Best in Travel 2018

2018 was slow and quiet when it came to travel. For the past few years, I’ve kept my wanderlust locally. It feels like dreams of big adventures faraway are behind me. Give me a road trip around Dorset against backpacking in Vietnam any day. I don’t know if it’s my eco-consciousness weighing heavier or if it is a desire for simpler things that comes with age, but this year my travelling footprint has been kept on an even tighter leash. While 2017 brought me to new horizons, 2018’s explorations were strictly confined to the limits of my two ‘homes’, Ireland and Belgium.
And I’ve zero regret about that. I discovered some fantastic new places (to me) in Dublin but also gave a second chance to Belfast which had previously left me indifferent and saw it with complete different eyes!
Keep reading to find out my 5 favourite travel discoveries of 2018!

howth castle dublin ireland


Back in June, during the rhododendron season, I went to Howth Castle for the very first time. The Howth peninsula located on the coastline of Dublin has always been one of my favourite haunts. This little seaside village has charm by the bucketload but up until recently I had no idea that the rows of trees at the back of the port were hiding the splendid Howth Castle Demesne.
My favourite part in the estate was the ancient rhododendron garden. The jungle of bright bushes of flowers and their tangled roots is not something you’d expect to find in Ireland. It certainly has quite an exotic look about it. At the top of the rhododendron hill is one of the most magnificent views you’ll find in Dublin. From the Ireland’s Eye to the Poolbeg Chimneys, Dublin felt it was completely mine from up there that afternoon.

Click here to read my post on Howth Castle.

june blake garden wicklow gardens ireland


In September, I didn’t want to let Summer go. Despite being the longest I’ve known since living in Ireland, it still wasn’t enough and I was feeling the Autumn anxiety settling in. Now, I think the best way to hold on to Summer a little longer is to visit a beautiful garden. So I visited two that day, in my favourite county: Wicklow.
They’re located just outside Blessington and they belong to two siblings: June Blake’s Garden and Jim’s Hunting Brook Gardens. They were absolutely delightful in very different ways. I was extremely happy to catch the dahlia season and see those glorious pompoms featured heavily in both gardens. This flower is so nostalgic to me and seeing all the beautifully jewel-toned varieties June and Jim picked for their gardens made the transition to Autumn just that little smoother.

14 henrietta street dublin museum ireland


Last year saw the opening of a rather exciting new museum in Dublin. 14 Henrietta Street tells the story of tenement housing in the Irish capital city. I was so eager to see it that I booked a ticket for the museum’s pre-launch tours. Henrietta Street is one of the most beautiful streets here, it features in many English and Irish films as it makes for the perfect period drama set. I was really intrigued to finally see the inside of one of these tall Georgian houses that tower over this cinematic cobbled street. The restoration of 14 Henrietta Street is absolutely brilliant and it was edifying to learn about its many residents. The story the museum tells resonated with me as it echoes so acutely the devastating housing crisis Dublin is experiencing at the moment.

Click here to read my post on 14 Henrietta Street

ghent gand gent canal belgium belgie belgique


Whenever I’m visiting home, I always make a point to explore something new (to me) whether it is a quarter in Brussels or a whole new city. This time, it was lovely Ghent in the Flanders region. I think it lives a bit in the shadow of Bruges, unjustly so as it really oozes pizzazz. I only spent a quick afternoon there in the Autumn and although the city is tiny, it definitely wasn’t enough time. I was truly mesmerised by the charmed life unfolding along the canals.

belfast cathedral quarter duke of york pub northern ireland


In December, I really embraced the festive spirit and visited lots of lovely Christmas markets. I was especially looking forward to checking out the Belfast one. It is the Rolls Royce of the Irish festive calendar, after all. Unfortunately the market was a bit of a let-down for me (it was so crowded that it became impossible to really enjoy what the stalls had to offer) but I discovered that I actually really like Belfast! It came as a complete surprise as I had previously visited the Northern Irish capital and it had always left me rather cold. But with a few recommendations sent by some of my very kind instagram subscribers, I felt the city finally opening itself to me. I can’t wait to go back and explore it on a warmer day!


