July 21, 2017

Currently...

I'm back from a fabulous trip to Croatia (and Munich, which wasn't planned!) and I'm recovering from jet lag, fighting a cold, and sorting through all of my pictures. I can't wait to share all of the details from our trip! In the mean time, here's what's going on:


Feeling... under the weather. I've had a sore throat since we got back and it's been a long week at work. I'm hoping to take the weekend to recover.

Reading... "Songs of Willow Frost" by Jamie Ford. Ford's book, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" is one of my favorite books of all time and I'm excited to read his next book. I picked this up in the Clearance section at Barnes & Noble, so I hope it's good!

Thinking about... my fall race schedule.

Watching... "Friends from College." The Pilot and I started watching this when we got back. It's pretty funny.

Working on... uploading all of my pictures and pulling my blog posts together. Croatia was incredible and I'm so excited to relive the trip through my posts!

Needing... to go for a run. I didn't run the whole time we were in Croatia. I couldn't believe how hot it was there. It was definitely the hottest place I've visited in summer, beating both West Africa and India! By 8 am every morning, it was already over 90 with high humidity and with slippery streets and major hills, I decided not to risk it.

Wanting... to go to yoga this weekend. I'm hoping I can fight this cold and get on the mat.

Loving... how much fun we had on vacation. This may have been our most fun vacation yet!

What's on your list?
If you're waiting for my Croatia posts, you can check out my Instagram to hold you over!
Don't forget to link up for next week's book club to discuss "The Cirlce!" 


July 10, 2017

Exploring Dubai's Al Fahidi Historic Neighorhood

Last week, I shared with you all of the details for our latest trip to Dubai, well, almost all of the details! When I stumbled on the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, I absolutely fell in love!


Al Fahidi is located in Bur Dubai, Dubai's Old City and is a complex that, from the outside, really doesn't look like much, but once you start wandering down the laneways in and out of the shops and galleries, the entire place comes to life!

Every time I thought I had seen everything, another door literally opened. At one point, I tried working in a partially opened door and the shopkeeper rushed over to me and welcomed me in. He explained that everyone had their doors closed to keep the air conditioning in but to please, open any door I wished!





One of my favorite places in Al Fahidi was the Majlis Gallery which, among many other things, featured works by a Syrian calligraphy painter, Khaled Al Saai whose work was mesmerizing. I would have loved to have become a true collector in that moment and purchased one of his pieces but at 120,000 AED (roughly $32,000 USD) that just wasn't going to happen!


I had set out for my day, not in search of Al Fahidi, but in search of the Dubai Coffee Museum, which I eventually did find but didn't spend much time there. It's more of an experiential coffee house where you can sit and have a conversation and learn about the history of coffee. I was getting hungry so I just browsed all of the old percolators and inhaled the fresh aroma of coffee beans and made my way to lunch!


We happened to be in Dubai during the Sikka Art Festival, which runs every March and had started the week we arrived. The Art Fair features live music, works of art, performances, and films by local Emirati artists. 


I loved exploring all of the galleries in the festival! The works of art were incredible!

We actually bought one of these pieces! Aren't they incredible?!


If you're in Al Fahidi,  you absolutely shouldn't miss the Arabian Tea House where I cooled off with Morrocan Mint Tea, a grilled halloumi sandwich, and out-of-this-world date cake.


Another spot not to be missed is the AlSerkal Cultural Foundation, an art gallery, cafe, workshop (where you can learn crafts from local artisans), bookstore, and shop, where you can cool off with some tea or camel's milk ice cream.

Exploring Al Fahidi was the absolute highlight of our Dubai trip and I couldn't say enough things about how much I loved this area! I think I could go back to Dubai a dozen more times and never tire of all of the sights and sounds in this wonderful area!

If you go to Dubai, definitely prioritize this spot and come back and tell me all about it!

July 7, 2017

Next Stop: Croatia!

That's right! This month, The Pilot and I are headed to sunny Croatia! I'm so excited. Croatia has been on my bucket list for years. I fell in love with the Balkans when I spent time in Bosnia and Serbia a few years ago and I'm so excited to explore more of the region, this time on the coast.


