Category: travel

Day in Derry & Weekend Recap

Heya!

This past weekend I ventured up to Belfast, as I usually do, but this time a bit earlier in time to see a Foil Arms and Hog show. Definitely see them if you get the chance! This was my second time seeing them. They have YouTube videos on their channel which you can check out for a laugh. Afterwards we went out for drinks with our friends but were sensible because the boys had to work the next day. Saturday was the day we set aside to go visit Derry. I got little gifts for my boyfriend’s family for Christmas in America and they were still laying about in Belfast. So I gave them their long awaited presents from me…finally!

We were a good bit outside the town in the countryside. The views are stunning. And especially the drive up to Derry from Belfast. It gets prettier and prettier. I think anywhere you grow up you get used to the scenery and potentially forget how beautiful it is because you see it so often. When I was new to Ireland the Irish thought it was funny how much I loved photographing fields, hills and horses and cows, which I get because that’s probably really American of me. But it’s nearly three years later and I still love taking photos of Ireland…But now with a great camera and even greater company (:

All in all, it was a lovely day full of catch ups and scenic driving. Derry in general is a really gorgeous county with a ton of interesting history. I especially love the town itself. It’s very hilly though so be prepared to work them legs. I can’t wait for the day I get to show my Dad around Belfast and Derry. I know he’ll love it!

Speaking of Derry, have you been watching Channel 4’s new show ‘Derry Girls’? It’s brilliant. All the characters have crazy good Derry accents (most of them are from Derry in real life I believe except for a couple of the actors). I learned a new term from it the other day…A nicker bocker glory! When a character on the show ordered one of these at the diner, I thought he said ‘nichol bockel something’ and immediately texted my boyfriend to ask what it was. After a few confused texts, he eventually decoded my gibberish and confirmed it was indeed a nicker bocker glory they were referring to. It’s a layered strawberry ice cream sundae and it is on my list of things to try!! I also want to go to that diner from that scene in Derry Girls.


On Sunday, it snowed and I was praying for a snow day off from uni but no such luck. We did a quick run to ASDA. I love ASDA because big grocery stores remind me of home, haha. Then went bowling. If you watched my Instagram story, you probably saw me humbly bragging about being in the lead. That went south really quick when my boyfriend caught up to me and we tied.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend too (:

x

Madrid Travel Diary

The first trip of 2018 is Madrid, the gorgeous capital of Spain! I’m doing something different here and trying a travel diary style, day by day, where I update the post before, during and after then upload when I return.

Late Friday: Four university exams done and that’s me off to Spain for the weekend. Very excited to see a new country and culture as well as see my friend that recently moved over (: The trip is short because of busy schedules but should still be very fun. We are flying at 6AM so I better sleep here.

PS: I’m flying with RyanAir who happen to have a new bag policy. If you fly with them or are considering doing so, you can read about the new baggage rules here.

(Sunglasses by Oliver Peoples & floral tote from Primark)

Saturday: We adventured around walking a lot. You know a city is great when you’re happy enough to walk everywhere. Madrid is super walkable and a gorgeous spot for wandering around. I don’t speak Spanish, although I’d love to. Our friend Kavina translated and read all the signs which made everything a lot easier. Most restaurants have pictures of the dishes so you know what you’re ordering if you can’t read the menu.

  • Plaza Mayor Square – Beautiful! Didn’t bring camera and got breakfast. Hugh went back for the camera and took some photos of it.
  • Retiro Park boats – The rowing boats at Retiro Park were definitely the highlight of my day, if you go, go on them! It’s so tranquil just paddling around and having some laughs.
  • The James Joyce – Yes, we ended up at an Irish bar for a few pints while the lads watched the Arsenal match. Guinness does not travel well.
  • Raced home from the bar – boys (walking) vs. girls (taking the Metro – which I was very impressed with). Girls won. Boys say it was debatable.
  • Yatai Market – Dinner was at Yatai Market which felt like eating in a club with a lot of Asian food trucks, haha. It’s a gastronomic market that showcases Japanese, Korean and Asian street food and apparently the first of it’s kind in Madrid. It’s worth checking out.
  • And finally, we went out for the night to a few random Spanish bars including The Hat rooftop bar. Some places are very cheap and some are expensive.
    Sunday: Woke up late, got up late. Got out the door by 2pm for a day of walking and seeing sights. Two of the lads went off to a Real Madrid match while we walked around in the sun. We got lucky with the weather on Sunday, it was so nice out! The best part was the rooftop bar…Everything about it was stunning.
  • The Sunday Market – It was right outside the Air B’n’B’s doorstep and was very busy. Nice to look around!
  • The Royal Palace of Madrid – Walked there after breakfast and took some photos. Fabulous building.
  • The Temple of Debod and the little park around it – Very pretty views. Took some photos here and sat in the sun for a bit.
  • Tartan Roof – THE BEST part of Sunday. Such good vibes and so stunning! Here’s another ‘back of the head’ picture with the view.I absolutely loved the weekend in Madrid! It was beautiful and a real treat after finishing a grueling exam season. So happy I got to go and can’t wait to go back!

