Thursday, 13 June 2019

Travel Guide: Killarney, My Top places to Eat.

Killarney


Killarney is my hometown and one of the busiest tourist towns in Ireland, I've been wanting to do a guide of my top places to eat for a while and especially when you have kids with you. Having grown up in my mom's Vegetarian restaurant as a child, An Taelann for anyone that may remember. My love for good food definitely grew from there, surrounded by delicious home cooked food.


Places to Eat:

You are spoiled for choice with the number of restaurants in the town. I tend to stick with a few that I love for many reasons.



Lunch:

Khao Asian Street Food - They open at 12 daily for lunch, the menu is 10euro before 5pm includes ice cream after your food. Opened for dinner also. Ask for a child's portion of whatever they will eat as they don't have a separate menu. I usually get Tofo stir fry with rice for River. Favourites are the Bao Khao Pad, Pineapple Fried Rice with Tofu or Prawns and the Phad Thai.
Khao


Treyvaud's - I adore their menu and have tried almost everything. My favourites would have to be their pasta with smoked salmon and the Seafood Chowder. Many of the options are €10 and under.
Smoken Salmon Pasta - Treyvaud's


J.M Reidy's - They serve food daily from 12 - 6, vegan options too.
Loaded Nachos, Truffle Chips and a Breakfast option - Reidy's.


Petit Delice - They serve soup, sandwiches, salads but best of all the selection of fresh French pastries is the most mouthwatering. The almond croissant & crayfish salad are my favourites. They also have a small outside area.
Crayfish Salad at Petite Delice


The Heights Hotel - Great carvery lunch on a Sunday. Lots of Space, Good value and a Big feed.

Muckross House Restaurant- Carvery Lunch Served Daily but get there early as it gets busy.
Fantastic selection for lunch, even an amazing vegetarian option. If the weather is nice you can sit outside and the kids can play in the garden in front of you.


Avoca - Ok so, yes a bit out of Killarney and a bit of a drive (Molls Gap) but it is totally worth it and couldn't not include it! The salads, mains and desserts are divine.
Avoca

 Day time Quick/Take Away Options:

Supervalu: They serve carvery lunch to takeaway Mon - Fri, around 12ish to 3 as it's usually run out by then. Great for a quick baby bowl too for a couple of euro.

Gleeson's, Spar: I love their Rolls as they have a nice selection in their deli when you don't eat meat, lots of salad alternatives. They do takeaway soup too, hot deli counter and also have a small area if you need to sit and eat.

Der O' Sullivan's: Another great one for wraps, sandwiches etc and do other takeaway lunch options too.

Centra, New Street: They do amazing salads that they chop in front of you and also do takeaway carvery options. They also have a bigger shop on Muckross Road with great options.
Centra - New street



Evening Favourites:

The Lane Bar, Ross Hotel - Love their bar menu and cocktails.
Lane Bar


J.M Reidy's - For a few drinks I highly recommend here as they stop serving food at 6pm. They have the BEST cocktails, Pornstar Martini is a must. Large outdoor area with music on sometimes in the evenings or always at the weekends. Such a great buzz in there. Be prepared though, it gets busy so grab a table.
Reidy's


Casita Mexicana - I've been here on many occasion and it always impresses. Love the menu, cocktails and the staff are always fab.
Bean Enchilada with half chips/rice - Casita Mexicana


Genting Thai - Amazing Thai food the decor is stunning.

Khao Asian Food - Great all-rounder.

The Europe Hotel (Brasserie) - If it's food and Drinks with a view you're after, then this is a winner. You can have a bite to eat in the Brasserie then have a drink outside overlooking the lakes and mountains of Killarney.
The Europe Hotel


Lord Kenmares - Food is lovely, They also do an Early bird menu which is great value.

Bricin - The food never fails and staff are fab. Earlybird menu is available.

Afternoon Tea : 


Killarney Royal - Such good value at 12.50 each and it was delicious. Vegetarian option is also available.
Afternoon Tea at The Royal


There are plenty more hotels that do Afternoon Tea but personally think they are overpriced.



