The Bram Stoker Festival


Now that it’s December and the holidays are upon us, what better time is there to talk about Halloween festivities?  Why none I say!

Thanks to a very hectic November schedule (here’s looking at you Nanowrimo and CTYI) I wasn’t able to write here very often.  I’ve been holding on to a post from an adventure Mister S and I had back on the last week of October.  Looking for something to do for the long weekend, and for the only weekend I’d have off for the next 6 weeks, we started to look at events in nearby cities.


And boy were we in luck!  It turns out that from the 23rd until the 26th of October it was the Bram Stoker Festival!  For those of you who don’t know, Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, was from Dublin Ireland even though the setting of Dracula was not in Ireland.  A rather new event to Dublin, the festival has only been around the last 3 years.  The whole city gets filled with costumes and vampire  capes.


We looked at the schedules and made up a schedule of fun!  We took the train early Saturday morning and dropped off our bags at our AirBnB house and hit the road.  I had heard about the Dublin’s Merchant’s Market a few times on Adverts (Ireland’s Kijiji) and was informed that it was a place that was chock full of vintage items and cheap fabric.  What the websites didn’t tell me was all the brilliant wall murals that made up the path to the Market!





It was a nifty market.  I was shocked by all the things we found there!


DSCF6899It makes me wish that I had actual money in order to buy pretty things.


DSCF6908That said, I did buy some pretty pink linen, thread, and a vintage dress pattern.  I made Mister S wait as I sifted through 3 messed up boxes of patterns looking for the right one.

My favourite Bram Stoker Festival poster.  This one teaches you how to say 'Bite Me' in Irish

My favourite Bram Stoker Festival poster. This one teaches you how to say ‘Bite Me’ in Irish…just don’t ask me how you pronounce it

We spent much of our first day finding Mister S. a suit for upcoming interviews *fingers-crossed*.  The ‘Goths vs. Zombies’ dance off was sadly a no-show.  That’s alright though, because Mister S. got a great suit and that night we were off to Literary Death Match!


I saw this one on the list of events and knew that we had to go to it.  The format of it was that they brought in 4 writers and each one had to prepare a piece to present.  They were split into groups of two and then the three judges from Dublin would pick one from each group to compete in the finale.

DSCF6943The event was held at the incredible Smock Alley Theatre.  It was a stunning venue.  They had free wine upstairs and a small gallery where people could walk around and wait for the theatre to open.

DSCF6954It was a small venue with seating along three sides of a ground level stage.  All the views were grand though.  Best part of it?  The seats were all high enough that no matter how tall the person sitting in front of you was you would still be able to see!  As a shortie, this is exciting.  DSCF6958


DSCF6960Here was our winner of the night.  He did a great piece he wrote about Vampires in Dublin.  Personally though, I thought that someone else should have won, but that’s my own personal opinion.  My biggest complaint about the competition was that one girl who made it to the finale got there by performing some poetry that she had written before the event.  Now, that would be fine, but none of her pieces were anything at all related to the Macabre-themed event.  It was different which is why she made it through, but it was sort of a skewed judgment.  Long story short, it was so much fun and in a great venue.  I would definitely go again.

DSCF6963As we were leaving the theatre, Mister S. and I got pulled over to be asked some questions for a radio station that was covering the events of the festival.  My voice may have been on Irish radio ^^

DSCF6974The next day Mister S. and I joined up with the Macabre Walking Tour.  I had to buy the tickets four days before the event because all four of the tours on Saturday and Sunday sold out.  The tour was put on by Pat Liddy Walking Tours.  We were in luck because our tour was led by none other than Pat Liddy himself!  He owns the tour company and employs 12 other guides to lead people through the city.

DSCF6977We were led around the city center of Dublin and were shown the ‘haunted’ locations.  One of which was this Rubrics Building in Trinity College.  It’s rumoured that teacher Edward Ford, who resided in house number 25 haunts the campus.  Since I had done the walk more than a month ago, I’m going to take an excerpt from the Trinity News website:

“A college fellow and famous academic, Ford occupied House 25 of the Rubrics building. As controversial as he was talented; he was described by one colleague as an “obstinate and ill-judging man.” One evening, a group of typically rowdy Trinity students threw stones at his window, rousing him to anger. Pulling out a gun and muttering profanities, he shot into the taunting crowd. Although uninjured, the group was furious and decided to retaliate. Having collected their (illegal) firearms, they returned to fire through his window. Unfortunately, the prank was fatal, as Ford died from his gushing wounds. To this day, a man dressed in a wig, gown and high knee breeches wanders beyond the rubrics at dusk. Often taken for a misguided arts student, he ambles down to Botany Bay before fading into the air.”

Pretty neat, huh?


Fun little story, the provost of Trinity College from 1888 until 1904, George Salmon, was amendment that woman would not be allowed in his school.  He had bitterly stated that he would allow woman in ‘over my dead body’.  When 3 woman were granted access in 1904, Salmon dropped dead 2 weeks later.  DSCF6994

I actually learned quite a bit about Halloween on this tour.  Did you know that Ireland has always had some sort of Halloween festival?  Samhain (pronounced ‘Sowen’ in Irish) was the Gaelic end of harvest festival.  It was celebrated from sunset on October 31st until sunset on November 1st.  As with many pagan and pre-Christian traditions, Samhain had strong roots with the spirits or fairies (the Aos Si).  It was believed that on these days it was easier for them to travel to our world.  It was believed that by placating the fairies their livestock would survive through the winter.  Gifts of food and drink were often left out for them.  Costumes were used to disguise themselves from the spirits.  I found this wonderful little quote while researching Samhain on wikipedia: ‘Mythology suggests that drinking alcohol was part of the feast, and it is noteworthy that every tale that features drunkenness is said to take place at Samhain.’


Our group getting to entered the otherwise normally locked gates of St. Audoen’s Church

Our tour guide gave a neat little talk about how they used to keep skulls with a taper lit in them to keep the spirits away, but I haven’t been able to find a source confirming this.  If anyone else has heard of this, please let me know!

DSCF6982The tour led us throughout the old part of the city.  We got to see the Viking Walls (made nearly 100 years before the Dublin City Gate), the St. Michan’s Church (which is in possession of over 300 mummies, some of which are over 600 years old!), the oldest public library in Ireland (made in 1702, if you want to read one of the books they lock you in a little cell and only let you out once you return the book), and walked through ‘Hell’.  Hell, what was the name of For Courts back in 1790 was an area renown for it’s drinking culture and strange wooden statue of the Devil.  There was a humorous ad posted around that time that read: ‘Apartment to let in Hell suitable for lawyers’.

