Travel Gear Wish List

Travel Gear Wish List

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As we start planning for our next European adventure I have started to compose some items that are on my wish list for our trip.  Some may be more essential than the others but all still great travel items to have.

1.  AmazonBasics Small Packing Cubes – 4 Piece Set: In my past post about my favorite travel items (here) I have always mentioned these packing cubes as a life saver! Although I have a set I am looking to get some more of the smaller cubes.  The smaller cubes really let you play around with them more when fitting them into your suitcase.  It feels like a game a tetris! The smaller pieces are easier to navigate to make it fit!

2. Shower Bag Tote: this item is not a necessity but I am beginning to think it would be a nice to have on this particular trip.  We will be in a campervan in Iceland using shower houses.  This might be handy as well if you are in a hostel with a shared restroom.  Some places have no ledges to put your items, and sometimes they don’t look inviting to if they do have a shelf to use.  I also think the mesh bag and sleeve is a nice touch as packing up wet shower toiletries in with others in your suitcase never seems pleasant.

3. BAGSMART Small Travel Electronics Cable Organizer: My husband got one of these for Christmas, when it arrived I knew how nice it would be when on the move.  I often travel with my phone, camera(s) and more.  This will help me keep cords from tangling and a place to find them with looking desperately for a way to plug in.

4. Joy Walker Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover : Another item that I have been eyeing from my husbands is his raincover.  He used it in Ireland and it went on and off of his backpack very easily.  I always worry about protecting my camera equipment and think this would be a great way to help keep rain out of a backpack.

5. Light Weight Travel Portable Folding Tripod : I really have been wanting to get better at landscape photography.   I often find a ledge, fence to rock to steady my camera.  Recently I have been thinking this item would be great for travel.  Lightwight, packable and seems to have great reviews.

6. Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 Aspherical Super Wide Angle Lens:  Along with the above statement I have been eyeing this budget friendly lens.  I have a lot to learn about photography but I have always loved wide angle shots.  I even specifically asked for a lot of wide angle shots from our wedding photographer and they are the ones I love the most.  This is definitely a luxury item but still getting all the heart eyes from me. I also found it at this site for a slightly cheaper price.

7. Kodiak Women’s Surrey II Hiking Boot:  In recent posts I have raved about my Ahnu shoes and trust me I am still in love with them.  My Ahnu will be going on our upcoming trip for sure.  But as we will be completing some hikes in Norway that may have some light snow on the trails in July I am keeping my eye out for some higher cut shoes to protect my legs and ankles in the dampness.  

 

What are your favorite travel purchases? I am always on the looking out for items to make my life easier while traveling!

Murren-Gimmelwald Via Ferrata

When sitting down to plan our first European adventure we stumbled upon someone hanging on the side of the Swiss cliffs slide via Google Earth pics.  All we knew at the time was that it was near the town of Murren and Gimmelwald in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.  After some intense research we found that these people were on something called a via ferrata.   At the time we had never heard of a via ferrata, but  now they are something we look for at every trip location.

If this is your first time of hearing of a via ferrata…..

Via Ferrata:

The via Ferrata (Italian for “iron way”) is a mountain route equipped with steel cables, ladders, and other fixed anchors, for example wooden walkways and suspended bridges

Most via ferratas are found in European countries but are slowing making way across the world.  We love them because they are a perfect mix of fear factor, adrenaline and the absolutely best way to view the amazing mountain tops, especially this one.

The Murren-Gimmelwald via ferrata is exactly as is sounds.  It starts in the town of Murren and ends in the smaller village of Gimmelwald.  Via cables, staples, ladders, and bridges and strapped in a harness ( I wouldn’t do it if I was not) this via ferrata takes you 2000 feet above the Lauterbrunnen valley of Switzerland.  This is an experience that surely I will not forget.

What to Bring:

-Hiking Shoes- or any general gym shoe.  I love my Ahnu shoes.

-Waterbottle (you can bring a container such as a hydration bladder but in town they had some water refill stations that you can use before and after the hike as well.  We love using these to travel with, option 1 and option 2.

-I tend to have a granola bar or such in case it takes longer than planned.

