Instagram: April 2015

How was April for you? Summer came early in Dublin this month, with two beautiful weeks of unadulterated sunshine. If you’ve ever lived in Ireland, you know that this is something so rare and precious that being inside is accompanied by the most crippling FOMO. So I tried to make the most of it, I’m actually surprised there’s not more cherry blossoms in my feed, I must have snapped every single pink tree in the capital.
I visited three new-to-me awesome places this month. First, the shop Dust where I got a copper tape and now literally want to tape everything. But I managed to restrict myself to my desk area where it’s safe to say copper has well and truly taken over (I will talk to you about Dust tomorrow and other great interior design shops in Dublin so make sure you come back if you’re into your home decor).
Secondly, I finally managed to eat at the most instagrammable café in Dublin: The Fumbally. I don’t know why it has taken me so long but I’m happy to report it’s as delicious as it is visually pleasing!

Instagram April 2015
Magnolia tree / Easter treat / Sunset on the Poolbeg Chimneys
Purple blooms in Airfield Farm / Succulents in Dust / All the copper things
Solo Parking #1 / Dublin’s Botanic Gardens / The Fumbally

Lastly, I climbed up Killiney Hill for the first time and, oh my God! There was so much beauty to take in, between the yellow clouds of gorse and the panoramic views of Dublin. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better activity on a sunny day.
Also, a huge thank you to Emily from From China Village for featuring me in her list of Irish Instagram accounts to follow. I’m beyond honoured and I’m digging her Insta-wander series. Do check out her blog for some of the best Dublin tips you’ll find on the interweb!

Instagram April 2015
Killiney Hill / Solo Parking #2 / Knock knock
Spare your postman’s eyes / Strand Hotel in Bray / Ice-cream parlour in Bray
Christchurch Cathedral / Pastel Bray / Dublin’s Botanic Gardens

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Instagram: March 2015

Spring in Dublin (instagram)

And here’s another month through my phone! March is generally a month where I get itchy feet to go and explore Dublin.
Irish winters are not the harshest in terms of temperature but they’re gloomy, windy and wet. Not a great combination, I’m sure you’ll agree, for a wander. So after all these months being cooped up inside, I get the urge to reconnect with my surroundings as soon as Spring shows its first signs.
This month definitely didn’t break the rule. I didn’t look for many new places but rather revisited old favourites (the neighbourhood of Ranelagh is one).
I seemed to have had yellow first then pink on the brain and I thought I was getting the hang of the whole ‘Instagram theme’ thing but it didn’t last long. Does anyone of you stick to a palette? Do you have any tips?
I also snapped a lot of murals as I was taking part in the instagram challenge #PPArtAroundYou organised by Passion Passport (I got an honorable mention, yay!) and I got really enthusiastic about the Irish street art scene (I linked a couple of artists below if you’re interested).

Instagram March 2015
Pink princess mansion / Doran’s, one of the oldest barber’s in Dublin / Cute flower shop display
vintage cars FTW / Spring-y Georgian doors / my favourite #Dublinghostsigns
January+February Favourites / Ranelagh <3 / more vintage cars
Instagram March 2015
Spring has sprung! / A pink georgian door / I found a dragonfruit (!) + my current read
‘Home Villas street’ / An art deco building / ‘Only the rivers run free’ by ADW
The Bernard Shaw pub / ‘Don’t be afraid’ by Maser / Little Ass Burrito bar

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January + February Travel Favourites & more | VIDEO

January + February 2015 Favourites

Finally, a new video on the blog! Hopefully, the first of many this year. I decided to start a new series where I talk about my travel favourites as well as some other random bits I enjoyed every month. This time, I grouped the months of January and February together but it will be doing monthly instalments from the next video onwards.
I’m not going to lie I’m feeling quite nervous putting it out there in the scary world wide web as it is the first time I filmed a whole video facing the camera. One can only hope, that confidence and diction will get better with time and practice!

January and February were really good months when it comes to travel so it’s without surprise that Venice reigns supremes among this selection of favourites. I also fell in love with a podcast, a lipstick and a tea, among other things. Click play to find out more!

I hope you enjoyed it! What about you? What have you been enjoying recently? Do you have any podcast recommendations?

Instagram: February 2015

February was marked with a spur-of-the-moment trip to the South of Spain where friends of mine now live. For the past 2 years, ever since they left Dublin, I had been promising I would come and visit. The stars finally aligned and I got to see their ‘new’ surroundings and their adorable French bulldogs, Luffy and Nami (they have an Instagram account, go follow them for daily cuteness!).
They live next to the border of Gibraltar, on the Spanish side. The weather was a bit miserable which was a-ok with me as it was still miles better than icy Dublin and I got to spend lots of time with the puppies. My friend Linda generously took a day off work to show me around. We went to Bolonia, a beautiful white-sanded beach, but we had to make a fast retreat as the winds were too strong. We chose to go to the nearby town of Tarifa, primarily famous among the kite-surfing community but the old town charmed us with its white and yellow Andalusian architecture and its cobbled streets.
I also went to Gibraltar during a hot sunny day. Unfortunately, that week, the cable cars leading to the Rock were under maintenance so I didn’t get to see the infamous monkeys running wild. So instead, I decided to go for the local Botanic Gardens. It took about 15 minutes to walk to the end of the main artery of the peninsula, a pedestrian shopping street, to get to my destination. Gibraltar is really that small. The gardens were so peaceful, full of cacti and I did get to see some monkeys! But they were in an animal shelter in the park’s corner, along with some hyper bats and chatty otters.
It’s with a refreshed mind that I came back to Dublin, relieved to have missed the tail of Winter and that Spring is now showing signs of its imminent arrival. In honor of the change of the season, I did a little spring clean of my desk area and added some new bits from Tiger to freshen up the place.
Add to the mix some ‘Throwback Thursdays’ featuring photos of my trip in Venice and you have February 2015 as it appears on my Instagram feed!

