Tag Archives: wine

Right out of a movie

I’m going to give all credit to Carley on this one. She researched and booked the world’s most incredible brunch at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.

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Let’s just say, this isn’t your standard 3-Michelin star restaurant. This place is, quite honestly, a friggin’ Swiss Family Robinson-style experience, complete with servers that have timed deliveries and round-table speeches to introduce each individual plate.

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Our brunch took place outdoors on the wraparound deck overlooking California’s Napa Valley. I was half expecting to have chimpanzees swing onto our shoulders during the dessert course.

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This is one of those, when in Rome, experiences – we all ordered a cocktail and cheers’ed to ending this first couple’s trip with a bang.

Bloody mary’s and mimosas all around! Of course, they were ordered using the table iPad in front of us.

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The brunch menu looked a little like this.  You choose a drink, a beginning, a sustenance, and a dessert.

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By memory, Brett and I shared the half dozen oysters, the cow’s milk burrata with grilled radicchio, a Maine lobster omelet, a Kurobuto pork chop, and two fantastic desserts from this menu.

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I know for sure we choose the Chocolate Peanut Butter one, and I couldn’t guess what the second one was. Let’s just say they both rocked our socks off. Finish up with a little cappuccino and we are ready to see that bill, server!

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Somewhere along the lines of $700 and vacation, we didn’t care what this meal cost. Once in a lifetime, eating on a beautifully exotic deck overlooking Napa, with some of the best friends life could give us.

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We took one more pano picture and all piled into the cars. Windows down, wind whipping our hair all over the place. We took the scenic route home. Along the rolling vineyards of Napa, promising ourselves we’ll be back some day.

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We stopped at the nearby grocery store on the way to Oliviera, to pick up dinner supplies (I know, we just had brunch… but we didn’t want to have to drive again once we got home.) We taste-tested some frosting, picked up some grilling materials and a quinoa salad or two – then we headed back.

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The rest of our last full day in paradise was spent laughing, listening to music, jumping in the hot tub, grilling and playing Cards Against Humanity.

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Without going into the details of our sad goodbyes the next morning, let’s just say this trip was a terrific first couple’s trip – one we won’t soon forget.

Where will the next one take us? Locations we have thrown around : Hawaii, Colorado Backcountry, to the coast of North Carolina…

The world really is our oyster. And traveling in groups allows for a more exotic lodging experience since we’re splitting it 8+ ways…

Thank you for a truly memorable trip : Carley & AJ, Katie & Scott, Molly & Chris, and the best traveler I know and love, Brett

Until next time,
e

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Round two!

We wake up with barely a hangover. Win! Refuel with a little morning java and enjoy our patio before getting ready for the day and more importantly, before our limo arrives.

