an irish roadtrip.

Wanted to share some glimpses of our stopover in Ireland on our way to visit my brother Jack in London (those photos coming soon!). We spent several days road-tripping throughout western Ireland, with a lovely bed + breakfast in Galway serving as our home base.

While we were a liiiiiiittle freaked driving on the wrong side of the road, we loved seeing the Irish countryside via car. Looks just how I had imagined it — endless rolling hills and sweet cottages, separating all the sheeps and cows from their neighbors with miles and miles of stone walls. And it was just as green as everyone says. We were after colorful rows of houses and all the castles we could find and Galway County did not disappoint.

We wrapped our time in Ireland with 24 rainy hours in Dublin and lots of Guinness at the Storehouse. Stay tuned for Londontown!

Scenes from Galway

We had an incredible  meal at Kai Cafe + Restaurant in Galway. Impeccable service and divine flavors.

Scenes from Galway to Connemara National Park

Callback to our honeymoon and a similar color palette!

Our right-hand drive chariot for the week.

Colorful Roundstone.

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel is worth a stop.

We did a quick and cloudy hike up Diamond Dome in Connemara National Park.

Kylemore Abbey is straight out of a fairytale.

Our favorite of all was Ashford Castle, formerly owned by the Guinness family and now a high-end golf course and hotel.

Our roadtrip took us by many a sheep and many a cow, but the baby lambs were always a favorite.

We spotted the Ross Errilly Friary in the distance at golden hour and knew we had to reroute our way to it for sunset. It is the best-preserved Franciscan monastery in the country and so beautiful.

Scenes from Inisheer + the Cliffs of Moher

We took a 45-minute ferry boat ride from Doolin out to Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands. It is home to a shipwreck, a lighthouse, and some gorgeous turquoise waters. Only 250 people live on the three-kilometers-long island but it contains over one thousand miles of stone walls.

Our tour of the Cliffs of Moher was equal parts terrifying and gorgeous.

Our last dinner in Galway was at Moran’s Oyster Cottage which is over 250 years old.

Scenes from Dublin

Beautiful St. Stephen’s Green.

We had an excellent lunch at Bakehouse.

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paris.

Over 85 miles walked, in about 180,000 steps, in 7.5 days (plus about 20 miles biked). The Parisians do lots of things well, but our favorites are their doors, their gardens, and any and all flour-based treats. It was truly a perfect week.

We landed in the mid-afternoon of a Friday, exhausted and starving and bursting with excitement. After dropping our bags at our postage stamp-sized Airbnb in the Marais, we set out on foot for a walk along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero, stopping only for photos and a sizable croque monsieur (OMG the croques).

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Working on our weak selfie game.

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saturday: montmartre + a sunset cruise on the river.

On our first jet-lagged morning, we visited Montmartre, my favorite neighborhood in Paris, to climb to the top of the Sacre Coeur and have lunch.

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Amazing coincidence: after I posted this photo to Instagram, my father emailed me a scanned copy of a photograph of the very same restaurant (below), which he took in 1977 when he was living in Paris as a young man. It may have gotten a new paint job in the years since but the charms remain.

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sunday: walks on walks + the view from montparnasse tower.

We started at Notre Dame before doubling back through the Marais for breakfast. After accidentally stumbling upon Marché de la Bastille, we strolled through Luxembourg Gardens on our way to Montparnasse Tower. They say it is the ugliest building in Paris with the most beautiful view, and they weren’t kidding. Matt also experienced his first authentic French crepe, which turned out to be a more formative experience than expected.

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In 1977, my dad lived at 14 rue Le Regrattier on Île Saint-Louis. That’s his door on the right (above).

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monday: parc de sceaux + the tuileries.

After seeing Parc de Sceaux on Instagram, we decided to rent bikes and head 45 minutes south of Paris to check it out, and it did not disappoint. We caught golden hour at the Tuileries before heading back to the Marais for falafels and showers.

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tuesday: versailles + monet’s giverny.

Our alarms rang early on Tuesday for our two-part tour of the Palace of Versailles and the last tourist day of the season at Monet’s home in Giverny. It was misty and moody at Marie Antoinette’s famous home, but the sun broke free in the afternoon for some gorgeous time in the gardens.

