Wine and Cheese Party

With our recent fascination with France and French food,  we wanted to throw a French themed wine and cheese party. It was a super casual party with close friends. We wanted to focus more on the delicious wines and cheese that come from the country, than to impress anyone. France is very well known for the different wine regions and also the various cheeses that are produced there. Without further ado, here are some great shots of the parties main stars.

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Here are some of our favorites cheeses we used for the party:

  • Comte Murray’s Reserve
  • Roomano 3 Year
  • Fromager d’Affinois
  • Tomme De Savoie

These were all purchased from a local Murray’s Cheese shop near our house. Picking out the cheeses was a fun experience in and of itself. We had a cheesemonger ask us what we wanted and he guided us to the choices.

In regards to the wines, we try to stick to our favorite wine region: Rhone Valley. Rhone Valley has some amazing Roses, Whites, and Reds that go really well with lots of cheeses.

Some extras that were important and recommend for everyone to use are:

  • Cornichons
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Fig jam
  • Crackers and French baguette bread
  • Lastly, delicious charcuterie 🙂

It’s really easy to throw a wine and cheese party! Just as long as you have a solid foundation of cheeses and sides, the wines will come together well. Plus, if you ask party goers to each bring a cheese, the event can be inexpensive. Hope you enjoyed my suggestions and let me know if you had a wine and cheese party, and if you did anything differently.

 

Obsessed with French Desserts

We are obsessed with French pastries and desserts; pretty much any type of french concoction out there. We are lucky enough to live in a city that offers so many of these desserts within a few miles from us. So we decided to go on a dessert kick and try out as many of the French dessert shops around us as possible.

It’s not just the dessert that we are obsessed with, it’s actually the country of France. We tend to gravitate towards the wine, dessert, and food of France. We love the French restaurants that NYC has to offer. We have yet to be disappointed by any of the food that the restaurants have to offer. We’ve also recently taken several wine classes that have exposed us to various wine regions of France, and I have to say, they are by far my favorite. There’s something about French wine that other countries cannot mimic. I love all wine though, but French wine is my favorite.

The history and culture of France also fascinates us. Our very first trip together was to Paris and we fell in love. We’ve talked about moving to Paris as well, but so far haven’t made the leap. But it can happen in the future! We eventually plan on taking a road trip through several vineyard regions in France. This is one of our bucket list items!

For now, we hope you enjoy the pictured desserts below that we immensely enjoyed eating in the various French dessert shops around NYC.

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This was a shorter post for sure, but we wanted everyone to know how much we appreciate French culture and food. We have a passion for it and seek it out not only overseas but also in our city. Hope you enjoyed the pictures of the delicious dessert.

More travel posts to come for sure! We have several trips planned and have taken that still need to be posted 🙂

Rose Event: Pinknic!

We have a passion for wine and when we heard about a Rose party on one of the surrounding islands of NYC, we jumped on the opportunity to be a part of it. This was to be a summer lawn party with rose, live music, and pre-made picnic baskets packed by a renowned chef. This event was to be held on Governor’s Island which sits south of NYC. It’s a small Island that used to be a military base and over the years shut down it’s doors. The city of New York has tried to revitalize this little island by creating a day trip getaway for New Yorkers and tourists with park spaces and beautiful views of lower Manhattan.

In historical accounts of the island, Governor’s Island was easily crossed by walking to it from a point in Brooklyn. This was at the early stages of when people first founded America. It’s no longer possible to cross over to the island by foot and taking a ferry across is the only option. There are other pretty little islands that surround Manhattan that can be reached by Ferry, Train, or Sky Tram, but Governor’s has been sitting empty for many years. Thankfully, the island is becoming a fun spot to get away from the city and enjoy a reprieve from the hustle and bustle. Who knows, eventually we may see other modes of transportation to get to Governor’s Island.

With a Pink and White dress code, we boarded the ferry across the river to Governor’s Island. The logistics of it weren’t greatly thought out since masses of people were heading to the party at the same time. The lines to the ferries were miles long and the ferries weren’t too consistent. We were lucky to have purchased tickets that allowed us VIP access to the ferries and festivities. Once on the Island, we made our way to the venue (which was about a half mile walk from the ferry landing). Once we were checked in, we picked up our picnic basket, bottles of rose, and found a spot on the lawn to camp out for several hours.

