally built by fisherman to check on their salmon nets, it connects the mainland to the tiny island of Carrick-a-Reed, 60 feet away. Unfortunately, due to years and years of over fishing, the bridge is no longer used by fisherman during salmon season and is primarily seen as just a tourist destination.

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

I remember when I first came across photos of this place while trip planning and I’m so glad we decided to do it if not for this experience alone! The day was young through, our next stop was lunch at a little pub along the way before stopping to see Giant’s Causeway.

Giants Causeway Car Park

See that little, itty bitty bus down there? That’s where they dropped us off. Joe dropped us there, right by the water. We explored and took quite a few photos before taking a trail off an up to see some of the other rock formations. It was a long way up, but well worth the effort. Thank goodness for that cool Irish mist!

Giants Causeway From Where I Stand

Most have five and six sides, but some have four, seven and eight. There is supposed to be only one with three sides. (Happy hunting!)

Legend says Giant’s Causeway was formed by a 54 foot tall giant called Fionn mac Cumhaill who lived on the Irish coast with his wife Oonagh. When his Scottish rival, Benandonner taunted him from across the sea, Fionn hurled a chunk of the earth at him. Unfortunately, Fionn’s aim was off and the chunk of earth landed in the middle of the Irish Sea making the Isle of Man. Then, the ground from which he dug up the chunk of earth filled with water and became known as Lough Neagh.

Looking for a proper fight, Fionn built a causeway of large stepping stones across the sea all the way to Scotland where he saw Benandonner and decided to turn back and run home. As he left, with Benandonner following closely behind, he lost one of his boots sitting in Port Noffer, where it fell. When he returns home, his wife Oonagh helps him hide, disguising him as a sleeping child.

The story takes a humorous twist when Finn asks his wife Oonagh to help him hide. Clever Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby and pushed him into a huge cradle, so when Benandonner saw the size of the sleeping ‘child’, he assumed the father must be GIGANTIC. Benandonner fled home in terror, ripping up the Causeway as he went in case he was followed.

And so it is said, this is the reason that the Giant’s Causeway exists in north Antrim, with similar columns at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish island of Staffa.

At this point, our tour was almost over. Our driver, Joe, was awesome. He did a great job narrating and sharing some really interesting history with us throughout the day and asked us how we’d like to get back down to Dublin. He offered a couple of options and our group chose to drive through areas where Northern Ireland saw some of it’s struggle.

Northern Ireland Peace Murals

Northern Ireland Peace Murals

Northern Ireland Peace Murals

Northern Ireland Peace Murals

We drove through some neighborhoods as well allowing us to see remnants of the segregation that occurred between Catholic and Protestants. It was really interesting to hear more about the conflict from someone who lived it.

Eventually, we found our way back down to Dublin for the evening. Our tour had kept us out pretty late and we were hungry by the time we got back to the Tourism Centre, so we figured now would be a great time to grab a quick meal and try out Leo Burdock, Dublin’s Oldest Chipper! It’s a quick, take-away spot with several locations throughout Dublin that came highly reviewed by many of our friends who had visited Ireland. Because of all of the raving, we had pretty high expectations. But, if I’m being 100% honest, it was my least favorite of the fish and chips I had in Ireland. It wasn’t bad, by any means, but it was HEAVY and I think I was just in the mood for something lighter that night. If you’re looking for something fast and want to experience a Dublin classic (there were tons of locals in line with us, so it’s not just a tourist-y spot) give it a go!

From there, we went to bed getting a great night’s rest. Tomorrow it was off to Killarney!

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Beautiful Glendalough (Day 2)

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Ireland / Personal / Travel

Day two. What an amazing first day we had in Dublin! Despite our lack of sleep, we powered through a full day of sight seeing and had a great time exploring the city. Our second day started with an early rise. With a short walk from our hotel, we arrived at the Tourism Centre somewhere around a quarter til nine, just on time for our Wicklow Mountain/Glendalough day tour.

Walk from hotel to Tourism Centre, Dublin

We originally booked with Frank at Wild Mountain Heather and were caught by surprise when a seemingly random Irish man grabbed my arm and asked if we were Ryan and Jessica. It was Frank! We must’ve really looked like helpless tourists for him to find us like that, right? Unfortunately, Frank came with bad news. His minibus had broken down. Apologizing, he led us over to another tour group headed to the same area and assured us we would be in good hands. Admittedly, I was a little bummed. I had no idea if this tour company had good reviews or stopped at all of the same places. I just knew it was a bigger bus with more people on it. We knew this sort of thing could happen though and told ourselves to roll with the punches when it inevitably did. Frank introduced us to Joe of Wild Wicklow Tours and with the exchange of some euros we climbed aboard the bus, picked two seats with an unobstructed window and got comfy. Our route out of Dublin was along the coast with a short stop at DunLaoghaire Harbour.