Breakfast/Brunch:


The Shire Cafe - I was recently here & thought their menu had a fantastic selection and well priced. From scrambled eggs & toast to pancakes, they have it all. They also do Lunch.

The Curious Cat Cafe - Lots of space to sit outside on a sunny day but there's inside also. They also serve lunch/dinner.


Vendrick's - They do lunch & Dinner too but I've just tried the Brunch so far which was great. It's really spacious so it suits everyone, groups, couples and kids.

Cafe du Parc at The Plaza - Great menu with more options like Avocado toast and French toast. Lunch available too.


Desire - Great for everyone, well-rounded menu with lunch/dinner options.
Desire


Brown Sugar Cafe - If you like a full Irish breakfast, they do a great one for 9.95 including the works.

Coffee & Cake Lovers : 


Noelle's  Cafe- My favourites are the lemon & poppyseed cake with chai tea latte. They also do savoury food if you fancy that too. 
Noelle's


Petit Delice - Great coffee, teas and so many cakes. As I mentioned earlier there are savoury choices also.
Petit Delice


Lir Cafe - Their Hot chocolate is yum and good coffee too.

Reidy's - They really tick the boxes for everything really. The decor alone will blow you away though.

Evening Takeaways

Usmania Indian Resturant Prawn Korma, Pilau Rice, Peshwari Naan are my favourites.


Piccolo - Love the Pizza even though it's on the expensive side but nice for a treat. They have just introduced bring your own Beer which is fantastic if you would like to sit down.



Just to note, These are just personal favourites I have listed and if you don't see a certain place on this list that you like, it only means I either haven't been there yet or like I said I have my preferences. 
However, do let me know if I am missing out on one of your favourites in the comments. 

Also, if you have older relatives who like their dinners then I recommend trying The Carragh Restaurant which is my granda's favourite when he comes from Cork and my mom suggested adding Sceil Eile also. The cake selection is actually really good in Sceil Eile too as is The Continental.  

Thank you for reading,
Aifric x




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Monday, 3 June 2019

Catrice Lip liners


Catrice is a gem find of a brand, they have so many wonderful products at the most affordable prices. I was after a few new lip liners to try for my kit and stumbled across these at a recent trip to pennies. Just went in for socks and all that jazz. After swatching them, I really couldn't get over how buttery they felt and loved the selection of shades.
I chose two of their velvet matte lip pencils (€2.30) and one the lip foundation pencils (€2.70).



From Rags to Roses:



Love Among the Rosewood Trees:


Addicted to Cafe Au Lait:


I found these shades worked well with nude lipsticks I have in my kit but I am definitely going to buy more from the range.

Thanks for reading,
Aifric x
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Tuesday, 28 May 2019

B.tan 1 hour Dark Mousse Review


B.tan is an Australian tanning brand, new to Ireland. It's Vegan-friendly, Cruelty-free, contains no nasties like parabens and has natural DHA. It also comes in a wide range of fake tan types.

 Summer may be here but the weather forecast as always is unpredictable so as the caption says, you got to 'Fake it till you make it'. With Skin cancer also on the rise, self-tanning is a safer option to getting that desired Summer glow but don't forget the SPF on top of it.

I was thrilled to recently be sent the 1 hour Dark Mousse to try out. I have always been hesitant to try a Dark shade tan, visions of turning into an Ooompa Loompa in my head and reminders from past tan disasters. However, I thought with the promise of a tan after 1 hour, surely it can't go wrong? 

Application:

1 hour
I tried it for the proposed, 1 hour but expected the results to be darker. However, I feel when trying a new tan it is always best to gradually trial it as I find each tan is different in its results.


2 hours
I decided to apply it for an extra hour the following day and found the results were more appealing to me but my legs were still too light for me personally.

4 hours
It suggests to get a darker result, to leave it on for 4 plus hours so I did just that. I was really pleased with the results and a client actually commented on how nice it looked and had I been on holidays? Always a good sign that it doesn't look fake. However, I was finding my legs still weren't the same desired shade as my body so I planned on leaving it on longer next time.

