Browsing Tag

guinness

Ireland Travel

April Recap

 

This is me being a diligent blogger for once in my life and actually starting on a post on time! You can thank the fact that I needed to deep condition my hair, which means I actually am very productive around the house for those few hours a month. Settle in because this is going to be a long one and it’s not even covering the full month 🙂

I wanted April to be different than March or February. I was going to proactively do things around Ireland even if it meant doing them alone. First step: get a piercing. Right after that I think the surrounding pedestrians noticed my realized confidence and someone asked me for directions #localstatus

My high school friend, Ruthie, was coming to visit so I had that to look forward to, but when I went to pick her up from the airport she surprised me and brought along our other friend from high school, Alicia – FROM ALASKA! I was very surprised (it was also 6AM on a Sunday) so I’m not really sure what my reaction looked like other than confused lol. I don’t get surprised like that very often and I was only half-awake so I think I just hugged everyone and then got back into the car. We immediately left Dublin for the Cliffs of Moher.

I had already been (if you’ve been reading since the origination of my blog then you already know this), but this was the first time in Ireland for both Ruthie and Alicia and that is one of the #1 sites to see so off we went. Because we had such an early start we managed to beat most of the tour busses/tourists to the Cliffs. It was a GORGEOUS day as you will be able to tell from the pictures below. They have updated the visitor center since the last time I went and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. I will probably end up doing another photo post at the end of the trip with updated pictures since everyone else took a bunch and haven’t uploaded them yet.

After the Cliffs, we went to Galway for a bit for some lunch. The drive between the Cliffs and Galway is so beautiful and green. It was staying a nice day, which was awesome since I had to drive on some very tiny roads! We hung out in Galway for a few hours and then made our way to Limerick for the night.

I had the next day off of work so we visited King John’s Castle before heading back to Dublin. I showed them a little bit of Dublin and found out their plans for the week. Ruthie had originally just given me some basic plans because she didn’t want to let on that Alicia was also coming. Alicia also is super handy and helped me air up my tires because I’m basically helpless with car issues.

 

Alicia’s dad is originally from Ireland and was adopted as a young child. The rest of the family is very interested in learning more about his heritage, but since most of the records from that time were only recently released, you generally have to actually come to Ireland to learn anything. The girls spent two days doing some of that research and were actually able to come away with a lot more information than I thought that they would. They also went to the Book of Kells at Trinity College, did a walking tour of North Dublin, and had high tea at a hotel. It was a short visit, but they made the most of their time.

On their last night we went to Murray’s over on O’Connell Street where they have Traditional (Trad) music and Irish dancing. They pulled Alicia up on stage to dance and she was presented with a certificate that we made the bartender sign. He also shared with me that you can add Black Currant juice to Guinness and now I can finally finish a whole pint. #proudmoment  

In between the guests I needed to attend to my roots. At home I generally go see Sydney, my hairdresser, every 6-10 weeks (depending upon upcoming events). Three months without at least one touch up was not going to cut it for me. It took us a long time to get my hair to where we are and I was really nervous about anyone else touching it. Fortunately I found a salon really close to my apartment that uses Olaplex (if you don’t know what it is SEE the magic) and seemed to really know their way around blonde hair so I felt like I was in good hands. Five hours later I am pleased to say that my hair is still a gloriously silver blonde through and through. If you are ever in Dublin and need a salon I can now highly recommend Angels and Cowboys in City Centre.

(not a sponsored post)

The next day was still lovely so I finally made the trip out to Howth. I was supposed to go multiple times on different occasions, but plans always fell apart. You need nice weather when you go too and you never know when that is going to be so make the most of it! #carpediem.

I really enjoyed seeing a part of Dublin that I hadn’t visited yet and am now totally contemplating getting a vacation home in Howth when I am rich and famous. Howth is a small, seaside town with a Marina and hiking trails. I visited Howth Castle then made my way down the road to the coast. I indulged in some fresh seafood, walked around the town and the little market, then took a hike on Howth Head. I managed to get out of there before it started raining again, but I am hoping to go back once more before leaving.

 

A few days later Melissa and Brian came to visit. They have frequently been featured in the blog and always have a couch for me to crash on at home so now I get to return the favor. They were staying for a whole week and I took a day off of work so we shoved as much into those days as humanly possible.

