Dublin

~By Amanda and Julie

I fly to Dublin often enough for work trips, however I’ve never had the opportunity to experience the amazing night life. When you have to be on your A game at 9 am, one can not stay out drinking pints and fine Irish whiskey all night. Julie and I decided we needed a long weekend in Dublin just to see this awesome city without a curfew. Warning! This post is pretty much about eating, drinking, dancing and sleeping. The most cultural thing we did was listen to Irish music and enjoy a run though Phoenix Park. However, it does contain a list of amazing spots in Dublin to enjoy all the above mentioned activities, including quite a few outside the normal tourist circuit of Temple Bar.


(Julie’s story)
I’ve always had an unusual bucket list, and at the top of the list was to get in a real Irish bar fight. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually want to hurt anyone; I’m a giant wimp whose bark is bigger than her bite. However, breaking a wooden stool with beer splashing everywhere and people yelling in Irish accents just did something for me. I flew to Ireland a few years ago with Anna, who couldn’t let me do this alone so she signed up to join the adventure. Once we got to the bar, I tried everything with anyone to pick a fight. I was being so difficult, but I learned that day that the Irish are the absolute best people! Every time I was indifferent to someone they bought me a beer. I was told a story about an Irish man who didn’t wanna fight, but was being called outside to prove his masculinity. He kept a telling the guy he didn’t wanna fight. So when it was time to go outside, he just stripped down bare naked on the street and lifted his fists. Who wants to fight a naked guy?!

The Irish have good hearts and adore fun. Somewhere on the internet there is a picture of me holding 4 or 6 full beers at one time looking dumbfounded. I fell in love with the Irish that day and someday I’ll find a way to smash a wooden stool without being a jerk.
(Amanda)
Trying to maintain a budget, we jumped onto Hostelworld.com and searched through the lists of available bunks. I have a gift when it comes to comparing accommodations and was quickly able find a place near the city center with the right price tag. Kinlay House sits just outside the Temple Bar area and is walkable to most major points in the city. This gigantic hostel has several floors of rooms at variable price points; it’s clean and provides the typical amenities. My only complaint is they close the common room. In all my travels I have never seen a common room closed every night for cleaning at 1:30 am. Being still on NYC time, we found ourselves with no place to go after the bars and pubs dimmed their lights for the night, not quite ready for sleep.

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We arrived in Dublin exhausted, but ready for excitement. As opposed to sleeping, we elected to stay up most of the flight, enjoying the complimentary red wine and watching Beauty and the Beast. I think we are both mentally about 5 years old. The most efficient and cost effective way into the city is by Airline Express Bus. Just outside of Terminal 1 arrivals you will find the ticket sales stand, where the agent will direct you to the correct bus for your hotel or hostel. For 7 euro, we expected a long and gruesome ride, however twenty minutes later we are swinging onto the sidewalk into the sunshine.

Our first priority was breakfast, which in our world means beer and a plate of fries. Don’t judge, we were in vacay mode. By random chance we found ourselves across the street from Doyle’s Irish Pub, which happens to have the exact same name as our second home in Astoria, New York, a bar named Doyle’s Corner. We immediately plopped down at the bar and befriended the owners. They were intrigued by their “sister bar” in NYC and provided a Doyle’s Dublin hat as a gift for them. We are basically ambassadors now. It graces the panel just over the bar in Astoria now. Fueled and happy we set off to our hostel for naps.


Darkey Kelly’s Bar & Restaurant

From our hostel bedroom window we spied a cute little Irish pub with a garden patio. It was the perfect place to grab a pint and wait for friends. The staff here is incredibly friendly and we made it our meeting point and breakfast beer rendezvous spot for the remainder of the trip.

(Julie)

The best part about traveling is meeting people. The hard part is saying goodbye. About 10 years ago I became friends with a girl online from Brazil. I was able to meet her face to face again finally in Rio, then again in Amsterdam, Stockholm and NYC. Our paths crossed over the years and when we decided to plan a Dublin trip, I remembered my friend had moved there to work with Puffins (how do I get this job)! We met her and her boyfriend at Darkey Kelly’s and headed over to a tapas place they had tried before and highly recommended.

Salamanca

(Amanda)

Always take the advice of locals, they hardly ever steer you wrong. Dublin has amazing food, if you choose the right places. I will never say no to tapas– why only choose one item from a menu when you can sample 4 or 5? The ambiance of Salamanca is just as amazing as the food. As usual, we over did it and ordered way too much food, because decisions are hard. The Pollo Renello and the Patata Rellena are both incredible choices and I could not stop sneaking bites of the Pate de Pollo, even after my stomach ached from fullness. With a bottle if Spanish Rioja, the meal was complete.

Anseo

We followed our friends down Camden street to Anseo. The bar was dark and divey, just the way we like it. The older DJ was spinning classics the traditional way; actually carrying around a record collection, props to you Sir! This bar is just how you would expect it, with a nice chill vibe away from the tourist tangle down in Temple Bar. We ended our night here, initially planning to seek out another divey local place. However, we found ourselves back at the hostel in the common room, drinking a bottle of red we had acquired; that is, until we were kicked out at 1:30 am…

Day number two brought in our friend Kmo from NYC, stopping over on his way to Italy. We met him at out our new hangout Darker Kelly’s for breakfast drinks. While he napped from his trans-Atlantic quest, Julie and I headed out for late lunch.


Toscana

With a craving for cheese and charcuterie we stumbled upon Toscana. Their appetizer portion was more than enough for two small girls to share. Of course red wine was ordered to accompany this meal of the gods; because really these entire three days are about drinking and how can you have cheese without wine? Our little seat tucked next to the window was the perfect place to people watch. Here, we realized we had yet to eat anything that was considered typical Irish food and in reality we didn’t for the entire trip.

Turks Head

Sauntering down towards Temple Bar we decided if we went back to the hostel we would just get tired. From outside we noticed the amazing decor inside Turks Head. It was like Alice in Wonderland meets The Little Mermaid, which pretty much has Amanda and Julie written all over it. The bartenders were awesome and let us bring outside coffees to pour in shots of Bailey’s, since we needed a little pick me up. Kmo finally woke from his beauty sleep and joined us for a pint to plan the evening.