    Hope you enjoy it if you visit Madrid (:

    x

8 New Year Resolutions for 2018

Happy, happy New Year! First off, I want to say a big thanks if you followed my blog and/or blog’s media platforms in 2017. I know it’s a baby in the world of blogs but any support is appreciated. Blogging was something I was contemplating for a long time and I finally worked up the courage to post Redhead American this past August. I have received really kind feedback since then which always makes me smile, so thank you very, very much!

I hope you had a fun and safe New Year’s! NYE celebrations for me took place in Belfast at a small house party. Maybe I can’t even call it that, let’s say a gathering. There was drinks and dancing and overall it was just very fun. I’m bummed that I hardly took any pictures which leads to resolution number one…

  1. Take more pictures!!! This one frustrates me. I need to take way, way more! I’m hopefully getting my good camera fixed up this week or next. I use an iPhone 6 most of the time, but it’s pretty old so sometimes photos are a bit fuzzy. It still works well otherwise though so I don’t see a point in upgrading. So stay tuned for better quality pictures…
  2. Unplug more. I know it’s great keeping in touch, especially when you live far away. I’m definitely a little guilty of getting stuck on my cell phone sometimes. Especially when I’m traveling!
  3. This leads into…read more books when waiting for planes, trains, buses, you name it. (If you have suggestions of any good reads, toss them my way!) I’m not going to set a specific number of books per month because final semester of uni should be enough work. My brother got me this one for Christmas so that’s my next read.
  4. Get comfortable AND simultaneously cute traveling shoes. I have yet to find a good pair. My go-to is my white low-top converse to allow me to walk more. I don’t like bringing a lot of shoes. I usually bring just one so it’s tricky because sneakers/runners can’t always get into bars/clubs (some bouncers just don’t allow you to!) Suggestions?
  5. Less chains, more local cafes. Self explanatory. Support local businesses whenever you can! Here’s a read from Love.Live.Local (based in Massachusetts) about why shopping local is important.
  6. Skip the cab and walk more (if it’s wicked cold or raining I may get one, understandably) and discover more.
  7. See a country I never thought I’d go to. Like I said in my recent post, traveling opens your eyes. I’m really excited to see what adventures 2018 holds.
  8. Be kinder to the planet while traveling. Less plastic (particularly plastic water bottles)! I’m gonna invest in an eco-friendly water bottle very soon. 

    Of course I have all the typical ones like, establish a more structured exercise routine, eat healthier, drink more water, etc. but these are ones are more travel oriented. I’m super stoked for 2018 and hope you are too! What are your New Year resolutions?

Best of luck on achieving yours!

x

Travel Highlight Reel of 2017

So 2017 will go down as the year I began seeing new countries. All my life, I had only ever been to the United States (where I grew up and my parents live) and the Republic of Ireland (where my parents are from and I now live). I know that I should’ve taken advantage of living in Europe way sooner! In fairness, I have been all around Ireland. There are only a few counties left to check off my Irish bucket list! When I first moved over I basically had day trips planned for every weekend and I had fun little adventures wherever I went by myself or with university friends. But I became so comfortable in Ireland I never went anywhere else, besides home to Boston.

This year was very good to me. I visited so many incredible places, ate amazing food and best of all met a whole new group of friends! Before 2017, I had never crossed the border and visited Northern Ireland. After a handful of trips, I was living there in the summer time! I fell in love with Belfast (and a guy from Derry..haha). 2017 was one for the books as they say.

