Ireland - Six Years of Blogging Later

The picturesque Dingle Harbor in County Kerry, Ireland.

What a difference six years makes! I missed my five year blog anniversary so here's to six years of food and travel. On May 25, 2008 I wrote my first post for eat.repeat, all about a Bloomington restaurant called Sushi Bar. Since that first entry I've published 122 blog posts, but only one about the trip that got me blogging in the first place. I guess it's about time.

This past September one of my closest friends, Christine, got hitched and I was super honored to participate in the Bridal party. I was lucky enough to take my very first trip abroad with Christine, a tour of southern Ireland way back in the spring of 2008. It's the trip that inspired me to start this blog and to pursue photography. And gave me the international travel bug! Back then I took all of my photos with my trusty Canon point and shoot before upgrading to my first DSLR the following summer. It's been fun looking back at these pictures and it's nice to see that my photography has improved quite a bit since then.

Ireland's awe inspiring Cliffs of Moher.
A sunny day at Ireland's Cliffs of Moher.
A sunny day at Ireland's Cliffs of Moher.
A sunny day at Ireland's Cliffs of Moher.

Our week long vacation was part of a package that included the flights, a rental car, and vouchers to stay at Bed & Breakfasts around Ireland. Christine's parents traveled with us, thank goodness, Phil was in charge of driving the terrifying cliff-hugging and narrow roads. We flew into the Shannon airport in the morning and started sightseeing straight away. First stop: lunch and the Cliffs of Moher.

A big bowl of seafood chowder before tackling the Cliffs of Moher.
Veg and Mash at the Biddy Early Brewery near the Cliffs of Moher.

We had some seriously amazing food all along the west coast of Ireland, starting with a pretty epic meal at The Biddy Early Brewery on the way to the Cliffs. It was a multi-course affair and the sheer volume of food delivered to the table was a bit of a shock. Salads, soups, and two types of mash before our entrees of fish & chips, goat cheese tarts, and fried shrimp. With full tummies we went on to the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland's most popular natural attractions. We lucked out with a beautifully sunny, if chilly, day. I'm just sad we missed the puffins!

Dingle's uniquely beautiful Slea Head, the point in Europe closest to America.
A well patina-d clover at a stop on a drive around Dingle's Slea Head.
The Atlantic cliffs off the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.

I think my favorite stop on the trip was the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. The scenery was gorgeous, from the windswept cliffs, colorful harbor, and busy little fishing village full of really great restaurants. We stayed at the lovely Lighthouse B&B, with nice views of the water and delicious breakfasts. This is the place I would re-visit first if I ever get the chance.

A great view of Dingle from the breakfast room at Lighthouse B&B.
I quickly developed a taste for brown bread slathered in good Irish butter and jam.
A full Irish Breakfast at the lovely Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast in Dingle, County Kerry.

An exceedingly well trained pup waits patiently for his master in Dingle Town.
The colorful Dingle Harbor.
Dance lessons in an Irish Pub in Dingle Town.

Just driving around the country side of Ireland was delightful. I'm sure it wasn't as much fun for Phil who was stuck paying close attention to the winding roads. We stayed in several more seaside villages, including Kinsale and Tramore. We made time to visit Blarney Castle, and kiss the stone, of course.

Seaside homes in Inch, Ireland.
The lovely beach near the town of Inch, in Ireland.

Our last stop was Dublin. We spent two whirlwind days in the nation's capital. There was a Temple Bar pub crawl, a visit to the Guinness Museum, and lots of walking around, seeing the sites. Dublin was great, but our time there was brief, rainy, and missing a bit of planning. I guess I'll just have to go back.

An atmospheric Irish bar in the heart of Dublin.
Delicate cups set for afternoon tea in Ireland.
A misty day by the seaside in Howth, Ireland.
Rays of sunlight penetrate thick clouds along the beach in Ireland.


Lisbon - A Windy Beginning

Tourists wait for trams in Lisbon's yellow painted, white columned historic district.

One year later and I still haven't shared anything about the second leg of my 2013 Spring trip to Europe. I spent the first five days in Venice, then four days in Lisbon. Both cities were beautiful, full of history, and well worth visiting. But if you ask me which city I would return to first? Lisbon, no question.

Venice is like a historical Disneyland for adults. Just about every restaurant and every attraction on the island caters to tourists. While perfect on paper (and in pictures,) the weather in a sunny Venice trended toward hot and humid. So the shift in climate to the breezy hills of Lisbon was more than welcome. And it wasn't just the weather. While Lisbon certainly gets its fair share of tourists (especially in Belem) there's a vibrant, lived-in feeling to the city that Venice lacks.

Tram 28 makes its way through the Chiado neighborhood in Lisbon, Portugal.


Snapshots from Spain - Sunset at Las Setas + La Azotea

Lots of stairs at Sevilla's Metropol Parasol structure.
Along with visiting local markets one of my favorite things to do when traveling is to get a bird's eye view of a new city. In Barcelona there's the Columbus Monument or the hillside fort of Montjuïc, in Venice you can ride up to the top of the Campanile at San Giorgio Maggiore, and in London you can splurge on The Eye or hike up Primrose Hill. In Sevilla you've got two great options. One, if you'd like to take the historical route, is to climb up to the top of La Giralda, the tower at Sevilla Cathedral. Or you can visit the Metropol Parasol!

Popularly known as Las Setas de la Encarnaci├│n, or Las Setas (The Mushrooms) for short, the Metropol Parasol is one of the largest wooden structures in the world. Construction of Las Setas was fairly divisive amongst Sevillanos. Many consider the modern architecture an eyesore, not to mention a waste of millions of euros in construction costs. But as an outsider, I enjoyed the interplay of the waffle-y structure with the surrounding multi-storied traditional Spanish Buildings. During the day, the six "mushrooms" provide shade from the scorching Andalusian sun, then, when the sun sets, the structure adds texture and light to the night sky.

A pretty square in Sevilla, Spain on the way to Las Setas.
Photo worthy views of Sevilla from the top of the Metropol Parasol.
Lots of room for fun at Sevilla's Las Setas, or, Metropol Parasol.

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