To be honest, I was there to get some coffee. But then I sat down in this beautiful building just around the corner of the Red LUAS line at Blackhorse, Dublin and looked around me. This is an old building, but I couldn’t figure out what story it wanted to tell me.
Niall, my personal guide for the time spent there introduced himself before I walked down the hall to grab my cappuccino (it was alright, I really want to try lunch at The Mess Café). He took my big backpack (I just came back from a trip to the West coast) and put it into the locker room and was looking forward to showing me around. I was intrigued! Already, after only 5 minutes in a building I wanted to know more:
What is the (hi)story!?
After finishing my coffee and chatting away with the only customer but me, a family and military researcher, Thomas, who also reminded me of why I loved the Irish so much. Thomas was given a photograph of a British soldier which’s features could not have been closer to Thomas’. Since then, Thomas is doing major family research in genealogy to find out more about his family.
I was pleased to hear one family’s story before I headed into the history of the building which remained to be here. Fortunately, I must say. Because every building but three has been knocked down on the 17,000 acre field. So much history just went with that. But I suppose it was necessary.
The Richmond Barracks, now part of the Dublin City Council, are a former military base for the British Army stationed in Ireland from 1814. After the Easter Rising in 1916, and after the Free Irish State was founded the Irish Army used the buildings until 1922. The most interesting fact about the barracks is that more than 3,000 suspects of the so-called Easter Rising were behind bars there. Including every leader except James Connolly. It was mind-blowing to read and to hear all about it. Exceptional work has been done in the research concerning women in the revolutionary years.
77 women’s stories
In the recent exhibition called The Digital Quilt 77 women of the revolution are represented with their attributes on a three piece quilt. 77 contemporary female artists worked on the women’s stories and put it together to an extraordinary wall piece. The histories of the women all crossed the arches of Richmond Barracks since they were arrested and held at the barracks in 1916. I could not resist and bought the book about the 77 women to get to know history from another perspective. Or better: from more perspectives than just one.
Visit the graveyard next to the canal. Don’t hesitate to ask your guide for advice or more stories. Niall was very happy to tell me more about the barracks, the women’s stories and the museum itself.
When I last visited my second home Kildare, there was no chance for serious coffee (I’m sorry, you are all really precise about your tea, and it’s wonderful to be served perfect tea, but coffee is also very important). I suppose you could always walk down to Kildare Village to get some Starbucks, which is reasonably ok in comparison what was around but rather expensive for what you get. There is a third wave of coffee hitting the Emerald island like it is in Austria.
My favorite spots in Vienna are Jonas Reindl (with many guest roasters, like 3fc from Dublin), Café le Marché and Süßmund. Another funky coffee spot in the country, comparable to Kildare Town and Newbridge would be in Krems with FelixKaffee and Kaffee Campus Krems. If you are traveling to my beautiful home county, don’t miss those spots.
Coffee is about the right components and their balance.
When you taste coffee it shouldn’t be bitter or sour, it should be flowery, maybe with a hint of citrus or heavy chocolaty flavor. Italian coffees tend to be very toasty. Never taste coffee with milk – if you add milk your coffee turns into dessert which is fabulous too, but you do not get the real taste of your coffee. So go in, ask for maybe two different coffee blends (usually blended, but sometimes 100% from one territory and one variety) and get yourself an espresso each.
Your tongue, your gum and your throat, every little part of your mouth is structured to absorb taste and transfer it into „I like“ or „I dislike“ or „I’m unsure“. Also, trust in your guts (or your taste buds), if you don’t like a coffee the way it has been roasted, ask for an equivalent. Usually roasters in Third Wave shops are very happy to recommend you another type of coffee instead.
Cappuccino is dessert.
To be honest, I rarely drink espresso but in the mornings because I cannot do milk that early. For me cappuccino, latte, flat whites and any other milky coffee out there: DESSERT! You only want the best ingredients for your dessert, you want the best ingredients to top up your coffee. Why would you use skimmed milk with it? It will ruin your coffee. Remember, your coffee had a very long way to make its way into this particular cup in your hand. Many could have gone wrong already and you ruin it with this little sip of milk. So, back to thinking of milky coffee is dessert. You know it’s intriguing, it’s sweet and it’s coming with calories. But you won’t drink buckets of it (well, you shouldn’t), so it’s fine. Same as you do not eat several slices of chocolate cake (ahem…).