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Getting to Dublin (Day 1)

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Ireland / Personal / Travel
Flying over Ireland

After months and months of waiting, the day had finally arrived. We were off to the airport with the hope our flight would leave on time from St. Louis at 12:20pm. Unfortunately, it did not. I don’t even remember what time the flight wound up departing the St. Louis airport, but it was late enough to have foiled our plans to eat dinner during our layover in Newark. We were hoping if we ate at the airport, we could sleep though dinner service on our flight to Dublin and catch a “good night’s sleep” before arriving at 6:55am.

But the delays! While we were impatiently waiting in St. Louis, we struck up conversation with another passenger on the same flight. He and his daughter were headed to Milan and realized they would be completely missing their connection😦 We groaned about airports, delays and the hassles of flying (we know, #firstworldproblems) while waiting to hopefully hear good news from one of the representatives. No such luck… but it did help the time pass and he had some great advice about how to get from Point A to Point B at the Newark airport. He even gave us a £10 note he’d had in his wallet since the last time he traveled. Said he couldn’t use it where he was going. My husband, Ryan, excitedly thanked him for funding what would be his first authentic Guinness later that day. So… I suppose if we were going to be stuck at the airport, at least we were in good, generous company!

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Our Ireland Itinerary

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Ireland / Personal / Travel

I had such a great time planning our trip but it was incredibly difficult figuring out how to narrow down what we wanted to see and do. Is that too much to drive in one day? Is that place worth seeing? How do we go see X if it’s on the opposite side of the country as Y? Then of course, I felt like I had to do my due diligence of sorting through threads upon threads of advice and suggestions from people about what and what not to do. For instance, deciding how many nights to stay in Dublin was tricky. We’d read so many people saying “oh it’s just another big city, you don’t need much time there!” Was that true? There was no way of knowing! Everyone’s preferences, interests and pace are different. What might feel like a long drive to some, could feel like a short jaunt to others. We’re so used to 8-10 hour road trips that the notion of 3 or 4 hours in a car one day didn’t bother us.

With that said, we stayed three nights in Dublin using it as a base for a couple of day trips. On the fourth day, we picked up our rental car and drove ourselves the rest of the trip staying at three different Bed and Breakfasts for a total of four nights before leaving for London (I’ll talk about the London part of the trip seperately).

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New Work: #DessertFirst

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Design / Inspiration / Latest Work

For too long desserts have been in last place. Always served behind the veggies, the casseroles and the turkey. But why? Everyone knows that holiday flavors taste best in cakes, pies, cookies, breads and bars. That’s why this holiday season we’re changing the rules. We’ll eat our pumpkin pie before our green beans and our sugar cookies before our stuffing. Through dessert-centric messaging straight from the mouths of sweet-toothed enthusiasts everywhere, we’ll start a delicious new holiday trend — #DessertFirst

These typographic illustrations were early concept art/moodboards developed for a Baking Scale program. We presented these along with activation thought starters as one of three potential directions for the program. Enjoy!

JessicaWuller_DessertsFirst-1 JessicaWuller_DessertsFirst-2Dessert First

Want more? Check out the rest of my work on Behance.

 

Self Betterment

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Fitness / Personal

A huge goal of mine this year has been self betterment. Emotionally, mentally and physically. Basically, I want to better nurture the quality relationships in my life, grow new ones and take better care of myself in all ways.

The most challenging of the three is definitely health. My biggest hurdle has always been making better choices nutritionally and maintaining an exercise routine. Over the past few years I’ve slowly crept up in weight and hit my personal tipping point this year. My doctor and I discussed some of the changes that happened in my life that may have triggered the slow gain and it was really eye-opening. We used to visit the theme parks regularly when we lived in Florida and would spend the entire day there walking, often close to 10 miles! On top of that, I went to cycling classes regularly which burn a ton of calories. Going from that to an occasional thirty minutes on an elliptical just wasn’t cutting it. We were planning a wedding, moving to a new city, buying a new house, starting new jobs, making new friends… It felt so overwhelming and the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym. I never weighed myself so I didn’t notice any changes until it started to show in photos. Bummer.

