A Winter Weekend in Donegal, Ireland

A Winter Weekend in Donegal, Ireland

My stepsister got married at Harvey’s Point hotel in Donegal, Ireland on New Year’s Eve this year, so we spent a few days in Dublin and then a stop in Cavan for a night on the way up to Donegal for the festivities. I so wish we had been able to spend more time in Donegal and had gotten to see more of it , and would LOVE to return during the summer season in the near future and really experience the town in all its splendor. Despite the wintry weather, I would counsel anyone to make the trek to Donegal during a trip to the Emerald Isle.

Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle

Apologies first because we barely took any photos of the hotel itself, as with the wedding, it was a whirlwind weekend full of events (and merriment!).

DRINK AND EAT IN DONEGAL: OLDE CASTLE BAR

Although we had a full rehearsal dinner to attend, hubs and I snuck off to town with a friend to check into his hotel and walk around and see the town for a few hours before our call time. As such, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to do much sightseeing, but I had done a bit of research before we headed in and decided that we should drop in to the Olde Castle Bar for a pint or two. Continue reading

Dining at Dill (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Dining at Dill

When I picked up the book Where Chefs Eat, I was stoked because it actually contains a few entries on Reykjavik. After flipping through the Iceland section and conferring with other websites and reviews, I knew it: We were going to eat at Dill or die trying.

Dill restaurant menu

Simple, elegant Scandinavian style ripples throughout the tiny venue – right down to the menu design.

So, we looked into it and made reservations online far in advance – which we were glad that we did because the restaurant is only open Wednesday through Sunday and is VERY small. In fact, with such long days of sunshine during June and July, we had to carefully plan our activities that day so that we got back in time to get ready and make it to the restaurant.

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Upon arrival, we were greeted by cheerful waitstaff and invited to hang our coats on the coatrack, then seated at the table just inside the door by the windows. The place is, as I said, miniscule. I was amazed that we got a reservation with no problem on May 23 for our Wednesday, July 1 dinner. The open kitchen is flanked by a bar where diners can eat at a counter, with some banquettes and tables along the exterior of the room. There was a large window at the back and some natural light flowed into an otherwise dark room, lit by romantic long tapered candles (not the LED kind, which is so ubiquitous now). It wasn’t so romantic that you can’t come eat here with friends – but it was a lovely atmosphere and set the tone for the fine dining experience which we were about to enjoy. Continue reading

A Visit to the Heineken Experience (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Heineken Experience

The “Heineken Brouwery”, aka the home of the Heineken Experience

One of my favorite stops during a trip to Amsterdam, the Heineken Experience does the whole interactive museum thing right – brilliant design and a fun “ride” make this destination a must-see for beer lovers and friends alike.

Heineken Experience

Replicas of scenes of the past are quaint and imaginative.

You can do a self-guided tour through this experience and stop at interesting stuff along the way, where staff are on hand to explain things. The tour takes about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on how much you want to learn.

The place itself is a lot like another favorite destination of mine – the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. It combines education with a bit of fun and, of course, alcohol at the end.

Don’t miss the bottle “ride” Continue reading

Le Mani in Pasta (Rome, Italy)

I’m going to be 100% honest when I say that we included a night in Rome during our honeymoon just so we could eat at Le Mani in Pasta, finally, after having discovered it in 2010 and not being able to eat here at that time. I wrote about our evening in Trastevere right here. To say that we had high expectations after 4 years of anticipation would be a gross understatement.

This time, we were taking no chances on eating here. We had our hotel (the Abitart) make a reservation for us immediately upon our arrival and headed to the Trastevere neighborhood early to have a quick glass of wine nearby before dinner.

We arrived to the unassuming, bustling restaurant five minutes prior to our reservation time and they were getting our table ready. To pass the time, we busied ourselves with reading the menu and planning our attack. Do not let the fact that the font is in Comic Sans fool you. They’re serious about food.

Le Mani in Pasta

Planning our attack.

We then were shown to our table, and walked approximately 5 steps inside the venue and took our seats, sitting just inside the front windows.  Our cheerful server greeted us with menus and the wine list, and our Roman culinary adventure commenced.

Le Mani in Pasta

Waiting for the culinary bonanza to begin!

We brought our appetites that night. Our first real meal since our wedding reception night (which, as many of you married folks know, is usually not a night where you actually get to eat a lot – being insanely busy), we threw down on some serious Italian and Roman specialties. It was the survival of the fittest. You’ll see why. Continue reading

Top 15 Reasons to Love Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland is one of my favorite cities in the world. There are several reasons for this. And, without further ado – here are my…

top 15 reasons to love Dublin, Ireland

  1. Its Size

    Population-wise, Dublin has about 527,000 inhabitants, and covers an area of about 44.4 square miles. Much of what a tourist wants to see and do is packed into only a few square miles in the city center and this results in a very accessible, walkable town.

     

    Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Ireland

    View of the Millennium Spire through the Samuel Beckett Bridge

    I’ve spent a day walking one end to the other – starting around the Grand Canal Dock at Samuel Beckett Bridge and strolling along the Liffey all the way to Phoenix Park and Kilmainham Gaol. It takes a few hours if you stop here and there to see the sights, and it may not be great if you have older folks in your group, but it’s a definite plus that you can see most of the sights on foot if you want.

  2. Ease of public transportation

    You can take public transport all around the city and skip taxi cabs all together if you like. Take the DART from the outer neighborhoods to Tara Street and you’re smack in the middle of Temple Bar, for example. Or, take the DART out of the city to Malahide or Howth and take in the beautiful sea views.

    The Luas, a relatively newer light rail system, hits the city’s shopping streets north of the river, but it doesn’t go many other places that a tourist would want to visit.  Nevertheless, DART and Luas tickets are cheap and are a great option for travelers who are solo or are in small groups (when splitting a taxi doesn’t make sense).

  3. Direct flights to Dublin from many cities

    Dublin’s status as the capitol of Ireland and a tourist destination means that it’s easy to get to from many world cities. There are direct flights daily from the U.S. cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Orlando, for example.  The best airlines to get you there would be Ireland’s own Aer Lingus, or the other major carriers like Delta, American Airlines/US  Air, and even Emirates. I love Aer Lingus personally because you start getting the hospitality and flavor of Ireland the minute you step foot on the airplane.
    Continue reading

La Mere Valletta

Eating Indian Curry in Malta at La Mère (Valletta, Malta)

La Mère restaurant (“The Mother”) in Valletta, Malta was recommended to me by a friend whose brother lives in Malta after I asked my Facebook friends whether they had any suggestions on where to eat lunch on the island.  We checked out the website and ended up adding a lunch here as a registry item on our Honeyfund. Our friends ended up purchasing it for us as a wedding gift and it was fantastic!

This eclectic food haven is a bit difficult to find and is located in the middle of the walled city a few blocks tucked away from the more crowded, touristy areas. Admittedly, it took us a bit of wandering, iPhone map usage and some bickering to find this place.  We showed up right before they opened  for lunch, which was lucky because we were STARVING, hot, and ready to eat some spicy food.

La Mere Valletta Malta

A welcoming entrée…

We stepped inside into an adorable little restaurant adorned with jewel-toned glass lamps and lanterns with wooden tables and bright colored accents throughout. Continue reading