August 2017
  • Day8

    Short and sweet

    August 16, 2017 in Czech Republic ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Our final full day in Prague was uneventful in a good way. It has been forecasted as the hotest day while we were here so we decided to spend the day wandering through the shops.

    It was nice to duck in and out of the air conditioned shops and investigate shops we don't have at home. I picked up a couple of bits. I am particularly happy with my bargin Tommy Hilfiger flip flops!!

    It was a very relaxed and chilled day. We escaped from the key part of the heat back at the hotel before heading back into the city centre for a final wander down to Charles Bridge to see It all lit up.

    A calm end to a very eventful week of travelling!!
    Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day6

    Castle life once again

    August 14, 2017 in Czech Republic ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    After a rejuvinating sleep we were ready for action today. It was off on the tram once again as we heading up to Prague castle and St Vitus Cathedral. I have a vague recollection of being up in this area on my last trip but my key memory is the callipo ice cream I got on the walk back down so I was excited to go up and see the area properly.

    We got an all inclusive ticket that had access to seven of the main attractions in the area and by god if it killed us we were getting to all seven. It took us five hours but we managed it. We were glad to have in Vienna first as a lot of the history overlaps. This area was once known as Bohemia and was part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. Of all the attractions we went to the Cathedral and the Story of Prague was the most interesting. The other parts of the castle and bascilica were medieval in nature and similar to what we have at home. At one point in our last attraction we were contemplating if we would climb our hundred set of stairs for the day or skip that part of the castle when two American tourists heard us and said it was worth going upstairs. For us it wasn't! Americans wouldn't never have seen anything like it but for us it was basically like visiting Bunratty.

    The Cathedral itself is a very imposing figure on the Prague landscape and is worth a visit. When we first arrived there the queue was insane. It looked nearly the entire way around the outside of the cathedral and this is no small cathedral!! I wonder sometimes why people bother waiting in the rosting hot sun in that long a queue. We headed off to do other activities and then returned when it is much shorter.

    Inside the cathedral itself the stain glass windows are striking. The colours and images depicted within them are breathtaking. It was rather dark inside though. Again the medieval nature is obvious straight away.

    After our five hours of wandering we decided to make our way back to the hotel for a rest. This in itself took a couple of hours cause we are very easily distracted. A pit stop in Starbucks for some rejuvenation led to being consumed by the free WiFi. The heat was starting to build now so we were glad to heading back.

    Later that night we returned into the city to an Italian resturant we had seen the evening previously. It was completely gluten free so all three of us could enjoy the pasta without any repercussions. It was delicious. We got an amazing dessert that consisted of homemade ice cream and melted chocolate....the ultimate dream!!

    We continued our wanderings back to the Old Town square and marvelled at the city light up at night. It really is a spectacle. There definitely weren't any Monday blues as we sat al fresco sipping cocktails. You gotta love summer holidays!!
    Read more

  • Day5

    Prague we have arrived

    August 13, 2017 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    The struggle was real getting up this morning after our late night farewell to Vienna. We were all allergic to hearing the alarm go off at half6 but it had to be done because we had a 4hr train to Prague and wanted to make the most of the day.

    In Vienna we had been staying in an apartment which was great. We had loads of space, our own freedom to do what we want and eat when we want. The only downside was that we had to return the key back to the hotel associated with the apartment which was a 15min tram journey. Normally this wouldn't be an issue but on a Sunday trams are on a different schedule and run very intermittently. We allowed time for this but 30mins later still no tram. It was time for plan b, ring a taxi! There was no joy there either as the company wouldn't come out as far as we were. Very strange happenings with taxis in Vienna. Eventually we managed to flag one down. He thought we were mad to get a taxi to the hotel as it was in walking distance but once we explained the luggage and that we then needed to.go to the train station he was more understanding. We got there eventually and got our train without any hassle thankfully.

    Four hours of snoozing abd relaxing later we arrived in Prague. Then more hassle with taxis began. The minimum journey for a taxi is 15mins and our hotel was only 7mins away so joy for us there. Back into the station we went to sort out tram/metro tickets. We managed to get a three day pass for about €14, unbelievable value. Of course we took the long route to the hotel as we walked the opposite way to what Google maps told us to, but what's new there. We really need to invest in a compass.

    At the hotel we had some downtime before heading out to explore Prague. The hotel is basic but clean. We feel a little confined after all our space in Vienna but what do we expect when we are only paying €100 each in total for three nights in the city.