These two places in Kildare Town and Newbridge have opened my mind that the Third Wave has not only hit Dublin (Two Pups, Urbanity and many, many more) but also the country:
At town square you find your daily coffee fix next to Macari’s and the bus stop to go into Dublin or to Portlaoise. Really handy, because I usually just get myself a coffee before I jump on the bus. I really recommend to try their two roasts and pick from one of them to go with a dessert, hence milky, version. Or just stick with an americano (without milk, just add hot water). I love their little shop with gift cards (LaneyK) and wollen blankets too. You can either sit in or take-away.
Ubh means egg in Irish and that’s the main character of most of what’s on Ubh Cafe’s menu. Which you should definitely try when you are on a visit in Newbridge or just passing by this funky little town. You are in for a treat. Coffee-wise, I have to say, that I have never had better oat milk based cappuccino. Never. Foamy, sweet and it goes well with the house roasted coffee. If you call in you will see the mini roaster in the kitchen. So usually Mondays when the cafe is closed, it smells like chocolate in Georges Street. Staff is well trained and the barista know their way around the Third Wave of coffee – looking at other European coffee houses.
Tue-Fri 9am – 4.30pm
Sat-Sun 10.30am – 4pm
This article has not been sponsored by any of the corporates written about.
I know, I know. Iceland has been on travel bucket lists and on itineraries of cruise ships. Iceland has become very trendy for layovers before you hit North America. Iceland has been on the news due to masses of tourists entering this peaceful place. Restrictions?
No, do not restrict people to go to Iceland, but show them their wide ranged options. There are hundreds (more, thousands) of places you can stop, enjoy the views, eat, have picnics, listen to music or just hang out for a while. Simple as that:
Iceland is worth every single ISK. Every single euro. Every single dollar. And you will spend loads.
I decided to go to Iceland because friends of mine from the states were getting married. They picked the land of fire and ice to say Yes! and invited me to come along. Well, I am not the only one who followed their invitation. I know Marcus and Gwen from a while ago when I traveled the US east coast in 2012. I met up with them in Prague and Vienna, hiked Torres del Paine in Chile with them and became part of their travel group. As a matter of fact: I am very happy for them!
As well, I am very happy for myself to spend some crazy nice days on an island I would have not gone to this time of the year. These are some of the spots I recommend you to go off the beaten path:
Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavik and the Arctic Fox Rescue Center
As you know, I love stories. I love to tell them and I also love to listen to new ones. Iceland is full of stories and people who want to tell them. I stayed with Mila, in her Helgugata Guesthouse in Borgarnes at the West coast. It was a good deal to stay at her place because only 90 Euros per night, breakfast included is a cheap (plus comfortable) night. She has a three story house, very nice interior and magnificent friends. I met Masha, her friend from Georgia who now married to an Icelandic, lives there, collects Danish design objects and works for the police force as a translator. How cool is that?
From Borgarnes it is only a 2 hour drive to Hólmavik entering the Westfjords. Hólmavik is a charming and quiet little town but has two major attractions: The Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft and the Arctic Fox Rescue Center.
Fisherman Café, Restaurant and Hotel in Suðureyri
Hitting the Westfjords of Iceland was probably the best decision made. Why? Because there were barely any tourists around. Suðureyri is a little fisherman village which as only become part of mainland Iceland through a tunnel in 1996. I was absolutely fascinated of the beauty and rawness of the fjord belonging to Ísafjarðarbær. How did I find out of this special place? I looked up sustainably but touristically interesting tours in Iceland which were off the beaten path. Fisherman Seafood Trail was one of them.
Peter and Eva invited me to be part of one of their tours which was not only a pleasure but mind-blowingly interesting. My guide invited me to a historical, yet foodie tour around the village, starting at the place where the first farm was situated a few hundred years ago. While fishermen were trying to catch the best fish in this raw area between fjords and rough sea, the farmers went to use the little land they had to grow potatoes (only during 19th century) and winter veg. On the plus side their fjord still offers them geothermal energy which means heating, warm water and relaxing pools are not a problem at all. Other than that they figured out how to survive in conditions like these, off from everything else, only reachable through the seaway. They got their protein and fat through dried fish. Hung in open stalls in the winter they could collect it and eat only one filet per week. Of course I tried some!
