Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spa Day & Afternoon Tea at Mount Wolseley

Golf and Spa Resort, Tullow, Co. Carlow, Ireland
Looking beauts in the spa
Afternoon tea €16/person, to book call 059 918 0100 

My sister had an incredibly rare weekend off work, which meant we had to do something special to make the most of it. A trip to a spa, followed by afternoon tea seemed like the ultimate relaxing sister day. It was also my first experience of both a spa and afternoon tea, so I was naturally delighted to try out both. We picked Mount Wolseley, Golf and Spa Resort in Tullow, Co. Carlow, after hearing amazing things about it's spa. I picked a deep tissue massage (€70 for 45 minutes) to deal with those irritating shoulder pains from sitting in front of a laptop and my sister went from a hot stone massage (€65 for 45 minutes). Honestly this Spa is incredible, it's gorgeous, there just aren't words for how much I loved it. Firstly you change into a dressing gown and slippers and then your taken into a relaxation room to wait for your appointment. The relaxation room is dimly light, full of leather beds with blankets to get cosy, headphones playing relaxing music, tea/coffee and fresh fruit. Then your collected for your treatment. My massage was done by Ciara, she was brilliant and so friendly. After a lovely back and scalp massage that definitely worked some knots out of my back, I was free to enjoy all the spa facilities for as long as I wanted. You have to go to this Spa just to try out all the facilities and then come back here and tell me all about it, it's that good! The spa is all dimly light with relaxing music, there's a hydrotherapy pool in the center with buttons to turn on different jets. There's a foot spa you are submerged in up to your chest, there's also a sauna, exotic rain showers, a Laconium room and one of only three Sabia Med rooms in Ireland. The Sabia Med room is basically an indoor beach full of warm, white sand and is heated to mimic an exotic beach, you bring in your towel lie down, while UV lights take you through a 30 minute dawn to dusk cycle and relax like your on holidays. If you want you can just use these 6 thermal suite experiences only for €15 for 90 minutes. After spending 3 hours in the spa, we definitely got our moneys worth, it was time to head back outside and fill our bellies with miniature sandwiches and cake. 

Afternoon tea is served in the library from 12-4 daily, and needs to be booked in advance. It's priced at €16 per person and is worth every penny.  You can add a Snipe of  Prosecco for €9.50 if you like but I was happy with my tea this time. The sandwich selection includes: baked ham & Meaux mustard on a wholemeal pitta, egg and cress on a mini brioche, cucumber and cream cheese on white batch bread and poached salmon and sapphire on wholemeal bread. The pastry selection includes scones with Chantilly cream and jam, Madeira cake, tea brack, lemon tart, raspberry tart, a raspberry macaroon, caramel filled cone and opera gateaux, There's a range of tea to choose from, I picked Morgentau Mint Tea. They bring out the hugest tea pots for you I had 4 cups of tea and didn't even finish my pot. Afternoon tea is such a fun experience, it feels like such a treat and so classy, that is until I put the leftover cake in my bag for later, classiness ruined opps! 

So if your looking for a girly day out, or a couple's treat as the spa was full of couples, definitely give one or both of these a try. Really fun and girly, great value for money and you'll leave feeling like a princess.

Any girly day out recommendations?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Guide to Krakow

Galicia Jewish Museum
ul. Dajwór 18,  31-052 Kraków

Oskar Schindler's Factory
4 Lipowa Street, 30-702 Kraków
Main Square, 30-062 Kraków
Rynek Główny 1-3, Kraków, Poland

Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland

Having a sister your close to in age and life is a special thing. It's a best friend, a confidant, someone to rob clothes off and some one you can always trust. Spending time with my sister means the world to me and for the last couple of years we've carved time out in our schedule to take a trip together. Last year it was Liverpool (read about our adventures here), this year it was Krakow. It was actually my sister that suggested Poland and Krakow turned out to be a great choice, with loads of shopping at excellent prices and a truly moving history. As it was my first time visiting Poland I learnt alot of new things about the country and also travelling there so I thought I would compile both my travel memories and some trips for future visitors. The information given below was correct while I visited but obviously may change over time. 

Krakow is the second largest city in Poland and also one of it's oldest. It has suffered a heartbreaking past, during World War II the Jewish population was sent to it's ghetto and then on to extermination camps, namely Auschwitz. Auschwitz is situated nearby and can be visited by bus whilst staying in Krakow, however we chose not to do so, instead learning about the time in both Schindler's Factory and the Galicia Jewish Museum. There is so much to see in and around Krakow from Wawel Castle, to the nearby Wieliczka salt mines, and Rynek Glowny Europe's largest market square. 

Getting there: Our visit begins with actually getting to Krakow, we flew from Dublin to Krakow airport with Ryanair. As the airport is currently undergoing extensive development (for 2015) there is no train service running from the airport to the city. Not to worry though as travelling by public bus is both easy and cheap. You can get the public buses 292 (every 20 mins) or 208 (every hour). The bus stop is outside Terminal 1. You can take a shuttle bus between Terminal 2 and 1 but we just walked. There is also the night bus 902. As the airport is in Zone 11 you need to buy an 4zl ticket from the machine at the bus stop. The journey to the city bus station (Krakow Glowny) takes around 40 minutes or longer depending on traffic. 

Getting home: To get to the airport take the 208 or the 292 from the Krakow Bus Station at the stop 'Dworzec Główny Wschód' on the lower level of the bus station.  You can buy your ticket in a ticket office beside the bus stop. 