    We are right on the tram line so access to the town centre is very easy. We strolled through Wencless square for food and spent a couple of hours there eating and soaking up our surroundings.

    We ended up walking all the way to the Old town square with the astrological clock and around the meandering streets to St Charles Bridge. It was a wonderful time to be there looking out over the river. The late evening sun provided us with alternating shadows and raidiating light which means we capture amazing photos. I have a couple of my good camera that I am quite proud of. I can't wait to upload them on the laptop, hopefully they will still look as good!ha

    We got an amazing Prague dessert that was called Trdelink or a chimney. It is a twisted sweet pastry that is cooked over coals and then filled with a variety of fillings. Ais and myself both got homemade ice cream in ours. It was delicious!!

    15,000 steps later we decided that it was time to head towards the hotel. But of course we took the long rambling route home because we couldn't find a tram stop. It is good for our health I suppose!haha

    Our first night in Prague was not a wild one as none of us couldnt contribute any more to the day. I, in typical fashion, fell asleep as the girls were pottering around the room. Nothing was going to disturb me from my sleep !!

    One key thing from the day was that nothing around Prague looked familiar to me from my last visit. That heat stroke really hit me hard! I may as well have never been here!!
    Read more

  • Day5

    All those who wander are not lost....w

    August 13, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today was a day of wandering! After a chilled morning Eimear and myself headed off around to explore the city and do some shopping. We started in the same direction that we usually took to the centre and then started to head off in different directions. We were like magpies...every time something caught our eye we walked towards it. This resulted in us discovering how accessible everything was to our accommodation.

    In all honesty there is no need to take a bus tour around Vienna. The one we did was unimpressive and bottom of the list in regards all the tours I have done. That includes being lower that Barcelona where I fell asleep for an hour of it. All of the main sights are in close proximity to one another so there is no need for the bus as there wasn't much information included from the recorded tour guide. We went from Graben square, to the university to the city hall to the Parliament building to the Holfburg palace and back towards Graben square again all within a couple of hours. That included strolling, taking plenty of shameless selfies and most importantly snack time!! We racked up about 8,000 steps in our stroll around central Vienna.

    Following a rondezvous with Ais we hit the shops and continued with our strolling around. The magnets needed to be purchased and the famous Austrian Mozart chocolate located. We stumbled across a huge department store called Steffl. It reminded me of Brown Thomas and Maceys. Loads of floors with designer gear whereby the ground floor cosmetics are the only thing we could afford to purchase. To our delight it had a sky restaurant on the top floor so we could have our dinner with an idylic view of the Dom and the the cityscape.

    Here I finally I got my hands on vegetables. This has become my ultimate battle every time I am away. Anyone who knows me can attest that I am not the most prevelant vegetable eater but I do eat veggies every day. Austrians love their meat and it is the focal point of every dish. Then you will get rice, potatoes or chips with it. The end!! No veg or if you do it is a small selection of raw red onion with ribs, as was my experience during the week. Madness!! Thankfully in this restaurant there was an Asian option on the menu so I was able to get a vegetable stir fry with meet. Veggie heaven! Despite the random vegetable we couldn't identify.

    For our final night in Vienna we headed to the banks of the Danube. We had initially planned to go the bars by the riverside on Thursday but the thunder and lightening put a stop to that. All along the river they have bars set up with sand to give the impression of a beach. As a landlocked country I suppose you have to go to extreme measures in some cases. We had great fun down there drinking our new favourite drinks, the Hugo. This is a combination of prosecco, mint, lime and elderflower! Delicious!! We will miss them when we leave Austria. We kept forgetting that all the Austrians have excellent English so who knows what they made of our random conversations!!ha I was probably safe though because I was told once again on this trip that I talk very fast!! It had its perks sometimes.

    A quick pitstop in a photobooth finished off our night in a fit of laughter. We were howling trying to all fit into the booth and the picture phrame. We managed it and the result is very entertaining. A perfect evening to finish off a great few days in Vienna!!
    Read more

  • Day3

    All things Austrian

    August 11, 2017 in Austria ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    Today was our very own trip through Austrian history. We headed off to the summer palace bright and early. The one we visited yesterday was the winter one and the originally the Summer palace was located outside the city. Now, however, due to the city expansion it has been encompassed. Thankfully though they have preserved all the wonderful grounds surrounding it as well as the palace building itself.

