Morocco, North Africa!

Take every chance you can in life, because some things only happen once…. but not in this case… in this case, I will definitely be back Morocco! You won my heart!

From Marrakesh Medina and it’s contrasting new town, to driving over the Atlas mountains (still snow capped in May) to the earthen buildings of Ait Benhaddou and on to the captivating dunes of the Sahara desert in Mhamid , then finally on to Agadir and Essaouira, this country literally changed at every turn in the road but we didn’t anticipate what an amazing experience we would have here. Morocco left us speechless and wanting more.

I have to say, this was the first holiday where I really wasn’t ready to fly home. I was even checking flights to see if I could stay 4 extra days , unfortunately we couldn’t, but I have promised myself that some day I will return.

Here is what we got up to over our 10 day trip. We managed to fit in two Game of Thrones filming locations too!

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We flew Dublin to Marrakesh thanks to ryanair. (Shur where would you be without them). Initially we planned two nights in Marrakesh. On arrival, I gotta say, I was out of my comfort zone, everything was so different as we made our way through the busy streets.

We arrived late afternoon and went straight to our Raid Palacio de las especias Marrakesh, where, we were greeted with smiles and Morocco’s famous mint tea. Surprisingly refreshing in the afternoon sun. Once settled in to our amazing room, they prepared a Moroccan tasting meal for us. Each course as delicious as the last. Every time we thought we were finished, another plate appeared from the kitchen.

We chilled on the rooftop terrace (complete with a traditional Berber tent may I add) listening to the call to prayer and got an early night. Our room was amazing and the food there was delicious.

Check it out ūüėä

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We spent the next two days exploring the Medina and souks, wandering the narrow streets, shopping, eating, drinking and people watching. FYI! An empty suitcase would be advised for your return flight , there are such amazing rugs, blankets, cushion covers, shoes, lamps, plates, spices, herbs and so much more to be found here.

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We visited Bahia Palace, and the YSL Gardens (Jardin Majorelle), We found the most amazing rooftop restaurant bar in the middle of the Medina, Terrasse des Epices. The perfect spot to watch sunset. (booking is essential for food)

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We sat on the rooftop of cafe France in Jamaa-El-Fnaa sipping mint tea and watching the madness below.

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We walked to the new town and hit up the famous Barometre, well worth the 40min walk each way. The bar has a crazy scientist feel with concoctions of all sorts used for alcohol infusions.

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I had the nicest gin cocktail of my life there! (Ros√©e du Matin) Actually , I’d even go as far as saying it was the nicest alcoholic drink I’ve ever had EVER. Infused with actual rose petals and mint, the smell alone was captivating and it tasted heavenly. (Yes i did just refer to alcohol as heavenly, don’t judge) We sat and enjoyed the live DJ playing chilled house music. It was lovely. We had planned on eating there because we heard that they have a pretty tasty tapas menu, but they were booked out.

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(Ill probably dedicate a blog post solely to Marrakesh because it deserves to be in the limelight)

The next morning we collected our rental car and mentally prepared ourselves for the crazy driving conditions ahead in order to to get out of Marrakesh, we survived and made on our way to Ait Benhaddou, our first Moroccan road trip.

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It does take time to get around Morocco, the roads are good but there are speed limits and the police are always out with speed guns, although we never had any issues. If you go up north I think there are motorways, but distance takes time here.There is alot of activity on the side of the roads, overloaded donkeys, women carrying all sorts. Kids cycling to and from school. It’s a great way to meet locals.

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Moroccan earthen clay architecture & (GOT location 1)

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It was late afternoon when we arrived and I was hangry.

(GOT location 1)

I could have done with a snickers, anyway, I stupidly decided to have pizza on the way in to the Ksar which meant I missed out on their candle light, homemade, traditional Moroccan dinner. Let’s just say, I deeply regretted not waiting. It looked amazing and a really good opportunity to speak with and meet other travelers. Lesson learned! Never let yourself get HANGRY!

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We spent the night in Kasbah Tebi located inside the historic ksar of Ait Benhaddou a UNESCO world heritage site and one of only four family dwellings still lived in inside the walls of the Ksar.

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We explored the Ksar at dusk and watched the sunset from the highest point, it was breathtaking to see the vastness below. Truly breathtaking! On the way back to the kasbah the light was growing dim. Men used boiled kettles to wash and shave themselves and they actually lock the Ksar from the inside at night so we had to be let out by one of the few people living within the walls. They were all so lovely, always smiling. We went back to Tebi for some stargazing before bed. There is no electricity within the walls of the Ksar making it the perfect star-gazing spot by night. The next morning Thomas got up to watch the sun rise, I opted out. The little shops along the narrow streets have the most amazing finds, honestly, the best shopping in morocco!

