Category: travel

Hidden Gems in Northern Ireland

Thanks to my lovely followers for NI suggestions. Without your suggestions I wouldn’t have stumbled upon some really lovely places.

Basically, one person suggested the Gobbins. So I gave it a quick Google and thought ‘yeah looks great’ and we got in the car in the afternoon and went. To our surprise, it’s a three and half hour intense hike along the cliffs that require boots and helmets and bus to and fro the information centre. Do your research, guys!! However, and ever-so fortunately, the woman at the information desk directed me to a few more casual spots that my flip flops could handle.

Portmuck Harbour

Twenty minutes away from the Gobbins is Portmuck Harbour. A pretty little place hidden at the bottom of a very teeny tiny narrow Irish road that opens into a parking lot set right near the sea. There’s some stairs that lead up to a point where you can grab some nice photo ops. I love some of these photos so much and will probably cherish them forever. I had a really great day.

Skenaghan Point – Brown’s Bay Beach

And the second spot only less than ten minutes away is Skenaghan Point, Browns Bay in Islandmagee. It actually is right near the actual Gobbins walking path. One day I will do the Gobbins! But it certainly wasn’t that day in that new ASOS top. We went up a little path to the right of the water and you could stay on path but somehow we veered off into a field of sheep who scurried away from us as we walked up towards the cliff’s end. Stunning views and a lovely little walk. One of those spots that makes me go, “Ahhh I love this country.”

So! Those are two spots I hadn’t heard of, no one suggested, and no tourists really seem to go. Hope you enjoy if you visit!

X

Game of Thrones Locations to See in Antrim

Heya!

If you know me you know I don’t watch the wildly popular show, Game of Thrones. However, I’m a big supporter of it bringing a lot of tourism to Northern Ireland. It’s given a lot of well deserved recognition to Belfast and some of Northern Ireland’s areas of outstanding natural scenery which previously (in my eyes) were overlooked for Irish vacation destinations.

So while I’ve been a big fan of Belfast and the county of Derry, I only got to visit some of the Antrim GOT spots this week. I am not embarrassed to admit I’m an absolute tourist and my inner American pops out when it comes to castles and ruins. I LOVE them. I studied the sociology behind it and could go into it for hours as to why Americans have such romantic notions of Ireland’s landscape but I’ll just leave at the fact I am one of them and I’m in no way ashamed. Ireland’s beauty and history is a marvel to me.

So! With that said, we went to Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges. Right near the Causeway, which we have already visited within the last year so we didn’t go again. However we drove right past it and through Bushmills.

DUNLUCE CASTLE

Dunluce is an hour outside Belfast and well worth a visit. I believe it was £8 for our tickets (I’m still using my student card, it’s valid until September. Even past then, I’ll keep using it). It’s mainly ruins but a pretty vast amount and it’s fun to just explore. Maybe this is only fun to me and other castle loving freaks. It’s a beautiful backdrop for photos since it’s right on a cliff in the countryside and overlooking the sea. You can learn about the background and history of Dunluce through posted signs around the grounds and a pamphlet given to you at the information desk. Parking is available right there and is free. There’s a little cafe too for a nibble if needs be.

THE DARK HEDGES

The Dark Hedges are around 25 minutes away from the Giant’s Causeway. They too are in the middle of the countryside in Ballymoney and pop up pretty randomly. One side of the road is a large estate and modern farm house and the other is the hedges which was full of people walking the length of them. They’re surrounded by open fields, making them all the more intense looking. Apparently this is where they ride horses up and down in GOT. Sorry for my lack of knowledge regarding the show and its relation to these spaces.

I enjoyed both spots! It’s nice to make a little day out of it. You can see more GOT scenic spots here.

Hope you go!

x

Monaco Photo Diary

It’s been a week since I got back from the south of France and luckily the sun has followed me back to Belfast so I’m still feeling the whole ‘holiday-mode’ vibe. As I said in my last blogpost, the Saturday was spent travelling to Monaco from Toulon, exploring Monaco, and travelling back. The train was only two and a half hours and the views out our windows were pretty spectacular so there was always something to see.

