Our Family Travel Bucket List 2018

Do you find yourself planning out the holidays for the entire year come January? The trigger seems to be Christmas. I already have a week of work behind me. However, because I had such a nice time off over the festive season, I already feel like planning another holiday for us all. Plus, January always seems to be the month of deals and percentages off, particularly flights.

Read more

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.

Trabolgan Holiday Village – The Facilities

DSC06781

Welcome back to the last instalment of my Trabolgan Holiday Village experience from last week.I hope you will enjoy this one as much as you did the last two and hopefully it will give you an idea of the place whether it’s for you or not.

On this last post I will talk about the facilities and activities you are able to do in the village. We haven’t done all of it because some stuff is only for older kids and I wasn’t into it really because the weather wasn’t on our side most of the time. Even when it was sunny, it was extremely windy and wet so things like go karting, trampoline or zip wire we couldn’t do. There was even a mini trampoline for small kids like Matthew’s age. We weren’t able to review these but at least you know these actitvities are available to you, now that I mentioned them.

The Cove

DSC06717

This place is located in the main centre with the fast food shop, play centre and Costa Coffee. All the entertainment for the kids and adults are happening here. Thursday morning at 11am we watched Fireman Sam on stage because recently Matthew developed a liking for him and Bob the Builder. He absolutely loved it but yet he was too scared or shy to go up and have a picture taken with him. In the evening time there is disco and bingo for the grown ups. We didn’t go to either of them.

Florries Den

2016-04-08 10.18.19

A play centre located beside the fast food area. On our last day, Matthew spent a lot of time in there and tired himself out. They have a section to watch a movie, read books or do jigsaws. Around the corner then they have the soft play area with a big ball bit and 2 slides. It’s done up really well and it’s hidden so well that you wouldn’t think something like that could fit into the building.

DSC06749

DSC06754

The Arcade Center

DSC06790

DSC06788

A facility where we probably spent most our time and spent all our money. It can get very addictive these games because I love these kind of things in general. Once the kids were in bed hubby went off and played some more and when he came back, I went off for a little while and went games crazy. Matthew was doing really good  in one game. All you had to do is direct the ball with a wheel and you could win up to 500 tickets. He won 500 tickets first time and he was so proud. Another game he really loved playing was “Smash the Minions”. Hubby was loving it too especially trying to beat the highscore. I tried it myself and it was actually really hard, being fast but yet hit them hard enough to score a point.
Right beside the pub they had another arcade center which was a bit smaller but it had 2 bowling alleys, pool table, a few other games and the prize shop where you can change your tickets for a prize.

DSC06724

DSC06723

2016-04-07 17.22.30

2016-04-07 17.32.58

Crazy Golf

DSC06785

I have always been a fan of mini golf. Since I was very small (maybe about 5 or 6 years of age ) my mum and I took every mini golf grounds with us. It’s great. Matthew is only 3 1/2 years of age so doesn’t quite get yet how to hold the club  but for the first time playing he did really well. Trabolgan has a 9 hole crazy golf on site. The clubs you are able to pick up in the Day Today shop in the main centre. The golf balls you can get in the little club house beside the Crazy Golf where they also do arts and crafts.

DSC06736

DSC06738

Bird of Prey Centre

The Bird of Prey Educational Centre is located beside the golf course. It gives you the opportunity to see the largest and the smallest owl as well as snakes, mice and other small creatures. At the end of your viewing you are able to take a special souvenir with you… a photo with the big owl. Trabolgan has a special offer which gives you the chance to purchase a ticket once and you can go an visit as many times as you want during your stay. This is very handy because sometimes they have different birds. You receive a golden wristband to indicate you are entitled to these unlimited visits.

2016-04-07 16.36.27

Another building in the main centre part of the village is the swimming pool “Wave”. We didn’t get to go there either. If you want to read up on it you can do so if you follow this link.

What did we think about the facilities?:

• Ireland’s weather can be a hit and miss as we all know. If you are lucky enough and get good weather there is definitely a lot to do to keep you occupied.
• The Crazy Golf as stated on the website was refurbished. Yet some holes didn’t have the water in it like it was supposed to have
• The play centre was brilliant. They could do with replacing the balls in the ball pit though.
• The Birds of Prey centre is great for teaching your little ones about the different birds and reptiles.

Thanks for reading guys and I hope you enjoyed this instalment.

