Richmond Barracks: A Different Kind of (Hi)Story

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.

 

Richmond Barracks
Approaching the barracks © Lucie Taeubler

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.

Richmond Barracks

Richmond Barracks

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.

Richmond Barracks

Old Bulfin Road, Inchicore, Dublin

Monday-Friday, 10am – 4pm

Saturday only with pre-bookings

Sunday closed

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Offbeat in Iceland

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?

Iceland

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!

The couple!
The beautiful couple Gwen & Marcus

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.

Arctic Fox

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.

Fjords, Sudureyri

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!

Fisherman Iceland

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) !

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Westman Islands

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.

Westman Islands At the very South, Westman Islands

Two Volcanos, Westman Islands

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!

Beauty of a car

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.

Iceland

Summer in Sligo

On my road trip on the Wild Atlantic Way I decided to spend some time in County Sligo which is close to Donegal, where I also spend some days wandering around. To be honest, I am a huge lover of the seaside and whenever I get the chance to dip my feet into proper sea salty water, here I am!

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Irish sunset. Just absolutely stunning. © Lucia Täubler

Seaweed, Surfing and Shells Café

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.

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.

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…

How to…

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.

Strandhill_02
Or just fly here… © Lucia Täubler

What to do in Sligo this summer:

For more information just visit Sligo Tourism.

To June Fest in Newbridge

June Fest
June Fest starts June 1 until June 24 in Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Although festivals have not come across my mind for the last couple of years (I dislike trashed places, non-flush toilets, tents) I am really looking forward to June Fest in Newbridge. Partly, because it will be my first festival attendance in Ireland after Electric Picnic in 2011 (total awesomeness at Arcade Fire!), partly, because I am looking forward to the folky-indie line up presented. Also, fancying a day off in the country? Take the train or go by car, it’s just outside Dublin…

It’s about music, arts, literature, history and all of us participating!

I’d love to meet some of you at the festival launch, June 1 with Kildare Art Collective Art Trail, music in the park (hopefully only a few raindrops) and an indoor gig of Vagabonds & Thieves.

What I am actually really looking forward to is the launch of two exhibitions at the Riverbank Arts Centre:

Home Is Where The Art Is

I always liked the saying Home is where the heart is because it is so true. Usually you’d only need some people around you who you trust and like and it feels like home. Or in case of this exhibition, you only need some great art surrounding you to be home.

Youth groups have been invited to work with visual artists and created pieces which will be shown at the Children’s Gallery. I am so delighted to see this reach out program for children and youth taking place publicly.

Riverbank Arts Centre, June 7-28

M7 – Michael Holly 

I have learned early in my various holidays, vacations and long-term stays in Ireland, that the M7 (Motorway 7) has been and still is a relevant road from Dublin towards the South (Kilkenny, Waterford, Cork) / West (Limerick). Motorways to me are places in-between. You don’t really belong there, you want to go somewhere, you just cross it to get to the junction to take off. But there are people living at, closely and working at motorways. The travelers are their customers.

Michael Holly documents the M7 with an artistic view. He walks, talks and exchanges stories with people living at the motorway as well as taping his journey.

Riverbank Arts Centre, June 9-29, artist talk on June 23

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June 16 – a night full of music

This might be the highlight of June Fest. Why? Because Super Extra Bonus Party are the first local bands I have listened to in 2008. I attended several gigs, watched their videos and really liked what they are doing musically. And now, they are bringing their friends: Ships, Share and The Comstocks are performing as well.

How’s that, June?

Oh, on top of all this, there will be family fun, markets and so much more going on. I am also really interested in how the knitting bombs are going …

For further information and details lined up, just visit the June Fest website or their facebook page.

 

With Your Body

Traveling can be really exhausting. Hours on planes, busses or in cars means putting yourself into a very still position: sitting. I have chosen to cycle and to walk for most of my journeys. But you need some distraction from what you have been doing the whole day.

Yoga

Yoga means ‘union’ or ‘connection’. In Sanskrit, the word ‘yoga’ is used to signify any form of connection. Yoga is both a state of connection and a body of techniques that allow us to connect to anything. (Science of Awakening Self-Awareness)

I have learned that not only stretching but the combination with breathing helps me to relax and regenerate.

Adriene has told me some great moves around traveling and how you get yourself open and stretched, strengthened and healthily flexible. In her 2018 20-minute yoga dip-in, she talks about traveling:

 

Running

 

Exploring a new area or town where you have traveled to through taking a run is mostly enriching. Usually, I decide to step outdoors early in the morning to indulge the first sun rays. Also, I like empty streets, morning groans and waste collection services strolling through last nights parties. I think the colors are different. Running relaxes my mind and I can make plans for the day: where will I go? Who will I meet? What will I wear today? Running is basic and simple.

