Piha Camping Vlog

A little late for the vlog this week, but better late than never! Tiernan has pulled together some of the best parts of our camping trip to Piha and I am really enjoying the memories.

We have written a companion post about how to camp like a kiwi (or really, camp like my family) over at Celt & Kiwi! Remember to check that out as well unless you read it back in January – in which case, you’re all good. This week’s new posts are going to be about trendy savings challenges and an awesome pub/restaurant in Bangkok – going up Tuesday and Thursday if you’re keen like mustard!

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Your Irish Working Holiday

Hi everyone!

For those who missed it – we’re in the process of migrating Rachel in Ireland to its new home CeltandKiwi.com

We’re taking the time to read through everything on this site and updating it for 2017. Looking back, some posts are more useful than others…

The first post to be refurbished is the immensely popular post about Working Holiday Visas for Ireland. Head on over to Celt and Kiwi to check it out!

Excerpt:

SO YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT A WORKING HOLIDAY IN IRELAND?

First thing – amazing! If this is your first year abroad – never fear, a working holiday is a like a baby step into the world of living abroad. You get to travel for a year and support those travels by earning money along the way. For the seasoned, Ireland offers diverse opportunities for work and a great lifestyle to go with it. It’s sure to compare with the best experiences you’ve had thus far. Think castles, countryside and lots, I mean lots, of stout…

Read more

Tiernan’s Trip to San Sebastian

Hi everyone! Tiernan’s taking another one for the team here. Which is very pertinent since we are in THE LAST TWO WEEKS OF RACHELINIRELAND.COM – more on that this Friday.

But first, let’s have a little look around the seaside city of San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Region. Tiernan managed to film a little bit during a quick work-related trip at the beginning of December. It looks like a beautiful little place! We will definitely try to get back there together and do some more exploring. Judging by the pub spreads, it really looks like the sort of place I need to visit!

Apparently it’s a bit like tapas, but not. The bars have food laid out. You order and drink and fill a plate, then you move on to another bar and do the same. And so on and so forth.

Apart from eating, Tiernan managed to get in a few decent walks. Two of the best tips for exploring a new European town are always:

  1. Head to the old town and,
  2. Head to the highest point

Tiernan managed to do both in one day!

Have you ever been to San Sebastian before? Any tips for a long weekend away there?

Why I can’t wait to go to the Belfast Christmas Market

merry christmas garlicThe lights went on across Ireland several weekends ago signalling the start of the festive season. Is it just me or does Christmas seems to be coming earlier every year? Every night I arrive home to more and more seasonal lights adorning my neighbour’s houses. And then there’s me. No lights. Not even a tree. Although it is only the first day of December, I feel as though I am very behind at Christmas even though the best of the season is still before us all.

With the fate of my Christmas tree hanging in the balance due to some Christmas Day travel this year, one thing remains absolutely certain: it’s time for my annual pilgrimage to the Continental Christmas Market in Belfast.

belfast christmas market

This market has set the Christmas Markets standard for me. Every year the green in front of gorgeous city hall plays host to a quaint village of wooden huts. Each selling a different and exciting treat or curiosity. Although it doesn’t change much year after year this market is consistently beautifully presented and complete with all the seasonal vibe you’re looking for. As you can imagine, I was super excited to hear that this year it has expanded to include 20 additional stalls outside the front of the market. The seasonal fervour must be building!

A trip to the market is not cheap – never cheap. Sometimes it is just best to do a calculated slow loop, looking at everything and then pick up a snack. Snack? I hear myself saying. The tasty treats on offer accounts for about 90% of the reason I am so excited for this year’s market. Check out the Progressive Dinner Menu at the end of this post!

As if I hadn’t said enough already, here is why we cannot wait for the Belfast Christmas Market!

Tiny pancakes

Tiny pancakes are an Ennis Family tradition dating back to 2012. The only time we have not had Belfast Christmas Market tiny pancakes has been when we were living between Manila and Auckland. But I spent a lot of time thinking about them in their absence.

Tiny pancakes have a name – pofitjes. They are of dutch origin and they are to die for. Served piled high on a paper plate, dusted with icing sugar and coated in at least two of your choice of toppings. Good job we took a picture – they didn’t last long!

tiny pancakes belfast christmas market

Predatory meats

You can find almost the entire tri-nations in burger form. I’m serious. Kangaroo. Impala. The world meats you can get here are notorious. Wouldn’t you love to say you’ve eaten an Alligator? That would soar you right to the top of the food chain! Aside from burgers, there are plenty of other things to eat. Huge sausages (as opposed to tiny pancakes) seem to be really popular every year. They come in ‘eat me now’ and ‘take me home’ varieties. My mouth is watering…

sausages christmas market stall belfast

So many kinds of fudge

Are you picking up on my food theme? Basically, Tiernan follows me stall to stall as I drool. That’s our entire market experience. There are several stalls offering fudge and nougat in all the flavours imaginable. They’re even better than the Berty Bott’s Every Flavour Beans from Harry Potter because they have only the good flavours – but ALL the flavours.

fudge belfast christmas market

I also saw a stall selling giant chocolate kisses. The bullet shaped delights boast a similar plethora of flavours. I can’t believe I managed to walk away out of there alive.

