better late than never!
here’s a photo-heavy recap of our trip to Ireland and London last October…
(yes, almost 7 months ago… I’ve been bad about posting)
my aunt & uncle were amazing – they drove us everywhere and were the ultimate tour guides!
(that’s Ballywalter above)
coming in to Portaferry, a small fishing town in Northern Ireland
we then took the ferry over to Strangford, and then headed to Killyleagh
the castle there is the oldest inhabited castle in the country
we stopped in for a quick coffee at Picnic, my uncle’s favorite coffeeshop
and then headed home as we had dinner plans with the whole fam!
Nana and I
getting to hold baby Oscar for the first time!
the next day we headed off to Donegal
where my uncle and aunt took us on an amazing drving tour of the northwest coast.
this is the beach at Rosebeg – so gorgeous
we stopped in Dunfanaghy for lunch
past Doe Castle, one of my favorite castles growing up
a river my dad used to fly fish on
our old house in Donegal
the horseshoe above the door is still there, as well as the roses growing around it!
the Atlantic Drive
the (blurry) view from Castle Murray, one of our best meals!
down to the beach in Killybegs with my cousin Nicholas
On our way back to Belfast we stopped at Donegal Castle
D and my uncle
in the fireplace, why not?
we also stopped by Enniskillen Castle
you have to see as many castles as possible when in Ireland – they’re amazing!
on our final day in Belfast we decided to do a historical walking tour
this mural was in a small hidden parking lot
lots of Belfast history depicted if you look closely
this was some King’s chair (typical, I forget who)
he must have been tiny – it was a pretty small chair!
they installed the spire at St. Anne’s Cathedral in 2007… the Spire of Hope
after working up an appetite on our walk
we headed to the Bar + Grill at James Street South for lunch
I had been years ago to their sister restaurant
and the bar & grill came highly recommended by my cousin, Anna
I wasn’t the only Belfast blonde at the table, hardy har har
a delicious parsnip soup, with a proper soup spoon
(why are these so hard to find in the US!?)
then off to City Hall for another tour
my dad used to work right here on the square
loved the stairs inside
we went into the Belfast City Council chambers
and then we stopped in at an old family friend’s jewelry store to say hi!
that night we headed over to Majella & Keith’s for an amazing dinner
so fun catching up with everyone!
the next day we were off to Daryl & Anna’s for a couple of days
stopping first at the “Fort” of Moira
Anna welcomed us with bubbly & a homemade Guinness cake that was to.die.for
and to think, she made this from scratch while carrying around a newborn!
we headed off to McCartney’s for a late lunch
best wifi password ever!
and then did a mini pub crawl so the boys could watch the football game
isn’t Oscar the cutest!?
thankfully they won!
so great to catch up with Anna, wish we lived closer
later that night we headed over to Pretty Mary’s for the trivia night
forget about the triva, it was Oscar who stole the show!
he loved staying up to the wee hours partying with the locals
the next day we headed to Hillsborough for lunch and a walk to the castle
still one of my favorite places – we spent so much time here as kids
thankfully we saved some bread from lunch
these guys were hungry!
then off to Marks & Spencers for some yummies for dinner
and the world’s fullest glasses of bubbly at their wine bar!
miss you petal!
one last Oscar snuggle before heading down to Dublin
and lots of Tayto crisps to bring home to MJ from the train station
I thought you couldn’t find them in Southern Ireland,
but then of course they had gazillions at the airport – typical!
I really love traveling by train, it’s so fun
especially when you can order tea and toast
we grabbed lunch at Clarendon, one of my old favs
it was okay, not as good as I remembered
followed by a walk through Trinity to go see the Book of Kells
the Book of Kells was great to see,
but I much prefered the Long Hall that you walk through after
so old! so many books!
we loved, loved, loved staying at The Merrion!
such attention was made to all the small details – we felt like we were staying in someone’s home
well, a fancy home where they serve nibbles in solid silver serving trays
we headed to The Winding Stair for dinner that night
definitely one of our favorite meals in Ireland
a great find by my mum – it’s a small restaurant nestled above a bookstore, just along the river
all locally sourced, Irish ingredients – simply amazing!
the one big touristy thing we did in Dublin was the Guinness Factory
what was less touristy was the Connoisseur Experience
you get taken into a private bar and they go through a bunch of different variatals of Guinness
plus, they teach you how to properly pour the “black stuff” – that’s mine above!
