My Ireland Travel Bucket List

This September marks 10 years of me living in Ireland. How time flies. I can’t believe I have lived on the Emerald Island for 10 whole years. Neither have I thought that I am going to actually stay here. The plan was to spend one year in a foreign country which in my case was Ireland. I had no intention of staying, finding a job, a home, a man and start a family. After spending one year in Ireland in 2007, I wanted to stay a bit longer. It dragged out. Soon I realised it was mean to be. Leaving my home country Germany behind and starting a new life in a complete new country.

Ireland is a not a big island. It takes approximately 5 hours to travel from Sligo to the South of Ireland. With that in mind you’d think in those 10 years I have seen most places. You thought wrong. I know Dublin and the West of Ireland and some places in the midlands but mainly the South of Ireland is non existing to me and my camera.

I created a bucket list of places I would like to visit. My aim is to complete this list in the next year or two. Ireland has beautiful landscape to offer. Even though it can be a hit and miss sometimes with the weather. It rains a lot unfortunately. I suppose to make the most out of it, get the rain gear out and off you go.

Aran Islands

Image Credit: Lallytours
Image Credit: Lallytours

The islands are located off Galway and Doolin. I was in Galway so many times but I have never managed to buy a ticket in Salthill and go over. Maybe soon.

Ring of Kerry

Image Credit: GoWest
Image Credit: GoWest

You hear a lot about the Ring of Kerry and it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland. To some it might be just a normal road route but it’s famous for its beautiful scenery and heritage. It starts off in the town Killarney. You can take three roads which are the N70, N71 and R562, To give you heads up on the road names, the N Roads are generally easy to drive. The R roads are typical country roads which can be very narrow and bumpy but in saying that they can also be the best roads to bring you to the most beautiful scenery.

Rock of Cashel

Image Credit: Wikipidea
Image Credit: Wikipidea

One of the most popular and most visited tourist attractions is located in Country Tipperary. It’s also known as Cashel of Kings and was seat of the High Kings of Munster.
Right now you can visit Rock of Cashel between 9am and 7pm with an admission fee of €7. The first Wednesday of every month gets you in for free.

Dingle

Image Credit: Wikipidea
Image Credit: Wikipidea

Dingle is located at the very bottom of Ireland slightly West. It would take me over 5 hours to drive from Sligo. It’s also the home of the famous dolphin Fungie. One of the reasons why I would like to visit. There are one hour Dolphin boat tours operating from the Pier of Dingle.
While in Dingle I will also have to drive the Slea Head Route. It is advised to leave early during the summer month and to drive it clockwise as the roads are very narrow. It takes around three to four hours. On the way you’ll find multiple attractions like the town Inch with its beautiful beach.

Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone

Image Credit: Wikipedia
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Blarney is located 8km from Cork City. The castle itself is mainly a ruin but some parts of it can be viewed. What makes the castle so famous, is its “Stone of Eloquence”. The stone is said to bestow the gift of the gab on all the people who kiss the stone. It is advised to have a second person helping you kissing the stone because you have to lie on your back, dangling over the edge, trying to reach the stone with your lips. A kind of dangerous attraction but well worth it if you follow the instructions.

Dursey Island Cable Car

Dursey Island is located in the Western part of Cork. This is where Ireland’s only cable car operates and traverses open seawater in all of Europe. You might get lucky and see the dolphins jumping in the water while going over. The cost is 8 Euro return.

Whale Watching in Cork

Image Credit: Whale Watch West Cork
Image Credit: Whale Watch West Cork

West Cork attracts minke whales, fin whales and humpback whales. Weather depending you can book your trip on Cork’s Whale Watching Website.

Powerscourt Gardens

Image Credit: Powerscourt.com
Image Credit: Powerscourt.com

Moving to the East of Ireland… Powerscourt Gardens and its Waterfall located in County Wicklow. The waterfall is the highest one in all British Isles. You’ll see many beautiful things in the garden such as Japanese gardens and old trees. I can imagine this place is glorious on a warm summer day. A packed picnic is well worth it to have here.

Afternoon Tea @ Eala Bhan

Eala Bhan

On Sunday, two friends and I decided to go for some afternoon tea in Eala Bhán in Sligo town beside the Garavogue River. We got into the habit now of trying out all local afternoon tea places. I booked the space ahead in case it was full. But in fact normally there is no afternoon tea on a Sunday. Thanks to the owner Anthony, he still allowed us to enjoy some afternoon tea in his restaurant.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the friendly staff and were guided to our seats. The table setting was already done up in a nice cosy area by the window. We were asked whether we want to have tea or coffee. The tableware was all China.