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By 12pm we were on the road again and heading to the desert! The drive was long and sweaty. (too much information?!) It was really eye opening to see how the villages and towns changed along the way the further we got into the desert.

The destination, Mhamid.

We had read that Mhamid is less popular due to some border disputes which are all sorted now, so we presumed it would be the more authentic option.

We arrived at camp Sahara holidays late that evening. The boys were great fun from the get go, after some mint tea they let us loose into the desert dunes to watch the sun set. What a place to be for sunset!! cool sand in between your toes, palm trees barely swaying in the breeze, everything glowing bright.

The sun drops off so fast, going and going for ages, then gone in the blink of the eye to reveal the star light sky. I didn’t expect to be blown away by the sky because I thought, shur I live in the countryside! but my god , was I blown away. We had actually only planned to stay one night in the desert but it was so, so nice there, we stayed two nights. Camp Sahara was the only desert camp in Mhamid that had reviews on bookings.com so that’s why we booked with them.

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They have proper toilets and showers and clean, comfy tents. The food there was the best we had in Morocco, the cous cous tagine was exceptional and the people we met there were unforgettable. We were sad to say good-bye when the time came. The boys arranged camel trekking and a trip to Erg Chegaga which was brilliant. They also made the most amazing lunch for us in the desert camp out in Erg Chegaga. You HAVE to have a Berber omelette when your in Morocco along with Moroccan salad!

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Check it out.

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We got on the road the following morning with heavy hearts, we wanted to stay longer. This lil camel even crossed the road in front of us to try and stop us from leaving.

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A desert camp overnight stay is a must if you are planning a trip to morocco.

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Our next destination, Agadir! Another long drive. To be honest, I only wanted to visit Agadir to see paradise valley because it looked amazing in the pictures but… I wouldn’t recommend going just for that.

Agadir is was just your typical resort town. When we checked into the hotel there was no personal touch unlike the Riads, Kasbahs and camps, everyone there seemed depressed! anyway, we had our first pool afternoon and evening and drank some well deserved gins. The next morning we got up and headed for paradise valley. it was scorching hot even in the morning. We headed along the trails and across stones strategically placed on river beds to find the hidden lakes. Following donkeys carrying supplies to the cafes in the valley.

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It was lovely, but packed with tourists and there was alot of rubbish, we followed the trails further and saw some more rock pools and we headed back to Agadir, we actually had to check into another hotel because the one we stayed in the night before was full and we couldn’t book a second night, I was glad because I didn’t like it there. The next hotel was lovely.

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After the hike we chilled at the pool and headed to Agadir beach for sunset. The beach there is lovely.

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We wandered the streets and ate dinner in a beach side restaurant, as I said before, it was like any other resort town you would see in Europe so if that’s not your thing then maybe consider skipping Agadir.. The next morning, we packed up and got on the road in the direction of Essaouira. This was our last planned journey, a few days of chilled beach and pool time before flying out.

Along the road we encountered the famous goats in argan trees, the farmer let me take a picture in exchange for a few dirhams.

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We arrived into a windy Essaouira around midday. We had booked Hotel Des ILLes on bookings.com before arrival but when we got there it was very run down compared to the pictures. It was fairly crappy accommodation to be honest and I had really wanted a few pool days before flying home so it was disappointing for me in that sense. Maybe I was just spoiled because all the other places were so nice.

Anyway, we grinned and bared it and headed off to explore the town that evening.

If your wondering how windy it is there, please use the picture below as a reference! Essaouira is a popular wind surfing destination, I know that now but didn’t before (haha)

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Game of thrones filming location 2

We came accross two lovely resturants in Essaouira.

La Licorne, all the artwork on the walls were painted by the owner. Both the food and atmosphere was lovely.

And Umai resturant which is where we found this delicious bottle of moroccan red wine ūüėć I’m pretty sure this place was fine dinning. It was fancy AF.

We actually decided to head back to Marrakesh a day early (the day before flying home) because we got a few emails from ryanair regarding delays at the airport etc.

We hit the jackpot with the Riad we booked! and it was a great price too, Riad Shemsi. Have a look at this beaut! ūüėć Initially I wanted to stay here for our first few nights but it was out of our budget so we just got lucky.

We chilled for a few hours by the riad pool, had lunch there and then headed out into the souk. Obviously I wanted to go back to Terrasse des Epices. again. (haha)

We had a few hours the next morning and we wanted to check out Ben Youssef Madrasa but it was closed for renovations.

