The second to last night of my trip was spent in the Dunquin settlement, at a guest house by the name of Gleann Dearg. Dunquin is the most westerly settlement in Ireland, but not a terribly formal settlement near as I could tell. More a rural cluster of houses and business, without much of a city center. When I was dropped off at the guesthouse to wait for my group I was advised there wasn’t really anything to walk around and see other than the museum which was closed and the harbor which was a bit away.
I was again dropped much earlier than my group was set to arrive. And without anything to go out and explore I chose to stick around the property. The guesthouse is a part of a working farm. The owner of the guesthouse when I arrived was out in the fields. I was shown to my room a sweet little attic type room with an a-line ceiling and the most comfortable twin beads I have ever sat on.
In the absence of much to do I showered, organized by bags for the next day. Made some tea and sat in this little window box to read Northinger Abbey which I found in the downstairs sitting room. My group showed up a couple of hours later just in time for dinner. Given there wasn’t much of a town, there weren’t restaurants their so the lovely ladies at Gleann Dearg made up a three course meal. We were served a zucchini soup, a chicken and eggplant main course and a meringue desert in a lovely summer room complete with grape-vine ceiling.
We were served again for breakfast in a similar warm style in the summer room. I was going to brave the walk for the day. In my eagerness I was ready to go earlier than the rest of my group. So I spent some time wandering around this lovely property.
In doing so I met one of the sheep dogs, who was VERY eager to heard me around the property. He herded me to the stick pile and we played fetch until my group was ready.
All in all I think this was my favorite place we stayed. Not that I disliked any of the others. But there was something incredibly warm and inviting about this guesthouse and the wonderful owner. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to feel like a true guest and a member of the house hold with the in-house meal and the homelike feel of the house itself.
Our hotel in Dingle was the Coastline House B&B. It is an incredibly nice hotel at the end of town overlooking the water. The rooms were the largest we had for the trip, the bathrooms were updated and the house clean, bright and terribly comfortable. Wi-fi was available as well as tv’s and the what was now becoming a typical in room tea and coffee service.
After the group returned and we were all properly cleaned up and dried off, we set about trying to dry out everyone’s essential wear for the next day. Socks, shoes, everything was set up on the radiators to dry out and when we returned from dinner and they still weren’t done we set about attacking things with hair dryers.
The dining room was downstairs next to the front lounge area, like the rest of the hotel it was bright and clean. The food was amazing. A large buffet of breads and cereals were set up for us. And then made to order hot food was brought out for everyone as well. Once again we left feeling full, offered a packed lunch and off everyone went the next day.
As I mentioned, the second we would get to our rooms after each day our bags would explode. The hiking bootes would come off, clean clothes found and often a quick lay down was needed before dinner. Hence the horrendous picture of our room. Aside from the thrown aside bedding and the opened bags, the point however is to point out that while our accommodations along the way were not always fancy, they were clean and comfortable. Which is exactly what we needed given the type of trip we were on.
Day two ended in Camp and as previously mentioned this is in fact the name of a town. This was also the first day we had experienced the baggage transfer done by our touring company and as promised our bags were awaiting our arrival in the lobby of our guesthouse. We were greeted by a very lovely woman named Kathleen who owns the Finglas Guesthouse. She showed up to our rooms and then the exploding of the bags happened. Then off to the Ashes Pub for dinner which I talked about in a previous post.
After dinner and a shower I set myself up in the lovely second floor lounge. There was tea and cookies provided by Kathleen, which I took full advantage of. The rest of the group congregated after their respective adulations and we spent a lovely evening planning our next day.
Thanks to jet lag I was up bright and early. Dressed, repacked and ready to eat breakfast approximately and hour before it was ready. C’est la vie. Breakfast was severed on time in the downstairs dining room that overlooks the bay. There were a variety of options, I of course chose the “Full Irish” plus coffee, toast and a little more coffee. It was perfection as expected from the quaint little place. We were also given a sack lunch again, this time a suspect sandwich and chips. My chips were cheese and onion, though there was a chicken flavor floating around in one of my groups sack lunches as well. Turns out the suspect sandwich was cheese and tomato which was quite good. Chips weren’t bad either.