DSCF6998Once the tour was done, and we were both frozen to the bone, we went back to Dame Street to find some lunch.  We pulled in to HaiLan Korean and Japanese Restaurant and let me tell you, as someone who has eaten a lot of Korean food, this was probably the best one I’ve been to in Ireland (and in Canada).

DSCF7001 I haven’t had 오징어볶음 (ojingeo-bokkeum – stir fried squid) since leaving Korea.  It was delicious!  Our waiter was Chinese, but his wife was Korean.  When he found out that I spoke some Korean, he sent his wife over and we chatted throughout the meal.  It was nice to get to practice my Korean again.  I give this restaurant a big recommend.  Prices were good, Korean tea was free, but make sure you ask for kimchi if you want some.  I guess it isn’t to the taste of many so they don’t include it as they normally would, but I can’t imagine getting Korean food without it.


This marks the second of 3 times we ran into this same woman throughout the weekend.

After lunch we took the Luas (their tram system) to the Smithfield Gothic Market.  By a twist of faith we actually ran into 4 people who had gone on the walking tour with us!


Attached to a hostel (the Generator), there was a cafe/bar that you could sit at and listen to the life music.  There was also a little projector room filled with puffy couches where you could watch the match that was going on (where we found many-a husband waiting).

DSCF7015  It was filled with the sort of thing you would expect to see in markets around Dublin.  Lots of vintage and handmade items.  A girl recognized the sewing pattern I had used to make my dress.  We shared a giddy moment as we talked about Colette Patterns.


A lady near the entrance was selling ‘spoookkkyyyy’ cookies and I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of the witches fingers.  I have so many fond memories of getting to make those around Halloween back in Canada when I was younger.  Granted, we tended to dye the dough green for extra ‘spooky’ factor.

DSCF7018The area around the market was quite neat.  You could see the old smoke stacks from when the building used to be a Jameson distillery.

DSCF7019There were also some neat murals in the surrounding green…

DSCF7020And little wooden sheep statues.

DSCF7032To round off our day we attended one of the movies put on by the festival.  We attended the music documentary called ‘Beautiful Noise‘.  Since I had picked out the Literary Death Match, it was Mister S.’s turn to pick something.  This was definetely more his type of thing than my own.  I had never heard of any of the bands before watching the documentary on ‘noise’ music, and it is highly unlikely that I will look up any of them after watching it.  It really wasn’t my kind of music.  Plus the strong use of strobe lights throughout the documentary had me shielding my light-sensitive eyes.  It was an interesting watch, especially for anyone interested in music, but once was enough for me.

DSCF7061For our last day, we decided to get tickets for another one of the Halloween film festival movies.  This time we watched ‘Lost Soul: The doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau’…yes that is it’s entire title and no I will not be typing that out every time.  From henceforth it shall be known as ‘Lost Soul’.  We arrived early in to town in order to get some breakfast.  We had to walk from our AirBnB to the downtown (about twenty minutes) because the Luas was actually shut down for the morning thanks to the Dublin Marathon that had started.  We had some good half and full Irish breakfasts from one of the cafes before heading back to the theatre.

DSCF7057The IFI (Irish Film Institute) is quite the neat little building.  You can see the old exposed building walls that had been preserved for the building.

DSCF7054  Attached was a small coffee shop and a full licensed restaurant in the vicinity as well as a small shop filled with movies and movie posters.

DSCF7052Because we were still quite early Mister S. and I decided to get some cappuccinos and cheesecake for the movie (the coffees we could take in, the cake not).

DSCF7053I actually liked this cheesecake much more than Mister S. did.  It wasn’t your standard, heavy cream cheese based cheesecake, but one that had gelatine in it to make it a bit more fluffy.  It reminded me so much of the cherry cheesecake my grandma used to make with its crumbly graham cracker crust and the tasty pie filling topping.

*Ahem* back to the movies.  As a self proclaimed cinephile I found this documentary fascinating as well as entertaining.  It was filled with humorous parts of the outlandish events that were made up around the making of the 1996 movie.  Such as the director’s immense hatered of Val Kilmer.  How Marlone Brando was trying to ruin him.  And how director Richard Stanley camped out in the Australian wilderness after getting fired from the movie and then later sneaking back on set as an extra.

DSCF7063After the movie most of the festivities of the festival were concluded.  We walked around a few more markets,


DSCF7067Checked out what was supposed to be the ‘best coffee shop in Dublin’ (or at least according to the sign outside the shop).  Mister S. liked it, I found it only ‘meh’.  I find that I have yet to find a decent matcha latte in Ireland.  They all use the same powder mix that comes presweetened.  Mister S’s cappuccino was decent though.

DSCF7083After more walking around and unsuccessful dress searching for the wedding for me, there was only one last thing left to do before catching the train back home.  Get some supper.  Mister S. is a pork fanatic.  So when he heard about the BBQ Project, that was all he could talk about.

DSCF7088It actually had a pretty small selection of main courses, but both of the ones tried were incredible.  I had the housemade ice tea and it was delicious!

DSCF7095It’s hard to find good ice tea.  For each main you got to pick two sides.  Mister S. had the pulled pork, marrow mashed potatoes, and baked beans.

DSCF7094I had the ribs, onion rings, and coleslaw.  Both means were utterly tasty…but between the two of us we maybe ate one whole platter.  We took so much food home.  The portion sizes were huge!!

DSCF7098Best part?  There was free unlimited soft-serve ice cream ^^  There’s always room for dessert!

It was such a great event.  Sadly many of the events we really wanted to see were sold out.  Next time we’d have to make plans more than a few days in advance ^^  Now that I’ve gotten Halloween out of the way, I can finally get back into the Christmas mood!

Till next time~


Trip to Tangier


Wow…after a lloooonnnnggg break, I’m back!  I’ve been meaning to get this post up for a good long time now.  On one hand I didn’t feel too bad about it because after all, it is Nanowrimo (only the greatest time of year!). But after nearly a month of not updating, and my putting it off twice after continuously getting sick, I decided I could no longer hide behind my tissues.  It’s time to write! (well…write more that is. Still gotta keep up my word count!)

Our last stop on my Erin/Sam Adventure was a day trip to Tangier, Morocco!  This was exciting, because again, not only a new country to see, but also my first time on the African Continent.  I am now officially beating Mister S for number of continents we’ve been on (I am also two country ahead of him now ^^).


The start of our day involved waking up at an ungodly Spanish hour of 5:30am.  We had to walk to the checkpoint and be there by 6am, and it was about a 15 minute walk or so.  The streets were completely bare!  Even the 24/7 pharmacy was closed.  We were rather dejected to find that not only was Costa Coffee not open that early…McDonalds was also closed!!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a McDonalds closed in a city.  Granted this was in a Spanish city were things didn’t open until 10am usually, we were still both quite saddened that there was no coffee and breakfast sandwiches to hurry us on our way.