Instagram February 2015
Mirror selfie in Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice / Oh Venice, how I miss you / Bedroom view, Gibraltar
Road tripping in Tarifa / Luffy & Nami / I got Luisa Casati’s biography after seeing the exhibition
Wandering in Gibraltar’s Botanic Gardens / The exhibition ‘La Divina Marchesa‘ / Namiiiii <3

Instagram February 2015
Some bits & bobs bought in Tiger / My desk area all tidied up / Big blue sky in Dublin
The colourful houses on Burano Island, Venice / Swans sunbathing in the Grand Canal

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Instagram: January 2015

I thought I would start doing monthly Instagram round-ups now that I’m slightly more at ease with the social media. I still haven’t found my ‘cruising speed’ when it comes to how often I post and looking back on January, I wish I had made it look more like my actual month happened. Hopefully, my feed will sync with my reality during the month of February (not doing great right now as there’s still a bit of a spillover from Venice). As I went to Venice at the beginning of the month, January was almost excusively Venice-centric on Instagram for me. I had planned to post two or three images a day while I was there but my heart wasn’t in it (I arrived in Venice the day the horrendous attack happened in Paris). I then played catch-up the rest of the month of January. I think I’m nearly done now bar pictures I reserve for when related posts go up on the blog.

instagram january 2015
Dennis Severs House, London / Arriving in Venice / Murano Island
“Je Suis Charlie” on Rialto Bridge / View from the belltower / Artichokes in Rialto Market
Dorsoduro bank at dusk / Gondolas & San Giorgio Maggiore / Leaving Venice

instagram january 15
The tiles in San Giorgio Maggiore church / Piazza San Marco / Lost in Venice
Murano Island / Sestiere Castello / Arsenale

The Art of Exploring nominated for best travel blog

 photo New_BLOG_AWARDS_Logo_zpsd61b1bd5.jpg

So if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might have already read the news. IMAGE magazine has shortlisted my little blog for their first blog awards in the travel category. I’ve been feeling completely shocked and ecstatic all week-end. I don’t think I’ve felt like pumping fists in the air this much since I was 10 and got a silver medal in a race… Hard to imagine when today I nearly spit out a lung every time I run for the 83. Hopefully, my blog won’t have the same fate as my physical condition and go downhill from here. This actually pushes me to bring better and more regular content here.
Ha, it sounds like I’m doing a victory speech  but to be honest, and I’m aware this sounds disgustingly cliché, I feel like I won already, the nomination means a tremendous amount, it gives me so much motivation and a bit of the confidence I’m often lacking.

I’m facing so much talent and I encourage you to check out all the other Irish blogs, and especially the ones in the travel category: Pablo Funny, Canal Cook, The Traveloguer, Pól Ó Conghaile & Travel Pennies. Chances are you’re going to love them, if you landed on this space.

If you’d like to support my blog, you can vote for theartofexploring.com, under the travel category (you don’t need to vote for each category if you don’t want to). I’d be ever so grateful for your generosity. Funnily enough, the votes will be closed on my birthday *nudge nudge wink wink*

>>> VOTE FOR ME HERE <<<

Wiltshire Wishlist | UK

Walking through the villageCranborne ChaseUntitled
pictures: Suzie Smith / Tom Spearing / Alex Hornsby

As you read this, if everything goes to plan (that is if I don’t oversleep and miss the ferry), I’ll be on my way to the UK. I’m so incredibly excited, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve set foot on British soil, I get butterflies every time. And this time I’m visiting a county totally new to me: Wiltshire! I literally know nothing about it apart that I’ve heard that’s where celebs like to hide in the countryside when the London life has just been too much.

I know so little about it that I hadn’t realised that Wiltshire was  where Stonehenge stands. There was a time when the idea of visiting the mythical stones would have had literally me jumping in the air, today not as much but while doing my research I realised that Wiltshire was full to the brim with stately homes and that’s the kind of things nowadays that wet my whistle. Yep, definitely growing old around here…

I’d be especially interested to see Ashcombe House as royal photographer Cecil Beaton rented it for a while. Ever since I read his memoirs, I’ve been under his witty spell and anything Beaton related has my complete and devoted attention. Apart from stately homes, Wiltshire is also famous for ‘chocolate-box villages’ like Castle Combe which already tickles my lense in anticipation.