For 2019, I hope to continue to keep my travels very locally. My heart does not long for exotic horizons at the minute. Ireland, Belgium and the UK sound just right for me. I do want to spend more time near the sea so I’d love to do some kind of road trip along the coastline in the South of England. I’m also toying with the idea of cycling the Waterford Greenway in Ireland in the Spring. Finally, as mentioned above, another trip up to Belfast will hopefully be on the cards! That’s the extent of my travel wishes for 2019 but I’m very conscious of the looming Brexit cloud and I’m really not sure how it will affect travelling to the UK from Ireland. Tell me, do you have any exciting trip(s) planned for 2019?

Colourful places in the world

Colourful Places in the World

Today is World Colour Day so I thought it would be fun to look back on my travels and pick the most colourful streets, villages, towns or cities I encountered. Some of these are as bright as bright can be but some other are definitely more pastel.
So here’s a top 10, in no particular order, for your peepers to hopefully brighten up this very grey start of Spring.

Colourful Places in the World


Costa Nova is one of the beach towns of Aveiro in Portugal. When I went to Porto, I made a point to make the hour and a bit journey to this cheerful little place. I was so curious to see these colourful huts with my own eyes. I’m happy to report the place looks as glorious in real life as in pictures. The candy-striped houses on the promenade gave me so much joy. The whole thing looked like a film set!

Colourful Places in the World


Morocco has some colourful cities. The blue city of Chefchaouen often comes to mind. But other places have caught on with the limewashed trend. I was told that it was only recent that Azrou had started coating its walls with colourful pigments. While Azrou is not as high-profile as a Marrakesh or a Chefchaouen, I do think it should be on your list if you like colourful places. The old quarter is a delightful mishmash of mint green, marigold yellow and salmon pink. My favourite part was the beautiful street art of fish swimming upstream on those long stretch of stairs.
(The rainbow stairs on the cover of this post also belong to Azrou).

Burano Island


If there was a prize for the most colourful place in the world, let’s face it, Burano would probably win it. Walking in Burano is like being sandwiched between a canal and a rainbow. It’s an oddly pleasant sensation, I would recommend it 100%!

Read my post on Burano here

Colourful Places in the World


When I visited Gibraltar, I certainly didn’t expect to find nice beaches. On the east side of the isthmus, you will find a couple of seaside villages. One of them is called Catalan Bay and let me tell you, it is an explosion of eighties colours. I’m pretty sure I had an outfit that looked like that as a kid.

Colourful Places in the World


Of course, this London’s neighbourhood does not need an introduction. There are fewer places in the world I’d rather be than wandering Portobello’s colourful streets on market days.

Le Puy-en-Velay


Le Puy is a medieval city in the French volcanic region of Auvergne. It is famous for being one of the starting points of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. It has an old-worldly charm to it, the narrow alley-ways, the pastel-coloured blinds that adorn the windows, the steep streets that lead to the towering cathedral. Le Puy is truly an enchanting place.

Read my Quick Guide to Le Puy-en-Velay here

Colourful Places in the World


The castle district is one of the most touristy area of Budapest. There you will find the Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church and of course, the castle. One thing you should also do is walk on the cobblestoned streets of the historical residential area. The baroque houses are so pleasing to the eye.

Colourful Places in the World


Nikolaiviertel is the historical heart of Berlin. There, the majestic houses are pastel in colours and feature interesting rococo designs on their facades. They look like a beautiful layered cake out of Mendl’s from The Grand Budapest Hotel. Just dreamy.

Colourful Places in the World


In Ireland, where there’s a village, chances there’s a colourful row of houses. Many towns or cities could have made that list but for me, the little port of Dingle in county Kerry shone the brighter! (I do want to give a special mention to Cobh in county Cork though and while I’m here, I’d also like to specify that I haven’t visited Kinsale yet!)

Colourful Places in the World


I know, I hear you saying ‘another Portuguese place?!’. Forgive me, but I couldn’t not mention here Porto and its tetris cube houses bearing proudly the colours of a crayola box set.

Now tell me, what are the most colourful places you’ve visited? Which one should I visit next?