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The Original Backpacker Pubcrawl

We decided to join the pub crawl which was advertised all over our hostel. Included was a welcome drink and specials for 10 euro. We added a new friend Lizzy, an American backpacking though Europe for the summer, who was in the same room as Kmo. This is why I love hostels: every trip brings a new friend. We were directed to Badbob’s Temple Bar, which was the meeting point and claimed our free drink, which was a beer. We bounced from pub to pub around Temple bar, I am not quite sure which places we even visited, however this was an amazing opportunity to meet friends and for 10 euro, why not?!

Hanger

Since bars and club close early in Dublin, especially compared to NYC, we headed for Hanger around it’s 11 pm opening time. It was time to dance. I respect the Irish for their lax dress code at clubs. They only require you to look presentable, no heel requirement, which suits my converse-only lifestyle just fine. The doors open initially to a smaller area playing hip hop mixed with top 40. Later a second room opens, spinning progressive house and trance. This is where I belong; I stayed and danced for the remainder of the night. My only issue with Irish bars is that they close early at 2-2:30, but I guess you can’t have everything!

Korkoro- The ramen bar

Casually mentioning ramen the previous day, we now all three of us had the craving etched in our brains. Through Yelp, we determined Korkoro was the best place in the city to curb this desire. It was the perfect brunch, the bowls of noodles and broth were served up steaming hot and held to the traditional style of this amazing cuisine. I chose spicy pork and it did not let me down; was the perfect thing for my stomach after a late night out. Afterwards we wandered around the city, stopping at George’s Street Arcade. The local covered market was home to several vintage, indie gift shops. This victorian style covered market is one of the oldest in Europe.

Dawson’s 37

We had planned a chill evening of dinner and a couple of drinks before settling to bed for early flights. Famous Last Words. My favorite place in Dublin is 37 Dawson Street and not just because they have a life-size sparkling pony guarding the entrance. Arriving for a late dinner, there was already a DJ spinning and the downstairs seating area had been converted to a dance floor. We were doomed to stay. I have eaten here several times and the food and beverages never disappoint. We shared another cheese and charcuterie board and an appetizer sampler. As we finished dinner, the music transitioned from lounge to dance. One more glass of wine became another, somehow gin and tonics got involved. Time to dance and the deal was sealed, we were staying. Around two we headed back to the hostel and creeped in for a quick 3 hour nap before heading to the airport.

I know this blog makes us look like alcoholics, but we really aren’t and we had fun, so don’t judge. 🙂 People think of Dublin and Irish food and pubs immediately come to mind, which are both amazing when done right. However, Dublin is often forgotten as a diverse city with so much to offer besides the initial first impression. There are several more restaurants and bars which I frequent on my work trips, which unfortunately we did not have time for this trip. So now we have go back again and we are so upset about it…….

On the other coast of Ireland

Check out our blog about the Cliffs of Moher

 

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

Kinlay House: 2-12 Lord Edward Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 www.kinlaydublin.ie

Airlink Express Bus:  www.dodublin.ie

Doyle’s Pub: 9 College Street, Dublin 2 www.doylesintown.com

Doyle’s Corner: 4202 Broadway, Astoria NY 11103 www.doylescorner.com (Because by now you likely want to be friends with us.)

Darkey Kelly’s Bar & Restaurant:  Fishamble Street, Christchurch, Dublin 2 www.darkeykellys.ie

Salamanca:  1 St. Andrew’s Street, Dublin 2 www.salamanca.ie

Anseo:  18 Camden Street Lower, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin 2

Toscana: 3 Cork Hill, Dame Street, Dublin 2 www.toscanarestaurant.ie

Turks Head:  Paramount Hotel, Parliament Street & Essex Gate, Temple bar, Dublin 2 www.paramounthotel.ie

The Original Backpacker Pub crawl:  www.backpackerpubcrawl.com

Hanger:  Andrews lane, Dublin www.hangerdublin.ie

Korkoro-The ramen bar:  51 Williams St. S, Dublin 2 (no website found)

George Street Arcade:  between George’s Street and Drury Street, Dublin 2 www.georgstreetesstreetarcade.ie

37 Dawson Street: guess what the address is…. www.37dawsonstreet.ie

Throwback Thursday: Hvar, Croatia

Croatia never sat of on the top of my must travel list. What I knew about Croatia was mostly from news casts about the war when I was a child. I was too little to understand. Fast forward many years later, my current roommate Aida, a Bosnian, shed light on that part of the world. After hearing her powerful story, I became curious; after she showed me pictures I was ready to get on an airplane. Croatia was where her family had vacationed before the war. All three roommates decided to go together with Aida as our local guide. I fell in love.

With our heart set on traveling to Hvar, we found accommodation at a guesthouse which checked off all of our must-haves in our price range on booking.com. After climbing what seemed like 100,000 stairs with a backpack, we were greeted by the sweetest old lady. Her English was limited, but Croatian and Bosnian are essentially the same language. She was over the moon when Aida greeted her in familiar words and immediately asked us to join her for coffee and cookies. Our stay was wonderful and we promised to come back….. And we did; a year and a half later, we booked the same apartment and that wonderful lady immediately remembered us.

On the morning of our second day, we decided to have a group run to the fort on the hill overlooking Hvar town. It was an uphill battle, but we conquered. As we were leaving the apartment, the owners’ son waved hello. He ran a car and moped rental business attached to the guesthouse. We noticed a cooler lined with beer for sale: our planned reward for after the workout. Upon our return we ran over to quench our thirst on crisp cold Ozujsko. The group had grown with men from the neighborhood settling down for their afternoon gossip. We sat down with our beers and joined the group’s conversation. We tried the best we could to understand everyone using half English, mixed with some Croatian, some German, some Italian, some French. Essentially everyone shared a common second language and well, laughter and smiles are the same no matter what you speak.