We'll be there just shy of a week and I thought I'd share some of what we have planned to hear your suggestions for anything else we should do and maybe even inspire you to take your own trip to Croatia!

We'll be staying in two cities, starting in Dubrovnik.

I've heard that Dubrovnik gets packed with tourists during the day from the cruise ships that dock each day, something that really made me dislike Santorini, but I've heard that the evenings are lovely and quiet so we'll try to save most of our sightseeing for after things have quieted down.

We're planning to rent a car and drive up the coast from Dubrovnik to Trogir, about a 3-hour drive. We made the hard decision not to go to Plitvice National Park while we're in Croatia because it's too far and I think we have about one less day than I think we would need to venture out that way. Instead, we're planning on taking a detour north on our drive to Trogir to stop at Krka National Park.

Trogir is just outside Split. We decided to base ourselves there because it's quieter and less expensive (from what I've heard) but we definitely want to take a day trip to Split to explore the city and check out Diocletian's Palace! We might also take the ferry out to Brac for a day to spend on the island and get in some beach time.


What I'm most looking forward to is delicious Balkan food and a lot of time relaxing on the beach. We might rent kayaks and explore either of the two cities from the water. Either way, I want to spend as much time in the sun as possible and I want to come back feeling wildly relaxed!

Have you been to Croatia?
What do you think of our itinerary? What would you add to this list?

July 5, 2017

3 More Days in Dubai

I'll be honest, I didn't love Dubai the first time we went there. To me, it felt like Vegas. I was this giant, cosmopolitan city in the middle of the dessert full of gorgeous hotels and shopping malls. The Pilot loved it. He had been trying to convince me to go back for awhile and earlier this year, I finally caved.


We landed at about 9pm on a Saturday night and by the time we got to our hotel and checked in, it was close to 11. My legs were stiff from the long haul flight, so I headed straight to the hotel gym for a quick run to shake out my legs. After a quick dinner in the hotel bar, it was time for bed. 

Day 1: 
Sunday morning, our first full morning in Dubai, we met up with some friends who had recently moved to Dubai for breakfast and coffee and a cute little spot called, The Sum of Us. After breakfast, we went down to the Marina and strolled along, browsing the little shops and stands and soaking up the sun. It was snowing in DC and I was very grateful to be in a place the locals already considered was getting too hot!


Our next stop was the Dubai Miracle Garden. I had wanted to go to DMG when we were in Dubai the year before but it had already closed for the season. (It's only open for a few months throughout the year). Lucky for us, it had just opened.


The DMG is located in this complex called Dubailand which was supposed to be a metropolis of amusement parks, think Ferrari World, Universal Studios, etc. all of which fell through in the aftermath of the financial crisis. It was pretty desolate aside from DMG and you could still see signs for where Universal was going to be.

The Miracle Garden was really cute. I absolutely loved the Emirates plane (so did The Pilot) and all of the little houses, plus, the flowered archways were gorgeous! We spent a few hours there strolling the grounds and looking at all of the flowers.



Day 2: 
I was up early again on Monday morning and a little bit at a loss for what to do. Eventually, I decided to head to the Al Fahidi neighborhood in search of a small coffee museum I had read about. I hopped on the metro and made my way to the furthest stop I could before getting out and walking through a neighborhood full of textile shops. On my way to Al Fahidi, I stumbled on the Dubai Museum and decided to stop in. It was a fascinating museum that shows you just how far Dubai has come in a remarkably short period of time. The Museum has artifacts dating all the way back to the first century!


I learned so much about Dubai! Dubai has always been a center of trade in the Middle East but preserved it's Bedouin tradition and reflected the "Old Arab" world until almost the 1960s when Dubai invited the British to trade and started the path toward becoming one of the world's most significant metropolitan areas in the world.


The museum is a really fascinating way to see that growth and change. It was really well done but I would caution against the giant tour groups that made the experience a bit less than enjoyable.

After the museum, I went in search of Al Fahidi. I had a hard time finding it at first because what I didn't realize is that, it isn't a neighborhood in the sense I'm used to. The Al Fahidi Historic District is more like a complex.