Best in Travel 2017

It’s been a while and I’ve been missing writing here. I’ve plenty to tell you about, so many places in Ireland and elsewhere, I want to share with you.
But first, if you don’ mind, I thought we could look back on last year. I’ve made some great travel memories and discoveries at home and on the European continent. I really want to document them here.
Without further ado, let’s jump in my 6 favourite travel moments of 2017!

Best in Travel 2017


It was a cold January evening in Budapest and I was crossing one of the city’s many bridges to get to the Buda side. I was hoping to get night pictures of the Hungarian Parliament there. I was working against the clock and rapidly losing light so I stepped up my pace, blinded by the cars’ headlights coming my way. It was rush hour, the city people were eager to get home.
Underneath my feet, the Danube was flowing steadily, taking in its stride numerous ice patches. A frozen Danube, an extraordinary sight to behold I was told.
Despite, the traffic noise, I could hear voices coming from under the bridge, I looked over the handrail and to my utter amazement, two locals were having a casual conversation, standing on a giant ice sheet in the middle of the river. Uh?! I waited a few seconds to see if anyone needed help but they carried on talking like they always meant to be there.
I looked up and as the sun just hid behind the horizon, it set the sky ablaze with a thousand pink shades. Despite the biting cold, I removed my gloves and placed them in my faux-fur coat, retrieved my camera from my bag. For each step I took, I snapped a picture of this view for the sky was quickly changing and the parliament buildings were glowing brighter and brighter.
Buda felt like a distant memory, I didn’t care about getting to the other side of the bridge anymore nor about losing any sensation in my fingertips. What mattered was there and then, and that magical pink sky.

Best in Travel 2017


2017 was the year I finally ticked off the big Dublin touristy events. It only took me 9 years, go me. I saw the St Patrick’s Parade in the capital for the first time and in June, I celebrated Bloomsday. Bloomsday, for those of you who never heard it, happens every 16th of June, it’s a day where Dubliners relive the events of the day depicted in James Joyce’s Ulysses. It’s a brilliant way to experience the book, even if you’ve never read it, and also get to the very essence of the city.
On that day I took the Dart to the seaside town of Sandycove and Glasthule. This is where the opening of Ulysses takes place, in the Martello Tower. You could argue that taking a train to a Dublin’s seaside neighbourhood could hardly qualify as a travel memory but to me, discovering that a local gem can create wonder in your heart at home is worth a million memories made on the road.
Sandycove is pretty much a postcard village but on Bloomsday, it turns into something quite electrifying. Chairs and tables are laid on the main street, set up for the annual lunch. People of all trade and ages are dressed in early 20th century garbs. Horses dragging carts, are clippety-clopping on the macadam. Ladies are adorned with wide-brimmed hats and Edwardian dresses, men wear tiny round glasses and elegant boaters. It’s astonishing how many true James Joyce doppelgängers roam the streets on that day! My own boater in hand, I ascended the path to the Martello tower, surrounded by a group of women in billowy white dresses. Midway, I stopped at the Forty Foot creek to admire the brave swimmers. Despite being the month of June, it’s nowhere near swimming weather in Ireland.
Once inside the Martello, we all squeezed ourselves at the windy top of the tower, listening to Ulysses read by actors and looking out to ‘the sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea‘.

Best in Travel 2017


As soon as I walked under the baroque gilded gate and laid my eyes on the rose garden, I knew I was in for something special. It was a humid Summer afternoon and my Dad and I were road-tripping across Luxembourg. On our way to the capital city, we stopped at the New Castle of Ansembourg to stretch our legs. Luxembourg is very much known for its castles and I could not pass up seeing one of them. This 17th century beauty does not allow visitors inside unfortunately but the gardens are free to roam. So many features enchanted us that afternoon: the mysterious hedge tunnel at the back of the land, the golden eagle fountain, the maze, the elegant white-marbled statues standing tall on the garden’s avenue, a bicentenary tree (the tallest in Luxembourg!) and of course, the fragrant rose garden.