They also took advantage of this service I had discovered on my last trip: Flytographer. Basically, the idea is that pictures are one of your best mementos from a trip, but either you’re traveling alone and relying on the compassion of other travelers to capture that moment for you or you are a couple and can never be in the same picture together. Flytographer has photographers based in cities all over the world who are there to capture that trip for you in a photo session. Melissa’s birthday happened while she was here and it was also their 10 year dating anniversary (they have been married for three). The day after they got here they had a photo session with Vanessa and absolutely loved it. By the time they left their pictures were ready so I was able to see them and account for their awesomeness. I am now super jealous that I didn’t also book a session for myself, but there will hopefully be more trips in the year to come. #fingerscrossed 

After their photography session, we went for Melissa’s birthday dinner at the hotel where I stayed last time, The Shelbourne, at The Saddle Room. It was delicious, but because we were not guests of the hotel and it was Good Friday, we were not allowed to drink. Randomly, Ireland takes Good Friday VERY seriously and no pubs or restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol (so a lot of places are closed). Hotels can, but only to their residents. Curiously though, on actual Easter you are allowed to drink and most business are open. I had prepared by buying some wine before they arrived so we partook once back at the apartment and there was rejoicing in the land!

The next day we went to Kilkenny and Waterford. We left Dublin super early in the morning on the train (which was a new experience for me in Ireland). We stopped first in Kilkenny, which is apparently a big party town that I will need to re-vist next time I come. The town had a huge castle that we toured and had tons of cute, little shops and very friendly people. We discovered that Brian had an inner-photographer in him that had been lying dormant until this moment. Once they upload all of their pictures I’ll nab some for my photo recap post once my trip is over.

After Kilkenny, we hopped back on the train and headed to Waterford for some lunch (shoutout to Brian for overcoming his salmon allergy before eating ALL the seafood chowder in Ireland) and then we visited the Waterford Crystal Factory. I don’t know why, but I have been obsessed with seeing the factory ever since I found out it was in Ireland. It was honestly really cool, but it was totally different in my mind (as was Waterford). I wanted to buy everything, per usual, but settled on a package of 4 wine goblets that are currently being shipped back to my house. I’ve got my eye on a peacock carved crystal bowl though (also available at Macy’s) in case anyone wanted to get me a birthday present (on the 25th!).

 

 

We were supposed to take the train from Waterford all the way back to Dublin, but something was going on with the line we had to use so we took the train as far as we could go then they put us on a bus for an hour to get back to Dublin. While at the train station in Waterford, Melissa discovered that she had lost her phone… which was also holding her credit card and driver’s license.

Fortunately it was safely in the cab we had just left that was still nearby and we were able to avoid disaster once retrieved! The rest of the group we were with consistently asked her at each of the next stops if she had her phone as did Brian and I the rest of the trip. She will never live that down 😉

The next day was another early one as we set off for Blarney and Cork. On the way to Blarney we stopped at the Rock of Cashel. I had never heard of it, but honestly it was really beautiful and I would love to do a photoshoot here. Melissa and I just kept marveling over how Dublin always seems to have the best lighting for pictures (i.e. overcast). The Rock of Cashel is an ancient church in ruins complete with a graveyard. I was really impressed with this seemingly commonplace ruin (there are just so many of them).

After that little stop we hopped back on the bus and were soon in Blarney to visit the very famous Blarney Stone. Our tour guide warned us that if that was our major goal for the day then we needed to hop to it before the rest of the tourists did. I didn’t think we were that excited initially by it, but Melissa and Brian took off RUNNING for it so I followed. We did manage to beat most people to the stone and as I am always competitive that did give me a sense of accomplishment. We got our pictures with the stone (I fake kissed it since I heard rumor that drunk teenagers sneak up there to pee on it) and headed back down to enjoy the grounds.

Clearly, I had not done enough research because I totally didn’t realize that there was an actual castle and grounds in Blarney. We spent several hours wandering through the forest, taking about a billion pictures (Brian), and enjoying the beautiful day. We finished the site with some Irish coffees to-go and headed back to the bus to visit Cork.

 

We were in Cork just long enough to finish a pint before heading back to the bus to get back to Dublin. The wonderful thing about tours is that even though most things are several hours away YOU don’t have to drive! You are free to nap, read, write, daydream, eat some snick-snacks, do whatever you please. I have generally had great experiences with using tour guide services and still continue to recommend them. They are generally incredibly knowledgeable about the locations and sometimes even have their own funny stories.

