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!
On a cloudy Easter Sunday morning, we began our short drive to Hallstatt. As we drove out of Salzburg, we were met with pouring rain. The snow-speckled alpine mountains surrounding Salzburg were completely hidden from view and dark clouds hung low. Several minutes into our drive, we move off the expressway and pass thru pretty little villages nestled at the foot of lush green hills. We drive past these villages and on to windy roads with the hills on one side and the gushing stream on the other. The rain had slowed down to a drizzle, the clouds were receding and finally, some spring sunshine filters thru the sky as we arrive in Hallstatt.
Our first stop in Hallstatt was the Dachstein Ice Caves and 5 Fingers Lookout. Unfortunately, this was still closed due to the cold weather (Austria was still getting its last snowfall in April!) We were a bit disappointed as the views from the 5 Fingers looked stunning and the ice caves looked simply fascinating from the pictures we’d seen. But, we knew we were not going to be able to explore some of the sights as we were still traveling during the winter period and most of the attractions would reopen only around the end of April. We didn’t despair though as we had quite an exciting adventure waiting for us!
We pulled into the parking area at the Salzwelten Hallstatt and made our way to the funicular that would take us up to the Salzberg (Salt Mountain). It’s a short scenic ride offering beautiful views of the Hallstatt lake and the Alps.
Once you are off the funicular, you have a few things to do on the Salzberg – head up to the Skywalk or World Heritage View – it’s a viewing platform 350 metres above the Hallstatt village. Take the lookout bridge towards the Rudolf Tower to get to the Skywalk. The views from here are just jaw-dropping. You can see the Hallstatt village right below you and the nearby Obertraun village as well. The Hallstattersee looks quite magnificient from this height. Although we visited on a cloudy day and the alps were mostly hidden from view, the moody clouds added a certain charm to the views.
And the main attraction on this Salt Mountain is the Salt Mine of course. If you’re feeling peckish before you head on over to the Salt Mine, you can grab a bite at the restaurant in the Rudolf Tower. They have a lovely patio which is right above the Skywalk deck so you can grab a pint and a bite while enjoying the beautiful views. Make sure you head on over to the salt mine in time for your tour. The walk to the Salt Mine is short but beautiful.
The Salt Mine tour was the highlight of our Hallstatt trip. This is hands down one of our best tours and most fascinating experiences ever. Not only was it well-organized with informative and friendly guides but it was filled with a lot of high-tech entertainment and adventure! Before we set off on our tour through the oldest salt mine in the world, we had to don a miner’s suit which was just the beginning of making this a very real experience. We then walked thru long tunnels that had been dug up by miners a few thousands of years ago to get to the salt mine.
And, then, it was time to take a mindblowing ride down a very long, ancient wooden miner’s slide to go further down into the mine. As you can tell from the picture, I was a bit nervous as is usually the case with rides but Steve just loves them! You could take the flight of stairs next to the slide if you don’t feel up to it. But, you really should do the slide – it’s a lot of fun! It’s quite safe for the young and old (just don’t put your arms out and follow the directions given).
Once you’re further down in the mine, you’ll find lots of rock salt – on the ceiling, on the walls, everywhere… you can just pinch some off for a taste – it’s delicious!
The tour guides are great – they give you excellent background on the salt mine and its significance. Here are some tidbits that we remember – Apparently, 250 million years ago, the entire salt mine area was covered by the ocean. The village of Hallstatt came into existence when the salt mine was discovered during the pre-historic times. And today, the Hallstatt salt mine produces 750,000 tonnes of salt per year. It is one of the first known salt mines in the world that helped uncover valuable information on the pre-historic era.
In the salt mine, you’ll go thru several diferent sections – some like the one above where you’ll find salt blocks and some others where they display valuable finds from the pre-historic times. There’s also a little cinema room – appearing very rustic but built with advanced technology. The tour also includes a few short, interesting videos that take you deeper into the history of the salt mine and the remarkable discoveries that were made including the oldest wooden staircase in Europe and the Man in Salt (the body of a former miner was discovered in an astonishingly well-preserved condition due to all the salt he was buried under!)
At the last level in the mine, you are 400 metres underground and there is a mysterious little lake that reflects an amazing light show – spectacular effects and very nicely done! The light show depicts pre-historic times and a day in the life of the miners.
And, finally, it’s time for the last ride through the mine… We hop on a miner’s railway and take another exhilirating ride thru the narrow tunnels of the mine.
The Hallstatt Salt Mine is a sensational experience – filled with non-stop adventure from start to finish. We highy recommend a visit to the Salzberg / Salt Mountain – it takes about 3 hours to do the salt mine tour and the skywalk. If there’s only one thing you have time for in Hallstatt, do this. It’s an unforgettable, thrilling adventure! If you have more time to spare and love a hike, Salzberg offers a couple of lovely hiking options as well.
