Mountain Getaway: Tallulah Falls & Helen, Georgia

This year was our first Labor Day weekend without a plan. Initially we honed in on Florida. Sick of excessive heat and humidity, we changed our plans on a whim and booked a trip to Northern Georgia. How lucky we were! Florida was a no-go thanks to Tropical Storm Hermine ripping her way right through the state and unfortunately for us, our home was also in her direct path. We left a night early to avoid driving through the storm. On our agenda for the weekend was visiting Helen, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls, eating some good food and playing a round of golf! Nothing too wild! It turned into an interesting trip…

Mountain Getaway

Helen, Georgia is an Alpine town with a Bavarian feel right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Apparently with a population of just 430, Helen is the third most visited town in Georgia! After spending so many years traveling around Bavaria, I must admit it does have a genuine Bavarian feel. I would highly recommend it for any military friends pining for their old German duty station!

Helen Georgia

Fussen, Bavaria is the town we would stay at whenever we visited Schloss Neuschwanstein where we got engaged. I was excited to find out that Helen is her sister city!

 

The architecture and decor is undeniably Bavarian.

 

Mountain Getaway

We ate at a really authentic German restaurant called Bodensee on the outskirts of town. To find it just cross the bridge on the main street and make an immediate left. Schnitzel after two years without it, really hit the spot!

 

 

Mountain Getaway

We spent a few hours walking around Helen, visiting the stores, eating and of course having a Bier! There’s a large parking area with $5/day parking which I don’t think is a bad deal. However if you are staying in Helen then there’s no need to move your car from the hotel. The majority of the hotels are no more than a 10 minute walk away. There’s a lot to do in Helen and around it’s outskirts. One fun family activity is tubing on the Chattahoochee river. For the adults, Oktoberfest starts the weekend after Labor day each year, a fest not to be missed!

Our accommodation destination was Clayton, Georgia. A small town near Tallulah Falls. I won’t talk about where we stayed because frankly, it doesn’t deserve a review. It was the downfall of our trip and we were definitely disappointed to find that it was nothing like advertised and was exorbitantly expensive for the condition it was in. If you like luxury hotel stays, it is very easy to be fooled by fancy (edited) pictures and exaggerated descriptive words. still, we decided to make the most of it and not let the hotel get us down.

That night we decided not to bother eating at our destination and instead ventured into Clayton to The Laurel restaurant at The White Birch Inn. The White Birch Inn is a boutique hotel in the historic part of town and I just about died over the decor in there. It all made sense when I read the owner is an interior designer! If only we’d booked a room there – divine!

Mountain Getaway

Mountain Getaway

Saturday was hike day! Tallulah Gorge State Park is located in the town of Tallulah Falls, just 20 minutes away from Clayton. I was excited for this for a while but I was initially disappointed by how short the trails were. Don’t get me wrong there are many trails but the best and most fun are for experienced hikers with real deal equipment. Someone I am not. So only two trails were available to me and my abilities. We found that one of those (South Rim trail) was a no-go due to a 600 step descent, something that was unfortunately a health concern for me at the time.

I must also add that if you are one of those hardcore hikers planning to visit the park this Autumn to hike to the gorge basin where the sliding rock/beach area is, it is closed due to dam maintenance until Memorial Day of 2017.

Mountain Getaway

The paths are easy and quite open (I was worried about this due to the many snakes inhabiting the park). In some areas the paths narrow and there’s lots of roots to wary of. In wet weather it can be pretty soft and slippery. Obviously appropriate footwear is a necessity.

Mountain Getaway

If you do attempt the descent on the South Rim trail then you will arrive at the suspension bridge which allows you to cross the gorge.

Mountain Getaway

We hiked he North Rim trail to ‘Inspiration Point’ where your eyes are treated to this stunning view! There’s a perfectly placed bench up there to sit and take it all in after your walk. This trail has a steep incline and while the path isn’t difficult, it gets quite tough in hot weather. Despite the short trail (2.5 miles) do not start it without water.