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Although it was disappointing, I got over it by going shopping, AGAIN! much to Thomas’s dismay.¬† We headed to the airport that afternoon feeling like we wanted to hop on another flight, somewhere, anywhere but home! Morocco has changed a lot for us, it really opened our eyes and hearts to travel, we¬† now want to travel more into the unknown!

We will definitely go back there and I¬† would 100% recommend a visit.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Don’t listen to the people who say ‘I wouldn’t go there’!¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†We didn’t encounter any badness or negativity, only smiles and good hospitality. Obviously we had read about all the scams that can happen so if you go knowing what to expect, you won’t be fooled. If you want to ask me any questions about this ,please do.

I will be travelling to India in November so please keep an eye on my Instagram.

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Crete 2017

Another year, another Greek Island!

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(Balos Island, Crete)

After our adventurous, action packed trip to Sri Lanka in April 2017 (yet to be blogged), we decided to have a chilled beach holiday before the dull Irish winter¬† hit us, and let’s be honest, it was always going to be a Greek Island. You know me! Obsessed!

Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands, known for its pristine white beaches, the largest gorge in Europe, historic sites, delicious food and so much more.

Ryanair fly directly from Dublin to Chania, so we booked our flights and over the coming weeks we scanned bookings.com for some deals on accommodation and planned out a route to see as much as  we possibly could in seven days.

To be honest, the thoughts of Hersonissos made me anxious, I hate those party resorts, it’s just not my thing. It never was actually, its not that i’m old now or anything! I’ve just always preferred a chilled, small town with character kinda vibe which we found after we landed in Chania and drove east (at an ungodly hour in the middle of the night) to Agios Nickolas. There we spent the first four days of our holiday exploring the quaint town and it’s surrounding beaches.

Agios Nickolas is a bustling town with lots of restaurants and bars and thankfully no strip with clubs so it was ideal for us.

We had a heavenly sea view from our hotel room. Our accommodation was a five minute walk to the centre and a few minutes walk to a small beach so in essence, if you wanted to stay there for your seven nights and not rent a car, you would have everything you need.. but you know me, I love to explore!

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So off we went……

Vai Beach, The only natural palm tree beach in Europe was top on our list and the reason we chose to stay on this side of the island for the first four days to be honest.

The story behind the palm trees is that Arab pirates came in their ships, ate the dates they had brought with them and threw the stones on the ground. From these dates grew about 6,000 palm trees, of which 4,500 are still growing today.

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To be honest, its not breathtaking and it takes about two hours to drive there from Agios Nickolas. There is a large sandy beach with loungers and parasols and restaurants but it didn’t have the crystal clear water that I love. We did stay the day and enjoyed a few mythos in the sun.

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Along the way down to Vai, we saw loads of sheltered coves with the crystal clear water so we had to check them out.

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The countryside was lush at times and changed with every bend in the road. The Island had a lot to offer.

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Time went to fast and before we knew it, It was time to make our way to Chania where we would spend our final few days.

When we arrived at Chania old town, we parked our jeep outside the walled town and made our way to our accommodation by foot. Walking through the narrow streets was captivating. ¬†I love looking in the open doors of people’s one bedroom houses.

Once we had checked in, it was clear to see that we had made a mistake. We should have spent the whole seven days in Chania. It was beautiful there. The streets were busy at night but the good kind of busy, the place was alive.  Navigating your way around the narrow, winding streets and deciding on a place to eat became our evening ritual.

Waking up in our amazing suite and heading straight to the rooftop for our breakfast with the breath taking views of the old Venetian harbour below was enough to get you out of the comfortable bed without hesitation.

 

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From Chania, you can easily drive to Elafonisi, Balos and Lake Kournas.

Elafonisi beach is beautiful but crowded, still, I defiantly recommend going there.

Apparently the pink sand is disappearing because tourists keep taking jam jars of it, you can barely see it at the waters edge but it is truly beautiful when the light hits the right spot and the pink sand becomes visible.

So if you go there, don’t be a dick!! Take only pictures…. (hehe)

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Seeing as we were close, we decided to check out Lake Kournas, the only fresh water lake in Crete. The drive there was lovely, the lake is in a beautiful valley resting among the hills. We sat and had lunch and watched the slow moving pedalos. A very relaxing, quiet place.

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Balos, the finale of our trip. We defiantly saved the best for last.

We set off for Balos and arrived around mid day,  cautiously, we tackled the long dirt track all the way down as far as we could.

I would advise renting a 4×4 when travelling to Balos as the area its self is protected so the road is….well, its not really a road, its more a dirt track and quite bumpy so rental cars can get damaged easily.