after getting caught in a rain shower we dove for cover at Avoca Cafe
if you’re in Dublin you simply must go here
later that night we headed to an old favorite haunt that my cousin introduced me to
Dunne & Crescenzi, a little Italian joint
I know, it sounds strange to go to Italian in Ireland, but it’s seriously good
the bruschetta is a must order, it’s out of this world yum
later that night we stopped by The Shelbourne
it’s a bit sad bc it’s owned by the Marriott now,
but there’s a little room off the main lobby
where they have all these letters from guests from long ago
the next morning we headed off to London
but first, a spot of tea!
we stayed at Duke’s Hotel in Mayfair, London
nestled down a little alleyway
their bar is quite famous
frequented by James Bond author Ian Fleming,
it is said to be the inspiration for the classic line, ‘shaken, not stirred’
that night we headed to The Admiral Codrington for dinner
I had heard they had a delicious burger, and it did not disappoint
nothing on their menu did actually!
the macaroni and cheese was incredible
and the bangers and mash were out of this world
if you want a pub-y type spot with a good atmosphere, The Cod is your spot
the next day we did a little exploring
I loved the location of our hotel
right by all these incredible stores like Liberty
the entire top floor was dedicated to Christmas!
London does department stores sooo much better than the US
Fortnum & Mason was also just around the corner
at the top of every hour the clock started chiming and two little men appeared!
According to their website: “1964 saw a new landmark added to the front of the store – the famous Fortnum’s clock, with bells from the same foundry as Big Ben. Every fifteen minutes a selection of airs is played on eighteen bells, and once an hour Messrs F&M themselves appear to check that standards are being upkept.”
so, it just so happened that while we were there the 49ers were playing at Wembley Stadium
of course we had to buy tickets so we could go check it out – pretty awesome!
especially when the guy sitting behind us explained how big of an honor it is to play there
we attempted to go to The Punch Bowl that night for dinner,
but everything closes early on Sunday
so after walking around for over an hour in the pouring rain,
we settled on to-go sandwiches and crisps in our hotel room
very glam, I know, but it was still fun!
thank god for these signs – we probably would have been run over otherwise!
we also liked how their green men looked quite sprightly!
Green Park, just across the way from Buckingham Palace
and only a hop, skip and a jump away from our hotel!
sadly no Prince George sightings though
loved all the Christmas excitement that was brewing
in October, nonetheless
I guess this is what happens when you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving
we didn’t go in as it was packed to the brim with kiddos,
but I was quite nostalgic walking by Hamleys
my dad used to pick me up a stuffed toy here every time he’d go on a business trip in London
there were all these weather reports about rain and tornados and other crazy weather
but we woke up to blue skies and puffy clouds
so we decided to do the toursity thing
and hopped on one of those big red buses to toot around town
our first guide was brilliant
“I only speak two languages, English and rubbish.
Today I’m speaking my second language.”
on one of our stops we noticed a Byron Burger which I read about on The Londoner
a perfect spot to pop into if you’re craving a burger and don’t want anywhere too fancy
(btw, I essentially used her blog as my travel guide for all things culinary -
if you’re going to London, it’s definitely worth a read)
sight seeing is exahausting though,
so we popped into the Fifth Floor Bar at Harvey Nichols for a little pick me up
and then wandered around Harrods a bit
sadly I did not leave with a Steiff bear, though I was particularly attached to this one
they were in the process of getting all decked out for Christmas!
that night we made it back to The Punch Bowl
it dates back to 1750, and is the 2nd oldest public house in Mayfair
loved the space!
on our final day we decided to skip the bus and walk around a bit more
through Green Park again
and over to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace
does anyone else think about the ending of The BFG when looking at Buckingham?
of course we had to do a little bit of shopping as well
so we headed to Marks & Spencers for a few odds and ends
and look at the cool cab that drove us back!
and then a wee bit more at Sainsburys
after our shopping excursion we popped into one of the Marks & Spencers to-go spots,
picked up a couple sandwiches and headed to Green Park for an impromptu picnic
I had to grab a fondant fancy for dessert, it was another childhood favorite!
later that night we met up with my two cousins at The Grazing Goat
love the name!
so wonderful seeing you guys – it had been ages!
and then for our final dinner we headed to Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea
I think this was my favorite meal in London
their white onion soup with gruyere crostini was insane
we upgraded ourselves to Virgin America Upper Class on the way back, and it was SO worth it
they send a driver to pick you up at your hotel
and then whisk you through security so you’re in the lounge in less than 10 minutes
and they have a lovely breakfast menu (with bacon and sausage butties!)
not to mention the hair salon, and all sorts of other fun things
well cheers! it was a fantastic trip
thanks for hanging in till the end, I know this was a loooong post! :)