And now with the hammer I feel like Thor!
In Suðureyri the fish factories gather the most income and help rise economy. Yet, they are wonderful examples how to use everything of the fish, even fish head. On the trail I tasted fish cakes and freshly made Plokkfiskur (see the recipe in the link) !
For a very special getaway from ‘mainland’ Iceland take the ferry to Heimaey, which is part of the Westman Islands archipelago. It is the only inhabited island of the islands south of Iceland with a population around 4.200. The Westmans or Vestmannaeyjar as it is called in Icelandic have a rich history but even richer is their flora and fauna. While walking through lava sand and stones bedded in moss you look up and see the beautiful volcanos Helgafell and Eldfell. The second one only appeared through a major eruption in 1973 when the whole island had to be evacuated to Reykjavik. Houses, streets and everything left were covered in volcano ashes. You can find out more about this tragic yet force of nature event at the museum Eldheimar. I was mostly impressed of how many photos and videos of this time were taken.
Plan your travels ahead
Rent a car or try to find someone to share a car with. I have found so many people traveling from Reykjavik to several destinations, only two or three people in the car. They have space. Use it!
After looking into bus times I decided to rent a car with Budget / Avis car services. It is very expensive and I would rather recommend a different deal. Look into local car rentals like SADcar. I have been following Route 1 and Route 60 for most of my travels there. It is concrete and very easy to drive on. You do not need 4×4 on your car. But it is always appreciated in Iceland to be prepared for the worst.
For going to the Westman Islands I decided to try public transport. I went with the local bus services Straeto (No. 52) to go to Landeyjahöfn to take the ferry Herjólfur to Heimaey. It is very inexpensive to go this way.
35 Euro for the bus ride (per direction)
12 Euro for the ferry (per direction)
More information about the Westfjords and Westman Islands. This trip was not sponsored or funded of any of the companies. I was happily invited to the Fisherman Seafood Trail.
When I hit Sligo Town in early June, I was absolutely astonished how great the bus took anybody to whichever place they wanted to go. I decided I would come back to stay in town another day and hit the beach in Strandhill for sandy toes and sunny freckles. Strandhill is about 20 minutes out of Sligo Town on the bus, viewing the two major hills Ben Bulben and Knocknea Mountain. Also, I heard about seaweed baths and exceptional surfing conditions. Plus, as I am always reaching out for great food, Shell’s Café was recommended to me of a friend.
I signed up for a 50 minute VOYA seaweed bath directly at the coastline. You have to make an appointment since their rooms are booked quickly, especially at weekends. Two types of seaweed which heal your skin and detox the madness out of you are soaked in a bath tub. Salty water with hot water are mixed with it and you jump in after about three minutes in the steaming room. The steam opens your skins pores, and the good stuff from the sea can really clean it. Stay hydrated, was one of the recommendations. Water is prepared for you on the side, you can also ask for different kinds of herbal tea. The seaweed folds upon you and your skin, you can even try to get more of the indulging lotion out of it (I popped the juice out of it… this sounds kind of dirty, but it really isn’t!). Don’t shower after your treatment. Even though you might think you smell like the sea (in a bad way) or like fish, the gel coming out of the plants recovers throughout the day on your body and is soaked in.
It didn’t really look great, but…
…it felt amazingly relaxing.
50 minutes of pure enjoyment (dirty again, I know) and relaxation to a cost of 28 euros are a very good deal.
After all, I was tired and very chilled, but also hungry. Nothing better than getting some great food from VOYA’s neighbor Shell’s Café. I decided to try Shell’s salad which turned out to be vegetarian and was absolutely amazing. Homemade bread and special cakes are on the menu everyday as well as vegan and vegetarian options. If the weather is sunny and happy, try to reach out for a spare seat outdoors – the sea is right there and you can watch people surf. The little store offers the perfect combination of little seaside souvenirs for loved ones and presents for yourself after a long, tiring day at the sea.
some summery salad it is!
