26/12/2016

CHRISTMAS VLOG #4 & 5: NORTHERN LIGHTS


Day 4 and 5 included corny spa treatments for couples and northern light sighting on our street. Pretty exciting!

I made the decision not to continue the vlogs. It was a bit stupid of me to imagine it wouldn't take as much time as writing traditional blog posts - in addition to editing the footage, the filming in itself is super difficult! I struggled to find time and space to sit down and have a monologue with the camera because I was never alone - you can't even imagine the discussions had in the background of my clips if I hadn't muted the film... (My favourite: beautiful scene from a picturesque little street - Alex's voice in the background says "What makes you think you're a bitch?")

Another reason is the obvious unpopularity of the vlogs. I figured people might not have as much time to read blogs during Christmas time, but the stats for my last two posts have been a bit sad: compared to my normal 300-500 clicks per post, my latest one was viewed only 90 times, out of which a mere 30 people actually watched the video. It's simply not worth the time. I'll stick to normal blog posts and written rants in the future! Thanks for everyone who watched the vlogs, I actually had a lot of fun doing them.

Merry Christmas for all of my lovely readers!


Have you ever seen northern lights? Is the experience worth the hype? Share your experiences in the comments below!


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23/12/2016

CHRISTMAS VLOG #2 & 3 - TRAIN ACROSS FINLAND


Day 2: intense running around Helsinki. Day 3: Even more intense running around Helsinki. Vlogging is hard when you try to meet 10 people within 48 hours... All this running came to an end when we were stuck in a train for 14 hours from Helsinki to Kolari. Here we go!


I put a map of our train trip here in case you're not super aware of the geography of Finland:


What's the longest train trip you've ever taken? Any tips on how to survive long journeys without losing your mind? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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20/12/2016

CHRISTMAS VLOG: DAY #1


It's here: the cringiest thing I've probably ever done. Rejoice! It's time for terribly amateurish video editing and a bunch of awkward silences.

Our Day 1 consists mainly of travel from Dublin to Helsinki. It's surprisingly awkward to film yourself in public - full-time vloggers, I have no idea how you have the guts to do it. More in tomorrow!

Watch underneath or open the link in YouTube HERE!


How did I do? Suggestions, tips, anything? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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18/12/2016

CHRISTMAS BACK 'HOME': I'M TERRIFIED


You say it's not a big deal, I say I'm scared shitless. Why? I don't even know where to begin. Let's make a list...

So, it has been said: I'm spending my Christmas in Finland. Not just anywhere in Finland, but in Lapland, which is why utter fear is not the only emotion I feel for Christmas right now - I'm actually kind of excited. We have TONS of plans from corny Lappish spa treatments for couples (prepare your butt, Alex) to horseback riding in the mountains. Now that I put it like this, it actually sounds pretty damn sweet.

BUT that's not the reason why I'm terrified. There are other things.

