Dream Vacation: Fiji

Fiji has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Fiji is an absolutely magical tropical island with gorgeous beaches and delicious fresh food. We ended up spending a long week in Fiji staying on different parts on the island. We flew into Nadi International Airport on a Sunday and flew out on the following Sunday.

In this post, I’d like to share our experience in the Southwestern part of the main island near Pacific Harbour. We stayed at an amazing resort on a secluded beach by the name of Nanuku Auberge. This resort had about 10 private huts with direct access to the beach. The service was personalized and top notch. We didn’t want for anything, after all, this was an all inclusive resort.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with a Fijian necklace, flower for our ears, and a cocktail. This was a pure delight after flying over 24 hours and a 2.5 hour car ride to the resort. After our genuinely warm greeting, we were invited to have lunch after settling into our home away from home. Our hut was 2 levels, it had a Jacuzzi, pool, and direct beach access. It faced the ocean and had a balcony right off our bedroom. The bottom floor had a living room, kitchen, and dining room. There was also a private theater attached.

During our stay, we took full advantage of the resort by soaking up everything it had to offer. The resort included different activities, beautiful beach, and our private accommodations!

Here’s some of our favorite pictures!

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This entire hut arrangement was ours. Completely private and nestled right up against the beach.

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This is paradise! We had a private pool and Jacuzzi tub in our backyard. And there was obviously the beach right in front!

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Friendly flower messages awaited us in our rooms. The turn down service was also special with fresh flowers and chocolates.

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This was our dining experience every day! We had  a prime view of the ocean and the food was impeccable for an all-inclusive resort. I miss being catered to like this!

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The cloudy weather didn’t keep us from enjoying the views and our backyard 🙂

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This beach was completely secluded. There weren’t any other resorts within walking distance. It honestly felt like we were staying on a private island!

We spent some time off the resort by going zip lining and visiting a remote village. The zip lining was unforgettable and a fun thrill. The remote village visit was one of the most amazing cultural experiences of our lives. Here are a few pictures of these adventures.

We try to go zip lining in every country that we visit. It’s such a thrill and honestly a unique experience each time we go. We can’t get enough of it and always have such a blast! It doesn’t get any better than doing this through the jungles of Fiji!

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The remote village was a 2 hour drive up into the depths of the jungle. It consisted of about 30 people all within the same family. The homes were all made of whatever material they could find. The most interesting aspect of the village is that it was powered by 1 generator and they conserved it as much as they could.

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These were our guides into this village. They have a good relationship with the people and were able to secure our way in.

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During our visit, we were treated to a ceremonial Kava drinking ritual and had powder spread on our faces. This was to symbolize a special occurrence, such as our visit. We sat on the floor on reed mats while the Kava was prepared in a special Kava bowl.

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After our ceremonial Kava drinking, we were treated to a ‘bilibili rafting’ adventure down the river. They made the bilibili raft for us to sit on while one of the villagers used a bamboo stick to steer the boat.

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This was such an incredible experience! We would 100% go back to this village and do it all over again. They were extremely gracious and kind. Even though there was a language barrier, they took us in with open arms.

This sums up our first few days in Fiji! Keep a look out for more posts! Thank you for reading and if you have an unforgettable cultural experience, we would love to hear about it. Please share below 🙂

 

Birthday Weekend at the Poconos

We love nature as much as we love cities and skyscrapers. We honestly love a good balance between the two. There’s beauty in experiencing both aspects of what this wonderful world has to offer us. Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes and we crave all the adventure we can get! That’s why he knew that surprising me with a weekend in the Poconos for my birthday would be ideal without having to take days off work.

The Pocono mountains are located about 1.5 hours west of NYC in Pennsylvania. This is a sparsely populated area of land that offers wonderful opportunities in the outdoors. There are plenty of places to go hiking, go river tubing, camping, exploring quaint towns, zip-lining, and other adventures. We left on a Friday night after work and came back on Sunday in time for dinner reservations for my birthday. We stayed at Crescent Lodge and Country Inn for 2 nights. Here are many of the adventures we squeezed in during our stay:

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This was our personal little cabin in the lodge area. There was a bedroom, bathroom, sitting area, and a Jacuzzi tub!

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After our drive, we were famished. We decided to stop by and eat at the restaurant on the property and were extremely pleased! You can’t go wrong with French Onion Soup!

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There were so many options and he chose the lamb chop which I have to say, stole the show that night. Delicious!

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We called it an early night and got up early in the morning to have breakfast. We came upon this sign that we found fascinating.01b3f34252920b02c0ede6fe704c49f9665a6b44c2

And of course, the actual breakfast. I was super excited about the plans for the day and couldn’t contain it. Our first stop was zip-lining, then an adventure treetop course, we spent some time in the the quaint town that had a great candy store and finished the day in our cabin.

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This particular zip line was located in Kittatinny and offered duel racing zip lines. We were able to go together at the same time on different ropes. It was such a great experience! We love zip lines and have a plan to zip line every one that we can in every country that offers them. More to come in future posts!

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We were off to our tree top adventure after the zip lines! We wanted to spend as much time as we could in the trees!

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I had to get strapped in and harnessed in order to do the adventure.

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There was a lull where he was in the trees and I had gone ahead of him (I tend to be good at these adventures).

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It was such a great time and offered us great picture opportunities. This was a treetop adventure in Skytop, PA.

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After both adventures, we grabbed a quick dinner in town and headed back to our lodge. The property offered different hiking trails and we wanted to take advantage of them prior to leaving.

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On Sunday morning, he surprised me with a horseback riding adventure! After our successful and memorable horse back ride in the hills of Ireland (you can check out the post in  my blog), this has become another passion for me. I want to ride horses with every opportunity I get! And this ride was so much fun! We were able to trot and gallop with the horses and we had never done that before!

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Once the horse back tour was over, we headed back towards the city. He made reservations at a great restaurant in our neighborhood. We toasted with a bottle of rose to a wonderful weekend that was a perfect mix of nature and adventure!

Let me know what fun adventures you’ve had for your birthday and if you prefer City or Nature adventures!

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!