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Since we already had a mug of coffee down the hatch. We figured it’s time to get the party started.… poppin’ bottles.  Before you get worried about our alcohol intake, please remember, the whole point of renting a limo for this trip was the sole fact that we planned to be inebriated.  As classy and sophisticated as we could… but definitely not sober.
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Our first stop is one that we highly recommend for those visiting the Sonoma area.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyard. We scheduled their Food & Wine Pairing experience for 11am on a Friday afternoon filled with sunshine and cool breezes.  This vineyard is built on some beautiful landscape (aren’t they all?) A very popular place for people to get married.  Gorgeous mountains in the background.
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The pairing took place inside a lovely structure, the doors open to the fresh air outside.  There were two tables positioned half-circle style with the seating on the outside of the curves.  The wine experts walked through and around as they introduced each pairing.
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Each place setting had a leather-bound portfolio with the menu details & a notepad to write tasting notes in.  I vaguely remember doodling hilarious stick figure pictures and Bob Marley quotes on mine… at one point during the experience, Brett looks over and exclaims, “My feet feel like cotton!”  He is entirely enjoying himself, on top of the dosage of DayQuil (for his head cold) taken 30 minutes prior.  It’s amazing what a little vino and a little acetaminophen will do to ignite the senses!
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To be honest, I don’t even remember what all we had {so zoom in on this picture & read it!}  Nevertheless,  it’s true when they say pairing wine with a specific food enhances the flavors, it really works!  The whole experience was a delight. Something we would do again in a heart beat.
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Back in the limo we go.  The next stop, Ledson Winery and Vineyards. Originally, it was being built as a home, with 17 acres of Merlot planted on the grounds.  But as the structure was built, and the public became more interested, they ended up turning it into a vineyard and tasting room.  (well played Ledson clan!)  The structure is built with a French Normady-esque style, 16,000 square feet of woodwork and marble staircases.  Never missing the opportunity for a photo op, we enjoyed the front garden area with beautiful white roses and fountains.
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Their tasting room had wood floors and a beautiful bar area.  We sidled up and started to learn about their vines.  Little breadsticks were my saving grace as we sipped and sipped some more.
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After the tasting, we bought a bottle and went out back on their patio.  Some of us took naps in the sun : star-fished on the ground & loving life {cough, Carley}.  We toasted to friendship & love, as we looked at the rows of vines grown there.  What a neat place to have a summer party or a murder mystery dinner!
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A pretty spectacular roundup of the troops and we’re onto the next one!  Benziger Family Winery for the win!  This next one is a little blurry for me.  Understandably so; three vineyards in and I’m reaching my limits.
We made a pit stop potty break upon arrival (extremely necessary says the girl with the squirrel-sized bladder).  Then we hop on an extended golf cart for a tour of the vineyards.  Our tour guide explained the wine-making process at their location and the background story of the family that built Benziger into what it is today.
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I’ll be honest, a lot of what he said went in one ear and out the other.  We stopped along the tour at a little wooden hut and cracked open a white bottle of wine.  He served it to us in logo-etched wine glasses – nice touch.
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Cool little place.  Gorgeous farm animals to fertilize the soil.  Fluffy, mop-headed cows and little baby goats.  Ten points to Gryffindor for the golf cart ride, as I was not about hiking all over those poo-filled rows of vines.
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The middle of the tour took us into the wine caves where, guess what we did?… had some more vino.  It’s a lot of traveling small distances and then drinking wine.  Rinse & repeat.
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There was a really neat room deep into the cave that we all grabbed a spot at.  It felt very Knights of the Roundtable-esque, with tapestries hanging on the wall and unique art pieces.
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In the wine cave, I got in trouble for trying to snag some more breadsticks, but, please, this was a girl looking after herself!  Atleast some part of my mind knew I needed water and food.  Stat.
We circled around the vineyards on the golf carf and finished the tour in their Main Bar / Tasting Room.  I couldn’t tell you what took place in that space.  The next thing I remember is getting into the limo and somehow making it home in one piece.
Now, THAT was a tour of Sonoma.
Dinner plans were supposed to involve a bacon-infused local hotspot called Zazu, but we couldn’t make it happen.  We grabbed a variety of chicken breasts and brats at the grocery store to grill-out instead.  And it rocked our socks off.
Oh yeah, and we drank water, lots of water.
xo,
e
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Good Morning Sonoma!

We wake up and the boys cook some eggs.  A nest egg, as Brett calls them.