-We brought gloves but did not use them much. We heard they are nice in the heat if any parts gets hot to touch from the sun.  A cheap pair like these should be just fine.

All You Need to Know about the Trek

The trek took us about 3-4 hours.

You can choose to go with or without a guide.  It is cheaper without as our equipment rental only cost us around $25.

The course is only open during the summer months as it is typically covered in snow.  We went in June and it had just opened.

To get to the via ferrata your have to travel via cable car and train to the the town of Murren.  Murren is a car free town so it is the absolutely only way to get there.  Try to get an early morning cable car from Lauterbrunnen as you will not want to do this hike crowded  with people.  Here are transportation options.

In Murren we rented our equipment at a place right across from the Sports Chalet in Murren called Intersports.  Here they taught us how to use the harnesses and checked to make sure we had the proper footwear and fitted us for a helmet.  They also taught us if used properly and we fell it would be a fast 10 ft drop before our harness would catch us.  Still not fun but better than the bottom of the valley.  Make sure you have a good pair of shoes!

The start is hard to find, ask for directions.  But pass the tennis courts at the Sports Chalet and follow the signage looking for a stone wall and tunnel.

Finding a geocache before heading through the door to the trail.

The first part starts pretty tamed and gives you some easy practice of clipping yourself with the two carabiners and always being attached with one.  As along as your are smart this is very safe.

Before we got to the steeper parts we even passed by a platform where we saw base jumpers jumping off! This place is ideal for base jumpers and saw them in the sky all day.

The trail ramps up a little after that and you continue on to the staple feature of the course.  This was incredible, my heart was beating but knew this was an experience like no other.

                                

 

After some mild sections we came across a tight rope and more sections of ladders.

 

A few more features and then we headed the next main attraction.

A 263 foot steel bridge with an over 1000 foot drop.  From the looks this didn’t look frightening but boy did the bridge wobble.  I would recommend going one person at a time.

At last you descend in to the village of Gimmelwald while passing some cow pastures.  I felt like I was in a movie while walking through this picturesque town.

To return you can take the cable car to Stechelberg and explore the Lauterbrunnen valley and go back up.  But we took our tired legs and walked the road connecting Murren and Gimmelwald back to return our gear and get something to eat!

This is quite the amazing adventure! I will definitely be looking for more in the future! I think one in Norway is in our plans 🙂

Hiking Bryce Canyon’s Figure 8 Trail

Sunset Overlook Bryce Canyon

If you are looking for a trail that not only gives you the iconic Bryce Canyon overlook view, but also gets you close and personal to the famous Hoodoo’s look no farther.  The “Figure 8” trail combines both the Peek-a-Boo, Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden trails.

The trail is a 6.4 mile roundtrip hike.  So bring plenty of water and some snacks for along the way.  If hiking in the summer months I would suggest carrying 2-3 liters of water. I love these hydration bladders that fit nicely in our daypacks. Or a smaller option such as this or this.  And of course some sturdy hiking shoes, my favorite (here).  I also was a fan of our travel hiking poles, we bought them from The Narrows which you can read about our trip to Zion on here, but I also used them at Bryce some as well.  The trails seemed to well marked in Bryce Canyon but it is always smart to bring along a trail map (here).

If looking for a less strenuous hike you could follow the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden for a quick 2.9 miles.  Both of these trails will take you down into the Canyon but also right back out which makes it a quick elevation change.

Since the Figure 8 trail goes in a loop you can really start in any direction.  I recommend starting at Sunset Point and heading down the Navajo Loop first.

The Sunset Point parking lot can become full pretty quickly in the peak season.  When we went in August we were planning on using the shuttle, we ended up arriving around 8 am and found a parking stop at Sunset Point.

Starting with the Navajo Loop will take you down the Wall Street switchbacks first.  I recommend this because these switchbacks are much easier going down while you full of energy, the return through Queens Garden seemed to be an easier ascent back to the top of the Canyon.

Wall Street Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Hike Figure 8

From Sunset point through Wall Street the Navajo Loop will end at 0.7 miles.  Here you have the option to turn to walk Queen’s Garden or head straight back up via the rest of the Navajo Loop.  I recommend the Queen’s Garden for some changes in scenery.  If continuing to the Peek-a-Boo Loop to complete the Figure 8 look for the trail signs. There is a short connector trail (0.2 miles) until you reach the beginning of the Loop.