Monaco itself was absolutely stunning. Definitely a place to put on the list if you haven’t considered it before. Ever since I saw the Disney channel movie ‘Monte Carlo’ with Selena Gomez, I’d dreamed of going! That was at least ten years ago. To be honest I never thought I’d make it there until I was way older because it’s known for being so pricey, but the way to do it is to make it a day trip. You can see it all in a day because it’s small enough and super walkable (just bring sneakers/runners for all the hills). Nice is only 25 minutes away by train and it is definitely cheaper to stay there. Food and drinks were only about 20% more than the south of France prices which isn’t too bad considering the cheapest apartment we saw advertised in Monaco goes for 6 million euro and the restaurants have iPads for menus…yes, absolutely absurd, I know.

Two cups of coffee plus a crepe was €12. The next place we ate we got huge portions including big drinks for about €60 all together I think. I spent about another €12 on postcards and magnets for friends and family.

The views are unbelievable and make for an incredible backdrop. There’s a photo opportunity pretty much everywhere. So here are all of the photos from Monte Carlo/Monaco! They speak for themselves. It was the highlight of the trip?

*Dress: Zara.

Sunglasses: Oliver Peoples.

Handbag: Charming Charlie.

Sandals: River Island.

Hope you enjoyed!

x

Four Days in the South of France

Bonjour (;

France, you’re as beautiful as ever! What an unreal place between the natural scenery, rustic architecture, cuisine, culture…Basically everything is amazing and I’m constantly amused in France. French architecture has a lot of charm with it’s bright colours and a ‘hasn’t been touched in years’ aesthetic so I’m always happy just roaming about taking it all in. If you have followed me from the start of Redhead American, I was in the north of France last summer with a good friend from home. I loved it then and I love it more now! Also on that trip, there was the laughable confusion that I believed I was in the south of France when I was actually in the north…ALWAYS do your research, folks!! Seriously if I can suggest anything from my brief year of traveling Europe, get out Google and take some time to digest your destination’s map and acquire some useful background to where you’re going.

We flew into Nice in the south of France and took a train for two hours that went through Cannes and some other towns over to Toulon where we stayed in the town centre. It was so fabulous and our accommodation had two balconies with some pretty sweet views! It’s safe to say I was spoiled this trip with some seriously stunning sights. The reason I was there actually was because I was invited to join my boyfriend and some of his family there for the Grand Prix in Le Castellet, near Marseille. Kinda unrelated to what I was just saying but, but I love saying ‘le’ and I love how everyone that goes to France tries to speak French in a French accent. It’s great craic and you feel super European.

I went to the race track on Sunday for the big qualifying day. It was unlike anything I’ve done before! The race track was massive (to me anyway, I have no idea about car racing and what’s normal) and the amount of people that showed baffled me as well! I’m really glad I got the experience and can say it’s something I’ve actually attended. Lots of fast cars, interesting accents and sun. It’s my understanding that Lewis Hamilton won. I was more excited by the fact he’s dated Nicole Scherzinger. I am such a girl.

*bikini from Missguided. Sunglasses are Oliver Peoples. Outfit info on Instagram.

So that was Sunday. I’ll go backwards here. On Saturday, my boyfriend and I got up early and took a train to Monaco, a place I have always, always wanted to visit. It was back past Nice so the journey took about two and a half hours. We were pretty much glued to the windows for the duration of it because of the views. France really is a natural beauty, especially along the coast. Monaco, a principality of France, is going to be a separate post! So I’ll stop talking about it now.

Friday was sleeping in after a lot of wine on Thursday and then exploring outside our doorstep, Toulon. We also went swimming at the beach where a French woman thought I was a wimp for saying the water was cold and splashed me until I was soaked. It helped me get in though!

