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

Get Your Sleep On – Majestic Elegance (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)

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It’s good to be the Queen.

Well, ok, maybe I’m not the Queen of anywhere, although my parents might disagree. But, that’s the way that the Majestic Elegance makes you feel when you book a room at their Elegance Club level – the adults-only part of the all-inclusive luxury resort situated in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Set on Bávaro Beach, this high-end all-inclusive delivers on hospitality and, well, elegance, throughout your stay.

The result of a boozy brunch barbecue, we booked this trip on a whim and decided to spend our Labor Day Weekend in a more tropical locale than the sweltering humidity of New York. It’s a long story and I’ll spare you the details, but we recruited some additional folks and booked on CheapCaribbean, who I am delighted to say made the booking process painless. We had 3 credit cards and 2 different airports of origin, and their customer service line was amazingly accommodating and helpful. I’d always book a stress-free all-inclusive vacation with them from now on. Not a plug, just love the website.

I’m digressing. Dominican Republic. We went there. And this is a review of our amazing resort.

Pro-Tip #1: Book a room with the Elegance Club level.

The CHECK-In Experience:

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Upon arrival in the lobby, we were whisked away by the greeter to the VIP Check-In Area, a separate suite off the main lobby with a buffet of pastries and other snacks, as well as coffee, wine, champagne and other treats. We were invited to take a seat at a table with refreshments as we checked in and were assigned our butler, Bladimir. 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

Our Tasty Tuscany Food Tour with Tuscan Wine Tours

My husband and I did this Tasty Tuscany food (and wine) tour in October 2014, while on our Maltese-Italian honeymoon. We had been looking for something to splurge on during our trip, but wanted to find something interesting and exclusive to spend our money on – no run-of-the-mill bus tour would do. I’m so glad we found this tour by Tuscan Wine Tours, because it was one of our favorite days of the trip, all thanks to our guide Caterina, the fabulous company, and amazing destinations and local producers we met throughout our memorable day in Tuscany.

Our small group of 8 were all couples, all happened to be from the states, and were all really cool, like-minded and adventurous travelers. I was a bit hesitant to book the tour since it was a bit pricey at 300 Euros per person, but as we met in the Piazza Giuseppe Poggi that morning, all my anxiety melted away as we boarded the comfortable minivan with our cheerful co-adventurers and met Caterina, our tourguide/driver extraordinaire.

Caterina was a fantastic guide, who educated us on the wines and foods of Tuscany between our various stops on the tour. We were really excited because it turned out that our tour was the last of its kind before the itinerary was modified to make different stops.

The Stops

Stop #1 – Fresh Pasta Maker

Our first stop was at a fresh pasta maker.

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This spot was no joke. It reminded me of some of the shops in Mendoza, Argentina that the Italian-Argentine families run, who churn out fresh pasta daily to buy by weight and prepare at home.

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After a brief lesson on what the different types of pasta are called and which ones were “native” to Tuscany (pici!), we were whisked into the back of the shop – to the kitchen, to see the pasta making in action. Continue reading

Get Your Sleep On – Paradisus La Perla (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

The Paradisus La Perla in Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a really beautiful hotel and is kept spotless. On the surface, the staff all seem very nice and polite and seem very eager to help make your stay as enjoyable as possible. However, the food and the service fall seriously short of the experience they claim to deliver and it made for an extremely disappointing stay.

Playa Del Carmen - Mexico-47

It’s almost as if someone read a book about what a luxury resort should have, and bought all those things, and gave the staff brief instructions on what to do, and just left. One example: Continue reading

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The Ultimate Mendoza, Argentina Travel Map

I had too much fun creating my Ultimate Dublin Travel Map, and so now I present to you, the Interwebs, my dear readers, my Ultimate Mendoza, Argentina Travel Map. This is only my map of the City of Mendoza, and doesn’t cover my favorite spots in the surrounding countryside (hello, bodegas (wineries) and vineyards!) – that stuff will be coming sooner than later.

How to use this map:

View the map bigger by clicking the bracket window-looking icon in the upper-right corner, next to your photo/avatar. Save the link to your phone if you’re traveling – I think it might be handy (but that’s just me!). Use the layers to toggle between stuff that you’re looking for – I’ve grouped them in Sightseeing, Restaurants and Bars, Hotels, Shopping and Entertainment and Services & Tourism info, or Continue reading