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We met up with the first few people in our group and started on our way.  It took nearly forever to get from Point A (being our pick-up stop) to Point B (the ferry).  We had to go and travel to all the other pick up points before finally getting on our way.  It took nearly 3 hours all said and done.  Still starving, Erin and I picked up some breakfast from the Ferry stop.  Our tour guide took all of our passports to get the visas finalized.  He then returned them along with our ferry tickets.  Now, instead of taking the time to find the tickets that matched our passports, he handed them out at random.  I desperately wish that I had been clever enough to note what my name was.  It was quite a humorous exchange with all of us in the group trying to find out who we all were now.


Finally we were on the Ferry and travelling between Tarifa and Tangiers.  Now, you should know something about me…You put me in a moving vehicle and you are going to get one of two reactions: One – I fall asleep almost instantaneously, or Two – I get sick.  I am a Grade-A motion sickness wuss.  Heck, I get it by simply sitting in the back seat of a car driving in a city, forget about driving around bends and curves.  And boats and me don’t fare much better.  I’m the kind of gal who gets queasy sitting going on a water ferry for 5 minutes, let alone any extended mark of time.  So I spent the hour and half on the ferry feeling awful and standing out in the sea spray desperately breathing in fresh air and trying to stay cool.  It reminded me of when my family and I took the giant ferry between Hawaiian Islands.  I think I will remain train and jet set, thank you very much.

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At long last we finally arrived at the ferry.  Our tour guide quickly ushered us towards our bus and the tour began!  I didn’t manage to get too many photos as they toured us through the different areas of the city thanks to the dirty bus windows and my camera’s inability to focus on moving objects.  The tour moved very quickly.


Our first stop involved getting to see the lighthouse above.  There were already men there with wares for sale.  I remember the little camels from when my parents and two sisters went to Morocco nearly two years ago.  My sister Ashley brought home a herd.


There were a few boys who had brought some goats along to entertain the tourists, but everyone was more intrigued by the little kid.  I saw our tour guide press a few coins into the hand of one of the boys who had the animals, and they let him pick it up and pass it around and be pet.  My friend Erin got her picture with the baby goat.  I was still feeling pretty shaky from all the sea sickness, so I passed on this photo op.


After the seeing the baby goat, it was back on to the bus and off to the camels!  For only €1 you could do a short little loop with your camel.  By this point I was ready to shake my sea legs and get going!  Granted, it was actually pretty tricky to get up on the camel in a skirt, it was doable.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to ride the camel at the start of the trip, but I’m glad I did.


After the camels, it was back on to the bus and into the heart of Tangiers!  We started our walking tour by going around a few of the side streets.

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Our local tour guide gave some very interesting facts about the significance behind the colours that littered the streets of Tangiers.  Apparently green paint was used to signify abundance and fertility.  Originally of significance to the desert people due to it being the colour of everything that meant life in harsh climates, these colours were later adopted by government and holy buildings and other places of importance.  The white that is very apparent throughout is used to reflect purity and purification.  It is the colour they use for both happy and sad events.

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As we travelled along the Kasba, our tour guide was also very quick to point out that many famous action movies had been shot in Tangier.  Movies like Inception, Body of Lies, Bourne Ultimatum, and MI5 were all done in the market place.  One thing that I found a bit strange for our tour was the complete lack of people (save for the peddlers trying to sell us souvenirs and the occasional staged cultural stop).  They probably picked paths that were more deserted in order to keep the group together, but it was still a bit odd.


On the last stop before lunch we came to another group of cultural performers.  They had been sitting around waiting for the next group, so as soon as they saw us they started playing their drums and getting ready.  Being in Morocco meant tipping a lot!  Nearly every time we stopped we had to give a tip, here was no exception.  When they asked for a volunteer from the group to hold the snake, I very calmly stepped back a good ten feet.

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This is not an oven, but was placed in front of the oven and I couldn’t get a good picture of said oven because I am oh too short. It too was once a communal watering hole.

After the snakes were past my weary eye, we made out way down some more alley ways, got to see what was once an old communal oven where the woman would bring their bread to bake.  Each person would make their own individual markings on the bread so they would know which ones were theirs when the came back to fetch them. DSCF6855

Lunch time!  This was my favourite part of the tour.  Lunch was included in our tour fees, but we had to buy a drink (which ranged from €2 for a soda or water to €4 for a beer).  The men in the back would periodically play some music for us (which we had to provide a tip once again).


Oh boy was lunch fantastic!  To start we had a wonderfully spiced soup with a lot of cinnamon (which is actually one of my favourite spices for soup.  I even throw it in chilli to get a full flavour.  It’s the best kept secret after putting nutmeg and dijon mustard into macaroni and cheese) and cumin.


It was followed by two skewers of meat that I think was lamb, but have no way of actually knowing.  It was tasty to say the least.  I will continue to pretend that it was in fact lamb ^^


Our main dish was a plate full of Moroccan seasoned couscous and chicken with vegetables.  This was a great dish.  I have my mum to thank for always being a very adventurous cook.  We always grew up with very bright, colourful, and filled with spice foods.  So dishes like this are right up my alley!  This was also the first time I’ve ever had boiled olives though, and they were delicious!  A much milder taste than what I’ve had before.  I am quite used to having the marinated or ones that have been preserved (how do they normally serve olives?  I had always kind of assumed that the tart sour black and green olives we get in Canada were pickled in some sort of way.  Does anyone actually know?)

IMG_2695-2The last part of the meal was some sweet Moroccan mint tea and halwa chebakia (a sesame cookie that is fried and coated in honey).  The sweets were a perfect way to end the meal…and I was rather disheartened that we only got to have one…and that no one was selling them on the streets. ^^

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A nice picture of Erin and I sitting on opposite sides of the table


My picture of a picture

After lunch we were told to wait outside for everyone…where we were suddenly surrounded by men trying to sell shirts, magnets, post cards, ect.  My favourite man however was the most entrepreneurial of the lot.  As we had been walking down the Kasba, a man was snapping pictures of us.  I assumed it was for promotional pictures for the website… Nope!  Instead, as soon as we went in for lunch, he whisked his camera away to a 1 hour photo place and came back with all the developed pictures and was selling them for €2 each or if he had more than one of you, you could probably talk  him down.  Alas, he only had one of me (see above) and I think it was my favourite picture of the trip!  I fell like a celebrity ^^


Look at the gorgeous lanterns!

After lunch they took us to the traditional arts market place.  Now this place was phenomenal!  Granted, I couldn’t afford anything there, it was sure nice to look at.  DSCF6865

They also gave us a spiel about Moroccan carpets, which granted, if I had money…or a permanent address, would be nice to own some day.  Oh well…maybe next time!  Look at how many different kinds they have!