From here you can choose to go left or right since it is a loop.  We choose to go right for no particular reason.

Bryce Canyon Hike Figure 8Bryce Canyon Hike Figure 8

This is a horse trail as well.  So expect to see some droppings and to occasionally step to the side to let them pass.

This trails puts you close and personal with the hoodoo’s in no time.  What I love about the trail is that it seemed to vary in trail difficulty and views.  There were some steeper parts of the trails but it was always balanced with some smooth enjoyable flat and downhill grades.

It also gives you a vast selection of views around Bryce Canyon.  On the hike you will see the Wall of Windows, tunnels, hoodoos and more.

Wall of Windon Bryce CanyonBryce Canyon Hike Figure 8

After 1.3 miles of traveling on the Peek-a-Boo trail you will come across a small restroom that is open for the summer travelers, with still a few miles to go I would recommend stopping.  Although resembling an outhouse they were very clean!

Continue on through the trail in awe of this natural and unusual landscape until you have completed the 3 mile Peek-a-Boo Loop.

Bryce Canyon Hike Figure 8

Bryce Canyon Hike Figure 8

The best hike at Bryce Canyon

Get back on the connector trail heading towards Queen’s Garden.  This trail will take you 0.9 miles until you have completed the Figure 8 Loop and to the rim of the canyon.

The Queens Garden landscapes are very different than what we saw the the previous trails which makes the hike back up a lot easier as you are taking in the new scenery.  And less switchbacks than at the start of the Navajo Loop is always a plus!

Bryce Canyon Hike Figure 8Queens Garden at Bryce Canyon

This will dump you at Sunrise Point for a different overlook of Bryce Canyon.  And a short and FLAT 0.5 mile walk back to the start at Sunset Point.   If you didn’t park in the lot you can get a shuttle at Sunrise Point if you do not want to walk along the Rim Trail to Sunset Point.

HIking at Bryce Canyon UtahBryce Canyon Overlook

Enjoy your hike at Bryce Canyon!  There is no where else in the world you will see a landscape as unique as this one!

At heading to Zion National Park you can also read about our two days there (here) and what I packed for Zion (here).

What to do in: Cinque Terre

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Hike

My number one recommendation of what to do in Cinque Terre is hiking the paths in between towns.  It is the absolutely best way to get all the iconic views of the towns.  Tips for hiking in between towns are here.

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Vernazza Tower

The small tower the hangs above the town of Vernazza is called Castello Doria.  At a low cost of 1.5 euros you can climb to the top for this once was watch tower.  The walk to the top takes you through the streets of Vernazza.  At the top of the tower you get a lovely panoramic view on the ocean, buildings and cliff side.

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Gelato

As anyone should do while in Italy, try gelato!  You can find a couple places to eat gelato in each town along Cinque Terre.  My favorite has always been Alberto Galateria in the town of Corniglia!  A mom and pop gelato store with both traditional and non-traditional flavors.  My favorite that you can’t get at any other store but at Alberto’s is the basil, and yes I said BASIL!  The basil is super refreshing on a hot summer day, and especially after climbing all those stairs to get to Corniglia.  They even drizzle it with oil olive, which adds a delicious and unique experience.

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Go Shopping

Cinque Terre is the perfect place to pick up your Italian souvenir to take home.  Being an artist myself I love to pick up handmade items to take back home.  In these towns you can find anything from watercolor paintings from artists painting in the streets themselves, to ceramic olive oil vessels, wine stoppers, and more.  I fell in love with photo prints in a store in Monterosso as well.  I love having these handmade goods to decorate my home.  It gives my daily reminders of the memories we have made.

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Relax

Cinque Terre is a great places to not only get in some exercise through all the hiking but its also the perfect place to find some many peaceful areas to relax and enjoy the views.  My favorite memories here is grabbing and bottle of wine and at local wine shop.  Ask them to uncork it for you if you didn’t bring a corkscrew.  This trip we brought our own glasses but most places will give you plastic cups with the purchase of the bottle.

