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March 2012

On The Road to a Virtual Voyage!

I figured a  “Throwback Thursday” would be a most appropriate time to wax nostalgic and invite you to join me on my next virtual vacation!  This weekend I will set off on a wondrous adventure “across the pond”  touring southern England!  As if that weren’t fabulous enough, I’m traveling with my daughter Sara, just the two of us, as her graduation gift before she heads off to college next month! 

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  During my 25+ years at ABC7, many of you have watched Sara grow up over the years - here’s the nostalgic part - and during that time she has become an incredible traveler! 








She took her first cruise before she was 2 - at 4, she was climbing pyramids in Mexico!

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At 6, Sara accompanied me and my Mom on a trip to Spain - 3 generations in our mother country! At 10, Sara was sightseeing through ancient Greece; at 12 she experienced the glaciers of Alaska!

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                         Alaska july 26 to aug 5 2008 146 (2)


I took her to President Obama’s first inauguration - we explored the holy land together with members of our congregation.

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I chaperoned a high school choir trip to Ireland, and back in the states we took road trips to our national parks and the entire stretch of Rt. 66!  Sara’s 18th birthday with a destination party to the “Happiest Place on Earth!”

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I now invite you to join us on our next adventure, as I share our discoveries in London and many other historic places in the UK.  We arrive at Heathrow Airport Monday August 4th; posts on Facebook and Twitter soon to follow!  As this is an “interactive vacation,” feel free to make suggestions, ask questions or give advice - this is the first time in the UK for both of us!

 https://www.facebook.com/RozVaronABC7   https://twitter.com/rozvaronABC7 

One more thing - a heartfelt thanks to my incredibly understanding husband for giving Sara and I this special bonding time while he stays at home.  Besides, someone has to watch the dogs, right?!


Bon Voyage!




On The Road to Dublin

With every performance in each different city of Ireland, not only do I learn more about this delightful country, I learn more about these very talented students. During the evening concert on Day 5, many our our kids' new friends from St. Brigid's came to see them perform in our hotel ballroom! How fitting that night's concert included a song by The Dubliners - "Night Visiting Song."

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Our education continues on Day 6, as we leave Galway and head to Dublin. On the way we stop at the ancient Monastic site, "Clonmacnoise," nestled along the River Shannon in County Offaly.

This area, known as "The Crossroads of Ireland" was once a major city and place of learning. We must have had the "luck of the Irish" on our side with a "picture perfect" day for taking pictures!

As we continued to our final leg of the trip, we stopped for our next performance at Holy Child, an all girls secondary school of 330 students. Once again, we are greeted with the warmth of a dear friend, as our students sang from the heart to their newly found peers.

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The young ladies from Holy Child presented us with the gift of song, performing "Cuanla," a traditional Irish folk tune.

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Several of our senior students had prepared a special arrangement of "Five Years Time" for the concert - the captive audience couldn't wait to hear it.

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Again I am impressed with how these teens are drawn together through music, making such an important impact in each other's lives.

With very little energy left, we head to our hotel in Dublin for the last full day of our Ireland adventure - and our final performance at the historic St. Patrick's Cathedral.


On The Road to The Ring of Kerry

The more things change, the more they stay the same. When my generation was 16, we didn't have cell phones, laptops, or any of the other technology that preoccupies today's teens - however, it's been my observation - especially on this trip with 40 teens, that the conflicts, struggles and ultimate rewards are pretty much the same. One minute I'm having an intellectually compelling conversation with a student...the next, the kids shriek with delight as our bus passes a flock of sheep grazing on the rocky hillside (and in Ireland, that happens every few minutes!) - more on the sheep later!
Day three took us through the Ring of Kerry, an incredibly scenic circular route, encompassing 180 km of castles, historic homes and quaint villages nestled within several peninsulas.

Our delightful guide, Liam, with his magically lyrical Irish brogue, surprised the students by stopping at a sheep farm for a herding demonstration given by Brendan Ferris and his award winning border collies!

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This eventful day culminated with the students' first concert at St. Mary's Church in Killarney. A very moving performance. We, as parents and music lovers could not have been more proud.

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Location:County Kerry, Ireland

On The Road to Ireland

Want to know your teen better? Go on a trip with them -want some insight into your teen's world? Go on a trip with them and 40 of their peers as a parent chaperone! My initial intention when I signed on as a chaperone for the high school music students' trip to Ireland was a tad self-serving...a chance to see a magnificent country for the first time, and spend some (very limited) time with my daughter. It's turned into much more.
Our first two days were a whirlwind of history, foliage and fun sprinkled with jet lag! Each chaperone has 4 students in their group. We began our adventure at The Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. This historic site was the seat of kings from the 4th century until 1101 when it was presented to the church. Talk about ancient artifact!