I don’t know about you, but I like my sleep. I’ve never been much of a morning person and the mere thought of waking up before the sun to go workout was never an option for me. But, evening gym runs just weren’t working. If I went after work, I wouldn’t wind up cooking because then my entire night was spent and I just wanted to relax. If I went after cooking dinner, I was working out at 9pm after waiting for my stomach to settle down enough to work up a sweat. First world problems, I know, and I’m sorry for even complaining about it. And that’s just it. I was being sorry. It was sorry that I couldn’t get myself out of bed early enough to go to the gym for one hour before work.

So finally, I mustered up the will power to sign up for some 6am group training sessions. A plan with accountability? Check! That was back in February. Now that it’s October, I’m so proud to say that I’ve gone to the gym twice a week at 6am every day that entire span of time (minus a vacation here or there). Even more, despite not changing my diet (hey, it’s baby steps for me or I’ll never stick with it), I’ve lost at least three inches from my waist in addition to feeling (and looking) much stronger. I also made the decision to start going three days a week this month for the next six. I’m hoping now with my new routine, I’ll feel more comfortable adding in small changes to my diet and ultimately continuing on my journey to better health and well-being.


 

Today’s workout:*

Two sets:
20 seconds working / 10 seconds resting
8 times through (each exercise 4 times):

1A: Kettlebell Goblet Squat
1B: Kettlebell Swings

2A: Mountain Climbers
2B: Standing Dumbbell Press

3A: Inverted TRX Rows
3B: Bear Crawls

*I’m not a trainer, I’m just documenting what I’m doing on my journey to a better self. Workout at your own risk.

Be(er) Responsible

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Inspiration

Next time you go out, be sure to make a plan to get home safely. Your friends are counting on you. Enjoy Budweiser responsibly. #FriendsAreWaiting http://www.budweiser.com

I’m so happy and proud to share this wonderful spot made possible by a great group of people my husband and I have the the pleasure of working with everyday. The work has been featured all over the place… Adweek, Ad Age, CNN, Mashable, Buzzfeed, HuffPo, LA Times, The Today Show and loads more! Big ups to all involved!

Of a Lass That is Gone

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Books / Personal / Television
Outlander on Starz

So it’s been a little while since I’ve been able to sit down and write. There have just been three jillion other things occupying my mind as of late. I do have a handful of half-finished posts though, so I guess that’s something! Right?

Anyway, I’m just popping on to rave a little bit about my favorite book series turned television show, Outlander. I’ve never been much of a motivated reader… probably the same reason I’m not much of a motivated writer at the moment. But, something changed in me. I began reading this series after starting to work for my current boss who had/has just about the entire female population of our office totally into it. I thought maybe it’d help me fit in more quickly and have something else to talk about with my new team so I bought the first book and dove in head first.

If we’re being honest here, I didn’t really appreciate the beginning of the book. I found it slow and somewhat uninteresting. But, I kept going under the encouragement of everyone else and eventually fell in love. The story. The character development and complexity. All of it. If I were to try to describe the book, I’d say it’s a historical fiction, time-traveling romantic action/adventure. A little something for everyone and maybe that’s why so many people at my office love it.

So if you’re thinking “hmm, that doesn’t sound half bad,” Starz has made a series of it with Ron Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame, as executive producer and a second season season has already confirmed. And so far it’s absolutely wonderful! The mid-season finale is actually airing this weekend, so my post hyping it up is a little late to the game, but you’ll have plenty of time to watch the first eight episodes and catch up before the second half early 2015! Do it.

Wanderlust

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Ireland / Personal / Travel
Dingle Peninsula Ireland Sheep

Back in early 2013 I started working for someone with a serious passion for travel—It was infectious and inspiring. As someone who hasn’t seen much of the world, that wonderful thing called wanderlust developed almost immediately and I started day dreaming about where I would go if I could ever afford it. Unfortunately, trips to far away places had always seemed unattainable pre and post-college. Be it due to other expenses or securing the time off, it was always something. But my husband and I were determined to find a way to make it happen… somehow. Shortly there after, I had an influx of freelance opportunities knocking on my door. All of this extra work suddenly? I like to think it was a sign! So, over the course of the next year I planned (Ryan just wanted to be along for the ride) what would be a trip to remember, my first and our first trip together overseas.

We decided we would take two weeks (taking full advantage of a newly earned and very generous PTO policy), spending most of our time in Ireland and a few nights in London. With it being my first international trip, I wanted to stick to english speaking countries so as to not overwhelm myself too much. So many people I know, lucky to travel to Ireland, have had nothing but amazingly wonderful reviews of their time there. London was Ryan’s request—he had always wanted to go and it was such an easy hop-skip-and-jump away that we figured, why not? So there it was, decision made. We were going to Ireland and London!

Over the next few months, I’ll be doing a series of posts detailing our planning, experiences and some reviews… stay tuned!

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