I’ll go in chronological order, trip by trip, including my favorite photo from my stay there and my favorite activity. There were some more local trips within Ireland (like Cork, Galway, Mayo, Derry, Donegal and Down) but I’ll stick to new countries for this post! All trip titles below have the link to the original blog posts where I discuss them in more depth.

Manchester, UK: August 2017

A quick 40 minute plane ride from Belfast and I was in the industrial city of Manchester! I liked that it was a quick escape. However, it’s not really a holiday spot. It’s more of a place you go to visit someone, which was the intention of the trip. But nevertheless, it was still fun. My favorite part was the Manchester Art Gallery with a new friend I made from an old friend or the rooftop bar pictured…Don’t be fooled by the cute appearance of my cocktail, I can’t recall what was in it but I couldn’t finish it!

The winner of 2017….

France: August 2017 

Out of all the gorgeous places, I think rural France was the best. Not only was it warm, it was super beautiful. The fresh loaves of bread and local cheese were SO, so divine. And the villa I stayed in was set in a rural area outside a very small village that I may never be able to pronounce but really loved.

The light show shown above was projected onto a gothic cathedral and captivated quite the crowd. So fab! I found a video someone took and uploaded to YouTube of another light show in the same place right here.

Amsterdam, Netherlands: November 2017

Amsterdam was a cool touristy spot and the architecture was super pretty. I was surprised at how different I thought it would be. One of the best parts of traveling is configuring a new perspective on a place.

Heineken Factory is well worth a visit, regardless of whether you enjoy Heineken beer. There were so many photo ops and I loved that you could roam about on your own.

Boston & Cape Cod, MA: December 2017

There’s not much to say besides how great it is to be home for the holidays! Obviously the best part is reuniting with friends and spending time with loved ones. The snow is great as well and you can’t beat being near the ocean! I was also home two other times this year when I had time off from university in March and June. In March I was home for about a week and in June I stayed the whole month. One of my close friends from uni came over to see America. Showing her around Massachusetts made me appreciate where I’m from even more!

What a year! I traveled and learned quite a bit. It really does open up your eyes! I’m ready for 2018. I’m sure it will be packed with plenty of fun places to see. After my January exams, a few of us are headed to Madrid for a weekend which should be brilliant. And hopefully a little warmer… If you have suggestions give me a direct message or comment on Instagram.

Where are you planning on going in 2018?

Happy New Year! 

x

 

(Photos of me taken by Abby Hanson at ‘The Knob’ at Quisset Harbor in Falmouth, MA)

 

Home for the Holidays: Cape Cod

 

I’m hooooooome! Despite the label of a travel blog, I have yet to discover how to beat jet lag. Maybe someday I will, but certainly not this trip back. It’s 7am and I’ve been up since 5. On Sunday night, I think I passed out around 1030pm Boston time, so like 330am Irish time, yikes (there is a 5 hour time difference). My body is clearly still on Irish time which isn’t the worst thing to keep up if I’m only here for another week. In regards to flying to the east coast of America, I have always flown with Aer Lingus since I was a kid. I hear Norwegian Air has fantastic deals though which is something I want to look into further possibly for my next trip home.

Cream Double Bauble Knit Beanie is from River Island UK but also can be bought right here.

It is so nice to be home for the holidays <3 There was snow upon my arrival but alas, it has melted. I’m hoping for some more before Christmas! There is a lot to do like seeing friends and family and study as well because exams are quickly approaching when I get back to Ireland. There are so many people to see and never enough time unfortunately, but that’s always the way! I usually stay for New Years but this year I’m spending it with my boyfriend and friends back in Belfast. The last few days, I have been between Cape Cod (which is a man-made island that is connected to Massachusetts by two bridges) and the city of Boston saying hello and goodbye to people! Both are great places to be but I’ve been loving the lively vibe in Boston. It has always been my favorite city but I’m biased, of course. I’ll do a separate post on the city as I have a few more days to spend there before going back to Ireland!

Here are a couple of snaps I’ve taken since being back. The first two are from Barnstable village which is a very nice spot to visit if you’re ever on Cape Cod. Nirvana Coffee Company is probably the cutest cafe on the Cape. I also love the idea of the book exchange outside it. Then we have our Christmas tree all lit up (with no star yet, though!) and my lovely doggo all cuddled up on the couch.