Aside from Bourbon Street I would imagine Cafe Du Monde is the next most visited location in the French Quarter. I have no research to back this up, but I have never been day or night when it hasn’t been packed to the brim. In fact more often than not I have walked past, saw the line, turned around and came back later.
Cafe Du Monde opened in 1862 and has been opened every day of the year, 24 hours a day since its opening (with the exception of Christmas day and for the occasional hurricane). They serve a limited menu of mostly french doughnuts known as beignets, coffee and milk.
Excuse me while I drool over the piles of sugar and chicory coffee. It’s not the fanciest of places, the waiters aren’t always the friendliest, though who can blame them given the volume of people they serve each day. But there is something magical about sitting down in the shade drinking hot coffee and eating a pile of sugary fried dough. Don’t believe me? I dare you to try it next time you are there.
Cafe Du Monde History and Menu.
800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Open 24 hours a day 364 days a year (not open Christmas Day)
There is an additional location on the other side of Canal Street but the French Market site is the original.
I don’t have the highest regard for traditional hotels but that doesn’t mean that I dislike them all. And certainly in many travel situations a hotel is the easiest way to travel. Particularly if you are planning on seeing multiple locations in a short period of time. Or if you are the type of person with the type of budget to eat at restaurants for every meal when you travel.
That being said I would whole heartedly recommend the Danubius Hotel Astoria in Budapest. It was in fact the first hotel I ever stayed in outside of the United States (excluding Canada) on my first ever European adventure. I was 17, a senior in high school, traveling with some of my best friends and some very kind teacher chaperones.
After driving to Portland getting on a plane, laying over in Chicago, laying over again in Frankfurt, landing in Budapest and taking a shuttle stuffed with 15 of my class mates, we were all tried, hungry, cranky and totally regretting our decision to come on the trip. Admit it, we have all been there. Travel fatigue is real.
Looking at the pictures I think they have done a few renovations, not a real surprise given I was there 15 plus years ago. But it still appears to retain the simple old world comforts I recall.
As a side note we were all thrilled at staying at a hotel called Astoria (since we were from Astoria). Whether or not the name was coincidence or on purpose remains to be seen. The rooms were impeccably clean, with traditional twin beds or twin beds pushed together depending on the configuration of the room. Clean white linens, duvet covers (which most of us uncultured youth thought were too short sleeping bags) and beautifully tiled showers. Speaking of uncultured youth we were all convinced the hotel was haunted. In retrospect we were just dealing with a very old finicky elevator, but we spent our time riding the service elevator and sneaking through the back kitchen to the lobby because we were too scared to ride the main elevators.
My favorite thing about the hotel was the dining room and breakfast. When we landed it was late but our teachers made us walk around the city until lights-out to help us adjust to jet lag. We were tired, cranky and mostly just walking with our eyes half open.
So my first real European experience was the stunning banquet room and European style breakfast provided to us. I vividly recall stuffing my face with croissants and cheeses whose names I could never even begin to pronounce and the MANY trips back to the silver samovars filled with hot chocolate. I felt like royalty sitting in a marble dining room, with velvet tufted chairs and floor to ceiling windows overlooking a city halfway across the world to where I was 48 hours prior.
As an added bonus the hotel was nicely situated walking distance to quite a few locations, in the three days we were there we got to see the Great Market Hall one of the oldest indoor markets in Hungry. As well as the main market square in the inner city that hosts outdoor vendors on a regular basis. The Hungarian State Opera House is in walking distance. Which I loved and never wanted to leave after our tour.
It is also a quick jaunt to the Danube River and the Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd) which takes you directly across the river to the Gellért Monument and Döbrentei square, Rudas Thermal Bath (Rudas gyógyfürdő) and the Citadell which was built under the Haspburg name during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
I hope someday to get the chance to revisit this beautiful hotel and enchanting city. As my first European jaunt and the first view into a wider world at large it holds a special place in my heart. And stomach, I seriously cannot stop thinking about that breakfast!
