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Many people plan visits to Ireland and focus mainly on Dublin, Killarney, and the Ring of Kerry. Those places are beautiful and well worth a visit, but our Ireland travel recommendations always take you west and north where towns like Galway and Westport  and Sligo are waiting to greet you with live music, booming food and beverage scenes, art, and wild, rugged coastal scenery.

If you’re a fan of the outdoors, visiting Connemara, outside of Galway is a must. Hiking in the West of Ireland is my favorite way to get away, and the beaches are some of the most pristine you will ever see.

Just north of Connemara you’ll find the incredibly beautiful Achill Island, a place for hiking, taking in the Wild Atlantic Way, finding cozy pubs, and enjoying the peace and beauty of the West Coast of Ireland. 

Achill Island Mayo Ireland

On our most recent trip to Ireland, we spent two days on Achill Island. On our first, we arrived to darkening, stormy skies, which made for a dramatic scene as we drove around looking for a smidgen of sunset. The sunset on the West Coast of Ireland is also a must-catch every night you can.

  achill island

Since we were losing light quickly, we explored by car, stopping to take in photos and to turn our faces to the cool rain. Irish rain feels so good. It makes my skin feel so hydrated, and I just feel alive in general when I am out in it!

 

 

achill sound 

Once the sun went down, we retired to our hotel for an amazing dinner. I’ll cover that in a future post.

The following morning brought quite a different scene as the sun came out, blue skies greeted us, and a calm sea looked like glass that went on forever. When you get days like this in Ireland, you get outside!

wild atlantic way ireland

Up and over the narrow mountain road we went, marveling at the beauty of the coastline. No matter how many times I visit Ireland, I never get tired of it. Each day brings a new view and a new perspective that makes me fall  in love all over again.

achill island

Achill Island views Achill Island Achill Island

Keem Beach Achill Island

From taking in the Achill Sound views from cliff tops to exploring Keem Beach on foot, we squeezed every ounce of beautiful weather out of the day, and silliness ensued as I tried (and failed) to get the perfect jump shot!

Achill Island

Keem Beach is a quiet stunner with the softest white sand and gentle surf. Next time we’ll bring a picnic, a book, and a thermos of something hot to enjoy an afternoon out there snacking and snoozing. I’m dreaming of this day already. . .

famine village

 Achill Island Ireland

Our Achill Island wanders then took us to the abandoned famine village of Dooagh, perched high upon a hill. About 40 houses once stood here around 1838. The inhabitants left no written accounts behind, and archaeologists have been discovering clues into their lives and disappearance, with some news about the villages coming out just this month.  Accounts suggest that it was the famine that drove inhabitants from the settlement, either by death or to live elsewhere, as happened with millions of Irish people during the time.

Achill Island

 Achill Island

Achill Island is very quiet; dark starry nights are punctuated by curls of turf-fire smoke from chimneys and the sounds of traditional music escaping local pub doors. Other than that, you’ll hear the lapping of waves, a few cars, and not much else. For me, this is the perfect place to be closer to nature and away from all of the stresses of the modern world. If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, step off the beaten tourist track and consider some of my favorite, less-frequented places for a truly memorable vacation.

For even more Ireland travel blog posts:

Afternoon Tea at the Meyrick Hotel
Ashford Castle
Ballyconneely

Ballynahinch Castle

Belfast in Photos

The Burren and Kinvara – hiking in Ireland

Bushmill’s Distillery

Colorful Images from Ireland

Giant’s Causeway and North Antrim

Galway Saturday Market
Galway – Spirit One Spa and Sheridan’s Wine Bar
Hiking in Connemara

Hiking Errisbeg in Roundstone

Kinsale, Ireland’s Gourmet Capital

Kylemore Abbey

O’Grady’s Barna Pier

Photos of Galway

Sligo

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Tags: Achill Island, blog, Ireland, Ireland blog posts, Mayo, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, wild atlantic way

Why does it always seem that short weeks feel REALLY long? I am happy to watch this past work week fade away and to tackle a fun weekend ahead. Other than a late Saturday brunch with friends and some volunteering at the MSPCA, my plans are few. How about you?

Last night, we finally received our beautiful new Vissani wine refrigerator. As part of stocking the fridge, I also decided to catalogue all of our wine. Something like oh, 80 bottles later, I was done. I am going to do a separate post on our home wine list and keeping your home sufficiently stocked this weekend, so stay tuned. It was actually a lot of fun and not as time consuming as I had imagined! It made me realize we have a lot of wine from California, New England, and Sicily but not from too many other places. Must expand wine horizons.

It has been awhile since I have done a Friday Foodie Feature due to some fun and bloggable Thursday night events (Vino Voyage, Boston Wine Exchange tasting, to name a few) and I am excited to bring back the feature with a blogger many of you love, Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake! Tina’s was the first blog I ever read and was one of the blogs that inspired me to start blogging. I have had the opportunity to hang out with her a few times, and she is just as fun and down to earth as she seems in her blog, the perfect balance of healthy and fit with fun.  She is always super busy and working hard, and I am happy she had the time to be featured here today!