Overnight
I had a family wedding coming up the following week and decided to be daring by leaving it on overnight the night before. It could have been a complete disaster but wow, the results the following morning were unreal!
 I'd like to mention before going to bed the night before, I did wash my face and hands as I didn't want them too dark so I recommend doing this just in case. I'm also extremely impressed by the application, I usually make a mess of my hands and feet but by some miracle, every application of Btan which has been 4 so far, not one hiccup! 



Lasting power/Wearability
With the 1 - 2-hour tan applications, I found the tan wore well over the few days and came away with showers with little help. With the longer length of tans, I felt by the 5th day, it needed some TLC to scrub off. I find the tan eraser fantastic for that. 

Price/Stockists
B.tan is priced at €12.50 and available from selected Penneys and Pharmacies nationwide.

After trying it on different occasions, overall the overnight is the best that worked for me and absolutely loved the results. I am curious to try the darker version of dark to see if I could get away with leaving it on overnight but nevertheless, Btan is a new found favourite tan which I will continue to use.

Have you tried B.tan or have a favourite tan you find works for you? 
I'd love to know!

Thanks for reading,
Aifric x


( Disclaimer - as mentioned above, I was kindly gifted this tan but my opinion is always honest and my own personal thoughts and experience with the product x )
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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Travel Guide: New York in 5 nights

Hi Everyone,

I returned from 5 nights in New York last week which was such a great trip. I highly recommend a visit if you have never been and completely doable even if you're on a budget. It was my third visit, however, my first as a holiday as I luckily lived there for a period of time the other two visits.


How did we book/ Cost:

We booked with Abbey Travel last March with the lovely Jennifer in the Killarney branch. I usually book holidays myself separately but for such a long time away I decided the security of a travel agent was more suited. It was much easier for us as we were able to pay it off weekly or whenever we needed which was so much handier and affordable.

Because we were booking for January, we got a great deal as it is 'slightly' quieter after the Christmas period. The weather can also be unpredictable at this time of year so it is a bit of a risk but thankfully we were lucky. 

We got flights with Aer Lingus, flying from Shannon to JFK at a convenient time for 5 nights in a 4-star hotel for €1,350 plus €120 for Travel insurance for both of us bringing the total to €1,470. I'm sure you could get an even lower price if you flew with the likes of Norwegian airlines etc and maybe an Air B&B, but for what we were looking for, this suited us perfectly.

Accommodation:

We stayed in the Edison Hotel which was located just off Times Square, the Theatre district. I would of loved to have stayed in the West/East Village or Soho as I adore those areas but the prices were much more expensive in the Travel Agents. The Arlo Soho was recommended to me by a friend which looks beautiful and The Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was also on my wishlist. 
In saying that, for Gary's first time in New York - our location was perfect for everything that we wanted to do and see. 
Prior to our arrival, I emailed the Edison requesting a renovated room and in hopes of a good city view that the trip was for my partner's birthday. They took our request into consideration and upon arrival into our room, they had upgraded us to the 20th floor and with a more modern room. There was also some sweet goodies with their signature Edison teddy waiting on the bed with a note saying, Happy Birthday which I thought was a lovely, personal touch.
The room size, as to be expected in New York wasn't huge but for the amount of time I knew we would be spending in there, it was grand! It was clean and tidy, warm with a view of the skyscrapers and the staff at reception were always helpful and friendly. Just a note to add, expect to pay resort fees per night on many hotels throughout the city. When we left it was around $53. 



Transport around NY/from Airport:

Our main mode of transport was the subway! Such a fantastic system, I wish we had one in Ireland. Could you imagine! 