Just look at that view though, if you go to Balos by boat you will miss this view, unless you are willing to hike, yes, I said hike, up to see it. Make sure you pack enough supplies, especially a beach umbrella. The decent from the top to the beach is not long but when you stop to take in the view you can be awhile so make sure that you already have your sun cream on.

Being in Balos was just magical. The closest thing you can get to the pristine blue shallow waters of the Maldives for so, so much less money.

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As it happens, Holiday guru has a deal for Crete at the moment. Check it out below:

https://www.holidayguru.ie/holidays/holiday-to-crete/?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=socialorganic&utm_campaign=48827

I would 100% go back there as there was so much we didn’t get to do, the sameria gorge is defiantly still on my list. We traveled in September and the temperatures were a nice toasty 29-degrees.

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Milos Island, Adventure Awaits! Greece 2016

 

I sat at my desk in work struggling to concentrate, my mind drifted to Greece.

As i re-read my blog-post from 2013/14, my heart longed for Greece and it’s turquoise waters.

Yes indeed, Greece and it’s many Islands have really become my ¬†number one obsession.

https://brenda89b.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/my-love-affair-with-the-greek-islands/
When i think of Greece i get butterflies in my tummy, yeah, I just admitted that! ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† I’m a weirdo, I know. (hehe)

So when i got home that evening, I began to stalk some holiday destinations for summer 2016.

MILOS a volcanic Greek Island in the Aegean sea, just north of the sea of Crete. Milos is the south westernmost island of the Cyclades.

After looking at some pictures and reading all about it, I made my decision.It had to be Milos

This time round, we booked all the flights and accommodation ourselves. We flew from Dublin to Athens and then got a short flight from Athens to Milos. When we arrived, we got a taxi from the tiny airport to Adamas port (the life and soul of Milos).

 Looking out the window of the bust up,somewhat retro taxi, I knew the Island was going to be special. My boyfriend however, was sceptical. This quickly changed.

It was a bit early to check into our accommodation so we picked up or rental jeep (a 4×4 as a lot of the Island has no road networks, only dirt tracks) and sat in Adamas port watching the boats come in. Even though it was busy, there was a sense of calm. No one was rushing. It was bliss xx

I was certain that the next 10 days were going to be full of adventure.

Milos has many small fishing villages right on the water, some of which are only accessible by foot.

(Fourkovouni Village)

This was by far my favourite… turquoise waters…. perfect for swimming ūüėćwith the wonderful view of these colourful houses dotted along the shore .

We visited a few of these villages and feel in love with all of them ūüíú

(Mandrakis Village)

(Klima Village)

From lunching on the shore to diving right into the water, the little villages alone were dreamy, but we reluctantly moved along knowing all that Milos had to offer.

Sea cave swimming in Papafragus

Sea kayaking day trips, deserted beaches with watermelon loving donkeys……………….. ask me about that one… go on!

Cliff diving, even if you picked the lowest one, it still counts!

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The famous Sarakiniko beach, often described as Lunar, is situated on the north shore of the Island

It is probably the closest thing you’ll get to walking on the moon. Who know Volcanic rock could be so magical.

Descending from the cliffs to the beach, holding onto ropes, aided by timber ladders…. reading the below warning signs…trying to keep your legs from shaking ūüėā what a feeling! TSIGRADO BEACH

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From adventure to comfort, every beach had something different and unique to offer.

It was heavenly. There were no clubs or no strip like you would have in Zante or Rhodes.

In the evenings we would go for dinner and watch the sun set sitting outside one of the restaurants in Adamas Port. We never woke up hungover which was really nice for a change. (We must be getting old)

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Could it get any better?

How about a ghostly abandoned sulpher mine on the beach?

We rented a quad and drove down a long dirt track to the famous abandoned sulpher mine.

Paliorema Beach

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This Island’s Capitol, Plaka offers narrow streets with buzzing restaurants and magnificent sea views.

There are loads of little jewelry and clothes shops and a really nice vibe there, even if we got a parking fine…. In fairness, we did park on a faint yellow line outside the police station. (haha) There is no access by car so it’s best to park in an actual car park and walk up.

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Milos, ¬†the adventures paradise! 10 days of bliss…. next stop…. Santorini….

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From France to Spain

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To say I have been through a hell of a time the last few months is an understatement.

So an extended holiday was exactly what the doctor ordered.!

18 days of bliss, but how could we afford it!

We set about planning our summer 2015 trip wondering how we could reduce costs while still enjoying ourselves to the max and so we made our plan.

We flew into Carcassonne, a beautiful medieval town in the south of France on the 10th of September and stayed in the fabulous Maison Fortunat

(https://www.facebook.com/Maison-Fortunat-661011880682193/)

Of course it helps that my sister owns this wonderful property, check it out!