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We giggle and catch up on the deck.  Overlooking the mountain and unreal landscape.  All of a sudden, the limo is on it’s way and we are rushing to pull ourselves together.
The limo pulled into the gravel driveway and the driver hops out to introduce himself.  He opens the back door and we all pile in.  Champagne, soda, water… there were glass champagne glasses and bottle openers.  Living the life!
On our way to the first vineyard, our driver recommends we pull into a Whole Foods-like grocery store and pick up some lunch, since we were headed a little into the countryside and wouldn’t have many options.  We all hop out, grab sandwiches, pasta salads, hummus, and in Brett’s case, head cold materials.
Our first vineyard stop was Ferrari-Carrano.  This place looked like it was fresh out of Alice in Wonderland.  The grounds were landscaped to perfection.  Freshly-cut grass, sculptures, fountains, and beautiful vineyards as far as the eye could see.  The building itself was a marble, cream-colored structure with ornate railings and large windows.  The tasting was held in the basement, a spot called the Prevail Room.
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Our directions were to choose 4 or 6 different wines on a small paper menu.  The wines were poured and the 8 of us sat at a large table underneath beautiful black, exotic lighting fixtures.  Downstairs is where the large room of wine barrels are located as well.
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After Ferrari-Carano, we hop back in the limo and head towards Bella Vineyard & Wine Cave.  Both Katie and I had great reviews from friends about this vineyard and really wanted to make it work.  We pulled into Bella and the limo driver popped the trunk.  In the back he had flatware and every other material needed for a picnic.  Cool!  He spread out a tablecloth and we all munched on the grocery store grub.  It was nice (& necessary!) to get something in our stomach.
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A dog that lives on the grounds begged for food : made the experience that much more welcoming.  AJ gathered wine glasses so we could have some vino while lunching.
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After eats, we walked into this cave-style area that was nestled underneath a hill.  Towards the back it was dark and cold, but lively and filled with people tasting wine around a little bar area.  We grabbed a small table and tasted our way through the menu.  This was a really cool little place with lots of personal touches. I could picture a gorgeous wedding reception being held on the grounds.
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We all hopped back in the limo and headed back towards Oliviera.  Some of us weren’t feeling too hot and took a cat nap while the vineyards rolled by the windows.  Brett got a head cold and was desperately trying to sleep it off (or was it too much Zin?)
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Back in Glen Ellen, we lounged and rehydrated.  The boys jumped in the hot tub and the ladies mixed some drinks.  Towards the evening time, we dressed up and headed towards The Girl and the Fig.  A small, local restaurant with high ratings.  I was impressed that they were so conscious of wasted water & drought in the area.  Fresh olives (pitted & non) were waiting as a starter, yay!  We dined on Fig and Arugula Salad, a Cucumber Soup, Burgers and Pork Chops.  The food was delicious (& expensive!), but worth the splurge.
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I cannot remember what was so funny, but Carley almost giggle / choked to death.  Luckily, nurse AJ was seated next to her.
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We headed back towards Oliviera, in a food coma.  Driving up the dark, steep, winding mountain towards home.  We gathered enough energy to play a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity before turning in for the night.
xo,
e
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Sonoma : we’re here!

We wake up, Katie & Scott land in San Fran, grab a rental car and pick us up.  We’re together! Two couples! Success… so far.  The rest of the morning involves us driving to the house in Glen Ellen for our wine weekend.  A few hours on the road, catching up, Brett & Scott meeting for the first time… we’ve talked about that FOREVER, and it has finally happened!

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En route to the home, we pass rows upon rows of the most beautiful landscape – Sonoma views at their finest.
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Our journey thus far had left us hungry, so we stopped for a bite to eat at Kenwood.
A logical thought had us sipping on a variety of brews, since we knew the entire weekend would be filled with wine-induced joy.
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For the life of me, I cannot remember the type of open-faced sandwich I had.  Some sort of fish, not salmon… maybe salmon? Clearly it wasn’t memorable.  It was hard to keep all the moving pieces in place without toppling over into my lap.  Nevertheless, we laughed and started the weekend off right.
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The calm before the beautiful storm.  There was maybe one more work phone call to take [Scott] – so we insisted on me taking a picture of Katie taking a picture of Brett taking a picture of Scott on the phone, with his work, in the parking lot, in God’s-freaking-country-Sonoma.
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We paid the bill and hightailed it out of there.  Molly & Chris were driving in a rental with Carley & AJ.  We were all within the same zip code and the energy was palpable.
The house we rented, called Oliviera…due to the olive trees growing on the property… was located up a mini-mountain.  The rental (a VW) handled the 45 degree incline nicely.  Sun shining, wind whipping through our car.  We cruised into the gravel parking lot and got out to explore.
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 The home has luxurious bedrooms, multiple bathrooms with tiled showers.  A pool, a hot tub, a fully-equipped kitchen, flat screen… the amenities don’t end.  They have their own shampoo and bars of soap made by a nearby body shop.  Fresh ground coffee is available for us in a welcome kit, made by local coffee shop.
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We can’t think of a detail they have left out.  Dave and David are apparently a doctor (am I making that up?…) and an interior designer/realtor who recognized this property as a prime location.. let me tell you, they were right!
The other four showed up moments after we arrived… and a good five minutes were spent hugging one another in excitement.  Is this what it feels like to be grown up? To be adults? Four happy couples meet in Sonoma, rent a multi-million dollar home for a long weekend of wine-tasting, Cards Against Humanity laughter, grill outs on the deck and memory making?  I know all are not as fortune.  We are blessed beyond dreams for this opportunity.
A quiet close to our first official day in Sonoma… we grilled chicken, drank on the patio and the four of us girls giggled at our fortune.  Well, at least I did.  What a treat to be enjoying a beautiful property, in a gorgeous part of the country, with some of the best people I know.
I love my life.
xo
e
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(NYC) is incredible

