The Dark Hedges (aka “The Kingsroad” in Game of Thrones)
During my 5-day stay in Dublin, despite how much I loved this lively city full of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet, I decided to take advantage of my proximity to Northern Ireland, UK.
After a long evening spent partaking in the extreme nightlife offered in Temple Bar, I was boarded a coach at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m., and our bus full of bleary eyed adventurers took off for a full day of exploration to some of the most gorgeous natural sites in the world.
What will be of no surprise to Game of Thrones fans, many of these landscapes have also played host to film crews for the massively popular show, whose location scouts seek out the most wondrous, beautiful, and remote places on earth: Iceland, Croatia, and Morocco, to name a few. The vast majority of the show’s filming takes place in Northern Ireland, and after visiting there, I can see why — there is staggering beauty literally everywhere you turn.
A Texan walks into a pub in Temple Bar, Dublin and clears his throat to the crowd of drinkers. He says, “I hear you Dubliners are a bunch of hard drinkers. I’ll give 500 American dollars to anybody in here who can drink 10 pints of Guinness back-to-back.” The room is quiet, and no one takes up the Texan’s offer. One man even leaves. Thirty minutes later the same gentleman who left shows up and taps the Texan on the shoulder. “Is your bet still good?” asks the Dub. The Texan says yes and asks the bartender to line up 10 pints of Guinness. Immediately the Dub tears into all 10 of the pint glasses, drinking them all back-to-back. The other pub patrons cheer as the Texan sits in amazement. The Texan gives the Dub the $500 and says, “If ya don’t mind me askin’, where did you go for that 30 minutes you were gone?” The Dub replies, “Oh… I had to go to the pub down the street to see if I could do it first.”
My five days in Dublin were without a doubt five of the most enjoyable of my life. After experiencing a whirlwind adventure in Stockholm then Barcelona with one, then two, of my dearest friends, we three left Spain to embark on our own solo adventures. Jonathan went to explore Portugal, while Christy ventured on to Paris, then various parts of Italy and Norway. The first stop on my own #soloeurotravels was the Republic of Ireland’s capital city, Dublin.
The Dubh Linn (Black Pool) Gardens, completed in 1680, located adjacent to Dublin Castle. The stone walkways are paved in a swirling Celtic design.
Of my travels this fall to many of the most gorgeous cities in Europe, I felt a most special and profound connection with Budapest. For me, this city embodies the perfect balance of old world and new, beauty and grit, wonderful people, incredible food and drink, history, culture, and wonder. In a word: magic.
I will be back as soon as I possibly can.
In the meantime, my cherished memories will have to suffice. I was able to capture a just few on film and video, which I am so happy to share with you here. Continue reading →
Rounding out my three-week vacation in Europe, I spent two glorious (and all-too-brief) days in Prague. This remarkably preserved ancient city in the Czech Republic left me breathless with its unparalleled beauty, history, architecture, people, culture, and — perhaps most importantly — incredible food and drink. In this entry, I will focus on the latter.
Beer flows more readily than water in this part of the world, and is the cheapest thing on every menu — literally costing less than bottled water. A typical half-pint of Czech brew costs about 20-25 CZK, less than 1 U.S. dollar. The Bohemians are credited with inventing the world’s first clear, golden beer. Prior to the development of Pilsner in 1842, beer was dark, cloudy, and quite thick. Says BeerAdvocate:
The birth of Pilsner beer can be traced back to its namesake, the ancient city of Plzen (or Pilsen) which is situated in the western half of the Czech Republic in what was once Czechoslovakia and previously part of the of Bohemian Kingdom. Pilsner beer was first brewed back in the 1840s when the citizens, brewers and maltsters of Plzen formed a brewer’s guild and called it the People’s Brewery of Pilsen.