Mountain Getaway

The beauty of the park is amazing. It was so nice to be away from the crippling humidity of coastal Georgia. To breathe in fresh air and hear the rush of the water from the various falls reminded me of home!

The saving grace of our hotel was that it had a relatively decent golf course for my husband to play a round on. I tagged along for the fun/companionship but didn’t play. I did try my hand at swinging some clubs though. It was pretty enjoyable just to take in a beautiful serene mountain view. Even if I was trying to avoid being thrown from a golf cart by the world’s most erratic cart driver. Not to name any names…

 

 

 

Mountain Getaway

Mountain Getaway

Mountain Getaway

Mountain Getaway

One of my favorite parts of this trip was my morning coffee. That sounds really sad but I just really appreciate funky little coffee houses that are NOT serving me Starbucks. It turns out that The White Birch Inn also has an adjoining store/coffee shop call White Birch Provisions. Again I was in love with the design. It helped that the coffee and pastries were just as perfect!

Mountain Getaway

Mountain Getaway

Mountain Getaway

Have you been to any of these locations and what was your favorite?

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Car Essentials For A Long Road Trip

Ah the days of living in Ireland when I was blissfully unaware of the great American road trip and all it entails! When I would climb into the car and hit the road from Waterford to Mayo and think that 5 hours on the road was FOREVER. Now a five hour road trip is like a brief Sunday spin to me.

Car Essentials For A Long Road Trip

In the last 18 months we have driven over 11,000 miles (props to my husband who did ALL of that as I waited for my license!). From Georgia to Alabama and Florida multiple times and to Missouri and Ohio for special occasions. Soon we embark on a 21 hour journey from Northern Wisconsin to Georgia. I am now a seasoned veteran of the great state-wide road trip!

Aside from the back aching pain from sitting in car seats for extended periods of time, there are many obstacles you could run into on a long road trip. I’ve compiled this guide of essentials to make your journey as comfortable and seemingly quick as possible!

For Kids

  • If you’re fancy, seat back entertainment systems loaded with animated movies
  • Tablets or iPods. Even for the anti-technology parent, it will keep them relatively quiet and save your sanity
  • Travel versions of their favorite classic board games
  • Activites (coloring, Etch-A-Sketch, mess free markers etc.)
  • Books (stories, puzzles, quiz etc.)
  • Favorite comfort item whether it be a toy, blanket or pillow
  • A map of where you are traveling to point out locations and educate them along the way (unless you don’t want to hear, “where are we NOW?” every 5 minutes!)
  • Stomach friendly snacks
  • Water
  • Sick bags (sorry for the TMI but it’s that or spend ages cleaning up at the roadside)
  • Small washcloth to dampen and place on forehead if they feel ill

For Pets

  • Front seat barrier or hammock to keep Fido from clambering in on top of the driver
  • A canvas/mesh travel bag for a small dog or pet safety belt clip for a larger dog’s harness to keep him secure
  • Blankets
  • Water bowl with enough bottled water for the length of the journey
  • Food
  • Waste bags
  • Towel
  • Dog cologne (yes, it may sound weird but if you make a pit stop and pup gets wet then you’re completing the rest of your journey with the strong aroma of wet dog – fabulous!)

For The Car

  • Get a service and have your oil changed in advance
  • Jump Cables
  • Contact numbers for roadside assistance
  • Satellite Navigation System
  • I like the WAZE app for checking on potential upcoming hazards/traffic delays
  • Cigarette lighter USB adapter for charging your devices
  • Power bank for your phone
  • Car freshener. Road smells, farm smells, in-car smells…just have one!
  • Car seat organizer to hang on the back of the front seats and contain all the kids activities. No more “Where’s myyyyyy….?”
  • A map. A good old fashioned paper map!
  • An emergency kit in the back stocked with a first aid kit, towel, wet wipes, sun screen, umbrella, snacks and lots of bottled water

