Author Archives: littleredstravellingfeet

About littleredstravellingfeet

I'm a devoted traveller. I love seeing this beautiful world and familiarizing myself with different cultures and people. I hope to take you on my journeys through words, photos and stories. Bon Voyage!

Dingle and its Peninsula

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If you’re ever going to Ireland for a week or more, you should absolutely rent a car and tour its coast. I was lucky enough to visit Dingle and its surroundings for three lovely days.

Dingle is a special town. The centre is small enough to walk through in under an hour, but it has a feel of a larger town. This small fishing town, hosts more than 50 pubs, colourful boutiques, some of the best fish restaurants in Ireland and a famous dolphin that you can see most days from the shore line.

The pubs in Dingle are unlike any I’ve been to before. Some of them double as hardware, clothing or leather shops. I think the idea originally began as the 2-in-1 store, but throughout the years with the tourist industry booming, the ‘shops’ in the pubs are little more than a novelty, but quite an interesting one at that. However, you are more than welcome to purchase whatever the pubs are selling.

Here are a few good pubs to check out while in Dingle:
Dick Mack’s  – Is a lively pub which used to be a leather shop, an aspect that is still apparent once inside. Here you can find live music, a good crowd and maybe a celebrity. They have seen a slew of famous people and there is a small walk of fame outside their front doors. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Foxy John’s –  This large pub doubles as a hardware store and also rents out bikes for the day. This is a great way to explore the Dingle Peninsula. When I visited there, I did not see anyone come in to buy tools, but I believe you could if you wanted to.

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J. Curran – Right across the street from Foxy John’s, this half clothing store half pub is where I found the cheapest pint in Dingle. The barman was friendly and the pints of Guinness were flowing. You can buy dress shirts and hats here, but you might give away that you are not local.

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O’Flaherty’s Pub – A large open spaced pub that hosts some great musical talent. I was lucky enough to hear the John Byrne Band who travelled all the way from the US, along with a following of 50 Americans. They graced the audience with some traditional Irish celtic and folk songs as well as some of their originals. 

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O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub – This pub, much like O’Flaherty’s was packed and had awesome live music. I had such a great night the night before with the John Byrne band, that when I heard they were making another appearance at O’Sullivan’s I just had to go. This was a livelier scene and everyone seemed to be having a fabulous time. The band that followed John Byrne and his band was stellar as well. It was a violinist and a guitar duo, that every once in a while would call upon some amazing vocal talent from the audience. I met the owners of the pub, and they were beyond friendly. It was clear they enjoyed being part of such a wonderful scene and made myself and others feel more than welcome. This was a highlight for sure!

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As I mentioned before, because of Dingle’s fishing culture, they have some of the best fish restaurants in Ireland (or so I heard). I travel on a bit of a shoestring budget, so without trying the restaurants I opted for the next best thing…Fish ‘n chips!

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Reel Dingle Fish- Is popular with the locals and serves up amazing fresh fried fish…try saying that five times fast! It has a good selection of fish to choose from and you can tell the owner is very passionate about the quality and taste of his food.

The Dingle peninsula is magical. You won’t ever regret taking the 47km journey around the mountains and the coastline. You can do the trek by car or bike. Be careful of the small, winding roads next to the cliffside. Don’t be too intimidated, there are guard-rails and if you go slowly around the bends you should be fine. Prepare to make several stops along the way to take in the breathtaking views of the sea at the cliff’s edge. On part of the route you will have snow capped mountains that almost touch the sky, with green, gold and brown grass leading down in to the valley before lining several small, blue lakes all this and the sea in the background. The view is unreal. You will more than likely see mountain sheep as well.

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So if you ever find the time to visit Dingle, get out and explore, meet the locals, see the inspiring Dingle peninsula, eat some fish and why not try a local Crean’s lager, brewed right in Dingle.

Safe travels,

Red

 

 

 

 

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10 Things To Do In Clonakilty, Ireland

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Clonakilty is a wonderful, small town. The sense of community is very strong and apparent. After a few days, the town and its locals will find a way into your heart.  It won’t be long before you feel like a local yourself!