Other creative outlets have consumed me… but I’m back to blogging.  Let’s talk about NYC for a minute. What a beautiful place!  We made 72 hours an adventure, chasing the subway, laughing, doing it all.

a few of my favorite images.

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Fresh off a 6am American Airlines flight and feeling like a pair of travel ninjas.

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A brief pause at Starbucks.. we felt it was appropriate considering the locals had one gripped in their right hand at all times. #caramelmacchiato

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Walking around at night is a whirlwind, people everywhere & buildings as tall as the stars.

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Enough said.

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95% of the time we walked the streets, everywhere, these boots aren’t half as comfortable as my purple New Balance kicks.

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Eyeing the rest of his Australian Meat Pie – what a foodie paradise at Chelsea Market.

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The entire underground subway system was amazing, efficient, and the only way we’d travel.

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SuperDry is a brand we love – smack dab in the middle of Times Square it sits. #shoppingspree

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Love.

NYC was our first adventure using airbnb – which rocks.  We stayed in a highrise apt and shared the space with a woman from France, a couple from England and a younger gal from Vancouver.  We had our own bedroom, shared everything else – what a perfect central spot to be able to affordably stay while in and out at all hours.  The host is a middle aged man : extremely personable and ended up buying us drinks at a little place he DJ’s… The Crooked Knife.  NYC, we’ll be back, many times!

xo

High five to Amacci for proving himself worthy with this song. (more about him later)

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Next Chapter Vineyard


photo 1-2 photo 1 photo 2-2 photo 3-1 photo 3-2 photo 3 photo 4-1 photo 5-1 wine dog photo 4 wine photo 2 wine photo 5We have found an excellent little vineyard.  Next Chapter Vineyard in New Prague, MN ran a LivingSocial a few months back.  We choose a weekend for the Vine Pruning Experience.  This vineyard was a super small family operation out in the middle of nowhere.  We took a road trip and fell in love with every aspect.  The tool shed turned wine-tasting space.  The wall of mismatched odds and ends that Tim, the owner, uses for his wine creating.  The beautiful German Shepard puppy that followed us around everywhere, and of course, the delicious wine!

We spent a few hours in the early morning all bundled up with our pruning sheers.  Tim showed us how to properly prune the vines for optimal growth.  It was an almost therapeutic movement, row by row, moving so much that our freezing bodies were soon warm and comfortable.  We drank mulled wine as we worked and enjoyed the winter silence around us.

After we pruned for what seemed like hours, we had a lunch in the large tool shed.  There were about 6 large barrels, some of which used to be filled with Jack Daniels, filled with fermenting wine.  We drank red wine and white, straight from the barrel as well as from wine bottles.  Tim was charismatic and happily shared his thoughts on the wine industry and how Next Chapter Vineyard came to be.  He explained how vines don’t really show for the first four years.  There are four or five years of nothing but picking weeds – hearing that almost made my small dream of one day having my own vineyard, sour.  Instant gratification doesn’t work too well in this industry, eh?  The best comes to those who wait.