For Your Sanity

  • Dress comfortably but appropriately. You may leave in snow and arrive in the tropics or vice versa.
  • Your choice of entertainment (books, audio books, magazines, mobile devices loaded with movies/e-books/music playlists etc.)
  • Camera/Video camera. It might be fun to vlog your drive. Unless tensions are running high then it will at least provide evidence afterwards…
  • A blanket. Unless you have dual control heating then one may be hotter/colder than the other and the driver gets to be most comfortable in my eyes
  • A pillow. I keep a small one to place behind my back, to sleep against or to put under my feet when my legs get restless
  • Fluffy socks. You know the fuzzy bed ones? They keep cold feet toasty and are super comfy!
  • Snacks that won’t cause any discomfort
  • Gum (chewing it will take your mind off a sick stomach if you don’t follow the above!)
  • Gallons of hand sanitizer. I don’t even need to tell you about the condition of some of the restrooms you will stop at along the way.
  • Wet wipes to freshen your face/body throughout the drive
  • A cooler stocked with water/iced coffee (for that good caffeine!). Take a flask full of hot coffee/tea if iced isn’t your style. Avoid carbonated drinks.
  • Sunglasses and lip balm are two small things I often forget but make my journey very uncomfortable – don’t make the same mistake.

 

My greatest tip of all would be to just relax. So many times I have been anxious over arrival and hotel check-in times that I have found  those are the journeys where you run into 2 hour stand-stills on the Interstate. Certainly plan ahead places for pit-stops and places to sleep that night but be flexible in the fact that although you may leave at 6am for a 10 hour drive, an arrival time of 6pm is not out of the realms of possibility. Allow for traffic, roadworks, extended stops etc. Life happens. Go with it! Play old school games like eye spy and count license plates. One of my favorite past times in the car is to read ridiculous billboards aloud to my husband and destroy every country music lyric there ever was by speaking it and analyzing the ridiculousness.

For example,

“First thing we make you feel better. Next stop we pull it all together. I’ll keep you warm like a sweater. Hold on forever”

WHAT?!

If you have a long road trip soon, happy travels my lovelies!

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What To Pack For A Trip To Ireland

Do you have an upcoming trip to Ireland but no idea what to pack? One of the questions I get asked many times in America is if it rains all the time in Ireland. I think most Irish people will answer with a resounding “yes” but in truth, it doesn’t! We definitely have our unfair share of cold, overcast and dreary days which monopolize any memories of sunshine. We certainly do have unfortunate spells of wet weather but ‘all the time’ seems like an exaggeration to me. Ireland is a beautiful country and when the sun shines it is out of this world!

What To Pack For A Trip To Ireland

You could arrive in Ireland and be greeted with a miserable period of wet weather or a stretch of brilliant, warm, sunshine but more than likely you will experience a whole range of weather systems in one day! Packing for all eventualities and a variety of different activities can be hard work. Add in the complications of carry-on luggage if you aren’t the type to check a bag. Whether it’s an extended stay touring Ireland or the first leg of a larger European trip, I will provide you with some tips to make packing for Ireland stress-free, practical and stylish!

What To Pack For Ireland

VERSATILITY. Choose versatile, mix & match items of clothing. If you’re traveling during the Winter then shorts and sun dresses clearly won’t be required. I find it an awful lot easier to dress for cold weather. Choose neutral colored sweaters or cardigans to wear over jeans or trousers. If you’re visiting during milder times then these items can also we worn with capris and shorts.

LAYERS. Layers are key when packing for volatile weather. In Summer pack tank tops, tees and shirts to layer over shorts/jeans. In Winter, thermal long sleeved t-shirts are exceptional at keeping you warm under lightweight sweaters but still allowing you to wear a warm jacket and scarf without looking and feeling like the Michelin man.

RAIN COAT. Invest in a good rain coat. Don’t scrimp on your style, there’s a vast quantity of trendy, practical rain coats on the market. Bad weather doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck wearing an ugly pac-a-mac a-la the 90’s. I can only dream of the Burberry Trench Mac!