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A few minutes later, we got the first lot of our afternoon tea food. As we were three people, we were presented with a 3 tier each. The options were a creamy goats cheese on bagel and bread, chicken pesto and egg mayonnaise. All canapes were garnished with some rolled up ham and cheese, chives or tomatoes.

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When we were finished, we took a few minutes to ourselves to make room for the dessert. We also got a top up of tea. Apart from the tea, you also get a jug of water by the way. When our stomachs were set, the waitress came with our desserts. These were presented on a kind of “chalk board” plate. It looked pretty cool. On the plate we had the choice of lemon tart, chocolate fudge cake and what looks like it was profiteroles but there was no cream in it so it was a plain choux pastry. A bit too dry for my liking.

afternoon tea dessert

afternoon tea dessert 2

So what did I think about the whole afternoon tea experience?

The staff were very friendly and helpful. They asked multiple times if we were ok or if we need anything else such as more tea or water. The setup in Eala Bhán is nice and peaceful. The afternoon tea itself was a bit different as I would have expected it to be if I am honest. A packed 3 tier full of sandwiches and desserts is the traditional afternoon tea way. I suppose everyone has their own kind of ways and expectations. One or two scones on the side would have been nice too. In saying that, nevertheless we came out with a stuffed stomach.

Afternoon tea is served between 12pm – 3pm Monday to Saturday at a cost of €24.95.

*I was invited by Eala Bhán to try out their afternoon tea. All photos and opinions are my very own.

New Car Booster Seat Regulations

Early this year the Department of Transport has released a statement on possible new regulations for booster seats. They have yet to confirm a date when this is going to happen.
There has been talks of allowing backless booster seats for children who weigh more than 22 kg and are taller than 125 cm only. Keeping our children safe while traveling in the car, is the most important thing to us parents.

Backless car booster seats are basically a cheap version of the Group 2/3 car seats. I don’t find car seats that expensive these days any more though. Personally I prefer a proper high back car seat for my kids until a certain age. I find them safer than the backless booster seats.

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My Son Matthew, who will turn 4 at the end of August, has been in his Dimples Group 123 car seat since the age of 9 months. It was the most cost efficient car seat at the time and we are still very happy with it. A few weeks ago I took out all the patterns in it because it was getting a bit tight. This car seat, according to the instructions on it, will last him until the age of 11 years. I know a lot of people who moved their toddler into an adult seat belt already. Right now I still have him in the harness because he hasn’t reached the weight of 18 kg just yet.

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For my daughter Chloe I had to buy the Graco Group 1 car seat. She wasn’t the age or weight at the time yet to be in a 123 car seat. This car seat will last her up until the age of 4. So we will get just over 2 more years out of it.

If you have a toddler, who needs to move into the next stage car seat anytime soon, check out Online4baby for great value car seats such as these high back booster seats. This will definitely be my “go to” website when I have to buy a new car seat for Chloe.

*this is a sponsored post. Opinions are my own as always.

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Our family summer holiday is just around the corner. 13 more days and we are in Spain checking into our hotel in Benidorm near Alicante. We are going for 10 days. I don’t really see the point in going for just a week with 2 small children. By the time you are leaving again, the kids are just settled in. So 10 days is absolute minimum. This is our first family holiday going abroad. I am planning to go somewhere hot with the kids every year from now on. (shhh, I didn’t break the news to hubby just yet) My mum and I went abroad every year from the age of 5. I would like to give my kids the same experience and let them see the world.
Apart from the mini heat wave we had over the weekend, Ireland isn’t exactly a place you can holiday in. It’s mostly raining and windy. I do like to take a mini holiday in autumn or Spring but the summer should be dedicated to places like Spain or Portugal.

The holiday we booked, was actually supposed to be our “family moon”. To anyone who doesn’t know what a “family moon” is… It’s a honeymoon really but you are enjoying it with your kids. As some of you may know, hubby and I were supposed to get married in less than 2 weeks. Sadly though, our venue closed down at the beginning of the year. This made it impossible for us, to find a venue we like last minute. For that reason we decided to push out the wedding a bit further and find something we like. Because I already spent so much time on organising it, we more than likely will have something small this time. We are like a married couple anyway, so why spend an extraordinary amount of money on something that will be just on an official piece of paper.

I like to be organised when going away well in advanced. It may have go to do with the fact that I am German. German people are efficient and organised.