Our villa in Levi, Finland. Photo from levi.fi
  1. FOREIGN BOYFRIEND = 24/7 INTERPRETER AT YOUR SERVICE
    Once you lumberjack, you never lumberback. In other words, my special Canadian someone is a true bliss, but he doesn't speak Finnish. If you have ever brought a foreign friend or a significant other to a dinner table full of people only speaking your language, you know how this will go down. I will basically turn into a Talking Head for Christmas, simultaneously trying to listen to the conversation and interpret it in English on the spot. 2 hours in and you're done. It's really, really tiring.
  2. FINLAND IS NOT MY HOME
    It doesn't matter which way we try to look at this. I don't live in Finland. And if my previous proper trip to Helsinki last summer tells me anything, it's that the feeling of going back to a place you once belonged but don't know anymore is slightly haunting. Things can change a lot in two years: new shops, new buildings, new systems. It will be a rollercoaster of emotions, and I know I'll feel a bit 'off'. It's my first Christmas in Finland since I left!
  3. 10 DAYS OF AMAZING RACE
    Ten days is not a lot if during that time you somehow try to devour all of the people, places and things you didn't have time to see during those 6 months you were gone. Having a relaxing holiday back in Finland is not an option for most expats, but I'm determined to forcefully have at least one day just for Alex and I to go around and enjoy the famous Finnish silence. The rest of the time I'm probably neurotically staring at my calendar, trying to figure where I'm supposed to be and how the new public transport tap-in machines work.
  4. I WILL TRY TO VLOG ALL OF THIS
    You read it. I'm crazy for all things editing, and video editing is something I have wanted to practice for a long time. I figured spending a few hours editing footage a night is going to be more enjoyable than trying to write blog posts, edit photos AND write all my assignments due over the holidays. Will it be cringy? Yes. Will it fail? Probably. Will it be a pleasure to watch? Possibly, if you enjoy cringe. Our plans should be exciting, though: a train trip across Finland, a week living in a villa in Lapland, horseback riding, northern lights, spa treatments, eating reindeer, a lot of multicultural awkwardness and one big Finnish adventure.
Map from Google Maps

Our plane from Dublin to Helsinki leaves on the 19th, through Copenhagen. 19th - 21st we will stay in Helsinki, after which we take a 12-hour night train to Kolari, from which we head to Levi, Lapland. On the 29th we fly back to Dublin through Oslo and spend a New Year here.

Is vlogging an absolutely terrible idea? Have you ever spent a Christmas away from home - or at home after being away for years? Share your experiences in the comments below!


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16/12/2016

A TRIP TO IRISH IKEA


Everything has automatically a little bit more craic if you add the word "Irish" in front. Let's try:
  • Irish Breakfast
  • Irish Coffee
  • Irish Pub
  • Irish Dance
  • Irish IKEA
Now that I look at the list, somehow I feel like everything becomes "Irish" if you add a ton of alcohol and a couple blood puddings in it - none of these were part of our IKEA excursion though, sadly. Nevertheless, the expedition still had some pretty good craic! Did I say enough "craic" in this post already?

There's something about shopping for furniture that really makes me feel settled in a country. At this point, only after 2 years of living abroad, my feeling of being rooted in a certain place is still really dependant on this sort of external, fairly concrete activities to tie you down - I'd like to see you try and fly our new bookshelf in a luggage back to Finland! They're like anchors: nothing can pull me back now that I'm clinging on to my new house decor nail deep.

Alex and I moved in together - again. This time it's just the two of us, in a lovely little studio apartment a short sprint away from Phoenix Park. I'll take you to a house tour when we get everything settled (house tour = spinning 360 degrees around with a camera in a studio this size!), but for that to happen, we needed to test our relationship in the classic form of IKEA shopping.


The public transport of Dublin is terrible. I don't even know where to start. The only positive thing I can think of is the double-decked buses. They're fun.


Alex: "What do you think St. Pumps did to become a saint?"


Our task of the day was to find a bookshelf to replace the TV stand the previous owner of the apartment had left there. Obviously we ended up buying at least 15 other things, but...



Because why wouldn't you want a bath tub in the middle of your living room?




This is a funny thing: if there's one major difference between IKEAs in Ireland and e.g. in Finland, it's the fireplace. Almost every room exhibition displays a fireplace in it, whereas in Finland they occur really rarely. That's definitely for a reason though: most flats actually have fireplaces. Even ours (in a sense, you'll see later).


But of course the props are still all in Swedish. It's funny to sink in the middle of all this Swedishness: seeing all those Ås, Äs and Ös makes me feel at home, and 10 minutes in I expected everyone around me to speak Swedish.


"Mrs. Santa just got a lot hotter..."
"Shut up."


We got really excited about this rocking moose. The Canadian senses are tingling.


And what on earth are you even doing in IKEA if you don't plan to eat some classic Swedish meatballs? Well, Swedish for the Irish... Just plain meatballs for me.



