Winter on Lake Monona

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With all this beautiful weather we’ve been having, I had to get outside so I took a long glorious walk down by Lake Monona last weekend. I feel so lucky to live right on the isthmus (the best geographic term, right?) and to be so close to both of Madison’s gorgeous lakes. Winter has been a tough time to move to a new city – everyone is in hibernation and there’s not so much going on – but this little thaw we’ve had has gotten me so excited for Spring. After being away from the Midwest for so long I’ve forgotten how much the cities come alive with the weather!

I didn’t expect my walk to turn into a photography expedition or else I would have brought my big camera but I had to share some snaps I took on my phone while I was out. How crazy is that ice?! I’m such a sucker for that sort of thing so these are only a few of the like billion photos I took of it.

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday and soak up the sun while we have it for a moment. 😎

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I’m Moving to Madison!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already heard, but I wanted to announce on here that I’ll be moving to Madison, Wisconsin in the next few weeks! I’m starting as a Technical Writer for Epic Systems in November and couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter. I’ve been to Madison a couple of times since I’ve been home and will be heading up again this weekend to do some apartment hunting (if you have any leads, let me know!) and it’s a gorgeous little city. I’m so excited to get to know my new home and to hit the ground running at work!

If you’re a Madison local or have been recently, I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for restaurants, bars, shopping, or fun things to do around town 🙂 And of course, if you’re ever around Wisconsin, hit me up for some cheese and beer!

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Elk Season in the Rockies

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One of the days I was in Colorado, my stepmom and I went up to Rocky Mountain National Park for the afternoon. We had planned on driving up the mountain and doing a little hiking, but quickly got sidetracked as herds of elk appeared at the roadside. Just super casual, Colorado… We ended up seeing four herds throughout the day and were lucky enough to get pretty close – I didn’t have a zoom lens on my camera so that first guy was really that close.

It was such a cool experience to watch these huge animals in the wild and one of my favorite photography experiences to date. I totally understand the rush of the whole National Geographic thing now! My heart was racing after getting up close and especially after the buck of the group made it clear our little photo shoot was over 😳

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My favorite moment, though, was when we were driving home from the park and I spotted a herd taking over the local high school’s football field (above). We stopped to get a closer look to find them investigating the football team’s training equipment – one even stood on the big blue mat before deciding he wasn’t a fan 😂 It was like seeing two worlds collide!

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If you’re around Colorado any time from early September to early October definitely stop by your nearest national park to see if you can spy any of these guys! Apparently it’s particularly crazy at the beginning of the season so bring your camera and keep your eyes peeled!

Weekend Roundup: The Wild West

This week I got the chance to go out to Boulder, Colorado and visit my dad and stepmom who are in the process of moving out there. I’ve been hearing about Boulder for years and I finally get what all the hubbub is about – beautiful scenery, great downtown filled with restaurants and shops, and you’re never further than 10 minutes from an amazing hike. Although it was a relatively short visit, it was so fun to see what they’re up to and let me say, it certainly doesn’t suck. I’m back in Chicago now and here’s a little bit more about my week…

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What I Did This Week

1. Before I left for Colorado, I spent an excellent Saturday afternoon with my family at the Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Tap Room here in Chicago. Crisp beer, decadent nachos, and a band with a washboard player made for a pretty awesome day. It was a little bit impossible to find (hint: the entrance is next to the parking lot – go figure), but the trek made the beer taste that much better. Fun for both the brewery inclined and the professional beer drinker 🙂

2. On my first day in Colorado, my dad drove us out to Denver for the Dweezil Zappa concert. Him and my brother are huge fans and even though I didn’t know much of the music, it was clear that these guys are unreal musicians. Fun, weird, and filled with hippie dads, the whole thing was certainly an experience. Plus, you can’t go wrong when the tour is named “Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants”.

3. Yesterday was my beautiful mom’s birthday. We spent the day brunching, drinking mimosas, shopping, and eating – so just another average day, right? We even got a dose of lacrosse in there seeing my brother’s team make it into the championship finals game! We had appetizers and drinks and a glorious steak dinner at Wildfire before heading back into the city. Cheers to you, mama! I love you!

Culturally Consumed

1. I picked up this book by my favorite Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, at the spiritual bookstore in Boulder (because of course they have one of those). This time in my life is bringing a lot of change and, along with that, a lot of uncertainty and fear. I have so many of his books already, but I felt like it was time to read this one – will let you know how it goes!

2. Visited the Saks Off 5th store on State Street in Chicago this week and oh man is it good. I highly recommend it for investment pieces like cashmere sweaters and winter coats because they seem to carry a lot of those right now. I walked out with this cashmere sweater in navy for half off and these cole haan sneakers for 50 bucks!

3. Late night Maddie + trolling Twitter = me buying Repeal the 8th art for my future apartment. Bought this beautiful print through the Someone You Love campaign and cannot wait to frame it and put it up for all eternity. I’ve been looking for a piece of art from Ireland forever, but nothing felt personal until I saw this baby. Feminist, colorful, and I think it will compliment my other pieces beautifully. Definitely check out the rest of the pieces in their online shop – a great gift for the Irish feminist in your life!

4. Speaking of other things I don’t need for an apartment I don’t have, my mom gifted me the most amazing salt and pepper shaker on this earth. Guys, I’m completely obsessed. It’s beautiful, hilarious, and practical! I also think this totally shows my priorities – art and kitschy home goods over furniture and kitchen ware. I like this about myself.