The ironic thing that commonly happens to me on most foreign trips is that we somehow ended up in an Irish bar. Surprised? If you’re Irish and reading this, probably not haha! Now Toulon isn’t a place I can say I’ve actually heard of before this trip. Like at all. And I have no idea why not because it’s pretty special. Sometimes I haven’t heard of towns or small cities in Europe simply because my American education’s geography didn’t cover them growing up. I had heard of Nice when I was in high school I think. Then obviously more when I moved to Ireland. It’s a lovely spot from the brief time I spent traveling through it. But Toulon deserves so much more hype! Every corner of it is gorgeous. Very consistently pretty as I was saying on the trip. Everyone was quite friendly that I talked to there which wasn’t the case in Monaco.. Food and drink was delicious as to be expected. Hmmm, what obvious travel bases haven’t I covered here? I guess if there’s any questions you have please comment them or find me on social media to ask and I’ll be happy to reply. You’ll find I’m fairly brief in my writing although this is a denser post than usual. I don’t fancy writing ridiculously descriptive paragraphs, I think it’s easiest for everyone to just have initial impressions said then and there and said like you’re having a conversation!

I am an actual wheel of cheese after that trip and my body may as well be 50% wine. No regrets though. I lived in sundresses and summery clothes and only got a minimal sunburn which I consider impressive for how much I was prancing about in 27C weather. It was pretty awesome. The photos we took there are such sweet memories for the future (:

What’s your favourite part of France? I think mine might be the south!

x

National Botanic Gardens of Ireland

Hello (:

If you’re exploring Dublin, here’s an idea. Check out the National Botanic Gardens.

When Dom of Maiden Moose Photography found me on Instagram and got in touch about a photoshoot I said yes! And after some planning, she suggested the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin (Dublin 9) and I immediately said definitely. It was always a place I was interested in going and I’m so glad we did! It was so impressive. And there’s a plant for everyone! I’m a big flower gal and the beds of colourful flowers of all different kinds would make anyone happy (unless you hate flowers?).

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking!

My personal favourites were the really leafy greenhouses! They’re so beautiful and make you feel somewhere tropical. Hughie seemed to enjoy the fuzzy looking cacti. As well as other prickly plants you shouldn’t touch but he did…

I love Maiden Moose’s black and white shots. They are such creative souls and you can tell just by talking to them!

Dom and her husband Eben moved to Dublin six months ago from South Africa and love travel, photography and storytelling. They were very warm and friendly and it was brilliant shooting with them. It had been a good while since my modelling days (back when I was like 16 haha) so I was out of my comfort zone shooting with someone I didn’t know but Dom made it me more comfortable by being so lovely and easy to communicate with. I cannot recommend her and Eben enough, they really are talented! You can find their social media and check out their artistic photography here:

Maiden Moose Website

MM Facebook

MM Instagram

MM Pinterest

I’m so looking forward to seeing the Belfast Botanic Gardens next week with a friend! Dublin’s amazed me!

Have you been to the National Botanic Gardens? 

x

36 Hours in Düsseldorf, Germany

Hiya,

I’m back on my grind this week for blogging content and can’t wait to share stuff coming up! Wahoo! However, this post is long overdue. I was in Germany at the beginning of this month for the very first time! I have been saying I’d do go there while I was in Ireland since I was like 18 and finally got around to it! The chance to visit came about because my boyfriend is working on a short term contract in Düsseldorf which is a small cosmopolitan city in the west of Germany.

For the majority of the trip, I was totally on my own which was challenging. I flew over on my own and that was totally fine. But figuring out public transport was DIFFICULT. I have 0 German so thank goodness a majority of Germans speak English. A guy sent me on the wrong train, leaving the city, to which a woman on it kindly got off with me and put me on the correct train and told me to get off in five stops. Maybe that man who misdirected me was confused, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The woman who helped me was SO kind, I couldn’t believe it. Five stops later, I thought I was getting off at what was city centre. It wasn’t but at least I was somewhere within the city haha. City centre was a stop before apparently but didn’t look anything like the centre of a city?!? I walked for about an hour and a half with Google Maps leading me astray multiple times. I felt hopeless as my phone’s battery drained. EVENTUALLY, I found the hotel later on and dropped my stuff and was very relieved! We stayed at the Nikko Hotel which I’d recommend, very modern!

After wandering for ages, I camped out in a park for awhile as an attempt to chill out. I took this selfie there under a tree to document the sunshine and moment of being wicked lost in a foreign country. Pre-sunburn selfie. It was super hot outside.

