Experiences We’d Like to Try

In today’s post we’re going to talk about some of the experiences we’d love to try out. They range from food and drink ones, high thrills, sporting and cultural events, and what the natural world has to offer. Here’s a list of just some of the things we’d love to experience:

Food and drink:

Go on a wine tasting tour

Go on a food tour 

Go to a proper sushi bar in Japan

Visit a top cocktail bar

High thrills:

Sky diving

Bungee jumping

Snorkelling

Kayaking

Sporting and Theatre Events:

Go to an Ireland rugby match at the Aviva Stadium

Go to a Liverpool match at Anfield

Attend a Broadway show – especially Hamilton and Les Miserable

Go to Disneyland/Disney World

Go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Visit the Natural History Museum

Natural World:

Go on a real safari

See the Northern Lights

Diving with sharks

Travel the West Highland Way

Walk the Camino de Santiago

What are the experiences you would love to try out? Let us know if there are experiences you think we should try out. We’re always looking for ways to enjoy life more!

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain

Hotels Versus Airbnb

Often when you go away on holiday, one of the most important questions is where you’re going to stay. For us, we want somewhere that’s central, not too pricey, and comfortable and clean. We feel like it’s important to check out all your options before you visit somewhere, and find the option that’s best for you for whichever trip you’re going on. So, we always think it’s a good idea to check out both hotels and Airbnbs. There are many reasons to choose either one, and today we’d like to talk about them. This isn’t a post pitting one against the other – both accommodations have their pros and cons. We’ve stayed in some beautiful hotels and Airbnbs, and we’ve staying in some rather dire hotels and Airbnbs.  It’s just about finding what’s right for you, and bear in mind that can change from trip to trip.

First up, hotels. For most of us they’re the more familiar of the two, and many people would automatically gravitate towards them. The idea of a hotel is well established in our minds, when you book one you generally know what you’re getting. They’re generally easier to find when you arrive in a new location, especially if you get a taxi and don’t speak the language. They’re perfect for those of us who love to book an early flight so we can kick off exploring a new destination right away, because even if you’re room isn’t ready, there’s normally a storage room to drop your bag off in. Hotels are also great as there tends to always be someone there if you have an issue, or need something for your room. They also tend to feel more secure, although this isn’t saying that they are. We also think they’re great as they often have a bar and restaurant on sight. This makes them perfect if you can’t be bothered venturing out, or if you want somewhere to go back to for a nightcap before bed.

Hotels are great, and can be perfect, especially for a shorter stay. However, they’re not without their negative points. Often they are part of a chain, and can begin to feel generic and duplicated in style. While we know this isn’t a massive issue, it is something we think it worth pointing out. Also, depending on the style of hotel, they can attract loud and disruptive crowds of people, such as stag or hen parties. This means they’re not great if you like to get an early night, or wake up early. They’re also not ideal if you can’t afford to eat out for all three meals, as they don’t allow for self-catering. It’s always handy having small kitchen facilities to whip up something for breakfast and lunch, even if it’s just a small fridge and some cutlery and crockery for cereal and sandwiches.

Next up is the relatively new Airbnb. We had never stayed in one until we went on our honeymoon to Italy, and then we stayed in three back to back. Because it was our first time, and our honeymoon, we were a little bit apprehensive. However we’ve found them to be a pleasant experience for the most part. Unlike hotels, they’re great for those of us that love a self-catering element to their holidays. This is great for two reasons – it allows you to save some money on eating out, and it can lead to a home from home feeling, which is perfect if you’re planning on staying for a few days. Speaking of a homely feeling, Airbnbs often tend to feel more personalised. They can be bare and basic, but they can also be beautiful, unique, and reflect the style of the person renting it out, which we find to be pretty cool. The personalised feeling also extends to a local knowledge that tends to mean you find out about places off the beaten track.  

Our Airbnb in Florence

This was our favourite Airbnb we stayed in, it was based near the centre of Florence and the host Chiara was amazing. It can be booked here – please note this is an affiliate link and we will earn a small amount of money if you book through it.