Best in Travel 2017


Another ‘big Irish thing’ I ticked off last year was Glendalough. Despite being one of the most visited Irish sites, this valley in county Wicklow was terra incognita for me. The reason was the sole bus service only does one return trip a day there and I thought it would frame the exploring to a tight schedule. So last Summer, I decided to rent an Airbnb for a few days in the area. Perfect plan, right? Yes perfect plan if it wasn’t for the fact that it was kind of a hike already to get to the starting point of Glendalough’s several hiking trails. I completely believed in my capacity to go from couch to 20km a day. Eh, no. Needless to say that Day 2 was a rest, I-can’t-move-from-the-bed, day. But the following day I was thankfully back on my feet. Even though it took me a few attempts, I finally ascended the climb that starts at the mining village on my last day. This glorious view over the lake (and the fragile sense of achievement for little couch potato me) was of course worth any stiff legs and wobbly knees. I want to do it all over again already!

Best in Travel 2017


Back in September, a friend came to visit from Belgium and we embarked on an epic road-trip across county Kerry. This was truly the nicest surprise! One of the many, MANY, highlights of this trip was to finally see, with my own two eyes, the view that had adorned the walls of my childhood bedroom. Ladies View in Killarney National Park. I had blue-tacked a postcard of this majestic landscape at the foot of my bed and every time I looked at it, it would lift my heart. For me, it encapsulated everything I had hoped to find in Ireland.
Fast forward to last year, the daydream became a reality and it didn’t disappoint. It can get tiring to live in Dublin, what with its constant business, its high cost of living, its grey weather but that such treasures are on my doorstep (or a bit further), it is pretty special. Now could we a have a decent transport system across the country please?

Best in Travel 2017


Oh Porto… sigh… if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I’ve got a mad crush on Lisbon. Well, it turns out Porto had a similar effect on me, granted they’re very different cities with different atmospheres. On the first evening of my trip to Porto back in November, I already had stars in my eyes. My feet had naturally carried me to the banks of the Douro River (Douro means Gold in Portuguese… the Golden River, how poetic!). I crossed the Dom Luis I Bridge and sat on a bench on the Vila Nova de Gaia’s side. From there, I watched the sun set on Porto, on its colourful house blocks. The sky lit up in vibrant colours for the last day’s hurrah. The weirdly out-of-place looking local boats were coming back to port. Above them, thousands of seagulls were hovering in a synchronised sway. Apparently, I like a sunset!

My 5 Favourite Travel Moments of 2016

2016 really did a real weird number on us, didn’t it? Wham is on autoplay on Youtube as I’m writing this and it’s a bit heavy-hearted that I’m looking back on the year that has been. Focussing on the travel part, I think this was a good one for me though. I visited Germany for the first time, finally reconnected with my roots in Morocco, did my annual trips to Brussels and London and went back for the second consecutive year to Spain and Gibraltar. My only regret is once again, I didn’t set on exploring Ireland beyond Dublin and county Wicklow. I badly need to rectify this in 2017. For 2015’s recap, I compiled the best places I visited but this year, I want to do something a bit different and reminisce the moments that took my breath away while travelling. I think you know the ones I mean, those that make you want to pinch yourself, quit your day job and be a constant joe-on-the-road. So here come my five favourite ones.

Favourite Travel Moments of 2016

1. Browsing a German flea market under the snow

Back in January, I woke up one Sunday in Berlin to find out that the world outside my window had been covered by a bright fluffy blanket. I had one super fun day planned, it started with brunch at Aunt Benny’s and was to be followed by a long list of markets. You see, Sunday is flea market day in Berlin and I was adamant to visit as many as I could that day. First one was on Boxhagener Platz, located only a few streets away from my Airbnb. Just as I started browsing the stalls, the first snow flurries started to fall and I looked around and felt I had been transported into a snow globe. People were holding cups of glühwein, children were dragged on sleighs and dogs were greeting each other. I kept repeating to myself ‘this is so romantic, this is so romantic!’ and the snow fell heavier and heavier…

Favourite Travel Moments of 2016

2. Entering the Voltaire Room in the Sanssouci Palace

During that trip to Berlin in January, I took a train to Potsdam to visit the Sanssouci Palace. You know my love for rococo and baroque so it was a real treat to see with my own eyes the crazy Summer home of Frederick the Great. I gasped at many gold features and chandeliers but upon entering the room he had specifically designed for his friend and mentor Voltaire, I basically lost my sh**. The whole room is painted and furnished with the same striking marigold yellow throughout. The wall panels are covered with wood carvings of flower arrangements and fruit garlands while exotic birds seem to be frozen in a playful banter. It was nothing like I had ever seen before.