    Schonbrunn palace is a sight to behold from the moment you lay eyes on it. A wonderful throwback to the Europe empires of old. It is so easy to imagine the lords and ladies arriving in a carriage for a magnificent ball or event being held in the palace. We had a couple of hours to pass before our 3pm guided tour so after the most expensive (and disgusting) cup of tea ever we headed off to explore the gardens. Wow is the only the only word to describe them. They were spectacular. The colour and vibrancy of the flowers and their designs were breathtaking. The expanse of the gardens was phenomenal. This was not your sterotypical back garden. They are 186ha in size and contain a zoo, a riding school, a maze and other wall gardens of different varieties. It is very easy to spend the day wandering around the various aspects. At the rear of the estate we were able to climb a hill with an imposing monument and got a breathtaking view of not only the palace but of the city itself. The photos don't do it justice, it needs to be seen in person!!

    After the gardens it was in for the guided tour. We had a fantastic tourguide, witty, informative and very engaging. We learned all about the Hapsburg family who ruled the Austrian-Hungarian empire and the badass Empress Marie Therese who was so far ahead of her time and lead the empire for forty years during a period where men ruled all. She was some lady. One of the key things she brought to Austria was compulsory education for all!! She had sixteen children and was pregnant twenty one times in her lifetime!! As she was pregnant for so much of her life she couldnt go on trecherous journeys to visit foreign rulers so she made them come to her! The quote of the day comes from the tourguide who refered to her as being 'highly pregnant' on a number of occasions. The glory and opulance within the palace was unrivaled. We werent allowed take any photos in order to protect the surroundings but it is worth visiting the inside of the palace for sure!

    Tonight then was our very first trip to the orchestra. You can't come to Vienna without experiencing an opera or classical music seeing it is the city of Mozart and Beethovan. We went to see the Mozart Orchestra in the Golden Hall. The hall itself was mesmerizing. The ornate decoration was another throwback to another time....they just don't build them like that anymore! The audience was 90% Asian so we felt a little out of place at times! The performance itself was amazing. I had never experienced any form of live classical music before, but I definitely will be again.

    As we were on a high from the performance we decided to get a drink afterwards and stumbled on the Imperial Hotel which was located across from the venue. It was clearly out of our pricerange in terms of accommodation but who doesn't like a bit of luxury now and again. Of course we blended in perfectly with the other patrons as we ordered our cocktails and took a few sneaky snaps of the decor. It was peaceful and luxurious and when we win the euromillions or marry a millionaire we will stay there next time!!haha The perfect end to the day!
    Read more

  • Day2

    Dom vs Duomo

    August 10, 2017 in Austria ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    Our first proper day in Vienna and what is the first main tourist site we go to only St Stephan's Cathedral. We picked up exactly where we left off in Italy by visiting churches. While it wasn't as asthetically pleasing as the Milan Duomo due to the construction work taking place outside it was still very impressive. The Dom (that's cathedral in German) was free to enter and quite impressive. Again due to construction our movement within the church was hindered. It was surprisingly dark within. This is unlike the other impressive cathedrals I have been in previously. It was a relief to exit as it was hotter inside than out.

    Our next stop was the hop on hop off bus, the best way to see any city. We choose the red line as it had the most central route to start us off. The heat increased exponentionally while we were on the bus. The top cover on the bus did not help matters in any way. The limited air in the open window did little to cool us. Sweat patches galore but thankfully not visible to the naked eye. It brought me right back to last year to a similar tour bus in Toronto and an orange skirt!

    As we finished the red line tour and were admiring the museum quarter the skies open. It had been boiling for rain all day and we got it. It went from slightly overcast to hurricane style conditions in seconds. We dashed for cover and had to wait out the thunder and lightening for about 20mins. Not what we expected on our 'sunny' summer holiday.

    Once the storm passed the heat was gone. It was like being able to breathe fresh air again. Off we went to one of the main palaces in Vienna. The Hofburg palace is the largest one in the world with eighteen different wings....oh to be a princess!!

    The rest of the day was spent strolling around the city until we eventually made our way back to Graben Square. Here we had tea and soaked up the atmosphere in a street side cafe. I Also got my first taste of authentic apple struddle!! Yummy!! We also made a flying visit to Mozart's house which had just closed but we say the outside of it!