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Fully equipped with everything you need to have an amazing holiday including a pool, obviously!

A short walk from the medieval cite where you are transported to another world almost immediately, every narrow little street leads you to another gem. Torture museums, haunted houses, knights jousting on horseback, shops, freshly made crepes and juices, restaurants…. WINE!! ¬†(As i said, everything you need)

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When you eventually want to face reality again you can walk another 10 minutes to the ‘new town’ where you will be greeted with magnificent fountains, carousels and the ultimate holiday necessity, the square in the centre Ville, where you can sit for hours sipping on a local wine and get lost people watching. (My favourite haunt is Chez Felix)

If you fancy a spot of shopping, there is literally a long street running from one side of the town to the other with everything a girl could want. Sephora,  Pimkie, parfois and many more.

Spend your evenings in The Celt Irish bar, not your usual Irish bar abroad. This one is actually owned and run by genuine Irish people and doesn’t have the usual cringy Irish bar abroad vibe. Its classy interior and even classier range of high end whiskeys sets it aside from the others. The Celt hosts open mic nights which attract French, English and Irish patrons. A diverse culture which makes for a great night.

Find them here; https://www.facebook.com/theceltcarcassonne?fref=ts 

                          http://www.theceltpub.com/

From Carcassonne you have access to Carcassonne plage, a man made lake with water activities, if you want to venture a little further, Toulouse is only an hour away, the same with Montpelier and Narbonne, both sea side towns.

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Carcassonne should defiantly be on your places to visit list.

 

So, I guess this is when our adventure really started.

We caught the 9pm train to Barcelona (extremely hung-over), but the train was super comfortable.

¬†Barcelona was just a place to pick up our rental car for the next part of our adventure. We figured we could fly directly into Barcelona any time but other places are not as accessible, plus you need time to wander in Barcelona and we didn’t have enough of that hehehehe

So, we collected our car and shat ourselves a little bit at the task ahead of navigating Spanish roads. Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t that bad. We then headed North, yes, back the way we came, past Girona, to the¬†lovely medieval town, Pals.

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We stopped along the way in Decathlon to buy ourselves a tent, some foam rollers and microfibre towels.

Camping was the cheapest way and Spanish camp-sites have excellent facilities.

This is where we found paradise, Cala D’aigua Xelida

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Then Girona, another massive medieval Town, where they were filming Game of thrones might I add!

We wandered through narrow streets in the old town and then sat down and watched the world pass us by while we drank Rioja and ate patatas bravas and Nachos.

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We drove to two camp-sites in Girona and both looked unsafe so we stayed in a gorgeous hotel in the city centre, that I found in 5 minutes before check in on bookings.com. But I really enjoyed Girona Town, it felt homely and safe.

IMG_20151010_160835The¬†weather wasn’t amazing so we decided that heading south was a good option, we stopped off at some lovely places along the way.

Tossa De Mar

A beautiful place to stop, have some lunch and take it the views.

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From there , the awe-inspiring Roman Amphitheatre in Taragonna.

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And on to Granada, it was late when we got into Granada and we had drove for 4 hours so i went on bookings.com and found this amazing hotel, for 100EURO. I still think it was some sort of mix up, we got a suite with a jacuzzi in the room!

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I was just raging that we didn’t arrive earlier.

The next morning we woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go explore Granada. A town we had heard so much about, steeped in history, on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

I had planned on going to see Flamingo dancing in the caves and the Palace in Alhambra and the Arabic shopping streets.

Sadly we didn’t research it enough and our whole, be free , make no plans ethos on the holiday back fired. Tickets for the palace were sold out for the foreseeable future and the same with Flamingo dancing in the caves.

However, we did get tickets to see the palace gardens, and we made it to the Arabic markets.

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It was beautiful there, we were so disappointed we didn’t get to see the palace, but we had to move on, we wandered through the Arabic centre and sat and had a glass of wine and then we did a spot of shopping. At about 7pm we decided we better organise where we would stay so we searched camp-sites and found an award winning camp-site up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and we made our way up. It was dark on arrival so using the lights of the car we pitched out tent and headed to the camp-site bar for a night cap.

¬†The air was fresh in the mountains and I actually woke up in the middle of the night freezing, my micro-fibre towel wasn’t enough so i wrapped myself up in clothes.

The next day we saw some of the Sierra Nevada national park and went and walked the hanging bridges of Granada.

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We drove from there straight to Malaga, had some lunch on the beach and pitched our tent in Torremolinos for our first few beach days xx It was so nice to finally let the sun soak into our skin, read some books and drink some cocktails.