I’ve been busy shopping for summer clothes for us and the kids. Generally I don’t have that many summer clothes in the press. Simply for the reason that we only get about 2 weeks of hot weather in Ireland. I think I am at the end of it now and should have everything. In the next coming days I am going to take everything out of the press to see if we have enough or if I have to purchase one or two more items for either us or the kids. Least thing you want, is not have enough clothes and end up washing on your holiday.

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Image Source: Melia.com

I have done a good bit of research before I booked this hotel. Originally I wanted to go to a place my mum used to take me. But the flights are very awkward. We have to change flights in Madrid and it’s just too much at Chloe’s age. I based the holiday pretty much on the flight times. Anywhere in Spain near the beach. Alicante was the best airport in this case. We are leaving 10 am in the morning and the flight back is in the afternoon which gives us plenty of time.

I am not a person for self catering at all. We booked Full Board. This gives us breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t like to cook anyway and certainly don’t want to do it when on holidays. We can still go out to a restaurant if we want to but at least we are covered for meals. There are theme dinners every week. Plenty for the kids to eat.

They have 2 children swimming pools and a playground based on a Flintstones theme.
The only thing that is going to be hard to deal with, is the room for the four of us. They do have interconnecting rooms but it’s not guarantee we get that and it costs extra. For that reason we decided to take turns when going out in the evening time. On this note… has anyone used the babysitting service abroad before?

Matthew Holiday

Chloe Holiday

The only way for me to keep track of the clothes and things we are taking with us in our 2 suitcases, is to create a list. I went out of my way this time and created a cute little list for each of us in Pic Monkey.

Daddy Holiday

Mammy Holiday

I am planning to buy a new suitcase in the next few days as well. Hubby’s suitcase has done a good job lasting about 7 years but it has a few bumps and scratches and needs to be replaced with a more sturdier one. I did order one from Samsonite but it turned out to be too small so I had to send it back. To be safe, I am just going to pick one up in Argos.

Matthew’s Trunki is his carry on luggage filled with snacks and entertainment. I might have a seperate post for it. I bought him these cool Superman headphones for kids at the weekend. He is always on about Superman and he absolutely loves them.

The countdown is on. Spain here we come. Have you got anything to add to our list?

 

 

Sunday Morning At The Beach

People who follow me on Instagram might have already read about our little adventure yesterday. It was such a lovely day that I thought it deserves a post on its own.
After showers the whole week, the weather finally picked up at the weekend and we got some sunshine and warm temperature ranging up to 25 degrees. The West part of Ireland deserves a bit of summer after all.

We started Sunday morning as relaxed as normal. Quite often lately, the kids like having a lie in. We actually didn’t get up until just after 8 o’clock. We enjoyed our usual family breakfast which contains of toast, ready brek and cereal. Hubby then had the spontaneous idea to go for a walk on the beach because it was still early in the morning. It means it’s not as busy and hot. Matthew is never going to say “no” to a stroll on the beach. He absolutely loves it. He would live on the beach if he could.
So off we went shortly after breakfast to our local beach in Rosses Point. We are lucky enough, to live close to 2 beaches at the Atlantic Ocean. It was only a 10 minute drive.

Rosses Point Beach

Once parked at the beach, I got the stroller out to put Chloe and along we went down to the beach. Matthew was super excited. So much space to run around and go wild. He loved playing with the sand and throwing stones into the ocean. Poor Chloe couldn’t play along just yet, but she loved watching her big brother. Yet he still made time to push his little sister around the beach “super fast“.

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While hubby pushed Chloe, I took some photos of Matthew going mad in the sand in the dunes. He pretended to be stuck with his arms in the sand. Crawling around in the sand, throwing it up in the air, getting it stuck in his hair. Whatever keeps him happy. It’s lovely to see him having so much fun with just a bit of sand.

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When we were in the car, I had a leaflet laying on my back seat in the car from Supermacs. Matthew looked at it and basically made out the whole plan what himself, daddy, mammy and Chloe will have. We couldn’t disappoint him and because it was lunch time anyway, we decided to drive to Supermacs which was on our way anyway.

In the afternoon, I drove up to Smyths and got 2 more bags of sand for our sandpit in the garden. Yup, more sand after the adventurous morning at the beach. The sun was just gone passed the sandpit so it made it nice and cool for them to play in it building sand castles, for example.

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We are promised a few more days of heat and sunshine. I hope it will last until the coming weekend. Even though I will be busy starting to pack for our big family summer holiday to Spain in two weeks. I want to make it perfect and pack well in advanced so I don’t forget anything. The most thing I hate, is being unorganised.

You might have also noticed that I have changed my blog theme. I would love to know what  you think of it. So far I am quite impressed with it and it seems to be so more visible and cleaner to navigate around. I hope you get the same experience.