Coming Up Next

1. I’ve got BIG news coming up this week! I’m waiting till everything is finalized, but I’ll definitely be sharing a huge life update very soon!

2. I’ll be sharing some photos and journals from my trip out west – think snowy mountains, yellow and red leaves, and some wildlife up close and personal. I’ll also let you know what my favorite spots out in Boulder were and things I was super thankful I packed.

3. I’m on the prowl for some new fall boots (both over the knee and booties) so I’ll be sharing a round up of the ones I’ve been eyeing. It also seems like there are a million sales going on right now so I’ll be sure to include some discounted options. Till then!

My Ultimate Guide to Dublin

Although I’m already back in the US, I wanted to make sure to put together a list of all my favorite spots in Dublin while it’s still fresh. I love giving suggestions when people visit, so I wanted to share the spots that I have loved eating, drinking, dancing, shopping, and touristing over the past year. I put together a budget friendly guide earlier in the year and so many of those places I still love regardless of what I’m spending, but I wanted to share what I consider the best of the best in Dublin, too.

This guide has got a little bit of everything: food, drinks, nightlife, tourist spots, day trips, and even my favorite nail salon. I feel like putting this together was as much for me too because I want to remember all the great places I loved going and where I have some really amazing memories. I want to be able to read this guide in 10 years and revisit all my favorite spots!

Just a note: Since I lived near Trinity, a lot of these places are in the center of the city, which is where I spent the majority of my time. I say this because I know there are a lot of great spots outside the city center, too, I just didn’t frequent them.

Anyway, I hope these suggestions are helpful and if you’re visiting Dublin anytime soon, you have to let me know! There are definitely places that didn’t make it on the list that I might think are perfect for you – so feel free to message me, email me, or comment below!

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Best Hotels

The WestinWestmoreland Street – Located right next to Trinity and across the street from Temple Bar, it is definitely a prime location. Plus, it has the reputation for being one of the nicest places to stay in the city. I’ve had friends stay here and say it was lovely.

The WestburyGrafton Street – Another prime locale, The Westbury is right in the middle of the best shopping and eating in the city. But if you’re not in the mood to venture out, don’t worry, the hotel is known for its fabulous afternoon tea. I haven’t stayed here, but stayed at its sister hotel in London, The Marylebone, and that was probably the best experience I’ve ever had a hotel. I can only imagine the service is just as fantastic.

The MorganTemple Bar – My dad and stepmom stayed here when they visited me over the summer and at first I was worried about them staying in Temple Bar, which is the loud party district. But with a room facing away from Fleet Street and thick curtains, you couldn’t hear a thing! I was really impressed. The location is just as amazing as The Westin, since it’s across the street, but The Morgan is cheaper, if you book ahead. We had the best time people watching, sipping wine, and chatting outside the hotel’s bar – would definitely recommend!

*A note on this: I’ve never actually stayed in a hotel while in Dublin, but these are the places that I’ve heard from friends, relatives, and reviews are the best. I do know they’re all very centrally located and highly rated.

*Another note: Whatever you do, don’t stay in a hotel on Harcourt Street. The hotels are cheaper in that area for a reason: it is the home of the two biggest clubs in Dublin and it will always be loud.  Unless you’re going for a party weekend or a hen party or something, I would avoid!

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Best Cafes for Breakfast & Coffee

Keoghs Cafeoff of Dame St – My favorite spot for an afternoon coffee. My lovely friend, Aoife, showed me this spot and I’ve taken myself back numerous times to read, work, or just sit with a cup of coffee and relax. Get the cappuccino and raspberry scone with cream and jam – the cream is unreal.

LemonDawson St & South William St – The best place for a relaxed breakfast. This was our favorite Saturday morning breakfast spot for it’s outdoor seating, chill atmosphere, and hearty food. Perfect when you want more than a coffee, but don’t want to go all out for brunch. Get the Crispy Complete Crepe or the Strawberry Supreme with nutella.

Bewley’s (if it ever reopens) – Grafton St – Full disclosure, I’ve only been here once like 3 years ago, but it made that much of an impression on me. It’s a Dublin institution, but has been closed for the past couple of years for renovations – it keeps threatening to reopen, but it’s not looking great. If you are in town and it is open, go for the full Irish breakfast, it’s a classic.

*If you want something quick but hearty for breakfast, order an Irish breakfast roll. You can get them in most places that do sandwiches (I like O’Donovan on Pearse Street) and at a lot of rest stops along the highways, if you’re traveling. They’re basically everything in a full Irish breakfast on a small baguette. Be prepared for a food coma, it’s intense.

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Best Brunch 

Brasserie Sixty6George’s Street Upper – My go-to for a nice boozey brunch. Great egg dishes and a hearty Irish breakfast, if that’s what you’re looking for, but with a lovely wine selection and mimosas a plenty. Get the eggs and lobster and a glass of Marble Leaf wine.

Hatch And SonsSt. Stephen’s Green – Love for brunchy comfort food. They’ve got all the breakfast classics served with thick brown bread and the best jam everrrrr. Get the double baked eggs and take home a jar of jam for mom.

*There are definitely other great places around, but, for some reason, I just didn’t really brunch that often while living there. I’ve heard San Lorenzo’s is a great spot, same with The Fumbally, Whitefriar Grill, and The Exchequer‘s champagne brunch.

