Gleann Dearg – Dunquin, Ireland

The second to last night of my trip was spent in the Dunquin settlement, at a guest house by the name of Gleann Dearg. Dunquin is the most westerly settlement in Ireland, but not a terribly formal settlement near as I could tell. More a rural cluster of houses and business, without  much of a city center. When I was dropped off at the guesthouse to wait for my group I was advised there wasn’t really anything to walk around and see other than the museum which was closed and the harbor which was a bit away.

I was again dropped much earlier than my group was set to arrive. And without anything to go out and explore I chose to stick around the property. The guesthouse is a part of a working farm. The owner of the guesthouse when I arrived was out in the fields. I was shown to my room a sweet little attic type room with an a-line ceiling and the most comfortable twin beads I have ever sat on.

In the absence of much to do I showered, organized by bags for the next day. Made some tea and sat in this little window box to read Northinger Abbey which I found in the downstairs sitting room. My group showed up a couple of hours later just in time for dinner. Given there wasn’t much of a town, there weren’t restaurants their so the lovely ladies at Gleann Dearg made up a three course meal. We were served a zucchini soup, a chicken and eggplant main course and a meringue desert in a lovely summer room complete with grape-vine ceiling.

We were served again for breakfast in a similar warm style in the summer room. I was going to brave the walk for the day. In my eagerness I was ready to go earlier than the rest of my group. So I spent some time wandering around this lovely property.

In doing so I met one of the sheep dogs, who was VERY eager to heard me around the property. He herded me to the stick pile and we played fetch until my group was ready.

All in all I think this was my favorite place we stayed. Not that I disliked any of the others. But there was something incredibly warm and inviting about this guesthouse and the wonderful owner. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to feel like a true guest and a member of the house hold with the in-house meal and the homelike feel of the house itself.

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Coastline House B&B – Dingle, Ireland

Our hotel in Dingle was the Coastline House B&B. It is an incredibly nice hotel at the end of town overlooking the water. The rooms were the largest we had for the trip, the bathrooms were updated and the house clean, bright and terribly comfortable. Wi-fi was available as well as tv’s and the what was now becoming a typical in room tea and coffee service.

After the group returned and we were all properly cleaned up and dried off, we set about trying to dry out everyone’s essential wear for the next day. Socks, shoes, everything was set up on the radiators to dry out and when we returned from dinner and they still weren’t done we set about attacking things with hair dryers.

The dining room was downstairs next to the front lounge area, like the rest of the hotel it was bright and clean. The food was amazing. A large buffet of breads and cereals were set up for us. And then made to order hot food was brought out for everyone as well. Once again we left feeling full, offered a packed lunch and off everyone went the next day.

The Old Anchor Inn B&B – Annascaul, Ireland

Our third night was spent at The Old Anchor Inn B&B in Annascaul. It was a very lovely little place, as it turns out all of our locations were quite nice. Once again when we showed up our bags were waiting for us and the owner was ready to hand off our keys and let us settle in.

I was so tired I forgot to take pictures, but I did manage to snap this shot while I was laying on my bed contemplating if my blistered feet could handle another day. None the less I promise that the place was lovely, very clean and simple. Offering up Wi-Fi service once again, tv’s, very cozy bedding and the typical tea and coffee service in each room.

The main floor of the b&b was a dining room which looked to serve up food to the public for lunch and a lounge. All the rooms were up a flight of stairs. Ours faced out onto the street we had just walked down and a house with a sweet little yard. Which turned out at 5am to be not a yard but a cow field as evidence by the very hungry and very noisy cows that woke me up trying to eat the leaves off the apple trees that were growing next to said house.

The evening we checked in we made our breakfast order, which had been fairly typical practice thus far. We hit the pub next door for a bit, then came back and cleaned up for dinner. I had to make the hard choice to not hike the next day and called our tour company to arrange a ride for me the next day. Then after dinner, which went rather late since we were having so much fun at the South Pole Inn, we all went to sleep.

The next moring after my cow alarm I got dressed, met everyone for breakfast, packed up and then hit the streets of Annascaul to explore. As cute and charming a town as it was and as much nightlife as it seemed to have it wasn’t large enough to keep me occupied for the few hours I had so I returned to the b&b where the owner let me sit in the lounge and wait for my ride.