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wednesday: l’orangerie, musee d’orsay, + the arc de triomphe.

After seeing Giverny, we were desperate to see the works it inspired in person, as well as the iconic Musee d’Orsay. We closed out the day with some cherished cafe time and a climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for another unbeatable view.

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The Avenue des ChampsÉlysées.


 

thursday: marais magic + the city of rouen.

The Marais was just busting with the dearest cafes and parks and shops and we.wanted.it.all. After circling our favorite streets a few more times, we hopped on a commuter train to Rouen, the teensy Norman town where Joan of Arc held her ground.

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In need of snacks for the train, we stopped at Du Pain et Des Idees, named the best bakery in Paris several times in the last decade. Whoa.

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That Norman architecture.

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The square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.


 

friday: a rainy day at the louvre.

Despite packing and preparing for rain, we didn’t see a drop until our last morning in Paris, which was perfect, since we’d been saving our trip to the Louvre for that very day. Rick Steves’ guided us through the gotta-sees, and after some shopping at Le Coq Sportif (on Matt’s radar because of Le Tour de France) and quick power nap at home, we took one last night walk to the Eiffel Tower (lit up in green to celebrate the Paris Accord) and a delicious bite.

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In no particular order, a sampling of the many, many French breakfasts we enjoyed.

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Would be thrilled to provide recommendations for any and all things Paris – please ask!

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Always a good idea.

nicaraguan luna de miel.

When planning our honeymoon, we knew we wanted a bit of an adventure. Nicaragua first came on my radar through one of my favorite bloggers/’grammers/designers/sources of inspiration, DesignLoveFest. She took a beautiful trip last spring through El Camino Travel (a company I am now thoroughly obsessed with), and while we didn’t book through the group, we copied her itinerary nearly stop for stop.

Our first stop was the Hulakai Hotel in San Juan del Sur, an ex-pat surf town near the border of Costa Rica. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean via Playa Maderas, this eco-friendly boutique hotel feels like a total jungle oasis. We surfed, strolled downtown San Juan, and enjoyed delicious sunset communal dinners with the other hotel guests.

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The sunsets were pretty insane on Playa Maderas.

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On our last morning in San Juan, we took the somewhat scary drive up to the 25-foot Christ of Mercy Statue that overlooks the beautiful bay. It was insanely windy up there but the views were unbeatable.

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We finished off our time in San Juan with an incredible afternoon of sailing with Two Guys Adventures. Can’t recommend this company enough! They picked us up in the marina and we sailed to a private beach, accessible only via boat, for a few hours of swimming and snorkeling and beer drinking. We turned home just in time to see the sunset from the water. Totally spectacular day.

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Our next stop: Ometepe Island. I’ve been hearing about Ometepe my whole life, since Bainbridge Island and Ometepe Island are sister cities, and my high school sends a group of students to do service work there every year. Of course, we had to visit.

Made up of two volcanoes, Ometepe was the true adventure part of our trip. After an hour-long ferry ride from Rivas (let me tell you, these are not your Washington State Ferries…), we drove the bumpy ride to Finca Mystica, a beautiful farm sitting on 25 acres in the foothills of the volcano. We stayed in a sweet little cob house with windows made of wine bottles, and it felt straight out of Fern Gully.

We started our day there at 6am with an eight-hour hike up the Maderas Volcano. It was muddy and challenging but included incredible views of the other volcano, Concepcion, and an eery, misty crater lake at the very top that was the perfect place to cool off (and devour the gnarliest PB&J sandwiches packed by our hosts at Finca Mystica).

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Pretty typical traffic jam in the country of Nicaragua.

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Our trusty Suzuki Jimny, the car we rented for our trip and were so thankful to have.

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Lime trees abounded.

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Our cozy little cob house.

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Our view of Volcan Concepcion, midway up the side of Volcan Maderas.

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The coffee in Nicaragua was outrageously good, and part of our hike included a stroll through a coffee plantation on the side of the volcano.

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The misty crater lake, straight out of Lord of the Rings.

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Sweet corn plantation.

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Matt being a dreamboat and cleaning off our muddy shoes in Lake Nicaragua, post-hike.

