Travel Guide

New Year in Dublin.

After spending three New Year’s Eves in New York City, we were ready for a change and looked tirelessly for an affordable getaway.  Fortunately, a great deal showed up for Dublin where we had never been.  Without much consideration, we took this opportunity to spend a week in the land of ire.  We stayed with an Airbnb host who so graciously invited us to spend an amazing New Year’s Eve with him and his friends.  We took so many long walks, connected with old friends and new friends, frequented many pubs, drank a gazillion beers, and had delicious food.  Here’s our guide to Dublin!

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EAT

Crackbird  New Yorkers are no stranger to Korean fried chicken.  This spot has solid fried chicken PLUS delicious brews from the local Eight Degrees Brewing

Leo Burdock’s  Classic fish & chip.  Fresh and delicious.

Neon  The food is great but what’s the best about this place?  It’s that they give you an ice cream cone with your meal so that you can get a free soft serve afterwards.  Amazing and genius!

Yamamori Izakaya  Great food!

l’Gueuleton  Classic and delicious french food.  The restaurant is also connected to The Bar With No Name, a great hidden spots with outdoor seatings.

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DRINK

Bull and Castle  Classic Irish pub with tons of beers that could only be found in Ireland as well as some global selections.  The extensive selection could be intimidating but stick with the Irish brews as they are delicious!  Galway Hooker, Metalman, Trouble, O’Hara’s, Dingle… — try them all!

The Royal Oak  This pub is so quaint and amazing!  It’s a family-run pub frequented by mostly locals.  After a delicious homemade New Year’s Eve dinner, we stumbled with some new Irish friends to their favorite neighborhood spot and it turned out to be a true hidden gem.  The place is tiny but the beer selection is grand.  It also features a traditional pub snug with private access to the bar.

The Palace Bar  If you wander to Temple Bar and was not feeling the touristy vibe at all, please check out this pub before leaving the tourist trap!  You will feel the difference as soon as you walk in the place — despite its location in the middle of Temple Bar, the crowd consists to all locals and the ambience is nice and perfect for conversations.

Bison Bar & BBQ  We did not try the BBQ but the brews were great!  Another nice & chill pub!

The Porterhouse  We are huge fans of the historic Porterhouse Fraunces Tavern in New York City and couldn’t miss checking out the original Porterhouse in Dublin.  It did not disappoint!

The Library Bar  Hidden and charming bar in The Central Hotel.  Fireplace and brews — what else would one need?

Guinness Storehouse  Free pint with your tour ticket!  We went straight to the Gravity Bar on the top floor to sip our beer while enjoying the 360° view of the city.  Ask the bartender to draw your name on the beer — it’s not exclusive to latte art!

The Long Hall  Another great pub!  Definitely stop by if you’re around.

The Bar With No Name  Connected to the Kellys Hotel and l’Gueuleton restaurant, this place feels like a big house party with multiple rooms and outdoor space.  Great spot!

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COFFEE & SNACKS

Insomnia  They are everywhere!  And they have delicious coffee!  Do check it out if you see one!

Brother Hubbard  Coffee and sweets!

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SEE

Old Jameson Distillery  This spot wasn’t on our list but we stumbled upon it and decided to check it out.  All the tours were full so we just had some drinks in the pretty lobby bar.

Irish Museum of Modern Art (the IMMA) and Phoenix Park   The IMMA was closed for a while a renovation and had just reopened right before we got there – lucky us!  The galleries aren’t huge but the building, which used to be a 17th-century hospital, is truly beautiful.  The museum is connected to the amazing Phoenix Park, a 1700-acre green space in the heart of Dublin.

Howth  Our host kindly drove us to Howth for a quick day trip.  Howth is right outside of Dublin and is a cute little fishing village.  We walked out to the lighthouse, climbed up to Howth Head, then had delicious oysters and guinness at The Bloody Stream.

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SHOP

Designist  Super fun design store where we discover a new favorite local artist Clover Rua.  Check her out as her prints are amazing!

Irish Design Shop  All kinds of beautiful!