Looking at this photo I realise how tired I actually look. Jesus. This year has been the worst of my entire life, by far, but somehow I never realised how it has started to reflect on my face. Onwards to new challenges!


... In this case, to assemble furniture. I can't say for sure, but Alex said "tabarnak" at least 20 times during the process. But we're still together, so that's good news.


The result! As you can see, we do have a fireplace, kind of, and even as a nonfunctional one we wanted to have it on display somehow. It starts to feel like home in here, for the first time in this country. Ireland, you're not so bad. The living conditions you offer just somehow make me hate life and everything coming with it.

What kind of things make you feel at home in a new country? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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12/12/2016

SPEAKING ENGLISH - BUT HOW?!


You know how sometimes when travelling, upon opening your mouth and ordering your food in language X, the waiter looks at you for a while and then proceeds to ask "Where are you from?" or "That's a funny accent, where did you get it?" Well how about when that happens every day?

English and I have been happily married for the past 2 years - it easily deserves the status of my primary language of communication. To anyone who has ever wondered how often I speak Finnish in my everyday life, the answer is never. I somehow never end up skyping with my friends or family, so six months can easily pass without me saying even a word in Finnish out loud (excluding all those awkward moments when a foreign friend wants me to demonstrate how it sounds like, in which case I usually say "hääyöaie" and watch their smile instantly melt away). But as someone who spent her youth watching American TV shows, pursued an exchange semester in the UK, worked for a year in Canada and then studied in Ireland, my English accent is nothing but consistent.

I'm a sponge. A linguistic sponge. I sound like the mutilated lovechild of all my previous homes, and even places that have never been my home (looking at you, USA), and there's nothing more simultaneously entertaining and uncomfortable than a native English-speaker trying to figure where this monstrosity comes from.

So now that I'm back at living in an English-speaking country, I've taken some time to think whether or not I should try and pursue the local accent. Some influence is inevitable, for sure. I already find myself pronouncing certain words with an Irish twist, and the rhythm of my intonation is really going through some growing pains (almost literally - I sound like a teenage boy trying to gain control over their own voice). However, I feel kind of embarrassed of trying to use local words - in Ireland, things are always just grand or just a wee bit weird. Is it too self-righteous to try and sound like an Irish?

There are, of course, some traits of the Irish accent I find hard to mimic:
  1. Firstly, the R. For my entire life I've comfortably used the classic British, non-existent R, but suddenly I'm supposed to pronounce them? No effin' way. The worst part is it isn't even like the American soft R - it's something in-between the rolling R and the American R. How on earth do you make that sound?
  2. Th. That sound. when you hear an Irish person say "that", you know what I mean. It's like their tongue is stuffed somewhere deep in their throat in the beginning, and then it just kind of emerges like a spring of some kind from the depth of the Irish mouth, and makes this super deep and sharp gzth. Jesus. I don't even know how to describe that.
  3. Sometimes the letter E is O, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes U is E, but sometimes it's not. Depending on the accent, I think all Irish have a different interpretation on how to say these letters.
  4. The Irish don't pronounce the G at the end of verbs. I'm gettin' a wee bit frustrated with this one. ("one" of course pronounced as something that sounds pretty much like "wune"...)
I love Irish English, and sincerely wanted to believe it would naturally grow on me after a while. Seems like that's not going to happen without some effort after all. I wonder what's different? In the UK it took me two weeks to catch up on the Midlands dialect, but now, after half a year in the Emerald Isle, I still sound like a weird mixture of French-Canadian, Finnish and God knows what else.

Is the accent even important? Should I just go with the flow and let my hybrid English get loose? Getting understood is, above all, the most important thing when speaking a second language - right?