Surprisingly quiet and seemingly hidden, it looks like an area with a bunch of quiet, empty laneways until you discover that beneath every hidden door is a new gem waiting to be explored...art galleries, museums, artisan workshops. I got lost in here for hours, continually discovering more and more. I've decided to dedicate a whole post to Al Fahidi, which I'll share next week! (Promise! It's already written!)

Eventually, I got hungry and made my way to lunch before heading down Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street to explore the Hindi Market. This was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. While walking through the market, the call to prayer sounded and men in dishdashas rushed out of nowhere to the nearest mosque to answer the call, scrambling to take their shoes off and stumbling up the steps to make it in time. Just behind the mosque, I stumbled one a celebration of Holi with celebrants laughing and throwing powdered paint at one another.


I spent some time wandering along the water and taking in all of the sites from Bur Dubai. This was a neighborhood I had walked through on our last trip to Dubai but hadn't explored at all and I loved it. This, to me, felt like the real Dubai - the preserved history hidden among the rising construction (which is everywhere!) - and tall, gleaming buildings make Dubai the fascinating place that it is.




For dinner, The Pilot and I headed to the Madinat Jumeirah Resort and took in the stunning view of the Burj am Arab changing color in the moonlight.


Day 3: 
Tuesday was our last day in Dubai but fortunately, our flight wasn't until after midnight.

Our first stop of the day was the Burj Khalifa. We had missed out on this last time we were in Dubai but decided not to skip it this time. It is very pricey ($55 during prime hours) and we only opted to go to "At the Top," the lower of two levels but the view was still incredible, not simply because it's the tallest building in the world but because you can truly see what Dubai has become in the middle of the desert. You can even see into one of the neighboring Emirates, Sharjah.



If you're wondering what the difference between "At the Top" versus "At the Top Sky" is, this photo below shows you just how much more of the building there is. We were on the 125th level. "At the Top Sky" takes you to the 148th.



Once again though, the experience was made somewhat less enjoyable by the buses of tourists with selfie sticks that unloaded as we had arrived, making it impossible to see anything without being hit in the face with a selfie stick. I recommend getting there as early as possible. We had booked "off-peak tickets," which I thought would prevent that, but apparently not!

We left the Burj Khalifa and wandered around the mall for a bit before heading back to Al Fahidi. We had planned a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding for one of their Cultural Meals. On our last trip to Dubai, we had done a mosque tour through the Center but I had been disappointed to miss the Cultural Meals. These include a traditional Emirati meal shared in a group with an Emirati host about the UAE's culture, traditions, and religion. It was fascinating. The food was wonderful and I loved the opportunity to learn about Dubai from a local. Our host was a Tunisian woman who has lived in Dubai for the last 20 years. It was so interesting to hear her thoughts on the ever-changing Dubai. Not to mention, the food was remarkable.


I hadn't realized this the day before but the Sheikh Mohammed Center is in Al Fahidi. We had learned the day before that Sikka, Dubai's Art Festival was going on but had been there too early in the day to experience it. It was just starting when we finished lunch, so we wandered in and out of galleries, exploring even more of Al Fahidi then we had seen the day before!



Our last stop of the day was a rooftop gallery/museum/bookstore/coffee shop that I loved, called the AlSerkal Cultural Foundation. We were the only ones up there and it was so quiet except for the mosques all ringing their calls to prayer, a sound that, Every time I travel to a Muslim country, I fall even more in love with.


Our plan was to take a ferry back to the Marina but as we were walking, it started raining and the ferry for canceled. I was really bummed because it had only rained for about 5 minutes but I guess it doesn't rain that often in Dubai so when it does, people are at a loss for what to do!

So that wrapped up our trip! We took the metro back to the hotel and packed, I got in a quick run, grabbed a quick bite, and then took a nap before heading to the airport to catch our flight!

I'm so glad I gave Dubai another chance. I really loved it this time around and it has really opened up the possibility for me to revisit some other places I haven't exactly loved. I would go back to Dubai again in a heartbeat, only this time, I'd like to explore some of the other Emirates too!

Have you been to Dubai?
If not, is it on your list? I hope it is now!

July 3, 2017

June Recap .

This June had a theme: escape. I've mentioned before that I've been going through a lot lately and, once June rolled around, I just needed to get away. 