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There are still many places on our to-do list that we didn’t get to visit during our short stay.  Check out Phuong’s Foursquare list here!

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Travel Guide

A five-day honeymoon in Sonoma.

We had been to Sonoma (CA) briefly for just one day in November, 2012 but it doesn’t take much to fall in love with this wonderful area.  We stayed at the wonderful H2Hotel, ate at the delicious Spoonbar, and tasted some amazing wines from the beautiful Amista Vineyards and Michel Schumberger.  We were determined to come back for more food and wine.  And why not during our honeymoon?

This time around, we chose to stay in Occidental (CA) by the Sonoma Coast.  It was the most relaxing vacation of all time!  We spent our time at the most magnificent cottage that is nestled in the Que Syrah Vineyard at the elevation of 845 feet above sea level.  (Read more about the cottage below!)  Our days began with breakfast on the balcony over looking the foggy coast, followed by wine tasting or sightseeing by 10am,  then lunch, nap, sunset watching, and dinner.  We had the best food and wine and really enjoyed all the beautiful drives around the area.

Here’s our guide to where we stayed, ate, drank, and went for sightseeing!

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STAY

Pacific View Cottage   We are still in awe at how romantic this little cottage is!  It sits on a ridge and offers sweeping view of the surrounding forest and the Sonoma Coast.  The kitchen is well equipped with everything to cook meals.  We loved eating breakfast and watching sunsets from the balcony.  The bedroom and bathroom are separated from the kitchen and living area upstairs by a spiral staircase.  The view from the bedroom floor-to-ceiling windows make waking up a much easier task than usual.  We miss this place everyday!

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EAT, DRINK

Bistro des Copains  Cozy spot in Occidental that serves up scrumptious french-inspired food.  The fried oyster salad was to die for!  

Wild Flower Bread  Fantastic bakery with an incredible varity of bread products.  Don’t leave without their fougasse (with cheese and shitake mushroom) and gooey sticky bun!  And make sure to check out their lovely garden!

Freestone Artisan Cheese  One-of-a-kind cheese shop!  Omar Mueller is the smiling owner and cheese enthusiast.  He was there to greet us and let us try all sorts of cheese.  We only had one night and one day left of our trip but ended up with four different cheeses.  It was the first time we had water buffalo cheese and it was so delicious we could cry!

Spud Point Crab Company  Tiny take-out seafood restaurant on Bodega Bay.  We had an crab sandwich and clam chowder.  Both dynamite! 

Marimar Estate Vineyard and Winery  The most colorful vineyard with not only the best spanish-style wines but also tasty tapas.  We spent hours at this vineyard marveling at their chardonnay and pinot noir vines, tasting six different wines and tapas from the owner’s cookbooks, and playing with Chico and Bonita, the two lovely vineyard dogs.  Highly recommended y’all! 

Balletto Vineyard & Winery  Nice tasting room with the best gewurztraminer!  Next time we would bring a picnic and spend some time in their vineyard.

The Marshall Store  Amazing oyster with a mesmerizing view of Tomales Bay.

Gerald’s Paella Gigantic paella stuffed with a ridiculous amount of chicken and fresh seafood.  Gerald beat Bobby Flay in a paella throw-down and his paella did not disappoint!  Simply amazing!  Give it a try at the Occidental Farmers’ Market every Friday night.

Bohemian Market  Wonderful grocery store!  We stop by here every day for our breakfast supplies. 

Lagunitas  Awesome brewery!  We have always been fans of Lagunitas beers and were excited to find out that their brewery is on our way back from Sonoma to San Francisco.  We got the Around-the-World tasting flight with all 15 beers that they have.  Best decision! 

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SEE

Bodega Bay  A shallow, rocky inlet of the pacific ocean.  Go all the way to Bodega Head and enjoy the mesmerizing view that mother Nature created for us!  

Tomales Bay  Another inlet with  beautiful view of the coast.  Come here for oysters and drinks!

Armstrong Redwoods State National Preserve  Serene and majestic.  Check out the easy discovery trail with the tallest and oldest trees!

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