I mean, who wouldn’t want to own this lovely tea/coffee set?


After we left the traditional arts market place, we got to walk through the actual market place for a bit.  Sadly we weren’t given any time here.  It was a rush-rush kind of tour.  It would definitely be nice to go back when we’d actually have some time to look around and barter.


Our last stop of the tour was at a traditional spice and herbologist (sadly the only potion they had was a ‘love’ potion).  They actually didn’t have too bad of a deal on saffron, so I spent my souvenir money on that.  They had some neat things, a lot of Moroccan oils and rose water creams.  Sadly that last one had quite the strong sent and they went around and gave everyone a sample.  Thankfully they also had a pungent black seed which smelt a lot like menthol that was supposed to be good for headaches, and I guess it must have worked well enough because I ended up walking out with a bag ^^

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After this it was a quick-paced walk down the street to head back to the ferry.  There are two things I haven’t mentioned about Tangier yet: One – they have fantastic doors everywhere!  And Two – they have cats everywhere!  As a door aficionado and a cat lover, both facts are grand in my book.


Sadly all good things must come to an end.  Once we were back on the ferry, I attached myself to the nearest raining by the back and remained there until we pulled into the harbour.  Then it was a long bus ride back into Malaga, and a supper that consisted of crepes!  A great day if I do say so myself.

Till next time~


Say hi to Montreal and Latvia! [Everyone refereed to themselves by code names of where they were from. I got to be Ireland and Erin was Canada]

Bonus?  There was a 90% chance of rain in Tangier and we had blue skies the entire way!  One of only two rain-free days the entire ten day trip.

Malaga Malaga


Oh Malaga…such a change from Toledo and Madrid.  First off?  Food was suddenly affordable again! Don’t get me wrong, prices weren’t bad in Madrid, but compared to what we paid in Malaga and the freshness quality of what we got?  Malaga won hands down!

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Fun Fact: They scan your bags before letting you into the terminal for the train at the Madrid Atocha Train Station.

Also, buckle down…it’s going to be a long one!


That is indeed a movie screen in the aisle. I got to watch Jack the Giant Hunter and loved every minute of it.

I want to start off by stating that the ~3 hour high speed train ride from Madrid to Malaga INCLUDED a MOVIE!!  My €80 train ticket afforded me more than my 9-hour Air Canada Rouge flight did.

We arrived in Malaga in the mid-afternoon to some mixed rain.  Mixed as in periodically torrential to none at all.  We found our hostel after some careful mapping out by moi~  No joking, it took us nearly half an hour to walk there and turn at the correct streets.  The hostel was more like an apartment that an old lady rented out all the rooms to guests.  It was neat and tidy, and in a perfect location to the entire city center of Malaga.


Our first action of the day was to find some supper.  After a quick search to what some of the best (and affordable) tapas restaurants in the city were, we went off in search of Los Gatos.  We had such a wonderful experience there I’m actually going to do a full post about it another day.  For now you simply get a cute shot of the outside.


After supper, Erin and I went a-wandering along the city’s port.  It was there that I’ve discovered that Dunkin’ Coffee (AKA: Dunkin’ Donuts) is in fact hipster coffee…go figure.

DSCF6794The view from the mezzanine was lovely!  There so were so many large ships along along the way.


This is the Chapel of the Port of Malaga.  Erected as an oratory in 1531, it was later moved in 1719 and inaugurated as a chapel in 1725.  It was used to say mass for the people of the sea.

DSCF6787Commissioned by the Danish Royal Family, there is a cast bronze statue of Hans Christian Anderson along the Plaza de la Marina.  Apparently the author loved the city of Malaga, and wrote about it in his book “In Spain”.  He wrote: “in no other Spanish city have I been as happy and as comfortable as in Málaga”.



I particularly like this night time shot of the Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación (also know as the Malaga Cathedral).   They lit the area around the cathedral very nicely, and there were many cafes surrounding the plaza for you to sit and enjoy the view.


Malaga Day 2!  We knew that we wanted to go and see the Alcazaba and the Castle of Gibralfaro so we went off in search of breakfast somewhere near there.  We found a gem of a place in the Plaza de la Merced called Cafe Con Libros (which actually has their own website!  Granted it’s all in Spanish, but oh well!)  Before I say anythign else about this cafe, please take not of the picture and the fact that they had a few tables where the chairs were in fact swings!!!


Breakfast here was awesome and completely reasonable.  I had the tostada o pitofo con serrano-y manchego (a toasted sandwich with serrano ham and manchego cheese), a cafe latte, and a fresh squeesed orange juice all for €3.30!  It was so tasty as well.  Erin went with their breakfast special which for €8 included fruit, ham, eggs, hashbrowns, coffee…and an entire pint of beer.  She was offered two types of wine or beer.  Neither one of us expected as large of a glass as she got.


Next stop, the Roman Theatre and Alcazaba!


(It was after this point where my camera started flashing low battery, so I apologize for some decreased quality.)  The Roman Theatre was very well preserved.  There were places that were completely fine to walk around it.  They also had some sections quartered off where they were still undergoing excavation.

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I have nothing but great things to say about the Alcazaba and the Castle of Gibralfaro.  The Alcazaba was designed as more of a museum.  There were plaques on all the walls (which were unfortunately only in Spanish) and displays to see.  You walked through the lower fortress along a certain path.  There were gorgeous gardens, amazing stonework on the floor.

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The detail work was incredible.  Nearly all the ceilings and floors were ornately done up.


To get to the fortress castle you had to walk up a very steep pathway.  Both Erin and I are rather fit and even we were red in the face by the end.  I was super happy to have the hand-painted fan I had just bough (there’ll be a picture at the bottom where I do a souvenir snapshot).


Castle Gibralfaro is now my current favourite fortress/castle that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.  I’ve seen a number of castles in a number of countries, but this one amazed me.  I loved the elaborate gardens,


the pathways you could walk around throughout the entire perimeter,


It even had fun little looky-loos (actually sentry towers, but I kind of like my word for it better).


The view from the top was breathtaking.  I have to admit though…see the Malaga Cathedral in the distance, I couldn’t help but think that it would be the perfect spot to activate my eagle vision (Curse you Ashley with your AC!! ^^  You can even see the ledge you would be crouching on.)

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Another great view from the walk down.  This was taken at about the halfway mark. IMG_2474

Taking advantage of the daylight, and only rather soft rain, we decided to walk through the gardens along the harbour.  We had walked around the outskirts of them the night before, but I didn’t want to go walking down the unlit paths in the dark.