Coats To Wear On A Trip To Ireland

 

BOOTS. I wear boots from probably October to April in Ireland. I won’t even tell you how many pairs I own. If you’re not into boots then splash out on a comfortable walking shoe. The Cliffs of Moher or Giant’s Causeway won’t be kind to your $15 Forever 21 ballet pumps. In fact, in a shower of rain they will probably disintegrate. If you’re more casual and prefer the likes of Converse or athletic shoes then I suggest something leather rather than fabric. Even if it doesn’t rain you might find yourself walking through grass, dirt or sand.

Boots To Wear On A Trip To Ireland

 

Shoes To Wear On A Trip To Ireland

 

GET PHYSICAL. Pack your fitness gear if you’re that way inclined. There are endless hiking and biking opportunities throughout the country, not to mention gym facilities at your hotel it would be rather annoying to have to repurchase that stuff.

ACCESSORIES. Accessories are your best friends. No I don’t mean oversized earrings or a feather boa. I’m talking about hats, scarves and gloves! Whether it’s a peaked cap, wool beanie or stylish fedora – Ireland can be breezy. A lot of the most beautiful things to see here are in mountainous areas and along the coast or bodies of open water, it WILL be breezy even in the Summer. As for scarves, light ‘summer scarves’ can more or less always be worn and come in handy on those windy excursions. During the Winter a chunky knit scarf will not go astray.

Accessories To Wear On A Trip To Ireland

ESSENTIALS. Always and I mean always have a compact umbrella tucked away in your bag. You might pull it out for 5 minutes or 5 hours but either way you’ll be dry. You can probably leave the insect repellent at home but always pack sun cream and lip balm – you’d be surprised how sneaky the sun can be even when it’s freezing out and the elements are never kind to your lips. I like to take my camera everywhere and also utilize the camera on my phone. Power banks are handy little gadgets for long days on the go. Google maps is a must have f you rent a car in Ireland or even if you just wander around cities.

Handbag Essentials On A Trip To Ireland

I hope this post makes choosing what to pack for Ireland easier, check out my other post on Packing Your Bags Like A Pro for additional packing tips!

Bon Voyage!

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Europe in Photos: Dubrovnik

The last installment of Europe in Photos took you to Venice, Italy but rather than share more Italian adventures I’m now showing you around the beautiful Dubrovnik, Croatia. Our stay in Dubrovnik, like Venice, was short and sweet – it was a short cruise stop of just 4 or 5 hours. We disembarked the ship as early as possible and made our way into the city where we purchased tickets to walk the city walls. After we did this we walked along the marble-paved streets into the main town square and beyond to a small pier to dip our toes in the turquoise blues of the Adriatic Sea.

Europe in Photos Dubrovnik

For all of you Game of Thrones fans, the unmistakable red-roof and limestone dominated city of Dubrovnik is the set location of ‘Kings Landing‘. I must admit that I was not a fan of the show or had even read the books when we visited so I had no idea. Now, however people are flocking to Dubrovnik for Game of Thrones tours! Fandoms sure are powerful. Below, you might recognize Fort Lovrijenac (Fort of St. Lawrence) as ‘The Red Keep’. The walls in this fort are 12 meters thick…nobody was ever getting near King Joffrey!

Dubrovnik 4(1)

This is the point where we climbed the steps to begin the loop of the city walls, you can just about see the sheen of the marble pavement below. I wish we were there at night to see it illuminated by streetlights.

Dubrovnik

Not a bad view to wake up to every day…

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik 5

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Oh Europe and your leaning towers!

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

If you do have time, a boat trip around the bay would give you stunning views of the city in it’s entirety!

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

These photos were taken at the top of the Minčeta Tower at the highest point of the walls.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

I would recommend spending at least a week in Croatia – the scenery on the Dalmatian coast as we sailed away was outstanding! To stay at a beach resort along the coast would place you within perfect daytripping distance of Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik 12

Have you ever taken a trip to Dubrovnik?

 

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Europe in Photos: Venice

It’s already week four of Europe in Photos (say whaaaat?!) and I am reminiscing on our, very short time in Venice, Italy. This is the first post where I share with you my new found love of cruising (I’ll write a post focusing solely on cruising in the near future)!