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We were surprised at how many people were already gathered and ready to enjoy the music and rose! Even though the clouds look ominous in this picture, we lucked out! It only sprinkled a little bit!

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We ended up finding a spot to lay out blanket and delicious picnic out and got ready to dive into the food! The Pinknic baskets were adorable cream and pink tote bags that included a blanket, our pre-made meal, and various beverages. When we picked up the rose, they were in plastic bags with ice and included rose glasses! We of course kept the tote bag, plastic wine bag, and the blanket! If you look in the background, you can see some of the gorgeous Manhattan skyline!

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The stage was in front of us and the city was behind us. We decided to uncork the delicious rose and dived right in!

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With glasses full of bubbly, we enjoyed our wonderful Pinknic experience!

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The food was delicious! There was a great spread of pork sandwiches, quinoa salad, veggies, and a cole slaw salad.

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We finished off our pinknic with yummy macaroons! We had a lot of fun and carry away lots of memories from that day. It was a unique experience that we were lucky to be a part of in this city!

Have you been apart of any unique experiences or adventures in NYC? If so, I’d love it if you shared them with us! We’re always looking for new and exciting things to do in and around NYC! With how big the city is, it’s hard to stay on top of all of the events that go on, and I’d love to hear some other recommendations.

Weekend in Chicago

For last year’s 4th of July weekend, we headed to Chicago. I know a lot of people head to NYC for this weekend, but I always want to get away from the crowds and experience another city. I’ve been to Chicago many times before and have always had a good time in this city. There’s a charm about the Windy City that holds a soft spot in my heart. As always, we left on a Friday around noon and came back on Monday night. That gave us two full days to really explore and have some adventures!

We stayed near the Magnificent Mile and the 360 degree Chicago building in the Whitehall Hotel. The location was perfect because it gave us access to all of the neighborhoods while we were in the middle of it all. The hotel is more north of the major attractions, but it gave us an opportunity to check out the cool neighborhoods that are away from all the major attractions.

Since Chicago is a couple of hours behind NYC time, we landed with ample time to comfortably leave the airport and settle into our hotel before heading out. Our first night was fairly laid back while the rest of the trip was jam packed! Here is what we covered during a 3 day trip in Chicago:

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The infamous Chicago sign is a must see and picture capture while on a visit to the city. So many different movies, shows, and articles have this iconic sign somewhere in the background. Very cool to see and definitely recommended to happen upon!

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Beautiful old architecture is mixed in with brand new buildings. Our first night was spent wandering around the hotel area and grabbing dinner close by at an Asian Fusion restaurant. The city was looking good so far!

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I honestly don’t remember which night this was, but we happened upon a really cool wine restaurant in a hotel somewhere downtown. I’ll have to do more research on it and let you all know what it was. Such an adorable place with a wonderful selection of wines and charcuterie!

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The next morning, we woke up bright and early since we wanted to fit a lot of different sights in. We started out by walking along the streets to get to an opening of Lake Michigan. We got to a point where you could see the city skyline behind you and the view was beautiful!

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Here’s a panoramic view of the city. There were a lot of people just hanging out. Some were picnicking, others were chatting with friends, there were lots of bikes and roller blades. Locals and tourists both enjoy this stretch of space on the lake.

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We obviously had to visit Navy Pier and check out what the big hub bub was about. Pretty fascinating boardwalk with plenty of restaurants, rides, and benches to relax on. Depending on how windy it is, the pier isn’t suitable for all day.

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We caved and ended up riding on the Millennial Ferris Wheel! It was such a fun experience and provided such an unbelievable view!

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We were so famished by this time, so we decided to try out the famous hot dogs that Chicago is known for. We stopped by an establishment that had been around for a while and looked pretty busy. We definitely enjoyed them!

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This is the John Hancock building. We ended up dining in the Signature Room in the building with incredible views. The food on the other hand wasn’t great. It was a little bit of a disappointment.

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The next day we decided to walk the river walk and came upon amazing fountains.