Soon enough rain clouds closed in and we all huddled together, opening more beers, each person taking their turn buying another round. We spent three hours making new friends and laughing at each others half understood jokes. The family dog Dzeko (Jako), a silly black lab, was running back and forth to each new friend hoping for a treat. My favorite was this little old man; he and I both spoke some German, so I learned about his life. He had seen it all– WWII, the Russians coming into former Yugoslavia, and then the Yugoslav War itself. His demeanor was so light and pleasant. Every once and a while he would sneak off only to return 20 minutes later in a new outfit complete with fun hat. Eventually a bottle of Greek liquor was produced and sticking with proper European etiquette, we were all expected to take a shot. It tasted like paint thinner, but how could we say no!

This is why I travel. These memories are the ones that will stick with me until I’m that sweet old lady, sipping bourbon in the afternoon with Anna and Julie, of course. Hopefully then too, I can sit with a group of young tourists and laugh for an afternoon. Tell them my stories and adventures, tell them personal accounts of what they learned in history class. While seeing the castle, going to the popular museum or hiking that trail can highlight a trip, it’s when you get to know the people and truly see the culture, that you have graduated from vacationer to traveler.

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~By:  Amanda

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

Apartments Bodlovic: SimeTome Buzolica 9, Hvar Croatia 21450 booked via http://www.booking.com

The Travel Shack in Vienna, Austria

 

The reason I love a good hostel is because you can make new friends who all have the 411 on what to do in that city. Checking into Wombat Hostel in Vienna, I quickly made friends with a crazy Aussie. He told us about the best bar in Vienna right around the corner from the hostel, with a shot list that will change your life. Typically I am not a shot person, I’m a pretty small person and shots make alcohol rush into my veins and often throws me over that drunk edge. However, with shot names such as the “Chuck Norris” and “fire shot” I was instantly intrigued. The guy had been in Vienna for 6 days and gone to Travel Shack for five of them; so all I could think was, “I must go!”

After a quick stop at the Christmas market for some cheap dinner and of course gluhwein, we arrived at Travel Shack a little early for the party….ok, we were the first ones there. Travel Shack has three rooms and a stage with a stripper pole, because that is absolutely necessary in a party bar. We settled in with some delicious German helles beers, because it’s not time for shots yet (what kind of girl do you think I am?) We decided to play a few games of pool before the masses showed up. I lost a lot, but you can’t be good at everything.

After failing Team America at pool, things started to pick up at the bar, or in other words, more people showed up. The DJ showed up and the music became more lively. It was time for the shots! Earlier in the evening I had carefully consulted the menu, as there were so many choices. It was obvious, to me that only acceptable shot for me was the “Chuck Norris.” Basically its a shot of your choice and the bartender then smacks you across the face, twice, once on each side. If I’m taking a shot, its going to be tequila. Otherwise the outcome can become quite grim; lets not even talk about Fireball and what that does to me. I steadied up to the bar— I’m a little girl right?— this guy bartender is gonna go easy on me, right? …. NO! Down the hatch and BAM, wow Austrian bartenders don’t play around. However, I couldn’t quit laughing, it was hysterical. Next, my travel buddy decided on the Fire Shot, where they essentially light your mouth on fire. It was like a dragon.

Our night continued with countless helles. Being a full moon, the bar hired several artists to paint everyone with neon body paint, in honor of the Full Moon Party celebrations in Koh Phangan, Thailand. At some point the Aussie bought a paddle of different shots. I can’t remember what each one was, but at this point I was far past caring. The karaoke room opened up and everyone crowded in to sing group karaoke. We found ourselves a place to sit on top of the table at the far end of the room to sing along. My only complaint about this entire bar, was they would not allow “Wonderwall” by Oasis in the Karaoke room. That is my jam; how do you not like this song?  The rest of the night was spent dancing and laughing, until it was time to slink back to the hostel at 2 am. Stopping for doner kebab, which is the most accepted drunk food in all Europe, we strolled home with happy tummies.

This was by far one of the most fun bars I have ever been to anywhere in the world, so much so that I already have plans to return with the usual posse this summer; pretty much specifically to go here again. My friend who is essentially the queen of shots is already looking at a calendar.

~By:  Amanda

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

Travel Shack:  Mariahilferguertel 21, 1150 Vienna Austria +43 1 961 0131 www.travelshackvienna.com

Wombat Hostel, The Lounge:  Mariahilfer Strasse 137, 1150 Vienna Austria +43 1 897 2336 www.wombats-hostels.com booked via www.hostelworld.com

 

Throwback Thursday: Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

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Where Europe ends and the vast expansion of the Atlantic Ocean begins, the Cliffs of Moher plummet down the coastline of West Ireland. Standing over the edge almost feels like you are standing at the end of the world, as the wind blows though your hair and the salt sprays up from the ocean. A quick stop between work trips, our group decided to rent a van and be tourists for the day. With 8 people, it was enough to spread the cost to hire a private coach. We arranged through a tourist transportation company and for $40 it included hotel pick up and drop off, the $6 entrance fee into the cliffs, and a stop over at an traditional Irish pub for a late Lunch and a pint. 

With beer and snacks stashed in our day totes, we set out on the windy Irish day. Our first stop was in the town of Lehinch, here we watched the waves crash into the beach from the promenade. The intense waves looked like a surfer’s dream and there were several zipping up their wetsuits against the icy water of the North Atlantic. Back on the bus, we climbed the road to the cliffs. Our friendly driver let us off at the parking lot across the street and we made the easy stair-clad climb to the edge.

It is easy to understand once you have seen these magestic cliffs why so many myths and legends surround the area. Green fields let into the rocky cliffs before they plunge into the deep blue water. Our 1.5 hour visit didn’t leave us enough time to explore the entire 5 mile (8km) stretch. Luckily the sun was shining and we had the opportunity to relax on the edge and watch the sea churn below.  Entrance also included access to the visitor’s center, however our timeline didn’t leave more than a moment to poke our heads in and use the restroom. The Visitor’s Center  has several informative exhibits about the natural geography, history and geology of the area. If you have time, we regret not doing an educational guided Ranger tour of the Cliffs. 