We had just a couple more hours to spare in Hallstatt and decided to ride the funicular back down and check out the little village.
We took a stroll thru the village market place. (See how deserted it is? Definitely one of the greatest advantages of traveling off-season is to be able to explore a place without bumping shoulder to shoulder. It is just the kind of holiday we like.)
The Hallstatt village center is filled with colorful little buildings and the Evangelical Church dominates most of this little center.
This 12th century church is most popular for its Charnel House (or Bone House). The Ossuary boasts a collection of over 600 skulls, all adorned with artistic designs. Unfortunately, we got there only to find that we’d arrived a few minutes too late. The place had just been closed!
We took a walk around the lovely little cemetery at the back of the church. Much like the rest of Austria, the graves are beautifully decorated with personal effects adorning the graves. The view from the top of the church is lovely.
We then walked up to the classic village viewpoint at the Gosaumühlstraße. This is where you can get the famous postcard view of Hallstatt.
Although it was about 7 PM, there was still plenty of daylight and we headed down to the lake for a stroll. The views of the Hallstätter See are just delightful. We grabbed a coupla beers, plonked down on one of the benches by the lake, and sat admiring the alpine wonder that surrounds this little Austrian village.
There’s unbelievable beauty everywhere in this little village!
Although it can get quite crowded, just take a walk thru the village and its surounding area and you can find a cosy quiet little spot to admire the beauty that this small place packs in.
We spent a short day in Hallstatt. If you do choose to stay overnight, you could stay at the nearby, less touristy Gosauor Obertraun. They are just 10 minutes away from Hallstatt. We spent a short while in Obertraun – it’s a tiny village on the other side of this bridge.
With it being Easter sunday, the locals were nowhere to be seen and the tourists were thronging little Hallstatt. We seemed to be the only souls in this sleepy village and it was lovely to walk through the quiet little lanes and sit by the lake.
The beauty of Austria is in its little alpine villages – each one as breathtaking as the next. We had visited St. Gilgen and Mondsee the previous day and continued to be amazed by this incredibly beautiful country. The Salzkammergut region where all these little villages are has some of Austria’s prettiest lakes and most charming villages, all surrounded by the majestic Alps.
We plan on going back to Austria again, maybe in winter – we’d love to try some skiing and snowboarding!
The East Coast Park was a big part of our life in Singapore and is our most loved place in this wonderful little island country.
The ECP is a scenic coastline that stretches over 15 kilometres and is a great place to go to for a ride along the coastline or a lazy day at the beach.
You can spend a few hours or an entire day at the ECP. There’s a whole bunch to do. And, it’s a beach you can go to anytime of the year. You may be aware that Singapore doesn’t really have seasons.. it is situated just above the equator and has a tropical climate.. it’s humid and sunny thru the year in this little island. And yes, it is known to rain quite often but it’s usually the kind of rain that comes pouring down with all its might but lasts just a short while. There’s plenty of gazebos around the ECP for you to take cover while the rain clouds pass over.
ECP is filled with a whole range of entertainment options. You can ride a bike along the coastline – a single, tandem or a full family seater! The view is spectacular and you’ve got a dedicated cycling path for your uniterrupted biking pleasure. Many an afternoon/evening was spent biking along the coastline while we lived in Singapore. They also have other options like rollerblading, kayaking, wind surfing, and other extreme sports for the adrenaline junkies. There’s also a paint ball and laser tag arcade in Parkland Green. Or if you’d like to just sit back and drink a pint or two while some fresh fish take the bait, you’ll find plenty of fishing spots along the ECP – the pier near Marine Parade is especially popular for this.
If you’d rather just hang out by the beach, get a beach blanket, some snacks, and a cooler filled with your favorite beers! You’ll find plenty of folks just lazing on the beach under the shade of a palm tree, having a jolly good picnic. At ECP, you can also camp by the beach, overnight as well if you’d like to. It is a very popular activity, so you’ve got to book ahead. We never got around to camping under the stars while we were in Singapore but would highly recommend this if you get a chance to. They provide for shower facilities as well if you’d like to wash off some of that salt and sand off your skin before you call it a night.
There are a ton of options all along the ECP for some lip-smacking food – you’ll find a whole bunch of hawker centers (Singapore’s quite famous for these). It’s basically street food that is cheap and delicious. We highly recommend the satays – they are just mind-blowing! You”ll find these stalls at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village. Just a little further away, you’ll find restaurants, beer bars, and cafes as well, if you fancy a quieter place. Many of these offer a great sea view too. We frequented the Parkland Green as it was closer to where we stayed. This section of ECP is newer and offers plenty of dining options. And, for the eager cooks, you can do your own barbecue in one of the many pits around ECP. Barbecuing at the beach is another very popular activity – make sure you book in advance!
