Last weekend, we drove up to Skerries, a seaside town north of Dublin city. In about an hour, we made it to the centre of the small town. Easily accessible by Dublin bus and the Irish rail, Skerries is part of the Dublin county and makes for a great city break.
Skerries is especially popular for its historic tower mills that date back several hundred years. The Skerries mill complex includes 2 tower mills or windmills and a water mill.
The mills can be visited through a guided tour only and unfortunately the last tour was already underway when we got to the mills. And so, we just walked around the mill complex admiring the mills from a distance.
The one above is the four sail windmill and is the older of the two. It’s also known as The Small Windmill while the one below is called The Great Windmill. The taller one below is said to be more efficient considering its five sails.
It was good weather the day we were visiting – blue skies showing no trace of rain. Perfect weather to walk the little coast of Skerries.
We were soon peckish and decided to head over to this little cafe Goat in The Boat for some snacks and coffee. Funny little folk tale of St. Patrick and his visit to Skerries can be found on one of the cafe’s walls.
Skerries is filled with cute little cafes.
Storm in a Teacup is very close to the beach, perfect place to take away some icecream and a cuppa to enjoy by the beautiful Irish sea.
We walked along the rocky shore picking shells and watching little hermit crabs scurrying thru tidepools.
As the sun went down, it started to get nippy and we made our way back to the car park.
Right behind the car park is one of the two Martello Towers in Skerries. You’ll find plenty of such towers along the Irish coastline. These small defensive forts were built during the French revolution. Although primarily functioning as a watch-house, these towers were also homes to the guards and their families.
Alhough we spent only a few hours in Skerries and found Howth much more fascinating, it was nevertheless a lovely evening spent in good company.
Last year, incidentally around this time, we were touring across Germany and Switzerland. We wrapped up our 2-week long holiday in Lake Geneva, one of the largest lakes in Europe.
When we booked our AirBNB accomodation, we didn’t realise that the place we’d booked was actually on the French side of Lake Geneva. And, that’s how we ended up in France for the first time!
We hopped on a train from Grindelwald, where we’d spent 3 incredibly wonderful days hiking the Swiss Alps. We got off the train at Lausanne, one of the biggest cities on Lake Geneva. After a rushed unfinished lunch at a lovely restaurant by the lake, we ran all the way to the port with our bags trailing hard and just about made it in time for our short boat ride to Thonon les Bains.
It was a scenic ride with gorgeous views of Lake Geneva and the little towns on its shore.
Thonon les Bains is just across the lake, on the French side. It is one of the bigger towns on the lake and seems to be fairly popular with tourists looking to spend a relaxed holiday in Lake Geneva or Lac Léman, as known in French.
We stayed in a little French village called Anthy-sur-Léman, about 10 minutes away from Thonon. Anthy is also by the lake and is a quiet place to stay at if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular towns on the lake. After a 10-day hop across South Germany and Switzerland, all we wanted to do was kick back and relax and this idyllic little village was perfect. The AirBNB we stayed at was just a few minutes away from the lake and had a lovely vegetable garden and chicken farm that my nephew was completely fascinated with.
We spent the first day just unwinding over a few beers and taking a stroll around the garden. Later that evening, we headed to a lovely restaurant by the lake – Les Pieds Dans L’Eau. It was our first time eating French food and my first time eating fish! We were absolutely delighted with the food at this place.
The next day, we headed back to Thonon for some sight-seeing. Thonon-les-Bains has a stunning port and is a very popular fishing village on Lake Geneva. It also seems to be well-known for water sports and the large number of yachts docked at the harbor surely was proof of the enthusiasm the locals had for sailing.
It was great weather that day and we took a walk along the promenade admiring the gorgeous blue waters of Lake Geneva and the Jura mountain range just across the lake in Switzerland.
The port or Port de Rives as it’s properly known, is lined with a good bunch of restaurants and cafes. It also has a great play area overlooking the lake.
The Thonon city centre sits high above Lake Geneva and we made our way up there on the Funiculaire de Thonon-les-Bains. Dating back to late 19th century, this little funicular is a fun ride offering splendid lake views as you ascend to the Les Belvederes, a large garden area that also acts as a viewing platform for the lake.
The views from up here are incredibly beautiful. And, on a sunny day with blue skies, you’re bound to fall in love with the shimmering blue lake.
It’s always such a fun-filled day with this little guy! We spent the next hour or so lazing on the grass and taking in the views of the spectacular lake.
Although we didn’t do a whole lot in Lake Geneva, we had a wonderful coupla days in the scenic little French villages by the lake. It was the perfect laid-back finish to an amazing holiday!
