Sunday, March 17, 2019

Ireland Travel Guide | Attractions & Day Tours


Happy St. Patrick's Day! In honour of this fun holiday, I thought I would share my Ireland Travel Guide focusing on Attractions and Day Tours that I was able to visit and take part in!

In August of 2015 I was able to travel to Dublin, Ireland with my friend Taylor to visit our friend Nikki who was working abroad in Dublin. Although our first few days were spent in the city of Dublin, some of my favourite parts of the trip were from our Day Tours we took to see what the beautiful country of Ireland had to offer.

We booked two Day Tours through Paddywagon Tours. The first tour was the Cliffs of Moher  and the second was the Giants Causeway Day Tour. These tours are extremely organized with a detailed itinerary, knowledgeable tour guides, and are extremely affordable considering all of the sites and attractions you see in just one day! Below are details and pictures of the two Day Tours I took while visiting Ireland, I highly recommend these tours to anyone who is traveling to Ireland in the future!


Cliffs of Moher Day Tour

"We take you around the wild and wonderful west of Ireland with its rolling hills, rugged cliffs, amazing forts, historic castles and we do it all in a day. From the lunar landscape of the Burren to the rugged Atlantic shore and sheer splendour of the cliffs, you shall be inspired all day long!" - Paddywagon Tours

1. Kinvara: Famed for its Galway hookers (boats) a truly picturesque photo shop! Kinvara is a lovely little village with fantastic vistas of the Aran Islands. It truly reflects rural Ireland. A quick stop in the village will give you a chance to stroll around and take some photographs of its traditional Dunguaire Castle and the beautiful fishing harbour.



2. Corcomroe Abbey: This well preserved abbey is picturesquely sited among the grey hills of the Burren and best known for its lonely situation.



3. Atlantic Coastal Drive: You will drive along the beautiful Atlantic Coast and go off the beaten track to the famous 'Baby Cliffs'. These amazing hidden treasures are spectacular, smaller than their big cousins - The Cliffs of Moher, they are an ideal spot to view Whales and Dolphins when they are in our Atlantic waters.







4. The Burren: A limestone and fossil Lunar like rock formation, stretching as far as the eye can see with amazing flora and fauna. A truly unique and inspirational experience.

5. Doolin: We lunch at the beautiful fishing village of Doolin and admire the surf town of Fanore. (I can truly say the food was amazing and the views were even better!)

6. The Cliffs of Moher: After a drive though Black Head, an inspiring and dramatic coastal drive, you will arrive at the world famous Cliffs of Moher. For an hour and a half, you will experience the breathtaking views. Fun fact: the Cliffs of Moher have appeared in numerous films such as The Princess Bride (1987), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) and Leap Year (2010).





7. Bunratty Castle: To end the day you will stop and see the most complete medieval fortress in Ireland. Built in 1425 and restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour, you will get to take some photos of the magnificent castle.





Giants Causeway Day Tour

"You cannot truly visit Ireland without a visit to the legendary Giant's Causeway! Volcanic activity helped Finn McCool forge this wonder of the world some 60 million years ago. The 6km of sheer cliffs rising to over 90m and forming a series of bays are spectacular" - Paddywagon Tours

1. Dark Hedges: You begin the tour by visiting one of the most popular natural phenomena in Northern Ireland, the Dark Hedges. They were used as a set for the hit TV series Game of Thrones. It was the famous King's Road in Season 2. Planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family, TV fans will be delighted by this stop.



2. Carrick A Rede: You will spend an hour strolling along the windswept coastal path with amazing views to and from the rope bridge (optional). Traditionally fisherman erected the bridge to Carrick-a-Rede Island over a chasm 23m deep and 20m wide. With views of the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland and Rathlin Island it is truly an incredible experience.

* As this bridge is optional and I have a fear of heights, my friends and I opted out and went exploring as you will see in the photos below.






3. Giants Causeway: You will continue along the Glens of Antrim, on a coastline drive to the fantastic Giants Causeway. Considered one of the natural wonders of the world, the 37,000 basalt columns form stepping stones leading from the cliff foot under the sea and reappearing in Scotland. Considered as the walkway used by Finn McCool the legendary Irish giant to steal away the most beautiful girl in the highlands.





4. Dunluce Castle: A quick photo-stop at Dunluce Castle, perched on a clifftop overlooking the ocean, is considered Ireland's most romantic castle.

5. Belfast: To complete the wonderful day, you will take a visit to Belfast city centre. You will be introduced to the highlights of the city such as City Hall and the Titanic Quarter.

*As this stop is the last of the tour, you are unfortunately given limited time to explore.



Attractions In and Around Dublin 

As mentioned, our first few days were spent in the city of Dublin, all attractions we were able to walk to and with the help of a map, were easy to find! Below are just a select few of the awesome things to do in Dublin, I can't wait to come back and explore more one day!


