Posts filed under "travel"

Pack Your Bags: Barcelona

Right after my crazy semester ended in Dublin,
Tyler & I woke up the next morning
and walked (read: crawled) out of our flat
headed towards a flight to Barcelona.

Some of my best friends from high school
were headed there for a weekend.

There's a bigger/emotional back story
to our get away,
but the bottom line is:
sometimes you just need 
to hang out with your best friends
in an awesome place.

It's healing for the soul.

By 11am, we were at our hotel
and ready to take on the day.

Or at least,
find a good place for lunch.

Thanks to the amazing people of Instagram
for the great recommendations.

We had such a good time
just taking it easy
and enjoying the sun
of this welcoming city.

Affordable, delicious, kind...
as crammed as it was in our schedule,
a weekend in Spain 
was really good for Tyler & I.

Excuse the iPhone/Instagram pics...
my camera charger is broken!

Here is my "list" from our trip
to Barcelona.

We loooooved this hotel. 

It was about a 10 minute walk to La Rambla,
but we like to walk
and it was just around the corner from the MANGO outlet.

The restaurant was lovely,
the rooms were huge,
and the price- amazing: €61 a night.


*   *   *


This isn't a shop or a cafe,
but an entire area of town
in the central part.

You won't have to go far 
to find this gem of a neighborhood.

It really reminded me of Paris' Marais.

Cool shops, great eats, and a really good vibe.

You'll like it, I just know it.

Here are some of the places we loved in the Born.

*   *   *

MUNA- This tiny shop has baby clothes that make me want to cry.
Someday, when I'm a big time blogger (read: sarcasm),
I'll go back and buy the place out.

The clothes are gorgeous.

Even Viola knew it was some place really special.

HOFMANN- This is a gorgeous bakery has amazing cakes, cookies, 
and- what did you say? The Crofre? 

A croissant & belgian waffle's love child?


TANTARANTANA- This tapas place....
just perfect for your daily dose of
patatas bravas, peppers padron & jamon croquettes.

And with glasses of cava for €2.50
and most of the tapas plates from €2-4 each,
you'll walk out with some cash in your pocket 
to buy a souvenir at...

DR. BLOOM- Just down the street from Tantarantana,
this is one of the cutest boutiques I've been in
in a long, long time.

I bought a scarf.

The sweaters are dreamy, 
but I was shopping in a little lower price range
with Christmas coming up.

When I go back with my Scrooge McDuck millions
to buy out Muna,
I'll be sure to go back here
to loot the place, too.

It's great stuff.

* * *

Okay, The Born is great,
but there is life outside it, too.

Another little cluster of good spots
comes on the coast,
right off the Barceloneta metro stop.

MakaMaka Beach Burger Cafe-  This is a great burger place
right along the beach of Barcelona.

Not only does the setting have a great atmosphere
(Spanish hipsters + surfer chill),
but, whaddaya know,
the food is great, too.

I went big:
The Big Maka.

Bacon, onions, grilled peppers, cheese, BBQ sauce.

So good.

LAS FRITAS- After you've had your burger & fries
at MakaMaka,
go across the street to Las Fritas,
where you can get (more) french fries.

This stand sells only fries...

On a sunny day,
walking along the coast
with a paper cone of fries
would be, well, muy bien.

{Editor's Note: There Is also a realllly good churro stand across the street from Las Fritas.
Go getcha some (their enormous "small" is €5 + €2 chocolate sauce.)


Obviously, I didn't even mention
most of the tourist attractions
in Barcelona...

Or any actually,
so let's do a quick recap of those, too.

Those, most well-known are:
Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, Picasso Museum
and the lush food stalls of La Bouqueria....

you're beautiful.

See you soon, I hope.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy
Posted on December 4, 2013 and filed under "Jet Setting", "barcelona", "spain", "travel".

An Irish Apology.

Last year, 
I wrote a post
about how I didn't
love the city of Dublin.

The responses were varied.

Some of you agreed.

Some of you though I was crazy.

Last week, I went back
and I looked back through the comments
to find some recommendations
that you offered as highlights 
for my next stay in Dublin.

And, woah. 

You delivered.

First recommendation: The Bank for Dinner. Very cool place. So cool, we couldn't get a table. Next time!

So, Dublin,
I'm coming back to you.

With my hands over my heart,
pleading on my knees,
and my belly a little chubbier
after discovering some of the gems
of your fair city.

here are some new stops to add to the list
to create an awesome time of your own 
when you find yourself in Dublin.

*   *   *

Fallon & Byrne

After reading a comment recommending 
this stop for eats,
I was keen to keep my eye out for it.

Luckily, I didn't have to strain my eyes too hard...
as it was next to our hotel.

The first night we had dinner in the restaurant upstairs.


Tyler left with the baby a few minutes early
as I settled up the bill and ordered a coffee.