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season and spending time with your loved ones! Happy holidays to all!

x

(Photos at top of post by my lovely friend from home Sarah. Taken nearby a marshland area on Cape)

Taking Care of Your Skin Before & After Travel

I’m not alone here when I say airplanes do something to my skin. It totally dries mine out. The airplane is not the cleanest place so I apply my cream/moisturizer on my face before and after I fly. I also find when I’m traveling I use makeup wipes A LOT more…Which, yes, are not so good for your precious skin. If I’m in a time crunch or super tired I’ll reach for a makeup wipe or micellar water before I go to sleep. It’s better than sleeping with your makeup on.

It’s always important to look after your face and body! Especially around the holiday season it’s essential to take good care of your face to avoid pesky spots for pictures/nights out and have smooth skin to apply fake tan. Lucky me, I rarely break out which I’m super thankful for. I used to have horrible acne when I was around 13-15 years old. From there on I’ve just had occasional spots. Here are a few things I am currently doing/using before the holiday season where I’ll be flying to Boston and back to Ireland again.

1. Hydration before/after the flight is key. Drink loads of water. The air on the plane can seriously dry out your skin.

2. Moisturize after the skin is already clean and/or exfoliated. I like this one called Seaweed & Tea Tree Rescue Cream and it really does smell like tea tree oil (I love essential oils so that made me happy!) The ‘rescue’ part is actually a natural antiseptic! It’s made from Tea Tree essential oil and seaweed from Ireland. I actually had a couple of spots before I began using it and they cleared up in about two days. It can also be used for lots of skin irritations.

3. And don’t forget the rest of your body. I am currently using oil! A lot of people just stop at lotion/cream/moisturizer for their face. This one is brilliant and smells divine. It makes my skin feel really smooth on my upper arms. Something about the lavender in it makes using it relaxing. 

4. Eating well in general but…Antioxidants are a big one for making the skin glow. I get a lot of mine from blueberries in my smoothies. Overall, nutrients are important.

5. Vitamins. Regarding skin, A, B, C, E and K (yes, I put them in alphabetical order) are the best to make sure you’re getting enough of. I recently picked up a few different bottles at the health store in town for the winter time.

I loved trying Green Angel Skincare‘s products and had fun featuring them in this post. The cool thing about them is they are a local company based in Ireland. After reading up on their website, I was happy to see the founders were really passionate about skincare. They use a lot of Irish seaweed and natural ingredients containing vitamins and minerals perfect for replenishing the skin. They’d make excellent Christmas gifts!

 Take good care of your skin! Traveling is a time that can really wear it out. Also, shop local if and when you can.
x
(Big thanks to Green Angel Skincare for sending me these products! The two featured were my favorites. Find more at http://www.greenangel.com. All opinions are my own.)

Americans Applying to Irish University Process

Several people have asked during my time at Maynooth for guidance for their American cousins, nieces, etc on attending university in Ireland as opposed to staying state side. It was a very independent project and took a lot of time and patience to be honest. As if American students applying to American schools isn’t tough or stressful enough! 

Hopefully this post will clarify the process for anyone interested in going abroad for the whole degree.

Right, let’s say it’s the beginning of autumn. Many Irish universities don’t open admissions until November-ish. That doesn’t mean you can’t get cracking on this. Things may have changed since I was applying though, keep in mind!
This is a photo I still have from when I submitted my application. I was so, so delighted with myself!