Back on the road headed towards Limerick, we stopped at Gus O’Connor’s pub. As always I ordered Guinness stew to go with my Heineken……I’m super basic when it comes to beer. Our drive home was filled with a couple more beers and giggles sharing pictures of our happy day. Western Ireland is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ventured, I definitely recommend taking the time to explore this amazing countryside.

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From Miami to Ibiza

~By:  Amanda

Part of my soul is in Ibiza, it’s waiting at Usuhaia for me to return for it, hopefully next summer. Based on our love for electronic music we decided Ibiza was the the best choice to round out our Spain vacation. Electronic music lives in Ibiza. Every night one of the world’s top DJs is here spinning at the numerous clubs dotting the island.

Ibiza is located just off the coast of Spain in the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, about a 30 minute flight from Barcelona. After some research and tips from helpful British friends we learned that Playa d’en Bossa, located just east of Ibiza Town, was the best place to stay on the island. Furthermore we were informed that Jet Apartments is in the center of it all, recommended because of their daily pool parties. This is the ONLY reason to stay at Jet Apartments, for the price we paid we could have booked a hotel with a rooftop pool in Miami. However, location is location and high season is high season. The apartments are outdated and could use some maintenance and upgrading. For two days in July heat, our air con was kaput and the front desk provided little assistance in the matter. The maids are towel Nazis, however they cleaned properly and the room includes a mini kitchen. My final straw with this hotel was when we were told that even as hotel guests we were required to pay 15 euro to reserve a lawn chair by the pool. Never mind– the beach is just fine with me. A wrist band would remedy this situation, differentiating hotel guest from outsiders.

Bad accommodation aside, I still love Ibiza, the party girl inside me was ready to erupt full force. After unpacking and hitting up the convenience store, for beer and champagne and chips (essentials), we headed down to the pool area, where a DJ spins way into dusk. After a few cocktails we attempted to purchase tickets for Avicii, who was spinning at Usuhaia that evening. Unbeknownst to us, these shows typically begin around 9 pm. Living in NYC, I have never seen a DJ start before 11pm, usually not before 12-1 am. At this point, it was 8:30 pm, so that wasn’t going to happen.

With that plan scratched, we chilled on our balcony planning our next few days. Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike were performing a late night show at Amnesia and a few of our group opted to go see them. Being tired after a crazy previous night in Barcelona, I regretfully declined, as the show began at 3 am. The rest of us chilled on the beach, lounging in the sand, laughing at each other. We created our own party, complete with our personal EDM Spotify playlists, hooked up to speakers. Watching the flights from all over Europe approach Ibiza airport, we played with my new favorite app called Flight Radar 24. These are the moments you know you’re on vacation with true friends, because you can go anywhere and do anything and have the best night of your life.

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Late? I am never late! Ibiza flip flops who you are and brings out the best in you. With a boat party booked for 1:00 pm, mom (Anna) set a pick up time of 12:00 noon. Surprisingly, two of the most adult people in our group forgot to set an alarm. Waking up at 11:40, we snapped into action and got ready in 20 minutes, “Home Alone” style. We hopped into cabs and set off for Playa d’en Bossa pier.

Oceanbeat Ibiza Boat Party is an absolutely necessary addition to your Ibiza vacation! The three hour cruise is an insane boat party sailing around the Mediterranean with an amazing DJ. The flier totes unlimited beer, sangria and sparkling wine, but do not be fooled, you receive one glass of sparkling wine upon boarding. The sangria, beer and soft-drinks (soft drinks, why?) are bottomless. Half way through the fiesta the boat anchors giving everyone an opportunity to splash in the ocean. The front of the boat was equipped with a long driving board and the back has a small waterside. According to my friends I was the only girl who did a flip off the front of the boat, I guess those gymnastics lessons were good for something. For the next half an hour we floated and played in the water. It was the perfect time to haul out the go-pro dome and get those fancy action shots. Heading back to the pier, the DJs continued to keep the party going strong.

Because one party is never enough for a day, we headed back to the hotel to prepare ourselves for David Guetta. Usuhaia is by far the best concert venue I have ever been. Every night in the summer, they feature a different headlining DJ. The line-up for the week included not only David Guetta and Hardwell, (both shows which we attended), but also Axwell ^ Ingrosso, Martin Garrix and Avicii. For cost efficiency you can pre-purchase tickets online for about 40 euros, but this must be done weeks in advance, as pre-sale goes quickly. Once you are on the island, if you purchase tickets the day before the event, you can get roughly a 5 euro discount from the day of purchase price of 55 euro. We learned from the party planners that Usuhaia has a time restriction on noise, hence why shows begin at 9 pm, as it is also a ridiculously expensive hotel.

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Usuhaia has to be one of the best music venues in the world–it’s definitely MY favorite. The stage opens up to a large area flanked by hotel rooms on each side. If you are bougie and can afford it, several of the rooms actually overlook the stage. There are several wading pools scattered throughout the venue. I can not fathom a better way to watch a concert than dancing to the beat of the music with the cool water moving around your legs, twirling barefoot around each other. A word to the wise: I spent 55 euros on three beers and two bottles of water. Drinks here are exorbitant, everything on Ibiza is. A mojito, while really delicious, is 15 euros, so have a few drinks before you arrive.

Desperate to work on our tan, the next day was dedicated to beach time. Going with our traditional vacay breakfast of Bloody Maria’s in hand, we had ourselves a proper morning. Julie and I hauled real Bloody Mary mix and Tequila minis all the way from ‘Merica. We hadfr our Bloody Maria’s with all the fixings, including olives and pickles.