Favourite Travel Moments of 2016

3. Standing on my ancestors’ land in the Middle Atlas

This Summer I made a last minute trip to Morocco to attend to some family matters. Unexpectedly, it turned into a magical tour of  my great grand-father’s old stomping ground. He owned quite a sizeable chunk of land in the Middle Atlas which holds so many dear memories to my family. It was amazing to hear everyone’s stories and anecdotes of growing up there. One day, we sneaked into the ruins of what was once my grand-mother’s childhood home. It stands on a cliff and if you go right up to the edge, you’re met with the most incredible view. Beneath our feet, a lush valley of cherry trees stretched for miles and miles. I’ll hold that sight with me forever.

Grateful that #yayoikusama shared her eternal love for pumpkins with #London 🎃 #instakusama

4. Being locked up in a mirrored room with glowing pumpkins

One thing I didn’t want to miss during my annual trip to London this Summer was the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Victoria Miro Gallery. I had seen her work displayed at the Tate before and I wanted to experience her universe once again. The exhibition was a bit more intimate this time but just as successful (hence the long-winding queues outside the door). The highlight of the exhibition was the room called ‘All the Eternal Love I have for the Pumpkins’. As soon as you step in the cubic room, the attendant closes the door behind you, and you have a whole minute to yourself surrounded by luminous pumpkins. What did I do in there, you may ask yourself? I took a selfie… Not sure it was the best use of my time but it certainly was one of the most memorable minutes of 2016.

Favourite Travel Moments of 2016

5. Exploring Catalan Bay in Gibraltar

It was October and I was holding on to that Summer feeling in Gibraltar. That afternoon, I had set on exploring the East Side of the isthmus where the sandy beaches are. More specifically, Catalan Bay. I was dying to see the famous candy-coloured houses stacked against the Rock. Even though it was well into Autumn, the temperatures were high in the twenties. I cursed for not wearing a swimsuit under my clothes but nevertheless, life was good, I had the beach practically all to myself. I sat there looking out to the horizon and from to time checking on my right if the thousand of seagulls behind the hotel were planning any attack, Hitchcock style. I seriously had never seen that many seagulls gathered in one spot! When it got too hot, I carried my espadrilles in one hand and wandered bare-foot in the village’s alleyways. It was the perfect afternoon!

So that was my 2016 in a nutshell. Did you travel much this year? Tell me about your favourite memory on the road in the comment section! 

My 10 Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts

my 10 favourite travel instagram accounts

There’s no denying, Instagram has taken the front seat of many of my online habits. Especially when it comes to travel, whether it’s to actually plan an upcoming trip or armchair travelling, the app is always my first stop. Let me tell you, it was hard to narrow down this list to only 10 accounts. There are hundreds I follow who give me major wanderlust on an every day basis. As you’ll see below, I have a soft spot for photographers who capture the pretty details of city life over epic wild landscape. And as a general rule, I tend to prefer instagrammers who explore the nooks and crannies of their own turf rather than those living the nomadic lifestyle… But of course there are exceptions! But without further ado, here are the 10 accounts that make me want to pack up and go on a new adventure!

Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
1. @themodernleper

Thomas is my current top Insta-crush, his shots often stop me in my track when I’m mindlessly scrolling my instagram feed. His tones are warm, crisp and a little spicy… a little like a gingerbread biscuit! He is based in Hamburg and he’s definitely put the German city on my radar. I now long to see the baroque facades and the winding alleyways with my own eyes.

Follow @the modernleper (and if you enjoy his feed, check out kieselle and eskimo, they’re also from Hamburg and just as dreamy!)

Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
2. @sezgiolgac

The pictures Sezgi shares on her feed are colourful poems, striking tributes to her city, Istanbul. I especially love the old buildings she finds on her urban explorations and the way she captures the city under the snow. It is magic. She travels quite a bit too and I couldn’t recommend enough for you to check out her banging snaps of Cuba. Ouch.