Getting around: While Krakow has a bus and tram system for getting around we choose to walk everywhere. In my experience it's a very manageable city to explore by foot and I really enjoyed seeing it that way because we chanced upon many interesting places trying to find our way around. If you are interested in using public transport read about it here. If you choose to walk bear in mind that unlike in Ireland and some other European countries in Poland it is common to avoid Jaywalking and actually wait for the correct light before crossing the road!

Money: The currency used is zloty (zl), notes come as 10-200zl and coins 1-50gr and 1, 2 and 5zl. Zloty are divided into 100 groszy (gr). Bring cash with you to Poland as it's much handier but you can of course use card and they have an unbelievable amount of currency exchanges in Krakow offering different rates. A helpful tip is to have change or small notes when buying things as they often weren't keen to take large notes. Another tip is that when paying if you say thank you it means that you are giving any change as a tip, if you don't want to do this, wait until you receive your change to say thanks. 

Where to stay: There is a huge choice of hostels and hotels in Krakow to suit everyone's budget. After searching through we choose the Ascot Hotel, €232.32 for 2 people, for 3 nights including breakfast. It was a great hotel, amazing location a short walk from the main bus station, friendly helpful staff, free wifi and the breakfast buffer had a phenomenal selection for the price. 

Where to shop: A visit to Krakow is not complete without visiting the Cloth Hall, the world's oldest shopping mall, where you can buy traditional gifts like amber jewelry. Krakow is also great for high street shopping as it boosts several large shopping malls in the city center. Two we visited were Galeria Kazimierz with over 130 stores including H&M, Zara, Sephora and Inglot, and Galeria Krakowska comprised of 3 floors and over 260 stores, which is located beside the bus and train station. There's plenty more places to shop just wander along the beautiful old streets, check out the Kazimerz district for more treasures. 

Things to see & do: This is a very long list so I'll try to keep it shorter by mainly sticking to what we did in the short time we were there. Despite the impact of World War II on this city it managed to remain a beautiful and historic place, leaving a long list of sites to take in while your there. Start with the Europe's largest medieval square, Rynek Glowny, in Old Town. The square is a flurry of activity, it is lined with cafes and restaurants, huge crowds of people, street performers and ornately decorated horses and carriages. Here you will find the famous Cloth Hall, along with St. Mary's Basilica and the Town Hall Tower. Next we strolled through the streets to visit the hilltop Wawel Castle. After your visit to Old Town why not head to the Kazimierz (the former Jewish Quarter) to immerse yourself in their history. It was once the center of the Jewish community until 90% were killed during the war. We visited the Galicia Jewish Museum here, and it's permanent exhibition 'Traces of Memory: A Contemporary Look at the Jewish Past in Poland'. This exhibition is a must see, it's hugely educating and emotional to view. We then crossed the river to visit Oskar Schindler's factory. It is a little tricky to find, when you cross over the bridge go to your left past the railway line and it is in the middle of an industrial area. This interactive museum housed in the former enamel museum of Oskar Scindler, the industrialist who saved the lives of his Jewish workforce during the Holocaust. The museum is very somber viewing and there's something incredibly unnerving about walking across a floor tiled entirely in swastikas as one room is. If you don't have time to visit Auschwitz you should definitely try and visit this museum. If your in Krakow for longer then you might want to visit sites outside the city including Auschwitz and the incredible UNESCO World Heritage listed Salt Mines. 

Helpful source: We only visited Krakow for 4 days so this guide is far from exhaustive. The In Your Pocket Krakow guide is amazing for just about everything to do with Krakow, read it before you visit here.

I loved visiting Krakow, it's a beautiful city full of welcoming people. If you've already visited Krakow I'd love to know your recommendations and favorite parts of your trip. Now I'm off to plan my next adventure

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bucket List: Eating Crickets

Let's be honest, when you stroll through your bloglovin feed, edible insects do not feature often. Not alot of bloggers would happily share pictures of themselves with no makeup, hair messy, casual clothes and a cricket shoved in their mouth. But I happily do this, all in the name of lifestyle blogging. Lately I've been embracing the YOLO spirit, even though I hate the term YOLO. In the last few weeks I've been to gay pride for the first time, rode a mechanical bull (I only lasted 17 seconds but somehow ended up with 4 bruises), eaten garlic cheese chips and a few crickets and mealsworms too! Entomophagy is the human consumption of insects and is a common around the world. However in many countries, including Ireland, it is rare and can seem a little bit strange. Entomophagy is beginning to appear on our radars more and more, with fans hailing it as eco-friendly and an alternative source of protein in our diet. You can currently buy insect flour and insect protein bars, not to mention candy and chocolate varieties. We however decided to go a little more radical than cricket flour, we went for the real thing. By real thing, I actually mean insects breed specifically for human consumption and spiced up with curry and Thai flavors. The worst part of eating insects, in my opinion anyway, is holding them in your hand, with their eyes and wings still there. Even covered in curry powder, crickets just look like. Once you manage to eat it the taste isn't too bad. I'm not saying I'd be the first in line if they start selling them in Tesco, but the idea is much worse than the reality. Of course there's alot more to entomophagy than curry flavored mealworms, but it's a fun place to start and maybe finish too!

If you've tried snacking on insects I'd love to know what you thought!

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