Schnits & Fahrts

Guten tag! Or as Raffi may now say, GLUTEN tag!


The German (Deutsch) language is proving to be a pretty great source of entertainment for us.  Our inner 12 year old’s come out a lot when we see words like schmuck (jewelry) and fahrt  (drive). We also get a little confused when we’re given a tube of estrogen for breakfast (?).

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The Austrian way to say Vienna is “Wien” – so whenever you see Wiener and/or Wiener World (restaurant, true story), it really just means Viennese (not, ya know, peepee’s… #12yearsold)

Today we learned virtual tours are silly. We had lovely semi-local tour guides today with good intentions, but looking at things on a screen when the real thing is right outside doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Like this:


New wedding venue

And this:


And this:


I really miss my Irish way of touring – aka getting adopted by a local family and living with them in the foothills. I’m telling you there is really no better way to truly experience a new country. Well that and aimlessly wandering and the streets until you’re semi lost…check!

Anyhoo – all was forgiven when we were taken to Figlmüllers for dinner – the greatest schnitzel house in all of Austria (that may be a stretch).  Speaking of stretching, I am fairly confident all of our waistlines stretched a bit post schnitzel. We regret nothing.


Every Austrian menu has a mandatory allergen declaration statement beside each item. So if a menu item contains any of the 14 allergens listed below, a small corresponding letter will be beside the item name on the menu. Even though gluten isn’t an issue for Raffi anymore (hallelujah) this would have come in super handy if it were. I’m always a fan of transparency with food!


It’s now 1AM and we are both still wide awake. Not sure if it’s the jet lag, or the Austrian coffee’s we had after dinner. Time to watch some German Simpsons and attempt to fall asleep.

Signing off with some beautiful Austrian streets


Gute Nacht!



Apfels in Austria

…Guess who’s baaaaaaack!??!?

Except this time I’m in Austria, with my family, and not living on a farm.

Even though I am doing this travel thing the old fashioned way this time around, I still hate to stand out as a tourist, so we did our best to disguise ourselves as locals in attempt to fit in.

Don’t all Austrians sport Arnold-wear?

We had an easy flight and got into Vienna around 9AM Vienna time (3AM Toronto time) with about 2-3 hours of partial airplane sleep under our belts. We had a gute fahrt (good ride) to our hotel where we were wilkommen (welcomed) by a friendly Austrian lady who says ‘cool’ funny – KUUULE. Despite my best efforts to learn the language (3 days with an app) I don’t think I have quiiiiiite mastered it yet.

Our hotel is lovely – super cute, super boutique AND you can learn to do the time warp in the hall. #Bonus!

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                                                                                           It’s just a jump to the left

We have wasted no time jumping in and trying the native Austrian cuisine. On our afternoon wander we stopped at a sweet little café for some much needed caffeine and Apfelstrudle (Apple Strudle). If you ever wanted to see what two zombies eating a strudel looks like, well…today is your lucky day.


For those of you not in the know, Raffi has been recently cleared of his gluten allergy (it’s a long story) and he has been making up for the past 7 years of a super strict gluten free diet.  Beer and bratwurst? He’ll have 7 of each, please! #locals

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We’re saving the schnitzel for tomorrow night as my dad has promised to take us to the best schnitzel place in all of Austria. Or something.

Tonight we spent the evening wandering around Vienna taking in the beautiful sights and the history.

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Still no sightings of the Von Trapp family but perhaps tomorrow we’ll run into them.

Now we are back in our room just having returned from dinner – I’m writing to you friends, and Raffi is attempting to watch WWE in German (duh).

Stay tuned for what adventures tomorrow will bring, goodnight!


Day 17 – Dublin (2) & Farewell

It’s official – I am SO glad I decided to come and spend some time in Dublin before heading home. What a fun day of exploring, food, folklore, and…yeah basically a whole ton of stuff.