Follow @sezgiolgac

Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
3. @lilyrose

Lily Rose is one of these instagrammers that never seem to stand still. One day in the Maldives, the next in Morocco, she never fails to capture her surroundings in the most vibrant way. She also stages some killer flat lays!

Follow @lilyrose

Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
4. @helloemilie

Wherever she goes, Emilie seems to always travel inside a perfect bubble of golden hour and bokeh. Her self-portraits where she gazes into breathtaking views while wearing a boater hat have become a bit of an Instagram institution. She embodies wanderlust to a T.

Follow @helloemilie

Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
5. @ancienm

I simply adore the soft, feminine, muted-pastel-toned vignettes of Ravza’s life in Istanbul and elsewhere. But recently she made my jaw drop to the floor when she documented her pilgrimage to Mecca. Her female photographer’s perspective on the experience is one rare precious gift.

Follow @ancienm

Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
6. @adampartridge

Adam’s pictures make my heart swell with nostalgia. He specialises in photographing the South of England, more specifically the county of Dorset. I holidayed there when I was 15 and every time one of his blue-toned, tranquil pictures pops up on my feed, I wonder why I haven’t come back there yet.

Follow @adampartridge

Favourite Travel Instagram Account
7. @sixsevensix

Whenever I feel uninspired by Instagram, a look through Robin’s profile is often all it takes to light my spark back. Not only does he finds the best facades in London but his angles make London even more cinematic, if that’s possible!

Follow @sixsevensix

My Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
8. @dagmara_ch

I’m going to throw it out there, it might be a tad controversial, but I’m not the biggest fan of Paris. Yes, it is one pretty city but I find the place way too stressful to ever really enjoy my surroundings. I think Dagmara is slowly making me realise that there might be a more peaceful, green and charming side to Paris that I managed to miss during my previous visits.

Follow @dagmara_ch

My Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
9. @neumarc

Marco is probably the instagrammer I have been the most loyal to. Even after seeing Venice with my own eyes a couple of years ago, I still go back to his feed with the same anticipation I felt when planning my trip to La Serenissima. Venice is small but she has many faces and moods which Marco captures in the most sublime way.

Follow @neumarc

My Favourite Travel Instagram Accounts
10. @theprettycities

The Pretty Cities does what it says on the tin, that is showcasing charming urban scenes from all over the world. The account is curated by insanely talented @siobhaise, whom I would have totally put on this list had I not already featured another London ‘grammar

Follow @theprettycities

And there you have it my 10 favourite travel Instagrammers. Now it is your turn, who tickles your wanderlust on Instagram?

You can follow me @theartofexploring on Instagram.

The Art of Exploring shortlisted for an award!

Happy Times

HAPPY TIMES indeed! I’m delighted to tell you that my blog has been nominated for best travel blog in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards! I’m not going to lie the competition is tough, so many travel bloggers with great talent out there but if you would like to support my blog, you can go directly to this link and give me a little click. Voting will be open until this Tuesday, the 23rd of August. Thank you <3

Top 5 Places I Visited in 2015

Since it’s time to reflect on the year that has been, I thought I would do a little top 5 of the places I visited this year. Even though I thought it would be a year of little to no travel, I ended up visiting a few countries: Italy, Spain,  France, Belgium, and covering the UK via England, Gibraltar and Scotland. So 2015 was great for good travel surprises and last minute trips! My only regret travel wise is not making enough time to visit new places in Ireland.

The year started with a bang as I headed to Venice in January. It’s probably a cop-out to mention a whole city in this list but it’s hard to detangle what makes Venice a magical place (although, if forced to pick, I’d say the island of Burano and the bookshop Libreria Acqua Alta stood out a smidge). But overall, what stays with me a year later, is just wandering aimlessly in its alleyways and casually taking the boat like one takes the bus. It all feels now like a distant mushy dream but every now and again when I stumble upon a picture of the Grand Canal I genuinely get teary-eyed to think I was once standing there.