So how did the surfing go, you might ask yourself. I chickened out. I was too afraid even though my AirBnB host Con told me I missed out perfect conditions on the shore. Damn it! But there are several 2 hours courses, or if you want to stay longer, week long courses to get yourself going on the board.
Instead I decided to hit sunrise on the Knocknea mountain. A hike which I was recommended of the Sligo Walks community. Their maps are correct and very informative. I got up at, hold your breath, 5.19am to miss real sunrise but find the sun rising above Ben Bulben into Strandhill. What a delight! It took me about 45 minutes to climb the top. At the peak you are not allowed to climb the real peak which is a pile of stones in honor of Queen Maeve’s death. So please do not pull out stones or climb the pile. Enjoy the views though…
What a panorama!
It’s just beautiful!
The morning sun hitting Ben Bulben
Sligo can be easily reached from Galway or Dublin by train or bus (cheaper!). I suggest to get an AirBnB or B&B in town. There is also camping with amazing views, so probably that is your cup of tea. Next time I will rent a bicycle because you can also just go to Sligo town (10km) and enjoy the landscape.
You might have asked you several times how to start being friends with people in creative industries or even better, becoming a pal of someone who actually works as an artist. I do not want to be rude, but no, that is not how you make friends. Since working at a museum which includes a residency program I was lucky enough to organize monthly get-togethers with artists from all over the world in different genres (architecture, music, visual art, literature). Through the AIR Artist In Residence program I have met around fifty artists in the last two years who I got a long with well, did not have a chance to talk any further or who just passed by my time schedule.
I met Conor through the residency program in November 2017. We only had very little time because he stayed for one month only, it was Christmas time and we were both really busy. From what I have observed back then was, that Conor watches and analyses his surroundings very thoroughly. He as a great sense of observation, is sensitive and interested in topics others would describe as taboo. In his daily practice observation is a relevant, if not the most important part,
“For me the art has to be a catalyst for other things, and the work you make has to be a catalyst for debate or discussion, something further. My real drive when I’m making work is to deal with themes like sexism, homophobia, otherness, and being able to describe how otherness – anything but the norm – feels …” Mayo News, 2015
The studio visit was great, because everything is in order…
…and there is also a sign of his residency in Krems.
Look at those precious little beauties!
You always meet twice…
I was delighted when I contacted Conor to meet up again in Ireland. I visited his studio where we talked about current issues like the Repeal the 8th referendum as well as the conflict with Northern Ireland in connection with his current home base in County Donegal.
Observing others in their otherness with sensitivity and calmness is probably what amazed me the most. We took the chance and went to visit several places in Donegal. Letterkenny was probably the most striking ones. As if you could feel the tension between two magnetic poles. Interestingly the Donegal Regional Cultural Centre hosts a variety of art exhibitions, focusing on photography, in a somewhat stunning architecture. The building is designed by local architects MacGabhann which shows how broad the Northern parts of the republic of Ireland are. What I liked the most about it was that Conor and I got a chance to see the already closed exhibition about the border.
Wherever I went with Conor, he was looking for traces of humans on walls, streets, cobblestones or bridges. Stickers, graffiti, street art or other material coming from passing by human beings. He even found a conversation between two teenagers in a playground slide (at least he assumed so). Now, Conor has not only opened my eyes to look at trashy stuff on walls – tags or badges – he inhabits outdoor spaces himself through interventions. I am really looking forward to his exhibition with the Westport Custom House Studios and more to come.
Follow Conor’s blog to learn more about his stories, thoughts and beautiful captures of reality.
It would be weird for me not to write about visual art. I have been working for artists, with artists, in galleries and museum spaces for almost ten years and have usually enjoyed myself. During my bus-roadtrip through Ireland I decided to go further South on the Wild Atlantic Way to visit a town called Limerick.
Limerick as a town has never been bright and shiny to me. Whenever I was there before, I tried to stay inside due to heavy rain or the chills outside temperatures gave me. This time, I visited Limerick with summery vibes and for a particular reason: EVA International!
