Ireland

International Road Trips Travel

Ireland

“story horse?” (meaning: What’s Up? in America)

It is hard to believe next month will be a year since I’ve been to Europe! Ireland had been on my list for several years, so I was super excited to make this special trip across the pond. A lot of planning went into this because I wanted to see EVERYTHING. I was so worried my husband wouldn’t enjoy being in the car so much, but it was literally the perfect trip, so he enjoyed it. Precise planning was key.

A few posts ago, I wrote about Iceland. We scheduled a stopover in Iceland on the way to Ireland and it was remarkable. A great way to experience another country in a short period of time. Stopovers have become quite popular in the travel industry over the last few years and I highly recommend them to get the most out of your trip.

We flew into Dublin, Ireland and rented a car. We checked into The Trinity City Hotel and walked to the very first O’Neils. It was lovely. Exactly what I would expect from an Irish Pub! My husband doesn’t drink, but believe it or not, there are other things to do and enjoy in Ireland. The pubs have excellent food. I tried my first Guinness at O’Neils and The bartender suggested a “Guiness Black” which adds dark cherry juice and kills the strong taste, so this American could enjoy it. From that point on, I ordered a Guinness Black and felt like a local….

The next day we began our 7 day cross-country road trip. The very BEST way to travel Ireland. The first stop was Waterford. I really wanted to experience staying in a castle and this was a perfect spot. Waterford Castle was breathtaking and the staff was incredible. We stayed for 2 days and never left the property. Spectacular views, amazing food and the staff became friends. (The GM, Miss Bernadette is the owner’s sister. and the family story behind this gorgeous property was beautiful) It was everything and more I had imagined Ireland would be.

Next up was The Blarney Castle. This had been on my bucket list for over a decade. I just wanted to run up and ‘kiss the stone’! The Gardens were gorgeous and we were so lucky to have stunning weather. The leaves were turning and fall was definitely in the air. This was such a happy day for me. Oh! We did kiss the stone and I received the ‘gift of gab’ October is the perfect time to go, because there were no crowds or lines. We felt like the only one on the castle grounds. We pre-purchased tickets on line through the website (linked above).

Killarney was our next stop. We stayed at the Victoria House Hotel, which was situated along The Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park. This was a super (and adorable) convenient hotel and we were able to drive about 1/2 of The Ring in one day. In addition, we toured the Muckross Abbey and Farm on a horse and carriage. It was outstanding…We got to see more castles, beautiful wildlife and amazing scenery. Torc Falls, Ladies View were a couple of our stops as we drove. The drive itself is stunning. Nightlife in Killarney was typical of Ireland….street musicians, shops and pubs. Courtney’s Pub is the oldest pub in Ireland and still owned by the same family. A MUST visit. The fireplace in the middle out of the bar was so fun. It’s a local favorite, but attracts lots of tourists as well. We also had a wonderful Irish dinner at The Laurels that evening.

The next day, we drove to the West Coast and experienced one of the most surreal views I have ever seen.

The next day, we drove to the West Coast and experienced one of the most surreal views I have ever seen. The Cliffs of Moher was literally a dream. It did not seem like real life. Again, a very light crowd, so we got to see mother nature at its finest. DO NOT miss this. By far, my favorite day of our Irish vacation. Movie fans…scenes from Princess Bride and Harry Potter (and many more) were filmed there! Please take my advice and DRIVE there. Don’t waste your money on a tour. There are so many other stopping points along the way.

Before we headed back to Dublin, we stopped in Galway. I wasn’t very impressed, but at this point, we were so tired. I heard lots of great things about the city, but we stayed at the hotel and had dinner there. Didn’t venture out much. 

Back to Dublin for our last day/night in Ireland. Dublin is very overcrowded and busy. Driving is almost impossible, so its quicker to walk.  We walked for miles through the city. We checked out Grafton and the City Center. We really enjoyed lunch at The Temple Bar, which is a pretty popular tourist destination. We dined with lots of Americans. They offer 92 sandwiches on the menu. Loved it.

Add Ireland to your bucket list, but take my advice and road trip. We saw so much in 7 days that would’ve take several trips back if we had stayed close to Dublin. 10 days, 2 countries and too many cities to count. 

Slan leat, Ireland! It was a dream!

**Avanti Destinations booked everything for us. I use them for clients as well. 

 

Homosassa, Florida

Day Trips Family Friendly Road Trips

Homosassa, Florida

We became camper owners several years ago and have really enjoyed exploring this part of Florida. We usually spend about 5 or 6 weekends on the river “hunting” Florida bay scallops. It’s fairly easy if you get up early and follow the parade of boats through the river and out to the ocean. Be careful because you can easily lose an engine or prop if you don’t pay attention the the markers. Lost of rocks on the river! We have several coordinates saved and return to those year after year. Although, they’re a little light this year (2019), we’ve find enough for dinner and appetizers the next day (I prefer eating them fresh vs frozen, so a few dozen gallons is all we need) After a morning of scalloping, we drop off the scallops to be cleaned (much easier than cleaning yourself and supports the locals) and head to the spring. **We use the scallopers at McCrae’s. I elect to stay on the boat, while the hubby and kids embrace the 72 degree water. The crowds are insane mid summer. The last few summers, we decided to start our time on the river in mid July, so most of the initial start-of-season crowds (and crazies) are gone. There are a few other things to do in Homosassa (Homosassa State Park, Weeki Wachee, Three Sisters Springs, Hospital Hole) It’s truly a relaxing adventure and should be planned as such. Be sure to check out Monkey Island after you put the boat in. Located just east of McCrae’s. It’s a tiny island where monkeys live! The story behind it is pretty neat!