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I’d say that the riverwalk had more people milling around than the boardwalk by the lake. People were engaged in all sorts of things around the river walks.

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It’s really cool to see all of the buildings that surround the Chicago River. There are plenty of outdoor dining spaces and tour venues set up to utilize while your around the area.

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We decided to check out the Chicago Art Museum since we love art. He also wanted to replicate Ferris Bueller’s Day off scene by looking at this painting. This was the highlight of the trip for him. Overall, the museum had great pieces that you won’t find elsewhere! This is a must visit if you enjoy art.

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Deep dish pizza. Chicago is known for that and we had to check out Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza before we left. The pizza was delicious, but I can’t say that I’d eat it frequently if I lived in Chicago.

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The Bean. This is really infamous in Chicago as well. It was extremely busy around it and there were a lot of people trying to take pictures of it.

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The Buckingham Palace fountain was another famous scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off movie. The fountain wasn’t as large as I imagined it to be though in real life. Still really cool to check out!

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One of the last things we did was lounge on one of the many beaches that are around the city. This is such a cool part of Chicago that I couldn’t get over how it’s surrounded by all the skyscrapers to one side and then so much water to the other. A relaxing oasis (that also offers a beer pub) right in the city.

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We wanted to check out a suburb of Chicago right before we got on the plane. We’ve discussed moving to Naperville, Il on several occasions due to wonderful ratings online. I will say that the town was extremely charming and I’d consider moving there if an opportunity arose. One of my get-ups is how cold it was. Chicago is a cold city and I have no idea how locals manage during the winter months. I had a jacket/sweater on during the entire trip.

Overall, we had a wonderful time and were able to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing. We walked about 20 miles during the entire weekend though and it was a bit exhausting. I’ll have to write another post on all of the different food and restaurants we had the pleasure eating at in another post! Feel free to leave any comments on any other sights that are a must see in Chicago!

The Emerald Isle – Final Days!

You would think that after 4 packed days, we would’ve decided to relax a little, but that wasn’t the case. We were off to go horseback riding through the hills of Ireland first thing in the morning! This was by far my favorite part of the trip. It doesn’t get any better than being on horseback and being out in the open hills of Ireland! An absolutely amazing adventure that we’d recommend everyone to try in Ireland (How do you think people got around hundreds of years ago)! Once the 4 hour horseback riding adventure was over, we headed out to Curraghmore Castle. It is an estate still owned by the same family that has been passed down through generations. We finally ended the day in Waterford with a delicious dinner before heading back to the villa.

On our last day, we went kayaking in Killarney for 5 hours where we got to explore the Lough Leane and kayaked around Ross Castle. The tour was really extensive and we were able to get a lot of sights in that we normally wouldn’t have on foot. We then headed over to the town of Killarney to grab a late lunch and explore the town a little. It was extremely cute and as always, the food was delicious! Once we were full, we set out to explore Killarney National Park. We first stopped by Muckross House to take a tour of the home. Once we finished exploring the Muckross House grounds, we got back in the car to drive around the National Park. We first hiked up to see the Torc Waterfall and drove up for a glimpse of the Ladies View. We finished the day with dinner and drove back to our villa for the final time.