The amazingly sweet waitress 
talked me into embracing the moment alone
and trying their signature dessert, 
the Knickerbocker Glory.

Imagine a big sundae glass layered with
berries, ice cream, cheesecake, whipped cream, & digestive cookie crumble.


I also loved their take away coffee bar.

The week I was there, they were donating all sales
to the relief of the Philippines. 

After watching a few hours of coverage on it the night before,
that got big points from me.

And the flourless chocolate cake didn't hurt either.

Check them out here.

*   *   *

Central Hotel

This hotel is in a great location.

Not only is it a stone's throw from Fallon & Byrne,
but it sits just a few steps from everywhere you want to see
during your time in Dublin.

(Trust me, it's a decent place.)

The rooms aren't anything fancy,
but the prices are great,
the staff was really kind & gracious,,
the location is great,
and it will more than get the job done.

Check it out here.

*  *  *


All over Ireland, 
you'll see small shops
boasting that they sell Bewley's Coffee.

Go straight to the source
in the middle of bustling Grafton Street
while you're in town for a classic cup
and a great view.

Potato & Bacon soup with brown bread.... when in Rome.

Whether you eat inside
or score one of the balcony seats
on a nice day,
it's a stop that,
with it's stained-glass windows & constant buzz-
 will add a little character to your day
without stripping your wallet.

*   *   *

Brown Thomas

I think there is something 
really special about visiting 
the main department store of a city.

Not just one that is part of a chain,
but one that stands alone
as an icon for the city's style.

In Paris, you visit Printemps or Galleries LaFayette.
In London, Liberty or Harvey Nichols.
In New York, Henri Bendel or Barney's.
In Dallas, you go to the first Neiman's downtown.

And in Dublin,
you visit

The windows are gorgeous,
the departments are curated perfectly,
and the prices...
well, they're high.

(It's fancy!)

But it's worth stopping through
and buying something pretty for yourself.

Even if it's something on the smaller side,
like a pretty candle.

*   *   *

So thanks for the help, amigos.

It made my four nights in Dublin
all the better
with your suggestions and guidance.

And now,
I only feel it right to conclude 
with one more round of your suggestions
on the best Dublin stops...

I can only guess how great
 it will make next time like.

*all photos original to Aspiring Kennedy
Posted on November 26, 2013 and filed under "dublin", "ireland", "travel".

Write It Down.

I enjoy writing.


I can think clearer and articulate how I feel
by writing my thoughts down.

Journaling has always been a huge part
of all of my travels.

If you looked in my closet 
at my parents house,
you would find endless journals
half-filled with pages of my travels.

School trips, mission trips, family trips...
They would become immortalized by pen.

It seemed an injustice to the experience (and expense!)
to do anything but that...
As if it was wasteful to forget one day.

And I guess I still feel that way...

I love taking notes, pictures, 
writing favorite spots
we discovered down along the way
to show an odd form of thankfulness for the experience...

That's why this blog is so full of things, I suppose.

If someone can benefit from the experience I had,
it makes it live on and have a deeper worth.

But beyond the journaling & blogging,
I also love writing postcards.

I send them to the littles in my life that are special to us...
And, now that they've received them for a few years and the excitement has worn off a bit,
I get to write them to a new friend who needs them.

And that just makes the experience of going places,
even amazing places,
all the better.

Postcards? Pictures? Videos?

How do you savor your travel experiences?

* * *

I just walked in the door from two weeks 
moving around England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland...
capped off by a weekend in Barcelona.

(If that's new news, jump on the Aspiring Kennedy Instagram train for immediate gratification.)

More on those later
-as my immediate priority after a 4am taxi is a nap-
but for now,
check out two other places (on-line) 
that you can find me at recently.

Posted on November 25, 2013 and filed under "ireland", "scotland", "travel", "writing".

Pack Your Bags: The Lake District (England)


I've blogged about the Lakes District before (and the previous post may even have more information), but I always feel the need to add the new places that I discover upon my return to familiar sites.

So here a few extra glorious stops for you to make if (and when!) you find yourself in the glorious Lakes District in England.... and some selfies of myself + Viola. (I'm sorry and you're welcome.)

*  *  *

The World of Beatrix Potter

After skipping this stop over the previous years, I finally decided to give this stop a chance. Woah baby, this was way cuter than I imagined.

If you have a kids -or fond childhood memories involving Peter Rabbit- make this stop when you go to Windermere. (And, if you're in the lakes, you should go to Windermere.) There are gorgeous "It's a Small World" like scenes for each of the stories by Beatrix Potter, sans the boat ride, unfortunately.

