Dave and I were in Dingle in Kerry for a few days with friends last week and on our last night we went to the Blue Zone for dinner. It’s a jazz, wine bar that predominantly serves pizza. The first thing I’ll say is it really doesn’t look like much from the outside but when we googled places for pizza in Dingle, it was the first to pop up. The place itself had a nice relaxed vibe. There was some jazz music playing in the background. I’d love to know if they ever have live jazz playing. That would really add to the atmosphere. We got there around 9.30pm and ordered a drink and some food. The two negative things I have to say about the place were both about the drinks. The first was that the prosecco on sale was really not very nice. That’s not a complaint though, just a matter of taste. The second negative was that the bottle of red wine ordered cost €27 and we had bought it in another pub the day before for €15.

That being said, the pizza was one of the best I’ve ever had. I ordered the Hangover Cure pizza which was pretty much every type of meat imaginable – beef, chicken, pork, ham and Italian sausage. The base was thin but not too thin and it was lovely and crispy. It had a kind of yellow colour to it so they may use polenta to make it. Dave got the Oriental Mood pizza which had duck, lemongrass and red peppers. We also got a side of garlic potato wedges and they were delicious. Molly got the Spicy Chicken Salad and it was huge and the presentation was brilliant. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend this place for a relaxing night with some enjoyable food. 

Around this time last year, myself and my friend Emma were living it up in San Francisco. I had wanted to go and see San Fran and Alcatraz for years. We went for 5 nights and we packed a lot in. Unfortunately, my camera lens started to die while I was there so I took most of my photos on my iPhone. Then to top that off, during the night on the  second night, my phone had some sort of meltdown and I had to bring it to the Apple store the next day where they had no choice but to completely reset it, so I lost all of the photos from the first two days, including Alcatraz. Oh and did I mention that our suitcases never made the flight? Mine turned up within about 15 hours but Emma’s didn’t show for about 48 hours. Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it?!

To be honest, I forgot about all of those crappy things until I sat down to write this post. They are definitely not the take aways from the trip. The only downer about it is that I don’t have many photos of Alcatraz and I have absolutely none from the food trucks at Presidio Park. 

We fit in so much into such a short trip. We were up at about 6am every day and fell asleep about 10 or 11pm at the latest every night. The day we arrived we went to The Castro District. The Castro was one of the first gay neighbourhoods in the United States. Some of the pedestrian walkways are made up of the rainbow flag colours that represent the LGBT community. When we were in San Francisco, the Orlando nightclub shooting had only recently happened and there was a very touching tribute to the victims of the shooting at The Castro.

The Castro District

After visiting The Castro, we got a taxi up to the top of Twin Peaks. We took some pictures and got some great views of the city of San Francisco. By the time we finished there, we went back to the hotel (hoping our luggage had arrived – it hadn’t!) and then went for some food. 

Twin Peaks

We woke at about 5am and decided this was the best morning to head to the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge to watch the sun come up. This was by far the highlight of my trip. We got soooo lucky because it was a really great sunrise. We got pizza blankets (I know, amazing!!) and went back a few mornings later but the sunrise wasn’t nearly as nice. After watching the sun come up, we waked back across the bridge. It was a lovely walk. I’ve read and heard plenty of people saying that they wouldn’t suggest walking all the way across. I disagree completely. I loved the walk so much, we did it twice. 


Pizza blankets

After the walk back, we went to get some breakfast and then went to see Lombard Street which was really busy but the houses along the road are really nice with some gorgeous flowers too. 

How beautiful? (Emma may kill me because she’s in this photo!)

 After Lombard Street we went to Presidio Park. We went to see the Walt Disney museum, which really isn’t worth a trip in my opinion. Then we went out to the food trucks in the park, which was another highlight of my trip. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no pictures of it, but if you go to San Fran, I would definitely recommend it. We sat out in the sun, enjoying a cocktail and trying some delicious food. 

After Presidio Park, we went to Alcatraz. I was so excited for this and took a million photos and lost them all so I only have this one below that was saved to my Snapchat of me in one of the cells. The tour was brilliant and there’s something so creepy about the place. 