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Visit Local Cafes

A must do while in Cinque Terre or any of Italy is to sit down and enjoy a authentic cappuccino and croissant.   I am usually not one to love heavy bread items and with croissants in Europe you can’t go wrong.  So delicious! This cafe was right outside of our AirBnB, (click here for $40 off your first stay).  A perfect start to each day.

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Bruschetta

Another repeat stop of mine besides my favorite gelato shop is Bruschettae in Vernazza.  This little stop is a perfect lunch option after a sweaty morning of hiking.  Fresh ingredients and an option to go, which we always opted for along with the cold beer or wine to sit at the ocean side and enjoy.  I always end up with the traditional option, but they also offer 6-8 options of different bruschettas as well.

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Make you own Charcuterie

Per recommendation from our host we stopped one evening to create our own Charcuterie board.  We stayed in Corgnilia and stopped a shop that sold cheese and meats, and made the best homemade pesto I have tasted.  We stayed in relaxing while enjoying some fresh bread, meats, cheese and pesto, washed down with some Cinque Terre local brews.

In the end Cinque Terre is the perfect place for some great eats, drinks, hikes and taking in some breath taking views.  Worth every penny.

 

 

Where to Eat and Drink in Doolin Ireland

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As we sat down to plan out our trip to Ireland we knew we wanted to get a chance to see the sight everyone thinks of in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher.  We usually try our best to stay away, or not spend a lot of time at major tourist sights, so we were not sure how authentic of an experience we would get in Doolin.  Heading into Doolin, the closet town to the Cliffs of Moher we thought we would be staying in a large tourist trap.  But my goodness the food and drinks were sooo good.  I am not sure if this was Ireland’s version of a tourist area but we were definitely loving our meals and drinks around town.  Here are a few places that we recommend.

Fitzpatrick’s Bar

We ate a later dinner here after getting a sunset view of the Cliffs.  The bar offers a decent selection of food to choose from.  Anything from your classic Irish dishes to burgers, and ravioli.   My husband was craving a burger and it was delicious!  It came with slow cooked brisket, onion rings and monterey jack cheese.  I went for the steamed mussels in a white wine, garlic and shallot sauce and was equally pleased with my choice.  They were both a perfect choice after spending a rainy evening walking along the cliffs.  If I came with a seafood loving friend I would get the special that they were offering, a platter to share full from mussels, calamari, fish cakes and more!  One of our favorites part was reading the menu,  all locally sourced! And I mean very locally sourced, as they named people and locations that were literally up of the road from the restaurant!  Such as the beef came from Jack’s farm up the road, Henry brings the seafood in every morning from the docks, Susan’s provides the cheese.  How more authentic can you get?

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Doolin beer

Doolin Beer is the local brewery that is actually housed in the pub above, Fitzpatrick’s!  Hotel Doolin knew the town was in need of a craft beer,  their idea was taken into action with the pub where they brew and serve the beers.  We favored the Dolliner Red.  At Fitzpackrick’s you can even try a three sample flight.

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McGann’s Pub

This pub was suggested to us from a few locals.  I would suggest heading the McGann’s later at night.  It seems to get a decent crowd from tourist visiting from other towns, but the tour buses will eventually clear out and we be a more pleasant of an experience than earlier in the evening.  They have live music almost daily, and stay open until 12:30am.  Which many places in Doolin close down fairly early.

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Gus O’Conner’s Pub

Gus O’conner’s Pub sits more towards the coastal side of Doolin.  This is probably the largest pub in Doolin, lots of lively music and dancing,  lots of space for seating and great Irish beer options.  As most pubs on the coast do they offered a great seafood selection with mussels, fish, chowder and more.  I had my fair share of chowder throughout the trip so opted for the Guinness Stew, this was the first time I saw it on a menu as well.  And I don’t regret it one bit.  The steak and potatoes were perfectly cooked, just the right tenderness and the steak was juicy and not a tad overcooked.  The stew had a creamy and rich flavor.  I have tried to replicate this dish at home many times and haven’t been able to quit get it right.   My husband ordered the steak sandwich, we kept on trading plates back and forth as we loved each dish.  We ordered some brews to stay and enjoy the music.  This was definitely one of my favorite evenings in Doolin.  You can’t get more of an Irish pub experience than this, especially with this delicious of food!