Here is my top 10 list of things to do while in Clonakilty:

1. Take in some live music –Basically every night you can find a music session going on in at least one of the pubs. Music worth mentioning is the traditional Irish session at De Barra’s every Monday night at 10pm.  De Barra’s also hosts livelier music later in the week in the back section, which can be a bit hidden but can house hundreds of people. Thanks to Noel Redding, bass player for the Jimi Hendrix experience who frequented De Barra’s for 20 years some of the greats have performed here. As a result, Noel and the pub owners has put this pub on the map!

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Live music in the back of De Barra’s

2. Do a Pub Crawl – There are lots of pubs to choose from so have fun with it! Some of the best are: De Barra’s, Scanells, Shanleys, Con&Maura’s and Fiddler’s Green. If you don’t dare trying pints at all the pubs, opt for a glass, which is half a pint. Local beer in Cork County is Beamish or Murphy’s.

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A pint of delicious stout!

3. Drive or get a ride to Drombeg Stone circle – One of Ireland’s most famous stone circles and most visited megalithic sites. Drombeg is about a 15-20 minute drive outside of Clonakilty.

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Drombeg stone circle

 

4. Go to the weekly Market– Every Friday in the O’Donovans hotel plaza, vendors sell an array of fresh foods ranging from a variety of olives, organic produce, fresh caught fish from Union Hall, fresh baked goods and breads, prepared meals and lots more all at fairly reasonable prices.

Ron’s oven makes great thin crust pizzas, which are cooked in a wood burning portable oven…a must try!

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Ron’s Oven pizza from the Market

5. Inchydoney Beach- Walk, bike or drive to Inchydoney beach, which is about  five kilometres from the city centre. After you’ve seen some of the beautiful coast head to the Inchydoney lodge and finish off with a beverage. All drinks can be delivered upstairs to the residents lounge, which is full of the coziest chairs and couches, books, a piano, a small bar and a few board games. Sit and enjoy!

Walking down to Inchydoney beach

Walking down to Inchydoney beach

The Residents Lounge at the Inchydoney Lodge

The Residents Lounge at the Inchydoney Lodge

6. Browse the shops – Walk along the main street and check out the many boutiques and shops. The street houses a variety of shops which sell sweets, clothing, flowers and meat. There are also lots of cafes and restaurants along this street.

Take a turn down Rossa Street, which turns in to Connolly Street and check out The Lettercollum Kitchen Project located at 22 Connolly Street, for great coffee, home cooked meals, baked goods, gourmet ingredients, specialty wines and cooking classes. Don’t leave the Lettercollum without a bar of Clonakilty Chocolate made from 100% fair trade ingredients. This delicious, not too sweet bar will surely keep you coming back for more.

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So many flavours! Mmm. Photo Credit: clonakiltychocolate.com

7. Take in a yoga class – Jessica Hatchett teaches yoga classes at the Emmet Hotel several times a week. Check her website for drop in classes. Thursday mornings are pay by donation classes, which tend to fill up, so get there early!

8.Try some of the take-out eateries – Eating out can be pricey for the budget traveler, however, there are some delicious take-away options for less that are definitely worth mentioning.
Fastnet Catch – 1 Western Road. For local, lightly battered fish served alongside a generous portion of airy thick cut chips (french fries) this place is not to be missed if fish and chips are your thing! Daily specials for 7.50E which can be shared by two people. Open in the evenings, closed Monday and Tuesday.
Sadaf Pizza Bar53 Pearse Street. Right next to De Barra’s. Don’t be fooled by their name, Sadaf, isn’t only a pizza bar, it also makes succulent kebabs, wraped in their own ‘made to order’ naan bread. Watch as they roll out the dough and cook it fresh in their pizza oven, the same in which they do for their pizzas. Both options are sure to please your palette, the tricky part is making a final decision.
Rossa Grill8 Rossa Street. For late night eats this is the only place that will be open until at least 1am.  Nothing to write home about but does a decent ‘fast food’ burger and chips.
SuperValu–  Wolfe Tone Street, at the end near the roundabout. If you want a cheap hot meal, SuperValu has great hot food selections in the back. Try the pot pies, chicken wings or other hot dinners.