For leaving the airport, We had decided that we would get the Airtrain from JFK rather than a cab. It took roughly the same time and a hell of a lot cheaper for the 2 of us. We each had a large suitcase and found it really easy, I would do it again and even on my own it wouldn't bother me. So we got the Airtrain from the Terminal, we just followed the signs and ask someone if you're any way unsure. We didn't buy a ticket until after we left the train so don't worry. 
We got off at Jamaica and went over to the ticket machine. You purchase one MetroCard and top it up by $10 as the cost of the trip individually is $5 each, a new empty MetroCard is $1 so as far as Jamaica it is $11 for 2 people. 
Now for the next part, to get us into Manhattan - we were staying near 42nd street so Port Authority 42nd St was our stop. We purchased 2 unlimited 7-day Metrocard's priced at $33 each which was the best money we spent throughout our trip as we used it numerous times. If you don't want to buy an unlimited metro card then the cost is $2.75 per trip, per person so you would need to top up the MetroCard that you used for the AirTrain.  All in all, the unlimited card is far cheaper also than London's Oyster cards! There is also free wifi available in all Subway stations which is handy as the roaming charges are far too dear. Obviously, when the train moves, the connection cuts out. I would actually consider getting an American Sim for next time so I could have internet access when walking around to find your way easier.

If you want to get a Yellow Cab from the airport instead then the cost is set at $56, including tip around $70. There are also options to hire a limo if you had a large crew with you or there are airport transfers if you research.



TOP TIP:
A phone app that I highly recommend you get if travelling there which is free is 'Ulmon, City Maps to go'. I recommend that you download the free map before you leave for New York City and put in all of the areas that you wish to visit. It has a map of the city and also the subway map which was a lifesaver because there are Uptown and Downtown destinations which unless you have been there before and know your way around, you won't have a clue. When you get in the train, many are old so they don't have the stops listed so it can be a little confusing hence this app being a necessity! 


Places we visited:

  • Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, upon entering Manhattan you are at the Financial District.
  • Dumbo, Brooklyn. ( Photo with the bridge in the background)
  • Wall Street Area ( Charging Bull, Fearless Girl Statue)
  • Central Park 
  • Flatiron Building
  • Intrepid Museum (Air, Space Nasa. $33 each per adult)
  • Williamsburg, Brooklyn. ( I previously lived here with a family friend who still lives there & I still love the area. It has since changed dramatically with many upmarket stores and continues to be one of the most expensive places to live in NY. )
  • Staten Island Ferry ( To see the Statue of liberty and the city from the water, it's also free)
  • 9/11 Memorial (free to visit, you don't have to queue. You pay for the museum)
  • Street Art Murals around Chinatown.
  • Jersey Gardens (It's an Outlet, $14 return on the bus from Port Authority. Found it great for kids clothes, Sports clothing, some designer and brands. Century21, Vans etc. It's also Tax-Free!)
Brooklyn Bridge

Flatiron Building

Wall Mural in Chinatown

View from the Staten Island Ferry

Central Park


Top places I also Recommend :
  • Top of the Rock
  • Walk over the High line located through Chelsea and Meatpacking district.
  • Chelsea Market
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral ( Beautiful Gothic church. It was also where Carrie & Big almost married in, SATC)
  • The Met Museum ( a Gossip Girl fan must, the steps!)
  • MOMA Museum
  • Explore the West Village, one of my favourite areas to wander.
  • Walk over the Williamsburg Bridge, upon exit you are near Chinatown.
  • Hang out in Washington Square Park.
  • Go to a game in Madison Square Gardens, whether it's Ice Hockey or Basketball - the atmosphere can be incredible!
  • Next time we plan on exploring some of the Bronx & Queens for food spots.
  • Harlem Gospel Choir ( I will do this at some stage, it just sounds wonderful!:)

Food/Places to eat:

  • The Ear Inn - one of the oldest bars in New York. Located on Spring Street, around the corner from Soho & Greenwich Village. I worked here when I lived in New York & it has the best group of people still working there. You also never know if you'll bump into someone famous. I have seen Danny Devito (Matilda etc), Keri Russell (Felicity), Jason Biggs & Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie) , Dean Winters (Oz), Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters). Kirsten Dunst lives nearby too and still goes there but I have yet to meet her. Anyways, the Burgers are great - so is the chilli, a cup is enough to start.  Try the Dumplings, check out the Specials and Brunch is good too at the weekends! If you're feeling creative, you can create a masterpiece on the paper tablecloths with the crayons provided and feel free to take your Picasso home!




