Camper Van Trip from Wicklow to Cork

September 1st, 2010 by Riona

Hook Head Lighthouse Waterford

We started this trip from Sharon and Leighton’s wedding in the beautiful Kippure Estate in Wicklow in August. After a fab two night stay at the wedding, we set off in our home for the week; a bright orange converted VW camper van, courtesy of the lovely Eoin De Barra. We planned a week’s trip in the Sunny South East with no set itinerary other than to eat well and to hopefully get as far as Kinsale.

Before we even got to the wedding, Military road in Wicklow was a revelation; so close to my cousin’s house in south Dublin and to many of the places I lived in Dublin over the years, yet I’d never been before. Stunning! The wedding was fab too; the ceremony and meal were held outdoors with the mountains all around us but we moved indoors as the night wore on. Everyone stayed on site in the lovely self-catering houses. Many thanks to Sharon and Leighton; we had a great time!

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Alpe d’Huez – Skiing 2010

February 17th, 2010 by Riona

What a fab time we had in Alpe d’Huez this January! About 90 mins from Grenoble airport, Alpe d’Huez is a beautiful ski resort in the French Alps. We went with a few good friends and as part of a bigger group of about 60.

The slopes

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North Coast, Ireland

November 29th, 2009 by Eddie

My sister got married in November, and after a great few days celebrating with the family we had a weeks holidays in Northern Ireland to look forward to. Dundalk, where I’m from, is a border town half way between Dublin and Belfast. I’ve spent a lot of time up North over the years but rarely went further north than Belfast and hadn’t been up that direction since I was a youngster on a family camping trip to Antrim. After peeling ourselves from a cosy fire and my mums cooking, we set off on the M1 towards Belfast to start our weeklong sojourn up North and see what it had to offer.

Musenden Temple

Downhill Beach

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A Short Trip to France

October 4th, 2009 by Riona

Back in the middle of August we had a short but sweet stay in the the Dordogne region of France. We went with my mum and sister and stayed for four days in the Château Des Vigiers, which is close to the village of Sainte-Foy-la-Grande and about 25 minutes away from the city of Bergerac.  We flew from Knock to Stanstead and then on to Bergerac, where we rented a car, so it was all very handy – both Knock and Bergerac airports are so quick and easy to get through that it made the traveling stress-free. We’ll definitely be checking out flights through the U.K. from Knock in the future.

We arrived on Wednesday evening and left on Sunday morning, and over the three days and four nights we spent our time eating, drinking and driving around sightseeing.

st emillion

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Catalonia

July 6th, 2009 by Eddie

Well it’s been a while! It’s been over six months since we’ve been anywhere of note so we haven’t updated this blog as we wanted to keep it travel related. Things are a lot different than this time last year when we had almost seven months of straight travel ahead of us. Now it’s the occasional holiday, shorter days and Bord Snip cuts that lie ahead, different times indeed! It’s not all gloom though, since coming back to Ireland we’ve moved to Strandhill in Co. Sligo, got married and found work (ish). Our wedding plans kept us going though the winter and everything went perfectly, it was a fantastic day. We felt we’d be pushing it if we went somewhere far afield on honeymoon, so we booked a trip to northern Spain, somewhere that neither of us had been before, and got immersed in Spanish and surrealism for a wonderful week.

Mae West Room
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Blog Awards Longlist!

February 3rd, 2009 by Eddie

2009 Irish Blog Awards NomineeLickablewallpaper had made it to the longlists for the 2009 Irish Blog Awards and we’re really stoked! There are some great blogs listed which I’ve been spending a lot of time reading over the last few weeks. The awards take place on the 21st down in Cork and I’m looking forward to putting faces to some of the names I’ve become familiar with :-) Congrats to my gansta-knitting pal Laura for getting longlisted and kudos to Damien Mulley and the sponsors for organising the whole thing.

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New York, New York

January 17th, 2009 by Eddie

After almost two hundred days of travelling, we arrived into our penultimate destination (the last before home!), New York city on the 16th of December. Riona spent a summer working in Manhattan back in 2000 and I’ve visited a few times on short trips, so we were both familiar with the city and very, very excited to be back! It didn’t disappoint. The city had donned her festive attire for Christmas and she was looking lovely! I could have happily spent a few hours looking at some of the window displays, and nearly had to be pulled away from the windows of Bergdorf Goodman, the super-fancy department store at the top of 5th Avenue.

Window Display at Bergdorf Goodman Department Store

Window Display Window Display Window Display

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Galapagos islands – Part II (+ coastal Ecuador)

January 13th, 2009 by Eddie

We’d spent a lot of time online researching the different options for Galapagos trips in the weeks before we went, and the message from the majority was to go on a multi-day cruise or don’t bother going at all. The islands are an expensive place to get to – the only real option is to fly, and the price is set at about $400 US for a return ticket from the Ecuador mainland, regardless of which airline you take. Add to this another $100 per person park entrance fee and you’re at $500 just to step foot on them. We wanted to make sure we got it right (plus we like being on boats!) so we booked a five-day cruise, even though we couldn’t really afford it at the time. The cruise was fantastic, but it turned out that the five days we spent off-board were equally as good.

Lazy Summer Days

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Galapagos islands – Part I

January 5th, 2009 by Riona

On December 1st we left Quito for a ten day trip to the Galapagos islands. The islands, which are owned by Ecuador, have national park status and the primary reason to visit them is to see the wildlife and observe their behaviour. Wildlife experts may not agree, but to my mind this is the main attraction for the average tourist: not the variety of animals (as there really aren’t that many different types) but the fact that their behaviour around humans is so unique. They have no fear of us so you can get quite close to them, indeed at times you have to walk around them as they make it quite clear just who is in charge. On the uninhabited islands we visited, where tourists are only permitted to walk along certain trails with a guide, the iguanas and sealions who littered the path provided a constant reminder that we were mere guests in their territory.