Finglas House – Camp, Ireland

As I mentioned, the second we would get to our rooms after each day our bags would explode. The hiking bootes would come off, clean clothes found and often a quick lay down was needed before dinner. Hence the horrendous picture of our room. Aside from the thrown aside bedding and the opened bags, the point however is to point out that while our accommodations along the way were not always fancy, they were clean and comfortable. Which is exactly what we needed given the type of trip we were on.

Day two ended in Camp and as previously mentioned this is in fact the name of a town. This was also the first day we had experienced the baggage transfer done by our touring company and as promised our bags were awaiting our arrival in the lobby of our guesthouse. We were greeted by a very lovely woman named Kathleen who owns the Finglas Guesthouse. She showed up to our rooms and then the exploding of the bags happened. Then off to the Ashes Pub for dinner which I talked about in a previous post.

After dinner and a shower I set myself up in the lovely second floor lounge. There was tea and cookies provided by Kathleen, which I took full advantage of. The rest of the group congregated after their respective adulations and we spent a lovely evening planning our next day.

Thanks to jet lag I was up bright and early. Dressed, repacked and ready to eat breakfast approximately and hour before it was ready. C’est la vie. Breakfast was severed on time in the downstairs dining room that overlooks the bay. There were a variety of options, I of course chose the “Full Irish” plus coffee, toast and a little more coffee. It was perfection as expected from the quaint little place. We were also given a sack lunch again, this time a suspect sandwich and chips. My chips were cheese and onion, though there was a chicken flavor floating around in one of my groups sack lunches as well. Turns out the suspect sandwich was cheese and tomato which was quite good. Chips weren’t bad either.

 

Salishan Resort – Lincoln City, Oregon

This spring we took a quick jaunt to the coast to relax and just be away from things. The late winter/early spring is hard in Oregon, it’s about the time we all start to go a little crazy from all the clouds and rain. Having the trip to look forward to certainly helped eliminate some of “okay I am all done with this now” thoughts that are constantly circling around in my brain that time of year.

We chose to head down to the central part of the coast, and spend our few days at the Salishan just south of Lincoln City. The resort is lovely, spread out over a large swath of land. Part forest part golf course with three main building complexes and room buildings scattered around the property.

The rooms themselves are wonderful, they have a variety of sizes, we went with the base king sized room which had a mini kitchen and a fireplace, as well as the usual bed, balcony, bathroom and seating area. It was built in 1961 and remains the premier golf resort on the coast.

The main complex houses the registry desk, restaurants and a bar as well as conference rooms and the pool accessed by outdoor breezeways. The restaurants overlook the gold course and provides ample indoor and outdoor seating.

The sports complex is up the hill down a few winding roads (walkable via foot path if you wish to hoof it) and provides access to basketball courts, tennis and golf rentals.

The spa complex is back down the main entry road across the highway, also accessible via foot path, but there is ample parking if dashing across a busy highway isn’t your thing (there is a traffic light and cross walk though).

We had grand designs to explore the coast all weekend, and you can very easily given the resorts central location. However we wound up just settling in to a cozy routine of eat, walk, read, swim, repeat that we wound up doing very little else in the end. We really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

 

The Tralee Park Guesthouse- Tralee, Ireland

The first night of our Ireland trek was in Tralee. We were collected at the Kerry Airport by our tour company and dropped at the charming Tralee Park Guesthouse.

The driver called the owner of the inn and waited until the door was opened for us, often these smaller inn’s and b&b’s keep their doors locked 24hours a day. Guests are given a front door key as well as a room key. Once we were introduced to the owner we were shown our rooms and left to our own devices.

Since it wasn’t a large hotel the lobby was small, but clean and bright. There was entire wall of brochures to help plan your trip. Given we were already on a schedule though we had no need for them. The dining room was downstairs, a small but cozy room that made to order breakfast for those staying. Options ranged from a Full Irish Breakfast (which we quickly came to love) to a light meal of cereal and fruit. There was also a buffet of breads and fruit as you waited for your meal.

The rooms themselves were lovely, high ceilings with classic European decor. Which included a very modern bathroom and an electric kettle with a variety of instant coffees and teas. It also, as did all our accommodations, had wi-fi which was appreciated. The beds were incredibly comfortable. Don’t judge the inn based on my pictures, our bags sort of self exploded when ever we got into our rooms. For more information and good pictures see their website. Good pictures or not though it was a perfect way to kick off our first night.

