Back to Ireland

We’ve just returned from our second trip to Ireland. Last year was great, but we felt that we missed so many things that we just had to return. The return trip was twice as long and just great! I can’t drive on the left, so my girlfriend drove me more than 3000 kilometers around the whole island.

This time, we’ve seen almost all the best attractions, ranging from scenery landscapes and castles to old cities. There were so many things to see and do, but I probably most enjoyed the Bogside history tours. Our guide Paul has been living in Derry his whole life and had seen the Troubles first hand. Sadly, his father was one of the people murdered in Bloody Sunday. He took us on a walk through Derry and explained the meanings of beautiful murals, pointed out where innocent protesters were shot and answered all our questions. Sad story but well worth hearing it told by Paul. A must do if you’re in Derry!

I’ve been in several museums, but Cobh Titanic Museum is a bit different. You get a ticket from a real passenger that boarded the Titanic. It displays the person’s name, class and other details. Then they take you on a tour and tell you lots of unknown facts. All the time you’re wondering – what happened to my passenger? Well, in the end, you can see for yourself. By typing in your passenger’s name, you see if this person was able to get out alive or not.

The nicest surprise was Smithwicks brewery in Kilkenny. I was not expecting such a nice guided tour and I did not think I’d fall for their beer. Their tour has a hologram of sorts, that explains how the brewery started. It’s first owner John Smithwick was not allowed to own a company, so he had to get help from an Englishman who officially owned the brewery. Several decades later the laws changed and his one of his descendants could finally officially own the brewery. I just hope I can get a hold of some Smithwicks Red here in Slovenia. Great stuff!

I skipped loads of other sights that we visited like Cork Gaol, Newgrange, Dublin Gaol and many many many others. You just have to go see for yourself!

 

Visiting Ireland

I have just returned from Ireland after a nice 10 day long trip. We rented a car for 6 days and stayed the last few days in Dublin. The only thing I hated over there was the driving on the left. Luckily my girlfriend got used to driving on the other side of the road very quickly. She drove more than 1300 kilometres all over the upper half of the Ireland from Dublin, Dundalk, Belfast, Derry, Donegal, down to Sligo, Westport, Galway and Ennis before returning back to Dublin.

The most memorable sights were in Belfast and Derry, because of the political tension that is still present even today. To anyone visiting Belfast, I’d recommend booking a tour with the local Black Taxi Tours. They take tourist trough the Catholic and Protestant areas, showing the murals on the houses. The guide told us all the background stories about the men portrayed, about the life back then. He mentioned helicopters being airborne all the time, patrolling the city. After the peace treaty, the helicopters were put down and lots of people had trouble adjusting to life without their noise. The most surprising thing is the wall that is still being used today to separate two communities. As the guide said several times – the wall is used to keep the peace.

Another pleasant surprise was the Leap Castle (pronounced Lep Castle). It was featured on lots of ghost documentaries and is mentioned in the Lonely Planet book. Its current owner Sean Ryan accepted us to his own castle and told us several stories about it, while we sat at the fireplace. Because of its bloody history, there are certain spirits present at the castle. Almost every weekend spiritualists come to the castle with instruments, doing various experiments. Luckily we did not stumble upon any spirits, but I did feel a bit uneasy while walking on the dark stairway and standing at the top level named Bloody Chapel. To anyone interested – book a visit by calling Sean at +353 868 690 547. In the end he was kind enough to play us some Irish tunes on his fiddle.

The Moher cliffs are really a sight to behold. Especially if walking from the nearby city called Doolin. It’s a nice 8 kilometre trek to get there and you get to see so much more than by driving to the spot. To any fan of such sites, the Slieve league cliffs is also a must see. After climbing stone steps you get to see a magnificent view over the sea. Well worth the climb!

Sardinia in May

I have just returned from a nice little vacation from Sardinia. The tourist season does not start until June, so the timing was great. There were almost no people, no crowds at sights and the parking meters were also not yet installed. It was pretty windy though for a few days, otherwise the weather was great.

We stayed for a week, travelling around the top half of the island, visiting major and less known sights. Thanks to my personal travel guide and her copy of Lonely planet book, we had no problems navigating and deciding on which places to see. In some aspects, Sardinia is similar to Slovenia. In an hour or two, you can go from a nice beach to a pretty high mountain or a canyon. Lots of options for different people – biking, hiking, swimming, kiting or laying about on beaches.

We stayed at several hotels/hostels. All of them were booked via booking.com, which is a really good site for finding places to stay. One of our hosts gave us a nice tip for saving money when booking places. The site booking.com takes around 15% provision, so the prices are a bit higher than usually. The site displays all possible contacts, so if you contact the providers directly you can avoid booking.com and save some money.