(P.S.: Watch out for more posts from the holiday!)
Take a break from Dublin city and head over to Howth, a picturesque little fishing village in Dublin county offering gorgeous panoramic views of the Irish sea.
Two weeks ago, we visited Howth (pronounced Hoth). It’s just 30 minutes away from the Dublin city centre and makes for a great break from the city. We hopped on a DART and took a short ride along the Irish coastline.
As we stepped out of the station, we saw that the Howth weekend market was on. We wandered in to find something to fill our hungry stomachs.
It was a lovely little market with jewellery, some handcrafted items, freshly baked bread, dried fruits, candy and lots of other delicious little bites. They also offered an interesting variety of cuisines for the ones craving bigger bites. Being a fan of Mexican food, we packed ourselves a Quesadilla and Burrito and headed over to the pier to find a cosy spot to have our lunch by the sea.
Having stuffed ourselves happy, we were ready to start exploring little Howth. We walked around the harbor for a bit. It’s a pretty little harbor with plenty of sailboats docked at the harbor entrance and a few spread around the bay.
Perfect weather for a great cliff walk. The Howth Cliff Path Loop is a 6 to 10 km walk that will take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours depending on which loop you take. There are 4 loops; some are longer and more difficult. We opted for the easier one as it was our first cliff walk in Ireland and we were setting off on our walk in the evening.
Head towards the east side of the promenade for the cliff walk. You’ll see rocky shores just before you begin the steep climb up Balscadden Road.
There’s a bunch of lovely houses along the way, all boasting of stunning seaside views and beautiful courtyards. Wouldn’t mind waking up to this view!
Howth seems to be a popular spot for the angling enthusiasts.
The island you see just ahead in the picture above is the Ireland’s Eye and the one further ahead is the Lambay island. Ireland’s Eye is home to a variety of sea birds and in a short 15 minutes, you could be in the bird sanctuary. On the island is also an old Christian monastery. The island is fairly secluded and has a nice little beach from what we hear and it could be a good spot for an afternoon picnic. We were unable to visit Ireland’s Eye this time but plan to make it there on our next Howth visit.
As you approach the end of the short ascent on Balscadden Road, you’ll see a car park and just ahead of that a gravel steep path. This is the starting point to the Cliff Walk. If you are unable to make the cliff walk, you can just park your car here and go on a short 5 min climb up the gravel trail. This will lead you up to the cliff top where you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Irish sea.
It’s a beautiful trail! The sea is just 50 metres below you and looks utterly fascinating as you walk along the cliff edges.
As you continue your walk, you’ll see plenty of jagged rocks where someone’s jumping off for a swim or fishing for a big catch.
The trails weren’t crowded as you can see. We did the walk later in the day and so we escaped most of the tourist crowd and ran into just a few locals. The trail gets narrower in some places but you should have enough room to allow a fellow walker to pass by.
Do take care as you walk though – you are after all walking on the edge and there’s nothing but the deep blue ocean below you. The terrain is a bit rugged but is a well-worn trail popular with locals and tourists alike.
It can get mucky and slippery when it rains so make sure you have the right footwear! And, may not be a wise idea to do the cliff walk on a bad weather day.
The cliff path takes a whole bunch of turns through the 6 kilometre walk and as you move further along the loop, the views change as well.
The Baily Lighthouse on Howth Head comes into view as you near the Howth Summit. The mountains you see in the distance are the Wicklow mountains, known for its stunning scenery and pristine lakes.
You can continue your cliff walk and do the full 10 km by heading towards the lighthouse. We decided to take a turn towards the uphill path that leads to the Summit car park area.
At the car park, you have the option to continue on the loop and take the path running parallel to the uphill path to return to the Howth station. We decided to take a break and grab a pint at the Summit Inn.
It was well worth the stop as this pint of Guinness is an excellent pint of the delicious dark beauty – it had a great creamy head that stayed all the way thru to its last drop!
We headed back to the Howth Harbor by bus and got off at a stop close to the East pier. We arrived in time to watch the sunset and it was just spectacular with dramatic clouds looming above.
The Howth East Pier walkis wonderful, especially at sundown. The tourist crowd was long gone and except for a few locals walking their dogs, we had the whole pier for ourselves to explore.
Colorful little sailboats dot the bay on one side and the beautiful Irish sea laps on rocky shores on the other.
At the end of the pier, you reach the Howth Harbor Lighthouse. There’s some interesting history behind this fine structure that was also used for defensive purposes.
Further ahead, you’ll find this little beacon tower – it is a great spot to take a break and admire the magnificent Irish sea before heading back.