It was refreshing to hear Tim talk about the crazy world of wine and how there is such a snobbery, pretentious air around it.  He spoke about the wine spectator and the judging of different wines, where sometimes a glass of two buck chuck wins over a glass of $200 wine.  I agree with him that it’s very much so a scam.  It was such a fun experience to bullshit with him in this giant shed where the wine he has created over the years sits fermenting.  We’re all drinking wine.  He’s opening new bottles.  He’s explaining the process, the bottling process, his thoughts on wine in general.  He’s wearing a one-piece winter getup as his baby German Shepard is curled up as his feet.

Many glasses of wine later, after length conversation and laughter, a lot of the other LivingSocial voucher-holders parted.  They had other things they wanted to get done.  The four of us stayed back and soaked (literally) the experience in.  At one point, Timothy thanked us for coming and that was the end of our LivingSocial adventure.  He went back out to the vines to keep pruning.  We decided to clean up the lunch mess the dozen or so left behind and then we filled up our cups with some more of that delicious wine and headed out to the vineyard to find him.  He helped us trim some vine pieces to bring home and plant on our own land.  What a great experience – and we all got to take 2 bottles home with us!

In September they have what’s called a harvest, where the grapes are picked and the great stomp happens.  We hope to be a part of it and to stomp grapes classier than this lady does.

Wine does the heart good,
xo

Listening to this.

Sipping on this.
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A day of history in Belfast

We woke up with the intent to do a lot of activities, and we accomplished all of them. Yay! Breakfast at the hostel was your typical cereal and toast. We found a cute small cafe to get coffee from called the French Village Cafe and Bakery on Botanic Ave. I got an apple cinnamon muffin for takeaway later.

The first adventure was a Black Taxi Tour. Our driver, Walter, picked us up outside the hostel. The first few sentences with his extremely rough Irish accent had me concerned I wouldn’t understand 80% of what he said. But, turns out it was easy to pick up on. Chelsea and I were the only one on this tour (£15pp), flying solo was slightly more expensive. Walter took us absolutely everywhere. The 90 minute tour spent a lot of time explaining the turmoil between the Catholics and the Protestants (or as Walter said, the British and Irish… because that’s how most of the people living in Northern Ireland view it). There are Irish flags and British flags flying on their perspective sides. We drove along the “peace wall” that divided the two sides of the city. Chelsea and I discussed later on in the evening, how can a wall, 9 meters tall… separating two conflicting groups, be called a ‘peace wall’? Walter stopped at one part and gave us markers to sign our names. We noticed a Steve Jobs graffiti mark nearby.

There were murals protesting many conflicts, political thoughts, people in jail, hunger strikes, everything. A few that showed up quite often were the idea to free Marian Price and memorials about Bobby Sands, the first man to die while on a hunger strike whom was in jail for 14 years because a gun was found in his car… yikes.

Walter said the worst year for Belfast was 1972 when 1,370 bombs exploded and around 470 people died.

He was a wealth of knowledge and pulled the taxi over every now again for us to jump out and snap pics. He kindly dropped us off on the northeast side of the city. This was time and money well spent. To hear firsthand experience while viewing the actual locations was better than any travel book could offer.

Our next adventure was the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience called Titanic Belfast. This is a six-story, six month old, unbelievably awesome exhibit. Student admission is £9.50 and well worth the price. The level of interaction and digital multimedia was amazing – it was truly built to cater to our generation. Halfway into the exhibit was a gondola-style ride that took you thru a day in the life of a shipyard worker (recap: 63 hour workweeks, below minimum wage, paid by the number of rivets completed, death by falling into water/being hit by falling materials from above).

The extensive, real dialogue used by way of telegram was typed out on the walls from the moment Titanic hit an iceberg to when the power went out and there was no more communication. The air became somber amongst the exhibit viewers. I’ve never learned about the Titanic beyond the 21st century movie with Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. There were replicas of the different first class, second class, third class state room on the Titanic. Examples of linens, flatware and carpet. They really detailed every bit of the ship itself as well as the passengers. Impressive.

One small part of the first floor had the actual outfits worn by those actors from the movie, on loan from Century Fox. And last week, the director James Cameron had flown out to view the exhibit. After about 2 hours, our brains were filled up with information.