2014-10-13 14.51.57The gardens were beautiful.   It was there that we met this charming fellow.  Called the Biznaguero, they were a type of vendor common to Malaga that specialized in the selling of the biznaga, a type of posy created carefully out of jasmine.  He is carrying a bunch to sell.  Also, the bird is just a bird that would not fly away from the picture.  He is not in fact part of the statue.


I wish I would have taken more flower shots.  There were more birds of paradise than I’ve ever seen before in my life.  I took to calling Malaga the city of free seasoning.  Everywhere we turned there were common herbs and whatnots growing along all the flower beds and trees.  There was an entire green space filled with rosemary.  Lime and Lemon trees were everywhere.  Dates, figs, chestnuts, and almonds were also common sights.  The trees were so overburdened with fruit that they were falling off the trees.  I can’t help but wonder that when the lights go down, shopkeeps go foraging?  I know I certainly wanted to.

2014-10-13 16.18.15We walked around behind the Malaga Cathedral a bit before heading home.  There was some very interesting facades.

2014-10-13 16.36.31It was there that we came across this little scamp.  Is it very obvious that I like cats?


By this point it was now after 6pm.  Both of us were feeling rather tuckered out.  We went back to the hostel.  While relaxing and trying to decide where to go for supper, our German housemates came back.  It was a group of university students (one master student, an engineer, one doctor, and one fellow doing a phD).  It turns out that they also hadn’t eaten yet.  We all decided to go out for tapas together at a place they had found.  It was a night filled with laughs and food.  Erin introduced them to a beer rating app that they got very excited about.  We turned in around 11pm.  We would have to get up around 5am the next day in order to get to the bus by 6am.

2014-10-15 10.59.30Because on our third day in Malaga we actually took a day trip to Morocco and I’m going to be writing that as a seperate post, I’m going to instead press on to our last day in Malaga.  As you always should, we started our day with breakfast.  It was also here that I came across the decadent amazingness that is a café bombón.  The rest of my breakfast was inconsequential to how happy this drink made me.  What it is is one-half espresso, and one-half sweetened condensed milk.  Don’t judge me!  I am still nursing a broken heart about how I can’t find one here in Ireland ^^  They get the two distinct bands of colour by slowly adding the condensed milk to the espresso, however it is most commonly mixed before consumption.

2014-10-15 11.53.06We decided that we were going to casually walk around and see the rest of Malaga.  So that morning, after breakfast instead of turning left like we normally do at our major intersection, we turned right.  It was as we were stumbling around the side streets that we came across the Ataranzas Market.  We quite honestly had no clue that it was there or that it was so close to the main street.

IMG_2734It was filled with stalls selling a number or things.  From fresh produce, fresh cut meats,

IMG_2736Olives galore,

IMG_2738Dried spices and herbs,

IMG_2742And plenty of fresh fish.

IMG_2773After the market, we made our way to Malagueta Beach.  This beach is quite popular with the tourists.  Even in October in what is considered “off season” there was still many people on the beach, if not in the water (if you look carefully you can see them there along the edge of photograph ^^)

IMG_2779Erin and I both took turns posing with the famous beach sign.

IMG_2776The Spain version of ‘raking the leaves’.

IMG_2787Somewhere along our journey on the beach we came across this fellow roasting fresh seafood over a fire.  Good lord did it both smell amazing as well as look mouth watering.  If it wasn’t for the fact that that squid he’s turning in the picture was €20, I would have most definitely bought some.  The sardines were reasonable enough at €5 apiece, but I was a bit squeamish about buying a fish with it’s scales and guts still attached.  Plus…you know…they’re eyes were looking at me ^^


In the few days we had been in Malaga, we had tried every day to visit the Museo Alborania Auladelmar (The Malaga Maritime Museum) it had been closed.  The first was because it was a national holiday (Columbus Day), the second it was too late after coming back from Morocco, and this time we just missed it for siesta time.  Many of the shops did in fact close from 2-4:30pm everyday.  Determined to actually get in, we went to one of the bars close by and got some drinks as we waited for it to reopen.  An espresso with whipped cream for me, and a beer I can’t pronounce for Erin.


And boy, we I glad we waited!  I haven’t had that much fun in a museum in a long time.  The Museo Alborania was very hands on.  Right at the start they lady in very minimal English sat us down and said that there was a 15 minute video for us.  It was super informative!  It gave a bunch of information about the history of the Mediterranean coast line.  Did you know that once the space between Spain and Morocco (the Strait of Gibraltar) was once blocked and turned the Mediterranean Sea into a desert? I did not (granted this was very long ago…approximately 5.5 MYO).

IMG_2810Look at all the crabs!  You can’t see them very well, but at the bottom of the picture there were crabs as tiny as my thumb nail!


While there wasn’t much for live sea life, there was an impressive collection of dried…

IMG_2813And petrified specimens.  I have never seen a giant squid of this size.  Thing was huge…and disgusting.

IMG_2824There was a lot of fun things to play with, and read.

IMG_2830For reference’s sake, I am 163cm (5’4″), so that’s the open width of the Megaladon’s mough. Yikes!

Photo credits go to

Best part of the museum?  The mock up of a ship’s bridge.  There was a joystick behind the wheel that let you control the boat on the screen.  It also involved lots of dials that could be turned and switches that could be flicked.  It reminded me of the time myself (20 at the time) and my sister (17) spent half an hour playing in the fake cockpit in one of the planes at Pearl Harbor.


With our day drawing to a close, it was time for one last supper.  We had varying degrees of quality paella in Madrid.  We had pretty darn decent paella in our hostel and only moderately okay paella at a restaurant.  And the paella in Malaga blew both of those out of the water.  I had seen pictures of the  Arròs negre several times and had yet to manage to find it a restaurant that we’d finally decide on.  Well…today was my day to be adventurous!  Erin ordered a chicken and seafood mix and I finally got my black paella.  The dish gets its black colour from squid ink, but that shouldn’t discourage you from trying it!  It is delicious and doesn’t taste any fish-ier than standard seafood dishes.  I enjoyed it immensely!  My only qualm with it was that they cooked the shrimp in it whole.  I spent a good deal of my meal digging out shrimp legs and shrimp antennae out.  It put a damper on my meal…but not enough that I wouldn’t order it again!

IMG_2845It was also in this meal that I conquered my fear of shrimps with heads.  Now…I love shrimp, but things with heads freak me out.  Shrimp with heads and legs doubly so.  I wasn’t about to waste some potentially amazing shrimp though…scary heads be damned!  Through a mix of squinting my eyes to avoid looking at it and being happy that the rice mixture had dyed it black so I really couldn’t see its eyes did make it a bit easier.  All in all, I did it!  After supper it was back home to try and cram all the things I’d bought into my carry on.