Guinness Storehouse 

The Storehouse covers seven floors surrounding a glass atrium shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness. The ground floor introduces the beer's four ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. Other floors through the tour introduce you to the brewing and transportation process, the taste experience (you will learn secrets of how to best hone your senses so that you can fully appreciate the sight, aroma, flavour, taste and feel of a perfect pint of Guinness), the history of Guinness advertising and includes an interactive exhibit on responsible drinking. The seventh floor houses the Gravity Bar with views of Dublin and where visitors may drink a pint of Guinness (included in the price of admission). 





Trinity College 

Founded in 1592, Trinity College is the oldest University in Ireland. It covers some 40 acres of cobbled squares and green spaces around buildings that represent the accumulated architectural riches of over four centuries. 



The Temple Bar 

The Temple Bar is one of the most famous pubs in Dublin. It has 450 bottles of rare and interesting whiskeys gathered for decades over the world and is Irelands largest collection. Although a bust tourist spot, the atmosphere is unlike any other pub or bar and is truly worth the experience. 

Other Popular Attractions in Dublin:
  • Wellington Monument
  • Phoenix Park
  • St. James Gate Brewery
  • St. Patricks Tower
  • Croke Park
  • Howth Head
  • The Spire
  • Liberty Hall
  • Hop on-and-off Tours
  • Smithfield
  • Dublin Castle
  • St. Catherine's Church
  • Shopping at local and touristy shops


There are truly so many amazing things to see and do in Ireland, I can't wait to come back one day and explore more of this beautiful country! 

If you have been to Ireland, I would love to know in the comments what fun things you did or saw while there! xo

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Easy Valentine's Day Gift Ideas






Valentine's Day is only ONE week away and time is running out! Do you need help looking for an easy, last minute Valentine's Day Gift!? I've got you covered! Below are 14 easy Gift Ideas with cute sayings or expressions you can add to a label that will give each gift that perfect finishing touch! 



  • Chocolate Kisses: Fill a mason jar with Hershey Kisses. Make a label that can say "Hugs & Kisses" or "Kisses for when I'm not around"

  • Shoes: Gift you significant other with a new pair of shoes! Create a label that can say "From the day you walked into my life, I've never been happier! Every step with you is the beginning of something amazing!" or "Because you've been Running through my mind since the first day I met you!" 

  • Watch: Find the perfect stylish watch and attach a note saying "Today I have loved you for __ days, and I will love you until the end of time!" 

  • Starbucks or Tim Hortons Gift Card: Is your significant other a coffee lover? Give them a gift card and attach a note saying "I like you a Latte" or "You Mocha me very happy".

  • Beer: Pick up a case of their favourite beer and attach a label saying "Ale always Love You", "Beer Mine" or "Love Brew".

  • Box of Donuts: Inside the lid write a cute saying such as: "I Donut know what I'd do without you", "I Donut know how I got so luck to have you as a friend!" or "Donut forget I Love You!"

  • Nuts: Fill a mason jar with an assortment of their favourite nuts! Be sure to tie on a cute label saying "I'm  totally Nuts about you!"

  • Tea: Pick up a cute mug and various types of tea! Don't forget to attach a cute label or note saying "You're my cup of tea!"

  • Bath Bombs: Bath Bombs make the perfect gift and come in so many fun shapes, smells and sizes! Fill a gift basket with their favourites and add a note saying "Valentine, You're the Bomb!" 

  • Scratch Tickets: Pick up an assortment of scratch tickets or lottery tickets, add a cute note saying "___, I'm so lucky to have a ___ like you!" or "I won the lottery when I met you!"

  • Goodie Bag: Fill a brown paper gift bag with a few of their favourite snacks, gifts, etc. On the front of the bag you can write "Brown Bag tied up with a string ... filled with a few of your favourite things!" Be sure to add pretty pink or red tissue paper to the top!

  • Movie Night In Gift Basket: Fill a basket with their favourite snacks, popcorn and movie! Don't forget to add a cute message saying "Have a Poppin' good Valentine's Day!" or "You make my heart POP!" 

  • Starbursts: Fill a mason jar with Starbursts and add a note saying "Baby you make my heart BURST!" or "Bursting with happiness that you're my friend!"

  • Puzzle: Want to have a relaxing night in? Pick up a puzzle and enjoy each others company! Make sure you tell them you "love them to pieces!" 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Valentine's Day Cookies





Any Holiday is the perfect excuse to make delicious cookies! For Valentine's Day I changed my classic chocolate chip cookie recipe by adding white chocolate chips and red M&M's! They turned out amazing and would make the perfect snack for a quiet Valentine's at home or a perfect gift for that special someone in your life! 

Let me know if you make the cookies and if you enjoyed them as much as I do! 


Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 cups White Chocolate Chips
  • 2 1/4 cups Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1-2 cups Red or Pink M&M's

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla.
  3. Add eggs, beat well.
  4. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt, add gradually to butter mixture.
  5. Beat together well.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and M&M's.
  7. Drop dough by rounded spoonful's onto parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on bottom.
  9. Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack and enjoy!
© Sarah Lillian. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.