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The horse back riding place had the two cutest dogs that came along for the ride.
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I adored the horses we had!
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A treat is always nice to give!
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My horse’s name was Sweetie. She was the sweetest and gentlest horse I’ve had a pleasure to ride on!
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The hills were so vast and you can spot the two dogs in the background!
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There’s always a random farm scattered around the countryside!
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Our guide was wonderful! We really enjoyed her stories and her expertise with the horses.
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We had to get a picture of the two of us in the hills of Ireland before we departed to our next planned adventure!
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This is Curraghmore House.
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It’s really impressive and the grounds are beautiful. It’s situated in the middle of nowhere amidst a lot of acres.
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The butler that takes care of the current family was extremely nice and took us on a tour of the grounds.
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There is a shell house situated on the property that was built by one of the wives a long time ago.
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It literally contained hundreds of shells that were brought to her and it became a hobby of hers.
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We were hungry by the time the house tour was over! We ended up going to Waterford and had dinner at a restaurant called Bodega. Absolutely amazing food!
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We were off the next morning to go kayaking.
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Even though it was a chilly and cloudy morning, the sights were worth it!
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This picture almost reminds me of mountains and lakes in Asia.
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We had to kayak through passages!
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I just sat back and relaxed while he padded away for us!
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Coming up to the castle from the lake perspective was really cool and topped the tour off nicely!
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Then we were off to the Killarney National Park and this was the first stop.
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Muckross house was really great to explore!
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The gardens and grounds around the house were fun to explore!
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It’s situated by the same lake that we kayaked on (we didn’t kayak that far though).
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The Torc Waterfall was tough to get to.
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There were a lot of steps that were well built leading up and down to the waterfall.
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Such a pretty waterfall!
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The views around the Torc Waterfall allowed us to take a great picture.
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Then we drove on to the Ladies View.
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Ireland is such a diverse country! So much to see and do!
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We couldn’t pass up a beautiful sunset!
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We waited for it to set before we headed back to the hotel and called it a night and farewell to Ireland!

The Emerald Isle – 3rd & 4th day

We had no time to spare and were off on more adventures the next morning. Our mornings began really early around 5 or 6 with a quick breakfast in our villa. We ended up going to a local grocery store and figured breakfast would be easy to make with eggs, ham, and cheese between some bread! Simple ingredients, but they were delicious and wonderfully fresh!

I love castles, who doesn’t, right? We visited two different castles on the 3rd and 4th days that took up most of the day. On the first day, we visited Blarney Castle and Gardens. This castle has a famous ‘Blarney Stone’ that is meant to be kissed for good luck. Many line up at the top of the Castle to kiss the bottom of this stone. The grounds of the castle were beautiful and easily took up several hours of exploration! We then headed to the city of Cork and visited the English Market. The second day, we visited Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. This was a special castle in that it was mainly intact with representations of what it may have looked like at some point. It was attached to a folk park that had a little village and other houses representing the time during the Castle’s period. Lastly, we were able to squeeze in a hike in Sheepshead way that offered breathtaking views!

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We started out at Blarney Castle
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It was intact from the outside
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It’s astounding to see up close like this!
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The interior was captivating as well
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There was a fireplace still intact even though the floor fell away!
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Really cool to explore all over!
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The views from the top showed beautiful fields
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The skeleton of the castle that is left over gives a good image of what castles were like.
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We then started exploring the grounds and came across various things
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There was a fern garden on the grounds as well
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The steps were intricate on the way down!
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There was a beautiful waterfall mixed in with the fern garden
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There was also a cave located on the grounds
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We were actually able to go inside and explore! Pictures inside didn’t turn out great due to how dark it was.
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This was a picture from the other side of the castle grounds. Extremely impressive!
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Beautiful gardens and stone walls throughout
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More beautiful gardens
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Absolutely lovely to walk around!
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More waterfalls spread throughout!
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There were walkways built among gardens
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Lovely walk through trellis
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We just had to take a picture inside of it
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The wishing steps were fun and one of the last attractions to see!
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The drive to Cork was interesting full of colorful houses! Even though it was raining, we were able to get some good pictures!
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The English Market had a lot of fresh produce, meats, seafood, and locally produced goods.
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Such cute cobble stone alleys that led us to a pub and then we headed home.
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Bunratty Castle was impressive!
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The setting was done well to really depict the right times!
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This was the great hall.
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This was a common area.
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The staircases in the castles were difficult to climb.
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The rooms were surprisingly small!
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This appears to be a King’s chamber.
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The grounds had a delicious dessert shop that had homemade desserts that were to die for along with tea! A must reprieve after all of the castle exploring.
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Interesting period dated homes throughout the grounds!
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On our drive back out towards Sheepshead way, we couldn’t help from taking pictures of interesting buildings.
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As we began our hike through Sheepshead way, the weather and views were amazing!
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It started to drizzle a little bit while we were spotting some sheep!
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And then it began to rain much harder as we were deep into our hike with nothing around, but sheep to keep us company!
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There were these adorable little lambs feet away from us!
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And more gorgeous scenery.
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And a final close up of the cutest lamb!