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Our plan for the night was to start off with our first proper sit-down meal as a complete group, since we arrived, because eventually everyone gets sick of sandwiches and chicken nuggets. El Limonero Ibiza is the number one restaurant on TripAdvisor in Playa d’en Bossa and somehow we managed to get a table here for 9 without a reservation, thanks Universe! Since Julie and I essentially have the exact same taste buds we paired off and ordered tapas to share. They were so delicious, I wish I was eating them now! The waitstaff treated us like family and finished off our dinner with a complementary round of limoncello.

After an amazing supper, it was Hardwell time! Heading back to Usuhaia, we parked ourselves back in the wading pool and waited for one of our favorite DJs to start spinning. Hardwell is so ingenious, he even incorporated a Dr Dre remix into his set. I still feel like it was one of the best remix tracks I have ever heard. Words can not explain what this music does to me. The beat travels though my veins and takes me over. I can’t help but move, as the notes climb to a peak my heart follows them into the sky.

With our adrenaline jumping from the performance, we decided our next stop was a paint party at Privilege. Anna had acquired a discount wristbands from some random person on the street, which is actually totally normal. In the mass confusion of Usuhaia letting out, we finally made it onto the city bus for 2 euro (the cheapest thing I did in Ibiza) and rode out to Privilege Nightclub, located inland in San Rafael. Arriving at the city bus drop-off point, we still had to walk down a curvy hill to the club. Without a sidewalk, we ventured down the road in a large group all headed in the same direction. Safety in numbers……probably not in Spain.

Inside the club was a giant dome with a stage set in the middle for the DJ and dancers. Waiting an hour for the party to start, we posted up to the bar and ordered more beers. I don’t know why Budweiser was the only beer option. I also didn’t realize anyone drank this disgusting liquid loaf of bread outside the USA. The concept of a paint party is pretty self explanatory: they spray-gun neon paint all over the crowd and the club is lit with black lights. The paint cannons are timed to spray with the swells of the music…..The set was well blended with EDM and old school Hip Hop, which created an amazingly diverse sound. The paint comes from all angles so attempting to not get paint in your eyes usually ended in an epic fail. Despite my outfit being ruined, all my euros gone and paint stinging my eyes, I didn’t ever want to leave. Finally in the wee hours of the morning we took a cab back to our hotel to shower, because our hair was now a solid. Word of advice: don’t wear any clothing you care about and ensure all your valuables are protected in a purse or plastic bag.

Out of bed early, way too early, we needed time to pack up before the noon checkout. Throwing our bags into luggage storage, we had 2 hours to kill before heading to the airport. A group breakfast with gallons of coffee revived us just enough to grab cabs to the airport. At the airport far earlier than we have ever been for a flight, we checked in and headed to the bar. That is perfectly acceptable at 2 pm. Somehow “Ratchet Air,” I mean Ryan Air, let us on the airplane with draft beers; I love people who don’t care! Flying away with my head on the tray table, I got a 45 minute nap before landing in Malaga.

Spending what I would have normally spent in 7-10 days in Southeast Asia, I still want to go back to Ibiza! Like right NOW! But, its cold and no one is there, so alas I will wait until next summer to go back and fetch the other half of my soul. Who knows, maybe I will leave it there again, just to ensure that I make another trip!

*Authors note: I listened to an entire Axwell^ Ingrosso set while writing this, because that is who I am ♥

Read about our other Spain adventures:

Way too Wanderlust Recommends:

Amnesia: Carretera Ibiza a San Antonio Km5, San Rafael, Ibiza +34 971 19 80 41 www.amnesia.es

Oceanbeat Ibiza Boat Party: Av. Pere Matutes Noguera 22, 07800 Ibiza +34 633 81 14 41 www.oceanbeat.es/boat-party-english

Usuhaia: Platja d’en Bossa 10, 07817 Sant Jordi de Ses Salines, Ibiza Spain http://www.usuhaiaibiza.com

El Limonero Ibiza: Calle Argelagues 15, 07817 Playa d’en Bossa Ibiza +34 618 72 21 111 www.limoneroibiza.com

Privilege Ibiza: Apartado de Correos 94, San Rafael Ibiza +34 971 19 81 60 www.privilegeibiza.com

Ryan Air: www.ryanair.com (because they let me bring beer)

References

Swedish House Mafia. “Miami to Ibiza.” Axwell, Steve Angello, Sebastion Ingrosso, and Patrick Okogwu. “Until One.” U.K. , Virgin, EMI and Astralwerks, 4 Oct 2010, digital download.

Throwback Thursday: Fasching, Mainz Germany

Come to a festival? Ok then, I will get on an airplane! When considering pre-lenten celebrations, most people think of either Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnival in Rio; no one considers Germany. However, two cities in Germany hold rather large and entertaining pre-lenten festivals called Karneval (Cologne) and Fastnacht (Mainz). Throw in an inviation from two crazy German friends to attend the Mainz celebration, and Anna and I are on a flight bound for Frankfurt.

Faschnacht (or Fasching) is the gigantic party leading up to what is Ash Wednesday, which occurs 46 days before Easter. This festival has roots dating back to the 14th and 15th century and started in Mainz in 1838. Now I know that Germany in February is freezing cold, but after a couple beers you won’t care. The most important thing you should be considering is your costume. Just like Halloween, every night of this 5 day/night festival people dress up in costumes. Animal costumes typically are the favorite as dressing up like a giant furry bear keeps one pretty warm. Plus it’s hilarious when your friends have tails, they are fun to pull!!


Come prepared, because Germans can DRINK. Like a lot, all day! The five day schedule is pretty intense, starting on Thursday, called Altweiber, typically known as Ladies Night. Most people in Mainz gather at Eisgrub (the brewery) for this event, where they transform this restaurant into a club. Friday night is the most calm night of the week, but if you have your heart set on partying all five nights, a pub crawl works. For Saturday the party moves out to Gonsenheim, an outer suburb of Mainz. Alternatively, if you prefer to stay in the city center the Prinzengardenball is a secondary option. For both these events it’s best to have advance tickets, as they are quite popular, so make friends with a local.