EVA International takes place every other year and shows contemporary art in various venues. The venues around Limerick are special. Even the usual gallery space at Limerick City Gallery of Art showed off with some amazing work. I really appreciated Patricia Belli‘s monstrous chandeliers. I love their shades when hanging from the ceiling. I was struck by her work at the art gallery at first but the huge factory space at the former Condensed Milk Factory (and then Toffee factory) across river Shannon was another highlight for me.
An important impact on the Repeal the 8th referendum (May 25, 2018 – YES!) had the so-called Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eigth Amendment which also led to a procession for the opening of EVA International. The banners created and designed by the artists are show pieces in the factory.
Sustainable and renewable energy happens to be always on my mind and so far I have no clue how we get out of this story. We need energy. We are dependent on it. Besides, power plants as well as solar plants have structured our environment and are designed to stick around for long. Artist John Gerrad took a very close look at solar plants. Whichever work I have looked at always leaves me with questions. I find it very hard to distinguish between what is real and what is animated… John Gerrard’s Western Flag was part of donaufestival Krems (where I come from!). Small world.
EVA International is on show until July 8. Try to get out there and see it, it is so worth the travel.
In connection with the art fair I decided to join a group of people at Ormston House, a cultural resource center. Words are their weapons at Stanzas which is a monthly get together of poets, writers and authors to perform in public. In addition to the referendum which took place that day, their theme was Vox Populi . I was invited to listen to some great poems about democracy, youth, first world problems and why to use the word shit more often to release stress. Watch my Instagram stories to know what I am up to next, plus, there are Co. Limerick Highlights to catch up with!
Details for EVA International
Limerick City Gallery of Art,
Limerick City, V94 E67F
Details for Ormston House
Cultural Resource Centre
9-10 Patrick Street
Limerick City, V94 V089
This article is not an advertisement, I have not been invited of any of the named corporates.
For a sustainable lifestyle it’s not only important to know where your ingredients, your products and your clothes are coming from. I always try to take public transport. Of course, you are less flexible, you need to look at confusing timetables and the prices seem to be much more higher than just renting a car (which is a myth if you think about fuel and the renting fees). In particular when you are traveling in a group (in this case, I would actually recommend a car). Good points! But if you are traveling solo, like I do most of the time, I tend to have a lot more fun on busses and trains. You meet people, you get to know the surroundings better since you don’t have to concentrate on driving and you can take a nap. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case because I get stuck at the first two advantages of taking public transportation.
My recommendation if you think about taking the bus or the train is to look into prices. Busses (mostly Bus Éireann) are much cheaper and take you into town centre and to places afar from towns. You can talk to the driver to drop you at a different spot or ask where the best path for your hike is. Although you are not supposed to speak to the driver, they usually know their way around well to offer advice. Trains are only available in some towns and the railway system is not as widely connected as you might want to go. For instance, you cannot take a train to Donegal town. Train times are much more reliable than bus times since they do not get stuck in traffic. Plan ahead, and think about puffers for delayed busses (and trains). Always take a book (or better, an e-reader with you) and some music with you. The bus will arrive, eventually and will most of the time run smoothly. Going in and out of Dublin at rush hour is demanding. What is very convenient is that there is WiFi on public transport most times.
Visit Ireland in 8 days without a car
I chose to visit places in Ireland I have not yet visited. One of them is County Donegal, which is way up north, de-located and hardly reachable by public transport. The Wild Atlantic Way starts in County Donegal (or ends there, whichever way you look at it). It is so worth the trip! After visiting some places in Donegal and Northern Ireland, I decided to go down to County Sligo and visit the beach in Strandhill. After two relaxing days there, I took a long journey through Galway into Limerick, where I went to see EVA international. The bus taking me down to Cork drove me through beautiful landscapes, lots of green.
Trips taken in 8 days
I took ten trips on busses and trains in only eight days and decided to go to Coleraine, Northern Ireland, by car with a friend, which was free of charge.
You can easily work your way through with Google Maps or use Transport for Ireland which also comes with an app if you want it on your phone. I did not book way ahead which left me in the position to take whichever hostel had a free bed. So, for high season pre-book your accommodation via AirBnB, Hostelworld or whichever other platform you might be using.
This article has not been sponsored by any of the corporates named.