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The Doolin Chocolate Shop

Doolin Chocolate Shop is a perfect stop to make before heading onto the Cliffs of Moher walk.  Not far from the shop starts the hike on the top of the cliffs to the visitor center.  The owner was so sweet giving us samples and directions to the walk.  We took fudge on our hike and it was the perfect mid hike snack to keep us going on the rain and wind.

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Breakfast

I do not have any recommendations for restaurants serving breakfast or brunch.  We always enjoy our homemade breakfast at our B & B in Doolin.  We stayed at the Harbourview B and B in Doolin (Click here for $40 off your first stay with AirBnb).  It was enough to fill us up through lunch and came with an amazing Irish country side view.

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Secrets to Best Eiffel Tower Experience

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Paris is never on the very top of my list of places I would go back to again and again, but when I find myself there I always do love the over looking views of Paris on the Eiffel Tower.  We have been there a couple of times, and each time we find ourselves on the Eiffel Tower at the most perfect time.  Here are my tips to having the perfect Eiffel Tower experience.

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Buy tickets ahead of time

Purchasing your tickets ahead of time does cost more,  but we are only talking about 6 euros more than the regular ticket price.  Those 6 euros are more than worth it.  Some days the line can be outrageous to buy your tickets at the tower, possible 1-2 hours of waiting in line.  When you pass by the tourists waiting in the heat or cold you will be thankful.

Mark in you calendar when to buy tickets

If planning your trip far enough a head of time make sure you set a reminder of when to buy your tickets.  They go on sale three months out.  During tourist season these can go fast.  I would recommend setting a calendar reminder for your purchase.  If you are planning with less than three months to go, no big deal there still can be tickets available but it might not be on the time or day that works perfectly into your schedule.

Splurge for the top of the tower

There are two sets of tickets for purchase.  2nd floor lift tickets and tickets to the top.

Definitely go for the tickets to the top, this one gives you access to BOTH the 2nd floor and the top of the tower by lifts.  The 2nd floor it also accessible by stairs, so this is not really giving you the full tower experience.  For comparison the second floor stand at 377 feet which it tall! but the third floor is 905 feet from the ground! A BIG difference!  Even though I believe checking out the second floor is worth it, go to the top as well.  The second floor has restaurants, bars and more.  It seems like its own little town within itself.

2nd floor lift prices-

at the tower: 10 euros

pre sale: 16 euros

Tickets to the top prices-

at the tower: 19 euros

pre sale: 25 euros

Although there is a price difference it is definitely worth it to go to the top!

Pick your time slot

The most important secret for getting the best Eiffel Tower experience is going at the perfect time of day! Check the Paris time and date calendar (here) before picking out your time slot.  And go just before the city of Paris loses light.  About an hour before is perfect.  Seriously this is the best way to overlook Paris in the daylight and after you snap a few pictures and wander around the top you will get to see all the sparkling lights over the city at night.  And really its the best!  I will be honest I am not a fan of Paris, but I am a fan of this!  And you get the best of both worlds, daylight and nightlights.  It truly unbelievable.   Go! -and tell me about it! I would love to hear your experiences as well.

And look at these views!

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What to do in Chamonix

What to do in Chamonix

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If you have never been to Chamonix, drop what you are doing right now and book the next flight out.  If I could live in this charming alps town in France I would in a heart beat.  Hiking in the summer months, skiing in the winter and coming home to eat things cover in hot cheese, can you possibly ask for anything more in life??  Chamonix was a perfect break from our few days in the hustling and bustling city of Paris.  Although I would be perfectly happy sitting on a porch eating cheese, cured meats, and sipping wine while peacefully gazing at the mountains and glaciers there are some pretty great things to do Chamonix.