At the evening, I reunited with Hughie for dinner and drinks. I didn’t try any local German cuisine. Actually, the city didn’t feel very touristy. A German lady asked me what cultural experiences I had there and I wasn’t able to formulate anything. I’d like to see other parts of Germany in different areas to compare! Hamburg and Munich are high on my list of destinations to explore. We got Italian food the first night and Japanese the next. There is a large Japanese influence in Dusseldorf which you spot in the shops and restaurants! I would also like to take this moment to thank Hughie for being a great Instagram husband. He took all the photos. Except for this one of him obviously!

So, overall it was challenging but a great experience that put me out of my comfort zone. I’d recommend the city as a weekend away as there’s not loads to see so two days is just right. It’s small and walkable with a nice easy going vibe. There are plenty of high end shops along the Rhine River (which I adoringly gazed at from the outside) and it is a fashionable city in general! War World II actually destroyed most of this area so there’s a lot of new architecture mixed in with the old.

Along the river I found a little tourist stand which was the only one I saw while I was there. I bought a few postcards and magnets for friends and family. I’ve been putting together a little collection of them from everywhere I go. Can’t wait to stick the magnets on our new apartment’s fridge this week 😀

On my way back to the airport, I approached a German woman on the street to ask whether she thought I should take the train or bus to the airport and she actually brought me all the way to the train station (about fifteen minutes) and made sure I was getting on the right one…I’m absolutely amazed at how helpful and kindhearted German people were there…Seriously, they made everything a million times easier for me and I am very thankful!

It was an interesting 36 hours for me haha! Dusseldorf is a lovely spot. Especially with all the sunshine!

Have you been?

x

I’m Moving & Life Update

Hello, hello. It has been awhile!

What’s Been Going On

(Maiden Moose Photography)

A lot has been happening! Since my last post I’ve been in Germany, finished and handed in my thesis and have done what feels like a million hours of study and exams. I’m two exams away from finishing university and starting to see the light! So when these exams are done, I’m indulging in a big dirty takeaway and some fine wineeee. I’m also going to a music festival in Belfast, woohoo!

It will be very strange saying goodbye to Maynooth.. This general area is where I’ve lived the last three years and have made millions of precious memories and built a lot of character! However, three years was just enough.

Here are a few photos from the camera of south campus. Part of what drew me in when I was just seventeen looking at Irish universities online. The last one is of my beautiful friend Caoimhe posing playing her flute (pictures for her recital pamphlets!) in the South Campus secret gardens. I love that photo of her. She’s another thing I’ll miss!

I also did a lovely fun photoshoot with Dom and Eben of Maiden Moose Photography in the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. I’ll have lots of photos featured in the post all about it coming up! But for now here’s a small sneak peek. Check them out on their Instagram account in the mean time.

I’m Moving!

Now, this is also exciting. This is just an exciting phase of my life. Bare with me.

Guess who’s moving full time to Belfast?! No more weekends and just time off there, I will actually be a Belfast resident! We got a lovely spacious apartment not all that far from city centre. This has left me endlessly scrolling through IKEA’s website and Pinterest for fun cheap ways to decorate. Last weekend involved day trip to IKEA to have the craic and look about and found plenty of inspo. If you wanna see interior aesthetics I’m loving right now check out my last post, here.

Moving involves a whole new set of challenges that are obvious when starting fresh somewhere, establishing a career, etc. Real life adulting (ahhhhhh). While I basically started a whole new life across the ocean at just eighteen, this is the real deal now being out of university with a degree and experiencing the world…dare I say the 9-5 world. We’ll see how it goes.

If you are doing exams I hope they went well/are going well. You can do it, persevere! 

And to anyone else who read this far, enjoy your day! 

x

Sunday Adventure: Belfast Castle

Happy Sunday!

Hope you had a lovely weekend and you’re prepped for the week ahead…I’m handing in my final year thesis this week so a day to unwind and take my mind off of it was well needed. Hughie and I went to Belfast Castle estate finally! It was really beautiful and a glorious day for it…until it rained but that was later on after we had left. Typical Ireland. Can’t complain though, it’s been a gorgeous few days for the island.