Do you think it's important to adopt local dialects? Or does it come out as a bit pretentious? Should non-native speakers always strive for the local accent? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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30/11/2016

LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP 101


Looking for advice on how to survive that monster, long-distance? Look no further, 'cause you're with a professional. 4 different partners, a total of 2 years of expensive phone calls and lonely nights. My current boyfriend of 3 years and I survived over a year of trans-Atlantic love. What works? What doesn't work? I swear by now I have seen it all.

Restless feet and hunger for adventures come with a cost. Sometimes, in the midst of all this rambling, we fall in love - and always with the wrong person, right? No, really. It's always the person who lives the furthest or is about to leave for Abu Dhabi in a month. But you're in love, and a few panicky and tearful nights later you've made the decision to try long-distance. Moments later you find yourself aggressively googling the cheapest flight tickets to the other side of the world. Congratulations. You have now officially entered the purgatory of your relationship.

I'm going to be honest here: not everyone can do it, and not every relationship can take it. My long-distance relationships have failed, but at times they have also had happy endings - I know both stories. I know how it feels to stare at someone's back disappear behind the security check point, knowing you will never see them again. But more than those painful goodbyes I have seen them appear from behind the sliding doors of the arrivals gate, smiling from ear to ear, knowing your patience paid off and you will never ever have to be apart again. (Or so you wish...)

This is why I wanted to divide my Long-Distance Relationship 101 into two parts: DOs and DON'Ts. Before we start, however, I want to point out a few extremely fundamentally absolutely necessary important points:
  1. Long-Distance Relationship is not a normal relationship -  Stop treating it as such. I have heard countless of people tell me "I couldn't talk to my boyfriend every day even if we were in long-distance". Well, bad news: when you literally can't see each other for 4 months, suddenly those 30 minutes of casual chatting a day become more important than you think.
  2. Long-Distance Relationship needs extra effort - Be ready to commit to that. It's not easy, it was never about to be, so give it the extra push it needs and take time to maintain your relationship. Every time I got asked "How are you guys doing it?" the answer was pretty much "Hard work and patience." It's work. It can get tiring and frustrating, but if you want to succeed, stay strong.
  3. Long-Distance Relationship is still a relationship - Give it the dignity it deserves. I have been treated as single both by my friends and people interested in me because "he's away so you're practically single, right?" No. No. No. Being in a long-distance relationship might mean you can't fall asleep on each other's arms every night, but it should not resonate back to other people as me wanting to fall asleep on anyone else's arms in the meantime.
Now that these three things are clear and memorised, we're good to go!
Disclaimer: these are my personal observations based on my own experiences. Everybody works differently, and every couple is unique. Please don't throw rocks at me if something I said didn't work for you.

DO: KEEP IN FREQUENT CONTACT WITH A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE

As I mentioned above, long-distance relationship is not like a normal one. The rules of this game are different. As someone who's been to a few completely ordinary relationships myself I'm aware it's possible to stay together without putting much effort into daily texting sessions - and if something urgent comes up and your date night is cancelled, no big deal. There's always tomorrow. Especially with a decent time-zone issue you should always schedule your skype sessions in advance. Make them if not daily, at least frequent. It's surprisingly easy to drift apart when you have no idea what they've been up to lately, and your status in their everyday life fades. Alex and I skyped almost every day, and if it was absolutely impossible for me to stay up until 2am or for him to wake up at 6am to skype, we at least sent a ton of Facebook-messages. We sent each other a bunch of completely ordinary photos every day, just to maintain the feeling of sharing a life together.

DON'T: CHAT WHEN YOU BOTH HAPPEN TO BE ONLINE

I admit making this mistake in my failed long-distance relationships in the past: I just kind of expected us to end up on MSN Messenger (yes I'm that old) or skype at the same time, despite the 9-hour time difference, which resulted in us basically not talking, ever. Something else always came up and I didn't make it to my computer on time. Needless to say, I lost the connection and we broke up.