  1. Are you a good academic fit for your school? Check out what SAT scores the uni of interest wants. This will be on their website. See what else they require. If you don’t have the score, it’s not a good idea to apply right then. You should sit the exams again until you get the required score your Irish uni wants. From my experience, it seemed they didn’t really care if I was a well rounded student in high school. I explained I was in lots of clubs on the tennis team, etc…No need for that. Good GPA + SAT scores = acceptance.More info on the SAT: I had submitted everything to them but hadn’t sat my SAT until later that fall. The uni told me just get a certain score and I’m in. It was that simple!
  2. Talk to your guidance counselor and let them know you have interest in an Irish uni or IT. They won’t have much to say. All mine said was, “Whoa. Okay. I once knew a guy that went to Cork.” But they need to know where you’re hoping to go obviously. They may encourage you to apply to a back up school in the US and I don’t believe that’s really necessary. You will know if you’re a good fit for your school based on what I wrote above in #1. 
  3. The guidance counselor is going to tell you that you’ll have to do all the work yourself and this is 100% accurate. It is entirely up to YOU to get the transcripts faxed to the correct university office from your high school and do all the application process on your own. I recommend recording what you emailed to whom in a journal just to keep track!
  4. Get your required documents together. This includes your transcripts, copy of your passport, recommendations (I needed 3! They were from my favorite AP English teacher, my private tennis coach and wow I honestly cannot remember the last one, I’m so sorry to whoever wrote it hahaha but I do remember being very happy with all of them), and whatever else they may require in the application process.
  5. Do your research on what degree you want to study. All the information about each one is on their websites. You apply with your top three picks and they decide based on your application (I believe, mainly GPA) what course you are offered.
  6.  You’ll have plenty of questions. I’m here if you have any specific ones! Don’t be hesitant to get in touch. But when I applied, I was calling the international office at Maynooth nearly once or twice a week only to be told it was tea time and I should call back later. I used to get up early before school to call them (I was running on Boston time then). By the time I’d come home it would be too late and the office would be closed.
  7.  Submit on time and make sure you have done/gathered everything needed for the application. Very obvious, haha but necessary.

It is really about keeping on top of everything. It is long and exciting and worth it when you get into wherever you want to go! By the way, I applied in September and found out in November that I was accepted just for a time span reference on applying.

I could do more posts on Irish uni tips for students from abroad if you like! Good luck on everything. It is a very exciting journey (:

x

(Photos taken by my good friend from home Abby in 2015 during my first year on Maynooth University campus)

The Real Deal on Adventuring Amsterdam

A gorgeous mainland European city! Amsterdam was full of amazing fashion, beautiful carefree people and loads of bikes. In some cities I’d notice the not so nice areas, but I never saw any in Amsterdam. It was generally consistent in terms of Dutch architecture and scenery. I absolutely fell in love with the top parts of the buildings, so pretty!

What I Didn’t Know/Was Surprised At/If you’re visiting you should know:

  • IT IS EXPENSIVE.. Nights out drinks added up much faster than they do in Ireland. Three vodka and Diet Cokes were around 17 euro…yikes!
  • Do NOT take taxis. Download Uber. Way way way cheaper. My boyfriend and I thought it would be a good idea to get in the taxi queue when we got to the airport but we had to actually get out of the taxi 12 minutes later when the fare was already nearly 55 euro!!
    We only had 35 euro cash between us then and that’s all the man got. He then got very mad and rude.
  • BUT Uber can get funky because the road system is a little different. It’s tough for the drivers to stop wherever to pick someone up.
  • The food was actually pretty decent! All our meals were quite good. Especially The Avocado Show cafe where everything is served with avocado. So insanely yummy.
  • You are gonna need change for bathrooms. Many cost 50c and only take 50c coins.
  • There isn’t too many ATMs all around so take out what you think you’ll need to last you awhile.
  • SO MANY tourists.
  • An aesthetic observation…The fashion was very interesting. People watching was made all the more exciting by seeing some really fun fluffy coats and gorgeous shoes. Also, Dutch men and women are super groomed and rather tall.
  • Cannabis isn’t as legal as I thought. You can only buy it in cafes and you aren’t meant to take it with you when you leave. Hence, cafes where cannabis is buyable are very cloudy and smoky. You’ll smell it all around you in the streets of Amsterdam though!
  • You’ve probably heard biking is insane in Amsterdam. IT IS. And it is VERY easy to get hit by a bike so you’ve gotta check all around before crossing. You’ll hear lots of dinging from bells on bikes.
  • The Amsterdam sex workers in the Red Light District are quite visible and absolutely work the windows they are behind. There are a lot of them. They look pretty good. Also, it is very frowned upon to photograph these ladies.
    The lovely Philippa waiting for The Avocado Show.              
    Canal with swan

     

     

     

    Things I recommend doing/places to visit:

     

  • The Avocado Show as mentioned before….Try the nachos. The staff were also super lovely. If you looked just about anywhere in the cafe, someone was photographing their food. We waited outside for around 20 minutes. (The address is: Daniël Stalpertstraat 61, 1072 XB Amsterdam)
  • The Waterhole was a great spot for live music that you’ll probably know all the words to. We went to a few other bars but this one really stood out. (Address: Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 49, 1017 PW Amsterdam)
  • Red Light District Pub Crawl. You’ll meet lots of fun people on your crawl. Each hostel will have a pub crawl. Ours was around 17 euro a ticket and we were provided much more alcohol than our ticket paid for!
  • Van Gogh Museum. Worth the wait in the queue for 45 minutes if you love art. Also, I was super excited to see ‘Sunflowers.’ Even prettier in person as you’d figure!