9. Take a day trip or stay overnight in Kinsale – Kinsale is a fishing village, which is apparent when heading to the pier. Several boats of all kinds bob up and down with the sea and are quite the sight. The pier itself is worth a walk around and so is the town which hosts colourful shops, restaurants and cafes to suit every budget. Only a 45 minute drive from Clonakilty.

Kinsale

10. Pop in to see the Church of the Immaculate Conception – As the biggest church in Clonakilty this is worth a quick visit to see the grand interior. The exterior is nothing to scoff at either.

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The Church of the Immaculate Conception

 

Safe travels,

Red

 

The Kindness of Others

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When travelling, you really have to pay it forward.

I have learned throughout my travels that if you open yourself up to new meeting people, your experiences can change drastically. This is very much the case as to when I first landed in Cork, Ireland. Once I arrived in Cork, I was waiting for the bus to Clonakilty with my partner, when a couple asked us which route the bus was taking. Obviously, we had no idea, but we knew our stop. This seemed helpful to them and from that they knew they were on the right track. From there we talked and found out they have a son and grandchildren that live in Canada. Once we arrived at our destination they helped to wake us, ensuring we didn’t miss our stop after a long day of travelling. A few days passed and by mere coincidence we bumped in to the man once more. This is when he invited us to stay at his and his wife’s home in Union Hall for an evening of sightseeing, drinks and a delicious home cooked meal.

The couple, who is now retired, picked us up from Clonakilty and drove us back to the beautiful small fishing village of Union Hall (not to be confused with a city, as I was corrected!) We took a nice walk down to the Pier and around the sea bank.

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We went looking for shamrocks, as it was Paddy’s day the following morning. We arrived at their lovely home and had some amazing smoked salmon. It was flaky and not at all slimy like the stuff I am used to back home! It was a gorgeous meal, that I may or may not have had 5 or 6 helpings of.

We then exchanged more words over some tea and biscuits before heading down to the water closer to their home. We brought their dog along for the walk. We watched the boats change direction with the tide and enjoyed skipping rocks with our host. The dog couldn’t complain either, as  she was in her element, running wild and splashing into the sea!

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We then headed to Boatman’s Inn  down in the village, where we had a pint…or two or three. My partner enjoyed playing a few matches of pool with our host and it was a great time for me to chat up our hostess.

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We lost track of time, and had to hurry back for a 10:30 dinner. Our hostess made such a succulent chicken which she had browned in butter before popping it into the oven. We paired it with mashed potatoes, some homemade bread, carrots, turnip and cranberry sauce (which iss good on chicken too!)

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The next day they drove us back to Clonakilty, but not before taking us to the Drombeg Stone circle, perhaps Irelands most famous stone circle.

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My partner and I had a wonderful time with this kind couple, who opened their hearts and home to us. I am a traveller, and without experiences like these, travelling the world would not mean so much to me. This is why when I meet other travellers I try and pay it forward any way I can. Whether I’m in my hometown or across the pond. I am constantly amazed by the generosity and warmth I have received while tip-toeing around the world, this holds especially true in Ireland. I can only try to be as giving and thoughtful throughout my journey in life as others have been to me.

Safe travels,

Red

A Small Town in Ireland

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Hey friends,

For the past week I have been residing in a small town in Ireland called Clonakilty. So far it is a wonderful, small town with lots to do. There are about 12 pubs, three of which I frequent often, several quaint shops, two churches, a weekly market and great views of the sea. The city is a melting pot for live music in which a music session happens nightly in at least one of the pubs. So far my favourite music experience is the Irish Traditional session which happens in a cozy bar called De Barra every Monday night. Some classics are ‘The Northwest Passage’, ‘Rolling down to old Maui’  and instrumental jigs. Needless to say it’s a relaxing evening sitting with a fresh pint next to the warm fire.

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The locals are a pleasure as well. They are kind, generous and sociable, and always eager to strike up conversations with my partner and I once they hear our lack of an accent. So far we have had drinks bought for us, we have been invited to spend a night at a couple’s home in a small fishing village nearby and have met other lovely travellers who we are looking forward to meeting in the future. I can’t explain with words how their warmth and friendliness has made us feel. We have been welcomed and feel a part of this town already. We are very much enjoying every minute of our experience here. This is a much different feeling than how we felt two years ago in Nice, France, but I digress.