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Best Lunch

EathosBaggot Street Upper – Hands down my favorite lunch spot in Dublin. It’s a little on the expensive side for lunch so its more of a special occasion spot, but it is seriously the best food and the portions are huge. So it’s like 2 for 1, right? Order the lentils and the chicken thigh or tuna.

KC PeachesNassau St, Pearse St, St. Stephen’s Green, & Dame St – My regular lunch spot while I was in class. Great sandwiches and hot food, but the real MVP is the salad bar where you can stuff a box full of veggies, grains, and chicken salads. Also, they delicious coffee and a huge assortment of pastries. Get the California chicken salad, the steakhouse sandwich, and the cheesecake brownies.

SproutDawson St – The place I go if I’m feeling uber healthy. They specialize in seasonal, local, organic foods and have an assortment of green juices and super healthy desserts, if that’s what you’re into. Get the falafel wrap, the turkey salad, and the supergreen juice (I swear, it’s actually good!).

Mama’s RevengeNassau St – My go-to burrito place. Burrito spots have kind of exploded around Dublin and, to be fair, they’re all pretty good, but I always find myself craving Mama’s Revenge. If you’re coming from the States, you might find it too special, but when you haven’t had proper Mexican food in many months it really hits the spot. Get the chili burrito with veggies.

Super Miss SueDrury St – Best fish and chips in Dublin. I don’t care what anyone else says, this place is bomb and the best place for your fish fry fix. You can do takeout, delivery via deliveroo, or sit on the long bench outside with a glass of wine. Get the student deal, if you can.

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Best Casual Dinner

Fade Street Social – Fade St – My favorite place to take family and friends for casual, but amazing food. Their dishes are rich and unique and I have always had a great experience there. Full disclosure though, I think they were hit with some sort of health code violation recently, so I would check it out beforehand. If you do go, get the truffle hen egg foam, the soft shell crab, and the mini lobster hotdog.

The ShakespeareParnell St – Best hidden gem of Dublin; I always take my friends here when they visit. I know you probably don’t think of Korean food when you think of Ireland, but this place is truly awesome. Sort of hole in the wall, but delicious food, cheap pints, and relaxed atmosphere. If you’re lucky, there’s a guy who makes hotteok in the back sometimes, a sort of Korean pancake topped with nutella or tomato sauce and cheese. Get the bulgogi bibambap and the kimchi pancakes.

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Best Fancy Drinks

The Rooftop at The MarkerGrand Canal Square – Hands down the most beautiful spot for rooftop drinks in the city. Amazing cocktails and if you go at the right time you can watch the sun set and the entire bay begin to light up. It’s gorgeous. Book ahead if you’re a big group or show up early if its just two because they’ll sometimes make you wait around for no reason. And look nice, that always helps. Get the Marker Dream and the Classic Champagne Cocktail.

Sophie’s at The DeanHarcourt Street – Another beautiful pre-dinner drinks location. With views of the Wicklow Mountains, an airy interior, and another fabulous cocktail menu, it’s the perfect option for drinks during bad weather (which, let’s be honest, is most of the time). Get the 6:30 Wake Up Call.

Vintage Cocktail ClubTemple Bar – The best speakeasy in town. Tucked away down a dark street in Temple Bar, you’d never even know it was there, except for a door with stickers that read “VCC”. Ring the doorbell or wait for someone to come out and you’ll suddenly be in a prohibition era luxe bar and restaurant. Head to the smoking area on the top floor to grab a seat (if you can) or just stand around sipping the craziest cocktails in town. Skip the food (you’re not missing much), and get the Apothecary’s Delight or the Rosy & Jim.

Best Fancy Restaurants 

The Winding StairLower Ormond Quay – This may be my favorite restaurant on the entire planet. It’s just exactly everything I love: amazing, decadent food, awesome service, gorgeous views overlooking the river, but without the pretension of a “fancy” restaurant. It’s a particularly wonderful date spot, so if you’re in town with someone special I would highly recommend it. And try to sit near the book cases – we found an old Irish book from the 1920s there once with rugby game scores and journal entries jotted into it, so cool. Their specials are always unreal (if they have beef cheek, get it!), but I also love the steak or the clams with the bread and butter pudding for dessert.

Hugo’sMerrion Row – A great spot to take your parents. A little bright and fun restaurant with great food and wine and really lovely service. Let’s just say I took an especially picky family member here once and even they liked it, so it’s definitely worth putting on the list. Get the lamb or the chicken.

Best Dessert

Murphy’s Ice CreamWicklow St – My favorite place for a rich, creamy splurge. This place is soooo good. They have crazy flavors like lavender, brown bread, and gin (made with real Dingle gin!) and some of your standards like caramel and cookie, so there’s something for everyone. My fave combo is the sea salt and the caramel honeycomb – delicious!

YogismGeorge’s Street Arcade – For a little guilt-free pick me up. I may have gone to Yogism a few too many times while writing my dissertation, but it makes the perfect little treat after a long day. It’s your pretty standard froyo situation with classic tart yogurt and toppings a plenty, plus if you guess the weight of your cup at the end you get it for free! I love the classic flavor with strawberries and kinder bar.

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Best Pubs

Since this is Dublin, it shouldn’t be surprising that Best Pubs is the lengthiest section of this guide. The rumors are true, there are so many good places in Dublin that it’s really hard to go wrong, but these were the ones that I frequented, would go out of my way for, or generally think are notable.

Doyle’sCollege St – My most suggested pub in Dublin and an all around great place to grab a pint. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes Doyle’s so special, but I pretty much always made a point to bring people here if they’re from out of town. Just a great spot to have a beer and a chat.