Europe in Photos: Venice

So far we’ve only been on two cruises but from those two sailings we have explored *deep breath*  Venice, Bari, La Spezia, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento & the Amalfi Coast (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Monte Carlo (Monaco), The French Riviera (France), Corfu, Myknos, Athens (Greece) and finally Dubrovnik (Croatia)!

Wow, it still amazes me that we were able to visit 18 cities/towns in 6 countries in 16 days! People are not lying when they recommend another vacation after your cruise purely to recover from it!

Our first cruise set sail from Venice and after a long drive from Bavaria we spent just one afternoon/night in Venice before setting sail from the port the next morning. Venice is tiny so it is entirely up to your own discretion how long you should stay there. For us, the one evening was enough to quickly see the main highlights of the city as we were under work time constraints trying to fit in 8 days cruising and two days of 8 hour drives!

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Views from both sides of the famous Rialto bridge which overlooks the Grand Canal.

Venice

I loved traversing the tiny maze-like streets of this unique city. I wonder how much laundry is lost to the canal? 🙂

Venice

The Piazza San Marco was and is usually teeming with tourists. Veer away from the Piazza to shop and eat. Chances are, it will be over-priced and subpar.

Venice

Gondolas are a great way to see the city but be warned – they cost a pretty penny for a very short ride. Do your research and don’t get caught out. If you really feel the need to experience Venice from the vantage point of the canals, I would suggest hopping aboard a water taxi. Far less expensive but certainly not as romantic! From the edge of the Piazza San Marco you can see the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, once a monastery but now an arts centre famous for its open-air theatre.

Venice

As we set sail we were able to take in the views of the whole city from the upper deck of the ship. Check out those skewered buildings! Well the city is sinking, one can’t expect straight lines!

Venice8

Have you ever been to Venice, how long did you spend there and what did you do?

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Europe in Photos: Copenhagen

In the third Europe in Photos we take a break from Germany and go instead to Denmark where I show you our time in Copenhagen!

Europe in Photos: Copenhagen

I will start by saying that Scandinavian countries are expensive! I can vouch for this based on a trip to Gothenburg, Sweden way back in the college days. Our time in Copenhagen was a whirlwind weekend and if it wasn’t for the photos I’m not sure I’d remember much more than the most turbulent flight I have ever been on. We stayed in a truly awful, over-priced hotel and struggled to find somewhere to eat that didn’t have a two hour wait. Twice, we were so hungry and exhausted, we ended up eating at Burger King. Not exactly the culture I was hoping to experience or the birthday dinner my husband expected! Despite the bad start and difficulty finding places to eat we focused on the city itself and researched what we wanted to see. We purchased a ‘Copenhagen Card’ which I recommend – it allows you to easily make use of public transport, including to/from the airport and gives you access to many attractions.

As I said in the first post of ‘Europe in Photos’, I am not a travel blogger so I won’t advise you where to stay or what to do in these places but merely share with you, the photos of our time spent at the destination.

Copenhagen2

I took this photo of Øresund Bridge from the plane before landing in Denmark, this marvelous feat of engineering is the longest road/rail bridge in Europe connecting Copenhagen with the Swedish city of Malmö. You can catch a train every twenty minutes between the two! We didn’t get a chance to go but going to Denmark and also spending a day in Sweden seems like a pretty good two-fer deal!

Hans Christian Andersson

Copenhagen is the home of the famous fairytale author, Hans Christian Andersen who of course penned the classic, The Little Mermaid. You will happen upon the statue of The Little Mermaid while walking the Langelinie promenade. She is extremely popular, don’t be disappointed if you can’t even take a quick snap of her. Not-so-fun fact: she’s been decapitated countless times during her 100 year stint in the harbor :/The Little Mermaid CopenhagenCopenhagen 4

We visited the beautiful grounds of the Rosenborg Castle in the Kongens Have or King’s Garden. As you can see, the sky wasn’t friendly. We lasted about 30 minutes and had to scatter!