The East Coast Park is part of the Singapore national parks and is interconnected to many of the other parks so you can indulge in some park hop too, by foot, by bike or simply skate your way through.
The East Coast Park is definitely frequented more by the folks living in Singapore but it is a great place to unwind and soak in Singapore’s fantastic culture, and relish its variety of culinary delights during your short holiday to this little island.
If there’s one thing we miss the most about Singapore, it would have to be ECP. There’s nothing like it anywhere else. While there were beautiful cycle paths along the Donau in Germany and there’s sure a great variety of food and beautiful coastlines here in Ireland, having that all-in-one experience like the East Coast Park is something we crave for from time to time.
Some of our favorite moments in ECP were riding one of ’em big family cycles along the sea, building sand castles with two of our favorite little girls, enjoying a nice pint at sundown and watching the distant lights of the boats fade into the sea… priceless memories!
The East Coast Park holds many a precious memory from our life in Singapore. It made our lives beautiful and complete. It will always be a special place!
I have always been in love with the sun and the sand… walking on the beach and feeling the sand squish between my toes and watching the sun go down in the deep blue sea are some of my happiest moments.
Krabi, Thailand is a paradise with beautiful beaches, pretty little islands, delicious food and just gorgeous blue waters of the Andaman sea. We wanted to stay in a place that was relatively less busy and crowded compared to Phuket. Most of Thailand is swarming with tourists anyways and for good reason.. It is a gorgeous country!
We were in Krabi to celebrate my niece’s 18th birthday. We were there for a short four days but we had such an amazing time and such wonderful experiences in this brief period. We stayed in a resort close to the Ao Nang beach in Krabi. It was a pretty resort surrounded by little hills and the rooms were partially built on stilts and we were surrounded by beautiful water everywhere in the resort. You could kayak your way through the resort.
On our first day, we did the 7 island sunset tourwhich lasted 6 hours.We started a little after mid-day and cruised the Krabi waters in a long-tail boat and occasionally a speed boat.
Our first stop was the Phra Nang Cave that is near the well-known Railay beach. This limestone cave is full of stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is probably more well-known for its “Phallus Shrine” which is full of a strange variety of offerings to the symbolic phallus of Shiva or the Lingam – I was surprised to learn what the lingam actually represented (I had no idea what I was worshiping as I was dragged through temple after temple in my younger years – remember I mentioned in one of my earlier posts I was born a Hindu). Anyways, bizarre yet interesting revelation this was.
Phra Nang Cave
Smaller phallus shrine around the cave
We then headed out to Koh Tan Ming where we did some snorkeling. After a bit, we hopped over to Koh Si island where the snorkeling was so much better and we had more time. The water was so clear and the underwater life so pretty!
We then hovered around the Chicken island for a bit before heading over to the Tup and Mor islands where we just walked around the beach, collected shells and lounged in the warm waters. Finally, we halt at Koh Poda, where we had a Thai buffet. As the sun went down, one of the crew members entertained us with a fire dance.
Finally, the island hops are done and we head back. On the way back though, we have one more stop in the middle of the sea for more snorkeling and swimming with bio-luminescent plankton. It was a great experience to hop through all those pretty islands but it just seemed like too short a time at each of the stops and we felt rushed. We did the Hong islands the next day which was SO much better and just what we needed.
It was again a full-day island tour where we stopped at a couple of great snorkeling spots. The tour took us to the rock island of Koh Daeng, Koh Lahding, and finally on to Koh Hong. The water in the Hong Islands especially the Koh Lahding or Paradise Island is amazingly clear and you can see marine life right near the shore without even getting your snorkeling gear on. You venture a little further into the water and you can see the most stunning variety of fish and corals. You simply cannot pull away from the water. And the beaches are beautiful white sand beaches.
The next day we just hung around Krabi town, shopping for junk jewellery and indulging in local delights. Thai food is simply heavenly – the satays, the curries, just divine.. we binged on some lip-smacking dishes! We sampled some interesting local Thai spirits and chugged lots of Thai beer (the usual lager variety – not very exciting but definitely refreshing in Krabi’s humid weather). Singha and Chang dominate the local beer scene. Back when we visited Krabi, we didn’t research much on local craft beer and may have missed out on a couple of good places. We’ve heard that the Full Moon Brewworks may be worth a shot.
We also enjoyed some great live music from one of the local bands (unfortunately we cannot remember the name of this wonderful band) at a cosy little restaurant in the main street (and we cannot remember the name of this restaurant either – we had had one too many beers and shots).
It was the most wonderful 4 days in Krabi – we relaxed, swam, lay on pretty beaches, drank lots, ate lots, danced some, laughed hysterically (and cried some tears of joy), and had loads of fun!
Krabi will always be special for many reasons and we’ll make our way back there again someday to reignite these beautiful memories.
(Most of the pictures in this post were taken by my niece, a very talented photographer. Check out some of her cool pics here.)