DO
: HAVE A FORESEEABLE SHORT-TERM PLAN TO SEE EACH OTHER

It's not always possible to have flight tickets ready for the next time on the moment of parting, but it's a comforting thought to know approximately how long it will take for the next hug. I used to have a calendar where I'd cross out days for our next moments together, and there was surely something soothing in this habit. Visuals helped me cope with time passing so slow.

Long-distance relationships are relationships of uncertainty. When will we meet again? Can I afford flying to him two times in six months? Will this work out? This is why it's important to have something to look forward to as it makes the relationship feel more consistent. Being in a long-distance relationship without a plan for the future may feel like driving in a tunnel without seeing the light at the end, and in the long run the uncertainty of what's happening to you can get tiring.
(Personal touch: Alex and I once parted after Christmas, planning to meet up again in 6 weeks. Later on it turned out Alex couldn't afford flying back to Europe so soon, and our 6 weeks turned into 4,5 months. That sucked.)

DON'T: LEAVE THE RELATIONSHIP HANGING

It won't manage itself. It takes two to tango and to fall in love again every day from thousand miles apart. Long-distance relationships are all about practicality and rationality, as paradoxic as it may sound - I mean, talking about 'rationality' in the same sentence with 'let's live 5000 kilometres apart and see each other every 4 months while still staying vigorously in love' seems a little off for me too. But hear me out, it's all true. A machine this big needs someone with organisational skills to pull the levers. Plan your next meet-up. Stare at your calendar a lot. Don't expect your long-distance monster to magically figure itself out while you're busy having fun.

DO: TRUST EACH OTHER

This comes without saying. "Trust" is probably one of the most important words of any long-distance relationship. Don't get me wrong here: it's completely acceptable to be scared at times, since with time your affection or feeling of closeness might dry out and the temptation of physical comfort lures in. What helped me in the past was to ask myself the same question: Would I cheat on him/her? I figured my partner was probably having similar fears about me, and trying to put myself in his position made me feel more comfortable. But I guarantee you this whole long-distance thing of yours is gonna hit the rocks if you don't think your partner can stay faithful!

DON'T: DEMAND TO KNOW THEIR EVERY MOVE AND EXACT LOCATION

But please, please, please don't overdo this. Yes, he/she is far, you can't see them, you can't always even hear them. As pointed out in the first tip up there at the top, I prefer to keep in frequent contact throughout the day/week/month/year, but that doesn't mean you should be texting them every 20 minutes to ask what they're up to right at this frigging moment. As painful as it sounds, long-distance also needs space. Let your partner have their night out without feeling guilty for not sitting alone in the booth, texting you, while the rest of the gang is getting loose on the dance floor. That will only make your relationship feel like a burden. Or a buzzkill.


DO
: LET THEM GO

Did you discuss your long-distance relationship with your partner before deciding to jump into it? Did they tell you about their plans to move abroad? Were you ok with all this? Good. In my experience the most important part of a long-distance relationship is to let your partner pursue their dreams, and for them to let you pursue yours. This is, above all, the reason why both of my successful long-distance relationships worked out in the end. My ex was about to do a 3-month internship in Russia when we met, and I gave him space to go and enjoy it, with the condition of seeing him every 2 or 3 weeks. That passed fast and later on we moved in together. However, 2 years later we hit a dead-end when he was about to leave for an exchange semester in Turkey, and I wouldn't let him. Long story short, he's out of the picture now.

He wants to do it. Don't stop him. I have been asked to drop everything I do or am to move on the other side of the world to be with someone. That didn't turn out well. You guys need to have your own lives, and stopping someone from pursuing their dreams for the sake of seeing each other every day will leave your partner forever linger with the question "what if I had done it?"

DON'T: GUILT TRIP ANYONE FOR THE SITUATION

You need to discuss where you're at in your relationship before any decisions about long-distance are made. Both of you need to be 100% ready for it. After you've shaken hands and accepted what's to come, you have officially lost your right to complain about the situation. "I wouldn't have to aaaalways stay up super late to skype with you if you hadn't decided to go volunteer in Colombia!" In normal, healthy circumstances this should be no one's fault. Compromises have to be made, both from your and their side, but making your partner feel like they're a pile of shite for deciding to take that job will not fix what's broken.