Copenhagen2(1)

On a sunnier day we visited the Christiansborg Palace which now houses the Danish Parliament, and took a peaceful stroll around the gardens.

Copenhagen 5

For lunch one day, we happened upon Ørested park and had a picnic with this serene view and finally some nice weather!Copenhagen 6

A visit to the Botanical Gardens!Copenhagen 7

No visit to Copenhagen is complete without a walk through the trendy area of Nyhavn or ‘New Harbor’. Once the home of Hans Christian Andersen and now hopping with lively bars and restaurants. It was my favorite place to people watch in the city!

Copenhagen 9Copenhagen 10Copenhagen 8

 Have you ever been to Copenhagen? What was your favorite thing about the city?

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Staying Sane While Traveling

Being Irish and living in America, long haul flights are inevitable as is having to traverse many airports alone due my husband’s limited free time for traveling. If someone were to ask me off the top of my head what is the greatest necessity for a long distance flight, aside from being seated in first class I would say – having 14 inch legs. Those seats are no joke. Spending 8-10 hours sitting more upright than if you were in a full body cast is a little less than comfortable but until I win the lottery, economy awaits…

staying Sane While Traveling

I’ve traveled back and forth from Ireland to Europe and from Ireland to the US alone many times. Traveling alone is freeing, terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. It is also very lonely and can be stressful when it comes to lugging bags, virtually re-dressing yourself after the security line and just for general companionship. It’s always nice to have someone there to help you out and vice versa.

I’m about to embark on my 10th trans-atlantic flight and I want to share some of the lessons learned and things I take with me in order to make traveling somewhat comfortable and dare I say, enjoyable. This is just what works for me and is by no means a hard and fast rule for everyone.

My Personal Grievances While Traveling

Security Lines

“Where did I put the clear plastic bag of bottles?” // “Why do I have a laptop, a tablet and a camera with me?” // What if I beep and my stuff goes through and gets stolen while I’m being patted down?” // “Why is the agent SO rude?”

Cue sweaty scrambling to put things back into the bag (that was once so organized), put back on my shoes, watch and belt all the while getting out of the way of the angry man yelling at everyone to KEEP IT MOVING.

  • Wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on
  • Ladies: wear an outfit that doesn’t require a belt
  • Remove your watch prior to joining the line or don’t wear it at all that day
  • Have your liquids already in a clear bag in an accessible, preferably separate compartment in your bag
  • Put your passport and boarding card away, by this point they should have been checked.
  • Keep a close eye on your bag/tray on the carousel at all times
  • Be obliging if they need to open your bag – you don’t want to be there any longer than you have to be
  • Ignore the grumpy security people – they’re not going anywhere nice 🙂

Gate Announcements

A lot of airports are so big and/or so busy your gate number will not be on your boarding pass at check-in, especially if you check in early. You need to carefully watch the flight information boards for you gate number and then watch it for change.

Not that I had to run to the opposite end of a different terminal at Munich airport once…

At the Gate/Boarding

People. People are my grievance here.

STANDING UP 45 MINUTES BEFORE BOARDING just because the attendant has come to his/her station. Irish people are the worst for this and I want to stomp like a toddler every time I witness it.

SIT. DOWN. YOU. HAVE. A. SEAT.

On Board

Don’t pretend you don’t sit watching every person enter the plane and pray it’s not them coming to fill the empty seat beside you. And when they do, pray they get the general idea that after a polite smile, inserting headphones into your ears means “I won’t be speaking anymore, goodnight”.

And what is with the people who fill the overhead bins with jackets forcing you to put your wheelie bag three rows down?! NO.

Or the ones who stand up to get something from their bag approximately 75 times before take-off and again at 38,000ft, 150 more times. What could possibly be in that thing that you need so desperately that often?! Keep it under you feet!