If you ever get a chance to visit Ireland, you absolutely should! Don’t forget to check out small towns as well, Kilkenny was also great!

Safe travels,

Little Red

Rolling through Tuscany

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May 30th, 2012

Phew….we made it! Today was my first time driving in Italy, and oh, what a journey. I, the captain and my partner Matt, the co-captain, braved our way from Rome (eek!) to Saturnia and then on to Chianciano Terme.

We departed about an hour late due to some confusion at the car rental agency and headed for Saturnia; which may host the most beautiful, natural hot springs in the world! When researching for my Europe trip in 2010, I came across blogs and pictures regarding Saturnia’s lovely hot springs; or ‘terme’ in Italian. Since then it has been a must on my so called ‘bucket list’.

I planned this drive through Tuscany for weeks. I had several road maps and Google maps/directions to boot. Needless to say, Google failed me, as the directions  rendered themselves useless after the third step. But in the end, getting lost in Tuscany isn’t so bad.

 

After driving 20 minutes out of the way, then re-tracing our tracks, we then had to go down the road we returned from once more to ‘hopefully’ head in the ‘general’ direction of Siena. By this point I thought we’d never make it.

Miraculously, after about three hours (total trip was supposed to be two and a half hours) we saw a SIGN! A sign for Saturnia! It took us about 45 minutes to reach it, but it was totally worth it! (so many exclamation points because it was THAT exciting!)

When we finally made it, we parked our car, stripped down and got into our bathing suits. We walked for about one minute down a rocky road and could see the luscious springs.

If I could describe the sight in one word it would be ‘heaven’, if I were religious that is. But hey, this could be my heaven. This is what pictures are perfect for, because I couldn’t possibly give the springs justice with my description.

On the inside, there are some sharp rocks to be mindful of, and there is no easy way of getting from one ‘dip’ to the next. So I would not recommend going very far in the springs if you aren’t agile. Also, there is an odor due to the sulphur, but it isn’t very pungent and you do get used to it rather quickly. Needless to say, the first thing I did when arriving at our hotel in Chianciano Terme was have a shower!

Getting to Chianciano was another story…but I will leave it at we ‘eventually’ made it. We checked in to our hotel at 10pm. Thanks to Google maps, and not having a GPS we were only 4 hours behind schedule.

After my shower, we headed out for a fabulous dinner at a local pizzeria. I had a seafood pasta, that was one of the best I’ve ever had; while the co-captain had a prosciutto cotto e funghi pizza. We drank the best bottle of wine we have had since arriving in all of Europe at a mere 8 euro, along with limoncello, tiramisu and café. It was a wonderful experience.

You know the tiramisu is good when sharing you literally draw a line down the middle to divide it.

  

Tomorrow we set off to Montepulciano for the day, the to Sienna where we stay the night.

Until tomorrow!

LR

Rome

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Sigh…in the most wonderful way ever! I am here in Rome, Italy. I have been here for three weeks now and I had no idea that a person could relax so much. Seriously, Rome has turned me into the Goddess of relaxation. I literally just woke up from an afternoon nap…and I slept-in this morning… like all my other mornings!

That being said, today wasn’t the most eventful day, as I have only walked outside to get some fresh groceries. But I have been touring this incredible city other days.

On the food note, while in I was introduced to better quality foods than I was used to having back in Toronto. Nice’s food is still super amazing don’t get me wrong, but I am enjoying my food experiences in Rome much more. I guess Italian food is more my style…which might not be good for my waistline. One of my favourite things to do here is to go grocery shopping for fresh ingredients then come home and cook. Let’s not forget about the tasting part…that’s pretty fun too!

Here is one of our feasts complete with Caprese salad, Parpardelle pasta with a porcini mushroom and truffle oil sauce along with our focaccia.


When cooking Italian it is impossible not to buy fresh ingredients. This is why there is nothing BUT fresh ingredients everywhere you look. I have found a small produce shop nearby that has great quality fruits and vegetables at the cost of basically nothing. I once filled my bag with carrots, a lemon, a lime, arugula, basil and lots of tomatoes at a cost of only 1.80 euro. This is why I go back everyday, to buy the freshest ingredients.