A few pictures are available on my Google+ album.

 

 

Vacation in Valencia

Another travel related blog post. This year truly is full of different travels. We have never been to Spain and decided to wait for the season to end and visit Valencia, which is the third biggest city in Spain. Let me tell you, waiting was worth it! The prices were much lower and there were almost no tourists. Luckily the weather was more than fine. We had to change our clothes the first thing after landing. It was around 25-30 degrees for the whole week. It rained only once and it quickly stopped.

We stayed in the 50 Flats hotel, where we had a whole apartment to ourselves. The hotel was really nice and the staff exceptionally kind and helpful. City center is pretty close so we made most of our trips on foot. Valencia is filled with lovely alleyways that are decorated with ceramics and graffiti. These street paintings are not the kind we are used to seeing back home, but are much more artistic. Some are painted on the shop entrances and usually represent the store. Making long walks is really easy, because there is always something to see. One of the funnier things are wires on buildings, they usually hang down and do not look too safe. It’s probably because these buildings are really old and that makes it difficult to do the wiring.

The city of arts and science is something totally different, you cannot get more modern and futuristic buildings that this. There we purchased a combined ticket for 3 museums – science, imax cinema an Oceanographic. It was well worth the money, especially because of Oceanographic. The animals there are really something one needs to see. The most popular part of Oceanographic is the underwater tunnel. There are two of them and they are truly a must see. Its really nice to see all those fishes swim around you and above your head.

 

All in all, Valencia is a really nice place to visit. Most of the attractions are available on foot. The seaside is a few kilometers away from the city center, but the bus is not that expensive – 1,5€ in one way. The beach has really clean sand which was also a pleasant surprise. The Albufera lake was a bit of a letdown. Sadly the road next to it obscures most of the view to the lake. There is only one spot (at least one that I saw) that offers a nice view. But the city next to it is the starting place of paella dish. In the end it was worth the trip. Definitively a memorable vacation!

 

Visiting Stockholm

I was invited to visit Stockholm by my girlfriend and her schoolmates. They are studying Industrial Design and Stockholm hosted the very renown Design Week. They organized pretty much everything so I did not think twice before joining them. The trip to Budapest was very fun thanks to my walkie talkies, which helped revealing the true entertainers in our group.

Before landing I half expected near arctic temperatures and heaps of snow. Luckily the temperatures were about the same as home and they even had less snow that we did at that time. We stayed at a nice hostel and met some interesting random people. We did not have that much time to explore the city during the first night, but we did so on the next two days. Surprisingly to me, the Stockholm furniture and light fair was really interesting because they had some interesting technology and various products. They even had the sound station chair Beatnik which was made in Slovenia. I did see some similar chairs on the same fair, but they were not as good haha.

On the very last day, we mostly walked around and visited one of the most popular museums in Stockholm – Vasa museum. It really is impressive, with all of the models, digital projections and original ship parts. Sadly we were there  only for three hours, but it felt like only one has actually passed. Otherwise the city is pretty impressive with all its near futuristic buildings. People are really nice too, the cashier event gifted me one of his Snus baggie. That was also a fun experience, but more of that at some other time. The trip was pretty short but very enjoyable! Especially thanks to the people in our group.

  • plane

  • thingy

  • snowy

  • vassa

First time in Paris

Just got back from one of the best trips I’ve ever had – Paris. This was my first time in such a big city and I have to say, I was impressed. Apart from the sights,  the most impressing thing in my view is their transportation system. Apart from ours, you do not have to rush to catch the train, because you do not want to wait another 20 minutes for the next one. In Paris, you wait for two or three minutes and you’re on your way. We were warned several times about the notorious pickpockets that are in abundance on subways and near the sights. Well, at least we do not have those guys on our trains/busses :). Luckily I had no such problems.

The number of tourists is also very surprising. Everywhere you go, you are stepping in front of someone’s camera and vice versa. We intentionally got lost while searching for the Les Invalides museum, just to see a few streets where we were the only tourists. While lost we found a nice shop, bought some wine for the longest night in the year and sent our cards. I still cannot believe how much we walked during the short stay in Paris. While sightseeing we did not feel tired at all. At home though….

The New Year countdown happened at Champs-Élysées. Sadly it was a bit rainy but that did not spoil our moods at all. I just loved it, when they closed down the whole street, which was quickly filled with people. The police confiscate any glass bottles they find (understandable) so we had to pour the champagne into plastic bottles without them seeing us.

All in all, this was one fantastic journey and I am looking forward on repeating it soon. Next time, we are definitively going there on our own! And yes, there will definitively be a next time.

  • Tour Eiffel

  • Paris from the tower

  • Silly cops

  • Montmartre

  • Champs-Élysées

  • Tour Eiffel
  • Silly cops