 

Vino Voyage, Healthy and Sane, Travel Eat Love, Carrots n Cake

How long have you been blogging?

Just about 2.5 years now. It’s crazy how time flies when you’re having fun!

What is your favorite thing about blogging? Least favorite?

My favorite thing about blogging is the community. I have met so many
incredible people and learned so much from the blog world. My least
favorite thing about blogging is the mean/negative comments. (What’s
the point?)

What has been your most fun blog post to write?

The post announcing that I resigned from my full-time job at Harvard.
The photo still cracks me up!

http://carrotsncake.com/2009/10/i-resigned.html

Where do you see your blog this time next year?

Hopefully, it will be trucking along at the same pace!

Is there anything else about your blogging experience you would like to share?

I never planned for blogging to become such a big part of my life, but
I’ve enjoyed nearly every minute of the adventure!

If you haven’t been to Carrots ‘n’ Cake, you should definitely go on over for your fix of healthy, delicious meals, fun workouts, beer, wine, and other fun.

Don’t forget that I will announce the winner of my wine and cheese giveaway tomorrow!

What are your weekend plans?

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Tags: blog, blogger, Carrots n Cake, Food, foodie, wine

Happy Birthday little blog! Time has passed so slowly and so quickly at the same time over the past year. In the life of a go-get-it type of person, patience is sometimes rare, and I have had my moments of wanting to give up this past year. I can’t thank YOU, yes you reading right now, enough for any and every time you stopped by this website over the year. Thank you! There’s a giveaway at the end of this big ol’ post to thank you a little more! :)

Lessons learned:

Photos are important. If you look back at some of my old posts, even a couple months ago, the photos are tiny and AWFUL. I am pretty proud of the improvement in my photos, even if a lot of times it is just because of chance and fiddling with the camera settings!

Every blog has its own voice. I don’t need to try to write like or live like or eat like anyone else. The more a blogger realizes this, the more he or she shines, and seriously, the more fun blogging becomes. It is a hobby for most of us, after all, though I would certainly take a blogging job!

Likewise, feeling jealous or competitive in the blog world is frustrating and pointless. It saps your own energy and takes away your voice a little bit. It may at times be hard to feel as though you are working hard at what you do and seeing other people get opportunities you would love to have, but it is all about patience, consistency and content. Keep readers coming back by writing what you love.    

Community is key. I have had so many great opportunities to meet and get to know other bloggers. Events such as the Healthy Living Summit, the Foodbuzz Festival, the Healthworks Blogger Bash, the Austrian Wine Tasting, lunch with the Stonyfield CE-Yo or just running get togethers have really given me the opportunity to network, make new friends, share frustrations, and find great new blogs. It’s actually pretty crazy how many bloggers I have met in real life! I also have loved having the opportunity to “meet” bloggers through my Friday Foodie Feature. . . and I need Foodies to feature for upcoming Fridays! Please email me if you would like to be featured!

Over the past year, I have also observed lots of blogger trends. As I kind of jump back and forth between being a healthy living blogger,a foodie blogger, and a wine blogger, I have to say that the most trends came from the healthy living world. On one hand, it’s great to learn about so many new foods/exercises, but on the other, it’s kind of interesting to see how much “jumping on the bandwagon” there is. And I am totally guilty of doing it too! As long as it’s a healthy bandwagon, I say get on board.

Trends I have adopted:

  • Green smoothies – all the way! I swear by these and their contribution to my overall health,energy levels, hair, skin and nails. I am drinking one right now: kale, blueberries, almond milk, banana, ginger, maca powder
  • Amazing Grass: I was a convert after my first taste. I KNOW that no matter how hard I try, I am missing things in my diet. Trader Joe’s Super Red Drink Powder is a very close second to Amazing Grass now in my diet.
  • Almond butter: I prefer to it peanut butter, but I think I have overdosed on this delicious stuff.
  • More natural, organic food. I did this before, but the year of blogging and lots of blog reading has REALLY got me looking at where my food comes from. Everybody wins!

Trends I never really got:

  • Smoothie in a Bowl (SIAB) and Oats in a Jar (OIAJ): never really saw the excitement of either!
  • Jillian Michaels: I just can’t watch her videos, I just can’t.

What trends have you adopted from the blogging world, and what trends have you bypassed? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

And now for the giveaway! I have worked with so many great companies over the year that have generously allowed me to do giveaways: Honest Tea, Good Health Natural Products, Blue Diamond, The Olive Press, Cabot, Equal Exchange, and Olivia’s Organics to name a few.

This one is from me to you: one lucky reader will win wine and cheese, a $25 gift card to wine.com and a $25 gift card to Cabot. It will, as always, be a random drawing which will take place this Saturday, June 5.

To enter:

1) Leave a comment on your favorite and/or least favorite blog trend!

2) If you have a blog link back to this giveaway.

3) If you are on Twitter or Facebook, give it a shout out.

Good luck, and thanks again for reading!

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