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We rested here, went for relaxing morning walks on the beach and two hour strolls every night until it was time to check into our final destination.

Mijas

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We stayed in an amazing rental property in Calle de Mijas which was spread out over three floors.

Casa Kewuet

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When you walk into the house you are greeted with this view, amazing day or night. It was such a pity that our schedules were so hectic, we never got to sit here and watch the sun set together with a bottle of wine.

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An old style interior with a modern twist.

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The bathroom was built into the hillside rocks and this beautiful free standing bath took centre stage in the house.

We were in Mijas for our friends wedding and it was beautiful, and so central, Close to Malaga and Marbella.

So many things to do x

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I really enjoyed the holiday but I gotta say, Greece and it’s old fashioned islands still have my heart.

Spain was busy, commercialised and stressful to drive in and I just didn’t get the same relaxed vibe I had felt in Greece.

Check out my previous blog here:

https://brenda89b.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/my-love-affair-with-the-greek-islands/

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Why natural skincare is the most effective skincare!

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I have been asked time and time again “what skincare do you use? what foundation do you use? your skin is always so flawless!”.

I have always been into a skincare routine ever since I was a teeny bopper. Back then, all I knew was the Simple range and it worked well for me, however as I grew up it wasn’t enough.

When I went to college I was lucky enough¬†to stumble across Lush and like everyone does, I fell in love with it. I loved their cleansers, toners, moisturisers, masks…. I loved everything about them. Sometimes, I’d even go in just for a sniff.

Funnily enough, I do have dry skin so I need moisture, and lots of it. Not dry flaky skin, just dry, particularly after a shower or a swim.

So as my life journey continued, so too did my interest in natural skincare.
I started getting more and more selective. Parben free this , fragrance free that, organic,  as natural as possible.
Which is hard because even the most natural cosmetics companies, with the greatest of intentions, have to start using nasties as they grow to prolong the shelf life of their products. It makes business sense yes, but its not an option for us health conscious people.

Actually, when you look into these things you can spend hours reading about the ill effects that synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances etc have on our bodies. Its crazy really! How did we end up like this. We were all so natural and self sufficient before.

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And all of this got me thinking………….

Some of us have gone full circle and reverted back to the ways of our grandparents when it comes to being self sufficient regarding food. ‘Growing your own’ is now on trend, everyone is doing it, and more power to you if you are. I am and I love it.

and if you don’t have the means to grow your own there is a big trend towards local farmers markets, locally grown fruit and veg, locally made preserves, jams and honeys. It’s great.

So, why don’t we do the same when it comes to skincare.

Local aromatherpists…

Local herbalists………

Small local companies that will make a blend on request, or make a small batch of creams, balms, whatever, that don’t need chemical preservatives to survive a holocaust. Products that are made of natural ingredients, plant oils, plant butters, essential oils….. The things our parents parents would have used, castor oil, olive oil, coconut oil.

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Doesn’t it make perfect sense?!

So, this leads me to my conclusion!

Why chose products pumped with chemical preservatives, synthetic fillers, synthetic fragrances and massive marketing budgets that have travelled the world more than you have ………

Make the change, find your local aromatherpists, herbalist, natural skincare company. They will make it as it’s needed and I guarantee you, it will change your skin forever.

Here are some of my favourites:

Saraki Skincare

https://www.facebook.com/sarakiskincare

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Apart from their fun, amazing packaging, they make small batches of face creams, balms etc by hand as demand requires which means they are always fresh with little or no preservatives. They are made using plant oils/butters and essential oils and smell divine, leaving your mind rested and your skin hydrated and soft.  Pop over to their Facebook page for a look!

Aroma Bliss

https://www.facebook.com/mollyhartigan1?fref=ts

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Combining culinary skills and a love of aromatherapy, Aroma Bliss again makes small handmade batches of creams specifically for clients on request and they all smell as beautiful as each other. Molly has a passion for skincare and the knowledge to back it up. CHECK THEM OUT.

LaVida Herbal Clinic

https://www.facebook.com/Lavidaherbs

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¬†‘My Role as a Herbalist is to give people a choice, to connect with what nature has to offer and to get people involved in their own health care, prevention is far better than cure.’
Claire is both an aromatherpist and a herbalist, so she can help you feed your skin from the inside out.
Have a look at her Facebook for more information.

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Bareminerals, bare minimum ingredients! Liquid Foundation Review

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Bareminerals newest family member!

Bareskin Liquid Foundation.

So, I treated myself to these amazing products after I was drawn in by their advertising.

I don’t really like the feel of powder mineral foundations, I find them drying, although great as a powder to seal your liquid foundation.

This is the brands first ever liquid foundation.