Hotel Condon – Condon, Oregon

Condon Oregon was established in 1893, named by the first post master David B Trimbel after Harvey Condon whoes firm first sold the townsite lots in 1884 after having acquired the land from a local homesteader. The town was once the last southern stop on the Union Pacific line that ran down from the Columbia River. And like most towns in Oregon when the trains stopped running the people stoped coming.

The hotel sits on the main street of town, which thanks to an 1998 initiative has been listed on the National Registry of Historic places and has enjoyed some refurbishment money. Some new businesses have opened up including a number of excellent restaurants, a gift and bookshop as well as the theater and of course Hotel Condon.

Hotel Condon was first opened in 1920. It has been updated with modern amenities and offered complimentary breakfast as well as a wine and cheese reception in the evenings. Our room was just lovely, bright and clean. Updated with comfortable furniture, wi-fi and television. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine and cheese, which we ate outside as it was such a wonderful evening. Then we got burgers to go from down the street and hung around our room. I would highly recommend the hotel, even if it weren’t the only place in town.

Wonderful Ireland Walking Holiday

Traveling is a very unique thing, you have to balance how far out of your comfort zone you are willing to go, with the kind of creature comforts that will ultimately keep you sane while your whole world is turned upside down. Traveling is wonderful and adventurous and important to  knowing ourselves and enjoying life, but it is also hard and scary. So knowing what you want out of the experience and what you can handle are very important when booking travel.

If you do not want to spend 8 hours a day walking through the middle of nowhere or if you do but you want to rough sleep in the wilderness then Wonderful Ireland Walking Holidays is not for you, and that is absolutely okay. But if you want to see things off the beaten path, get a lot of fresh air and exercise but you also want the safety net of an emergency out in case anything happens then read on my friends.

Wonderful Ireland Walking Holidays offers several self guided walking tour vacations throughout Ireland. We chose the Dingle Peninsula tour which is 112 miles split up between 10 days of walking. Some of my group did the whole loop, I however opted for the shorter trip. I started with my group and then left after 5 days of walking. The company offers a variety of options for the peninsula from 3-10 days.

Included in the cost of the tour is airport/train station pickup and drop off. Booked rooms which include breakfast and sack lunches. Luggage transfer from inn to inn so you don’t have to carry your bag with you. Maps, guide-book, emergency cell phone, and hiking poles if you want them.

I wound up hurting myself on day two, so I can attest to how helpful and kind the individuals at the company are. I called on what we took to calling the “bat phone” the morning of a day of hiking, they organized a private ride for me from one town to the next. They showed up on time and I didn’t have to pay for the ride as it was included in the tour price.

The accommodations that were booked for us were above and beyond our expectations. Every single inn was clean, comfortable and the owners incredibly kind.  The food was exceptional every night and the sack lunches exactly what one would need for a 14 mile hike. As an added bonus every place we stayed had wifi so we could connect with our people back home and let them know we had made it to each town safe and sound.

Our bags were always waiting for us when we got to the next inn, clean, undamaged and undisturbed. Not that we were expecting anything less, but I do know people worry about others handling their personal property and there was never an issue with this group.

We were given a packet of very detailed instructions to go along with our maps. Not only is the trail marked to help guide you but the instructions provided down to the turn precise directions to keep you on track and keep you from wondering if you were headed the right way. They were detailed enough that never once did you have to worry that you might have taken a wrong turn. We spent the entire trek feeling confident we wouldn’t be lost or trespassing and that we would be safe the entire trip.

I cannot recommend the tour group enough. The owner is incredibly kind and helpful. He will answer as many ridiculous questions as you can throw at him and do so with a smile. Never once did we feel confused, worried or unsure of ourselves from inquiring about booking the tour all the way to being dropped back off at the airport on the way home.

Historic Balch Hotel – Dufur, Oregon

I had been wanting to stay at the Historic Balch Hotel for years, but given its location to myself it was always just too close and just too far away to drive out for a single night. Luckily this last year my mom and I decided to embark on a central Oregon road trip and I knew that without a doubt we would be finally getting to stay here.

Dufur is a small town in North Central Oregon, only a few miles south of The Dalles. It sits on the east side of Mt. Hood. I woke up extra early the night we stayed so I could try to get some pictures of the sunrise reflecting off the snow and clouds around the mountain. But it was a whole mess of private property between me and the view so I didn’t get a chance to get as clear of a shot as I had hoped.