We stopped for dinner at The Bloody Stream, a lovely pub although the name might indicate otherwise. It’s right at the station so quite convenient to head straight to your train. We finally got our craft beer pint in this little pub and were ecstatic. They serve just the Hope beers (one of Dublin’s good craft breweries) and of course the traditional Irish beers were also on tap.
It was the perfect end to a perfect day. Howth is a little hidden gem in Dublin that is well worth a visit!
Tucked away in the scenic Salzkammergut region, Mondsee is another one of Austria’s lesser known wonders.
After a wonderful day at St. Gilgen and the Wolfgangsee, we decided to do a quick stop at nearby Mondsee before heading back to Salzburg which was our base for our German Austrian alpine trip.
Mondsee is another little Austrian village in the Salzkammergut region that will have you fascinated by its beauty and idyllic charm in no time.
On a cloudy evening, we arrived in Mondsee. We parked in the main square of the village. It’s a small square, lined with colorful townhouses, mostly restaurants and stores selling handcrafted wares.
Just opposite this main square is the Collegiate Church of St. Michael, which used to be the monastery church of Mondsee Abbey. The Mondsee Abbey was founded in 748 and there’s some interesting folklore around why the abbey was founded and how the name Mondsee, meaning moon lake, came about.
The church is possibly most famous for being the venue for the wedding of Maria and Captain von Trapp in the famous musical ‘Sound of Music‘. The church is quite the sought-after church for weddings in the area ever since the film was released. Also known as the Basilica St. Michael, the church is one of the primary reasons tourists flock this little village. Even if you are not a huge Sound of Music fan, this little village will still leave a lasting impression.
Right outside the church is the city tram stop. Now, this is a tram ride we highly recommend you make part of your Mondsee itinerary. The tram ride is just lovely – the driver gives you a very informative tour (even if you are the only soul on the tram!) and takes you thru the smallest of Mondsee streets. The best part of the ride is when the tram arrives at the Mondsee promenade and takes you right in front of the Mondsee – and you are mere inches away from the lake! That was a fantastic and unique experience.
At the promenade, you can get off the tram and enjoy a nice stroll along the lake. Take a walk around the promenade park as well… you’ll find gorgeous little streams and bridges that make you feel like you’re in a land of fairies.
Just a few metres away is the Mondsee Pier where you can get the best views of the beautiful Salzkammergut region.
We stood at the pier for a long time, just basking in the silence around us.. watching the tranquil waters of Mondsee make little magical ripples.
We wish we’d had more time to explore this beautiful alpine village of Austria. We hope to go back to Austria someday soon during summer. Mondsee is quite popular for water sports – it is the warmest lake in the Salzkammergut region and folks from nearby towns flock this little village during the summer months.
If you are visiting the Salzkammergut region of Austria, be sure to make little Mondsee part of your Austria holiday – it is a special place!
We fell in love with Mondsee and the other little villages in the Salzkammergut region – they are filled with such incredible beauty that you’ll always want to go back for more.
An enchanting little village where we wish we’d spent more time…
We visited Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden on a rainy evening. We’d just spent the day at nearby Königssee and wanted to visit Ramsau before heading back to Salzburg, which was our base for our week-long German Austrian road trip.
It was early spring and the clouds were lurking around and we knew it was going to pour. Through the entire day at Königssee, we fortunately escaped the rain. But, as we parked our car at Ramsau, it started raining and didn’t stop for the entire hour we were there. It was just relentless!
That didn’t stop us from getting out and exploring though. We got out our umbrellas, put on our hoodies, huddled closer and walked to the bridge near the Ramsau church where thousands of photographers have tried to capture the famous postcard view of this idyllic little village.
Ramsau is surrounded by incredible beauty. It is set amidst the Alps and on a clear day, you can see the massive Alps right behind the little church making the view even more remarkable. Despite the heavy downpour, you can still get a small peek at a snow-covered mountain in the pic above.
With the stream by its side, the Alps behind it, and green hills with flocks of sheep surrounding it, this is the most picturesque church we’ve ever seen!
The church is also adorned by the prettiest cemetery we’d ever seen. It was a wonderful sight of love and peace.
Cemeteries like these around the local church appeared to be customary in this region. Many of them have intricate and unique gravestones that are surrounded by figurines and photos. These evoke a feeling of comfort and peace rather than the usual melancholy associated with cemeteries.
The interior of the Ramsau church is quite simple but lovingly decorated.
Although we spent less than an hour in this little German village and had barely seen all that it had to offer, we left Ramsau with lovely memories knowing we’ll be back soon.
