Ireland’s #Hiddendrives

When  my friend comes over for a visit from Germany, we always do a day of exploring around Ireland. Generally around the region of Sligo. She hasn’t been to visit me since we moved to County Kildare. Can you imagine how much we have to explore here? It would take us days, if not even weeks. We only live at the border of County Dublin and everything is so easily accessible once you have a car with an up to date insurance ie. Chill.

But back to Sligo… We never really have a destination when we explore Ireland. We take one road and that’s it. Who knows where it is leading us to. That way we have found some amazing and beautiful gems. Some that I would like to share with you and maybe you might even want to explore yourselves in the near future.

Streedagh Beach, Co. Sligo

This beach is located outside of Sligo on the way to Bundoran/ Donegal. It’s actually near Mullaghmore which is off the main road. We discovered this beach randomly. This was sometime in  May and the weather was nice enough to walk around. I used to be a big climber when I was a child but not so much now. The view from one of the cliffs on Streedagh Beach is incredible though. Definitely recommended to all photographers out there.
On the way you can even visit Mullagmore. It is famous for its dolphins and I think you can even take a boats tour depending on the weather. There is a pub beside the hotel which does delicious fish and chips.

Lissadell

Another place we explored together is Lissadell and its beach. To get to Lissadell, you have to take the road to Bundoran/ Donegal again but turn off in Drumcliffe. For this adventure I also took Matthew with me. He loved all the running around on the long beach. He is a huge fan of the beach in fact. We haven’t been to the beach in quite some time now. It is a bit further away for us now but we can make a day trip out of it.
We didn’t go into Lissadell House. I can’t remember if it was even open at the time because I know it was closed for a while but it has since reopened and they have exhibitions running.

Caves of Kesh

This was probably the most adventurous experience we have done. I would recommend to wear good boots. Hiking shoes would be more appropriate. It involves a lot climbing and you certainly get your work out from this. Located on the outskirts of Ballymote, Co. Sligo is a little village called Kesh. It’s in the middle of nowhere but the caves from the top give you the most beautiful view.

Knocknarea

It wasn’t the brightest day when we decided to climb up Knocknarea in Strandhill, Co.Sligo. In fact it was in January. Not the nicest weather to be expected in that month, especially in the west of Ireland. We walked it anyway. Not too long they opened a new nature trail called Queens Maeve Trail. They’ve designed a set of wooden stairs to go around the mountain. We didn’t have the time to do the whole lot as it will take you around two hours.

Have you explored any of these hidden gems before? 

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Our Family Bucket List 2017

So far I have shared my World Travel and Ireland Travel Bucket list with you. When I came across Kerry’s post who blogs at Oh So Amelia, I realised that I never created a bucket list for the whole family. That doesn’t mean I forgot the family. I just never thought to write it down. I always keep it in my head. But the problem with that is sometimes, I come up with all these great ideas we can do as a family and then forget them. So better to write them down for sure.

Last year we went on our first ever family holiday to Spain. Despite the heat, the kids did enjoy it especially Matthew splashing in the water all day. This year we might be taking it a bit easier and skip a summer holiday. Instead we are planning on going a few mini trips and make use of the bank holidays. That way we don’t have to take much time off work. But not everything requires us to travel, so I added those things to the list, too.

• Go to the Zoo

• Visit the Children’s Museum “Imaginosity”

• Explore the local nature trail

• Go to the beach

• Have a family dinner meal out

• Build a den

• Take the family on a ferry to the UK

• Take a train ride (my four year old has never been on a train before would you believe it)

• Run off some energy in the play centre

• Pick fruit from a field

• Visit Peppa Pig World/ Thomas Land

• Find a local playground

• Have a family movie night with popcorn, pizza and drinks

• Go to the cinema more often

• Create a family scrap book ( meant to do this for ages)

• Go on a mini holiday to Center Parcs

• Sign up Matthew for his first tennis lessons in September

• Head into Dublin City as a family

• Build sandcastles in the garden in the sandpit

• Take a mini family break in Ireland somewhere

• Go to an aquarium

That should keep us occupied for the whole year. I can’t wait to tick them off. I think I am actually going to print them off on a sheet and hang them on the fridge so I can see them all the time and that way I can tick them off as I go along. We definitely have an exciting year ahead having the bucket list set. It’s like having a plan rather than just letting the year pass by and see what happens.

Have you got a family bucket list?

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My Most Eventful Journey Ever

About 9 years ago a friend and I traveled from Dublin to London. We stayed in a hostel for a couple of days to go to a concert and do some little sightseeing around the city. Back then I was only in Ireland a year working as an Au Pair. This meant I had little money, so it was hard to save in the first place. I suppose the meals were provided but even so living on 100 EUR a week can be hard for anyone.