Last words: it may seem like the end of the world right now, but it's completely realistic to get used to living in a long-distance relationship. All you need is a routine, a handful of trust and a lot of faith. Hear from the veteran: After one year of long-distance relationship Alex and I managed to live in the same place for a year until we ended up in a situation where we would again have to be apart for two months. Neither one of us ever even considered these two months to be "long-distance relationship" as we were so accustomed to being apart in the past that such a short sprint was basically a joke!

Have you been in a long-distance relationship? What helped you through it? Share your tips in the comments below!


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20/11/2016

OUR BORROWMYDOGGY.COM EXPERIENCE


Life as an international postgrad student can get unstable: the hunt for a job or a flat you know you're probably going to lose to a local, constant bureaucracy, flexible timetables and endless nights at the library. Alex and I decided to find a common hobby to take our minds off things - a dog turned out to be a good one. Meet Marley.

Well, it's not our dog to be exact. I stumbled upon this ad on Facebook a while back - BORROWMYDOGGY.COM. It's a service in the UK and Ireland where both dog owners and dog lovers can register and meet up: owners with little free time can find people with a dog-shaped hole in their lives (that's us!) to spend time with their woofs. We signed up in an instant!

It's like Tinder for dogs. A 10€ verification fee and a few supporting documents (proof of address, passport etc. to make sure it's safe) later we had a catalogue of local dogs in front of our eyes. You can select your location and the page will display all available dogs in your area. We found Marley 1km away from us.

We have been chatting with the owners for a few weeks now, and today we were finally ready to meet. It was kind of scary at first - you just enter a stranger's house and go out with their dog. We decided to head out for a walk both with Marley and his owners to get Marley used to us, bribe him with some treats and then discreetly leave him to our company while the owners retreated back home.


Marley turned out to be the easiest dog to get along with. After 3 hours he was really fond of us (or the treats, who knows).



There was something oddly relaxing in playing with a dog in the park for the afternoon. For a moment we had a completely different kind of life: not the one of assignments and economic uncertainty, but a suburbian dream on a Sunday afternoon with a dog, a tennis ball and a runny red nose.



An Irish November. It's cold all the way to your bones and covered in fog. The grass is layered with dewdrops and your socks are probably wet. You can see your breath and smell the rain. The dampness is almost visible in the photos. To be honest, despite how uncomfortable all this may sound, I think this tranquil little Sunday afternoon made me fall in love with Ireland just a wee bit more. I still need dry socks and a heater, though.


We had a cup of tea with the owners afterwards and agreed to meet up again next weekend. I've tried to find ways to get in touch with Irish people to feel a bit more at home - I figured staying isolated in a community of immigrants would probably do some harm to my mental health in the long run. If I want to learn to like Ireland, I need Irish people to prove to me their country is worth it.

So we sat down for an hour and had that cuppa in an Irish living room. It was just a cup of tea with strangers, but somehow it made us feel a bit more connected to this country - and a bit less tired of spending 10 hours a day reading about conflict resolution...
(P.S. Believe it or not, this post was not sponsored by borrowmydoggy.com - I'm just really excited about their concept!)

Do you ever have troubles feeling connected to your new country? Do you think having hobbies could help with that? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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12/11/2016

OUR DAY IN BRAY ⎮ THE BEST PUB IN THE WORLD


Living in central Dublin in a small, mouldy flat on a street full of drunk tourists requires occasional reality escapes. Bray, a small rural town a bit to the South from Dublin turned out to be an excellent one. If you ever wanted to see a ton of photos of Irish moors, this is your post!

Bray is super easy to access from Dublin - a mere 45 minutes by train to the South. 30,000 inhabitants and a coastline to die for. This is where I'll move if I ever retire in Ireland! Well, here or Howth - there seems to be some kind of rivalry between these two regions, and to be honest, it's hard to pick just one.

