My road trip through Ireland

Headed to Ireland? Rent a car and hop in for the best road trip of your life.

Last summer I took the best trip around Southern and Central Ireland and I am convinced this is the best way to see the country. We flew into Dublin and rented a car and drove to our accommodations right away. We'd be back for Dublin later. We got an Airbnb in the center of the country in a small town called Croom located in County Limerick so we could make various day trips. Here were our destinations and the things you need to know:

County Limerick, Croom and Adare

The farmhouse we stayed in was gorgeous! A two storey house with tons of living space and an open kitchen provided the five of us with enough space to spread out. James, the owner of the home met us there upon our arrival. He was so sweet and accommodating and even left us travel resources. Check out his listing on Airbnb here! The views from the backyard were incredible! All you could see for miles was green and the occasional cow. Across the street was a nice hiking trail where you could see even more of the beautiful Irish countryside. The kitchen was fully equipped, so we saved money by eating breakfast here before setting out for the day. I find grocery shopping abroad really fun because it can be so different which brings me to our next destination.

Croom had no grocery store so we had to make a quick trip to the neighboring town, Adare. This was such an amazing happy accident and we ended up returning a few times! Adare's main street is flanked with small shops, bars, and restaurants. After grocery shopping, we stopped in Aunty Lena's Bar And Lounge which quickly became a favorite. The locals seemed to regard it as your average local pub but to us it was a treat. My first night there, I had their Bangers and Mash and it was incredible. I think that's the first of many times on this trip I decided I needed to move to Ireland. There are potatoes in almost every dish - these must be my people, I thought. Aunty Lena's and other local pubs boasted live music most nights of the week. A combination between top 40's and old Irish folk songs, it was the perfect soundtrack to dinner.

Some of Ireland's amazing food at Aunty Lena'sPhoto by Anie Delgado

County Kerry, Killarney

Our first full day in Ireland was spent driving to Killarney in County Kerry to visit the Muckross grounds. We visited the haunting Abbey and cemetery first which is a must-see! The old stone tombstones and structures overgrown with greenery is eerie but down the road near the house and the gardens is an entirely different vibe. The gardens are bright and well manicured. They are the perfect spot to stop and have a picnic. We packed some lunch with us to save money and ate in the shade of a tree overlooking the gardens. Nearby, there was a shop where they sold handmade goods like gorgeous hats, pottery, Trinity crystal, and more. Killarney is a quick hour and 20 minutes from Croom and I definitely recommend visiting if you love architecture.

County Galway, Galway

Possibly the destination I was most excited for as an artist myself was Galway. I didn't know exactly what to expect and the city surpassed any expectations I did have. You can feel the artistic soul of the place in the buzzing streets. We came across a group of street performers called the Galway Street Gang who were 15 or so strong playing Irish Folk songs and Bob Marley covers throughout the streets. We ran into them later when they hopped a boat and serenaded Galway Bay. Besides walking around, there are tons of bars to see in Galway. Most notable, Róisín Dubh is known as a legendary music hall. I enjoyed a drink there during one of their quieter times and loved the space. Galway is crowded with stores selling handmade clothing and housewares and even music stores selling hand carved wooden instruments. Galway is a quick hour and a half from Croom, so again it was an easy trip and definitely a must-see!

The streets of GalwayPhoto by Anie Delgado

County Cork, Blarney and Kinsale

The next day we made sure to cross visiting a castle off our bucket list. We chose the Blarney Castle known for the Blarney Stone. The legend is that if you kiss the stone you get the gift of gab which is essentially charisma. Locals joke that they pee on the stone at night when all the tourists go home and made up the legend as a prank on the tourists. Regardless, I kissed the stone. What can I say? I did it for the 'gram. The castle itself was tall and narrow and well preserved. There were signs all around indicating what each space was used for. My favorite part was the poison garden just outside. It was really fun to read about all of the poisonous plants and crazy to think that they are right there within arms reach of guests!

Later that day, we continued further South into County Cork to Kinsale. We heard that Kinsale boasted the best fish and chips and had to try it. Kinsale was super fun because it was a smaller, less-touristy town and it was a bank-holiday so we got to interact with more locals. We indulged in fish and chips at Kitty O Se's and they were pretty good!

The Blarney CastlePhoto by Anie Delgado

The view from the top of Blarney Castle.Photo by Anie Delgado

Kissing the Blarney Stone: DuringPhoto by Marie Delgado

Kissing the Blarney Stone: AfterPhoto by Marie Delgado

County Clare, Doolin and the Aran Islands

The next day we spent in Doolin and seeing the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. Check out my post about The Cliffs of Moher and The Aran Islands here.

County Limerick, City of Limerick

We were told since we were staying in County Limerick we couldn't miss Limerick. We were also told that it was one of the rougher areas in Ireland, but we had a blast. We visited King John's Castle which was one of the best museums I've ever been to. It was interactive and they also had historical reenactments throughout the day. After the museum we went to a pub around the corner and enjoyed some step dancing!

King John's CastlePhoto by Anie Delgado

The historic river outside King John's CastlePhoto by Anie Delgado

Dublin

Our last trip was to the capital of Dublin. Dublin was a little overwhelming even for this city girl! There are so many things to see and so many attractions that it's hard to do just one day here which is something I noted for next time! Some of our big stops were the Guinness Factory, The National Museum, and Trinity College. We also walked around the streets and stumbled across an amazing old bookstore with (very expensive) original signed copies of novels from the greats like Ernest Hemingway. We also stopped in the country's oldest bar, Temple Bar.

Having the freedom to roam the country without worrying about transportation made all of the difference! I highly recommend road tripping through Ireland if you visit.

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There are several things about wine that can confuse the average person. If you haven't spent the last few years of your life learning everything there is to know about wine, you can be forgiven for picking up a box of the good stuff every now and then. However, if you want to know a little bit more about how to choose a good bottle, we can help you out. We've created a beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine so you can enjoy yourself a little more.

Know What Type of Wine To Choose

First things first, you're going to need to decide the type of wine that you're looking for in order to narrow your search. Are you looking for a red, white, sparkling, or rosé? The choices may seem overwhelming, but try to focus on what foods you'll be pairing the wine with. Reds go great with heavier meals like red meat, while whites tend to lend themselves towards lighter dishes like fish and cheeses. If you'll be drinking the wine on its own, consider what you've tried in the past and what type you tend to gravitate toward.

Know How Much You're Willing To Spend

It's no secret that a penchant for wine can become an expensive hobby. If you're just getting into the idea, don't waste your time or money with the extremely pricey bottles. A good place to start looking for decent bottles of wine is somewhere between the $10 and $30 price range. This will keep you from buying something too low quality without breaking your bank in the process.

Read the Labels Closely

A good bottle of wine will often give tasting notes right on the bottle. Because everyone's palette is different, you may not get the same notes when you try the wine, but it's a good place to start. Choose something with tasting notes that you already enjoy like berries or cocoa and try to see if you get any hints of that as you drink. The labels may also tell you about the wine's acidity, or how tart it is, and the wine's body, or the way it feels in your mouth.

A beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine can only go so far without being overwhelming. The next part of your wine journey will need to be undertaken on your own. Try various types of wine and see what tastes best to you—that's what wine is really all about.

Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!