There are cat symbols (as seen in on the ground decoration I’m standing on) and little cat statues around the estate garden. They symbolize good luck to the visitors!

Even when you’re in front of the castle, you have an incredible view of the water and Belfast and it’s surrounding areas. There was a cute girl taking communion pictures at the castle, such a good idea! Very picturesque.

The castle is set on Cave Hill. There is several trails to hike on the mountain, some of which looked quite steep and challenging. Asthmatic me took the flattest one but it was still great and offered a nice view.

Story of my life. Sees dog. Must pet dog.

Glad I went and would love to make a habit of going here for walks and work my way up (and bring my inhaler, haha) to the more challenging ones. We spent the rest of the day walking about and ate at District in Stranmillis.

Outfit Details – simple for walking about!

Earrings – The Beady Mama. You can shop the Etsy shop here.

Top – Dunnes

Leggings – Primark

Shoes – Converse

Have you been to Belfast castle or Cave Hill?

x

Taking the Scenic Route: Galway to Mayo

Hello, hello!

I’ve had this week and last week off uni. I spent the first week just hanging out and writing essays (exciting, I know) and then got a plane to Birmingham at the weekend for a 40th birthday party which was good fun. After coming back from England, my boyfriend and I said we’d take advantage of both having this week off and head out west to visit my family. We traveled to Galway to visit in Connemara and instead of taking the motorway to Mayo, we decided on going the scenic route through Connemara National Park. It was STUNNING. There was constantly a view until the more main roads in Mayo. All the stops we made were fab.

Connemara National Park, Galway

Very rural, very pretty. We pulled over a couple of times throughout the mountains just to capture the prettiness.

Kylemore Abbey in Kylemore, Galway

My Dad text-suggested that we stop at Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations. The building itself is run by Benedictine nuns and there’s a lot of fascinating history there if that’s your kind of thing. There’s a gift shop and lovely Victorian gardens to explore as well. The famous Kylemore Abbey church is further over to the right and blends right into the trees but is still visible if you look for it. You can also hike the mountain/hill (who am I to decide what it is!) that it’s nestled into at the bottom of. To be honest, we just saw it and got photos and went on our way. 

And it wouldn’t be an Irish road trip if we didn’t run into these guys on the road…Take your time, lads.

Leenane, Galway….or Mayo….

We stopped in the Galway/Mayo border town of Leenane for a quick bite in a local pub. The only place we could find that would take card, haha. There is no ATM in the entire town! What Leenane lacks in money dispersing machines, Leenane makes up for in her stunning beauty. Quite possibly my favorite view in Ireland. These photos were taken in the parking lot just on the water.

Ashleagh Falls 

A small waterfall about a two to three minute drive from Leenane village. Keep an eye out for it on Irish postcards, it’s everywhere! If you look closely there’s a little house on the small hill behind it. I’ve ALWAYS wanted this house since I was little. What a dream!

Ashford Castle, Cong, Mayo

I love the very old movie, The Quiet Man starring American film star John Wayne and beloved Irish actress Maureen O’Hara which is filmed in Cong. Some of my friends think it’s cheesy that I like it so much because it is a very American view of Ireland and they think the stereotypes in it are quite exaggerated. They’re not wrong but it’s still a sweet movie! We are actually studying The Quiet Man presently in my sociology class on tourism in Ireland. Anywho, there’s a statue of John carrying Maureen right outside one of the entrances to Ashford Castle. We parked right near there for free and walked up to the castle. Luckily the sun was shining and it wasn’t that chilly. A lot of tourists were floating around taking pictures like us.

There are plenty of photo opportunities around the castle grounds. The gardens directly behind the castle are well manicured and basically perfect looking. You’ll find them in front of the water view. If you like to walk there’s a good few paths that trail through the woods. My dad just informed me that on the little islands across the water (Lough Corrib) there are little old churches that you can get a boat to check out.