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I went to SO much trouble last night to meticulously map out my routes for today, since I maaaaaay have a bit of a history of getting myself lost. However, because this is me we are talking about,  not even after having taken 10 steps I decide that maps confuse me and I’m just going to wing it and hope for the best. Honestly though, this is the best method for actually exploring. It really forces you to learn your way around and before long I was navigating Dublin City like a pro.

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My first stop was the incredible St Patrick’s cathedral.


Entry + guided tour was only about 6 euros. Remember the time St Patrick wasn’t even Irish? And that he didn’t actually drive any snakes out of Ireland, because “snakes” are just a metaphor for evil? I love guided tours!

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Next up I sort of stumbled upon Dublin castle so I popped in to tour that as well.

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I won’t lie, other than being architecturally magnificent and brimming with all kinds of wonderful history, this tour kind of lost me so I can’t really tell you much about it.

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I spent the next hour or two just wandering around Temple Bar. Now, although there is an actual Temple BAR (within Temple Bar) – Temple Bar is a section of Dublin (one of the oldest parts of Dublin). Dublin itself is said to have been born in and around Temple Bar and it is now a super lively tourist hot spot with all kinds of pubs, shops, restaurants, clubs, etc etc etc. It’s a hoot! There is always something happening around every corner. Apparently there is a farmers market type dealie on the weekends, so I’m pretty bummed I missed that.

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I stopped in for some lunch at one of the many pubs and ordered a chicken, goat cheese and sun dried tomato salad.



I know.

Next up I made my way to the National Leprechaun Museum. This wasn’t really a museum, but more like a fun guided tour through a fictional land of leprechauns and fairies with stories and legends being told by the guide. It was so fun! Fairies now terrify me. I hope they do not see me writing this, or I am in big trouble (thou shalt not speak negatively about the “she”). Apparently people in Ireland are still incredibly superstitious about fairies. Most farmers will not touch a “fairy fort” or a “fairy tree” if it’s on their land for fear of upsetting them, and then all kinds of super sadistic messed up hell breaks loose. I wish I knew this when I was in Schull, I’d love to ask Rob his thoughts on fairies!


I enjoyed my final dinner in Ireland at a pub in Temple Bar with a jaunty Irish band playing fun Irish music. I was going to go for the seafood salad…but instead opted for the Irish (lamb) stew. The diet starts when I get home!


Now I’m just relaxing in my room, trying to convince myself to pack and get organized for my flight tomorrow.

To everyone reading this, thank you all for joining me on this adventure! It has truly been the most incredible experience and I’m happy to have been able to share some of it with you!

And Ireland, what can I say except… I’ve had, the time of my life… and I owe it all to you!

Day 16 – Dublin (1)

Hello from Dublin!

It’s been a pretty long day but I’m really excited to be back in Dublin and looking forward to exploring around a bit tomorrow.

I woke up around 6:30AM, packed up the remainder of my stuff, said my goodbyes to the animals and the family and then Helen drove me to the bus stop in Schull where I boarded my 8:05AM to Cork.

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I didn’t have time to eat breakfast before I left the house so naturally I came prepared with an assortment of bus snack delights!

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What? Don’t you pack huge honkin carrots for your road trips? If not, you should!

I got to Cork around 10:45 where I had a while to wait until my 12:30PM bus to Dublin. From there it was another 3 and a half hours until we finally arrived in Dublin around 4PM.  It was a long day of driving but as usual I spent the time soaking up the views!

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My hotel is LITERALLY across the street from the bus station and yet it still somehow took me half an hour and two strangers to find it.

I settled in for a little bit and then went for a walk around in search of food. Being a major city, there are all kinds of sushi and other boring fancy restaurants, so instead I popped into a little pub and had the most Irish meal I could get.

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A pint of Guiness and some traditional Beef & Guiness stew! With soda bread, (obv).  As I’m sure you can imagine, it was delicious.

After dinner I wandered around for a bit to check out the surroundings but due to my early morning / long bus journey all I really wanted to do was come back to the hotel, have a shower, update you kids, and go to bed.