As we were leaving Dublin that morning our bus driver/tour guide drove us by this huge open field that Braveheart had used when filming. Apparently back in the day, when they were filming it cause a lot of traffic issues for the people living in the area. To alleviate some of the grievances the movie crew told the village that they could all be extras in the movie and would even get paid. If you have seen the movie (which I have not…. yet) then you may remember a scene where several men lift up their kilts and moon some people. My bus driver was proudly one of the mooners and remembers that time fondly. #culture

I had that next day off so we slept in a bit and then tried to go see Bram Stoker’s grave at Christchurch Cathedral right by my apartment. It was like 6 euro to go in and we didn’t really feel like it at the time so we skipped out and bought some carrots to feed the deer. We drove over the park and fortunately found a small group of the deer fairly quickly. They LOVED the carrots and let us pet them before the park ranger came over to break up the party. We then walked closer to the front of the park to see this huge statue then left to go visit the Tullamore Dew Distillery.

Brian’s #1 request for the trip was to visit the distillery. This is a fairly small one and no tours leave from Dublin to see it. Fortunately, I have a car this time so I was able to accommodate this request fairly easily. What I didn’t realize was that to get here you have to get on the M50 Motorway and pay a toll, but not at the tollbooth. For whatever reason you have to remember to call or visit a website to pay you toll by 8pm the next day…. guess who forgot and paid it a few days later. I’ll have to update you when my rental car gets turned in about the outcome of that delay.

The distillery is actually really cool. It was recently updated in 2014 after being out of commission for a long period of time and all of the floors are original. We got there pretty early so we ate lunch in their restaurant and started peeking at the gift shop. The legal limit in Ireland is .01 as opposed to America’s .08 so I was not going to be imbibing. They gave me a little take home bottle as compensation for my abstinence. I was also REALLY tired so I found a comfy seat and promptly slept through the entire tasting session so it turned out to be a win-win. We bought way too much at the gift stop (I’m an enabler – what can I say?) then headed back to Dublin for a Skype session with some of our friends in Africa.

We got dinner at Boxty and it was delicious per usual and Melissa even got some of the Boxty mix to bring back home. I may have to pick some up as well before I leave. We did some souvenir shopping and then got one last drink for the night at a pub just outside of Temple Bar.

I had to go back to work, but Melissa and Brian ended up going to Giant’s Causeway and The Cliffs of Moher the next two days so I would meet them back in Dublin at night for dinner to hear about their adventures. We also visited the oldest bar in Dublin – The Brazen Head. It was a good way to end their trip and I was really sad to see them go. I always have a great time with them and am very fortunate to call them friends. 🙂

Side story: My friend Blair is super into finding flight deals and had made plans for our friend group to take an adventure in September. He was going to look in May for something and we would knowingly only have a small window of oppotunity to say yes before the deal closed. I happened to get a text from him in April the day of the United Airlines catastrophe about a deal at the end of September for Belize. I’ve never been to South America and I trust his trip-planning skills so I whipped out my credit card and confirmed my excitement for yet another adventure! I’ve only heard good things from several other Irish people who’ve gone and I am looking forward to a beach vacation SO BAD. I also discovered that there are sharks there so I’ll be diligent about my water activities since I think that a shark attack is probably one of the worst ways to die/have to live the rest of your life remembering. Even if the sharks don’t get me I’ll be on the lookout since I’m flying United now 😉

April isn’t over, but this post is getting ridiculously long and we haven’t even hit my birthday yet so I’ll just make the next post at least for the end of April or potentially combine it with part of May. Stay tuned and see what happens 🙂

Happy Reading

-Savvy

Ireland

Daily Activities in Dublin

me in the park

Hello, Readers!

Just wanted to post some of the fun things I did around the town in Dublin during my weeks here. Things close fairly early here during the week so you’ve really got to plan if you want to do something else besides eat!

Speaking of eating… go check out my guest posts over at The Mizu Blog to see where I ate while I was in Dublin! I went to a lot of amazing restaurants and had a fabulous time with some great people. We also started #LiveTwEATing some of our meals so go check out the Twitter feed as well!

I already posted about the Guinness Storehouse and Riverdance. This week I went to see the play Once, which also has a movie that I have never seen, but apparently is very good. Musicals can either be hit or miss with me, but this was a hit. It was very different than all of the other musicals I have ever been to. There were normal audience members in the first scene since a good portion of it is set in a pub. All of the actors stayed on the set the entire play, but would sit on the sides and watch the other scenes as they happened. It was at the Olympia Theater right in the heart of Dublin and was opened in 1879. The chairs are VERY small, but fortunately I was seated next to a pole so I only had one seat mate!

11984420_10153635002236563_177357386_o 12006782_10153635002186563_1129533918_o

12001933_10153635002571563_1974292716_o  12008270_10153635002496563_2135251124_o

After seeing Once, I decided to do what fancy people do, as suggested by one of my many taxi drivers, and go to The Shelbourne to get a glass of champagne. My bartender tried to persuade me to order a bottle so that way I would get a dozen oysters. As much as I love a good oyster, I politely declined his offer.

