Can’t Get You Outta My Head (Ireland)

When I heard that this month’s travel link-up was all about a place you can’t get out of your head, I went with the first place that popped in my head: Ireland!

From Courtney 008

It’s hard to put a finger on why I love Ireland so much. I’m particularly partial to the West Country, more so than Dublin and the surroundings. I’ve been to Ireland twice–and generally I can’t wait to go to new places, but Ireland? Well I would live there, go there again and again, and visit every little corner. Even the name of the country has me daydreaming about the next time I’ll get to visit.

I think I love it because it’s one of those places you always hear about–but also one of those places that meets all (sometimes too high) expectations. The green is so true it hurts your throat; the coast is in turns charming and dramatic; the people are so fun and friendly; the mysterious ruins the come out of the green will take your breath away and capture your imagination. I love that there a little pockets where Irish is still spoken, but the traditional seems alive in some way all over the country.

Ireland is just…magic.

From Courtney 032 From Courtney 094 From Courtney 148 From Courtney 214 From Courtney 226 From Courtney 236 DSCF0732 From Courtney 208 From Courtney 232 From Courtney 096 IMG_0530 IMG_0305 IMG_0235 IMG_0257 IMG_0271 IMG_0455 IMG_0471 IMG_0411 IMG_0408

So what do you think? Would you be able to get Ireland out of your head?

Linking up with Kelly, Emma, Rebecca and Liz!

Behind the Scenes: Instagram

Inspired by this post from the Daily Tay.

IMG_4354

This photo says…Prague was quietly raining when I snapped this picture of a beautiful, damp flower.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes…it’s a serious, windy downpour that is trying to rip my umbrella from my hands, but I see the flower and can’t resist. I get soaked and remain so for the rest of my day, constantly getting asked “what happened to your umbrella?” and even being offered a few umbrellas to make it home in a dry manner.

IMG_4349

This photo says…my childhood dream of visiting the Harry Potter studios is coming true. Look how gracefully the doors open for me, just like in the movies!

Meanwhile, behind the scenes…I pushed about fifty people out of my way to get a good shot of the doors, and there were still about ten strollers in my way, hence the high angle. Did I mention that most of the people I did push out of my way were under the age of fifteen? #notashamed.

IMG_4350

This photo says…this exact pose happens a lot as I wander through the old streets of Dubrovnik, accidentally centering myself right in the middle of the staircase.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes…this is about the fifth alleyway we’ve stopped in front of, with me making E get a picture of me. Most of the shots went something like this… E: “Is this one good yet? Can we eat?” Me: “Ugh no, look at my hair, is that really what it looks like from the back?” Or… E: “What are you doing with your arms? It looks unnatural.” Me: “Well what should I do with my arms?” E: “I don’t know. But not that.” Or… Me: “No, this alleyway is too crooked. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing.” E: “Also, we’re standing in the middle of a restaurant while we’re discussing this, we should move.”

IMG_4351

This photos says…I just popped up this side of this cliff quickly to get a lovely view of this fabulous place, and to share said view with all of you!

Meanwhile, behind the scenes…I think the thousand-some steps they reported it would take were really more like a billion. They were also slick so I fell several times; the pathway was only large enough for single file so there was a lot of dodging other humans; we were up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat; it was still so hot I almost fainted. I’m so tough!

IMG_4352

This photo says…we just happened to find this awesome snake spout that looks like something out of Harry Potter on our leisurely walk through Karlovy Vary.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes…I knew about the spout beforehand and was determined to find it. Unfortunately, our map was wrong so we were on a giant wild goose chase for several hours, asking several people about it and receiving blank looks, or quickly Googling it when we found wifi. Eventually we found it…about two minutes from our hotel. We had walked the very long way around, about two hours. Oops.

IMG_4353

This photo says…how funny, this cute little seagull wouldn’t get out of our way.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes…after a lot of coaxing to get the seagull to move, it went into attack stance so we left to find another tiny, yet empty, corner of the Rialto Bridge where we could get a view. You win, you Italian seagull, you win.


Tell me…

What does your Instagram look like, behind-the-scenes?

Little Loket

IMG_1537Hi, I’m Amy, and I have a confession: I’m addicted to guidebooks. And castles. When we moved to Prague, I carried in my bag (or E carried in his, bless him!) not one, not two, but four guidebooks, not to mention the three more I have on my Nook. I am especially fond of Rick Steves–he’s my man.

Of course, this year I learned that guidebooks can take you only so far, and that it’s much, much better to go and see the place for yourself before you let someone else tell you if it’s worthwhile. But most of the time, I find guidebooks so helpful, and they’ve introduced so many places that would have remained under my radar.

Such is the case with the tiny town of Loket, Czech Republic. Loket is so tiny it doesn’t even have its own section in my giant Lonely Planet Europe book–just a little blurb in the section of Karlovy Vary. We attempted to visit Loket on our first trip from Karlovy Vary, as it’s just near there (hence being a blurb in that section), but we happened to be visiting on Easter and all of the buses were shut down.

So, I added Loket to our travel itinerary when my parents’ visited. It was more ideal because we had a car, and I’m so glad we stopped (although by that time we were all tired and ready to be back in Prague). It was about twenty minutes away from Karlovy Vary, but so peaceful, and like many Czech towns, on a windy river. Loket had a beautiful view of green hills, a tiny, perfectly preserved medieval center, baby goats (I mean, baby goats!) and of course, the requisite castle.

Not only is Loket one of the more gorgeous castles of my beloved CZ, but a James Bond movie (Casino Royale) was actually filmed here, and some in nearby Karlovy Vary.

While we only made a very quick stop here, I would have loved to come back for a full day and even a night to soak up the atmosphere of the little village…and to keep playing with the baby goats, of course.

IMG_1535 IMG_1540 IMG_1581 IMG_1594 IMG_1596 IMG_1597 IMG_1599 IMG_1598 IMG_1604 IMG_1606 IMG_1609 IMG_1561 IMG_1567 IMG_1568 IMG_1616

Question:

What do you think of guidebooks? Love ’em or hate ’em or a little bit of both? Have you discovered any great places from a guidebook?


Linking up with Travel Tuesday