  • Lucali's - Honestly one of the food highlights from our trip! Gary is a foodie, as am I - so after watching Lucali featured on an episode of 'Ugly Delicious' on Netflix, it was on our list. It's located in Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn where I lived for a period of time after Williamsburg.                                                                                                        They open at 5.45 everyday bar Tuesday when they are closed but if you want a table, expect to arrive well before 5! After a failed first attempt visit on a Saturday, sooo busy - we returned on a Monday at 4pm.  No, I'm not kidding and yes maybe we are slightly nuts but seriously it was worth the wait. After waiting outside until around 5.15, we were third in line and not just the only 2 lunatics waiting (in the cold lol) we were delighted to be told to come back for a table when they opened at 5.45! You can bring your own alcohol, beer or wine which was great.                                                                   The menu is kept very simple, not many toppings and they just serve Pizza and Calzone. Don't be expecting side orders like fries etc as what's on the menu is literally it and it is perfect! We ordered a pizza which had mozzarella and fresh basil, we didn't want extra toppings and I ordered extra sauce which is generally for the calzone but I just dipped every slice of pizza in there - it was sooo good! They roll the pizza dough with a wine bottle and it was the best pizza I ever tasted. Even better with my extremely sensitive stomach, it didn't bloat me one bit! Staff were lovely, you have 1-hour slot and we were probably finished before anyone in there after about half an hour. We were thrilled to have gotten a table. Oh, it's also a place where Jay Z visits and Beyonce has been known to attend with him. Our Bill for the pizza we shared, extra sauce, tip and tax was around $47. We brought our own drink. Cash only.
    


  • Momofuku - Another food highlight - This is one of David Chang's restaurants ( one of the creators of Ugly Delicious & world-renowned chef). There is a chain of Momofuku restaurants in New York, across the States, Toronto & Sydney. We went to the Noodle Bar in Columbus Circle as that was the closest to us and it was amazing! Be sure to check the menu before arriving as they differ depending on if it's the noodle bar, Ko or Ssam Bar and the prices also differ. To eat we got 2 portions of the Steamed Buns with Seared Shrimp served with Ssam sauce. Honestly the tastiest starter ever! We each got a Ramen of our choice for our mains and that was us stuffed! Our bill including 4 drinks, 2 starters, 2 mains, tax and tip I think we spent around $120 and it was worth every dolla! Service was fantastic too.

      


  • Joe's Shanghai - We decided on visiting here, very last minute on a Sunday afternoon when we were arriving in Chinatown. I googled places to eat and this was one of many others, with great reviews and highly recommended. We waited for around 15 mins for a table and once we were in, it is a really busy fast paced restaurant. We ordered 2 sets of Dumplings, 2 scallion pancakes and Gary ordered a main. We laughed when we saw the food coming out as the portions were large. I wasn't starving so thankfully I just stuck with the starters and I couldn't even finish what I ordered. The soup Dumplings had 8 in a steamer and we discovered that another 8 were waiting underneath hence the size of the portions, one was easy enough to share. Gary had to take his main away in a doggy bag plus a couple of dumplings. I thought the food was reasonably priced, really tasty and with 2 drinks plus all of the above I think our bill including tip and tax was around $55/60. Cash only. 



  • Food Carts - Yes, believe it or not - the food carts are really tasty and great for lunch on the go. Each food cart has a rating on the side, make sure it says A & you are good to go! We got a  delicious takeaway from one near Time Square, I got falafel over rice with salad and some garlic and hot sauce over it for $8! Gary also got a sausage in a roll and that was also really good. We brought it back to our hotel room to chill for a bit and it was absolutely unreal! There is a selection of other choices to suit many tastes and they even do breakfast bagels/coffee etc in the mornings too which I haven't tried but I'm sure they are good too.
Might not look very appetising but trust me, it was!

There are so many other wonderful places to eat, you are spoilt for choice in New York. Some others that I've either went to in the past or would love to go are the following. 


