2016 Best’s! 

2016 seems to have been a tough year for the both of us, a lot of people we know and the world in general 😓 But regardless, we ARE grateful for the experience, all the learnings it brought… and we did have some pretty amazing moments!

So as 2016 comes to an end, here’s a look back at our favourite moments this year!

Over this past year, we’ve gotten a bit addicted to Instagram… ok, maybe a lot! It’s a great place for travel inspirations, photography inspirations, uncanny quotes, silly sayings and memes… 😅

Having said that, here’s our “2016 Best Nine” on Instagram! (Although there are some photographs from 2015!)

The biggest highlight of this year had to be our amazing trip to Italy! We had both been to Italy before but this time, we got the chance to really explore and see it in a different light.

Quite literally!

This photograph was taken the evening we arrived into Pisa from Dublin. It was already past 10pm when we arrived, but we decided to check out the Leaning Tower anyways. And wow! Were we glad we went for this walk!

The illuminated Torre di Pisa teetering against a backdrop of pitch black sky and a glowing moon gave us goosebumps. The plus of visiting Piazza dei Miracoli at night? It was much quieter and less crowded, which made for a better experience.

In the daylight, there was a different atmosphere in the Piazza – visitors as far as we could see. But we did manage to get some fun shots – like this one! We like how we also captured a group of visitors in our photograph with just one gazing photograph!

Our signature gazing photograph 😉

Although Pisa, Florence and Rome were beautiful, our favourite had to be the blissful few days we spent exploring the Cinque Terre National Park.

We loved the apartment we got in Vernazza and that was a great home base as we explored the “Five Lands.” We had an amazing time hiking, wandering the narrow lanes, admiring the views and looking for the most special photographs.

We loved relaxing by the harbour with a bottle of wine. We also loved chasing the sunset from Riomaggiore to Manarola! We just had to catch that iconic shot of Manarola – the one that’s in all the guidebooks!

After an amazing few days, it was time to say goodbye to Vernazza – but we’ll be back there for sure!

Next, we were off to Venice. I hadn’t been to Venice before and I was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But it was just as beautiful in person as it was in all those travel brochures, the tourism websites and all the pictures on Instagram!

Although it was scorching hot and packed with visitors, there was just a charm to Venice that I couldn’t deny.

And a trip to Italy isn’t complete without talking about Rome! One of the highlights was actually the apartment that we stayed in.

It was right by the Colosseum and made for an amazing view right outside our window, both in the daylight and at night.

It was hard adjusting back to ‘normal life’ after exploring Italy. But good thing we had a beautiful Vancouver summer to enjoy!

After chasing yet another sunset, we settled in (on a crowded beach) for a night of fireworks that lit up the skies around English Bay in Vancouver. The Celebration of Light is always a Vancouver summer highlight!

Then in August, we had a lovely visit in Seattle with our good friend – M. We spent the weekend reminiscing about our Ireland trip and exploring Seattle.

And more recently, a rare-for-Vancouver winter wonderland had us dreaming of snowflakes and snowdays!

We are excited for what 2017 has in store for us! We can’t wait for our trip to Iceland – the countdown begins! 11 days to go! And it seems like every week we are contemplating a trip somewhere… Romania, Greece, Italy, London, Portugal, Spain, Disney World, Harry Potter World… We could go on and on!

So here’s to another year of adventures!

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all a very healthy and happy 2017. Go explore (new places or your own hometown), dare to dream (and dream big!), do something different (step out of your comfort zone) or try a new hobby (ours is calligraphy!) I hope 2017 is everything you imagine it to be and more 😊

Ioana will be taking us back to our Scotland adventures in the new year, but for now – we hope you have a safe and fun New Year’s Eve!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Ladurée – Dublin

We’re back home in Vancouver – after enjoying our day in Dublin and our 2 weeks in Italy! Italy is so beautiful – with the breathtaking scenery, the incredible history and the amazing architecture. We didn’t want to leave! Having said that… we were itching to get back to the slightly cooler temperatures of Vancouver (Roma was 37C!!) and the refreshingly delicious water back home (The water anywhere else just doesn’t taste the same!!).

While we were in Italy, we – along with our backpacks (Mine is named Jamie Fraser…) got around by train quite a bit, which provided plenty of time for staring out at the window at the passing countryside, thinking, reflecting, napping and… even some blogging! But blogging with my little old smartphone made it harder to format posts and photographs, so I’m definitely happy to be back home and back on my laptop again! (Might have to figure out how to stuff the laptop into the backpack on our next trip!)

So without another long winded story, here’s our next post – started on the train ride from Firenze to Venezia!

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After having ice cream from Murphy’s in Dublin, we stumbled upon a Ladurée down the street. It felt a bit strange to be having French macarons in Dublin, but when the shop was right there, we knew we had to stop in for a treat. Since we had just finished our ice cream, we decided to come back later that evening to try some of their famous macarons.

After doing some (window) shopping on Grafton Street, we wandered back to Ladurée.

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They always have such lovely shops! This one was similar in decor to the one that I visited in Paris – but on a smaller scale. A Ladurée recently opened up in Vancouver but neither of us have had the chance to visit it yet.

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We walked up to the counter, where were perhaps a dozen different flavours of macarons in the display case. Again, being very indecisive, it took us a while to settle on some flavours.

We finally ended up with these: Rose Petal, Marie Antoinette, Lemon and Strawberry Candy.