1. Take the cable car to Mont Blanc

Don’t leave Chamonix without at least taking the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi.  The cable car ride makes two stops on the the way up.  One at small jut out with a shop and lunch stop and one at the top of the mountain point which is the main attraction  This is incredible, Aiguille du Midi is actually the highest mountain top point you can get to with access from the cable car in the WORLD! You can’t get any higher in the world than right here, unless you are someone who treks up sides of mountains often.  How cool is that??  Try to plan this around the weather and go on a clear day.  They views are breath taking and worth all the money for your ticket.

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2. Take a ride on the train

Take the famous little train to the top to get to the Montenvers building.  Make sure you get a window seat to see the sights over town on your way up and down.  From here you have a panoramic view of Mer de Glace Glacier, and many mountain peak views.

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3. Hike down to the glacier

From the train stop from above you have the option to hike down to the Mer de Glace Glacier and even go inside the Ice Cave.  The ice cave is re-sculpted every year as the glacier is melting and moving.  The hike is only about 20 minutes and it is all downhill.  If not up for the hike there is a gondola that will take you closer to the entrance of the Ice Cave.  And remember a hike down to the Ice Cave means a hike up! Unless we you to use the gondola, which we did on the way back up!

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4. Hike- long or short

Being near the Alps there are always great hiking options, both long and short hikes.  Just make sure the paths are clear of snow and ice unless you have the proper equipment with you.  I would suggest taking one of the ski lifts up and hiking down!

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5. Visit the local bakeries

Every bakery we went into in Chamonix was absolutely delicious!  I still dream about waking up to the pastries that we enjoyed in Chamonix.  I usually am not one crazy about breads in the US but those European pastries and croissants…I could never get sick of them.

6. Eat fondue

One of my favorite memories in Chamonix is dipping cured meats into hot cheese, sipping on a glass of wine all while staring at the mountains surrounding us.  I could have stayed in that seat for as long as they would let me.

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Some other things we saw people doing, but we did not get a chance to partake in were:

  • Rock Climbing in the local park
  • Small Casino
  • Chamonix Luge Alpine Coaster

 

 

Visiting Killarney Brewing Company

Killarney Brewing Company

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We always love to find the best eats and drinks in the towns we travel to.  Before arriving I thought for sure that Ireland would mostly serve major Irish labels in their local bars.   After a little research we found out we were very wrong.  Most towns had at least one local brewery.  One of our favorite was in Killarney, Ireland named Killarney Brewing Company.

After a day driving around the Ring of Kerry (our itinerary here) we made it just before closing at Killarney Brewing Company.  The brewery offers tours, has a gift shop and occasionally has food available for purchase.  Due to laws when we went in March 2017 they are not able to directly sell you a pint or tasting.  As described to us upon entering you can still find a way to enjoy their brews.  One way would be purchasing a pint glass at the gift shop and they will fill it up with purchase.  The other way would be buying a tour pass which includes a sampler tasting at the end of the tour (this is what we chose to do).

In our travels we have been to multiple brewery, winery and distillery tours.  I will admit they start to get repetitive as you learn about the processes of making alcohol.  But we thoroughly enjoyed this tour.

We came in running late so the tour group had already gotten started on the included samples.  We had to wait until the end for ours.  The tour started out with a humorous video made by the staff explaining the history of the town and beer making in Ireland.  A short tour around the building we were back to get to taste their products.

As any local brewery does their taps rotate for seasonal flavors.  And as in most of Ireland they were not skimpy on their samples.  We got to try 8 between the two of us.

We sampled:

  • Scarlet Pimpernal IPA
  • Golden Spear Blonde
  • Devils Hells Lager
  • Casey Brothers: Extra Stout
  • Spailpin Saison
  • Rutting Red Ale
  • Christmas in Killarney
  • Brazen Banshee

The staff there was more than friendly, they gave us a map circling their favorite eats and drinks around the town before we headed out for dinner.  I would definitely come back to this brewery if I found myself back in Killarney and recommend that you go as well!

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How to Pick the best AirBnb for your Trip

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During our travels we tend to stay in a lot of AirBnB rentals.  This is not the only way we have booked stays, hostels, hotels, sleeper trains and more are all options for choosing a place to sleep at night.  But with AirBnb and another home rentals we have found some gems making our trip even more memorable, even staying on a boat in Paris!  The ease of having all of our places booked through the same site makes communication easier and we have always had an enjoyable experience.  While searching where to stay we always have had some things we consider each time.