An Alcatraz cell

We were exhausted after it and went straight home to bed. Then my phone died so we spent a couple of hours the next morning in the Apple store before jumping on the hop on/hop off bus. This way we got to see a lot more without getting off the bus. 

We got off the bus at Pier 39. I was a bit disapointed because there wasn’t many sea lions out. The whole area had a real holiday vibe to it with restaurants and amusements and shops. Then we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf. Again, it reminded me of that Irish seaside town vibe, but a bit warmer and prettier. (Did I mention San Francisco had a heat wave while we were there and my scalp and shoulders burnt to a crisp?).


We got an In-N-Out Burger, which we had been looking forward to and it was so worth the wait. Delicious. I’ll never look at a Big Mac the same way again. Since we were so close, it would have been rude not to pop into Ghirardelli’s. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a chocolate company and it’s famous for it’s ice-cream sundaes. 

We paid for two days on the bus tour and we got to see China Town, The Oakland Bridge and Coit Tower. We also went to Haight & Ashbury which amazingly still felt like it had the hippie vibe that would have been there in the 1967 Summer of Love. We went from there to see the Painted Ladies which were absolutely beautiful. It was busy but not so busy that you couldn’t get a photo of them. I will say, as pretty as they are, I definitely saw some nicer houses scattered around San Francisco. We also went to see the Mrs Doubtfire house which was awesome, even if the taxi driver had never seen the movie and thought we were crazy.

Painted Ladies

We also managed plenty of shopping (hello Sephora!), lots of eating and a little drinking. We even fit in a visit to an Irish bar to watch Ireland beat Italy 1-0 in the 2016 Euros. So all in all, we had an amazing trip to San Francisco. It absolutely rivalled New York as my favourite place that I’ve been to in the United States. Now I have a favourite on each coast and I will definitely go back.

Is there anything I missed on my trip that you could recommend for next time?

Comme Chez Soi

We went to a restaurant called Comme Chez Soi on the last night in Budapest that really made our trip for us in terms of what we had experienced of the food service. Budapest is a beautiful city and I would recommend anyone go there but the one thing I would say is their service in restaurants could do with some work. It’s not that they aren’t polite or the food wasn’t good, it was. It’s how slow everything is. They come relatively fast to take your order but after that if you want something, you’re waiting a while and make sure you ask for your bill well in advance because that’s going to take a while.

Now when it comes to Comme Chez Soi, forget everything I’ve just said. Their service was absolutely impeccable. We arrived without a reservation and were very lucky to get a table. They accommodated us but told us that regretfully they would need the table in two hours for another reservation. We thought we’d be out in under an hour but we were there for the full two two hours. We saw 8 or 10 couples arrive after us to be told they had absolutely no tables left. So if you go here, I recommend you book in advance.

Caprese Appetiser

We ordered dinner, a glass of red wine and a glass of prosecco. We didn’t order a starter and I’m glad because soon after we ordered our meal a complimentary caprese appetizer arrived. Then when our drinks were almost gone, a complimentary glass of wine arrived for both us.

Comme Chez Soi

We both ordered a pasta dish with a cream sauce and mussels. It was delicious and there was plenty. If I had one tiny negative about the place, it would be that the mussels weren’t the best I’ve ever had but that being said, we’re kind of spoiled for sea food considering the country we live is is an island. We were pretty full so we ordered a chocolate orange mousse dessert to share but while we waited for it, they brought a complimentary dessert of sorbet and chocolates. They also brought us both a shot of limoncello. Then another two and another two! The waiter told us it was his mother’s homemade limoncello, which was a nice touch that added to the personal feel that Comme Chez Soi had.

Sorbet

All in all, the food was great, the service was excellent and I think we got more food for free than we paid for. If you are ever in Budapest, it is well worth a visit.

On a side note, the photos are so bad because I was enjoying myself so much, it wasn’t important enough to take good pics!!

So in my post back in April, I shared all of the things we did in Budapest. This post is going to talk all about the food. Let’s be real…that’s what people really want to hear about?! No? Just me then!