DSCF6870Because I didn’t take any pictures on my trip home, you instead get pictures of my souvenirs from Spain and Morocco!  Yay!  Front and Center is my new favourite thing: my hand painted reversible fan (it has different flowers painted on each side).  Granted it’s not of much use to me right now with Irish Winter starting, come summer I’ll be ready!  I also bought two damascene-style necklaces in Toledo (one is hand-made, the other is done by machine).  Top right is a small metal canister that I go in Madrid that is actually a travel sewing kit!  With cats on it!!  Also included in this pile is my Spanish X-Men comic (I try to buy a comic book from every country I go to.  I have a nifty little collection growing back home.  My favourite still is my Norwegian Calvin and Hobbs call Tommy og Tigern), two traditional Spanish sweets (nougat and marzipan) to share with Mister S., and two cute notebooks from China (yes, I know I have a problem…no, I probably won’t stop buying cute notebooks ^^)

DSCF6868And fabric!  I’ve gone into great detail about how much I loved the Spanish fabric shops at my other blog here, so I’ll relieve you from having to read about it twice ^^

DSCF6869Last but not least, look at all of this seasoning!!  The three on the right were from the Atarazas Market and the three on the left were from the Moroccan spice market.  I paid considerably more for my Moroccan spices, but I can’t complain too much.  The ones from Spain though were only €1 each!

And that concludes the Spanish part of my excursion.  I apologize for how terribly long this post was!  I thought my one about Madrid was long!  I am hopefully going to get the post about Morocco up before November 1st because that marks the start of a very special time for me….NANOWRIMO!!  More on that another day.

Till next time~


Holy Toledo!


Welcome to the medieval walled city of Toledo!  Approximately an hours drive from Madrid, we have Toledo, known as the ‘City of Culture’.  Behind its stone walls, Christians, Arabs, and Jews have lived in peace for centuries.  Throughout the city limits there are a number of castles, mosques, fortresses, synagogues, monasteries, and churches, each one spectacular.


  Paved in cobble stones, this Spanish city had plenty of lovely features.  Such as the rounded walls,

DSCF6623Moor-inspired doors and window shapes,


and uniquely Arabic-styled tile work.


We took advantage of the tour set up by our hostel.  For only €20 (€10 there, €10 back), a van would pick us up outside of the hostel and took us on our way.  Once we arrived in Toledo, the van took us on a 360-panoramic drive around the entire city.  It provided us with some great views of the city.


The city is famous for its production of damascene artwork, most often seen on plates and jewellery, many of which are still created by hand.


Artisan hard at work


Some of the shops had work stations set up so you could see the process of how the pieces were created.


One thing that I found quite interesting was the stylised buildings throughout the town.  I had never really seen this mix of brick, raw stone, and mortar before.


This here is the Puente de San Martín.  It was constructed in the 14th century and features 5 arches (trust me…they’re all there).  The centre arch spans 40m and was considered an impressive feat back in its day, with only a few other bridges managing the distance.  Built on the order of Archbishop Pedro Tenori, the bridge crosses the river Tagus and connects the old city with the west (thank you Wikipedia).


Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes


An interesting feature of the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes are the chains hanging from the wall.  It is said that the monastery was commissioned by Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand II to display their victory over the Portuguese-Castilian in the Battle of Toro in 1476.   The chains and shackles were hung in 1494, to honour the Christian prisoners from Granada that were held by the Moors and released during the Reconquista.

DSCF6603Within the monastery, there are many glorious features.  Such as this cloister garden,


Lovely archwork,


Insanely detailed column artwork,


And an immense piece behind the alter, wrought with gold work.


Something that I found a bit strange in all the churches I visited in Spain was the fact that the offering candles were electronic.  You would put in your 10 cent coin and randomly one of the candles would light as you said your prayers.  I still kind of prefer the actual candles.

DSCF6576I love visiting churches and other places of worship when I’m travelling.  The amount of time, effort, and money put into their creation, and the fact that they’ve stood the tests of time make them incredible to me.  Seeing this large buildings is a very humbling experience. I often feel so small next to them.

Me and my new boyfriend...isn't he dashing?

Me and my new boyfriend…isn’t he dashing?

I had a fantastic time in Toledo.  I wasn’t quiet sure what to expect on the way there, but was incredibly happy that we made the time to visit it for the day.  I would highly recommend it for anyone travelling around Madrid.  I would however, suggest that you spend 2 days there instead of just the drive in and out trip that we did.  I would have loved to get to see more of the sights in the city.  We didn’t get to see any of the museums or the mosques, and I would have loved to take a walk along the path that follows the river around the city.  Oh well…next time!

Till next time~

Hola from Madrid!

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Sorry about the radio silence lately, I’ve been off on an adventure!  In fact, I’ve just returned home to Ireland from a week and a half in lovely Spain.  This trip was actually planned back even before I had arrived in Ireland.  My friend Erin and I had made plans to do some travelling together before she made her final move to Australia (happening in November).

Madrid Airport has the most interesting ceiling!

The Madrid Airport has the most interesting ceiling!

Because we managed to see and do so much in the nine days we were together, I’m going to break my posts up into cities.  Today we’ll cover Madrid, next post will be Toledo, after that Malaga, and finally Morocco!  I hope you’re ready for a bunch of posts of fun and frolic in Spain (and nearby Tangier), because that’s where we are headed!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a little bit paranoid about one thing when I’m travelling…getting from the airport/train station/bus station to where I am staying.  Thankfully, my hostel in Madrid (Way Hostel) couldn’t have been easier to find!  No more than a minute’s walk from the Tirso de Molina subway stop, I have nothing but good things to say about this hostel.  The people working the desk were very friendly and remembered nearly everyone by name, there were free churros and coffee/tea every morning, and most evenings there were activities you could participate in as well as cheap food on certain nights.


Ribes & Casals

Since I arrived closer to 11pm, I went to bed pretty early.  I was up by 8am, had my complementary churros, and was out exploring by 9am.  Erin wasn’t due to arrive until between 12:30-1:30pm, so I had all morning to myself.  It was on this meandering wandering around the area of the hostel that I first discovered that we were smack dab in the middle of the garment district!!  I had fallen in love with hand embroidery when I was living in Korea and threw myself head first into sewing when I returned to Canada.  You can imagine my glee when I discovered that there was entire floors dedicated to specific fabrics at this one location.  Let’s just say that the time waiting for Erin was not idly spent ^^ (You may recognize this photo from my other blog here where I was talking all about the fabric stores in Spain.)

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Much of Erin’s first day was spent snoozing thanks to the jet lag, but we still managed to get some neat things done.  One such thing was attending a flamenco show put on by our hostel.  A guide came and lead us all towards a bar with a stage where we were given a glass of sangria and got to listen to the singer and two guitarists play as the the dancer performed.