    

It is also possible to buy focaccia and pizza dough rolled up ready to bake at home. It comes out so fluffy and delicious. I love topping the focaccia with fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes and fresh basil, for the most amazing lunch!

Here I topped the focaccia with mozzarella, proscuitto and arugula.

Here pasta is .99 euro and feeds both of us twice…did I mention it is fresh pasta? I have never had pasta like this. The pasta is actually quite hard to overcook and I can always achieve the “al dente” state. Also, I have never, ever, seen so many pasta choices; some types I’ve never even heard of until now.

Here is some succulent Osso Bucco alongside Paccheri Pasta. This meal was and still is our best in Rome!

The food and drink prices have decreased from Nice. We are buying .85 euro wine and really “soaking” it up.

We got all this stuff (Aperol liquor, 4 beers, 1L red wine, juice, mixed seafood salad, soft cheese, Pesto, jared clams, pizza dough, 2 artichokes, mushrooms, sparkling water and mushrooms) for 17 Euro! What amazing value!

Also, right now is artichoke season in Italy, so for the first time my boyfriend and I cooked and ate fresh artichokes. Once cooked, we scraped the harder leaves between our front teeth to get the small portion of edible artichoke that is on each leaf. One by one, we were getting closer to the ‘heart’ of the artichoke. This is obviously the best and most ‘meaty’ part of the ‘choke. This was a fun experience and we have even bought more artichokes for this evening.

 

 

I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen!

Ciao

My Sunday in Barcelona

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Last week I visited Barcelona for 5 nights. I tried every food dish I wanted to try, such as:

Tapas- Some of the best were: patatas bravas (which are fried potatoes with a spicy sauce) and fried cod balls (which are a mixture of salt cod mixed with a doughnut batter).

This is a display of tapas which is in almost every restaurant or bar. However, the dishes vary from place to place.

Cod fritters from La Boqueria Market. Yum!

Pan con Tomate- This is toasted white bread that you drizzle with oil, then rub with raw garlic and tomato. This was such a simple dish with so much flavour! I will definitely continue to do this back home.

Such a delicious yet simple appetizer or snack. Just be careful because the raw garlic packs a lot of punch!

 

Ceviche – Because before I went I crazily thought there would be lots of Mexican food (but we did manage to find a great Mexican restaurant, I also had some great Nachos)

Sangria – which was tasty a refreshing!

Surprisingly, I ate less than I normally do, simply because of later eating times and the tapas seemed to fill me up.

We took in lots of sights and scenery; I’m pretty sure we walked the majority of the city. We visited the beaches, Guell Park, Arc of Triumph, La Boqueria and more.

Park Guell

Arc of Triumph

                                

However, my favorite day was Sunday, our last full day. My boyfriend and I started out at a small, local restaurant where we had pan con tomate as well as fried anchovies.

Then we visited the breathtaking Sagarada Familia Cathedral. The interior is just as impressive as the entire exterior and this is a must see if you find yourself in Barcelona.

We then wandered for miles and found our way to La Rambla district where we went to London Bar, a bar that has been open since 1910 and used to be frequented by the likes of Dali, Picasso and Hemingway. The décor has been kept the same, which gives a relaxed glamour to the place. It also serves as a venue, where we heard singers take part in an open mic night.

Then on our adventure home we stumbled upon a market at night near the Arc of Triumph. There were amazing craft and clothing vendors along with food and drink vendors. This is when I realized we only had 10 euro left.

We browsed the crafts, knowing we could not possibly afford anything, before heading for the food and beer. Our first purchase was 1 light organic beer and another dark beer at 2 euro a pop. We then jetted across the street to buy a 1.5 litre beer at the convenience store for 1.50 euro….much cheaper. When we returned to the market, large beer in tow we got a lamb shwarma for 3 euro. At closing I bargained with a vendor using my last 1.50 euro to buy a chicken taco with the greenest, freshest guacamole money can buy. It may have been my best euro fifty spent.

  

We ate and drank on some grass while listening to the live bongo circle that had formed.

After this, we headed home.

I truly fell in love with Barcelona this day.