The town was established in 1893 by Andrew and Enoch Dufur. The Dufur family were reglious refugees in early America, fleeing one of the many Huguenot conflicts in France around the time of the French Revolution, likely right before Louis XVI signed equal rights for Protestants in France. Andrew was educated at Pacific University in Forest Grove Oregon.  In 1872 the brothers purchased the land that is now Dufur.

The Balch Hotel was built in 1907 by Charles Balch. It was the height of luxury at the time with hot running water and electricity. Made popular by business men and individuals passing through town to and from The Dalles or beyond due to the Great Southern Railroad station in town at the time.

The hotel itself is a charming little place and beautifully maintained grounds. They are often host to small wedding parties, and concert goers as they offer coach service to Mary Hill Winery in The Gorge. They have a fully functioning dining room, dinner was delicious and breakfast is complimentary. They do not offer modern convinces like televisions but they do have wi-fi. As well as a fully functioning spa, and several lounge areas with a large selection of tea and books.

 

 

 

Danubius Hotel Astoria – Budapest, Hungry

I don’t have the highest regard for traditional hotels but that doesn’t mean that I dislike them all. And certainly in many travel situations a hotel is the easiest way to travel. Particularly if you are planning on seeing multiple locations in a short period of time. Or if you are the type of person with the type of budget to eat at restaurants for every meal when you travel.


That being said I would whole heartedly recommend the Danubius Hotel Astoria in Budapest. It was in fact the first hotel I ever stayed in outside of the United States (excluding Canada) on my first ever European adventure. I was 17, a senior in high school, traveling with some of my best friends and some very kind teacher chaperones.

After driving to Portland getting on a plane, laying over in Chicago, laying over again in Frankfurt, landing in Budapest and taking a shuttle stuffed with 15 of my class mates, we were all tried, hungry, cranky and totally regretting our decision to come on the trip. Admit it, we have all been there. Travel fatigue is real.

Looking at the pictures I think they have done a few renovations, not a real surprise given I was there 15 plus years ago. But it still appears to retain the simple old world comforts I recall.

As a side note we were all thrilled at staying at a hotel called Astoria (since we were from Astoria). Whether or not the name was coincidence or on purpose remains to be seen. The rooms were impeccably clean, with traditional twin beds or twin beds pushed together depending on the configuration of the room. Clean white linens, duvet covers (which most of us uncultured youth thought were too short sleeping bags) and beautifully tiled showers. Speaking of uncultured youth we were all convinced the hotel was haunted. In retrospect we were just dealing with a very old finicky elevator, but we spent our time riding the service elevator and sneaking through the back kitchen to the lobby because we were too scared to ride the main elevators.

My favorite thing about the hotel was the dining room and breakfast. When we landed it was late but our teachers made us walk around the city until lights-out to help us adjust to jet lag. We were tired, cranky and mostly just walking with our eyes half open.

So my first real European experience was the stunning banquet room and European style breakfast provided to us. I vividly recall stuffing my face with croissants and cheeses whose names I could never even begin to pronounce and the MANY trips back to the silver samovars filled with hot chocolate. I felt like royalty sitting in a marble dining room, with velvet tufted chairs and floor to ceiling windows overlooking a city halfway across the world to where I was 48 hours prior.


As an added bonus the hotel was nicely situated walking distance to quite a few locations, in the three days we were there we got to see the Great Market Hall one of the oldest indoor markets in Hungry. As well as the main market square in the inner city that hosts outdoor vendors on a regular basis. The Hungarian State Opera House is in walking distance.  Which I loved and never wanted to leave after our tour.

It is also a quick jaunt to the Danube River and the Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd) which takes you directly across the river to the Gellért Monument and Döbrentei squareRudas Thermal Bath (Rudas gyógyfürdő) and the Citadell which was built under the Haspburg name during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I hope someday to get the chance to revisit this beautiful hotel and enchanting city. As my first European jaunt and the first view into a wider world at large it holds a special place in my heart. And stomach, I seriously cannot stop thinking about that breakfast!

Side note on the pictures, these were taken pre-digital age so the quality is expectantly poor. Also I am not cropping out anyone out of unkindness, just protecting the innocent.