How To Board A Plane Like A Courteous Human Being

  • Wait until your boarding zone is called. You aren’t getting on board before it so sit down
  • Don’t run through the tunnel like a child entering The Magic Kingdom. Your seat is there waiting for you
  • When you get on board hold your bag tightly and neatly within the width of your body. Do not bang it off every single already seated passenger
  • When you get your seat have your coat already off and stow your bags while IN your row, if that’s not possible then do it quickly and smoothly

Finally, How To Enjoy Your Long Haul Flight

Make sure you have all your necessities from your overhead bag BEFORE you get comfortable or stow them beneath the seat in front of you

At hand, I suggest having

  • a book/tablet/laptop (whatever your choice of entertainment is)
  • a bottle of water
  • snacks
  • something warm, be it a blanket or your jacket
  • neck pillow
  • hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • your cosmetic bag (if you’re that way inclined)

Make the most of the in-flight movies. If you aren’t the type to sleep on a flight like me then you’d be surprised how quickly a long flight goes while watching some good films!

Some airlines are better than others for offering beverages and snacks. In most cases soft drinks and wine are complimentary and snacks/meals are brought quite often this too, makes the flight go surprisingly quickly.

Use the lavatories. Duh, right? It’s daunting for some people but avoiding it is only going to make you seriously uncomfortable.

Move your legs around! It can be extremely dangerous to sit stationery at such an altitude for long periods of time. Wiggle your legs around if you don’t want to go for a walk.

I like to get a window seat where possible. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but if the rare opportunity arises for me to sleep I can turn towards the window and get my snooze.

Enjoy the view! On my last flight from Orlando to Dublin it was amazing to see daylight on the horizon while still sitting in the darkness of the night. Somewhere over Greenland I looked out only to see the Aurora Borealis – I wanted to scream for everyone to check it out but that wouldn’t have been acceptable! It was stunning. I passed 35 minutes  just watching those amazing dancing green lights.

My final tip…RELAX and enjoy! Traveling is a blessing so many don’t get to experience.

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Europe in Photos: Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber

In the second installment of Europe in Photos I’m again, taking you to Germany to show you the medieval, walled city of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber.

Rothenburg

Approaching the end of our time in Germany we frantically tried to fit in as many new destinations as we could and in contrast to my first post about Neuschwanstein, Rothenburg was one of the last German towns we ever visited. Just like the castle, the town has a distinct whimsical, ‘Disney’ feel to it and was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s adaptation of the classic ‘Pinocchio”! (Wow, Walt really owes a lot to Germany!)

This image of the Plönlein or “Little Square” is probably the most recognizable area of Rothenburg. If you want a picture of it be prepared to wait a very long time for nobody to be in the frame!

Rothenburg7

Although we visited in May, I imagine it would be a sight to behold in the snow. The town is the home of famous German Christmas store, ‘Kathe Wohlfahrt’. Here you can peruse thousands of beautiful handmade decorations and ornate cuckoo clocks. Also make sure to pay a visit to the Kathe Wohlfahrt ‘Weihnachtsmuseum’ (Christmas museum).

Rothenburg

If you want to sample something local to eat then try a Rothenburg ‘Schneeball’ (snowball) which is a deep-fried doughy delight covered in powdered sugar or chocolate. Are you sensing the Winter theme?

Rothenburg3

Just taking a day trip limited our time but bear in mind that the city is small. We traversed the cobbled streets multiple times and even walked a portion of the walls. I highly recommend doing this to get a wonderful view of the city itself as well as the lush green countryside beyond the walls.

Rothenburg2

Rothenburg1

This town won my heart and quickly became one of my favorite places in Germany. Hopefully one day I will find the opportunity to return, perhaps in the snow!

Have you ever been to Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber?

 

 

 

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Europe in Photos: Schloss Neuschwanstein

I mentioned in my very first blog post Long Distance Love that I have been lucky enough to travel a large portion of Europe thanks to my husband being stationed in Germany for a number of years. As you can expect I have a vast quantity of photos from our travels. I am not a travel blogger and I won’t claim to be but I would like to share the beauty of Europe with you guys as well as some of the highlights of our trips! I’ve decided to do a series called ‘Europe in Photos’ with each post focusing on a different location. I figured the best place to start is with one of my favorites and where my husband and I had our first date and got engaged – Schloss Neuschwanstein.