So, I think that is what I will do. I’m not sure what I will do tomorrow on my  last day in Ireland, but I’m sure I’ll find something fun. Of course I’ll keep you posted!


Day 15 – Farewell to Schull

I feel blue 😦

It’s my last night in Schull with the Wells family and while I do miss home… I am going to miss this family (and this place!) SO much.

After my stay here I feel all kinds of humbled. This family took me in as a perfect stranger. The “deal” was that I was to come and work for them on their farm in exchange for meals and lodging. In theory, they could have put me up in a bare basics shack with bare basics meals. Instead, from the very first day I met them, they swooped me up and treated me as if I was their own. Never once did I feel like “the help”.  Their generosity and hospitality have helped make this experience probably one of the best experiences of my life. I absolutely vow to find a way to pay this forward.

And let’s not forget my dear darling WOODY!


This man has been my constant sidekick for the past two weeks. Always the gentleman he is the only dog I know that prefers to play fetch with rocks instead of sticks, my sweet little weirdo. It really sucks that you can’t Facebook/Skype an animal, I’m going to miss him.

Today Robin took me on an incredible drive to the Mizen Head, which is the most south westerly point of the peninsula in county Cork.  I know I’ve said this time and time again, but the views were breathtaking. Once again, my photo’s cannot come close to the actuality of the experience.

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My first bus to Cork  is at 8:05AM tomorrow morning. From Cork I will board another bus to Dublin and spend the next two nights in Dublin until home time on Wednesday.

For now I need to get packing and get some sleep and bid farewell to my new friends in Schull 🙂



Day 14 – It Never Gets Old

Sunny days, oooooooh, sunny sunny sunny days!

I decided to go on another walk into Schull today.  The sun was shining and and I was eager to take in as much of the landscape as possible before I leave the countryside and head to Dublin on Monday. Even though I’ve been here for two weeks, the scenery never gets old. I have about 7 million pictures of what seem like the exact same shot, cause I still feel like I haven’t adequately captured the magnificence.

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The wonderful little yellow flowers all over Ireland are called Gorse.


They have a very faint coconut-y smell to them, so it’s a real nostril adventure when you’re out walking and the smells jump from manure, to fresh country air, to animal, to miss Hawaiian tropic.

I still cannot figure out the deal with GMO labelling. Even the lady in the health food store didn’t seem to know. Everyone agrees that a label law IS in effect in Ireland, yet I can’t seem to find any labelled products. I have a really hard time believing that the common culprits don’t contain any here (sure thing Kellogs / Doritos). I will continue my investigation in Dublin.

While on my GMO label hunt I came across this long lost treasure in one of the supermarkets:


I can confirm that kidney tastes pretty similar to liver, and that it was in fact delicious. Ireland has totally reinvented the pie for me, apple and pumpkin really need to step up their game. Throw a kidney in there or something. #Lolz.

I’m always in awe of the plants in this wonderfully fascinating country. Check out this crazy purple prickly plant. It looks so regal and yet also kind of evil


Also check out these fabulous vine-wrapped trees. Don’t you feel like a hobbit or fairy is going to pop out of it? I did. Sadly none did though. Poo.


Ireland is in the midst of a big gay rights debate and a vote to legalize gay marriage is coming up, there is all kinds of signage all over the place.


It’s a very hot button topic around here and I’ve chosen to keep my mouth shut as there seems to be a bit of a divide in the house. I let the girls do my arguing for me (they are also very PRO!)

On my walk I came across this little bit of national heritage


I really hope a Canadian isn’t responsible for this. Come on Canada!

I’m feeling super tired tonight so I’m going to pretend like it’s just another bumpin Saturday night in Toronto and…go to bed in a few minutes (it’s 9:45PM).


Day 13 – Rain Freeze

Remember yesterday when I said it rained? And remember when I said it only really rains for 5 minute increments?