    I AMsterdam   
  •   I AMsterdam sign. There were so many people trying to take pictures with the sign. Also, there is a fabulous Christmas market on right near there with plenty of creative stalls to check out. I was admiring a cute knitted hat made by a local but she only took cash and at this point I just had my card on me.

    Canal view
  • Boat canal ride. We cruised around the canals for about an hour. Guests were provided with headphones for a listening tour of an older couple who have lived in Amsterdam and are explaining what you’re seeing on either side of the water. Some very cute house boats out there!  

It was a fairly productive touristy weekend abroad with some very fun friends. I’d go back again! I couldn’t believe how much there was to do and see there. I would love to see the tulip fields outside the city. Most people I know that have visited Amsterdam have gone back not too long after going the first time. A weekend was just the right amount of time there though! My feet ached and were ready to head home to bed after walking about.

 

My next big trip will be back home to Boston for Christmas…I’m very excited to see all my friends and family and drink way too much hot cocoa and non-stop cuddle my doggo.

Hope this helps you if you decide to go to Amsterdam (:

x

7 Travel Hacks/Ideas

Now, I don’t always pack like this but when I have time I will pack in a more respectable, organized fashion. It’s all about utilizing the space at hand. These are some traveling hacks I’ve come across in my two years of living abroad that hopefully help!

  1. Roll your clothes – You’ve heard it before and that’s because it works. I’m guilty of sometimes tossing everything I need in a suitcase or duffel bag and zipping it up but rolling your clothes is always the way to go to save space. It’s also easier to see what’s in your case this way.
  2. Socks fit in your sneakers/runners. Just tuck them in, you can fit a few pairs if you stuff them to the top.
  3. Throw your shoes into a reusable plastic bag, like one you got at the grocery store, to save dirt from going all over your bag.
  4. Put hot water in an empty wine bottle for a homemade DIY hot water bottle. GIRLS. I credit my creative boyfriend for coming up with this idea in desperate times. Don’t boil the water all the way. Fill it up and wrap the bottle in a hand towel and lay it on your tummy to battle cramps.
  5. Electrics (chargers, plugs, transformers, etc.) in a see through bag. Keep the chords organized, it helps.
  6. Make an emergency kit – Mine is usually a mash up of a first aid kit and everything a gal may need in a pinch. A typical one should probably have band aids/plasters, Advil and/or paracetamol, Vitamin C stir in packets and throat lozenges. Don’t forget pony tail holders/bobbins and hair pins and whatever feminine hygiene products you use. This is an example of one I’m bringing to Amsterdam this weekend. There’s a mini Nivea moisturizer and Vaseline and lots of other little things I may possibly need. I also have extra eye contacts just in case.

7. THE MINIs– Typical products in a tiny bottle appropriate for travel. By typical I mean you probably already use these.

  • Dry shampoo for those days you skip washing your hair and it feels gross after the plane. It thankfully adds volume as well. I use Baptiste Beautiful Brunette, despite having red hair. It sprays on dark so you don’t have to blend it in. Baptiste’s other dry shampoos spray on a white/grey color. They make mini sizes for travel too! Super handy – pun intended (;
  • Mini roll on deodorant
  • Mini lotion like the Nivea one in my kit picture
  • Some form of chapstick for your lips

If you’re going to be away for a long period of time, purchase shampoo conditioner and all the rest at your destination. It makes it easier and you save space. Buy cheap then leave them behind you when you’re done, that way you have space on your return. I hope at least one of these ideas/hacks benefit you on wherever you may go next!

What are your travel hacks?

x

Fun in France

FUN IN FRANCE

Beer in Chartes!

Bonjour!