Europe in Photos: Schloss Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein Castle is located in South-Western Bavaria right in the German/Austrian Alps and is the biggest of King Ludwig’s castles. The iconic castle was used as the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, so that must make me a Princess, yes?

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

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We were fortunate enough to be located just a 3 hour drive from Neuschwanstein and so made multiple trips to the area. Seeing the castle in all seasons was wonderful. From the magical stillness of a January snowfall to the the bright colors of high Summer, the scenery is unique every time you return. The queasy feeling in my stomach whilst standing atop the shakey Marienbrucke hundreds of feet above a rapid rushing gorge is worth the breath-taking views before you.

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At the foothills of the castle is the Alpsee, an idyllic lake on the outskirts of the town of Fussen.

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Alpsee

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Travel just a short distance up the road from Fussen to the quaint, Hopfen-Am-See, taking in the stunning Bavarian landscape along the way.

Romantic Road

Hopfen Am See

Have you ever been to Neuschwanstein? What was your favorite part?

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Dog Friendly Savannah

Finding dog friendly activities can be very difficult. In fact a lot of people will tell you that having a human puppy is a heck of a lot more convenient. For now, I will ignore their thinly veiled hints and continue with my furbaby adventures!

Dog Friendly Savannah

Back home in Ireland, not counting walking areas, there are virtually no dog friendly activities to partake in. When my husband expressed an interest in getting a puppy I was instantly reluctant. Being in the military means training missions, deployments and moving all at the drop of a hat. With his family out of state and mine on another continent it worried me that I would have no support if we both had to go somewhere without him.

After much deliberation we got our puppy (more on him later) and quickly discovered that we lived in a city voted one of the the most dog friendly in the United States. Lucky us him!

Below are just some of our favorite things to do with our puppy and some still on our list!

Everything You Need For a Dog Friendly Weekend In Savannah!

Stay

Explore

  • Many of Savannah’s walking tours are dog friendly but Oliver Bentley’s Historic Dog Walk Tour has phenomenal ratings. Walk around downtown Savannah taking in its rich history with your dog by your side.
  • Savannah’s famous Forsyth Park is beautiful and dog friendly! Sit on the lawn with a picnic or stroll along the Spanish Moss canopied avenues.
  • Take a walk down the cobbles of River Street, stop for a bite to eat at one of the many outdoor restaurant tables and grab a slushy at Wet Willies 😉
  • A little outside Downtown Savannah is Skidaway Island State Park on the intracoastal waterway. A wilderness of maritime forest to explore – just make sure your dog is on a 6ft leash.

Eat

  •  Enjoy the outdoor tables of Belford’s Savannah Seafood and Steaks right in the hustle and bustle of City Market. Belford’s serves top notch surf and turf and is popular for Sunday brunch.
  • Moon River Brewing Company has a beer garden attached to the main restaurant/brewhouse. The menu is more limited than inside but the atmosphere is relaxed and the beer is delicious! The friendly staff will bring  water and a treat for your pup.
  • B&D Burgers Bar & Grill also has a dog friendly beer garden and is a must try for those looking for a great burger with vegetarian and gluten free options.
  • Leopold’s Ice Cream is a Savannah ice cream staple, serving delicious chilled treats since 1919. The best part? They make a special doggy sundae topped with biscuit treat.

Shop

  • Woof Gang Bakery is the sweetest little boutique pet store selling gourmet treats and trendy accessories. The staff are so kind and helpful and your pup will love exploring all the scents the place has to offer.
  • Oliver Bentley’s sells all natural and eco-friendly artisanal dog products so if you have a fussy pup this is your go-to for human-grade, organic & gluten-free goodies!
  • The Savannah Bee Company on River Street is also dog friendly (among others) but it might be more exciting for the pawrents!

I will say one thing, for the love of DOG please pick up after your pup!

Dog Friendly Savannah

Got more awesome dog friendly Savannah suggestions ? Do let me know!

 

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