This was not my first time going this route, but it was my first time photographing it. Thank god my boyfriend has taken a photography class (back in secondary school, but still) because I couldn’t have gotten as lovely shots as he did. I’m so happy with the photos! But more importantly, I’m so happy we went!

Let me know if you have been to any of these places or are planning on going! I’d love to hear what you thought! It really is a stunning corner of the world.

Chat soon x

The Best of Belfast: Food to try & places to go

Belfast is one of the spots to visit in 2018 if you haven’t! If you follow me you know I spend half my week in Belfast and the other half around the Dublin area. This is because I have my boyfriend and friends in Belfast and my uni life and friends in Kildare, which is coming to a close as I’m wrapping up my last semester. I lived in Belfast full time over the summer and loved it. It is very different to Dublin and considerably smaller. It’s lovably quirky and very easy to navigate.

There’s always something fun going on. Here are some spots to check out that I love and have tried/visited. I don’t have photos of everywhere but where I do, I’ve included them below.

My favorite food places (I’m picky): I’ve tried lots but these were the stand outs.

  • Ginger Bistro – Good for a nice meal and ambiance.
  • Fratelli – chocolate mousse is INSANELY GOOD. A small portion is just enough.
  • Avoca Cafe – I have tried the other Avoca cafes around and in Dublin but this one in Belfast is also really lovely.

My favorite bars (casual to fancy):

  • Five Points – Always has live Irish music. Really fun for singing along. Whenever I’m there I don’t even mind standing.
  • Parlour Bar – Very student-esque. Casual AND cheap. They have pub quizzes every Thursday.
  • Filthy McNasty’s  – Fun quirky bar for a night out. There are several differently decorated sections and each of them always have a good buzz. My favorite one is the outside part picture below at night.
  • Town Sq. – really yummy cocktails. Love their moscow mule.
  • The National and Sixty6 – Fancier part upstairs if you want to leave the casual scene, but it will cost you a fiver.
  • The Perch – I went here first for my 21st with friends. It is expensive but very, very nice. The espresso martini is great. It has a rooftop view but I didn’t see it that night haha.
  • Babel – Another rooftop bar! View is so great and looks over Victoria Square. Dying to try the food there. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of it!My favorite takeaways: One for almost every variety/takeaway mood.
  • Abacus Chinese
  • Love Pizza
  • Boojum Burritos
  • Chip Co.

Touristy things worth seeing:

  • City Hall – right in town center, beautiful inside and out.
  • Victoria Square – LOVE the design of this place. It’s an outside shopping that transitions into a dome covered shopping center. Casual shopping to high end. There’s something for everyone. If you don’t fancy shopping, there’s cafes and food as well. It is currently celebrating it’s 10th birthday! Read more here.
  • Tours on the history. I have done multiple tours of Belfast for a class I took on Northern Irish society. The city is rich in history and if you like politics it may be of interest to you. Also check out the very striking Stormont building, the home to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
  • Titanic Quarter – Titanic museum is there! Read more about tickets for it on their website here.

    Places on my to-try list right now:
  • YoSushi – conveyor belt sushi. I’m going to give sushi another chance.
  • Coppi
  • Cuban Sandwich Factory

Seasonal Things to Do:

  • Continental Christmas Market – different meats from around the world to try, Bailey’s hot cocoa with various flavors, some really cool creative stalls with jewelry, art, and delicious food.
  • Christmas shopping in Victoria Square – caroling, and all around Christmassy vibes.

    A little further away…
  • ON A GOOD CLEAR DAY: About an hour down the road in Antrim you can find the Giant’s Causeway which is a gorgeous area with an interesting geological rock formation that draws in a lot of tourism. There’s also a rope bridge and several trails for walks.


    Are you in the city looking for something else to do?
  • Check out a film at Queen’s Film Theatre. Discount with student card but anyone can go. A more intimate movie theater experience!
  • Crazy Tuesdays at Movie House on Dublin Road. 3.50 tickets all day for any movie.
  • Go for a walk in the town or grab a coffee at a nice cafe. There’s some great coffee places and I’ll do a separate post on this.

There are some ideas! Have you been to any of these places?

x