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See that smoke to the right of the sun? That’s the active Volcan Masaya, which we visited later on in our trip.

From Ometepe Island, we drove up to the colonial city of Granada. Founded in 1524, Granada is ostensibly the first European city in mainland America. We stayed at the Tribal Hotel, and it was such a dream. Easily the best hotel experience we’ve ever had. Every inch of the seven-room hotel was so thoughtfully planned and curated. We had our own private breakfast balcony, where they brought us bottomless French press coffee and a three course meal every morning. The pool was heaven, the cocktails were perfect, and the hospitality was unparalleled. We are seriously plotting our return.
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Our room, which I would live in full-time if I could.

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Give me all of the Caipirinhas, por favor.

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The lounging and dining area of Tribal Hotel.

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The colorful architecture in Granada was a sight to behold.

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One of our day trips from Granada included Masaya, where a famous artisan market thrives on Sundays.

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Need a pair of leather shoes?

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Granny Smiths from Washington State!

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From the Masaya market, we made the drive up to Volcan Masaya, an active volcano that you can drive right up to.

Our last stop on that trip was to the city of Catarina, which overlooks La Laguna de Apoyo, an impossibly blue crater lake. The city is small and charming, known for its plant nurseries.

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Instead of yard signs, the political parties paint murals all over buildings and walls. This guy was everywhere!

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Our morning traversing Granada was hot, humid, and vibrant.

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If you say so.

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Straight out the coconut for me, and an unexpectedly blended Bloody Mary for Matt (I swear he liked it, despite the surprise!).

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Next up: Isleta el Espino, a three-room hotel on a private island in the islets of Granada. We parked at Marina Colcibolca, where they picked us up in a boat and took us to paradise. We slept in a treehouse, enjoyed copious amounts of coffee, tacos, avocado toast, passionfruit, and the most divine waterside couples massage.

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Another dreamy pool with a volcano view.

Our treehouse and the public bathrooms on site (#bathroomgoals).

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Gimme that blanket.

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Our chariot.

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We spent our final night at Los Patios Hotel in Granada. Another wonderful stay.

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I didn’t take my camera on our zip-lining adventure but I snapped this iPhone photo of the canopy we cruised. It was just the right amount of adrenaline for me 🙂

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Our final adventure was a roadtrip to Leon, a city in northwest Nicaragua home to more beautiful colonial architecture and incredible churches.

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The main attraction was the Cathedral of Leon, an all-white dreamscape in the center of the city. Can you believe that is real!?

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Volcanoes in every direction you look.

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All in all, a nearly perfect (and Trump-free!) two weeks with my favorite person in the whole world.

cabo san lucas.

It was a typical, frigid, wintery day in January in DC. I was dog-sitting and had just returned home after taking my charge, Karl, for a walk around the block. I was desperately trying to defrost my fingers when my mom called. The opportunity for Matt and me to visit our favorite place in Mexico was presenting itself with a bow on top.

But this was not the year for travel. I was about to move to Norfolk and had yet to find a new job. We had plans to move into a new apartment and lacked any necessary furniture. Oh, and we’re planning a pretty big party for the end of the year. As much as I was dying to go, I told my mom I wasn’t sure we could pull it off.

Needing to do my due diligence, I called Matt anyway. He’d also just gotten off a brutal day fighting the elements. I barely got the sentence out before he said (well, screamed), “Yes. Absolutely. We’ll make it work. Yes.”

They say planning a trip, just the notion of having a vacation to look forward to, promotes happiness. This was definitely the case for us. Every time we were smacked in the face by an icy gust, or misplaced a foot in a slushy puddle, we’d remind ourselves that in only a couple more months, or a few weeks, or 5 days, we’d be on that dreamy beach, margarita in hand.

Cabo San Lucas is a very special place for me. I’ve been visiting with my family for over 25 years (!!). Nana loved it there, and it loved her right back. This was my first visit since she passed away last year.

Our week was exactly as we hoped. Good books. Better food. Salty air. Time together free of packing and boxes, grocery shopping, work stress, alarm clocks. It was a truly luxurious, indulgent trip. We know how lucky we were to have it.

Here’s a peek at our beautiful trip. Mix of 5D and iPhone.Cabo01

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