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Explore Dublin in your running shoes. © Runtastic, Lucie Täubler, 2017

Overload

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I have had two major experiences which told me that my body is most valuable. I really need to feel comfortable and healthy while traveling. Firstly, I remember last summer’s road trip to Albania, which I absolutely loved to bits. I might have had some bad food, drank some tap water or there was a virus concerning digestion in our hiking crew. I will always remember how miserable I felt spending hours over hours in a car, wishing for a toilet. Any toilet. Secondly, it was not long ago, when I went to walk Caminho Portuguese and suddenly felt my achilles tendon swelling up for no reason but overwork.

Never forget, you need your whole body (including a healthy mind!) for traveling.

Have you had similar experiences on the road? Please share them with me.

At Caminho Portuguese

I have learned from several films about St. James way in Portugal or Spain or even in France (Saint-Jacques … La Mecque or Ich bin dann mal weg) that the Pilgrims’ hostels/auberges are crap. I am sorry. I know you should clear out, push yourself to a limit and sleep with 40 other people in a room. Maybe to connect or to share your stories. No.

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Following the yellow arrow through Northern Portugal leads you through small villages and happy greetings of the Portuguese people.

As I already told you, my mam and I were planning to walk parts of the Caminho Portuguese because it is supposed to be beautiful, mind-blowing and extraordinary. Well, it is! We did it and picked those lovely quintas, run by wonderful and charming people. Spend more than just one night there, take a weekend trip to the Portuguese country, just outside Porto. If you choose to take a car it’s simply 30 minutes from Porto, you can also rely on bus- and train service.

Enjoy the quiet. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the greatness of life.

Quinta da Cancela in Balugães

You arrive at Jorge Pedro Reis and Graça Viana Reis’ casas and feel like home immediately. After a long day of walking I arrived, sweaty and hot with swollen feet and exhausted legs, at Jorge’s quinta which seems to be heaven on earth. Orange trees blossom and have fruit at the same time, cold spring water collected in a fountain where I could cool my feet. Places to sit down and chill out, relax: everywhere. Architecturally, the old quinta has been refurbished and reinstalled, but got also some new adaptions. You have the option to stay in one of the three casas (Eira, Quinta or Lagar).

 

From Balugães you can easily take two or three day hikes to explore the countryside or simply stay in and read. You can even enjoy the seaside, the rough and wild Atlantic Ocean is right around the corner; it showed itself tender and nice as well this time. Also, book yourself a dinner for just 30 Euros and enjoy Portugal’s culinary to the fullest:

Contact

Jorge Pedro Reis
Rua Cândido Batista de Sousa, 275
4905-031 Balugães
+351 964 075 700
geral@quintacancela.pt

Antonio’s Quinta São Miguel de Arcos

Reaching Antonio José Rodrigues’ wonderful quinta in Arcos is a pleasure. For your feet and your heart. The very small town lies in-between seaside (Vila do Conde) and countryside (Barcelos). It felt like traveling back in time. I opened the huge wooden door and wandered through stone houses, bright alleys and extraordinary gardens. Staying in one of the apartment rooms with kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom, you have total privacy. But I even had the pool to myself (yes, the pool!). Unfortunately, late April after a season of just rain it was too early to go for a swim, at least for me. But May should be fine to enjoy the pool.

Stay here as long as you want. You can drive, walk, bike or whichever vehicle you choose to Barcelos, the closest town and enjoy the heaps of Portuguese wine. Vinho Verde is the wine region called and also its wines Northwest of Porto. I was offered to enjoy the “green wine” most of the time. António makes his own wine, just for fun and for friends.

If you are busy getting married, the Rodrigues’ place is your choice of heart. They own a beautiful wedding parlor, with gardens connected and serve amazing food. Plus: you can stay right there after ceremony and party.

Contact

António José Rodrigues
Rua da Igreja, 209 Arcos 4480-018 Vila do Conde
+351 919 372 202
ajr@quintasaomiguel.com

Pictures of my Caminho Portuguese adventure:

Caminho Portuguese 2018

Sustainable Glamping with Style in Carinthia

I really do not like the word ‚Glamping‘ which is a combination of Glamour and Camping. Why don’t I like it? You might ask yourself, and still it’s in the title. Well, I had the chance to travel with Austrian Umweltzeichen (find out more about Umweltzeichen here) to three different camping destinations – without a tent. The camping fans around here might shout out loud, Then that’s not camping at all!

I agree. But still, I had the advantages of camping – being within a natural surrounding, close to a river, a little aside of the next village and: in peace.

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So where is that, this peaceful camping I am talking about? I found it in three camp grounds in Carinthia, the southern parts of Austria.