The Ginger ManFenian St – Another favorite, especially if I’m looking to sit outside and have a chat with whoever happens to be sitting nearby. A more social pub than Doyle’s, in my opinion, and there’s just a great energy about being there.

The ShakespeareParnell St – Best dinner and a drink. I’ve mentioned this place in my budget friendly guide and in my favorite restaurants and now in my favorite pubs. This place is just my favorite, y’all.

Grogan’sSouth William Street – Fun fact: the first time I came here was for a job interview cause that’s just how they roll in Dublin. This place is a total old school, old man pub where you can get arguably one of the best pints of Guinness in town along with homemade cheese toasties they keep in a mini-fridge on the counter. Not pretentious in any way, just awesome.

The Brazen HeadLower Bridge St – The oldest pub in Ireland! I usually bring people here after a trip to the Guinness factory cause it’s only a few blocks away. It’s another spot with great atmosphere and their traditional Irish food is super hearty and delicious. They also do traditional storytelling nights here (although I’ve never been) that sound pretty excellent.

The BargeCharlemont St – Best pub on a sunny day (pictured above). The Barge really comes alive in the summer on those rare beautiful days. I used to walk past it every day after work and definitely stopped more than once to sip a cold pint along the canal.

The LombardLombard St – Our local pub. I couldn’t have this list without mentioning the Lombard since it served us so well all year. Just a block away from our apartment, it was always so nice to get a pint here after a long day or order a plate of chicken wings if we weren’t feeling like cooking dinner. Really nice people and never too crowded or loud.

GravediggersGlasnevin – Definitely stop by here if you’re up at the Glasnevin cemetery and the botanic gardens. The story is that the gravediggers would stop by here for a pint before they started their shift, sometimes leaving the casket they were about to bury on the table in the pub! But if you ask they bartender, he’ll say it’s just a story… with a wink.

The PavTrinity College – The true Trinity experience, especially when the weather is nice (pictured below). Grab a 4 pack of cans and sit out on the grass with half the student body for an afternoon of sunbathing and total relaxation. This basically got me through my dissertation tbh.

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Best Whiskey Bar

Dingle Whiskey BarNassau St – My go to when I’m feeling something a little stronger. Dingle has a great selection of single pot Irish whiskey and their bartenders will always point you in the right direction if you’re not sure what you want. My favorites are Writer’s Tears, Redbreast 12, and Green Spot.

Best Nightlife

Dicey’sHarcourt St – A Dublin institution. Located right next to Copper’s, the other big club in Dublin, Dicey’s will be crazy every night and is perfect spot to go out and dance all night. They play pretty good tunes and have 2 euro pints on certain nights. I’ve ended up here more times that I would like to admit…

XicoLower Baggot St – Best place to start the week off right. Xico has become infamous for its half price Mondays so think 2 euro shots of Tequila and a wild crowd, plus they play some of my favorite music in the city. They might give you a little trouble getting in, but stick it out, they never really turn people away.

The Czech InnTemple Bar – For when you just don’t care. I love this place because they truly do not care about being cool. They serve up some strong long island iced tea and I’ve known them to play the Taylor Swift 1989 album in its entirety on the dance floor. Great spot for when you can’t be bothered with the fuss of properly going out.

Workman’sWellington Quay – A popular spot amongst friends. The music is a little trancier than I like, but they have an enormous outdoor smoking area that is great for having a pint and a chat if you’re not in the dancing mood. I love this place because it feels like you’re at a giant house party.

Best Late Night Food

ZaytoonCamden St & Temple Bar – Hands down the best drunk food ever. EVER. Conveniently located at the drunk hotspots, right by Coppers & Diceys and in Temple Bar, they serve up enormous, delicious kabobs with all the toppings. I really can’t describe how satisfying it is to eat this after a night out. Plus, it makes unreal hangover food so its the gift that keeps on giving. Get the chicken doner meal with garlic cheese chips.

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Best Events

Longitude FestivalMarlay Park – The Lalapalooza of Dublin. If you’re around in July and are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, I would definitely recommend Longitude. It’s a much smaller festival, if you’re used to the ones in the states, which is actually so nice and it features a great mix of local artists and big names. We had a blast seeing Kendrick Lamar here last summer.

Gaelic Football or Hurling Matches – Croke Park – For sports fans and skeptics alike. I am not the biggest sports person in the world, but it was so fun going to a GAA game this summer. Both Gaelic Football and Hurling are traditional Irish sports and people get so into them, it’s fun even if you don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know exactly when the seasons are, but check the GAA tickets page and stop by Croke Park for an afternoon. It’s definitely an experience.

Music at Whelan’sCamden St – For great live music. Between their awesome lineup of musicians and their intimate venue, a concert at Whelan’s is pretty special. My dad dragged me to a random blues concert when he was in town and it ended up being my favorite thing that we did. Plus, if you’re lucky you can see amazing musicians (Hozier, Glen Hansard, James Blake) up close and personal for pretty cheap.

Best Nail Salon

Tropical PopicalSouth William St – For some quirky pampering. I know this is a random thing to include on this guide, but Tropical Popical truly is in a class of its own. A favorite of Saoirse Ronan, this little nail salon is filled to the brim with personality: cheetah print uniforms, flamingo decorations, Lilt soda served up in a coconut glass, plus some very talented nail artists. I like to get the file and polish because you get the whole experience, a manicure that lasts a week, and it’s only 10 euro.