I promised parades, because who doesn’t love candy being thrown at them from a moving vehicle? On Sunday everyone takes the short tram ride out to Finthen where the parade and a large outdoor celebration is held in the afternoon. Save your warm costumes for Sunday night, as the party moves outside again into the Schillerplatz. A giant stage is erected for the bands and everyone parties in one of the town squares. Ladies, pay the three euro entrance fee to the Extrablatt Cafe adjacent to the Platz, this way you can make unlimited trips to their clean and warm bathroom facilities.

The Sunday after-party destination splits between the Extrablatt Cafe, right off the Schillerplatz, or Ballplatz. For the parades and other outdoor events, it’s best to come prepared and bring alcohol. However for the poor planners out there, convenience stores called kiosks do sell select beer and spirits, just don’t plan on being picky at this point. Someone nearly always brings a bag of beer babies though!

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Rosen Montag or Rose Monday, is the final day of the festival. A giant parade with roughly a million spectators moves through the city and you will catch enough Haribo gummies to last you a month. The parade lasts three hours– I kept thinking, how do these people have that many floats?! One of the guys in our group had a bottle of Jäger and we did a round of jäger shots roughly every twenty minutes during the parade and by the time it was over, the bottle was empty. This is the only time I have ever witnessed Germans littering– empty champagne bottles, candy wrappers and beer cans strewn about. Miraculously, the entire street is clean and clear about three hours after the parade due to the military precision of the street sweepers. At this point everyone breaks off to various parties, bars and celebrations, or they just go home, because they have been drinking with Germans for five days straight!

Never have I been more welcomed with open arms into a culture as I was by the people of Mainz at this festival. They were always courteous to translate what everyone was shouting, or include us in the games and events of the festival. The first weekend we attended Fasching sparked so many friendships with people we have cherished over the last five years! Always man up and take that shot of Jäger, because in Germany that’s how you make a new friend!

~By: Amanda

Goin’ Up, On a Tuesday: Chez Gladines, Paris

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 I’m going to let you in on a little secret, my favorite restaurant in Paris. Now I know everyone has their favorite restaurant in Paris, but this particular one is mine. It’s not very big and it’s probably not that out of the ordinary, but it’s inexpensive and it’s always PACKED. It specializes in Basque cuisine and the food is sensational. It’s so delicious that locals start lining up at the door when it opens at 7 pm and good luck getting a seat for a large party. Sometimes, for two, you might get a table in twenty minutes, however sometimes it’s an hour wait. (For that, there is a nice wine bar about three doors down.) But I always like to find out where locals go to dine because I feel like they know best. 

  The name is Chez Gladines, it is in the 13th Arr. close by the Corvisart mètro stop on Rue des Cinq Diamants. There are actually six locations throughout Paris so it is easy to find one near you; I frequent the Butte-aux-Cailles location. Basque cuisine is from the Southwest region of France, along the Spanish border. It specializes in grilled meats and fish and stews. It is very rich and hearty food, not delicate Parisian cuisine and the portions at this restaurant are extremely generous. As much as you would like to, it’s difficult to finish your plate. The wait staff here are always extraordinarily busy, but everyone speaks English and I’ve always been happily received with smiles and jokes. You can order a glass of wine or Sangria while you wait, and you can’t beat the house Sangria at only €2.50 a glass. 

  So I have a penchant for duck– I can’t help it, if it’s on the menu, I’m ordering it. Chez Gladines has a duck with Roquefort sauce that will make you swallow your tongue. Everyone raves about the veal and the Cinq Diamant salad as well. The escargot is another crowd pleaser, and it comes with bread to soak up the garlicy goodness. None of the main dishes are over €14, and you may as well split a bottle of wine because those are all about the same price. I’ve come here with colleagues quite a few times and we like to share our dishes around the table just so everyone gets a taste of something different. My favorite are the potatoes. This is southern French comfort food at its very best and if you have room for dessert afterwards I would be shocked! 

  As with European dining culture you may share a table with other guests, it’s part of the casual and friendly atmosphere. Nothing fancy, just great food and wine to keep you smiling and happy as you join in the banter around you. It’s a great restaurant for a first date or with close friends, but I wouldn’t recommend dining here solo. Bring cash as they still don’t accept credit cards! Come prepared to have some wine while you wait and work  up a big appetite! 

~By: Anna

Way Too Wanderlust recommends: 

Chez Gladines, 30 Rue des Cinq Diamants, 75013, Paris, France  +33 1 45 8070 10                       http://www.chezgladines-butteauxcailles.fr

Throwback Thursday: Paris

Sitting on a train bound for Bratislava, I reflect on how I got to this moment. My travel companion, who is a new traveler, has conjured up thoughts on how I made it to here, about to cross the border into my 57th country. I remember my very first trip with Anna and Julie to Paris five years ago. Before this trip I was the typical American girl choosing vacation destinations closer to home such as Mexico and cruises to the Caribbean. My job has taken me to Europe, Asia, and South America; however, work trips allow less time to truly explore a culture. This Throwback Thursday is special, because this was the trip that started it all, bonding us as travel companions for life: our first trip to Paris!

 

Paris was an easy choice as it was a new destination for all of us. The movie Midnight in Paris had just released and this provided all the inspiration we needed. Using AirBnB for the first time, Anna and I found a beautiful apartment with a garden in Montmartre. Exhausted from travel, but never too exhausted for breakfast beers, after checking in we parked ourselves at a café to plan out our next 5 days. After a quick nap we headed toward Sacre Coeur to explore the area of artists and Bohemia. We never managed to leave Montmartre that first night. Finding ourselves at a little café above the Moulin Rouge, we drank beer mixed with Fanta, (which tastes better than it sounds) and made a dinner of pomme frites and creme brulée before heading down the hill. The last thing I remember before heading back to the apartment  is shots being set on fire at the bar and techno music bumping. Back at the apartment, listening to the Backstreet Boys, Anna and I laughingly fought over a stuffed tiger we found in the apartment we named Le Tigre before drifting off to sleep.