London

The day of departure came. We were flying from London Stanstead which is quite a distance away from London city centre. To get to and from the airport we used the bus. It is advisable to be at the airport 2 hours before departure. On the day of our departure just 3-4 hours before heading off to the airport, we decided to look at the bus timetable to see which bus would be best to take. Well, this is where the disaster comes in. It turned out there was no bus leaving between a certain time for 3-4 hours. It meant we would completely miss the flight even if we would have taken the next bus available.

So what do you do in a case like this? First thing that came in mind was to take a taxi to the airport. Now you can probably imagine the cost of going from London city centre to London Stanstead Airport. As far as I can remember he said something like £100. Looking back on it now, we should have gone with that option. Anyway, across from the bus station was another bus station that brings you out to the ferry.

We ended up buying a ferry ticket each. The bus didn’t leave until the next day which meant we had to book accommodation nearby. The next day we took the bus somewhere near Manchester to get on the ferry to Belfast. To make it worse, there was absolutely no available ticket to go to Dublin. On a brighter note, this was my first ever trip on a ferry, so I guess you can see a positive side in it.
This trip was definitely my most eventful one for sure.

Did you ever run into trouble while abroad?

*Disclaimer: This post was written to enter the Jurni Blogger Competition.

My World Travel Bucket List 

Following on from my post about what places I still have to visit in Ireland, I thought I’d share with you which places I want to explore around the world.

It’s hard to achieve this with two small children but luckily I have a great hubby who let’s me travel abroad once a year on my own.

My bestie Karo from Germany is big into traveling just like me. She wants to see the world but on your own it can be hard sometimes so that’s why we are traveling together every year to achieve our goals and tick off the destinations. For example this year we went to New York for a week. I have visited twice in the past but she has never been and there were still some sights that I didn’t manage to visit.

Without any further stories, read on about the beautiful places on earth I still need to visit…

World Travel Bucket List

Road Trip To Las Vegas/San Francisco

Being the far West of the USA, it’s not easy to tick off this destination. It has been on my mind so many times though that I do need of travel here in the next 5 years, if not even less. While in Las Vegas, we could rent a car and travel the west coast like you see it in the movies and include San Francisco on it too. Los Angeles has to be included too

Florida

Well…why Florida? I want to go to Disney World. I’m such a child right? But you’re never too old to like Disney. This one I will definitely experience with my kids though when they are a bit older.

Explore Dubai 

I’ll be visiting this city sooner than I think if it all goes to plan. My 30th birthday is coming up in January. I don’t do parties so instead I want to travel. As January is quite cold in most countries, Dubai is the ideal spot to travel to, enjoy some sun but also do a bit of sightseeing in and around.

Discover The Islands of Hawaii

I have always been a fan of Hawaii. Even more since watching Hawaii-Five-O. Maybe one day… There are about 5 different islands you can discover as well as several volcanoes. The dance of Hula looks also quite appealing.

Scandinavia

I actually can’t believe that I have never been to either Denmark, Finland, Sweden or Norway. It’s so close to Ireland and even closer to Germany. In Finland they have these glass igloo hotels which look pretty impressive.

Italy

I think everyone needs to do a trip to Italy. Simply for the hospitality and the boats riding on the river.

Snorkel In The Great Barrier Reef Australia

This continent has so much to offer. You probably have to spend a whole month over to discover all the places. I’d be happy enough with just Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef.

Climb The Eiffel Tower In Paris 

I have been to Disneyland as a child but I’ve never visited Paris itself. Eiffel tower is definitely on my list, everything else is a bonus.

Walk on the Great Wall of China

I got a little taste of China when Karo and I went to Chinatown in New York. That was mad enough. I can only imagine what it’s like to be in actual China. The China wall is something I have in mind for sure.

Visit the Pyramids in Egypt

I’d love to visit the pyramids. I am generally not a big fan of history in itself but this would certainly be interesting. A cruise on the river Nile would be another great adventure or a safari into the Great Sand Sea.

Explore a Rain Forest in Brazil 

I always dreamt of walking through a rain forest… guided of course. You never know what you find on the way. It just sounds so exciting. For example the Amazon rain forest.

Take a Safari in the Serengeti of Tanzania – Africa

The Serengeti Park is very popular and what else can you do other than a safari through it.

Take a Cruise 

In the last maybe 2 years I seem to have got attracted to going on a cruise ship. Previously to that I didn’t like being on a ship. Probably because I may get seasick. Even so I’d love to be on one one day. It doesn’t have to be the Atlantic Ocean… The Mediterranean Sea or near Norway will do. I’ve also read a lot of good things about the Disney cruise.