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Best Shopping

Brown ThomasGrafton Street – The ultimate upscale experience. To be honest, I have done very little actual shopping here and a lot more wandering around looking longingly at everything. Ireland’s top department, it has all the great designers, a sprawling makeup floor, and an entire room devoted to Louboutin shoes. 😍 Their sister store, BT2, is across the street and is more my speed with younger designs and (somewhat) cheaper prices. If I was ever looking for something special or any kind of investment piece, this is where I would go.

Harlequin VintageDrury Street – My favorite vintage store. I pop by here every few weeks to see what’s new and I always head upstairs to their sale section. I’ve gotten some really fun pieces here: mom jeans, a crazy 90s romper, a beautiful navy trench, and a vintage Escada sweater for 10 euro. Be in the mood to dig around a little bit and you’ll certainly find some treasures.

Om DivaDrury Street – For a little bit of everything. It’s a little shop, but it certainly packs a punch: they have fun modern brands when you walk in, beautifully curated vintage in the basement, and a top floor filled with Irish designers. I love supporting local artists when I can and their stock is all around beautiful and quirky. One of my favorite going out tops is from here (made by a local designer) and I got the most beautifully fitting vintage dress here too. Definitely worth a stop in.

Bow and PearlRanelagh – For knits, jeans, and ladylike dresses. So I know I’m a little biased because I used to work here, but I had to include it because there are legitimately things I loved about the shop. Firstly, the Janet Byrne Knitwear: if you’re looking for a beautiful handmade Irish knit, but don’t want the same fisherman sweater that everyone else has, look no further. They’re definitely a splurge, but they are seriously gorgeous, so soft, and come in a million colors. Also, if you’re looking for unique formalwear, they always have a great selection of fun, ultra-feminine dresses and skirts. Plus, the staff is seriously the best, if I do say so myself 🙂

Kilkenny ShopNassau St – My go to shop for gifts. I made a huge dent here before Christmas and again before I came home because they have the largest selection of Irish made goods in one place. I like to pick up extra boxes of chocolates (with whiskey or Bailey’s in them, of course), locally sourced soaps and candles, and scarves and pashminas made from super soft Donegal wool for family and friends. I’ve always admired the kitchen wares there, too, but never found a good way to get them home. A great one stop shop for nice and not kitschy souvenirs.

Ulysses Rare BooksDuke St – For the English nerd. For anyone who loves books, especially Irish literature, Ulysses is a must see. They carry first edition Joyce, signed copies of Samuel Beckett, and beautiful antique children’s books, maps, and illustrations. If you’re looking for a gift for a bibliophile then you’ve hit the jackpot – it may be pricey, but you’ll find some really special here, I’m sure of it.

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Best Tourist Attractions

Guinness StorehouseSt. James’s Gate – You gotta say you went. Although a little pricey (around 17 euro) The Guinness experience does a good job: it brings you through the history of the famed Irish beer, how its made and distributed, their advertising campaigns, and you can enjoy a fresh pint up at the Gravity bar which boasts a 360 degree view of Dublin. Guinness is also filled with great restaurants, so I always like to get lunch there as well. Definitely great for any beer buff.

The Long LibraryTrinity College – Also very touristy but this is actually one of my favorite spots in Dublin. It’s in the same building as the Book of Kells at Trinity, which is also cool, but the real masterpiece is up the stairs past the book and into the Library. It often gets compared to the Great Hall at Hogwarts and holds hundreds of old volumes kept by the college, plus its famous rows of marble busts. It’s seriously breathtaking and a pretty quick trip, so I highly recommend it.

Glasnevin Cemetery and Botanic GardensGlasnevin – A little off the beaten path. If you want to get out of the city center, I would recommend heading up North to the Glasnevin Cemetery, which is attached to the Botanic Gardens. The cemetery is the final home to many important Irish figures, including Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera, and is a quiet, contemplative refuge from the rest of the city. Walking tours are available, but I’ve always preferred to wander around.

The Botanic Gardens, next door, are my favorite place in Dublin. With several enormous public green houses you can spend hours wandering through rooms of lush flowers, fun cacti, and tropical trees. It is especially reinvigorating in the midst of a dreary Irish winter and feels like a tiny afternoon’s vacation. Plus both the gardens and cemetery are completely free to visit, so there’s really no excuse not to visit!

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Best Day Trips

If in you’re in Dublin for longer than a weekend and want to see more of Ireland while you’re around there are definitely a few easy day trips that will get you out of the city. There are many tour companies, such as PaddyWagon Tours and Dublin Tour Company, that have bus tours available, but it’s also possible to strike out on your own if that’s not your thing.

Howth – For a taste of the sea just down the street. This is definitely the easiest day trip to take from Dublin. You just hop on the DART train to Howth from Pearse or Connolly station and within in an hour you’ve replaced city streets with boats and lighthouses. Check out the Howth Pier and St. Mary’s Abbey and definitely grab some local seafood – it’s the best! I did a post about Howth a few months ago, if you’re interested.

Galway – For a cultural capital on the West coast. Full disclosure, I haven’t spent a lot of time in Galway, but I’ve passed through on several occasions and it’s a really lovely spot. Known for their festivals and emphasis on the arts, it’s definitely worth an afternoon wandering around the downtown and checking out what’s on. Plus, it’s home of the claddagh ring if you’re looking for a gift for someone special. You can read about my stops in Galway here and here.

