Kilkenny Castle in Ireland

During our trip to Ireland, we really enjoyed visiting Kilkenny Castle in the quaint city of Kilkenny. We were staying in Dublin and hired a guide to take us to a variety locations as we headed from Dublin to the coast. Seeing this wonderful castle was certainly the highlight of the tour, but just driving through the countryside made the trip worthwhile. Construction began on the castle in the twelfth century and it is truly a magnificent residence. You are able to take a self-guided tour of the interior and exterior of the castle and it is well worth taking a couple of hours to visit the beautiful castle and gardens.

Walking to the Castle
Beautiful Castle
Elegant Dining Room
View of the Garden
Castle Entrance
Walking Around the Castle

It may have been a cloudy day during our visit to Kilkenny, but that didn’t distract from the beauty of the historic home. It was the home of the Butler family from 1391 to 1967 when it was granted to the people of Kilkenny. The rooms have been preserved to show the day-to-day living of the previous residents and provide a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy inhabitants. They are decorated so well that you could truly imagine that someone was still living in the castle.

Children’s Toys
Marble Fireplace
Small Piano
Family Art Gallery and Ballroom
Castle Hallway

The views from the castle’s rooms as well as the lawns are spectacular. The River Nore runs next to the castle and leads towards the heart of the city, where, in the distance, the cathedral towers dominate the skyline over the heart of Kilkenny. We visited many castles all throughout Europe and Kilkenny Castle is definitely one of the best preserved castles and was well worth taking the time to visit.

View from the Castle
The River Nore
Looking out the Castle Window
Family Crest
Kilkenny City
Stunning Castle
Looking Up
Another View

The Palace of Versailles near Paris, France

The Palace of Versailles is fascinating not only for its opulent, over-the-top decorations, but also for its truly interesting history. We visited during autumn, so the gardens weren’t in bloom, but they were still beautiful. There are several different sites on the palace grounds including the Royal Apartments, the Royal Stables, the Gardens, the Estate of Trianon, and the Hall of Mirrors. It is a quick train ride from Paris to reach Versailles, which is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) outside of Paris.

Gardens in Autumn

Gold Plated Details

The original building was a grand hunting lodge that was added to and modified to become the ornate palace that it is today. Over time, additional wings were added to the main palace building and additional salons were added. Although it is interesting to understand how King Louis XIV enlarged the palace starting in 1878 until his death in 1715, it certainly wasn’t without controversy and was a significant factor that lead to the French Revolution in 1789.

Palace From the Gardens

The Vast Palace Grounds

As you walk through the Royal Apartments, it is hard to imagine the King and Queen sitting in their beds and receiving visitors. It is even harder to imagine that select members of court and the church would gather around the bed on the wedding nights to confirm the consummation of the nuptials. Walking through the Hall of Mirrors is certainly an experience that we will never forget as the light from the windows that open to the gardens reflect off of the gilded mirrors.

Hall of Mirrors

Gold Clock

Palace of Versailles

Walking around the palace and its grounds provides a glimpse into a period in time when wealth and arrogance knew no bounds. Versailles should definitely be on your itinerary when planning a trip to Paris and it will take you a full day to fully enjoy all that there is to see.

Painted Ceiling

Statue Lined Roof

Apartment Bed with Viewing Area

Wat Ho Phra Keo in Vientiane, Laos

Of the many different temples that we visited in Vientiane, Wat Ho Phra Keo (also known as Haw Phra Kaew) was unique and different for a variety of reasons. Although several of the temples have gardens, the garden that leads to the entrance of the temple was very well groomed and colorful. It was also the one temple where we saw the most tourists during our visit to Vientiane. There is a nominal entrance fee in order get into the temple grounds, but it was included with our tour.

Walking Around the Temple

One of the Many Naga Statues that Guard the Temple

Well Groomed Garden

Statue of Buddha

Ancient Artwork Depicting the Ascent Towards Heaven

Built in 1565, the temple is quite beautiful. Wat Ho Phra Keo is located just down the street from Wat Si Saket, which is a Buddhist museum as well as a temple, so it is worth visiting both. There is also a museum and gift shop on the temple grounds and one of the most interesting exhibits during our visit were some ancient carvings made on petrified tree trunks. There were also some ancient, stone pots on display in the garden.

Carvings on a Tree Stump

Giant Stone Pot

Stained Glass Window

Colorful Flowers

View of the Temple

As with many of the temples, the inside of the main temple in Wat Ho Phra Keo is adorned with colorful images depicting the life of Buddha. There are also plenty of ancient statues of Buddha as well as other historical artifacts. We spent about thirty minutes walking the grounds and enjoying the garden and seeing the beautiful artwork.

Another Ornate Carving

Standing at the Door to the Temple

Statue in the Garden

Ancient Tablets and Artifacts

Turtle Statue on the Porch


More Artwork

View of the Garden as You Enter the Grounds