It rained today. All day. All…day. But not downpour, not enough to warrant running inside to hide, instead it was more like a heavy mist. I was cold, and a little (lottle) cranky.

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It’s funny because this is what I expected the weather to be like in Ireland, it was initially what I signed up for! After today, I’m very grateful for the beautiful weather I did have during my two weeks on the farm. I don’t think I’d be able to do that every day.

The rain did pick up enough to warrant an early lunch so I  came inside for cover around 12:30PM and enjoyed some soup, some Raffi, and some piano! Nobody was home so I could be a closet concert pianist for an hour.


I have determined that Ireland has the coolest worms. Between my two highlighters (see day 5) and this ultra chic polka dotted Betty I can confirm that Ireland is ahead in the stylish worm game.


My ducks are getting absolutely ridiculous.


I guess I have gotten pretty routine with putting them to bed at exactly 7:30 every night, and now they literally waddle around outside the front door waiting for me.

For some reason the sheep were feeling extra friendly tonight and ran up to say hello as I went to put the chickens to bed.


They normally ignore me so this was a refreshing change of pace. I have to be honest though…sheep aren’t very cute. They are actually mildly terrifying. They have very strange eyeballs and I was slightly nervous to jump the fence in case it was all a ploy to eat me.

Today was my last working day on the farm. I will enjoy the weekend with the family and then head to Dublin on Monday to wrap up this incredible Irish adventure. Still 4 more days of adventure left though, stay tuned!

Come on sun, you can do it!
Come on sun, you can do it!

Day 12 – MiraCOWS! (Miracles…)

Guys…remember the egg?

Okkkkkkk I’ll stop with the egg (it was so beautiful!)


But before I move on with today’s post I have to obsess over food for a bit longer (who is surprised?) Jessie has officially gotten me into Marmite. It is wonderful! I think the trick is to make sure to also have butter on your toast, solo Marmite just isn’t as good. I am officially a Marmite convert and will seek it out once I get home.

And on that note, look at their fun toaster!

step 1 - load the toast
   step 1 – load the toast
step 2 - toast the toast
step 2 – toast the toast

Alright, we can move on now. Well, another beautiful day in….ok it rained. But that didn’t bother me thanks to my handy dandy Wal-Mart rain coat! #goodinvestment


The thing I’m noticing with the rain in Ireland is that it doesn’t stick around very long (unless it’s the middle of the night…aka last night…a lot of wind… I did not sleep). It was pretty overcast all day but it really only rains for 5 minute increments.

The rain brought out all kinds of new friends!


You know how I’ve mentioned that the mom sheep sound like they ‘moo’ instead of ‘baa’? Well, today I was in the gardens and I heard a very loud, very distinct moo. I sort of peeked around the bush to see the responsible sheepcow and there was quite literally a posse of cows hanging out in the field behind the house.

moo tang clan (I wasn’t clever enough to come up with that…thanks R. Van Horne!)

I have no idea where they came from! And let me tell you, cows standing 3 feet away from you are LOUD! Holy moly. I talked to them for a few minutes until they got bored of me and walked away (rude) and I have not seen them since. If I didn’t have this photographic evidence I’d question if it actually happened. Regardless, it totally made my day! Why can’t cows suddenly appear as if from nowhere in the city? Lame.

No matter the weather, the sunsets are always magnificent.


See you tomorrow!

Day 11 – Awe of it all

Ahh…yet another beautiful day in the Emerald Isle. I’m always cold in the morning (partially cause it’s cold and partially cause I’m a wuss) and will generally start the day with both my jacket and a hoodie. By mid morning I’m down to just the hoodie and by lunch down to a T-shirt. That’s the farthest I can strip down though because Rob says “nudity upsets the plants” LOL.

Thou shalt not upset the plants!
Thou shalt not upset the plants!