The Cliffs of Moher – For some epic views. I would actually recommend a bus tour for this trip or, if you’re doing a road trip around the country, to stay close to the cliffs and get there early. There’s just no good way to get here without a car and it gets so busy during tourist season, but it’s seriously so beautiful that you don’t mind the crowds. I’m so glad I crossed this one off my list – it’s stunning. I recently put up a post about the Cliffs, if you’re interested.

Belfast – For a taste of Northern Ireland. Belfast is a little much to do in a day so I would actually recommend staying overnight to see everything. The main attraction in town is the Titanic Museum, which explains how the Titanic was built (in Belfast), the history of the shipbuilding industry, and tells stories of the those who were onboard. I also hear the City Hall and St. George’s Street market are great to check out also. I visited last fall and this past summer and have always wanted to spend more time in Belfast!

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So there you go! All my favorites in Dublin and beyond! This has seriously been so fun to put together and I hope it can be a helpful to anyone planning a trip out there anytime soon (which if you’re not, you should be!). Living in Dublin has honestly been the best thing I’ve ever done and to be able to share this experience with so many people, both online and in person, has been really special. I feel nostalgic for Dublin all the time and I can’t wait to get back there as soon as I can!

Let me know if you have any specific questions about anything and if you have favorites too, leave them in the comments! I would love this to be a sort of running document of the best places to go. Thanks a mill and I hope you love Dublin as much as I do! 💕

Summer Vacation Part 2: Berlin

Part two of our trip was a stop in beautiful Berlin. My friends had really hyped Barcelona and it was definitely so fun, but I just totally vibed with Berlin. The crisp air, the sense of history, and the low-key atmosphere of the city were right up my alley. Barcelona was exciting, but Berlin was truly relaxing. My favorite moment was simply walking around and experiencing the city with good people and warm coffee. Sometimes that’s all you really need…

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Where we stayed: We skipped the AirBnb this time and stayed at the Grand Hostel in Kreuzberg, which we had a good experience with. Clean rooms, cheap drinks, close to several good restaurants, and a minute’s walk away from the Möckernbrücke U-Bahn station, which came in handy. We also rented bikes for around 10 euro through the hostel and met some fun people to go out with, so it was a great home base throughout our trip.

The Kreuzberg neighborhood was recommended to me by my friend, Anna, who lives in Berlin and was really lovely. You do have to take the U-Bahn to all the big tourist sites, but it was worth it for the quiet room and relaxed vibe of the area. I bet an AirBnb around there would be gorgeous.

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What we did: We did less specific sightseeing in Berlin and a lot more walking around and taking it all in, which was lovely. We had beautiful weather for strolling along Alexanderplatz, Museum Island, and the Brandenburg Gate.

On day 2, we rented bikes from our hostel and made our way to Tempelhofer Feld, an abandon airport that has been converted into a park. It was honestly the coolest thing. The entire structure is still standing and we biked along the runways and discovered small planes tucked away in the brush. We grabbed a soda at one of the little stands with my lovely friend, Anna, and spent the afternoon catching up and enjoying the beautiful weather.

On our last day, we did a walking tour of the city, which I highly recommend. I know some of Berlin’s history from my contemporary history class back in the day, but it was so interesting to hear about it all while really being there. Our tour guide was knowledgable and warm and it was nice to see all the major spots in one afternoon: The Brandenburg Gate, The Berlin Wall, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and The East Side Gallery. I definitely have a new appreciation for Germany’s fraught history and have been cueing up the Cold War documentaries on Netflix ever since.

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What We Ate: While we were in Barcelona, we kept joking that we were on a “foodie holiday” because we always managed to find some really great grub. Berlin was no different. Our first night we stumbled upon Blue Nile, an Ethiopian place right near our hostel, which was super delicious. We gorged on an enormous platter of meats and veggies while sipping on passion fruit Dju Dju beer (which I seriously want to find again, it was so good).

Other dinner highlights were Burgermeister, where we had seriously epic burgers and fries (pictured below) after a day of bike riding. We also tried the local fare of currywurst, which is bratwurst made with curry spices and smothered in curry ketchup – sounds weird but is actually delish. But the real MVP were Berlin’s kabobs, which were all incredible no matter where you went, especially after a night out… We tried to hit up Mustafas because we kept hearing it was the best spot around only to run out of time since the wait was an hour and we had to catch our flight home. So if you go sometime, let me know if it’s really worth the wait! I was so bummed!

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Where We Drank: Similar to Barcelona we stuck with pre-drinks at the hostel since beer was cheap and the people were fun so we didn’t do much bar hopping. Our first night, though, we did head out to Mein Haus am See, a 24-hour bar over by Rosenthaler Platz, for a couple of pints and some atmosphere; I loved the weird art on the walls and the ultra-hip bartender. It was definitely more chill than the clubs, if you’re looking for something a little more laid back.

The highlight for me, though, was discovering a fabulous riverside bar with deck chairs and cold beer. We spent a few hours sunbathing and watching the boats cruise by – it was some serious vacation vibes. Couldn’t have asked for better weather or company.

In terms of clubs, we hit up Tresor, a big popular club, and Golden Gate, a gritty spot underneath a train stop. Both played similar trance-electronic music and involved a lot of people standing around smoking cigarettes on the dance floor – I was clearly not cool enough to be in either of these places. We didn’t have any trouble getting in, but if you’re worried, get your best grunge look on, don’t say much and try to speak German to the bouncers. The whole thing wasn’t really my scene, but it was certainly an experience.