I've always been accused of running away from my problems but, in reality, I feel like it's the only thing that helps. You're so absorbed in the sights and sounds of a new place, and caught up in the experience of just being away, that it's easier to find your new normal when you get back.


I mentioned recently that I've just started running again after a lot more time off than I've taken in years and, those first few runs back felt impossible, but after three weeks, I'm finally back to a place where running feels good. 

Here's a look at how my month of June went;

Miles Run: 20

I'm actually surprised I ran this much. I'm just easing back into things but it feels good. I'd still like to run a fall marathon but training starts relatively soon and I'm not sure if it's smart to ramp up from 0 miles in 6 weeks to the 25 miles/week I need to kick off training. We'll see how I'm feeling though. I know I need to balance things with yoga and strength training to get there so I might start adding some barre classes to my routine.

Minutes of Yoga: 0. 

I finally went to yoga for the first time in almost two months yesterday and it felt so, so good. I took a 75-minute yoga class and, even though it wasn't a great class, I realized just how badly I needed to be in a place to just quiet my mind and focus.

Books Read: 3

Trips Taken: 2
New Recipes Made:

Cooking isn't at all something that has been a priority for me these last two months. To be honest, eating hasn't either. I haven't been eating well at all and have been eating out mostly because I haven't felt like shopping or cooking but my bank account felt the effects of that, so I finally made a meal plan last week and stuck to it. My favorites were Caprese Farro Salad from the Runner's World Cookbook and a Burst Tomato Linguini from Run Fast, East Slow. 

Blog Posts Written: 4!

Sadly, this is the most I've posted in a month since March. I know I've said this before, but this month, I really am committed to bringing my blog back. Call it a Half Year's Resolution, if you will. I've drafted some posts this weekend and am excited to start blogging regularly again.

The Month Ahead:
This month, I want to take care of myself which means, eating well, running regularly and balancing running with yoga and strength work, but also incorporating some meditation into my daily routine and learning to just breathe.

I want to make a serious effort to post on my blog regularly, starting with catching you all up on my Dubai trip in March (which was seriously amazing), and the two baseball stadiums I've crossed off my list! 

Lastly, vacation. Yup, a week-long European beachy vacation is just around the corner for me and I can't wait! I've never needed time away like this and I'm so ready to pack my bags and take off!


June 30, 2017

Everything I Read in June

I'm in a reading rut this year. I'm seven books behind my goal of 55 books this year (which was, admittedly ambitious) but I've gone whole days without reading, something I don't think I've done since college. I've read so many books this year that I didn't like, that it's been hard to pick things up again.

I'm desperately in need of a good read. I'm mulling over which books to bring on vacation next month, so suggestions are welcome!



In the meantime, here's a look at what I've read this month:

"In the Woods" by Tana French - Since "The Trespasser" came out, I've been really eager to read Tana French. I've heard amazing things about her latest book but it was at my local, neighborhood bookshop that someone recommended I start with French's first book, "In the Woods." The six-book series doesn't follow any chronological order but rather involves some of the same characters, all detectives in the Dublin Murder Squad.

I enjoyed this book. I gave it three stars. The novel begins in Ireland on a summer day in the 80s when three kids go out to the woods to play, and only one comes back. The case goes cold and, years later, Detective Rob Ryan, the child left behind, finds himself back in Knocknaree, the town he grew up in, investigating the murder of a young girl that may have ties to his missing friends.

I can't say why I didn't rate this book better without giving away spoilers, but I will say that if you like crime novels (which I actually don't) or are interested in mysteries, this is a quick read that will be perfect for a long flight this summer!

"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" by Anne Fadiman - This book was heartbreaking, yet fascinating. A nonfiction book, it goes into remarkable detail about Lia Lee, a Hmong girl in Merced County, CA who developed a seizure disorder at 4 months old. Lia's family are Hmong refugees who didn't speak English and couldn't convey to her doctors what was happening, especially since, early on, she stopped seizing before she arrived at the hospital. The book is a tragedy of errors telling the collision between Western medicine and Eastern culture. Lia's parents wanted to slaughter animals in an offering to help bring her soul back, the reason, they thought for her seizures. Lia's doctors' were frustrated at what they deemed noncompliance by her parents for failing to give Lia her medicine when they couldn't understand the directions, particularly in regards to dosage and times, as culturally, they tell time by the light of day and the rooster's crow. Lia's parents were frustrated at what her doctors' were doing to her (taking blood when they believed she had a finite amount of blood or performing a spinal tap, which they didn't understand the point of). When translators were used, they were Hmong custodians at the hospital or the Lee's teenage daughter.