Berchtesgaden and its surrounding area is extraordinarily beautiful. It should top your list of places to see in Germany. It is our most loved place in all of Germany and we cannot wait to head back there someday soon.
Surrounded by beautiful blue lakes and stunning alpine panorama, this picturesque Austrian village will steal your heart.
We made our way to St. Gilgen on the second day of our German-Austrian alpine road trip. Situated on the northern shore of the Wolfgangsee, St. Gilgen is one of the most scenic little towns in the popular Salzkammergut region in Austria.
We had a late start to St. Gilgen after our delightful visit to Lake Chiemsee the previous day. But, located just 25 kilometers away from Salzburg, we were in this charming little town in less than 30 minutes.
We headed straight to the Zwölferhorn Cable Car station. Zwölferhorn is part of the Salzkammergut mountain range of the Eastern Alps. The eastern part of the Alps, although not as high as the western range, is blessed with plenty of lakes, most of which are in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. This is quite evident when you stand atop the Zwölferhorn. You are surrounded by numerous deep blue lakes including the Wolfgangsee, Mondsee, Fuschlsee and Attersee. It’s a pretty spectacular view!
The Zwölferhorn cable car is said to have begun operations over 65 years ago. It’s a short 15-minute breathtaking ride to the top.
Once you get to the top, there are a whole bunch of viewpoints you can walk up to, in just about 10 minutes. You get strikingly different views from each side.
The top of Zwolferhorn is simply a little paradise. The views are insanely good. We grabbed one of these benches and just sat there, hand in hand, admiring the beauty of Austria.
We were missing something though…
A delicious pint of one of Austria’s fine beers completes the delightful experience! Stiegl is one of Austria’s most popular, revered beers. Unfortunately, they just brew a lager style offering no ales. But, the beer is worth trying. It’s quite a refreshing easy-drinking not-too-hoppy lager. (More on our beer travels in Austria coming soon in a separate post!)
Despite the somewhat warmer temperatures, there was still some snow around. But the weather was pleasant. And, the place wasn’t too packed with tourists – one of the biggest advantages of traveling during the off-season. We found a cozy little spot and sat sipping our beers and basking in the spring sunshine – the perfect recipe for a great day!
The Salzkammergut mountain range is quite impressive. Dachstein is one of the tallest and most popular mountains in Salzkammergut and is known for its fascinating ice caves and glaciers.
We’d planned on visiting Dachstein as well on this trip but hit some bad weather and decided to save this for our next Austrian trip. The views of the Austrian Alps from Dachstein look mind-blowing and you should definitely make it part of your itinerary if you can!
Schafberg is another popular mountain around the Wolfgangsee and at the foothills of this mountain is St. Wolfgang, another charming little village. Schafberg is well-known for its historic steam cog railway that has been offering rides up the steep mountain for over 120 years! [Fun fact: The train has also featured in the hugely famous movie ‘Sound of Music’. Most of the movie was actually filmed in and around the Salzkammergut area.] The Schafbergbahn was sadly not operational in early April and we missed this exciting ride.
There’s so much to do around the Wolfgangsee and so much beauty!
But, we first needed some food! We decided to head back down to St. Gilgen and grab a bite in one of those lovely lakeside restaurants.
The Wolfgangsee Schiffahrt takes you on a beautiful ride across the lake, meandering through crystal clear blue waters. Apart from St. Gilgen and St. Wolfgang, there are a few other little villages by the Wolfgangsee you can visit if you’d like.
Having happily stuffed ourselves with some delicious food and ales at the Fischer Wirt restaurant, we decided to wander around little St. Gilgen.
St. Gilgen is a small village with lovely little houses dotting the lakefront. It is also sometimes referred to as Abersee. But is popularly known as ‘Mozart village’. Although Mozart never visited the place, a few of his family members lived here and there’s a Mozarthaus to commemorate the great composer and his family.
Not too far away from the Mozarthaus is a lovely statue of Mozart himself in front of the Rathaus(town hall).
It’s not just music but wonderful art as well that adorns this quaint little village.
Our last stop was the parish church of Saint Aegidius, aka Saint Giles, after whom the village gets its name.
It is a small church done up in baroque style. While the interior of the church was splendid, the little cemetery at the back of the church was heart-warmingly beautiful. It was so endearing to see the little notes on the tombstones, the fresh bouquets of flowers, the candles and the photographs on the graves.
It got us thinking about our own loved ones we lost in this sometimes difficult journey that is life. Our spirits weren’t dampened though. If anything, this town filled us with an overwhelming sense of love and appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us.