We walked 20 minutes to the Victoria Square Shopping Centre. The only Apple Store in all of Ireland was located there. We just had to request a tour since we’re so close.

Lunch, in the mall, took place at wagamama, a chic noodle bar. I had the ebi raisukaree. Coconut and lime curry with grilled chicken, peppers, pickled ginger, yum!

The mall was a beautiful covered yet open-air multilevel facility. Many restaurants, a theatre, tons of shops that we explored. Six floors up at the tip top is a 360 degree dome that showcases a rewarding view of Belfast.

We walked towards the hostel and on the way, stopped at The Crown for a Guinness. During the taxi tour, Walter mentioned it was worth visiting. The Crown was packed with both locals and tourists. A small bar with wood ceiling treatment, gold fixtures, and small booths for being separated from the masses at the bar. We shared a small booth with a handful of locals and truly enjoyed all of our conversations. The Guinness was £3.75 and after one, we both counted the pounds and pence that we had left…. not much. We had to head out after we each had a brew.

Continuing in the direction of the hostel, we stop and buy a cheap bottle of red wine to split (£4.99) and Chelsea picked up some pizza for dinner. Back at the hostel, we drink wine out of hostel mugs while eatin some grub (me: leftover wagamama). Our conversation ranged everywhere from religion to love to travel to life and death and I realized, as I have before… I’m so very blessed to have a friend like Chelsea.

It’s not where you are, but who you’re with, that make experiences memorable,
Xo

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I could get used to castle living…

Like spoiled princesses we slept away our hangovers in the castle.

But wait, before you judge, I can explain.

Last night was straight out of a movie.

As we caught up on our daily social media, we sat where the WiFi was strongest, in the lobby foyer near the giant open fireplace facing the red grand staircase. It was around 9pm and we were tired from the day, thinking we would have a few glasses of wine and watch a flick.

Somewhere between 9 and 10pm we were joined by two Irish couples in the foyer. The ladies drank white wine and the gentleman drank Guinness. Lots of both. We all start to converse. Discussing the haunted spirit in the castle, Johnny Cash, and the beauty of dogs. One couple had a giant 140 lb dog and a 6 lb Pomeranian they left out of their rooms. The castle allows pets, we come to find out. The dogs get belly rubs as we chat about a famous guest that stayed here at Markree Castle – Mr Johnny Cash. We are seated around the red grand staircase where he sang a song many, many years ago. In the guest book is his signature as well as June Carter Cash’s.

One woman happened to be a singer/songwriter and had a guitar in her room. She went up and grabbed it. Before you know it, Johnny Cash songs are being sung loudly in the echoing foyer. The two Irish men behaved like the guys in Boondocks Saints and were absolutely hilarious.

At this point, Chelsea and I decide to forgo our previous plans and see where the night takes us. We are staying in a castle after all, in Ireland, making friends and drinking with a bunch of Irish who have excellent singing voices.

Someone complains about our loud noise so we move the gathering into the bar area a bit further from where the guest rooms were located. We joined up with two other couples already seated in the dimly-lit bar. All 10 of our chairs in a circle. The music continued, as did the drinking and laughter. We were discussing everything from Irish politics to prime ministers to Lady Gaga to Canada to surnames to U2… we were absolutely all over the map.

2:50am rolls around, people are starting to waver when they stand.. Chelsea and I bid our farewells. Not before Johnny from Dublin grasps both of our hands and tells us, we are the future. We are going to do great things and to not be afraid of whatever comes our way. Johnny was about 11 Guinness pints in, but he meant well and we will remember his fond appreciation for U2, the Wanted and behaving half his age.

Fast forward to today. We wake up and shower: 1:30 pm. Chelsea calls the Markree Riding Stables to inquire about a ride. They’re ready for us at 2pm. We throw on tops, jeans and our tennis shoes and head out. The stable is a 10 minute walk from the castle (past the mama and baby foal).

We arrive, our lead is a super cute young gal named Niamh (pronounced Neeve… crazy, I know). She is 100% Irish and was recently voted the #1 Justin Bieber fan in Ireland.

