Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award

One morning a week ago I was enjoying a steamy cup of tea while going through my blog reading list and I was delighted when I found out that Arni of Travel Gourmande had nominated me for this Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award. It is always nice to be acknowledged by fellow bloggers and even better when the recognition comes from someone as dear as Arni, who I count as a friend, though we've never met in real life. Thanks again for the nomination!

So, without further ado, here are the answers to the questionnaire of the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award.

1. What is the story behind your blog?

I moved abroad for the first time in 2007 and I have done quite some nice trips around Europe ever since. I have never journaled and I had all my travel photos scattered around many folders in several USB sticks and hard drives. I had always liked the idea of travel blogging and thought it would be a great idea to start my own online travel journal to hold all my memories and photos together. And so in 2012 I started Away from Tenerife. I was living in the Netherlands back then, I am currently in Switzerland and have lived in Ireland in between.

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

London! I have always had a thing for the English capital and I would love to spent sometime there. If I didn't like it in London I would move back to Maastricht (the Netherlands). I lived there for two years and loved my simple but lovely time there.

3. What is the best piece of travel advice you've received?

Make the most of your breakfast. A hearty morning meal will see you through the most hectic sightseeing days. Thanks mam and dad for teaching me so.

4. Where did you have your best meal ever?

It has to be Ireland. I was very fond of the fish and chips I could eat there and I loved the hearty Irish breakfasts. Oh, and the scones, don't get me started on that. But the best proper meal I had was at a seaside restaurant in Howth. I went there with some friends on a chilly winter evening and feasted on a crab toast and some carrot soup and closed the meal with the most delicious Eton Mess ever.

5. What is your most memorable holiday or trip?

I once went with Boyfriend and some friends of him to Leukerbad, in the Swiss canton of Valais. We skipped all winter sports activities and went directly to soak up in some thermal waters. It wasn't even winter but it started to snow and there we were, in an outdoor swimming pool with 38°C water with breathtaking views of the Alps while snowflakes drifted from the sky and melted on our faces. Travel or no travel, that's probably the most heavenly experience I've ever had.

6. What is the one thing you cannot live without when travelling?

My camera. I just love to take pics of everything!

7. Is there some souvenir you always take home from your travels?

A postcard. I can be as uncomplicated as that.

8. Who's your go-to travel buddy? Or do you prefer to travel solo?

Though our interests can be quite different, Boyfriend is definitely my favourite travel companion. Yes, he likes his morning lie in and I can't do without my morning breakfast; he likes to rest and I like to go out and take a hundred photos but we always find a compromise that will suit us both. And now I'm hoping that BabyGirl will be a keen traveller like her mammy!

9. Are you a spontaneous traveller or do you prefer to plan everything in advance?

I like planning - I'm definitely missing the Spanish gene of spontaneity. I like doing my research and planning accordingly. That being said, there is always room for improvisation if the ideal plan doesn't quite live up to reality. Or if hunger strikes.

10. Where are you traveling next?

Tenerife! Yep, I'm going home in three weeks!

That's the traveller me in a nutshell and now it's your turn! I am nominating the following bloggers but feel free to nominate yourself if you pass by and would like to answer these questions as well.

Sophie of Sophie in Clogs
Tania of Rowdy Fairy
Anda Alexandra of The Home Of The Twisted Red Ladybug

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
3. What is the best piece of travel advice you have ever received?
4. Where did you have your best meal ever?
5. What is your most memorable holiday or trip?
6. What is the one thing you cannot live without when travelling?
7. Is there a souvenir you always take home from your travels?
8. Who is your go-to travel buddy?
9. Are you a spontaneous traveller or do you prefer to plan everything in advance?
10. Where are you traveling next?

Have a lovely Tuesday!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

30 before 30: a recap

It's been a while since I turned 30 - mind you, I'm closer to 31 than 30 right now. But because I hadn't blogged yet about everything I did before turning 30, I kept postponing this recap post. I am finally done with the series of posts about all the new places I visited before hitting the big 3-0, so it is high time for a round up.

In April 2013, exactly 18 months before I turned 30, I decided to take up this challenge of visiting 30 new places before my 30th birthday. I wasn't too strict with myself and didn't set any tight set of rules. The only guideline would be to only include places I had never been to before. Like, never before. It didn't matter whether they were big cities or small villages, impressive national parks or underrated green areas, whether they were round the corner where I lived or in a new country waiting to be discovered.

So, ten months after turning 30, what happened to my 30 before 30 challenge?

Well, I didn't make it to 30 new places but I did see a good total of 19 cities and towns and visited (and lived) in a country I had never been before. Ireland, that's it. You can find the complete list below and read some about the places I visited during the last year and half of my twenties.

Bray (Ireland)
Breda (the Netherlands)
Colmar (France)
Delft (the Netherlands)
Domodossola (Italy)
Dublin (Ireland)
Dún Laoghaire (Ireland)
Eupen (Belgium)
Frankfurt-am-Main (Germany)
Greystones (Ireland)
Hasselt (Belgium)
Howth (Ireland)
Knokke-Heiss (Belgium)
Lago Maggiore (Italy/Switzerland)
Leiden (the Netherlands)
Locarno (Switzerland)
Maynooth (Ireland)
Meiringen (Switzerland)
Re (Italy)

I am more than happy that I took this challenge as a chance to explore my surroundings and discover some charming places and some more places which can be easily forgotten.