It's hard to say I loved this book because of the subject but I loved reading it and, I honestly think this should be required reading for any medical practitioner.  I highly recommend this book. We read it for my book club and it was interesting to see what perspective people took - siding with either the doctors or the family. I'd be curious to know what others think.

"Echoland" by Joe Joyce - When I travel, I always try to pick up a book at a local bookstore that takes place in the city or country I'm visiting. While in Dublin, I picked up this book which had recently been awarded Dublin's One City One Book choice. The shopkeeper highly recommended the book and I couldn't wait to dive in.

I didn't like it. I had a really hard time following the dialogue, something I've never struggled with in a novel before, and the book just dragged on. Set during WWII or, The Emergency, as it was called in Ireland, Paul Duggan is tasked with following someone thought to be a German spy, as part of his role in the Army's Intelligence Division. At the same time, his uncle, a politician, asks him to help find his daughter, who may have been kidnapped. The entire book involves Duggan going back and forth between the two cases and, in the end, they are maybe, somehow, a little bit, but not really linked? I wouldn't recommend it.

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood - I actually read this last month before we chose it for our June book, but I'll review it now!

The premise of the book is a dystopian world where the birth rate is on a significant decline because of environmental factors. Offred, the main character, has been rounded up to serve as a handmaid, with the sole responsibility of getting pregnant and giving her Commander, a child. In this book, women have been relegated to the role of baby makers, and Offred's only goal is to survive.

I read this book in high school and don't remember anything other than the fact that I loved it. In our current political climate, I was looking forward to reading it again and watching the Netflix series. I had heard great things about the new Audiobook release, narrated by Claire Daines, so I downloaded that. I'm disappointed to say that this time around, I couldn't get into it. I didn't like Daines' narration and I had a hard time following. I do think this book deserves a read but I recommend actually reading it.

So that's everything I've read this month! I've just started "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson but, as I said, I'm looking for recommendations!

Have you read any of these?

What have you read lately that you loved?





June 29, 2017

Currently...

I remember when I used to write these posts every single week, no matter what and here I am, writing my second 'Currently...' post of the year.

My poor, neglected little blog here has been pulling at my heart strings. I'm itching to get back to writing consistently, reading other blogs, and sharing my travel stories both as a resource and a keepsake.

I still owe you my posts from our March trip to Dubai! So, for the month of July, I'm giving myself a challenge - 30 days of working on my blog - not posting every day, but doing something to invest time into this little corner that has been so much a part of me for the last seven (yes, seven!) years.

I hope you'll stay along for the journey! Now, onto today's business...


Currently... Planning our summer vacation. The Pilot and I are both desperately in need of some time away. (I know, I just spent weekends in Dublin and San Francisco) but we aren't taking our anniversary trip in September because of back to back weddings, so we're taking it now. After weeks of hemming and hawing, we finally decided where to go! I can't wait to share all the details!

Feeling... unsure. This has been a loaded question lately. May was a really hard month and I'm still reeling from everything that happened. These little weekend getaways have been every bit about getting away to take my mind off of things and I'm hoping that our vacation will help me to reset and start to feel at peace with my new normal.

Reading... I finished a book last night and am thinking about starting either "The Tiger's Wife" or "The Devil in White City" today. Has anyone read either?

Thinking about... everything I need to get done before we leave for vacation. Our apartment still isn't completely unpacked...yes, since we moved in six months ago and I really want to come back from vacation without anything home-related on my to-do list.

Watching.. Jane the Virgin. Oh my gosh, what?! I just finished Season 3! Does anyone watch this show? I need to talk about it. Season 3 was a roller coaster that left me with way more emotions than a TV show should be capable of!

Working on... getting back to running. Until last week, I hadn't run in six weeks. Yup, me, the blogger behind Planes, Trains, and RUNNING SHOES, hadn't run in nearly two months. I'm telling you, life has been tough lately. After almost two weeks of not running more than two miles, I finally made it up to three this week. Yup, that's an accomplishment for me these days. Seven-time marathoner right here.