Trabolgan Holiday Village – The Food

DSC06780

Welcome back to my second instalment of Trabolgan Holiday Village.
This one is all about the food you can get in the centre as well as a place we found only 10 mins drive from Trabolgan.

As you could see in my first instalment every house/apartment has a kitchen which gives you access to cooking your own food. I am not that kind of person who wants to cook on holidays. I am on holidays to relax as much as I can and not do any extra work. Chores that I normally do at home, should be left behind. So if you are like me and might not be into cooking either, then they have a half board option. It entitles you to breakfast and dinner.

Sally O’Hara is the main restaurant in the holiday village.

2016-04-07 15.21.40

DSC06779

As we only arrived on the Wednesday, our half board option was moved to Friday so we didn’t lose any money on it. Wednesday evening we dined in the restaurant. Every Wednesday they have an All you can eat Chinese/Indian buffet. I regret now that I didn’t try any of it. You don’t have to go for the buffet. They also have a normal menu available which contains of starters, mains and desserts. I had a Caesar salad which wasn’t nice if I am honest. They only presented us with the specials and we never got to see the menus the first evening because we weren’t sure yet how things work around there.
Thursday and Friday we tried the carvery. One night it was bacon and cabbage and roast beef and the other night it was turkey and roast beef. Both nights I had the roast beef. I have to say the carvery was absolutely delicious. You got plenty on your plate and lots of vegetables and gravy. I am a sucker for a lot of sauce on my plate. I’d rather have my plate covered in sauce than eat dry potatoes.

DSC06783

Breakfast for the kids I always prepared in the apartment. Mainly because Chloe only eats Weetabix or Readybrek and those things are generally not an option. For those kind of things like milk. cereal, bread etc there is a shop in the main centre where you can pick up your bits and pieces you might require in your place.

2016-04-07 10.09.33

Besides the restaurant there was also a small Costa Coffee shop. On our first morning I enjoyed a nice Cafe Latte to go. I can’t simply function without a coffee in the morning. They do have breakfast rolls made up too in case you fancy something else other than half board or a breakfast in the apartment.

Our half board breakfast menu had 2 options. Adult or kids Irish breakfast which was basically egg, beans, toast, bacon and sausage. As well as that you could also choose from a continental breakfast which was cereals, croissants, toast and fruit salad. Each came with tea, coffee and orange juice.2016-04-07 12.51.25

On Thursday we decided to go for lunch somewhere else. One of the mothers I know from a Facebook group suggested this place to me. The restaurant is called “The Pepper Stack” and is only a 10 mins drive from Trabolgan village. I would definitely recommend this place. The menu is huge and on top of that they have a huge selection of specials on a board, too. Did I mention the delicious bubblegum ice cream? The kids and I shared a portion.

2016-04-07 12.50.23

So what did I think of the food?

• Sally O’ Hara restaurant can definitely do with a bit of more cleaning. A lot of tables were sticky.
• Breakfast I would have expected to have a buffet option where you can pick your own things, instead you had a menu and they served you the breakfast, even the cereals in the bowl which I found a bit odd.
• I was a big fan of the carvery each night.

Trabolgan Holiday Village- The Accommodation

DSC06798

Last year we booked a family holiday away to the South part of Ireland, Cork that is. It was a holiday away for 4 nights in Trabolgan’s holiday village. I’ve heard so much about it that I thought we might give it a go and book, it’s still easier than traveling with 2 kids abroad. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it back then because hubby and I picked up a terrible stomach bug which left us bed bound. Luckily though the lovely people at Trabolgan were able to transfer it to this year in April and we didn’t have to pay anything extra.

Trabolgan has 6 different types of houses which caters for different amount of people. For example, the Alpine house sleeps 2-3 people and the Noble Fir is the biggest one which sleeps 9 people in total. We went for the Chestnut which sleeps up to 4-5 people.

On Monday we were supposed to head off to Cork which is a 4h 30mins drive (without stops). Chloe on the other hand had a better idea and decided to get sick the morning of our journey. At night she woke up with a high temperature of 38.9. She was all over the place so we decided to stay and see how she will be in the next 2 days. By Wednesday she was back to normal and we left at 11am. We arrived at 6pm. Hubby checked in. As well as the key to our house, we also got handed a map to find our way around the place and a booklet with lots of vouchers we can avail to save money.
A few days beforehand we received an email saying we could extend our visit for €55 until Monday. We took this offer which meant we could stay at least longer than Friday because we already lost 2 days.