12001965_10153635001866563_834618287_o 11992438_10153635001636563_782486430_n

I walked through St. Stephen’s Green Park multiple times to look at the ducks and swans. I always meant to brings some bread to feed them, but clearly forgot each time. Apparently homeless people live in the park at night. It is very well kept and even though there are tons of “Keep off the Grass” signs, no one listens. I’m not sure what Ireland’s open container laws are, but I definitely saw more than one drunk Irish man with a can of beer chatting with his lads. The park is a very nice place to have a chat or just unwind from a long day. I could also cut through the park to get to the famous Grafton Street, which is where I went almost every single day.

Random street performer who almost burned me and herself

Random street performer who almost burned me and herself

My work threw a get-together for all of our teams at one of the hotels in Temple Bar that was way more fun than normal work parties in the States! They had tons of food and drinks and afterwards we all went out to this club called Dicey’s. It is right next to this other, super-famous club in Ireland called Copper Face Jack’s, aka Copper’s. I was told about it all of the time, but never got a chance to go. If I ever get to come back then I will make it a point to visit at least once. Everyone I met during my trip had a Copper’s story to tell me, so now I need one! People in clubs here don’t grind or fist pump, which I thought was nice, but odd. I love a good fist-pump (shout out to my East Coast college friends!), but I was THE ONLY ONE fist pumping at Dicey’s!! They play “cheesy-music”, which is like 90’s Pop, so clearly I love the club scene here. #britneyforever #byebyebye

I must admit that even though it is very touristy and overpriced, I did visit the actual Temple Bar. There are also a lot of good souvineer shops over there, which I had to visit a few times. I completely put off buying souvenirs until the very end of the trip, so sorry if I forgot anyone! Hopefully I’ll be back in the next few months! I am going to see if my work wouldn’t potentially give me a temporary transfer over here, which would be a-mazzz-ingggg!

I’ll post more later about my last weekend and my flights home. I am currently in the airport and it has already been a mini-fiasco so look for that one later!

Cheers!

-Savvy

Ireland

Weekend #1 of Ireland

Hello Again from Dublin! 

panorama carrick bridge

As I alluded in my last post, my mother and I went on a tour of Northern Ireland on Saturday. We booked it through Viator.com which has a lot of really great tours that aren’t super expensive. Our tour was 13 hours, took us all over the country, and we had two awesome tour guides. It ended up being around $60. The bus was nice and new, we weren’t rushed, and it had wifi!

before the tour

We started the tour in front of Starbucks at 7am on Saturday. Our bus pulled right up. JP, our tour guide, checked us right in and we found our spots. After everyone was settled in we were on our way to the next stop to pick up a few more people. We stopped at a very nice petrol station about an hour away and got some breakfast then kept on heading towards Belfast. We had the option to take either a black cab tour of the city of Belfast to get a more in-depth background on the prior political unrest or take a tour of the recently updated Titanic Museum. We decided that we could google the political stuff and instead went into the museum. It is right next to Titanic Studios where some of Game of Thrones is filmed.

titanic musuem    Titanic Ticket

The Titanic Museum was awesome. Our bus was the first one there so the tour wasn’t very crowded when we got there. It is self guided and could take you three hours if you really took your time. We had two hours so we had to stop dawdling towards the end. Sarah might have teared up a time or two during the process. Also, Celine plays on repeat during on section. Not complaining.

I'll never let go    my heart will go on

After the museum we hopped back on the bus to make our way towards Giant’s Causeway. JP gave us some more insight on the landscape, famous people who were from the small towns we drove through, and other interesting political facts. Richard, our bus driver/second tour guide, also pipped in with some interesting facts. They enjoyed playing Irish musicians such as U2, Enya, and Hozier. There were also some traditional music played, but clearly I am not going to remember those names.

Giant’s Causeway was amazing. We hiked around for a long time and I am very glad we went the way we did. It was a bit of a hike and fortunately the route we took was mostly downhill. Sorry to those people who didn’t realize what we knew from the beginning. The pictures I’ve posted do not do it justice. We also had the PERFECT day for this tour (which I think we will pay for in rain the next few days).

JP pic  down the stairs  savvy on the rock

After hiking for like an hour and half, we ate lunch at this quaint, little restaurant right by the cliffside. I was the one getting Fish and Chips this time (with mushy peas!) and mom (Sarah) got Guinness Strew with puff pastry and mashed potatoes. Suuuuuper good.