Our second day we partook in the free walking tour that left from our hostel. It was a interesting tour, our tour guide Herriet was actually from England but had been living in Madrid for the last 4 year.  She was knowledgable on the area.  She took us to many of the main tourist sights in Madrid.  Such as:


The Puerta del Sol,


The ‘Zero Kilometer’ (this is where all distances are measured in Spain; for example, when you see a sign on the road saying ‘blank km to blank’, it was measured from here),


The Madrid Opera House (where you can get very affordable tickets if you show up 4 hours before the show.  Alas, the next show was on Monday and we were leaving Sunday),


The Palacio Real ( The Royal Palace),



I’m also going to throw in these two pictures here.  I had asked our tour guide to take a picture of Erin and I and she snapped two.  One which is very fine and lovely…and the first which makes it look as if I’ve just witnessed some sort of shocking event.  This is also one of my favourite pictures of the trip ^^


and the Cathedral.  Fun fact:  The front of the cathedral, as well as the Opera, have a strangely plain exterior.  The reason for this, is that they both face the Palace.  In order to not take attention away from the Royal Palace, both of these landmarks were stylized down…until you walk behind them…

Rear view of the Cathedral

Rear view of the Cathedral

That’s right!  The back of the Cathedral is every bit ornate as you would imagine a Cathedral to be in the highly Catholic Spain.

It was at this point that the heavens opened up and decided to drop a torrential downpour of rain on to us.  The whole tour attempted to take shelter and wait out the rain.  30 minutes later however, it was becoming evident that the rain wasn’t going to be stopping any time soon the tour decided to part ways.  Erin and I were chilled and both ravenous!  We looked for the first place within a reasonable distance away and sat down to warm our bones from the cool rain and had coffees Erin’s with a shot of whiskey, mine on its own and finally have a late lunch.


This is also where I got to have one of my new favourite foods for the first time: heuvos rotos.  I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this is!   Crispy cubed potatoes, thin Spanish Serrano ham, two perfectly fried eggs, and a smattering of salted fried pepper.  It exceeded my taste-buds and I wished for more.

Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado

*ahem* yes…back to Madrid ^^  We spent the rest of the day at the famous Museo del Prado (which I am shamed to admit that I kept calling it the Prada Museum all day).  We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but it was huge!  We spent the better part of 3 hours in it and I only think we covered all (or at least most) of it.


The very next day we travelled to Toledo, which will be the next post up.  For our last full day in Madrid we spent the morning having a lovely breakfast at the nearby La Rollerie, getting our train tickets for Malaga, and then touring around the Parque de Mariano de Cavia.


On our way to the garden.



Not only was this garden massive (1.4 km2), it was still in very much bloom!  Coming from Canada where at this moment it is more likely than not to see snow, and from Ireland where everyone is bundling down for a wet-damp winter, the sight of roses warmed my heart.




The Rosaleda del Retiro

The entire garden was a maze separated into different sections.  In each section there was a highlighted feature.  Such as the monument to Alfonso XII.


The monument from another angle.  The scale was impressive!

DSCF6675My favourite place in the park was the Palacio de Cristal (the Crystal Palace).  It was stunning to behold.


It was built in 1887 for the Philippine Islands Exhibitions, as was the artificial pond out its entrance.  It was originally used to display flower species indigenous to the archipelago for the exhibition.


All of the rocking chairs in the pavilion had a book attached to them, which in my opinion is completely fantastic!  The books were a smattering of English and Spanish classics.  The one I’m holding had an English version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Around the World in 100 Days, and a Spanish version of a Sherlock Holmes story (I know it was Sherlock Holmes from the illustration…I have no idea what the title was in Spanish).  If I was a citizen of Madrid, I would most certainly spend my lazy Sunday mornings with a coffee or tea and enjoy the exquisite beauty of with these books.


The park was full of very interesting statues.  I’ve been to my fair share of museums and I have to say, the statues here were unlike any others I’ve seen throughout Europe.  It was most interesting!  They held very unique features and dress.


A lovely lady and an admirer.


We spent several hours wandering the gardens and I could have likely spent several more.  Every direction you turned there was something new to see.


After the park, Erin and I caught a train and had an adventure trying to find an outlet mall on the outskirts of the city that involved catching a cab with a couple from Guatemala.  Alas, I have no pictures of that.  When we got back we walked around a bit more in the now bustling night city.


We found this store that sells take out meat cones.


For the final night in Madrid, we tried one of Spain’s iconic snacks: Churros Con Chocolate  (churros with a thick drinking chocolate to dip them in).  It was decadent and delicious.  I wish I had more time there.  They had entire series of churros you could try!  Including ones stuffed with chocolate and cream.


  Our final morning before we caught the train was reserved for seeing the El Rastro Market.  This open air flea market is only on Sundays and is one of the largest in Spain.  The entire area gets packed with vendors and people shopping.  Located between the Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo, the market also extends into the side streets in all directions.


The stalls all had your standard market fair.  When you reached the square where the locals were placing down their mats and goods you could find a plethora of goodies and delights.  They did expect you to barter however.  I wasn’t quite in the mood to barter down the pretty silver pillbox from €20 to a more reasonable price (I don’t think it would have been hard.  I had her down to €10 by just standing up and moving to walk away).


It was down this side streets where I discovered a fantastic hole-in-the-wall fabric store (as talked about in my other blog here)!


There was a large amount of religious antiques and icons being sold throughout the stalls.


There was also an entire store dedicated to dolls.

nom nom nom

nom nom nom

After the market we grabbed our bags from Way Hostel, picked up some snacks from La Rollerie, and made our way to the Madrid Atocha Train Station.

2014-10-12 12.29.23

Wow..okay, this post finished at 1729 words.  Yikes!  Well, I did have a busy week!  Hopefully the lovely pictures kept you interested ^^  Next up is Toledo!

Till next time~

Cork City Swing

Limerick Junction Train STation

Limerick Junction Train Station on the way to Cork

Wow…just Wow!  I have had one of my best weekends since moving to Ireland this last week.  It also marked the first time I’ve been able to get out and meet so many local people here in Ireland.

Instructors Kris and Audun

Instructors Kris and Audun

Let me back up, at the beginning of September when Mister S went back to Canada leaving me all alone job searching and nearly friendless here in Ireland that I began looking for things to do.  I had done some swing dancing many years ago and started to get back into it over last year.  Limerick was supposed to have a bit of a local swing scene, but apparently it died a few years ago when the coordinator moved to Dublin.  You can imagine my glee when I found out that there would be a swing dancing workshop in a nearby city at the end of September!  Unfortunately, when I emailed asking if they had any spots left for follows (the girl dancer) without leads (the male dancer) I was told I would be put on the waiting list.  As luck would have it though, I got an email two days before the event happened asking if I still wanted to go, and boy, did I ever!