Alpencamp Kötschach-Mauthen 

#umweltzeichen Tag 2

The more Sepps, the better

Again? Another Sepp?, I thought to myself when I met Sepp Kolbitsch, the dynamic founder of Alpencamp in Kötschach-Mauthen. He is the second one within the last 24 hours. The last Sepp I have met was rather far away – speaking of Austrian distances – and was called Brandstätter, producing Gailtaler White Mais. This Sepp really made me dizzy after a few minutes. He is passionate of what he does here in Kötschach-Mauthen. He talks about the development of Alpencamp, his research with TU Vienna, his ideas and of course his plan for me in the next couple of days.

I will show you our general heating which is easily accessible for visitors. I know, it will be extremely technical but I want to let you know how we use our resources. – Sepp is starting of with some basics about his research project around the camp ground which can be looked up online. The heating is close to the main building and is able to learn. It is in charge of warm water which means it saves the heat and even stores it, to pull it off when a lot of camping guests want to shower at the same time (in different showers…). It amazes me how sustainable a camp ground can be.

We try to save water everywhere, we know how precious it is. We invested in sustainable shower heads. Instead of 20 liters per second, we cover only 4 liters per second, which is a huge difference… – Is that a problem if you want to wash your hair,… like long hair? – Not really, is the quick and true answer. The amount of water and pressure are perfect.

The food

Go to Valentinalm! It was total delisih to try their Kärntner Kasnudeln (Carinthian special pasta filled with cheese and covered in buttery chives)

Be active

After spending the morning at the camp house (made out of wood) take a run at the stream Gail which passes by. Or give the e-mountain bike a try.

Also, the amazing hiking paths around Kötschach-Mauthen are worth a try. Sepp number 3 turns out to be Sepp Lederer, who takes me to Plöckenpass to the Italian border. Mauthen, one part of the double village, is a Hiking Village (Bergsteigerdörfer) and Sepp is the main guy to ask about hiking paths, stories around hiking and flora around here. He has written several botanical books… so if you are there, try to find him!

Camping Rosental-Roz

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Quantastic!

Just a few kilometers from Gailtal into Rosental at the Slovenian border you find Gotschuchen. The wonderful camp ground is at a small lake. And here, there is it: peace! Katharina Kupper-Wernig and her team are full of energy and good vibes – they might not even stress out in peak season. Funny as it is, I am meeting the first guest who arrived at the camp ground 40 years ago. He was purely equipped for rain when he came here – and it was pouring rain for days – and he found shelter here. So I am glad, Camping Rosental-Roz is also made for non-camping experts.

Are you interested in quantum physics? I have found out that next to the main house Katharina’s husband Samo – himself researcher and professor for quantum physics – build EXPI (House full of experiments). It is a huge try out laboratory for children and adults. You may be working with the CERN or how acceleration of gravity works out…

Camping Rosental-Roz is due to its owners always space to be researched to be more sustainable.

The food

No one can beat Katharina’s breakfast. More! More? More! And of course she uses local products from the village our close by. The marvelous honey is produced by Michael Mlecnik who lives just around the corner.

Be active

Just walk to Radsberg, which is located North to river Drau. Apart from hiking you can also try paragliding.

But again, running is a very simple task next to a river. In Gotschuchen and around the small village there are several trail-running paths.

 

Ferien-Erlebniswelt Mössler

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Mystical mysterious Lake Millstatt

Finally it is raining and the drive to Lake Millstatt shows how mysterious Carinthia can get. At Ferien-Erlebniswelt Mössler I meet Georg Mössler who owns the campsite in Döbriach. Again, he is like Sepp and Katharina innovative and takes a lot time to research into new ways to save energy and water. There is enough space for families to hang out and play, to young or old couples to spend their holidays or to camping newbies to try out the mobile homes. I love the pool (Hello, Clamping!) and my little walks through the rain to the lake. On the way you pass several trees which refer to Celtic times. I imagine myself sitting there and relax. Or even meditate. Do yoga.

Döbriach offers a lot of options to spend rainy afternoons in the museum – like Sagamundo or just have a coffee and relax at the terrace.

The food

After a few hours on the mountain bike (with out e-) I am always really hungry. Charly’s See Lounge directly at the water is like beach but without the sea. Have a salad! It’s absolutely delicious! Oh and of course there is also beer. Uli Bacher, beer lover and brewer, opened a brewery not long ago: Shilling.

Be active

You can do so much here! One of my highlights was Gottlieb Strobl’s rowboat trip from one end to the other. I have never rowed before and was pretty messed up after a little go… but see yourself…

And as I already said, biking is huge here. You can go round the lake in just one day, 39k, up and down, sometimes with a great view onto the lake, sometimes in the forest.

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I am so happy I made my way down to the southern parts of Austria to meet three wonderful Sepps, Katharina, Georg and their families who understand how to innovate their camp sides and to make glamping great again. 😉

Find more pictures here.

*Thanks to Umweltzeichen for organizing this trip and for my travel partners Elena, Sabine and Tom and Angelika.