For Venice recommendations, you can scroll through my Venice category.Killiney Hill

Back in April, I took the Dart to Killiney Hill for the first time. Not only the views over the Dublin Bay are breathtaking but it comforted me into the idea that life is as much about the micro adventures as the big ones. When I started this blog, I set out on exploring what’s on my doorstep instead of being mopey about everything. A big trip can recharge your batteries like nothing else, but finding a love for your surroundings is the ultimate generator. This is something I want to advocate more through this blog.

More on Killiney Hill.Saint-Julien-Chapteuil

Summer was supposed to be a quiet one, spent on the Emerald isle. I started it with the best intentions of exploring new places in Ireland but somehow I ended up on the continent for most of it. I’m not complaining about it, quite the opposite, it was a great Summer and the last minute decision of visiting my friend and her little family in this little French village was a definite travel and life highlight of 2015.
Nestled among volcanoes, Saint-Julien-Chapteuil was a wifi-less haven made for afternoon naps, slow cooking, market browsing and easygoing hikes. The picture was taken from the house patio where we would eat dinner and be treated to dazzling sunsets above the mountains.God's Own Junkyard

Nothing really prepares you for a room, from floor to ceiling, full of neon signs. I’d imagine the insides of a unicorn being a similar sight. This magical cloud of pink can be found inside an unassuming industrial estate in Walthamstow, a town so East of the Big Smoke that you wonder if you’re actually still in London. Well worth the bus journey!Glen Coe

To say that the Scottish Highlands left a lasting impression on me is quite the understatement. Back in September, I crossed Glen Coe very briefly by car with my brother, unable to stop for very long as it was chucking it down with rain but the journey across those mythical mountains was akin to a mystical experience. The feeling was heightened by the fact that my brother and I were at the same time absorbed in a deep chat on life and the meaning we’re trying to make of it all. As you do :)

Instagram: July 2015

Wow, July was a whirlwind. Just as I was coming to terms with the fact that this Summer will be a quiet, travel-free one (remember I even made an Irish Summer checklist to make sure I explore my surroundings), travel plans landed on my lap from right, left and centre. Well don’t get excited, it’s nothing too exotic, but for someone who planned to stay at home the whole Summer, going through 3 European countries in a couple of weeks comes as a bit of a shock to the system.
So let me get you up to date if you haven’t followed my peregrinations on social media (I owe you an apology this month has been very quiet on the blog but should you ever be curious where I’m at, you can follow me on Instagram, I update it almost on a daily basis).

I started the month with the making of two other video guides with Emily. This time we tackled Dublin city centre and Howth, which is Emily’s backyard and it ended up being my favourite neighbourhood we filmed. And it meant I finally got to see the Howth cliff walk which was on my Summer checklist. I do want to go back though and hike the whole perimeter of the peninsula.
Another place I managed to cross off my list is the lavender field in Kilmacanogue, county Wicklow. I meant to talk to you about it before the end of the month as the harvest sale event only happens during July but I failed you as a blogger. Sorry. It will be the subject of my next post here though! Also, I couldn’t go to Kilmacanogue without checking Avoca’s flagship store which is way too dreamy for words. The flowers! The homeware! The stationary! The teas! … sigh.

Instagram July 2015
July blooms / #DublinGhostSigns near Moore St / Emily vs. Dublin
Beautiful hairdresser’s shopfront / Flower stall on O’Connell St / Baily Lighthouse, Howth
Rialto Market in Venice / Lavender Field in Kilmacanogue / Whimsical crockery in Avoca

It was then time to leave for the Motherland, aka Belgium by way of London, to catch the Eurostar. I spent a few days in Brussels, mainly catching up with family and friends and playing tourist on my own turf. After that, I took two trains (via Paris) to a secluded village in the mountains of Auvergne where I spent a week with a very dear friend of mine and her little family. It was probably one of the most relaxing, wifi-free holidays I ever had, I took a lot of pictures so will talk more about it soon.

Instagram July 2015Nissan Figaro parked at St Pancras / The interesting facades of my hometown / Grand-Place, Brussels
View from Gare de Lyon, Paris / The cutest door in Saint-Julien-Chapteuil / Ghost sign on the high street
Le Puy-en-Velay / Classic car in Saint-Julien-Chapteuil / Doesn’t it look like a film set?
Instagram July 2015
Galeries de la Reine, Brussels / This restaurant’s sign <3 / Loved the rice paper rolls in Knees to Chin!!