After we got back on the bus, JP informed us that in 10 minutes we would get to hike again! Giant’s Causeway is very close to another historical site, the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge. This is literally nothing more than a glorified rope bridge. The line took FOREVER. However, the views were pretty amazing and the bus didn’t leave us like I thought they would so it all worked out. Literally stood in like for probably 2 hours to cross this tiny bridge and come back.

back ove bridge  selfie stick

That was the end of the sight-seeing so Richard and JP drove us back to Dublin with a list of restaurants and pubs to visit for the rest of our stay. The actual tour was on Wild Rover, we just booked it through Viator.com. I would highly recommend it since driving in Dublin seems to not be a task for the weak. I always enjoy being chauffeured around so I quite enjoyed it.

giant's causeway  mom and cows

We came back soooo tired from our tour, but still hungry. We stopped at this burger place off Grafton Street that was quite good. I think it was called Gourmet Burger Co? I am pretty sure it is a chain at least around Dublin. It’s fairly similar to Hopdoddy in the US. My burger tastes like the Steakburger that I get there. Instead of Parmesan Truffle fries they have Rosemary fries, which are very tasty. Mom got a Sweet Potato burger that she also enjoyed. The onion rings were the best part according to her.

Today we slept in really late (like 10:30 which is unheard of for either of us). We got ready and then walked in the rain for what felt like forever. You can google if you like from the Conrad Dublin to the Guinness Storehouse to see just how far we walked. Let’s also remember that we got lost part of the way and it is raining. I was not a happy camper. Suddenly all of the cabs in Dublin only take cash. What is up with that? THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY PEOPLE! One of the drivers gave the excuse that he didn’t want his wife to know how much he made. Cheeky…

We eventually made it to the Guinness Storehouse along with every other tourist in the greater Dublin area. It is apparently Ireland’s #1 Tourist Attraction. I am a boss and had gotten us tickets beforehand so all I had to do was pick them up from Information and we got to skip all of the lines (and pay a lower price!). It is a self guided tour through a huge building with like 9 floors. They don’t count the ground floor as floor 1 the way we do in America. That is floor 0 (zero). We slowly made our way through all of the floors and decided to stop at a little cafe about halfway through the actual tour. THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD. It may have been the fact that it was probably 2pm at this point, we hadn’t eaten that day, we had walked super far in the rain, and I was starving. It wasn’t expensive the way cafes usually are when they know you’re trapped which was also a nice gesture.

beer

After we got some good food we went into the room where  you can learn how to pour the perfect pint. I’ll let you in on a little secret… I hate beer. Mom likes it ok, but we both don’t like Guinness. Sorry to all of you beer connoisseurs out there, I’ve just never developed a taste for it. I wish I liked it. I feel like parties and social gatherings would be easier. On the other hand, I LOVE wine and I will drink whatever you have, even if I don’t like it. That is how much I love wine. Unfortunately, it seems to be too rainy in Ireland for wine, so beer it is. Pouring Guinness is great fun. We learned that there are 6 Steps to Pour a Perfect Pint. Did you know that? We all also got a little certificate with our names on it to show that we went through the “rigorous” training required.

After you pour your pint, you get to take it with you all over the floor and up to the bars on the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors. On the 7th Floor is the Gravity Lounge which is a 360 degree view of Dublin. It was pretty cool, but also SUPER crowded so mom and I ditched our beers on a table and peaced out to the gift shop. I bought some souvenirs to take home (and maybe a present for some lucky people ;))

gravity bar

After another treacherous walk back through the rain we were able to exchange some dollars for euros at a tourist shop and I discovered my favorite soap shop, Lush! We have them back in America where I frequent them for their organic hair, skin, and body products. The UK versions have some updated items and since the dollar is so strong against the euro right now, the products are actually cheaper here than in the states! Of course I had to stock up :D. We were then running a little late for Riverdance so I promised the shop girl I would be back.

We made our way over to the Gaiety Theater for Riverdance 20! This is the 20th Anniversary of Riverdance and it is only going on until August 30th so I was really happy we caught it in time. The show was awesome. Unfortunately, they did not allow me to take any pictures so I only have pictures of the sign. I am sure if you youtube clips there will be some toe-tapping fun that you can find.

11890554_10153594672161563_1415010796_o riverdance outside

We were very cold and tired after the performance so my mom and I just headed back to the hotel to eat at the restaurant there. I hadn’t tried it yet and I am happy to report that the food was very good. I had orzo pasta and mom had sea bass. We both had butternut squash soup and she had the waiter convince me to get dessert. All of it was amazing.

riverdance inside

I realize this post is one week late, but I was having some issues uploading pictures to the blog. I’ll try to post more often this week.

Happy reading!

-Savvy