This past weekend Dublin played host to its 10th annual Open House Dublin where, as you can probably guess by its name, buildings across the city that are usually closed to the general public are open with guided tours over 3 days. Most of the tours happened in the city centre, but for the most part we decided stayed local. 

On Saturday we started with the Memorial Court / Islandbridge Court / Sarah Place tour which consisted of three local housing schemes [above is Memorial Court which is home to 66 apartments for senior citizens]. Robert and I pass all three buildings on a daily basis so it was interesting to walk around the grounds and be able to be a tourist so close to home.

From there, we hopped on a bus and headed into the city centre [where the majority of the Open House Dublin tours were] to check out the College Green Apartments. Unfortunately, after standing in line for almost an hour we were told the queue ended with the woman standing directly ahead of us. I was dying to see the recently refurbished apartments [you can see here] so I could daydream about owning one and feel horrible about my own life in general. I suppose in the long run, they were saving me from myself. Silver lining? 

On Sunday there was a tour of Inchicore School which underwent an upgrade last year. I spent most of said year craning my neck to see what was being built behind that behemoth of a wall, so I was looking forward to going in. The old schoolhouse against the new building was really amazing and they worked so well together when it was broken down and explained by the architect. My photos do it zero justice … 

The original schoolhouse [which I failed miserably to get a decent picture of. It’s a beautiful building] was built in 1853. Due to population demand it became necessary for additional space to be added to the school, so in the back corner of the grounds a 3 storey building was constructed to house 6 extra class rooms and a hall [aka, gym] on the ground floor. 

With huge chestnut trees on the property and a public park across the road, the area doesn’t feel as stark as my pictures may portray. One of the architects gave us a thorough tour of the premises and it was a real treat to learn more about a place I’ve been eyeing for so long. I mean, look at that view from the classrooms … Robert and I literally died. 

It was a bit of a shame that out of the 5 buildings we visited [3 in Islandbridge, one on College Green and Inchicore School], we only got into one building. Inchicore School was a real treat and such an inspiring restoration job coupled with an environmental and well-being-conscious new build. It was a lovely weekend exploring in our own backyard. Next year we’ll sure to get out and see more. MOAR!

The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

For our San Sebastian getaway last week, we flew into Bilbao from Dublin. And if there’s one thing Bilbao is known for [of many things], it’s the Guggenheim Museum.

When I was in my second or third year of college, our entire year went on a trip to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Museum. I didn’t go because at the time I couldn’t afford it. Big welp. So when we booked our recent flights through Bilbao airport, there was no way I was missing out on some Gugg for a secondtime.

It was a bit of a close call. The only time we could visit was before our return flight home. Our flight was at 16:35 and we arrived at Bilbao airport [via direct bus from San Sebastian] at 14:00, so we jumped on the next bus into Bilbao, suitcases in hand, and ran to the Guggenheim.

No, we didn’t go in. I know, sacrilegious. We had just enough time to admire the building itself and its Frank Gehry-ness in all of its splendour. And admire we did. As quickly as we could, in the near 30°C midday heat. I ran, snapped pictures like a starved paparazzi tailing a Kardashian, and in 20 minutes we were on our way back to the airport.

Dem curves tho, girl. Dayum.

So tell me, have you ever done a drive-by on a tourist attraction? I would have loved to take a proper chilled walk around it [and in it], but I figured €600 on amending return flight tickets would have been a bit of a splash. 

Sun, sea, sangria and San Sebastian

Last week we jetted off to San Sebastian, Basque Country in northern Spain for a relaxing few days full of nothing but sun, sea, sand, seafood and sangria. All our holidays to date have been full of things to do and places to see. This was our first attempt at a relaxing sun holiday. And what did we do? Walked about 20km every day and didn’t put our swimsuits on once or read a book. Ha! We just got so excited and want to see all of the things.

This trip had a Will Ferrell theme to it; we sang this every time we walked down the boulevard, sang this whenever I ordered a sangria [which was A LOT], quoted Anchorman a lot, and talked about the inclement weather to no end.

On our first day we walked from our hotel, along the beach [and crept on all the houses along the way], up Monte Urgull, back down to the city centre for eats and drinks, wandered aimlessly for hours, eating and drinking [SANGRIA. ZOMG], then lounged on the lawn under hydrangeas at Miramar Palace …

On another day we walked to Monte Igueldo, went up the [terrifying] funicular [I’m terrified of elevators and as it seems, funiculars. The idea of being held by a single cord, no matter how strong, makes me want to eat Zanex like they were M&M’s], enjoyed the views, went back down said funicular and celebrated not plunging to our death with MOAR PINTXOS AND SANGRIA

Sangria and pintxos. Pinxos are the Basque version of tapas, and every single bar you walk into, pintxos are resting on every inch of available counter space. We went burserker. There was so much seriously yummy and tiny food. None of the photos I took of them did any justice to their yumminess [FYI, the crab ones were my fav].

But sangria. Did I mention the sangria? I really like sangria. It’s nice and it matched my nails. So, win win.

I really have to stop myself from uploading every single image I took, but I’ll be good and finish it here. Before we headed home, we made a quick trip to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao before getting our return flight, but that place deserves a post of its own [UPDATE – here it is!].

In short, if you can go to there, go to there. San Sebastian and the surrounding Basque Country are incredibly beautiful. A perfect holiday destination for wandering aimlessly with no agenda.

And there’s sangria.