Side note on the pictures, these were taken pre-digital age so the quality is expectantly poor. Also I am not cropping out anyone out of unkindness, just protecting the innocent.
During my recent trip to Los Angeles I mentioned that I was mostly on foot. Which meant long days of a lot of walking. One such day wound up being 12 miles in total, I had intended to just walk to Greystone Mansion and back but as luck (and lack of planning) would have it I wound up at the mansion three hours before it actually opened. So I chose to hit the bricks and explore the area and if I could find a place to grab breakfast. I wandered around Beverly Hills for a while leering at beautiful homes.
I started to get hungry so I looked up a coffee shop, I wasn’t thrilled with my options there was a Starbucks or a extremely popular local place both still about a mile off. I toyed with the idea of just not eating but that seemed unwise. So I chose the local spot and headed in that direction. About a half a mile later I walked passed a small store front that just said ‘cafe’ on the awning. I was REALLY hungry at this point so I popped in.
The cafe’s name, La Conversation, I eventually figured out was a really excellent last minute choice. The wait staff sat me right away, at my choice of table. The coffee was delicious and strong. The menu had a lot of really great healthy options without being terribly unsavory (no green juice or other non-food foods). I settled in and enjoyed a leisurely brunch in this heavily antiqued restaurant.
I ended up wishing that I had more time in LA and more time at this end of the Sunset so that I could have gone back, but our time there was limited and I never got the chance to return. Hopefully in the future we will make our way back and I can revisit this charming little shop. Should you chose to give it a go, La Conversation can be found at 638 N. Doheny Drive West Hollywood, CA 90069.
The last time I was out in Minneapolis for work a friend and co-worker was kind enough to put me up for a night and show me around the town. I have been to Minneapolis plenty of times but have yet managed to really get a chance to see much outside the skyway area of downtown.
For brunch I was taken to a place called Black Coffee and Waffle Bar a small very Portland-esc café with an extensive waffle menu. I had the peanut butter and banana waffle because why on earth would you have anything else? Elvis would agree with me. But the peach pie waffle looked pretty stellar as well.
The lovely ladies at the coffee bar were not only incredibly kind and quick. They also made one of the best cappuccinos I have had outside of Europe. The medium was the correct size (in my opinion) a couple shots with a large amount of foam think and creamy toward the coffee and dry and fluffy toward the top. Perfection.
It was really nice after a week of being away from home, to not only pop in a place that felt more like the PNW but that which also offered lighter food. There is a large amount of really fantastic food in the Midwest, but many times I leave meals feeling heavy and tired. This was perfectly filling and light it left me ready to conquer a day of touring.
I have an affinity to hamburgers. I didn’t eat red meat for about 20 years and when I went back to eating it I did so with gusto. I LOVE HAMBURGERS. I can’t say that I am terribly picky either, I like fancy gourmet burgers, I like burgers with crazy toping, and I like flat greasy diner burgers from little hole in the wall places.
The Block House Café in Dayton, Oregon has a nice mix of all these traits and come out clean with a burger to suit all type of burger consumers (in my opinion anyway). But most importantly they offer a mini burger that is more suited to my stomach size.
As an added bonus the restaurant resides in the building of the former First Baptist Church of Dayton Oregon. It was built by a family who opened one of the first brick companies in the area and is one of the oldest standing brick buildings in the valley. It has been beautifully restored into a small dining facility with high ceilings, bright windows and a relaxed atmosphere. The wait staff was incredibly nice, and the menu aside from the hamburgers list boasts a large selection of sandwiches and a brunch menu to die for. They also have cinnamon roll pancakes, which are truly incredible. They are located on 301 Main Street in Dayton, open only for breakfast and lunch closing at three everyday.
After we ate we walked around the town, which is mostly just three shop lined streets that flank the main square park. It is a very small town. But it does have a surprising list of places to eat, none of which I have been to yet. One of which, Archie’s is a 1950s themed ice cream shop decorated to resemble the Archie comics I am so very fond of. Had I not been stuffed and it been a slightly warmer day I would have pounced on the chance to go in. Next time. There is always next time.