At the end of our tour we made our way to Cork for dinner and some well needed sleep!
By our second day, many of us were adjusting to the 5 hour time difference - good thing, because we were on our way to the Blarney Castle & Gardens, to climb the narrow stairs that lead to the top of the castle, to kiss "the Blarney Stone" (like I really need any help in the gift of gab department!).

The odd thing is, tradition requires you to lay on your back and bend backwards to "kiss the stone" nearly upside down! I guess, "when in Rome..." right?! The gardens were absolutely amazing - 60 acres of the most brilliant hues you can imagine. The greenery is everything you've heard about and then some! The "Emerald Isle" doesn't begin to cover the richness of the deep green foliage that surrounds us.

Before leaving the area, we "shopped 'til we dropped" at Blarney Woollen Mills - the "largest Irish Gift Shop in the world!". I believe it! Strike a pose!

Our day wraps up at Killarney National Park - an incredible 26-thousand acres filled with mountains, lakes, woodlands and waterfalls! The fresh air was almost intoxicating. The serene beauty was beyond magnificent!

All this in just 2 days! Day 3 will bring more sightseeing, and then the students' first performance - and they are amazing!


On The Road To St. Brigid's Vocational School, County Loughrea, Galway Ireland

The world is a very big place - today it got just a little bit smaller. The concert at St. Brigid's Vocational School in Galway created an instant bond between students who normally share their love of music in very different places, thousands of miles away. This afternoon, they couldn't get on other's Facebook page fast enough!

Day 5 began with a tour of Connemara Marble, and a demonstration on how the famous green marble, unique to Ireland, is used in beautiful jewelry. If your child is on this trip, don't be surprised if you receive a lovely gift!

Our wonderful guide, Liam, didn't want to pass up an opportunity for the kids to venture out on the beach on the way to the school concert - as long as they didn't track sand on the bus - my kinda guy!

As we pulled into the parking lot of St. Brigid's, the kids couldn't contain their excitement at the special reception from their Irish companions.

**Pay close attention to the songs you hear on the bagpipes in this video!

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The concert was magical. Our students were amazing, and their Irish counterparts were thrilled by their performance. BTW, I didn't see one parent chaperone with a dry eye in the place, myself included!

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When it was time for the St. Brigid's students to perform, our kids were just as amazed, if not more so, by the wonderful representation of Irish culture in music, song and dance.

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"Riverdance," you've got nothin' compared to Clodagh Harris's Traditional Hornpipe Dance! Our students were mesmerized - so were the adults!

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After the concert the students had a chance to socialize. They were so curious, and wanted to know more about each other on every level!

To observe this was so touching to me. If we just open our eyes, and try to look at the world without blinders, we can see that we really aren't all that different from one another. We can learn so much from our children.

I am blessed to be on this trip.

On The Road to Galway

I don't know which part of this Ireland trip I find more exciting - the adventure seen through my eyes, discovering this lush and magnificent country with a fascinating history...or seeing it through my daughter's eyes - a new experience around every turn, from the early morning mist that greets you each day, to the genuine warmth of the Irish people who have been so kind and welcoming to this group of Americans.

As day 4 began, we said goodbye to Killarney and hello to Galway. We got there via ferry on the River Shannon, the largest river in Ireland ("You mean the bus goes on the ferry too?!")

We make our way to the Cliffs of Moher, a magical vista along the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare, an incredible natural structure that was formed 320 million years ago!

We explored O'Brien's Tower, built in 1835 as a viewing point for tourists. On a clear day you can see 5 counties - but not as far as Boston, as our tour guide jokingly suggested!

As if that site weren't enough, we continued on to the amazing Poulnabrone Dolmen. A "dolmen" is an ancient tomb - "Poulnabrone" translates to "hole of sorrows" in Irish. This burial ground dates back to the Neolithic Period, 4200 BC - 2900 BC. During the most recent excavation in 1985, 33 bodies were found buried under the monument.

Because of the uneven way sunlight hits the jagged rocks, this is the only place in the world, we are told, where plants from the Mediterranean grow alongside plants from the Tundra!

Our hotel in Loughrea beckons; the next performance will be at a local high school. Through the eyes of my child......