Planning... our vacation!

Needing... a massage...so badly.

Wanting... to have everything in our house magically be done so that we can take a true staycation. The Pilot and I talked about a staycation this summer but I felt like it would inevitably turn into a marathon of work, which I really don't want.

Loving... The Pilot. He's been my rock these last few weeks and I don't know what I would do without him.

Don't forget to link up tomorrow for the Beyond Words Book Club! 
We're discussing Margaret Atwood's, "The Handmaid's Tale".

What's on your 'Currently' list lately?

June 28, 2017

A Wedding Weekend in San Francisco

Right before we went to Dublin, one of my girlfriends sent me a message asking if I would be up for going to San Francisco with her for a wedding in two weeks.

Umm obviously. 

That's one benefit of behind able to hop on a plane at a moment's notice...if you need a plus 1 to a wedding, I'm your girl. Plus, I love San Francisco.


So exactly two weeks after I landed in Dublin, I set my alarm for 3 am and made my way to SFO. I was ecstatic to learn that the wedding we were going to was an Indian wedding, which I've always wanted to go to! We landed in SF on Friday morning and headed straight to our Air BnB in Inner Sunset. We both had some work to do so after we checked in, we went to a coffee shop to wrap up work for the day and then set off to explore. 

We started in the Mission with tacos at La Taqueria (OMG hard tacos stuffed into a soft taco...amazing!) and wandered in and out if the thrift shops in the Mission for awhile.

We made our way to the Embarcadero to meet up with my sister's family for dinner at Pier 23. My sister was out of town but I still had a blast! I had a Pimm's Cup (my favorite!) and the crab cakes, which were amazing! It was a perfect evening to be on the water and soak up the perfect summer day.


We went back to our Air BnB to freshen up and then headed to the Tonga Room for drinks. The Tonga Room is an SF institution...a tiki bar/club with pretty great live music and summery cocktails, we had a great time there until we both started yawning because we had both been up for over 24 hours!

Our Air BnB had the comfiest bed I have ever slept in and the minute I crawled into it, I was out! 

Saturday morning, we woke up and headed to brunch in the neighborhood and then took a long walk down to Ocean Beach. It felt so good to take my shoes off and put my feet in the sand!


The real reason we went to Ocean Beach though?


CorgiCon.



Until this trip, I had a take-them-or-leave-them approach to corgis. Sure they were cute but I wasn't in love. I didn't realize just how cute they were though until I was surrounded by hundreds of them on a beach in San Francisco!

Look at these little guys!


We left the beach, and it was time to get wedding ready! I was so excited to wear the salwar kameez I had custom-made when I was in India, and we spent a lot if time trying to figure out how to wrap my friend's sari, which made me a little happy I was wearing the Indian version of a pantsuit! Not only was it easy to put on, I was also wildly comfortable all night!


The wedding was at the Presidio and kicked off with the baraat, the groom's procession on horseback to the bride, with lots of pit stops for dancing!

Look at all those colors!
The Hindu ceremony was absolutely beautiful and was followed by a cocktail hour, a Christian ceremony, and a reception, complete with Indian food, incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and tons of dancing!


I had so much fun at the wedding and was so happy to be invited!

Sunday was our last day in SF, and we took the day to head to Napa with my friend Steph. We visited two wineries, Mumm (my favorite!), Failla, and Robert Sinskey (my second favorite), and tasting room in Yountville.

Sparkling wine at Mumm


We had lunch in St. Helena (Cook Tavern, amazing food!), stopped at Bouchon for macarons, and then made our way straight to the airport to catch the red-eye home! It was a whirlwind trip that I'm still recovering from but it was so worth it! I love weddings and I love last minute vacations even more.

What's the last spontaneous adventure you've gone on?

Have you ever been to an Indian wedding?

June 12, 2017

36(ish) Hours in Dublin, Ireland

With everything that's been going on lately, I desperately needed to get away so last weekend, The Pilot and I made our way to Dublin.

We had both been to Ireland separately 10 years ago. He to Dublin and me, on a backpacking trip along the coast. I had been in Dublin for about three hours on my last trip so never got the chance to see the city. We landed at about 9 am after a quick flight across the pond.