Lovely ladies dancing in the Cabaret

Lovely ladies dancing in the Cabaret during the Fancy Dress Party

After some scrambling about to book a hostel for Friday to Sunday, get my train ticket, and pay my fees, I was vibrating with nervous energy.  I’m one of those people who tends to be quite shy unless you talk to me first, so going to a place where I know absolutely NO one tends not to rank too high on my scale of ‘fun things to do’ (I know, I know…if I have issues with it, why do I keep moving?  You have to push yourself somehow!).  Regardless, my fees were paid, and I was going!  I will confess to walking around the block a good three or four times before finally going into the Cork Dance Studio for the first social dance on Friday night.

Live Band on Saturday Night

Live Band on Saturday Night

It was such a great time.  The doors opened at 8pm, but most people didn’t show up until closer to 10pm, but that’s alright.  It gave me plenty of time to make friends with a group of girls living in Cork who were from Italy.  I was nervous over being rusty at the beginning of the dance, but as the night went on, I fell back into the groove.  Valeria and Beatrice (sisters from Italy) were utter dears and offered to walk with me home once the dance was over at 1am.  They lived closed to where my hostel was and didn’t mind escorting me back.  We agreed to meet up the next morning at 10:30am to find the school where the workshops would be together.

Myself and Jan dancing

Myself and Jan dancing

There were approximately 20 people in the Level One class.  It was perfect in classic Swing sense that either the leads or the follows were constantly being rotated so you got to dance with everyone.  It was lovely to get to meet and talk with so many new people!  On Saturday we had a one hour lindy hop class with Jon and Jenna from the United States.  Swing outs have always been tricky for me, so this was a good class…despite the fact that I got so dizzy ^^  After lunch we had a two hour class with Kris (a Canadian who was living in Heidelberg) and Audun (a Norwegian from Oslo) where we elaborated on what we learned in the morning and got down some more steps.  On Sunday we had an hour long solo jazz class (my least favourite of the weekend, but I’m also not a huge fan of solo jass…with the exception of the Shim Sham which is the only group song I know) and a class with the married couple Ali and Katja.  This was probably the best class of the weekend.  I can see why they spent most of their time with the upper levels.  That said, all the classes were great and the instructors were very kind.

A nifty thing about all these classes, is that at the end, they let us take a video of them doing a run down of everything we learned.  It’s a great way to keep yourself knowledgeable on what you’ve learnt in what might be an overwhelming time.

Instructors Ali and Katja

Instructors Ali and Katja

Chatting with a fellow who had flew in from Nottingham for the weekend with his girlfriend, he said that his dance with Katja was the very best one he’d had ever had.  He also said that if he had known who she was before asking her to dance, he would have never had the nerve to ask her ^^  A sentiment I fully understand.  Ali and Katja were on the floor more than any of the other instructors, but there was no way I was able to ask any of the instructors to dance.  My beginner skill makes me a bit too nervous.

Classmates from Level One

Classmates from Level One

On Saturday night there was the Fancy Dress Party.  Now, unlike in Canada, where a Fancy Dress Party might mean getting dolled up to the nines, in Ireland it means a Costume Party.  I opted for simply dressing up in a 50s style dress with fascinator and dark red lipstick, but that’s also because I don’t have any costume supplies here in Ireland.  There were so many great ones that night!  Though, I have no idea how the ones who dressed up in fleece outfits survived at all!

People having fun on the dance floor.

People having fun on the dance floor.

It was a lovely weekend filled with fantastic people who all love to dance.  I’ve been offered more than one couch to sleep on should the mood ever strike me to head up to Cork for a Friday night.  I simply cannot believe how much fun I had.  I wasn’t able to get any pictures myself, thanks to a fussy phone, so a special thanks goes to Sophie Rafiki O’Regan who posted all of these pictures on the Cork City Swing Facebook page.


Thanks for everything Cork City Swing!


To the Hook and Ladder


On a bizarre turn of scheduling, Mister S. was off early one Friday afternoon and thusly we decided to go out for lunch.  We have a whole list of places we would like to try/he would like to take me before we leave here, and the one we decided on is the very one we walk by every few days on the way to the Dunnes for groceries…The Hook and Ladder.


The Hook and Ladder is a fairly new shop that’s opened up in Ireland.  With one here in Limerick and another in Waterford.  It’s in one of the old Bank of Ireland buildings.  There are two floors of sitting, with the bottom floor also doubling as their cooking school on certain nights.  You can check out their cooking classes here.


The inside of the shop has a really neat decor, with a mix of shabby chic, and a touch more rustic.  Most of the articles along the walls, in the bookcases, or just sorting sitting around, are all for sale.  The Hook and Ladder is not only a cafe, a cooking school, but also an interior decorating stop.


Like this little guy.  Woot dinosaur!  Unfortunately, at €199 (~$300 CND) he is completely out of my price range.

DSCF5717We arrived at The Hook and Ladder around 11:30am.  A word of caution, their breakfast menu runs until 11:45am, and they won’t even start taking lunch orders until 12pm.  Undeterred, we ordered some coffees and pulled out our computers (our stop after lunch was to go to a coffee shop and get some work done).  Soon lunch rolled around.


They have a decent little menu at The Hook and Ladder with a fair bit of selection and a weekly special (but they don’t do the special on the weekends, from what my eavesdropping tells me).  Also, I just really like the blue roses on the cover.


I ordered the BLT, and it came with a side of crisps with a tiny dab of red pepper aoili (it was the tiniest baby sized dab!  I could have used quiet a bit more).  One thing that’s taking a bit to get used to here in Ireland are the rashers,  aka – Irish bacon.  Essentially it’s thick cut cured bacon, but cut wider than what we get back home.  I like it better than the rind bacon my parents get/used to get whenever they’d get a pink to butcher, but they are still a bit bigger than I’d normally like.  Plus I picked off the fat…but I do that with regular bacon too.  My bacon issues aside, the sandwich was delicious.  They serve it open faced and used olive oil to get the bread crispy.


Mister S. got the special, a Mediterranean vegetable sandwich with halloumi cheese.  His came with a side of salad and a side of coleslaw.  I was a bit envious, mainly because I had wanted this one, but he called dibs.  Oh well, we share our meals anyways so I also got to try some.  His sandwich was a bit mushier than mine, but that was because of the extra moisture from the vegetables.

DSCF5720  All in all we had a great time at The Hook and Ladder.  The chairs were comfy, and the ambiance was nice.  They also didn’t mind you just sitting around.  My only qualm was that the table was a wee-bit too high for me to type comfortably.  Other than that though, it’s a fun place to go for lunch.

Till next time~