The absolute highlight would be Dublin. It was love at first sight and despite the cold and rainy days, I really enjoyed living there. And together with Dublin come the quiet coast towns not far from Dublin bay, including Dún Laoghaire and Howth.

A close second is Lago Maggiore. I was mesmerised by those misty views and this is a place I would love to explore in more detail.

And a great find was the city of Leiden in the Netherlands. There is obviously a reason why it is a must for most travel guides to the Netherlands and is because Leiden is a gem of a city. Somehow a lot like Amsterdam but lovelier if possible.

That was my 30 before 30 challenge and what am I up to now? Some people carry on with a 40 before 40 but I don't think I will do that. Even though I would have a big advantage on that one having a whole decade to travel and not only 18 months. With BabyGirl in our lives - and who knows when a sibling may come along - the carefree ears are over. But that does not mean that the travel years are over. I love traveling and it will probably remain a priority for me, only that most travel will involve either Tenerife or Malaga for a while now. And hopefully Ireland from time to time as well. After all, BabyGirl still has a 25% of Irishness on her gene pool.

I would love to visit at least one new country each year, though. I could make that my challenge but I don't think I will visit any new country this year (time is ticking already) and that wouldn't be a promising start. I think the main challenge from now on will be to figure out how to keep on traveling with a baby on board. I think that seeing the world with a baby on board is a whole new experience on its own. So forget about new countries and undiscovered cities, it is time to rediscover the world through a new pair of eyes. And I can't wait to start!

What's on your travel backlist? Any particular goals or challenges?

Have a lovely Sunday!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Maynooth and the Royal Canal

Royal Canal Maynooth

When I was considering studying abroad for a year, Ireland was one of the few options I had. It was not fancy Dublin or Belfast. Not even Cork or Limerick. It was in Maynooth, a small university town only 25 Km away from Dublin. As much as I would have liked to live in Ireland back then and how easy it would have been to be an exchange student in an English-speaking country, I ended up in Belgium and not even in the French-speaking part of Belgium - you can read the whole story here. I had heard that Ireland was boring and expensive, two things you definitely don't want during a study exchange, and coming from an island I wasn't so keen on moving to another island.

Maynooth University

I had always been curious about how different things would have been if i had chosen to go Maynooth instead of Antwerp and while I was living in Dublin I had the chance to go there and take a look by myself. Maynooth, or Maigh Nuad as it is known in Irish, is a tiny town in County Kildare, almost bordering suburban Dublin. In fact, you only need to ride one of those yellow Dublin Bus buses and after some 50 minutes ride of suburbs, highway and passing by a couple tiny villages you'll be in tranquil Maynooth.

Small and calm, Maynooth is definitely one of those towns where there is only one main street and little else to see or do. Ok, there's a big university, some castle ruins and Carton House, a estate house dating from the 18th century where you either go for some spa relaxation or to practice your swing at any of the two golf courses within its gardens. Or maybe just to enjoy some high tea. 

Maynooth Castle



With not much to see, my day in Maynooth was a rather quiet one. The highlight of the trip was a stroll along the Royal Canal. It was a crisp autumn morning and after sitting for an hour in the bus, walking along the crystalline waters of the canal feeling the cool breeze on my face was really invigorating. I walked as much as I wanted back and forth and entertained myself spotting all different kind of ducks gliding along the canal.

Royal Canal Maynooth

Royal Canal Maynooth

Royal Canal Maynooth

Royal Canal Maynooth

On my way back to Dublin I though that choosing Antwerp over Maynooth for my study exchange was definitely a good decision. Maynooth was way too quiet for a year of partying studying and exploring. However, I'm sure it makes for a lovely base to explore the eastern part of Ireland and Carton House definitely tops my list of posh stays in Ireland if I ever go back for a decadent leisure trip.

Have you ever been to Maynooth or somewhere else in Co. Kildare? Any recommendations?

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August 2015 - A Summer of Firsts

I took her in my arms, with my fingers on her nape to keep her head upright. I look at her and she looked back at me. Her eyes narrowed and the corners of her lips bent upwards, her cheeks rounded and her mouth opened. And there it was, BabyGirl's first smile ever! I gazed into her eyes, she gazed back in mine and continue smiling at me. 

Never had a smile been so beautiful to me. It melted my heart and even saw me shed a tear or two. 

Ever since BabyGirl made her big debut, she has been surprising us with new tricks everyday. She first grabbed our thumbs, then she began lifting her head when on tummy, she tries and stands on her feet when held upwards, she discovered her own two hands and how they fit in her mouth, and the list goes on. You can really say that everyday is like a discovery voyage for her. And for us as well!

July was also the month when I enjoyed the first holiday ever with BabyGirl. It was a total success and after four relaxing days in Malaga we have already book our first family holiday to Tenerife. It'll be only a week but I'm very looking forward to it.

And speaking of firsts, for the first time ever I'm in Switzerland on August 1st to celebrate the Swiss national fest. Tonight there will be impressive firework displays in almost every city and town in Switzerland - in Basel fireworks took place yesterday though - and during the day many people will be celebrating with BBQs all over the country. So, I think it's time to stop writing this post and enjoy some grillieren with friends.

Have a great August!

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