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Berlin is definitely a spot I want to go back to. I was blown away by the history, the art, the people, and the laid back feel of the whole place. Nothing better than crisp, sunny weather, great beer, and wonderful friends, right? Barcelona was good fun, but Berlin takes the cake for me this trip. Till next time!

Summer Vacation Part 1: Barcelona

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After finishing my dissertation, a few friends and I jetted off for a few days of vacation and, man, did I need it. I’m the kind of person that takes a long time to decompress from long term stress, but I discovered that changing my surroundings did wonders for my relaxation – it really helped me realize that my dissertation was actually over! Woohoo!

First off, we headed to beautiful Barcelona. I’ve been craving hot weather all summer since summers in Dublin are typically mild and wet so this leg of the trip totally hit the spot. The city has so much energy and the siesta life is definitely something I can get on board with. I tried to unplug for the most part (so I didn’t take a ton of photos), but wanted to share some of my favorite bits from the trip.

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Where we stayed: Our beautiful AirBnb was perfect. A 3 minute walk from La Rambla, spacious enough for everyone to hang out and eat dinner or play cards, and had glorious air conditioning in each of the main rooms. The only complaint I would have is the stairs: you have to walk up 5 flights of stairs to get the apartment, so definitely not accessible, if that’s a consideration. Other than that, though, we had a wonderful time staying there and between the 5 of us it was about 20 bucks a night, which was cheaper than the hostels!

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Where we ate: La Boqueria is the market off of La Rambla and was hands down the best food we had the whole trip. I would not shut up about how amazing the oysters are – the shopkeeper literally cracks them open and hands them to you to eat with lemon and tabasco. Heaven. We also got fresh fruit smoothies, prosciutto sandwiches, cheese croquettes, and cups of aged ham for cheaper than anywhere else. Best food no matter your budget.

Other great places we ate were: Makamaka was perfect for post-beach burgers and beer since it’s so close to the ocean. And you have to get the truffle parmesan fries, they might be the most delicious things I’ve ever had. Another great spot we went to was Story, a chill, hip spot with great homemade pasta and unique tapas. Think bearded hipster waiters and classic 1950s tunes – great atmosphere.

We totally caved and ate dinner at one of the touristy outdoor restaurants along La Rambla, but I would recommend going once. Great people watching and they have all the tapas and paella you could want. And order the black rice paella, it’s seriously the best!

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Where we drank: Since we were on a budget for the trip, we opted for the cheapest drinks humanly possible and oh did we find them. Two of my friends had stayed at the Kabul Hostel the last time they’d come to Barcelona and, although we weren’t staying there, they welcomed us to their dirt cheap rooftop bar. Like €2 cups of sangria and €1 shots dirt cheap. Obviously these aren’t the most delicious drinks ever, but when the clubs and restaurants charge €12 for a beer, it was a relief to find somewhere affordable. Plus, Kabul does fun bar crawls every night if you’re looking to go out and meet some new people.

In terms of nightlife, we joined Kabul on their bar crawl on the first night, which was great since we hadn’t really planned anything yet. Although the “free shots” and “party games” were a bit lame, it was nice to not worry about where to go and just go along for the ride. We also had a great time at Opium along the beach, but I would steer clear of Bling Bling which was unreasonably snobby and overpriced.

P.S. If anyone knows of a great hip-hop club in Barcelona, please let me know! We were searching for this place that the boys had been before that played great rap and r&b music, but struck out. We’re still so curious, though!

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What we did: Believe it or not, we did more than drink on our trip and actually got some sightseeing done while we were there. We visited the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which had a beautiful collection, and walked around the deserted Olympic Village, which is just behind the museum. We toured the completely beautiful Sagrada Familia, which was my favorite because I’m a sucker for big, elaborate churches. And on our last afternoon, we rented paddle boards from a beach side shop and had the best time floating along (but mostly falling into) the ocean – just look out for jellyfish!

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Definitely a successful first leg of the journey! Although pretty steeped in tourists given it was the high season, we still had a great time – a good mix of relaxing, sight seeing, and partying. Just what the doctor ordered after a summer stuck in the library… Keep your eyes peeled for the Vacay Part 2: Berlin, coming at you very soon!

Galway & Cliffs of Moher

I’m back y’all! To say this month is crazy would be an understatement – between finishing my master’s degree, having friends come to stay, going on vacation, and prepping for a big move life has been nuts! But before I even begin to think about wrapping things up here in Dublin, I’d like to share a few of my recent adventures…

For the last two weeks, our good friend Mario has been staying with us and before embarking on our trip to the Continent (which you’ll be hearing about soon) we decided to show him a little bit more of Ireland. So we hopped on a bus and headed out to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

It’s amazing how quickly you realize that Dublin is so different from the rest of the country – rich, green landscape with houses scattered along country roads is way more the norm here than life in the Big Smoke. It’s my biggest regret that I haven’t gone out into the country more, but glad to have finally checked the Cliffs off my list!

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We first stopped in Galway for a little walking tour, highlights include: Galway Harbour, drinking cappuccinos on the main street, and discovering that the one-armed pan flute player (pictured above) had moved to Galway! He’s our absolute favorite street musician – I even bought his Christmas album – and we’ve been wondering where he went so imagine our surprise!