Complete with a stop by Mr. MacGregor's garden, tea + cakes at the cafe downstairs, and a knit hat complete with bunny ears from the children's shop- this was a fun way to spend the afternoon. {Editor's Note: You don't need to pay to enter the cafe or gift shops.} Admission for adults: £7


*  *  *


When you're in Windermere, eat lunch at The Hole in The Wall Pub

It's completely cozy and ticks all the boxes your mind will have for the stereotypical British pub.


Sarah Nelson Grasmere Gingerbread

The birthplace of gingerbread is a tiny shop near the church in Grasmere... and the women working in the closet-sized shop wear old-fashioned aprons & bonnets.

You may be a bit surprised at the biscuit-like (read: "cookie-like" if in America) consistency of this forerunner to Starbucks gingerbread loaf. Oh, and get some homemade fudge while you're there. I mean, you might as well.

Then take the spoils of your visit and wander lonely like a cloud through the church cemetery and pay your respects to the Wordsworth family.


I always stay at the Ambleside Central Hotel in, well, Ambleside... but last year, we detoured and stayed at the  Red Lion in Grasmere. Also a good option! Less to choose from at night for dinner since the town is much smaller, but the hotel was super cute & cozy.


For more of my favorite stops in the Lakes District, hop back to my earlier post for fun places like Beatrix Potter's home, Hilltop Farm, my favorite place for breakfast, The Apple Pie Bakery, and Wordsworth's home, Dove Cottage and more here.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


Posted on November 15, 2013 and filed under "England", "english lakes", "travel".

Pack Your Bags: York, England

You've probably seen on Instagram 
that I'm on a fast & furious trip
around the UK (and soon-to-be Ireland).

While this is all fresh on my brain, 
I'm going to spend the next few days
spitting out pics & information
on new places that I'm discovering
so that, someday, you'll have some good options
for when you start planning a trip of your own.


What the US feels towards the North vs South
is similar to how the UK feels 
towards their North vs South...
except flipped.

The South of England is, stereotypically,
harsher, busier, ritzier, more educated... and snobbier.

The North of England is, stereotypically,
easy going, slow paced, cheaper, less intelligent.... and nicer.

Obviously, these are stereotypes
and you can meet both types
in either place.


There is something to be said for the 
kind attitudes 
and the cheap meals
and the crazy Billy-Elliot-esque vocabulary
that you start to experience 
once you roll up into the upper area of ole Blighty.

All of that to say,
I love when I find myself up north.

Especially if that means I'm in York.

York is a small town
(compared to the other "big" English cities),
but it has loads for tourists to enjoy.

I love these things:

Obviously, this church is a headliner
for most people's visit to York.

It's massive and it's stunning.

Go at 5:15pm for the daily evensong service
to get in and enjoy the church for free.

(You'll also hear some amazing choir singing in the 45 minute service-
but go 15 minutes early to snag a seat up close to the action.)

*  *  *

Yorkshire Pudding

I love nothing more than eating something
in it's birthplace.

While of Britain enjoys a Yorkshire pudding,
I've never seen them as big as they are in York.

{Editor's Note: A yorkshire pudding is not sweet. 
It's a savory bread-cup that is a perfect bowl shape 
for gravy on top of your roast meat & vegetables. 
Imagine a breadbowl... but less soggy.}

If you can get to a pub for a proper Sunday roast,
York makes it easy with two options 
that are centrally located and open daily:

Don't blow the chance to try this in person...

*  *  *

If you want tea
and you want to be fancy,
go to Betty's.

This gorgeous tea room & shop
give all the service and ambiance
you could ever hope for
in an English tea room.

This opulent surrounding
could hold its own 
around any fine establishment 
from the South.

*  *  *

I found myself eating cake & tea
in a places called, none other than, 

The downstairs is a teddy bear shop
and, up some narrow & windy stairs,
is a small tea shop + cafe.

It's not entirely impressive,
but the very top floor
has a great view overlooking the York Minster...
and you can get any cake + tea for £3.80

The carrot is awesome. 

I'd go back- baby or not.

{Though, admittedly, better with baby.}

*  *  *

sometimes it's fun to fall headfirst into a tourist trap... especially when you said trap lets you hold an owl.

If you go to York,
the other main tourist attractions you need to see are
(as in "Bloody Shambles")
and the Medieval Wall around the city.

Both are free to access, btw.

The Shambles are a tiny street of crooked buildings
and exposed-beam architecture
that draw your mind back hundreds of years.

The walk around the city walls offers gorgeous views
and a fun activity for an afternoon. 

*  *  *

And if you want to shop somewhere really neat?

Stop in the store,  The Imaginarium.

With curious objects, a luxe finish out, 
and friendly young men in dapper clothes attending you,
you'll find it hard to not walk away with something pretty in your hand.


Ah, I can't wait for you to experience York. 

Let me know if there are any favorites you have
from past trips there 
that I can try out 
the next time I find myself there!

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy
Posted on November 15, 2013 and filed under "England", "travel", "york".