Last week I found myself lucky enough to experience the north region of France. I ended up avoiding Paris altogether, only driving through it a few times. And from what I saw, it didn’t seem how it had always been depicted in movies or on TV. I definitely want to go back and give it another chance though! I didn’t even see the center of it where all the major touristy sights are. Eiffel tower is on my list!

However, where we were in Champagne was just beautiful. The French countryside is as picturesque as you’d hope. And despite stereotypes, the French people were SO nice and kind. It wasn’t even just the country people, it was the people we met in all the cities/towns we visited as well. They seemed to like to practice their english, which was awesome because I know very little French.

 

ACCOMODATION

Outside the villa

 

The villa my good friend had rented for the week was situated in a very rural setting.. Vineyard country. The hills and fields were beautiful. The house was technically an 1800s farmhouse that was transitioned into a rental so there’s plenty of ceiling beams and exposed wall details. It was one of only a few rentals in the area – Le Breiul, a little village in Champagne. The lack of tourists made the experience all the more tranquil. I spent a good bit of time just soaking up the sun and reading outside. It was around 30 C the first few days! Even though it’s not THAT far from Ireland, the weather is totally different (despite it raining a few times on my last two days there!). I did get a little sunburn..which quickly faded. My skin was probably happy to see the sun again, haha.
I had my own room with beautiful lighting. I didn’t spend much time in it honestly, except the time I spent sleeping like a rock. It was lovely though, I really liked it.

What I didn’t like was the spiders the size of tennis balls with the speed of Olympic runners. Terrifying. They showed themselves at night so we were all careful to watch out for them. The wasps were huge also! I’m not delving into negative things about the trip, there weren’t many at all! But if you hate bugs like me seriously watch out.

Quick room selfie
Window views

FOOD & DRINK

Veg/Fruit – Everything was ridiculously fresh. I could eat the lettuce pretty much as is. Tomatoes as well and I’m not even a big tomato fan! The grapes from our yard were also lovely. I made our salads with the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and just squeezed lemon on top with a dash of grapeseed oil and pepper. It was simple and tasted fab.

Brie house!

 

Cheese – Not only did I eat some killer cheeses, I got to visit the village of Brie. A charming little town that is the home of famous and amazingly gorgeous Brie cheese. It was adorable and I’m an even bigger fan of the cheese now. Like a lot of the villages in the Champagne area, Brie is fairly small and has a quaint vibe. I’d say Brie ended up being my favorite cheese of the trip!

 

Bread – We would run up to the local boulangerie for fresh bread and croissants nearly daily. Also heavenly. Croissants have never tasted better. They’re especially good with a bit of Nutella on top. Add Brie, lettuce and tomato onto a piece of French bread with a sprinkle of salt. Basically my lunch the entire vacation. I feel like a wheel of cheese. In need of a detox from it.

 

Wine/Champagne – Cheap and delish. A bottle that cost a fiver would taste like one that cost closer to twenty. I was impressed but after all it is one of the French’s areas of expertise.

As a gal pal of mine told me the other day, champagne is only authentic if it actually comes from the Champagne region of France. Otherwise it should be labeled a sparkling wine. The villa we stayed in was surrounded by beautiful vineyards…People pick the grapes from the vines once a year! I wish I could see how it was done.

Prepping lunch one of the days

SIGHTS

My friend loves gothic cathedrals. We purposely planned our day trip towns around this for her birthday. One day we did an eighteen hour road trip of the cathedrals – kid you not! I was wrecked after and don’t want to see another one for at least a month. I see why she adores them, they’re absolutely stunning. The details are so elaborate for their time, most of them having been built as early as 1100 or 1200. We went (in no specific order, because I can’t remember it) to Le Breuil, Château-Thierry, Dormans, Reims, Chartes, Reoun and Amiens. Not all of those towns had cathedrals we visited but majority did. While I enjoyed just about everywhere, Reoun was my absolute favorite. It was by far the nicest city in my eyes.

Highlight of my trip – a light show projected on the cathedral in Reoun

 

Au revouir…

Farewell, France! I shall be back. I have a new love of traveling and appreciation for France and their culture but there’s nothing like coming back to Ireland. I was only gone five days and it was such a relief when the plane landed in Belfast. Since then I’ve moved back to uni. I finally have a place of my own, woohoo!  I’ll have to do a post on how I decorate it.

 

Catch more updates and pictures of my trip on my Instagram: @redheadamerican

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