The next few days are a blur now, of exploring the city, shopping on the Champs de Elysees, and bar hopping in St Germain and the Latin Quarter. Our boat tour along the Seine was an amazing trip, as we were cleverly armed with water bottles filled with wine. It’s the best way to cover all the must-see sites of Paris in an efficient amount of time. Our nightly dinners were amazing, including fondue, steak frites and more creme brulée. I couldn’t even tell you the name of that fondue place, but the fond memory of bonding over wine and cheese is there forever. Later finding three cute French boys on the street walking past us in Odéon, we ended our night drinking wine with them under the Eiffel Tower. Being one of the greatest museums in the world, Anna wanted to spend at least one day exploring the Louvre; but she dragged along the two least museum people in the world, so after 5 full hours of beautiful art, it was definitely time for happy hour cocktails!


The details of this trip have faded away; I couldn’t tell you a single name of a restaurant or which boat company we used. (It’s Anna who always remembers those things.) What IS important is that this particular trip started something– it was not long before we were planning another adventure together and then another. I recently went back to Paris on a business trip, visited that same area of Montmartre, and found that little bar on the hill and sent pictures back to the girls. They both knew without missing a beat exactly what bar it was. This trip bonded us together as best friends, and as travel buddies for life– this is what started our way too wanderlust. Sitting on a train bound for Bratislava, I reflect on how I got to this moment. My travel companion, who is a new traveler, has conjured up thoughts on how I made it to here, about to cross the border into my 57th country. I remember my very first trip with Anna and Julie to Paris five years ago. Before this trip I was the typical American girl choosing vacation destinations closer to home such as Mexico and cruises to the Caribbean. My job has taken me to Europe, Asia, and South America; however, work trips allow less time to truly explore a culture. This Throwback Thursday is special, because this was the trip that started it all, bonding us as travel companions for life: our first trip to Paris!

~By: Amanda

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Goin’ up, On a Tuesday: Gordon’s Wine Bar, London

The perfect combination, wine and cheese, are nectars of the gods. I can’t even remember how I learned about Gordon’s Wine BAR. Several years ago I enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio with friends. Fast forward to this year, I remembered Gordon’s Wine BAR when meeting up with a friend who shares my passion for refreshing white wines.

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Gordon’s Wine Bar is located just off the Embankment stop on the Tube and is the oldest wine bar in London. Located in the basement, you step down into a grotto style establishment, detailed with an original wine cage, antiquated wood and candlelight. The bar is located in the back and there is an amazing variety of whites, reds, roses, ports, bubbles, basically if its made from fermented grapes, you will find it at Gordon’s. Stepping outside the box we grabbed a Hungarian Savingon Blanc, which the bartender highly recommended. Now comes the other important decision of the night: which cheeses are going to make the best dinner ever. You can purchase a plate of 1, 2 or 3 cheeses and you need the three cheese plate, because there are so many amazing options. Our hands-down favorite is the Taleggio from Italy. The cheese portions served are insanely large and accompanied by chunks of delicious bread.

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A fair warning though, this bar is always crowded. The indoor seating never seems to be enough, so it is recommended you arrive by 4 pm to guarantee a seat inside. There is additional seating on the patio sidewalk which flanks up next to Victoria Embankment Gardens. Typically one can find a seat outside quite quickly or a spot at one of the standing barrels. Heat lamps hang over head and keep you warm in the chilly months, but after a bottle you wont feel the cold anyways and after two you wont care about anything…. Needless to say, we returned three days later to order the exact same thing.

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Way Too Wanderlust Recommends

Gordon’s Wine Bar: 47 Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NE +44 207 930 1408 www.gordonswinebar.com

~By: Amanda

Iceland: Part 2 of 3

~By:  Amanda

Day 3: Reykjavik to Stykkisholmur

After a late night of fun in Reykjavik we finally started our adventure on the Ring Road. After a quick stop at Domino’s Pizza for a hangover breakfie, because we are still American, we set off with google maps as our guide. Driving north, the Ring Road has two toll stops, after the insanely long underwater tunnels, which feels like driving into the fiery depths of earth.

After 3 hours and a couple minor water falls, we entered the town of Stykkisholmur. With a population of 1,195, Stykkisholmur is a tiny fishing village on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Our afternoon activity was to climb Sugandisey, a rock island, connected by causeway to the main peninsula. The hike to the top of Sugandisey is intermediate and the views from the top are defiantly worth the effort.

After lounging in the grass, enjoying the last bit of sun, we headed back down the rocky trail to Sjavarpakkhusid restaurant for our reward beer. Here, we learned that Justin Bieber songs have been actually translated into Icelandic, why…… The wooden deck facing the fjord was the perfect place to settle in with our new favorite, Einstok beers. Afterwards we headed to Skurinn for dinner, the most budget conscientious restaurant in town. After our dinner, of you guessed it fish, we devoured their featured desserts, Nutella muffins and apple pie.

To finish off our day we decided to check out the Stykkisholmur pool, because if somewhere has a water slide, you go! The Stykkisholmur pool has a large indoor/outdoor pool area with three geothermal hot tubs at various temperature levels. The entrance fee was approx $8 and was well worth the unlimited trips down the water slide.

Day 4: Stykkisholmur to Akureyri

After a quick and delicious breakfast at Nesbraud ehf, a cute cafe and bakery, we said goodbye to Stykkisholmur. Next stop was Helgafell, which is a noted religious hill outside of town and is a must for everyone’s itinerary. According to Icelandic legend, one can make three wishes while climbing the hill, without speaking (a monotonous task for me) or looking back. In all seriousness though, 2 of my 3 wishes have come true so far…

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Google maps suggested two options for this route. We choose the ‘short route’ traveling across highway 54, which was a ridiculous gravel road, however a trade-off for amazing scenery. Back on the Ring road, just past Laugarbakki we stopped lunch at Kolugljufur waterfall, to have a picnic lunch, complete with champagne.