Although to be honest, I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to explore as I’m visiting friends who live in a tiny village and as I can’t drive, it looks like I’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere. Which sounds amazing to me, I look forward, if weather allows, to lots of country side walks, chewing on wheat and napping under trees. Cheers to living the simple (offline) life!

Have you ever been to Wiltshire? What do I need to see? I would love to hear your recommendations!

My Top 10 Travel Bucketlist

Bit of a rite of passage for a travel blogger, sharing your ultimate travel wishlist, right? Well, here is mine, the 10 (I may have slipped a few bonuses) destinations that are filling my wanderlust dreams.

Studio Ghibli Museum

1. Ghibli Museum (Tokyo, Japan)

Ever since I first saw Spirited Away some 6 years ago, my obsession for Ghibli has been growing stronger and stronger. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every single Anime feature released by the Ghibli studio. Last week, I was so ecstatic after seeing The Wind Rises in the cinema (such a treat to see Miyazaki’s work on big screens). I can’t even imagine what state of bliss I’ll reach the day I get to visit the museum dedicated to my favourite studio. /Picture source: Brian Lopiccolo’s Flickr

Frida Kahlo { Serie }

2. La Casa Azul (Mexico City, Mexico)

I can’t really pinpoint the first time I encountered Frida Kahlo’s work, I think she’s one of those artists that has seeped into the universal’s unconscious like Andy Warhol or Van Gogh. But I do remember seeing the biopic Frida, starring Salma Hayek, and I was just floored to see how much this giant of a woman had been through. I would love to see the place she called home, if only walls could talk… /Picture source: Angie Ravelo’s Flickr

Positano

3. The Amalfi Coast (Salerno, Italy)

I often look at pictures of the Amalfi Coast (or Cinque Terre, I could have swapped one for the other really) and think quietly to myself: IS THIS EVEN REAL LIFE?!
It’s one of those instances that I deeply regret not to have bothered learning how to drive as I can imagine that the only way to properly enjoy these coasts is in a convertible, wearing a fashionable headscarf . Cliché, much? /Picture source: André Russcher’s Flickr

California Honeymoon

4. Hearst Castle (California, US)

Hearst Castle is the product of Randolph Hearst’s megalomaniac mind. He was a press magnate at the turn of the 20th century and his life inspired the film Citizen Kane. The estate looks so grandiose with its numerous swimming pools, pieces of art crammed everywhere and lavish reception rooms that held many parties with the Old Hollywood set. I can just imagine them looking like the Great Gatsby’s on steroids. /Picture source: synthsis’ Flickr

Twin Peaks - Double R Diner

5. Twede’s Café (Washington, US)

Needless to say, coffee and cherry pie(s) will be duly ordered. (ps: If you can’t recognise this café, who are you?/Picture source: Antonio Borba’s Flickr

Deyrolle

6. Deyrolle (Paris, France)

I first heard of this taxidermist/cabinet of curiosities when the fashion label Opening Ceremony used it as a backdrop for one of their collection. I was instantly smitten, I love the idea that there’s a veritable Noah’s Ark hanging out in a chic Parisian flat. /Picture source: Olivia’s Flickr

Moominworld - vintola photography

7. Moomin World (Naantali, Finland)

I nearly crossed that one out of my list when I went to Finland 6 years ago. I went to Naantali, reached the pontoon where the boat leaves for Moomin Island, only to realise that the theme park was closed for the winter season. It hurt. Still does.  /Picture source: Tauno Vintola’s Flickr

paris, day three.

 8. Versailles (Paris, France)

Versailles and the rococo style have been on my mind ever since I watched Sofia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette. I visited Queluz Palace earlier this year, which is said to be the Portuguese Versailles and I now wonder how they compare. Queluz was so magical, hands down one of my favourite places I ever visited (post to come soon, keep your eyes peeled for that one!) /Picture source: Mariell Øyre’s Flickr

Castle Howard @ Sunset, Winter

 9. Castle Howard (North Yorkshire, UK)

This huge stately home is the setting of one of my favourite series ever, Brideshead Revisited and also don’t it just look spectacular? Love me some stately home! Actually, it was close between this or Highclere Castle (aka, Downton Abbey) ( /Picture source: Rick Harrison’s Flickr

Coober Pedy.

10. Coober Pedy (Southern Australia, Australia)

When I was a teen, I saw this documentary on the people of Coober Pedy. This town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, stands on an opal deposit. Or rather is in an opal deposit as the dwellings are dug underground, killing two birds with one stone (no pun intended…..maybe), more digging means more opals. I remember wondering if Coober Pedians were digging extra closet space every time they were short on cash. Fifteen-year-old unanswered question, that one. /Picture source: ttwf’s Flick

Well that list has totally busted me out as the textbook armchair explorer. So many of these destinations are inspired by TV or cinema, oops! It was hard to cut it down to 10 to be honest but if you’re interest to know what other destinations are on my radar, you can follow my inspiration boards on Pinterest.

What about you, what destinations are on your list?