Holiday in Dominican Republic

What I would give for a two week holiday in the Dominican Republic. Just lying on the beautiful white beaches, jumping into the blue ocean, having a cocktail by the beach bar. It’s okay to dream right?

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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.

Berlin – A Long Weekend Full Of Fun

I’ve been quiet on the blogging front for the last week. The reason is I was on a mini holiday in Germany visiting my bestie in Berlin. We celebrated her 30th birthday. It’s always nice to get a mini break away particularly when it’s in my home country Germany.

We didn’t make any massive plans because 30 is only a number after all. I still have my 30th birthday (January) ahead of me but I don’t plan on doing anything big either. It more than likely will be me and her going away somewhere again. To get the most out of my visit, I flew over on Friday early morning. When I say early I mean early. The flight was at 7.20 am.

With such an early flight and a journey of 2 1/2 hours to the airport, I booked a hotel 10 mins away from the airport for the night before. The Clayton was the one I picked. First time I stayed there. Such a big, lovely and family orientated hotel. I can’t recommend it enough. Plenty of room.

Last week was first time for everything. It was also the first time that I flew with Ryanair to Germany. It’s always Aer Lingus. Wow…the check in was a bit confusing. You basically have to do everything yourself. That is scanning your boarding card, make sure the bags aren’t too heavy and put the tag on the suitcase. It’s supposed to speed things up. I didn’t that. The queue was extremely long and you were seriously wondering if you are going to make it on time.

Ryanair Checkin
Ryanair Self Service

First day was a chill out day. I did my usual shopping. I brought everything back that I can’t get in Ireland. This can be quite a lot sometimes but because I flew with Ryanair this time, I was pretty limited as I only booked 15 kg.
In the evening we had a BBQ. The eye always sees more than you can actually eat. But oh my god the meat, skewers and sausages were so good. On the side a bit of delicious potato salad.
We made some delicious cocktails Karo found on Pinterest. One of them was Sangria. Very refreshing and tasty.

cocktail

Saturday was shopping and sightseeing day. Would you believe it, even though I was born in the Eastern part of Germany, I have never actually seen the Berlin wall in the East Side Gallery. I have to say Karo is a great little tour guide.
We also went to the Mall Of Berlin which is a huge shopping centre. It’s two buildings connected with a bridge. I didn’t actually buy anything, very unusual I know. Karo always wanted to go to this place called “Wonder Waffle“. They basically make waffles and you get to choose what you want to put into it. It’s oh so yummy but yet so filling. The coolest thing is though that they take your name and write it in chocolate writing.

berlin wall
Berliner Mauer
mall of berlin
Mall Of Berlin
Wonder Waffel
Wonder Waffel

In the evening time we took the train to “Alexander Platz” and met one of Karo’s school friends for dinner. We went to the ALEX restaurant. The food came pretty quick but other than the waiters were really slow. I was told they are quite good and efficient most of the time. When I am in Germany I always need to have a portion of chips, Schnitzel and mushroom sauce and that’s what I had. They also made this delicious lemonade which they have in different flavours. I had the Pink Passion one. We all had two lemonades because they were so good.

Schnitzel

Lemonade

On Sunday it was one of the hottest days… 29 degrees. That didn’t stop us from doing a bit of sightseeing. Karo, her mum and I drove down to Potsdam. There is not much you can do on a Sunday in Germany because shops are closed. We walked around Sanssouci Park. Jackson, who is Karo’s dog came with us. He loved it. He did need to have a pit stop and drink some water in that heat.
To everyone who doesn’t know what Sanssouci is:

Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park.

Sanssouci
Sanssouci
SanssouciPark
Sanssouci Park

When we came back to the house, Karo and I went off and got some ice cream for us three from my favourite restaurant “Madlen”. At that point it was only an hour to dinner time. You can probably gather from my post that I ate a lot in those 3 1/2 days. I still needed to eat my favourite meal… a doner kebab. Just around 8 pm we decided to get one. I enjoyed every bite of it. The rest of the evening we watched a horror movie and had some cuddles with Karo’s new kitten called “Fussel” (Fluff). She is only 8 weeks old. It makes me want to get a third cat.

Fussel

Monday was spent with a bit more shopping in the local town, some lunch and off I went to the airport to catch my evening flight back to Dublin. I had a great time and can’t wait for our next trip away. Of course I need to consult this with hubby first. Our next trip away will be Spain at the beginning of August. I might be going away on a short trip with Karo for my 30th in January.