They aren’t without their disadvantages though. We found them to be problematic on three fronts. Firstly, they can be difficult to find, especially if they’re in a less touristy areas. Because they’re just an apartment or house, there’s no signage outside to indicate you’re at the right building. Which is fine if you have a way of contacting the owner for directions. But we’ve been in situations when we’re wandering around with our bags, unable to find an apartment or get an answer from the person renting out the Airbnb. And that leads us to the third negative point – what to do with your bags. Many Airbnbs won’t be ready for check-in until the afternoon, which means if you have an early flight you’ll be stuck pulling suitcases around, and having to keep an eye on them. There’s obviously the option to book a later flight, but this doesn’t suit some people.

So, hotel or Airbnb? Honestly, there’s no one answer. We think the best thing to do is plan what kind of trip you want to go on, and then choose the option best suited for your needs at that time. Like anything, it’s just about weighing up the pros and cons, and then going with what feels right. Either way, you’re still going to be on holiday!

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain

A Well Needed Break

Last week we had the chance to take some time off work together, something we were both in desperate need of. We’ve both continued working throughout the pandemic, and hadn’t really had any time off since the beginning of February. Needless to say, we were beginning to feel burnt out, so a little bit of R&R was needed.

First up was an overnight stay at Castle Leslie, located in County Monaghan. This beautiful hotel is situated just over the border, and has the most beautiful grounds to walk around. You can choose to stay in either the castle itself, or the lodge. We chose to book ourselves into the lodge, as the rooms looked more modern and to our style. We were not disappointed in the slightest. Our room was more like a small studio apartment, minus a kitchen. With a massive bed, a sofa for chilling on and easily the nicest bathroom we’ve ever had, it was one of those rooms you don’t want to leave when checkout time comes.

We spent the day walking around the grounds taking photographs, although in typical Irish fashion the rain was never far away from us. We also went for afternoon tea, something we had never had before. After a quick drink in the bar we headed back to our amazing room to get ready for dinner. A delicious four course dinner followed by a couple of drinks in the bar and then back to bed.

We did feel like the service was quite hit or miss at times during our stay, and to be honest wasn’t on par with other hotels of that level that we’ve stayed at in the past. Overall though a lovely stay at Castle Leslie, with beautiful surroundings and delicious food (easily the best breakfast we’ve had out by far!) We left feeling the most refreshed we’ve been in a long time.

Next it was on to County Down, and the wonderful Slieve Donard. We booked this night as a last-minute thing while we were in Castle Leslie because we weren’t ready to go home and stop living the high life. So we headed off from Castle Leslie towards Newcastle. When we arrived the Mourne Mountains were completely hidden behind a veil of clouds, with no clearing up in sight. We were quite early when we arrived, and our room wasn’t ready, so we decided to go to the Percy French for a bit of lunch. We ended up getting a great deal, as they had a set menu offer on, along with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. We enjoyed a delicious meal, a couple of drinks, and the lovely relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant.

Afterwards we made our way back up to the hotel to get our room. This one wasn’t as nice as the one we’d had in Castle Leslie, nor was it as nice as previous rooms we’ve had in the Slieve Donard. But that was our fault – we chose to book a standard double, rather than the superior we’d usually book while staying. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys spending time in their room, we’d recommend paying that little bit extra when staying here. Because while our room was perfectly clean, and comfortable, we really did miss the space, and those sweeping views of the Mournes.

We had another lovely meal in the Oak restaurant for dinner, and again a few more drinks in the bar. It was nice to see that the hotel had a real buzz about it, while still feeling like it was taking the necessary precautions with Covid-19. Slieve Donard is probably our favourite place to stay in Northern Ireland, and Hastings in general just never let us down. The setting is always beautiful, the food delicious, the atmosphere relaxed, and the staff are always incredibly friendly and helpful.

After checking out of Slieve Donard on Tuesday we made our way back home to a bit more normality. We spent the next few days just chilling out in the house, and then went for a drive up to Ballygally Castle on Friday afternoon for some lunch and a dander around the gardens. It was the first time we’d been back since getting married almost 3 years ago, and it was lovely to be back.

We finished off the week at a family BBQ on Saturday. Overall a great week off together, and a well needed one. We went back to work feeling more refreshed. And the best part is that we don’t have to wait as long for our next bit of time off! So watch this space for more updates on what we get up to.

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain