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?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 (:
(Photos taken by my good friend from home Abby in 2015 during my first year on Maynooth University campus)
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.
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 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.
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 (:
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!
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.
Socks fit in your sneakers/runners. Just tuck them in, you can fit a few pairs if you stuff them to the top.
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.
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.
Electrics (chargers, plugs, transformers, etc.) in a see through bag. Keep the chords organized, it helps.
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!
My favorite season in general and my favorite season in Ireland has finally arrived. I basically love pumpkin anything, all the fall colors, chunky knit sweaters and my riding boots crunching (stomping) all the leaves. It’s a very autumnal October and I’m all bundled up at the train station brainstorming where to take my blog next. I’ve an upcoming Amsterdam trip planned for Thanksgiving next month. I’ve never been and I am very, very stoked. Every year I throw a big dinner party abroad but this year will be a new spin on it. I’m also hoping to get to Madrid in January after my exams with the same group of friends from the Netherlands trip. I’m wondering whether to go beyond just travel and Irish life on here. As of right now I’d love to do posts on yoga, self care, fashion, uni organization AND more travel. If you have suggestions get in touch (my Instagram is @redheadamerican)!
I’ve been a busy bee lately. Uni is in full swing. I’ve been settling in during the week and heading away on weekends to see people and hit the town with them. Final year is obviously more intense and it’s taken some adjustment. It just takes being organized and quite focused. One year left and I’m looking forward to finishing. I can’t believe how fast it has all gone by. Feels just like yesterday my dad left me at my freshmen accommodation and I was an eager little fresher. Graduation next fall seems like a faraway dream, eeeek!
I LOVE fall in Massachusetts too. Well, let’s say all of New England. The foliage is beautiful. People from all over go on foliage tours near where I’m from just to see the scenes change. Pumpkins are literally all over house doorsteps, shop fronts and most importantly Dunkin’ Donuts (I miss and love you, Dunkin’. I’ll be home for Peppermint Mocha season, I promise). Ooooh I can’t wait for all things Christmas! But first to enjoy all that fall brings. Halloween, Amsterdam and Thanksgiving first, I must pace myself.
Right, that’s all for now. Let me know what you would like to see if you are interested.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.