The Rose Petal:

This had a really distinctive rose flavour but it wasn’t overpowering at all. Soft and delicate – just like a rose!

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The Marie Antoinette:

This was inspired by their Marie Antoinette tea, which is described as – “A delicious marriage of Chinese and Indian black teas combined with rose petals, citrus fruit and honey.” It had a strong tea flavour, which was very interesting to taste in a macaron. (It also had an interesting colour, which may have been what drew us to it initially!)

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The Lemon:

This macaron had a nice and refreshing lemon flavour. It was enjoyable and classic but it wasn’t very special or unique.

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The Strawberry Candy:

This was our favourite! It smelled like strawberries and candy and tasted even better! It had a strong strawberry flavour and the filling was marshmallow! The marshmallow filling was chewier and stretchy – different from the fillings of the other marcons. All in all, we enjoyed it and this macaron tasted very much like a strawberry marshmallow candy!

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These macarons were the perfect early evening snack to tide us over to dinner! 🙂

If you want to try something different in Dublin, we definitely recommend going to Ladurée for a small treat 😉.

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Murphy’s Ice Cream – Dublin

When we were in Dingle last September, we tried Murphy’s Ice Cream. It was so deliciously creamy and they had such interesting flavours!

So when we discovered that they had a location in Dublin, we knew we had to make a stop there when we were in town this time around.

We dropped our luggage off at the hostel after getting into Dublin and headed to Wicklow Street to find us some ice cream!

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They were handing out samples of the Dreamy, Creamy Caramel. I personally thought it was a bit too sweet for my taste, but Ioana loved it and settled for that as her choice.

As for me… I tried a couple of samples – lavender, dingle sea salt and brown bread. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m the most indecisive person in the world, even when deciding on something as trivial as ice cream flavours! I finally decided to go with Irish Coffee and Kieran’s Cookies for my flavours. (Yes, I didn’t try any of those… but they turned out to be good choices!)

As with the ice cream we had in Dingle, both of our choices were delicious, flavourful and creamy. I’m thinking Murphy’s needs to come and open a store in Vancouver!

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After having the ice cream, we stumbled upon Ladurée…. and of course, we had to make a stop later that evening! Watch for our next post to see what we had from Laduree!

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Dublin – Round Two!

Sorry to report another hiatus… But we ARE excited to report that we are writing to you from Vernazza right now!

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Breathtaking!

We will get back to blogging about Ireland and Scotland but we thought we would keep our readers, friends and families up to date with our current adventures! So here goes:

We flew into Dublin, after an exhausting day of planes and airports.

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We had a layover in Calgary – where passengers bound for Cowtown disembarked the plane, but apparently we lost a passenger who was supposed to continue on with us to Toronto. We never found out what happened to this person… but eventually after hand checking the passenger manifest several times, we loaded up some new passengers and headed off to Toronto. At Toronto, we had a 4hr layover, so we managed to grab some dinner. The first airport restaurant we came upon was called Fionn MacCool’s!

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Tired and hungry!

We took it as a sign that we were meant to be eating there!
It was airport restaurant food, so it wasn’t authentic Irish food or anything… but after two flights without any meal or snacks, we were ready for a meal.

After our dinner, we ventured to our gate to wait for our flight. I’d been trying really hard not to fall asleep the whole day, so I could adjust to Europe time. But it was getting really difficult now… (having been swamped with numerous rehearsals and wedding events and 3 ballet performances the week before we left, I was up until really late packing.) We were eagerly waiting to get on the plane, fall asleep and wake up perfectly adjusted to the local time in Ireland. And so we waited and waited… and eventually our boarding time passed without a plane being at the gate…

Finally about an hour late, we started boarding – an apparently new Airbus. It still had a bit of a new plane smell! We were seated at the very back of the plane, which we didn’t particularly mind. Except when the meals were being handed out! Both times, they had run out of a lot of food options by the time they got to us 😞 But we settled happily for a grilled vegetable sandwich!

Finally after a full day of travelling, we landed in Dublin. It is nice revisiting a city that you have been to before. You already know how to get around and you already have your bearings. So we grabbed our luggage, walked straight to the Airlink stand and off to the city centre we went!

Once we got off at our stop, we easily found our way to the Barnacles hostel.

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We enjoyed our stay the last time we were in Dublin, so we decided to stay here again. Plus it was right in the city centre – a couple doors down from the Temple Bar and we could easily walk to wherever we needed to go.

Once we checked in and dropped off our things in our room, we headed out to wander Dublin. Since we had done most of the ‘tourist-y’ things last time around, we didn’t have many plans for our stay this time. Especially since we were only staying for a day and a bit… But we did have our list of things to check out and do: Grafton Street for the Disney store (of course), Murphy’s Ice Cream (which we first had in Dingle), drink Guinness (which tastes completely different in Ireland than at home) and listen to some trad music!

We checked off most of these things! (Food post to come next – because it deserves its own post!) We also leisurely wandered around to our old Dublin haunts…

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Ha’penny Bridge

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Iconic…

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Dublin Castle

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The iconic alley from “P.S. I Love You.”

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Grafton Street!

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The Disney Store! 😍

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Back to the Old Storehouse for dinner!

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We did scrutinize the technique and pour of the Guinness… but it was still good!

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Gorgeous at night!

More snippets of our trip to come! In the meantime, check out our Instagram for more photographs!

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!