We simply fell in love with St. Gilgen. It is just a tiny place in the vast land of Austria but it is one of the prettiest places in this remarkable country. We made a silent promise to come back to this enchanting little village.
On a cloudy yet beautiful spring day, we began our six-day road trip across the German Austrian alpine towns.
The drive was simply wonderful. The fields were blanketed with lush green and there were little wild flowers everywhere. Not so far away from the fields were thick forests with trees slowly coming to life. Absolutely love this time of the year; when everything is springing back to life with this intoxicating newness.
Our first stop was Lake Chiemsee – one of Germany’s largest lakes, also known as the Bavarian Sea. Surrounded by the Chiemgau Alps, the Chiemsee lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Germany. The alps tantalize us with its majestic beauty miles before we approach Chiemsee.
There are many lakeside towns in Chiemsee but the most notable one is Prien. The Bavarian town of Prien am Chiemsee while packed with tourists, is still a cozy little town and you can find a heavenly little spot for yourself by the lake to get lost in.
Lake Chiemsee has three islands – Herreninsel, Fraueninsel, and Krautinsel. Herreninsel meaning gentlemen’s island, is the largest and possibly the most visited. Fraueninsel aka ladies’ island is the prettier one of the lot (but of course!) and Krautinsel is said to be uninhabited. We took the Chiemsee Schifffahrt from Prien to tour the islands.
The boat ride was just wonderful. We sat on the upper deck enjoying the slightly cold breeze and the scenic views of the German alps.
We got off at the Herreninsel and began our short trek to the Herrenchiemsee Castle, one of the three Ludwig castles.
Large luxurious gardens welcome you to the palace.
The Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee is modeled on the Palace of Versailles and was built by Ludwig as a ‘Temple of Fame’ for King Louis XIV of France who the Bavarian king ardently worshiped. The castle rooms are filled with paintings of the French king.
It is said to be one of the most expensive castles that King Ludwig has built and it’s quite evident once you walk inside the castle. The decorations are rich and exquisite with large chandeliers with the most intricate designs, magnificent furniture, and elaborately handcrafted items & showpieces. Possibly the most stunning room in the palace is the Great Hall of Mirrorswith numerous chandeliers and mirrors lining the hall on either side and brilliant paintings embellishing the ceiling.
The Herrenchiemsee castle is definitely much more beautiful on the inside compared to the Neuschwanstein castle which is one of the prettier castles from the outside with its fairy-tale look and gorgeous alpine views.
We quite enjoyed the guided tour to the Herrenchiemsee; the guide was funny and cheerful and gave us great insights on the castle and the fascinating life of King Ludwig.
After your castle visit, do take a break at the little cafe with a nice pint of German beer and enjoy the soothing view of the gardens and the fountains.
It was time to hop back on the boat and head over to Fraueninsel. You do want to plan your visit to Lake Chiemsee in such a way that you have time for both these islands. Most tourists just visit Herrenchiemsee for the palace and turn back. You will be missing out on the true Lake Chiemsee experience if you do that. While the boat ride to Herrenchiemsee is beautiful, it is nothing like the breath-taking, scenic views you’ll get if you head on over to the Fraueninsel. And the little island itself is just astonishingly beautiful.
The monastery was founded in 782 and was rebuilt multiple times over the last few centuries. We couldn’t enter the monastery but could take a walk through the pretty little cemetery at the back of the monastery. The graves were so lovingly decorated with flowers, pictures, and little lanterns.
While the monastery is considered the key attraction of this small island, we highly recommend you taking a walk around the island. It’s such a small place that in less than 20 minutes, you can go around the entire island. It’s the prettiest little car-free island, with every house having its own private pier and cosy little sit-out by the lake. The houses are also adorned by lovely gardens.
If you’re looking to do nothing much but just sit by the lake, relax, and take in the beauty surrounding you – this island is just the perfect spot. It’s quiet and cosy.
Do keep an eye on your watch though as you can get lost in the alpine charm of this little island and miss your boat. We baaarely made it to the last boat out! We ran with all our might and just about made it to the pier as the boat was coughing up its engine to sail away.
In any case, not a bad place to be stranded at eh? The little island does have a few hotels and B&Bs. If you are looking to stay overnight in Chiemsee and prefer a less crowded place, you should opt to stay here rather than the packed Prien am Chiemsee.
Lake Chiemsee was such a great start to our alpine road trip. Its quaint towns and islands with their unspoiled beauty and indescribable charm left a lasting impression on us and we are so glad to have made Chiemsee a part of our German adventures.
(We visited a whole bunch of gorgeous little towns across Germany and Austria during this road-trip. Stay tuned for more posts!)