We had booked an Air B&B the night before at the Jameson Distillery, which turned out to be a great location! We were pretty tired from the flight, so we took a 2-hour nap as soon as we checked in and then headed out for some lunch. We have a lot of friends who have been to Dublin in the last few weeks and all of them highly recommended Queen of Tarts in Temple Bar.

Their recommendations did not disappoint and, after indulging in a delicious lunch and out-of-this-world desserts, we made our way through the city to start exploring.


The whole purpose of this trip was to take my mind off of things so we had no agenda and just wandered the city. We found a free walking tour of Dublin's Northside which wasn't great but gave us the chance to check out Georgian Dublin, which was nice. After the tour, we did some shopping along O'Connell Street and wandered around Temple Bar.


We were anxious to have our first pints of Guinness in Dublin and made our way to The Brazen Head which claims to be Dublin's oldest pub, and while packed with tourists, it was a great place to listen to live music in a mellow environment (despite the crowd) while enjoying a few pints.

After a few hours at the pub, we called it a night and were up bright and early the next morning (thanks, jetlag!). It didn't hurt that we woke up to this incredibly European view!




Our first stop of the day (and the most organized thing we did) was to stop at the Guinness Storehouse.


I had no idea what to expect but this place blew me away. I thought it was just your run-of-the-mill brewery tour but boy was I wrong. Everything about this place is impeccable, from the display of the four ingredients that go into beer to the absolutely fascinating video of how those famous Guinness barrels were made, to the pour-your-own pint demonstration, and finally, the 360-view rooftop bar. I thought we would spend at most an hour at the Storehouse, but we ended up being there for over three hours!


After enjoying our perfectly poured pints and mulling over how it is that Guinness tastes so much better in Ireland, we left and made our way to Temple Bar, exploring a few of Dublin's key sites along the way: Dublin Castle, Dublinia and Christ Church, and St. Patrick's, before settling in for lunch at Gallagher's Boxty House. We both had hearty, traditional Irish stew with soda bread and some locally, craft brewed Jack Smyth beer flights, which is brewed only for the restaurant. The food and beer were delicious and we left with very full bellies after a morning full of Guinness and some hearty Irish food!


After lunch, we wandered around Temple Bar crossing back and forth across the Liffey wandering in and out of little shops. We found an adorable book store where we picked up the Galic translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!


Eventually, we made our way to Trinity College where I fell in love with Trinity College and never wanted to leave. Seriously, books on books on books on books, I was in heaven!


We left Trinity and made our way to Grafton Street for some shopping and stumbled on Avoca, an adorable shop with a cafe upstairs. It had started raining so we decided to pop upstairs for a tea break but, of course, we couldn't resist the dessert menu! I had sticky toffee pudding with the most decadent rum raisin ice cream and The Pilot had a fudge brownie.


When we left the store, the rain had calmed down (it basically rained on and off the whole day which is pretty typically Irish but it gave us some nice opportunities to take breaks in little, hidden places we might otherwise not have found) and we made our way to St. Stephen's Green. We wandered the grounds of the green for awhile and then did some more wandering around the area before hunting for a place to eat.


At the Guinness Storehouse, I learned that Guinness is the perfect pairing with oysters so I was on a mission to find a place with oysters. We settled on The Bank on College Green, a gorgeous bar with a fantastic food menu and yes, Guinness and oysters. We grabbed some seats at the bar and indulged in way too much Guinness, never enough oysters, fish and chips, Bailey's on the rocks, and orange creme brulee for dessert.

Whoever said that the food in Ireland is terrible is sadly mistaken. Everything we ate was Irish. Everything we ate was delicious. With that meal serving as the perfect cap on our trip to Dublin, we stumbled back to our Air B&B and into bed before an early morning wake up call and a flight back home.

We operated on a no-carb-left-behind trip to Dublin and spent more time eating than anything else, but we walked most of the city and spent some time unplugged and together, which was exactly what we needed. I don't think this will be our last trip to Dublin either. I would have loved to have visited the Jameson and Teeling distilleries, but hey, there's always next time!

What do you think? Have you been to Dublin?

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