Spending Money/Savings:

New York is expensive but you can really customise how cheap or expensive you want the holiday to be. As I previously mentioned, if you are on a budget it is totally doable. I saved for a full year in a savings tin. You will see from the below photo that the first of January you save €1, the following week €2 and so on until the final week it's €52. Anyways, the idea is that you get into a habit of saving - no matter what the amount that you can afford is and the tin is hidden away, forgotten about against your weekly bills as you need a can opener to take the money out and know how much you have saved. We had around $1600 going and we budgeted around $100 per day for food and whatever else was taken off the rest like excursions, what we bought, tips, drinks etc. Some days we may have gone over the $100 and some days we were under. The fact that we booked so far ahead and saved for so long made it much easier on us as we didn't notice the money going and before we knew it, January was here.  Just wanted to let you know that if New York is a dream of yours but you feel that it may be out of your budget, it is possible to make it work for you. Life is short after all.





Shopping:

This wasn't a shopping holiday and I'd much rather a vintage shop in New York than browse the stores. However, I did pop into Century21 on Cortlandt Street. It's still the same as I remembered, I bought a beautiful Diane Von Furstenberg Down feather coat, in their Jersey Garden store for 70% off. It's a stunning forest green shade and that was all I bought plus one MAC lipstick in my usual Blankety shade. Tax is added onto every clothing item over $100 (except Jersey Gardens), tax is added onto anything Beauty then too whatever the price which is annoying when you go up to the counter. For instance, my lipstick was $18.50, went up to the counter it was $20.14. I didn't find it all that cheaper there, to be honest, but I wasn't expecting to either. If you're into your unique style trainers like Gary, he got two class looking Air Jordans over there as the selection is far better but the prices are pretty much similar. The selection of children's shoes was also brilliant and completely different to back home which I love.


Take note upon arriving/leaving:

  • Don't forget to do your Esta visas well in advance to leaving. You need one each to enter the country. Make sure you follow the correct site as it is only $14 each, there are many sites that charge you up to $100 each which is wrong as they are charging you to do it for you. It's easy to do yourself.
  • Depending on the time of year - pack comfortable shoes, possibly thermals, warm clothes, pack away raincoat, warm gloves & sunglasses for sun glare. If it's the summer you will need insect repellent which you buy over there, mosquito's love me when I have been there in warmer weather and also bring breathable clothing like cottons, linens etc if it's summer.
  • Check out the facebook group, NYC the place to be. Such an informative group of people on that and many people are waiting to travel there, just like you or they have just returned. So, it's full of great recommendations and advice.
  • If you plan on doing lots of excursions, check out the New York City pass to save money.
  • Pack a backpack if going exploring, I brought my usual leather one I wear daily and it was extremely light and handy. Not heavy at all and fits a lot. Bought mine in Tkmaxx.
  • You will need a credit card to avoid charges and exchange rates. I brought a prepaid Post Office card and it was fantastic. I also had a Revolut one just in case but I never needed it. You can also check your transactions which appear almost immediately online and it's a handy way to know your spending over there. Next time I will use my Revolut card as the app looks much better but in saying that, the Post office card was perfect for us over there.
  • Bring a portable phone charger. If like me, I used my phone for everything - subway map, google maps, camera etc. The battery will go fairly fast. I did find some charger areas on the streets too funnily enough so maybe bring a charger lead if you prefer.
  • When flying, do not forget to pack in your hand luggage the following - a phone charger, headphones as the airlines are usually bad, maybe have the option of a few downloaded shows on netflix on your phone as I didn't find the selection great on board. Some face mist to hydrate your face, refreshing wipes and face cream. Drink plenty of water. I also brought a travel headrest pillow which was great to take a snooze in.
  • Do not leave any last minute shopping at JFK airport, I think it's the worst airport for shopping I have ever experienced. It's very expensive for shopping, eating or drinking! Not a great selection of anything and certainly no bargains to be got in duty-free which is non existent. 
  • Last but not least, enjoy it all if you are going. New York is my favourite city, I found the people there really friendly, Fine you may get the odd few bad eggs but nothing more than you would find anywhere. It really is a fantastic city!


I bet I'm forgetting to mention a few bits but hopefully not, I hope you have enjoyed this guide. There's a guide to suit every person going as everyone has different tastes, make your own and research well.

Thanks for reading,

Aifric x






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