“It’s truly a relaxing adventure and should be planned as such.”

Where to launch the boat: McCrae’s (prepare for long lines unless you put in super early or late), Trade Winds (requires dock space rental), Monkey Bar & Restaurant ($10 boat launch and parking if available)

What to eat: Michael Anthony’s (fantastic Italian & also BYOW!) They also deliver pizza to your campsite. The Freezer (long waits and no table service, but excellent shrimp & salmon dip), Monkey Bar & Restaurant (bar food), McCrae’s (bar food & burgers), Vintage on 5th (it’s fancy and my favorite, of course! reservation recommended), Crackers in Crystal River (decent if you like a nice view, but the food is so-so), The Crab Shack in Crystal River (excellent crab of course)  Shelly’s Seafood Market (the best seafood dip you’ll ever have) located along the River, just past McCrae’s. You can pull your boat right up to her small house on your way out to scallop or way back in to the spring. The Plantation Inn in Crystal River (decent menu, service is so-so, must make a reservation) **Crumps is new, but sadly burnt down early this summer. Should be opening again soon, although we didn’t have the chance to try it this time. 

Where to stay: Homosassa RV Resort (you can rent campers here too, if you don’t have your own). They have a pool, cook shed and a great fishing pond. They changed management last year and made several improvements. A lot of other RV resorts are under water in the summer, but this one has done a better job at trying to fix that problem. Use AirBnB for house rentals, some hotels, book a year in advance if traveling during scallop season!! 

Road Trips Travel

Charleston, South Carolina

I hadn’t been to Charleston since I was a teenager. That was before I became a foodie, fell in love with taking pictures, before instagram was created and before I became obsessed with traveling. So, this stop during our 4th annual summer road trip was an exciting one! We typically stop in Atlanta or Savannah on our way to the mountains from Florida, but I wanted to change things up this time and take the kiddos to a city they’ve never been.

Charleston wasn’t too far out of the way to make an overnight stop, so I booked one night at King Charles Inn (via Expedia TAAP for Travel Agents) The hotel is on Meeting Street and centrally located. We walked everywhere. We only had two days, so we were non stop. We walked the cobblestone streets, strolled down Rainbow Row, wasted money at It’Sugar, visited the infamous Pineapple Fountain, had dinner at High Cotton, took our own walking tour of movie set locations from The Notebook (7 separate locations in a 4 mile radius), checked out two of the most gorgeous churches in the city (St Philips and St Michaels) and I snuck away while the kids were still asleep to run a few miles along the shoreline to see the beautiful homes at The Battery. We had breakfast (chicken & waffles) at Poogan’s Porch and on our way out of the city, drove through campus at Charleston College, which was a gorgeous campus.

Stop in on a road trip or stay for a while. Charleston, The Holy City has a southern charm everyone should experience!

A list of The Notebook movie locations:

  • College of Charleston – the backdrop for Allie’s College (Sarah Lawrence college in the film)
  • Intersection of King & Mary Street – Where Allie and Noah lie down in the street to watch the traffic light (the traffic light was actually a prop and not a working street light)
  • American Theatre (446 King Street) – The theatre were Noah & Allie go on a date
  • William Aiken House – The wedding dress fitting scene
  • High Cotton – The restaurant where Noah looks through the restaurant window and sees Allie with Lon. *A restaurant manager at the time had a cameo in the movie and played the maitre d’.
  • Calhoun Mansion (14-16 Meeting Street) – The interior of this mansion was used for the scenes from inside Allie’s summer home
  • Porter’s Lodge (right before the intersection of George and Glebe Street) – Lon waits outside his car for Allie at the college after he recovered from his war injuries in front of this pink building.

International (and Domestic) Travel Necessities

Travel Tips

International (and Domestic) Travel Necessities

I travel a lot and always try to find items that make life easier when we are on the go. These things are a must for me when traveling internationally and also helpful when traveling within the US. I have provided links to all of my favorites. I hope these help create less stress while on your journey.

**I am not being compensated in any way by promoting these items. This is my personal opinion only! 

Travel Jacket lightweight and easy to pack in a carryon. A must for all seasons.

Passport Holder There are many options for this, but I love this one, because you can keep all important docs together.

Backpack I absolutely LOVE my Fjallraven backpack. I carry it on the daily, even when not traveling.

Luggage Scale This saves stress at the airport! No one wants to pay overweight fees. Pack it to re-weigh on your return as well (in case you shopped a lot)

European Travel Adapter An obvious necessity! Don’t try to buy in Europe. They’re expense and horrible quality.

Collapsible Laundry Basket I literally use this on every trip! I even pack it after it’s filled, so my dirty clothes stay separated from my clean!

Cell Phone Power Bank When traveling internationally, your phone battery dies faster. This is another obvious necessity as long as you remember to keep it charged.

Travel Blanket A perfect little blanket for your long flight..even in the summer.

Travel Pillow Love the memory foam pillows!

Suitcase This suitcase is amazing!! It even has a built in charger. Reasonably priced, too!

Packing Cubes A wonderful packing tip! Use these!!!

3.5mm Headphones Eventually all airlines will upgrade their outlets, but the majority of airlines still have 3.5mm.

Safe Travels, Friends!

Angela