One of the first things we noticed was just how many Italian restaurants there are in Budapest. We’re both pizza fans so naturally the first meal we had was pizza for lunch (when in Rome…I mean Budapest!) we went to a place called Ez Az Bistro. It was one of the more expensive meals we had and by more expensive I mean not really expensive, at all. I had the Maialona and I think Dave had the Diavola. I didn’t take a picture of it, which is really annoying, but usually means I was either really hungry or really enjoyed it, or both! If you’re a pizza fan, I’d definitely try a pizza in Budapest. Check out their menu here.

If you’re looking for lunch, that won’t take too much time, or drunk food (confession: we had it twice & for both these reasons) then you must go to Hot Dog, Cold Beer. As far as I’m aware there’s two of them in Budapest but the one we went to was only a few minutes away from where we were staying. Ireland doesn’t leave much to the imagination when it comes to hot dogs but this one was delicious. There are lots of options but I got the New York both times & Dave got the German & the Mexican. It comes as a meal if you want & that includes crisps (or chips in America) on a stick called Tornado Fries as well as a beer or a soft drink. Definitely worth a visit. Check them out on Facebook 

Hot Dog, Cold Beer

We went to New York Cafe as one of the main sites to see in Budapest and unfortunately the day we went, there was filming going on so there was just a small section of the cafe sectioned off for passing trade. It’s known as ‘the most beautiful cafe in the world’. It is very grand and beautifully decorated with very professional staff. However that being said, I felt the atmosphere was a little uncomfortable. I had a hot chocolate, which was out of this world, but I was glad we only stopped long enough for this and didn’t stay for a meal. If you happen to pass by, it’s worth popping in for a coffee but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there. 

New York Cafe

There’s a place called Gozsdu Udvar, which is a kind of strip of restaurants, near where we were staying in the Jeweish District and we went to a place called Spíler Shanghai for lunch one of the days. We ordered two meals to share. We had a sweet & spicy pork belly burger and spicy prawn noodles. The noodles were lovely but the pork belly burger was unreal. Better than any pulled pork burger I’ve had. Check Spíler Shanghai out here.

Spíler Shanghai - Sweet & Spicy Pork Belly BurgerSpíler Shanghai - Spicy Prawn Noodles 

Another restaurant we visited in Gozsdu Udvar was RED. We went there for dinner one of the evenings and there wasn’t a lot jumping out off the menu for me. I decided to play it safe & went for a burger. It was huge & pretty tasty but the stand out thing in this meal was the slaw! Yum! I definitely wouldn’t rush to this place but it was decent. 

Red Bistro

We had read that there was a Jamie’s Italian in Budapest but completely forgot to go back & check out where it was. Luckily, we stumbled across it, which was a complete fluke, because it’s on the Buda side and up the street from Mathias Church. The only reason we even walked up that way was because we thought it was a bar & we were looking for somewhere to pass a half an hour while we waited for the sunset. Unlucky for us, we had had a pretty big lunch that day so weren’t hungry enough for dinner. We did however try this AMAZING garlic bread from the bar food menu, as well as a cocktail. The price was very very reasonable and I wish we had been hungry enough for dinner. Check it out here.

Jamie's Italian

The absolute best experience we had in a restaurant, in Budapest, was in a place called Comme Chez Soi. It was so great that it deserves a post of it’s own, so look out for that, as well as the places we went for drinks soon! 

Hello Hungary

In early March I went on a long weekend with my boyfriend to Budapest. We booked it in January and it came around fast. It was our first weekend away, outside of Ireland, together so I was pretty excited. The only Eastern European city I had been to before was Prague in Czech Republic so Budapest had a lot to live up to. I was surprised by how many people had been there when I mentioned it and plenty of people had said what a lovely city it was. This Hungarian metropolis is made up of 2 cities -Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube river. The two sides of the river are completely different. Buda has plenty of hills and beautiful buildings and is quite laid back and quiet, while Pest is flatter but booming with business and culture. Both sides are definitely worth a visit. We stayed on the Pest side, as I think most tourists do. We stayed in the Ambra Hotel which was probably about 15 minutes walk from the Danube, in the Jewish Quarter (District 7).

The hotel was relatively small but the room was spacious with a comfortable bed and large windows for natural life. There was no bar, which is very unusual coming from Ireland but the breakfast was very nice and included champagne so I indulged in a mimosa with my breakfast (I said Irish, didn’t I?!). I would definitely recommend the Ambra because it’s clean and in a good location.

The currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint (HUF) and the value for money is unbelievable. You can eat and drink for very little and we were not counting the pennies at all. We spent €530 between us over the 3 days and when I tell you, we were thinking of ways to spend it by the last day, I’m not lying. €11 cocktails that probably would have cost €20 easily, in Dublin. The only thing I would say was not good value for money was taxi fares. Other than the taxis to and from the airport, we only got 1 and it was not cheap, so I would avoid them if at all possible.

On our first day, we arrived around 11am, checked in, dropped our bags and went straight out exploring. We wandered as far as the Danube to try and get our bearings, walked across the chain bridge and back and had some lunch (an amazing pizza) on the Pest side before heading back to do a tour of the Opera House. It was close to our hotel and quite cheap to visit. It cost roughly €13 including a photo ticket so I could take my own pictures. It is definitely worth a trip and the guided tour is well timed and very informative.

Budapest Opera House Bar

Budapest Opera House Bar


Budapest Opera House

Budapest Opera House

After the tour, we went back to the hotel to rest for a little while before going for drinks in an Irish pub called Publin and having some food in a place called Hot Dog, Cold Beer, that came recommended on Pinterest. I’ll share more about the food and drink in the next post.

Day 2 started with a bit of a lie in, but we had breakfast and were out by 11am. We walked out to the Danube again (there’s a theme here!) and got Tram 2 along the river. I had read it was a great way to see the city and for a couple of Euro, I wasn’t disapointed. We went both ways and it brought us right down to the back of the Parliament building and I wasn’t expecting much, but it blew me away. It was absolutely beautiful.

Tram 2


Parliament Building

Parliament Building

We went to New York Cafe next, which comes highly recommended but only part of it was open to the public and the hot chocolate was amazing but the place wasn’t for me.

Later that afternoon we crossed over to the Buda side & took the second oldest funicular up to the top of Buda Hill and wandered towards Fisherman’s Bastian & Matthias Church which are both beautiful and absolutely worth a visit. You get great views of the Pest side, in particular the Parliament Building and I would highly recommend getting there for the sunset.

Matthias Church

Matthias Church


Budapest Parliament Building

Budapest Parliament Building

Finally, on day 3 we went to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths and in my opinion they are a must for Budapest. It’s over 100 years old and has 18 pools including 3 outdoor pools. The weather was 13 degrees celsius but felt like more. I wasn’t crazy about the indoor baths but the outdoor ones were amazing. We even managed to sit out in our swimwear & have a couple of drinks afterwards.
We went to the Central Market Hall and I don’t think I even have any photographs because I really wasn’t impressed with it. I expected it to have an old market vibe and it really didn’t at all. Some people love it, to me it was a place selling spices and tacky souvenirs.

We left on a flight around midday on the 4th day. We got almost everything we wanted into 3 days but I think a 4th day would have been great. If you are on the fence about a trip to Budapest, climb right down off that fence and book some flights.

Look out for my next post on everything we ate & drank in Hungary’s capital city!

Check out more photos from the trip here

China (1) China (2)India (1) India (2)Persia (2) Persia (1)Egypt (1)Egypt (2) Tunisia (2)Tunisia (1)

1 & 2) China,  3 & 4) India,  5 & 6) Persia,  7 & 8) Egypt,  9 & 10) Tunisia

Last week, while Dane was working late I went to Ibn Battuta Mall to take some pictures. It’s a nice mall only 10 minutes away from the apartment in a taxi so I’ve been there a few times. It’s the largest themed mall in the world (of course it is!) and its design is based on the travels of the Arabic explorer Ibn Battuta. The themes of the mall are celebrated on the inside and on the outside of the building. The different themes are: China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and Andalusia. Unfortunately the section dedicated to Andalusia is small and I missed it. When you stop and look up the design is very impressive. My favourite section is definitely Egypt but that may be biased because it’s the only one of the 6 I’ve been to. Today I’m going for afternoon tea with my Mam and Maria in the Burj Al Arab. I looked forward to sharing my experience here soon. xoxo