This is my second quick trip to Galway (see my last post here), but this time around the weather was WAY more beautiful and the whole town seemed so lively. We were told several times about the numerous festivals in the area, so if you’re headed out that way make sure to check out the festival schedule. Would love to stop by the oyster festival some time… 😋

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After leaving Galway, we took a few rest stops on our way towards the cliffs for photos and some delicious pub food. We used the Dublin Tour Company for our trip, which was good and ran us about 50 euro for the whole day. I’ve also taken Paddywagon Tours before, which is a little cheaper, but seemed generally the same, if you’re in the market. I do wish we’d brought our own snacks and water, though, because the rest stops throughout the day were by far our biggest expense.

None of that mattered though when we reached the Cliffs of Moher, themselves. They were as striking as I’ve been told and you seriously have no concept of how tall they are until you’re really looking over them. Some people were crazy getting super close to the edge despite the fact there was a huge landslide just a few weeks before… But even from the safety of the path, the views are spectacular.

From the visitor center we went toward the tower to see the Right Cliff first, which was smaller but very beautiful. It’s also an easier and shorter walk than the Left Cliff, if you’re not up for a hike. Then we walked along the Left Cliff (pictured directly below), which is the more popular of the two sides. Although the weather was beautiful, it also brought along the crowds, especially around midday when all the tour buses arrive. I would recommend staying nearby and getting there early if you want to avoid the masses.

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But seriously though, no complaints here. It was totally amazing and I’m so glad I got to see one of the most iconic landscapes in Ireland. Unreal stuff.

On our way home, we took another quick photo opp at The Burren, which is a national park in Ireland with a particularly unusual landscape. So unusual, in fact, that NASA used to bring astronauts to it to simulate the surface of the moon. A gorgeous spot with its bumpy rocks and jagged shoreline and kind of refreshing amongst all the lush, green landscape.

All in all, our trip took 14 hours so it was a day. And I may or may not have come home and worked on my dissertation for another 3 hours afterward. Great time management there, Maddie… But it was definitely worth the time, so if you’re looking for a great day trip out of Dublin I would definitely recommend it!

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Weekend Roundup: Party Time

How was your weekend? We had a couple of birthday/house parties on tap and I have to say it was kind of glorious sleeping in and ordering late night dirty takeout. Would love to get a few pages of my dissertation done this evening, but let’s be honest… I do really need to buckle down this week, though, so I’m mentally preparing for long days in the library and too many cups of coffee. Wish me luck (I’m gonna need it)!

If you’re not quite ready to start your week, yet, here are a few procrastination friendly links…

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Would love to see an entire play made up of scenes like this.

If you’re in Dublin, everyone’s favorite hangover cure, Deliveroo, is offering free delivery for the next two weeks. Too tempting.

Literally something I’ve always wondered this but was too embarrassed to ask.

This Lisa Frank clothing line is what my 3rd grade dreams were made of.

Have you been following the Kimye v. Taylor drama? I’ve always found T-Swift pretty disingenuous so I’ve been lapping up everyone’s hilarious twitter shade.

Putting so many of these YA books on my (ever growing) post-dissertation reading list.

Eyeing these Vince Camuto boots for fall – will be putting up my favorite Nordstrom Sale pieces up this week (even though shipping to Ireland is ridic 😭). Keep yo eyes peeled.

(Photo from my instagram. The Barge is always in full swing on sunny days.)

Leonardo da Vinci at the National Gallery

In my last post, I mentioned several of Dublin’s fab (and free) local museums, including the National Gallery of Ireland. Although the museum is small, down to only 2 galleries during renovations, it has some major gems right now. I came for the da Vinci, but stayed for the, well, everything else…

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After seeing ads around town for months, I finally got my shit together and checked out the Leonardo da Vinci drawings exhibition in the main gallery. Tickets are (say it with me!) totally free and, even though its the last weekend, seem to be pretty easily available. I booked last night and had my pick of times.

But onto the art: the exhibition is made up of 10 original da Vinci drawings on lend from the Royal Collection in England and although that might not seem like very much, they really make the most of the pieces. The exhibit includes historical context of each piece, discusses da Vinci’s process of study, and even presents a video explaining the way da Vinci created the paper, ink, and pigments he used to create the drawings. There was an interesting mix of content, as well: some studies of famous paintings, early representations of scientific theories (like the anatomical drawings below), and even, above, a map of the Arno river in Florence.

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But what I loved the most was how unusual it felt to see works-in-progress exhibited on their own, instead of as supplements to the finished pieces. It felt like seeing the dress rehearsal of a play with all its stops and restarts and unpolished realness. I’ve always loved looking at people’s beautifully haphazard class notes or finding old annotated books, so this felt like the ultimate journal porn. What also struck me was how amazing it is that these pieces even still exist; the exhibit talked about how the drawings were passed from artist to artist and then across Europe, eventually, making it to England where they were preserved by the royal family. But at any point over the last 500 years they could have just as easily been destroyed as a bunch of useless, unfinished papers. Sort of amazing when you think about everything that’s happened in Europe since da Vinci’s time…

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The National Gallery is also a beautiful space to grab lunch or coffee with a big light-filled atrium and lots of lunch choices so it makes a great midday break. And check out their other exhibit on early 20th century European painting, it’s actually so good. I ducked in after seeing the da Vinci and was seriously blown away by some of the pieces they have tucked away in there. Like I said before, small but mighty museum.

Needless to say, if you’re in town this weekend and have a free half hour, pop over to the National Gallery. Things seemed pretty slow so even if you don’t have tickets, just show and see what happens – it’s totally worth it to get a little glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s greatest thinkers.