I’ve been back in Brussels for a week now, spending more time with family and friends, eating all the good food (Man, I missed bread) and soaking up sun rays in preparation for my return to that little green island under a perpetual cloud. But before that, I’ve got one more destination up my sleeve. But I’m sure you can guess what that is!

Follow me on Instagram.

Instagram: June 2015

Last month started with a little trip to the South of Ireland where I was attending a wedding. The wedding itself took place in a church at the top of a hill, overlooking Dungarvan bay and its oyster farms. These were breathtaking views, to say the least.
For the reception, we headed to Ballycotton, in county Cork, which had the recipe down for the perfect Irish seaside holiday, what with its cute lighthouse and its wide beaches (making a mental note to come back).
Back in Dublin, I went to the food festival Taste of Dublin for the first time! It is set in the beautiful Iveagh Gardens and the general easy-going atmosphere as well as the accent made on good local Irish food reminded me a lot of Bloom Festival.
I also got to explore two more neighbourhoods with Emily: Baggot Street and the Liberties. They were full of good surprises like these scrumptious cakes in Eathos and the colourful cottages behind Meath Street. Add the usual #dublindoors, flowers (yay for peony season!), parks, street art and classic cars and you have my month of June seen through my phone!
Also, I wanted to mention that I had a little feature on the Guardian Cities instagram account, I listed some of my favourite Dublin instagrammers, if you’re looking for people from around here to follow!

Instagram June 2015
Rhododendrons / Fresh in Temple Bar / Laundry day in Burano
Burano Island / Wedding reception / Dungarvan bay
Countryside pub / Classic wedding car / In love with ‘Pottery Corner‘ at Taste of Dublin

Instagram June 2015
tea time at Eathos / The Shebeen pub / Jungle door
The Swan bar / pink door+bicycle=<3 / broken Jag
Rainy evening at the park / Newmarket Square Street Art / #straightfacades

Instagram June 2015
Dalkey village / Killiney Hill / Cute cottages in the Liberties
Street art in Temple Bar / Buying peonies at the market / The beautiful pink building on Pembroke Rd

Follow me on Instagram.

Instagram: May 2015

☀️🌳 #WHPstrangelight @instagram
Can I say a cliché and then I promise I will never mention this here again? … Where does the time go?? The month of May flew by like no other. I came to like these posts as they help me reflect and make sense of the past month but I’m struggling to visualise what May was like here . I had a 2 week Instagram break as I was a bit taken by a few worries and stresses, which is a recurring problem in my life. I get overwhelmed really easily and feel like hiding. I’m adamant not to let this summer slip by so I think I’ll make a little Irish Summer checklist of the places I want to visit the next couple of months. I don’t have any travel plans in sight so I’d like to take this time to explore Ireland. Would you be interested in seeing this list here?
But let’s go back to May as it wasn’t all dread and gloom! Here are some of the highlights that were caught on Instagram:
– Eating a courgette cake (?!) and catching up with Magda
– Going to an eerie exhibition with Nancy and being inspired by her enthusiasm for Dublin (I found the knight on the segway on my way to meet her)
– Exploring neighbourhoods with Emily and finding joy in creating something with someone else
– The marriage referendum which brought so much happiness and celebration to the country
– Having a picture featured on Design*Sponge‘s instagram #fangirl

Instagram May 2015
Dublin’s Botanic Gardens / The beautiful shop Dust / Catching up with Magda in Slice Cafe
Perfect Georgian symmetry / Street art by NUNC / Missing London, always
Vintage station wagon / Street art by Joe Caslin / Dublin in Love

Instagram May 2015
Ireland said YES / The tiles in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church / The prettiest building in Temple Bar
Flower stalls on Grafton Street / Francis Street / Lighthouse Cinema’s cheerful seats
When hair and doors match / More Dublin’s Botanic Gardens / #thedoorsofdublin

Tell me about your month of May! Are you ready for Summer? Do you have epic travel plans in store?

Follow me on Instagram.