The Emerald Isle – 1st & 2nd day

I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland for many, many reasons. Just to name a few: the country is so beautiful, unique, situated on an island, and has some of the freshest food in the world. Ireland mainly exports goods and does not import that much especially when it comes to food. Due to this, Ireland is a country for foodies who love fresh food that has been sourced from local farms. One of the things that really surprised me on our first day, is how friendly the people are. From the gentleman at the customs window, to the car rental worker, and lastly to the shuttle service man, I was blown away by the smiles and genuine warmth. Stepping foot into a country that was so welcoming made me wonder why I wasn’t currently living there! Even though we took it fairly easy the very first day (jet lag crushed us), we still managed to fit in some excursions around the property we stayed at and explored the little town that it was located in. We stayed at Adare Manor and Villas in Adare, Ireland (close to Limerick). The location was perfect for us since we wanted to explore the lower portion of Ireland and stay in a central location to all spots. I tend to overdo each day by jam packing it with various outings and adventures! When we go back, we may do it a bit differently though! Regardless, the experience was out of this world and the adventure will be with us forever!

One of the things I can say would be done differently is the amount of driving we did. Since we wanted to see various parts of the island, we ended up driving up to 3 hours in one direction some days. When we’d mention this to the locals, they’d act stunned. When an Irish person has to drive anywhere that is over an hour, they make plans to stay the night in that location. Growing up in America, we are used to driving long distances and didn’t think that would be an issue. One thing we didn’t take into account is the terrain that Ireland has. The roads are not the same as in America! Even though there were highways, majority of the roads were small country roads that curved every second of the way. Talk about the stress of driving two hours on that type of county road!

We spent six full days in Ireland in the month of May. We were prepared for cold and wet weather, but were pleasantly surprised with a heat wave! We took advantage of the great weather and took hundreds of pictures! Since each day had many adventures packed to the brim, I’m going to split the blog posts up by two days each. The first day was easy and full of sleeping, while the second day consisted of a 5 hour bike tour of Cong and hiking the Cliffs of Moher.

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He is the wonderful photographer!
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We were ready for an adventure!

The bike tour started our really leisurely. We went through a monastery that still had a Monk’s fishing hole attached to the outskirts of it as shown in the pictures. We couldn’t believe a lot of these buildings were still in tact and had to take many pictures. As you can tell from the descriptions, these buildings were erected earlier than the 15th century!

We continued on through a nature trail that had some crazy terrain! There were cool underground caves that housed Monks at some point. The last part is a really cool well that had stairs built in to gather water. The water is said to be extremely fresh having to go through various natural filtration systems to end up in a pool at the bottom. My boyfriend ended up trying some and enjoyed it immensely!

Absolutely gorgeous scenery the entire way! We ended up at a castle that was built around the 15th century as well. The tour guide gave us a background of the castle and mentioned that a famous movie scene was filmed right in front of it.. Can you figure out which movie it was? We stopped by a beautiful lake that had limestone rock all around. The limestone rock was eroded from the constant rain that occurs and had holes throughout.

We finally stopped by for lunch and had a chance to see some sheep and horses grazing in fields. Then we passed through the Ashford Castle property. It is one of the oldest fully in-tacked castles in Ireland. Absolutely breathtaking and has amazing grounds! It is now a hotel and caters to some really famous people. Maybe we’ll stay there next time we decide on another trip to Ireland? 😉

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Exhausted and ready for the next adventure for the day!

On our drive to the Cliffs of Moher, we were blessed with such a pretty rainbow! We had to pull over and get out of the car to take pictures! So many unexpected delights along the way!

The Cliffs of Moher have to be the most amazing cliffs in the world. They overlook the Atlantic Ocean and offer the best views anyone can ask for! We spent several hours (after the bike tour) hiking the cliffs while the sun set over the water!

These pictures do not do the Cliffs of Moher justice! This should be a must see for everyone at some point in their lives. The majestic cliffs created many photos opportunities for us as well…

Finally.. we got too hungry to continue doing anything at all and needed to find some yummy food to fill us up! I still think of this seafood tower to this day… will never forget how delicious it was!