DSC06800

The house was located just up the hill from the main centre which was very handy. It meant we didn’t have to walk far at all and Matthew is not a big walker but I have to say he did really well over those few days. As you come into the front door there was one bedroom to the right with a single bed and a bunk bed. You can probably guess where Matthew wanted to sleep. He loved the bottom bit of the bunk bed, it was like a tent to him.

DSC06799

Located to the left of the corridor was the bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower/bathtub. Everything that a bathroom requires really.

DSC06801

Straight through was the second bedroom with a double bed in it. We also had the cot for Chloe in it which was provided by Trabolgan because the other bedroom was just way too small for it.

DSC06802

DSC06804

To the left of the hallway was the living room and kitchen area.
The living room  had a sitting area, as well as a dining area, a small balcony to get out the back, a TV and a fireplace.
The kitchen was equipped with pots and pants, a microwave, toaster, a fridge, oven, cutlery and dishes.
The kids loved the door in the living room because they could look out and spot the birdies and rabbits hopping by the apartment. They were massive by the way. I couldn’t believe the size of them. I wasn’t able to catch them on camera though.

DSC06709

What did we think about the apartment?:
• Both bedrooms were a bit cramped and not setup too well with all extra furniture in it like a wardrobe and bedroom locker
• The front bedroom which Matthew slept in, had a broken window. It only closed properly on one side which meant a draft was coming in at night and it was louder than it would normally be
• In hotels it’s always a hit and miss with the heating in the room. It’s great that you can control the heat in all rooms with a thermostat which meant the rooms were never too warm or too cold.
• The floors could have been a bit more cleaner, especially with kids crawling around.
• We were provided with toilet tissue and bed sheets but I would have expected to have a small bottle of washing up liquid in each house, too.
• Everywhere around the area there were a huge amount of crows flying around. I guess it’s nothing they can do about but it wouldn’t appeal to me on the first day because it’s an indicator of a lot of rubbish laying around.

New York Travel Journal Part 3

Welcome back to the last instalment of my travel journal from New York.

Sunday 6th March Another day, another adventure. This day was actually a pretty quiet one. We didn’t do too much. Karo wanted to go down 23rd Street again near the Flat Iron building. She discovered some sort of Craft store online that she wanted to visit. After a bit of difficulties, we found it and spent quite some time. The amount of Easter stuff they had was crazy. Not just decorations and paint Easter eggs, they also had made up Easter Baskets starting at 9.99$. If I had the space in my suitcase, then one of them would have definitely had to come with me.

On the back going uptown I picked up a sandwich because it was lunch time already. I have to say food in Manhattan is very expensive and the most annoying part of it is that there is generally tax cost on top of it so you never know what you actually pay.

We walked back to 49th Street as we planned to go up to Top of the Rock. The building is massive and you can certainly get lost in there. Once we found the entrance and where to purchase tickets, we decided against it though. 32$ was a bit much in my opinion. I think it included a tour but still too expensive for my liking.

2016-03-06 14.36.58

Instead we went to Nintendo World store and I picked up a present for hubby. A new Nintendo World T-Shirt. He already has 2 from New York but a new one was in order as clothes stretch overtime. I am a big Nintendo fan myself. It is just a shame that I barely get time to play the games.

2016-03-06 15.02.37

2016-03-06 15.11.51

2016-03-06 15.02.04

Our next stop was Central Park. Right beside Central Park was the Apple Store. The reason why I wanted to see that was because it was built in a glass cube. Pretty cool and you go down the stairs then but oh my god, it was mad busy. We left pretty quickly again.
Shortly after we entered Central Park. Along the park there are a lot people with horse carriages. I didn’t see the price how much it would be but I’d say it’s not cheap anyway. I did see a sign and it said 50$ max. Central Park has a zoo but it’s tiny so we didn’t bother going in. The park is much nicer during the summer so we didn’t spend too much in it. The squirrels in the park are so friendly that they touch your hand with their nose and you are able to feed them no problem. It is not advised to feed wild animals though because it attracts rats, there are signs all over.

To roll of the day, we walked down to… guess where… Times Square again. This time for some well deserved Cafe Latte in Starbucks. The amount of people with coffee, frapuccionos or simple water from Starbucks on the streets is mad. It’s a shame we don’t have Starbucks in Sligo. Down the road from our hotel, Papa John’s was our dinner for the evening. Pepperoni Pizza and Harry Potter movies in the hotel room. After so much sightseeing and walking, I think we deserved it.