   It is a tone-correcting mineral foundation and brightening serum in one.

When I was getting my tone match in BT’s, the sales assistant was so passionate and told me that most liquid foundations have large quantity’s of chemical ingredients whereas this one only has 5!

‘Created with exceptional purity in mind, this ultra-thin, skin-perfecting¬†foundation provides seamless coverage, a natural finish and the look and feel of beautiful skin while delivering a noticeably brighter, more youthful appearance.’

Your skin feels, soft, nourished and moisturised.

The best part is, it is made with the bare minimum ingredients and formulated without oil, silicone, parbens or fragrance.

It’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before! Really!

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Here are some Facts;

  • Clinically proven to improve the appearance of dark spots, skin brightness and skin texture.
  • Coconut-derived base with jojoba-coated mineral pigments and non-chemical broad spectrum SPF 20
  • Supercharged Lilac Plant Stem Cells and Vitamin C help to reveal brighter, more even-toned skin
  • Ultra-thin, silky texture-one to two weightless drops naturally transform, soften and smooth your complexion

To use you need to shake it well before use because it is a runny formula and you will need the pigment to be evenly distributed throughout the product.

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I highly recommend getting the brush as it is specifically designed for the product.

As I mentioned, the formula is very runny and this is where the design of the application brush comes in.

You drop two drops of the foundation onto the middle of the brush, it is strategically designed to hold the product and you apply to the face in circular motions!

If you want to build up coverage you can add more product as you go.

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You gotta be patient and have time for the application of this foundation but I promise you, it will be worth it!

Don’t be put off as you apply it, although it is very thin and lightweight,¬†it sets and settles into the skin well after a few minutes of working it in.

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As you can see it does brighten the skin and leaves it flawless.

It¬† brightens up my dark circles completely and that’s only the foundation, I didn’t go under that with concealer at all.

I love it as a foundation.

It comes in 20 different shades so you are sure to find one to suit.

This shade is bare linen 03.

Bareminerals is also a cruelty-free company!

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Here is a picture of the finished face xx

It totally covered up those spots on its own! No other product has been used on them before or after the application! AMAZING! eh?!

Overall a great natural as possible foundation xx

I would say to be careful just after shaking it as when you open it the product bubbles out, have your brush ready.

They may need to re-design the bottle (hehehehe)

(http://www.bareescentuals.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-BareEscentuals-Site/en_US/Experience-Show?cgid=BE_BARESKIN_PURE_BRIGHTENING_SERUM_FOUNDATION)

Other products used xx

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You guys always ask me what foundation I use and now you know the secret to flawless looking make-up x

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I’m in a mermaid state of mind!

Hey Beauties xx

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I had the pleasure of getting my fur done last week by an amazingly talented colourist in Fox&Bow hair salon.

(https://www.facebook.com/foxandbow?fref=ts)

Michelle has a masters in hair colour! Who knew that that existed, right!

Hair colour is a true craft and passion of Michelle’s.

 

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Here’s how it works in there!

Firstly you go in for a hair consultation.

You have a chat about what your hair goals are and the girls will talk you through the process.

I loved how honest Michelle was from the beginning (it’s going to¬†take 5hours, its going to be a lot of work etc)¬†and her knowledge drew me in straight away.

I felt that my hair was in safe, confident, passionate, knowledgeable hands and so after the consultation I made my appointment and then nearly died with anticipation waiting for Tuesday to come.

The atmosphere in the salon is fun and friendly, yet professional and while you are having your hair washed at the sink, the chair massages you!

What more could a girl ask for eh!

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Here is a picture I took literally going out the door before the transformation (as I’m calling it)

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And so it began……

Michelle used ColourpHlex added to bleach. This is for professional use only (sorry DIY’ers)!

ColourpHlex strengthens hair from the inside out, reducing damage and breakage. As the bleach opens the cuticle/follicle, colourpHlex uses naturally derived vegetable protein molecules that penetrate the hair, reinforcing bonds during the bleach process xx

(Thanks to Michelle for the science)

To get more of an even result Michelle used Loreal Platinium plus,it lifts 20% faster and lifts clean, and  is more

conditioning as it contains beeswax properties that maintain natural oils.

Michelle decided against re-bleaching my ends in an attempt to remove the yellow and blue tones that were already in it but, hair is a journey and we will work on this the next time now that we know how well the product works with my hair.

So instead she worked some manic panic blue hair dye in to brighten up the blue.

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So enough of that sciency stuff!

Here is the end result!

Soft looking, pastel, mermaid hair!

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And every time you wash it, it gets more and more beautiful.

The best part about pastel mermaid hair is that anything goes.

Here it is after 5 washes!