    We had great ideas of heading back to the apartment for some chilltime and a quick freshen up before going to the riverside for a nighttime drink with the locals. But that was not to be. The chill and freshen up occurred alright but as we were about to leave apartment we were nearly blinded by lightening. It and the thunder were back with a vengeance!! Like typical tourists we were glued to the windows watching in awe and fear at the sheet lightening illuminating the sky. This coupled with the downpour and accompanying thunder put a firm stop to our riverside drinks. We waited in hope for it to pass but to no avail. It was up to us to entertain ourselves for the night. Luckily after two years of living together we are pros at that at this point. A quick blast of 'all of our favourite things' from "The Sound of Music" kick started our randomness which included a game of 'Heads Up' and an investigation of our different horoscopes. Never a dull moment when we are together!haha
    Read more

  • Day1

    Planes, trains & automobiles

    August 9, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Car, plane, train, bus, a form of transport and we probably used it !! And that is even before you include the ol reliable feet into the equation. Usually day one of any trip is a travel day and by god did we have a travel day! It is only when we arrived at the apartment and thought about it did we realise just how much we had done. We all left home around the 6am mark and didn't reach our final destination until 6pm.

    A crash on the M7 put us under time pressure for the airport. It wasn't a blockbuster worthy dash across a packed airport terminal but it was a shorter timeframe than we felt comfortable with given all the dramatics on the news about delays in security. And dramatics it turned out to be as I have never had a smoother journey through security than today. In fact my passport wasn't even looked at until I arrived in Vienna. Gate number on hand we were on a frantic search for tea as there wasn't enough time for a snoop through duty free but tea was essential given our early rise. While the girls went off on a tea expedition I made a quick pitstop to buy an adaptor plug. When the cashier made a throwaway reference to the fact I was flying from T2 I thought he was joking for some reason and answered with a very drawn out 'yeah'. Then with a sudden realisation and a rapid increase in heartbeat I realised that we had somehow made our way to T1!! How was that even possible???? We had followed the signs!! Typical that the one day we had no leeway in regards time we make a mistake that we may not be able to rectify. After two frantic phonecalls to my tea obsessed travel companions who were too busy looking for lids to know that I was having a complete meltdown I managed to find a info screen. In typical Irish organisation we had T2 on our printed boarding passes but for some reason they had decided to fly us out of a gate in T1. Thanks for that stress Dublin airport! It certainly got my heardbeating as my fitbit can attest to. My oblivious companions returned in a tea induced sense of bliss to find me recovering from my ordeal! It was some start to the morning and one way to guarantee that I was awake!!ha

    An uneventful flight and extended sleep later we arrived in Vienna. It is one of the most modern airports I have even been in and visually very appealing. I am disappointed to have not taken any photos of it but with bag and baggage there just wasn't much time. Once we arrived in Vienna Ais took complete charge. As the German teacher in the group she is in her element here and we appreciate her language skills. She is adamant that she will teach me German on this trip, we will just have to wait and see!ha

    Off we went onto our third mode of transport of the day...the train. We ooohed and aaahed over the flashy trains coming and going on the platform until ours arrived. In typical fashion we got one straight out of the 60s with the only air con the open window. From train to bus we went (all on the same €4 ticket may I add).

    The bus left us off near the hotel when we were to collect our key for the apartment. It was suppose to be a 2min walk but with the aid of Google maps we managed to make it 20. We went on a full tour of the four road junction and then decided that we needed to go to the end of one particular street and of course 10mins later we realised we were wrong. Thankfully due to Aislinn's language skills and a good samaratian we realised it was the other end of the street where we should be. Off we went on our merry way and collected our key.

    The apartment was a short tram ride away but we decided to have a quick ice cream stop first to recover from all the walking and dragging of suitcases in 30degree heat! The apartment was just around the corner from the tram stop. We had finally reaches our destination!! The final hurdle we had to face was the climb up to the apartment. The claustropia inducing elevator was NOT an option so a million flights of steps it was!!

    After some chill time and recovery we headed off out to explore our neighbourhood. We are right on the Danuabe river and around the corner are many restaurants and cafes. A quick first night dinner/delayed celebration of Aislinn's birthday ensued before back home. 10,000 steps later, despite three hours stationary on a plane, means the rest was well deserved!!!
    Read more

  • Day1

    Up up and away!!

    August 9, 2017 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    A very short post to make sure the new blog is working! The last blog app I was using was closed so I had to relaunch. So if anyone who was following the previous antics wants to keep up with the next lot of travels feel free to follow!! I am bound to get myself into all sort of situations!