Transportation

Depending on what type of traveling we are doing we may be be arriving at a new destination differently each time.  Sometimes we may be in a rental car, our own car, using trains, buses or any other type of city transportation.

Thinking about this will help narrow down a good location to stay.  If arriving in:

A rental car/personal car:  If arriving in car make sure that the location has parking available.  If there is no on site parking try to find out if there are parking garages nearby, street parking or any other safe place to park your car over night.  Also think about how much luggage you have and how far of a walk you are willing to take on with said luggage.

Train/public transit:  Always check the location of the rental in comparison of what type for transportation you plan on using.  Look if you are able to reach the public transit within walking distance, or a short Uber drive (discount code).  Especially if needing to catch an early train or bus to your next destination, or coming in late at night.  The last thing you want to do is be wandering unknown streets in the middle of the night, or in bad weather.

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Sleeping Arrangements

No matter the number of people staying at a location make sure you know how many beds and what the sleeping arrangements are.  We always scan the pictures counting the number of beds in the rental.  Often places list their maximum number of occupants, but they do not add up equally with sleeping spots.  One time I found a place that seemed to have labeled a few sleeping spots as the Lazy-Boy recliners.  Not my ideal sleeping arrangement after a long day of traveling.

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Meals

Think about what type of trip you plan on going on.  If this one you plan on making your own breakfast, lunch or dinners?  Always check and see if there will be a cooking area available.  Especially if you are renting a shared space.  In Ireland we looked for places that had a breakfast available in the mornings, we knew some of the small towns may not have many options open during the off tourist season or early in the morning before day trips.  If planning to eat out a lot check Google maps that there are restaurants within walking distance.

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Laundry

This is something not on our priority list every trip.  But when planning a multiple week trip you often want some time to be able to wash a load of clothes to wear again.  We occasionally pick out a rental that has a washer and dryer when we have trips that either last multiple weeks and or that we plan on hiking and sweating a lot.  No fun putting sweaty clothes in your suitcase next to your clothes you still need to wear.  We don’t look for this in every rental but just certain locations and times.  And having a washer and dryer in your apartment makes it better than wasting a day of your vacation finding and waiting at a laundry mat all day.

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Reviews

Read the reviews before booking! Sometimes you may come across hosts that have cancelled on their guest a lot, stay away from those.  Reviews will also give you more insight on the city, rental and host.  Do keep in mind that some people are nit picky when it comes to writing a review behind a screen, but go with your gut on this one!

Remember rental living areas are not always the best and cheapest options.  We have stayed at many hotels, bed & breakfasts and coming up soon even a campervan! We still had an enjoyable experience in all of them.  Find what fits your trip and vibe the best.

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Travel Gift’s for Under $25

As the holiday season approaches I wanted to take some time to round up some of gift ideas for your favorite travel enthusiast is your life.  Some of these items make great stocking stuffers and are on my list as well 😉  And the best part about these gifts are that they are all under $25!  This is a highlight of some are favorite travel items.  They make great gifts for the traveler on the move, one that is always hard to buy for.

Pack-able Water Bottles

Vapur 10207 – Shades 0.5L Foldable Flexible Water Bottle w/ Carabiner (Maze)

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Hydrapak Stash 1L Flexible Water Bottle, Mammoth Grey

      Packing Cubes

AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set – Small, Medium, Large, and Slim, Black

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Leak Proof Toiletries Containers

Humangear GoToob, 3-Pack, Large (3oz), Clear/Green/Blue

Quick Dry towels (variety of sizes)

Cacala 100% Cotton Pestemal Turkish Bath Towel, 37 x 70″, Black: For the beach, baths, and blankets

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Small Travel Towels for Person Use

Syourself Microfiber Sports & Travel Towel with Travel Bag & Carabiner, Blue, M: 40″x 20″ 1pack

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Travel case for electronics and charging cords

Great for keeping everything organized and not tangled!

BAGSMART Small Travel Electronics Cable Organizer Bag for Hard Drives, Cables, Charger, Blue

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