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and here it is with lilac lippie

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Lime crime-Rave lipstick

LOOK!

Pastel, mermaid hair even goes with cats!

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Here is the link to the Fox and Bow website:

(http://foxandbow.ie/)

You will find all the details here.

Everyone is commenting on how soft my hair looks and I have never achieved such a bright, white blonde before.

I am so happy with the colour and cannot wait to play around with it a bit more.

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Skulls & Anchors! Decoupage

Nest Table’s Up-cycled

Hey Guys

So I started up-cycling one of two nest tables today.

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They are ply-wood so they didn’t need sanding.

I started on the smaller one today because I need to fix the leg on the bigger one.

Here’s how I did it!

I gave it two coats of white under coat and than started the chalk  painting.

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Chalk paint dries surprisingly fast so I coated it twice and then set out to decide on my decoupage design xx

I find these tattoo ideas magazine great for decoupage.

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Eventually I decided on these two.

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When you decide where you want to place your decoupage, you first paint the varnish/glue directly on the desired area, place the paper down and paint the glue/varnish over it!

(I used Annie Sloan decoupage glue/varnish from Twenty six Electric Mix, a fab shop in Nenagh, Co Tipperary)

Find them here: https://www.facebook.com/TwentySixEclecticMix?fref=ts

Then coat that twice or as much as needed.

You then need to coat the whole area otherwise they will be a noticeable difference in the colour.

BOOM! You are done

It really is that easy!

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More decisions……………..

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The completed nest xx

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Check out my previous up-cycling posts

https://brenda89b.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/creativity-comes-from-dark-times/

https://brenda89b.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/brighten-up-your-life-diy-decoupage/

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The Burren Perfumary

1429452923364   With the weather being so beautiful lately, myself and the other half decided to go on a mini road trip Sunday along the rugged Clare coastline.

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After having lunch in the lovely tea and garden rooms in Ballyvaughen we hit the beach in Fanore.

I had the most amazing salad and a glass of red and as I sat there surrounded by beautiful jasmine plants and the muffled noises of chit chat I felt very relaxed.

I Would definitely recommend a visit.

They have won lots of awards and the food is delicious.

(Image taken from http://www.tearoomsballyvaughan.com/)

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April beach adventures in Ireland require warm clothes!

Although it was sunny, it was really windy so we didn’t last long on the beach.

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Good weather for surfers mind! and they were in their element out on the water.

I dipped my toes in, but the Atlantic ocean is way to cold for my Mediterranean loving bones xx

So, as¬†we strolled carefree¬†back to the car I was thinking ‘What will we do next!”

And then I remembered hearing about the Burren perfumery

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http://www.burrenperfumery.com/

The Burren perfumery was founded 40years ago and is surrounded by limestone.

The Burren is a place of floral diversity and 70% of Irelands wildflower species can be found there.

Driving along the narrow roads I saw wet lands and hundreds of these beautiful wildflowers.

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To be honest, I could see myself living there. I felt a sense of isolation, the good kind of isolation.

A place where as long as you treat it right, it will provide for you.

As we passed small houses I imagined¬† that the little communities were very ‘together’, although their houses¬†may be miles apart.

When we arrived I felt a sense of serenity. Birds singing, sun shining and no traffic noises.

I went into the shop first where they sell make perfumes, creams, balms, soaps and essential oils. These are all made using natural and organic ingredients and everything is made on site, by hand, in small batches.

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You are invited to watch a 10minute clip all about the flora and fauna of the surrounding area.

The images were so striking and vivid. The wild flowers, the lizards, yes! lizards in Ireland! I was shocked too.

I wanted to buy everything, rose hip oil, rose otto face creams, argan oils, lavender creams.

All natural, organic, hand made, with no synthetics and as it says on the label ‘tested on us’, not animals.

I picked up a 10ml bottle of lavender essential oil for 8.50

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I then dragged myself away and headed out to the herb and flower garden for a look.

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They offer free classes and invite you in to watch the products being made from May onwards, check out the schedule here;

http://www.burrenperfumery.com/events/

To finish off the wonderful day, we sat outside in the sun drinking juice xx

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I will definitely be coming back in the summer when the flowers are in bloom and I will definitely be watching them make the creams xx

Peace and love xx

Brenners Mc Goo

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Oh God above in Dublin!

Here’s a little post on this weekend’s girly trip to Dublin xx

The shops I visited, the things I saw, some of those I bought and everything in between.

Temple Bar

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Lucy’s Vintage Basement

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Urban Outfitters

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Kling

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Forever 21

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Pennys Treats

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New Look

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The Guinness StoreHouse

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I hope you enjoyed the pictures xx

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