My entourage for this exploration trip consisted of two of my friends from my uni program, a boyfriend of one and my own dear Alex, of course. Our Finnish-Canadian-British-German-Sri Lankan power team met by the railway station a bit after 2pm, and was greeted by this gorgeous first taste of what to expect from Bray (photo from the railway station):


Our plan of the day was to climb Bray Head, the hill you can see on the horizon in the above picture. In case you plan on doing the same, equip yourself with a bottle of water, good shoes and warm clothes - it gets steep and windy out there! There really isn't a need for a hiking map, since the hill is remotely small and the path pretty straightforward. Just follow all the people - there will be plenty.

We got to the top in half an hour, and the view is easily worth the effort. And since we're in Ireland, why not put a huge-ass religious symbol on top of the hill?





After reaching the top we made the decision to continue our exploration to a side path we found a bit down the hill. We had no idea where the road would take us, but why not find out?



We were a bit baffled by the amount of ash and burnt bushes all across the hills, but a more knowledgable person in our entourage enlightened the situation by telling us the hills actually catch fire. "In IRELAND? With all the humidity?" Apparently, yes. Bush fires happen in here too. The more you know... Check the burnt area for example in the photo below:



The drop down to the sea was scary for someone with a fear of heights like me. You can't see it from this photo, but there actually is a railroad to Greystones following the sea line down there!


Speaking of Greystones: we were able to see a glimpse of the town from the top of the hill. Not sure why there was so much smoke...


Then we ended up accidentally trespassing this farm. Google Maps showed us a way around the hills without having to go back the same way we came from, so we took the challenge and went exploring. A few gates and barbed wires later we realised we probably shouldn't be there... But it was too late. And in the end it was worth it, because look at this landscape! Look at how green the grass is! I swear to god that's not Photoshop!




And what would a day trip to Irish moors be if we didn't find any sheep?




Eventually we survived back to town, a little after sunset. Despite Bray being a remotely small town, it was almost impossible to find a place to eat without having a reservation. We tried multiple restaurants from vegan pizzeria to an Indian place, but everything was absolutely packed.

Then Willy remembered THE BEST PUB IN THE WORLD is in Bray. Yes, you heard me. It's official: Lonely Planet voted The Harbour Bar in Bray as the best pub in the world. There's no way we can't check it out while we're there.


From outside The Harbour Bar looks pretty much like any other rural Irish pub. When you enter, the first room on your right looks ridiculously small - don't let that fool you! Go through the door on the other side of the room and you'll find much more places to sit down. Much, much more... So much that my trip to the ladies' bathroom turned into a survival game (hint: it's upstairs).


We found seats from upstairs, and the place just became much more charming. Fireplaces, cozy sofas and no one else in sight - the Finnish side of me approves!

The fireplace turned out to be more useful than expected though: for the first half an hour we sat with our coats on, since there was no heating whatsoever. We were only saved by a bartender who noticed our misery and offered to put up a fire.

The place has quite a special decor. Check it out yourself:



Yes, those are pictures of popes on the opposite wall. They might have also had some satanic symbols hanging here and there. Why not, I guess?

The Harbour Bar also has three cats (who needs cat cafes when you can go to an Irish pub?). I was able to meet one of them, and they sure look like they don't mind the amount of people at all.

To our eye there was nothing that special in The Harbour Bar, but people, as always in Ireland, were nice. Alex got to taste the best whiskey he has ever had, thanks to a spot-on recommendation by a random Irish gentleman sitting by the bar. The venue really needs to get some recognition though: they have a large, heated terrace and a patio outside. And for anyone into Stranger Things tv-series, they also have this on the way to ladies' bathroom:


Have you been to Bray? Is there something else we should have visited in there? Or are there other spots like this in Dublin worth a visit? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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