Dueling Iguanas

We spent five days on the Archipel II and visited five of the main islands in the group: San Cristobal, Espanola, Floreana, Isabela and Santa Cruz. We had read online that the islands, which are all volcanic, are not that pretty and so were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the place as well as the excellent wildlife watching.

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Mindo, que Lindo!

December 16th, 2008 by Eddie

When our few days in the rainforest came to an end, we headed back to Quito to resume our search for a Galapagos trip that wouldn´t break us entirely. After two long days of traipsing around the many travel agencies of Quito´s Mariscal district (known as ´gringoland´) and a world of pain trying to withdraw money from as many ATM´s that would give us it, we had a five day cruise booked for the following week through the Happy Gringo travel agency (the first and last agency we went to – they were excellent and the cheapest we found). It was great to have it finally sorted. To make the most of the few days we had to spend on the mainland before heading off, we took a bus to Mindo, about three hours north of Quito.

Blue Morpho Butterfly

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Back to the Jungle

December 13th, 2008 by Riona

About three weeks ago, we started out on what has been a wonderful few weeks of wildlife watching. After two days of shopping around among the many tour companies in Quito (and making definite progress towards securing a boat trip in the Galapagos islands), we boarded a night bus to Lago Agrio near the border with south-east Columbia, and then continued for three hours by bus and two by boat to finally reach Samona Lodge in the Cuyabeno Reserve.

Yellow-knee Tarantula on the Dinner Table

Samona Lodge is the real deal, it´s definitely not a place to go if you´re shy of snakes or spiders or any kind of creepy crawlies. We spent four wonderful days there and both agreed that it beat our previous jungle trip back in Borneo by a mile. By the end of the first day we had already seen much much more than we had anticipated – gangs of squirrel monkeys crossing the river jumping from tree to tree, a huge Anaconda about 6 meters long, sloths sleeping on branches along the river bank, huge vultures and loads of other birds.

Curious Anaconda

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Cuenca & Banos, Ecuador

December 4th, 2008 by Riona

Ten hours and three buses after leaving Mancora in Peru we arrived in the city of Cuenca in southern Ecuador (Mancora-Tumbes-Machala-Cuenca), where we checked into Hostal Macondo tired and hungry. The border crossing and overall journey was pretty uneventful but it was great to see the landscape change after we crossed the border; from arid and dusty coastal Peru to the lush greenness of Ecuador. Like any good Irish cailin, I love a bit of green I do!

Hike from Banos Devils Cauldron, Banos. Orangeman, Banos.

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Sad News from Home

November 29th, 2008 by Eddie

We got some sad news from home a few days after arriving into Ecuador. My cousin Mary, who`d been sick for some time, was expected to live only a few days longer. She died the following day in the company of her family and friends.

Mary was one of the most generous, selfless people I´ve had the pleasure of knowing. Her bright smile rarely faded, no matter what she was going through, and she always put others before herself. One of the last times I saw her, in the Mater hospital a month or so before we left, I remember being moved about how excited she was for our plans of travelling and moving to the West, a place that she had spent a lot of time paddling in over the years. She thrived on seeing other people happy.

Mary enjoyed life to the full whenever she could. She was a long time kayaker and loved travelling – she´d been to Central America herself (drawn there by the whitewater rafting!) and had spent time trekking in the Himalayas. She enjoyed her skiing and continued to go on skiing holidays with her brothers and friends to soak up the atmosphere even when she didn´t have the strength to partake. In recent months, when she didn´t have the energy to read, she´d have my mum print out the latest stories from this blog and read them out to her (it was great to know that someone was reading it!).

It´s hard being away from home when something like this happens. It would have been nice to be home to see her off but Mary wouldn´t have wanted that. We decided to remember her in our own way and went rafting, something that she certainly would have approved of! It felt right.

We´ll miss you Mary, rest in peace.

Mary off Inis Gola, June 2006

Northern Peru

November 22nd, 2008 by Eddie

The two weeks we spent in Peru after leaving Cusco were laid back, very relaxing and pretty uneventful. After treating ourselves to a fancy night bus to Lima (not as fancy as an Argentinian bus, but pretty good nonetheless), we arrived in the Peruvian capital and took a taxi to Miraflores. Lima has a reputation for being a city full of scam artists and thieves, but the area where we stayed was actually quite nice and had a great vibe on the streets for Halloween night. The Limians really put a big effort into Halloween, and the parks in Miraflores were full of kids in fancy dress and old people waltzing to a live band and choir. There was supposed to be a party in the Flying Dog hostel where we stayed, but the bar was empty when we went in so we went back to the common area and played cards with some of the other folks staying there (and learned how to play Whist from an Irish lad in the process). The next day was spent strolling around a fancy shopping center built into a cliff at the seafront and watching the paragliders trying to take off – paragliding is one of the big attractions in Lima but the wind wasn´t up to it when we were there. At one stage we were outside a cinema looking at the listings when what felt like a bomb going off sent everybody legging it in every direction – it turned out to be a small earthquake 43 kms away that registered 4.5 on the Richter scale, but apparently these are fairly common in Peru! Later in the evening, we stocked up on fancy goods in a place very like Donnybrook Fair and had our tea in the hostel. The Flying Dog was nice (and has a good DVD collection!) but very expensive at 75 soles a night for the two of us (nearly 20 euro!). The following day we took a bus to Trujillo, a small city eight hours north and headed straight to Huanchaco, a beach town about 20 minutes further.

Huanchaco at Dusk

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