Monday, 7th March For me this was my last day really as my flight back was the next day at 5.30pm and I had to get onto the subway pretty much by 1pm which meant there was not much to do and we couldn’t go too far from our hotel.
Just outside our hotel we had the subway station that led us to Chinatown for the day. I have never been before and this was definitely on my to do list in New York. Once you come out of the Subway station, it’s like another world. It’s still New York like but it’s so different. All buildings and houses have chinese signs. People sell tons and tons of food on the streets and chinese sweets. You certainly feel weird walking down the street with all the Chinese people passing you. After taking it all in, we walked back to the Subway station off to Lexington Avenue.

DSC06629

Lexington Avenue is located near Roosevelt Island. A tram takes you from  Manhattan to the island just across from the Queensborough Bridge. The ride is basically the cost of the Subway and you can take the Metro Card for it,too. Once we got on, it was a bit scary because we were so high and went over the river and under all the cars. On the way back though, we got used to it and took some lovely photos.

2016-03-07 14.52.59

2016-03-07 15.02.19

We decided to walk down Lexington Avenue and pass some shops and have a look inside them to see if we can find anything nice. It was more looking and window shopping than anything else though. On the way we passed another Starbucks, as you do in New York, there is probably one in each street, and because the weather was so nice and it was so warm, I wanted to get a Caramel Frapucciono. Walking down the avenue further, we passed Grand Central Station.

2016-03-07 16.17.10

2016-03-07 16.17.19

In the evening to celebrate our last evening in New York, we walked up to Times Square and went for dinner in Applebees. I used to love Applebees when I stayed in New York for a few weeks a few years ago. With the dinner we had a big glass of Sangria which was I have to say delicious.

2016-03-07 19.45.37

2016-03-07 19.53.15

Tuesday, 8th March The day of check out. We had to check out by 11am but we could leave the suitcases behind until we headed off to the airport. Karo didn’t leave for another 2 days but she was staying in a different hotel then. That day the sun was absolutely booming. It was so warm. I managed to do a bit more shopping for myself and Karo picked up a new pair of converse in a converse shop that had sale on. I wanted to go to the Disney store again and pick up a Mickey T-Shirt for Matthew. On the way back to the hotel I got a sandwich, it was more like a baguette which I ate in the hotel.
Shortly after I said my goodbyes to Karo and took the Subway to the airport. I arrived just around 3pm which gave me plenty of time. We left on time and landed at Dublin airport at 4.30am. This was a bit of a killer because I didn’t exactly sleep properly and the time difference had me jetlagged for 2 days. But after all I had an amazing time.

A blogger asked me if it was worth the money and if it’s expensive to go…
Well, if you book early enough, hotel and flights can be got just over €1.000. I do not recommend to go to New York during the summer time. There are 2 simple reasons for it. 1. It’s way too warm, it’s unbearable and 2. This is a peak season which makes the hotels extremely expensive. The best time to go is March/April or September/October in my opinion.

Is it expensive to commute in New York?
Subway: Recommended is the Metro Card which can be topped up with desired amount. We started off with a 10 dollar card and had to top of up another 10. One ride is around 2.75$. Doesn’t sound expensive but the system is a bit unfair. If you want to take one line from Manhattan all the way down to Brooklyn you pay the same price but yet when you commute in Manhattan only 3 or 4 stops, it’s the same.
To be honest if you have good footwear with you, then nearly everything can be reached by foot.

What’s the cost of the food like?
Food: It seems expensive to me. A normal baguette/sandwich you can buy for 8 dollars which is around 7 EUR. In Ireland I can get one for 4 Euro. But I suppose it’s New York. That’s not the annoying part though. Everywhere you go, anything you buy, there is tax on top. You never know what the end sum is of what you are paying. It’s something you would have to get used to.

How much money should I take with me?
Cash:
 I took 300 Dollars with  me thinking I will return some of it. Not at all. Even you are not the biggest spender, you will need quite a good amount of money if you are staying in New York for 5 days or longer. In the end, higher amounts I paid by card which made it easier and it meant I had cash on me for other things like snacks or lunch.
A credit card in New York is the way to go. You really have to mind it though. In some shops, they don’t even require for you to sign what you paid which means anyone can buy stuff when they have your credit card. Whereas other places, like Hard Rock Cafe, is actually asking for ID to make sure it is your card.