I started today off with some fine West Cork yogurt and oatmeal. Maybe it’s just in my head but I swear it was the most delicious yogurt I’ve ever eaten. So creamy and so pure. The girls aren’t very impressed with my pronunciation of YO-gurt (apparently it’s yaw-gurt). I bought this yawgurt at the market on the weekend and forgot about it.  Sometimes my wonky  memory allows for some pleasant surprises!


I re-planted my poor tulips first thing this morning and I am hopeful for a speedy recovery. Rob says as long as I spoke nicely to them that they should be fine. Phew!


Our garlic garden is growing beautifully and the baby bulbs are looking magnificent!

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I swear the ducks (whom I’ve named Millie and Minnie) and I have formed a bond.  Ducks are really very sociable little animals. When I’m working in the main garden they are always near by keeping an eye on what I’m up too (aka checking if I have any food).  I loved this little feather path leading up to the pond where my beauties were enjoying a nice dip.


The chickens are out of control and laid 4(!) eggs for me tonight. I hard boiled some eggs for lunch today (I usually just have them scrambled or omelet style for breakfast). After my first bite I had to stop and savour ( / Instagram) the perfection that was that egg. Stunning.


Have you ever seen anything more magnificent?!?!? I’m still obsessing over it 9 hours later.  I will probably dream about that egg.

I have also deemed myself the weed master (that sounds bad) as I am a pro at giving the plants a weed-free makeover.

maybe she's born with it
maybe she’s born with it
maybe it's Maybelline
maybe it’s Maybelline

And now I am just relaxing hanging out with these two banana heads after having eaten a delicious fresh-caught Tuna steak dinner.


Check out the skies last night at 10PM as I was heading to bed.


It was still light out! Madness. You never cease to amaze me, Ireland ❤

Day 10 – Bees and Blunders!

Well today was yet another beautiful day in Ireland, I’m starting to think this “it always rains in Ireland” thing is a myth.


Today I decided that I will leave my beautiful Schull on Monday and head to Dublin for 2 nights. I fly out of Dublin  so I figured it would be nice to see a bit more of it before I go home. Now I’m trying to figure out what I want to do once I’m there – hop on hop off tour bus? Day tour to the cliffs / castles? Fairy and folklore dinner storytelling thing at Dublins oldest pub (how fun!!) – decisions decisions!

I’m pretty disappointed in myself for having been in Ireland for 10 whole days and not yet having had a pint in a pub. I still haven’t had Irish Stew yet either! Both on my Dublin to-do list for sure.

Anyhoo – back to Schull. What else can I tell you about life on the farm? I’ve noticed that although I’m outside in the gardens all day and usually by myself (+ Woody) I have yet to listen to my ipod. The sounds are too incredible to drown out! All day I listen to baaaaaa’s and moooo’s (only the lambs baa, I swear the mom sheep moo!) and quacks, and clucks, and chirps, and the wind and bees! God how much do I love the bees.

Much like North America, Ireland is facing a bee population decline and it just makes me SO happy to see them flying around doing their pollination thing and not being poisoned to death by the likes of Monsanto. I have a little bit of anger about the whole situation. Just a little bit.

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I made my first gardening blunder today. I accidentally (and ruthlessly) dug up tulip bulbs and tossed them away with the rest of the weeds and grass.  Rob was nice about it and explained that they can easily be re-planted, so that will be first on my to-do list tomorrow. Woops!

Today I also learned that I cannot do 5th grade math. Molly needed some help with her homework and I was literally stumped and had to use my phone calculator. She’s also beating me in our on-going boggle tournament. She is 10, I am 27. I don’t know why I’m announcing this lol.

Also! As part of the Irish elementary curriculum, kids learn how to play the tin whistle! Much like how we drove our family crazy with the recorder, Molly is driving her sister crazy with her tin whistle. I on the other hand can’t get enough of it. It’s so jovial and fun, and IRISH!  Check out this quick little video to see what I mean:


It is 9:35 PM here now and the sun is finally beginning to set. I’m an old lady and will probably be in bed in the next few minutes.

Until tomorrow! 🙂