The city of Akureyri is known as the northern capital, with our whale watching adventure planned we spent 2 nights here. “Akureyri FP apartments” has the best possible location in the city. The amenities in the apartment were endless including 2 balconies and blue tooth washing machine, which can be operated from your phone. For the first time in history, I saw boys excited about laundry. After an hour of playing with a washing machine, we headed down to R5 Beer lounge for 5 euro happy hour drafts. By suggestion from the bartender we decided on Akureyri Fish and Chips for dinner. Best fish and chips ever and coating every bite with jalapeno-garlic dipping sauce is absolutely necessary.

Day 5: Whale watching in Husavik

If you eat one meal in Akureyri make it breakfast at Cafe Berlin. After the most difficult decision of life thus far, I selected the egg, bacon and gouda on toast. After breakfast we set out towards Husavik for our pre-booked whale watching tour with North Sailing. On a stroke of luck the company contacted me the previous night and upgraded our tour to the 3.5 hour, Whale Watching and Puffin Tour. Our boat was a traditional Icelandic sailing ship and North Sailing, operates as certified carbon neutral. With the exception of the ugly ocean suits we were required to wear, provided by the company, the day was absolutely amazing. As they say, “life isn’t perfect but your outfit should be.” After skirting the island where we found thousands of puffins making their nests, we followed a pair of humpback whales as they dove and surfaced from the sea. Our tour concluded with hot chocolates with rum and pastries on our way back to Husavik.

Back in Akureyri we decided to check out Cafe Amour for another happy hour, notice a pattern here? Our dinner restaurant Bryggjan was suggested by our wonderful guide from the whale tour. The food was well worth the 30 minute wait. Since calories don’t exist on vacay, we hit the local favorite ice cream shop Brynja for dessert. Brynja serves soft serve ice cream with a variety delicious dips and toppings. #fatdays

 

Day 6: Akureyri to Seydisfjourder

With a heavily planned day, we set out early with our eye on the Myvatn Nature Baths. Similar to the Blue Lagoon, however less touristy, Myvatn is a smaller scaled geothermal heated spring. This geothermic pool is more scenic and quaint than its popular neighbor to the south, with an average temperature of 95-105 degrees (36-40C).The locker rooms are clean and provide the same amenities as the Blue Lagoon, including lockers and hair dryers. Entrance was 4,000 or $35 USD and obviously we opted to pre-pay for two beers. To obtain your beverages, one must flag down a nature bath employee and they will deliver your order poolside… fancy!

Back on the road, we steered towards what is arguably the best waterfall in Iceland, Dettifoss. Approaching the waterfall is the equivalent of being inside a monsoon, from the intense back-spray. Initially we planned for a nice picnic lunch next to the waterfall… try again! You can view Dettifoss, from the east or west of the falls and both with large parking areas. As you approach the waterfall you can hear the roar as thousands of gallons of water topple over the rocks to the 144 ft (44 meters) drop. The sheer force of the water proved to be too much for my little 5’3” body and I quickly retreated back to the car after only a few minutes with this amazing giant.

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Soaked and cold we made our way towards Seydisfjoudur, stopping at the Bonus to pick up provisions for dinner. The drive over the mountain pass into this small and cute town situated on a fjord is difficult and snow still dotted the hill top, even in mid-August. Our cabin at ‘Langahlid Seydisfirdi’ was my favorite accommodation in Iceland. Approximately 2 minutes after our arrival we grabbed a bottle of red wine and ran for the hot tub. We all spent the next 2 hours chilling in the bubbles, listening to my favorite house playlist, taking in the view of the fjord.

Soon after arrival, we realized a serious lapse in judgment, the alcohol was almost gone. With the Vinbudin being closed on Sunday (DO NOT make the same mistake we did) we quickly weighed our options. Intel provided by locals suggested that sometimes local bars and restaurants will sell you full bottles of alcohol, however at a serious mark-up. The two girls were voted as best representatives to take on the mission, so we jumped in the car and headed back into town. We found a bar and settled down with two beers before propositioning the friendly bartender. After a call to the owner we were sold a bottle of vodka for about $75, the bartender threw in some mixers as a good gesture. We closed out the night with series of card games, drinking the most expensive bottle I have ever purchased outside a NYC club.

After a night of games and fun (never leave the house with out Uno and Phase 10) we settled off to sleep in our precious little cabin. The next morning we hiked thru the fields to the waterfall behind the cabin before heading down the road.

Read part one: Reykjavik  and the conclusion: The home stretch

Way Too Wanderlust Recommends

Our Home Apartments: Laufasvegur 21-43, Stykkisholmur 340 Iceland +354 899 1797 www.ourhomeapartments.com booked via www.hotels.com

Sjavarpakkhusio: Seabraut 2, 340 Stykkisholmur Iceland +354 438 1800 www.sjavarpakkhusid.is

Skurinn: Thvervegur 2, Stykkisholmur 340 Iceland +354 544 4004 no website found

Stykkisholmur Pool: Borgarbraut 4, Stykkisholmur Iceland +354 433 8150 no website found

Akureyri FP Apartments: Radhustorg 3, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 863 0042 booked via http://www.booking.com

Nesbraud ehf: Nesvegur 1, 340 Stykkisholmur Iceland +354 438 1830 no website found

R5 Beer Lounge: Radhustorg 5, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 462 1400 www.r5.is

Akureyri Fish and Chips: 12 Skipagata, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 414 6050 www.reykjavikfish.is

Cafe Berlin: Skipagata 4, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 661 0661 webpage thru Facebook

North Sailing Tours: Hafnarstett, Husavik Iceland +354 464 7272 www.northsailing.is

Cafe Amour: Radhustorg 9, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 461 3030 webpage thru Facebook

Bryggjan Restaurant: Strandgata 49, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 440 6600 www.bryggjan.is

Brynja: Adalstraeti 3, Akureyri Iceland +354 462 4478 no website found

Myvtan Nature Baths: Jardbadsholar, 660 Myvtan Iceland +354 464 4411 www.myvatnnaturebaths.is

Langahlid Seydisfirdi: Langahlid, 710 Seydisfjourder Iceland +354 8971524 booked via www.booking.com