Beard care

When I am stuck for gift ideas I always end up going to the quirky. Bird feeders have been an attraction for me in past years. They make a mean bird feeder in Belfast. Sometimes it’s worth delving deeper into the market to find something unique. Ceramic garlic grating dishes, figures made or metal, or the gift I got for Tiernan – BEARD BALM. Although the photo I took was of the Beard Oil…

beard oil belfast beard company

For all those bearded men out there The Belfast Beard Company has a stall dedicated to caring for the beard. They even sell beard baubles – now too cool to be hipster. All of their scents are named after some extremely Belfast phrase. We chose a balm scent called craic. Delicious.

So much soap

When you’re a Belfast Christmas Market regular you really start to pick up on the trends. You know there is going to be a soap stall. Normally Belfast Soap Company (see a theme) but they sadly closed their doors earlier in the year. I’m not sure who the replacement will be, but there will definitely be soap at this year’s market.

lavendar belfast christmas market

I love a bit of soap, myself, but am not a big user of the traditional bar. It’s the smell of them that I like. Is that weird? The relaxing power of lavender, my friends, it’s a real thing!

Official Christmas Market Progressive Dinner

The best way, in my humble opinion (heh), to get the most out of this market is to do a progressive dinner. Start with some sides or snacks then make your way around the market in search of the next course. Here are some of our top suggestions:

Sides: Consider some pommes frites from one of the sausage dealers, some sweet potato fries, or even a small serving of muscles.

Mains: Of course there is pizza and those huge European sausages in bread. But what you really need is one of those strange meats in a burger. Maybe a bit of paella (which doesn’t exactly go at all – but who cares, right?). Definitely bring some friends. Buy options and share a bit of each.

Wash it down: the mulled wine stall will be back. You can also find gourmet hot chocolate to inspire you on towards dessert. Did you know the market has two pubs? Because it does. Lavery’s has a traditional Irish pop-up pub right across the footpath from a continental style beer hall.

Dessert: Everyone struggles at this part. There are too many options! Crepes with almost any topping imaginable, churros with Nutella or my favourite, TINY PANCAKES (get in me).

To take home: Get a bag of that fudge or wrap up a chocolate kiss to take home for later!

Where would you say are the world’s best Christmas Markets? Tip me off in the comments. Also please let me know how you’ve liked this inaugural post of Celt & Kiwi!

Belfast Christmas Market will run until 6pm on Thursday 22nd December 2016. For full hours, see the Belfast City Council Website.

My Travel Bucket List for 2017

On the way to IKEA on Monday I threatened Tiernan with the prospect of planning our holidays for next year. I usually have a fair idea by now of what travel the following year will hold. Until recently I haven’t managed to think any further than December; when we depart on our 8 week holiday to New Zealand. Whoop!

Tonight, after writing my 1700 words for NaNoWriMo and after watching an episode of The Crown (which is OMG), I sat quietly for a bit and thought about the things I would like to do next year. There are a great many places I would like to go in general (salute). But this is the list of what I think I could manage next year… maybe.

So, here is my trip wishlist for 2017. Some are planned, some are pre-planned and some are just all-things-going-well hopes. I decided to do something different and split them into my top five long hauls and top five city breaks.

Top Five Long Hauls for 2017

1. New Zealand

I’m putting this one in because it’s the only one I know is definitely going to happen! We’re going on an extended holiday to finally do all those backyard things I never did when I lived in New Zealand. It’s going to include many instances of camping, hiking and even an overnight kayak. Unless you already live in New Zealand, be prepared for some serious trip envy!

2. Norway

This would be a Northern Lights adventure sometime around November. Tiernan and I have wanted to do a trip like this for some time. We considered Iceland or the north of Canada but Norway seems like the place to go. It would be a real investment in an experience, though. So we shall see if that comes to pass.

3. New York City to Orlando, USA Roadtrip

Another big dream that will probably end up smaller – if we manage to do it at all. This trip may end up being and NYC city break. Although I would also settle for a trip to the US deep south. My fantasy is a months-long road trip around the whole of the States. Realistically, it will probably get chopped up into legs to be tackled one at a time.

4. Gorilla Trek in Rwanda

Ok, maybe this is reaching a little too far. I don’t think this one will happen next year, but it would be cool if it did! I actually saw this in my Facebook ads feed (because Google is watching me). Fortunately my ads are really we geared towards me – so Gorilla trekking is on the list!

5. Petra, Jordan

A real bucket list destination! Everyone has to see this wonder once, right? The only thing putting me off is that it must be on everyone else’s bucket list, too. And therefore crawling with tourists. So maybe not…

Top Five City Breaks for 2017

1. Bruges

Bruges is the storybook town I have always wanted to see in person. Probably the most bucket-listy thing on my bucket-list. This is one town that had been on the list for a very long time. Perhaps it’s time to tick it off?

2. Prague

I mean, of course.

3. Athens

Ever since my camera broke at Delphi, I have wanted to go back to Athens on a nice day and spend it photographing ruins. Although I have been there before the memories are so hazy and unsupported by photos that I may as well have stayed home!

4. Copenhagen

You know, I can’t remember why Tiernan and I said we would go here. After out France-Italy road trip in 2013, I began planning one through Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. It never eventuated, but I clearly remember us both wanting to go to Copenhagen. So maybe 2017 is the year?

5. Valencia

My friend Brigette’s idea. Would be neat to get to go for Las Fallas fire festival! At the very least it will be a chance to eat paella. Mmm…

Where are you off to next year? Or where would you like to go?