We changed into some boots and got on our horses. Mine was a beautiful fast girl named Cheyenne and Chelsea rode a more low-key one named Major. It was just the three of us on this ride, so we took off on the trail. It was an hour long and we chatted the heck out of Niamh. We rode English and it was such a déjà vu time for me. I’ve decided I’m going to start riding again. Maybe i wont jump like I used to, but at least ride. It’s been a few years, but I love it!

This was absolutely one of the highlights. We rode horses around a castle estate, in Ireland.

We discussed the idea of taking Niamh home to America with us. She is all for it. I told her we can find a nice stable for her to work at, she can stay at my place and we’ll all ride horses and drink afternoon tea together.

This is the second product of Ireland that I want to smuggle home with me (baby foal is #1).

The rest of the day was spent packing and prepping for tomorrows travel. We walked into town and bought groceries to make a homemade meal (sandwiches & Guinness) in the room while we finally watched Gladiator.

Life is so sweet.
Xo

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to the castle we go!

Our roomie from Columbia left in the wee hours this morning. We woke up slightly early and began our packing process. But not before enjoying the most fabulous cappuccinos I’ve ever had.

The weather was beautiful, slightly chilly but clear and no rain drizzles. We went back to the cafe from day one in Galway. Located on the corner of the town square. We sat outside and enjoyed a solid 45 minutes of straight people watching, sipping on our cappuccinos and basically giddy at the fact that we are on a hell of an adventure clear across the world from home.

We grabbed pain chocolat pastries (chocolate croissant) for takeaway (to-go). Coincidentally it is the best pain chocolat I’ve had. It’s true, pastries just taste better in Europe. We bought our one way ticket to Collonney (€13.50) at the bus station and said adios to Galway.

Two and a half bumpy hours later, a dozen stops along the way, we make it to the tiniest town ever, Collooney. Home of maybe 3,000 people. The bus drops us literally on the side of the road. As the bus pulls away we see Quigleys. A gas/grocery/bar/lounge. I mention that it’s a fine time to purchase some wine so we cross the street and enter. Smallest grocery in the smallest town ever. Your typical old-as-dust Irish grandpa is manning the place and he’s gosh darn adorable. We buy the only two bottles of red wine left in the place. He calls a taxi (one of four in the city), bless his heart, and we bid him farewell.

The taxi picks us up and drops us right underneath the stone archway of Markree Castle. A beautiful location with lots of history. To recap, it belongs to an untitled family named the Coopers who were gifted the land as payment for serving in some war.

Our room overlooks the back lawn with rolling landscape as far as you can see. We feel right smack dab in the middle of a Disney fairy tale.

Two separate beds, a shower and toilet all to ourselves, now this is luxury, especially after being in hostels so far this trip. Not having to wear sandals to shower? Heaven.

We drop our bags in the room. An antique desk and chair sit near the window. Chelsea braids my hair as we listen to Lady Gaga. Afterwards, we explore the grounds. Well, some of them… with 300 acres of land, we didn’t exactly cover nearly a piece of it. The castle has their own flock of pure bred fluffy white Wensleydale sheep. Of course they do. Link to sheep

On the other side of the castle we walked on the road for half hour until we arrived at the Markree Riding Stables. A dozen horses grazed the grass on top of the hill as we inquired about riding options. Tomorrow night (Sunday), there is an evening ride around the premises (€25). We agree this is a must do activity.

On our walk home a momma horse and her foal were grazing in the pasture. The baby came right on over and greeted us. I discreetly tried to come up with a way to get her thru customs and take her home with us.

I couldn’t come up with anything logical. :/

Dinner consisted of road snacks (trail mix, these hilarious things Chelsea introduced me to called Digestives, our fave traveling item Justin’s Peanut Butter), a pint of Guinness and light bar fare. We dined in the castle bar area complete with shoddy upholstery, huge windows and terrible lighting. I felt like I was a dignitary or an extra in Beauty and the Beast.

Now we drink wine, giggle like little girls and watch a movie on the iPad (probably Gladiator to match our abroad theme)… this is the perfect spot for a sleepover.

Meet us in the castle basement for scary story time at midnight?
Xo

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