Fort-de-France | Martinique ❤️

Here’s a few wee snaps from a trip I took to Fort-de-France, the capital of Martiniaue, a few weeks ago. As you can tell I’m awful at updating you all with what’s going on in my life and the whole no-laptop-thing isn’t exactly making it any easier, but I took a few wee trips recently that I will definitely be blogging about in the next few days. Below you can see a few of the other language assistants that I’ve met here and some pics of Fdf. Honestly, it’s not my favourite city in the world, as in it’s not the prettiest. However it’s where all the good stuff happens, so I find myself there a lot! 🙂 anyway keep yours eyes open for some good stuff, such as many pretty pics ASAP. I’ll just have to suck it up and use my phone, even if it isn’t my fav way to write! 😉

A plus,

Kate

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I’m still alive !! 

Here’s a few pics to show that I’m still alive and kicking 😉 Sadly, I’m a laptop down, which is a pain in the arse, but sure look we’ll plough on. It’s hard to be annoyed or upset for too long when you’re surrounded by such beauty. Here are a few snaps of our trip to Tartan, a beach located not to far from where I’m staying. That’s Natalia by the way, my Spanish housemate. I promise once I get settled in (first week of work started and French paper work is seriously killing my vibe), I’ll be posting more often, even if it is harder to do so on my phone. 😊

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Isn’t she a beaut <3 

So I’ve arrived safe and sound on this beautiful island and honestly it’s simply stunning. Very hot, but I’m hoping that I’ll get used to that over time. I don’t know if it’s the heat or the time difference but I keep waking up super early like at 1 am, to be exact. Ok I did go to bed at 20 h, but I was exhausted. I still am, so I know ill be conked out in a bit. But yeah, just thought I’d touch base and share some snaps. I have this entire week free to do as I please. It’s a tough life, ey?

These pics were taken today when our landlady took us on a little hike near by and then a lovely dip in the ocean. Anyway once I get on my way and start doing things, I shall start posting more but as for now I’m ready to crawl under my mosquito net and sleep! Bonne nuit! 😘

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Väike Kuuba | Tartu ♡ Probably the best mojito that I’ve ever tried ♡

The Cuban bar (nobody knew its real name until last week) aka Väike Kuuba in Tartu is a place that I’ve been hearing about for over a year now and last week I finally got to see what all the fuss was about for myself. This cute little spot wasn’t open during my Winter trip for one main reason, it’s an outdoor bar and like most others I’d rather not freeze my tits off and get pneumonia. Not even for a good mojito. Basically the only way I can describe this place is like a teeny tiny caravan-like bar (but glam) by the river with seats on top of it. We headed there this day last week and I must admit that it is totally worth the hype. I love a good mojito and I’m always on the hunt for the best and I think I may have found it here. What I liked the most was that they were massive and delicious, of course. They come served in these big mason jars and there’s a nice selection to choose from. I opted for the Raspberry one, which was divine, while Ode got the passion fruit flavour, which was equally as tasty. I think this place is super cool and chill and I’d definitely love to go back in the future. If it had been a warmer summer night I would have loved to have stayed for a while, chilling on the grass and tasting all their flavoured mojitos, but it was a little bit nippy, so we hit the road. Next time, ey ?

I went here with Ode, Annabel, Keit and Olari after a cute wee girly night of prinking, chatting and doing ourselves up. 🙂

If you’re in Tartu, check this place out at Vabaduse puiestee 2, 51004 Tartu, Estonia. I think Ode said that it closes in October, so there’s still time to grab yourself one of these bad boys. 😉 Gooooooo!!

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What I’ll miss the most ♡

In exactly one week I will be boarding my first ever long-haul flight – Martinique bound. It’s weird but I don’t think it’s actually hit me yet because I’m not stressing – like at all. I remember this time two years ago I bawled my eyes crying before leaving for Spain. Who knows, maybe I’ve matured in that short period of time or like I said before perhaps I’ve just put it to the back of my mind, especially the packing part! (still dreading it) 😛 I just got back fr0m Estonia earlier in the week and right now I am well and truly dosed with a cold. It happens every year. I guess we always take the JANU madness to the extreme. Whenever I’m sick I usually can’t sleep, so here I am sitting up in my pjs, sipping on a hot drink and feeling oh so very tired. Not being able to sleep made me think about where I want to travel during and after my placement, what I want to do after in terms of MA’s and most importantly what I’m going to miss the most. So here it is.

  1. My family I mean this is a given, right? I’m super close with my family, especially with my dad, which makes leaving extra hard. I remember during Erasmus I would be having the most amazing day, feeling like the happiest person in the world then suddenly after a quick chat on Viber with the aul fella, I’d be reduced to tears. He was so worried at the time because he thought that I hated it, but I didn’t. I hated that I loved it so much. Is that weird? Like I felt guilty, which is silly I know. How could I be so happy but at the same time so far from my family? I think this time I’m going to message my dad more than calling him, because sometimes hearing his voice is just too much. No matter where I am, or how happy I am, I’ll always miss him. It’s a fact that I’ll just have to come to terms with. I just don’t want to be stressing him out thinking that I’m an absolute mess, when really I just miss him.  fullsizerender
  2. My dogs Anyone who knows me knows that I love my dogs to the moon and back and like my family, they too make it hard to leave. My oldest baba is the rare aul age of 14 and throughout my stay in Spain I feared that I’d get a call telling me that he’d passed away. Two years on he’s still alive and kicking, but I’m not going to lie, I still have the same fears that I had two years ago. Some people might think I’m crazy and think that he’s just a dog, but he’s not. All my dogs are like family to me and if anything happened to any of them I’d be heartbroken. I mean look at their beautiful faces.
  3. My bed/house There really is nowhere quite like home. I’ll be renting a villa with two other language assistants this year and even though it will technically be my home, I don’t think I’ll ever really feel 100% comfortable .I mean I have no worries about walking around my house looking like a complete and utter mess with stains on my pjs and my hair on top of my head. Whereas now I have to make sure that I don’t scare anyone in the hall at night when I’m going for a glass of water  😛
  4. My friends Just like family and pets, I’ll miss my wee babas. It’s funny because I feel like no matter where I am or who I’m with, I’m always missing someone. Travelling has blessed me with so many international friends, some of whom are my best friends. Leaving Estonia this week was particularly hard because I don’t know when I’ll see my best friend again and that is always something that I find hard to come to terms with. Then I have my other loves, my frenchies some of whom are in New York and New Zealand on their own adventures. So yeah, I’m always missing someone. However this time I mean old friends in particular,  like your hometown crew. For a long time, I felt like I had lost all my friends from home. I’d ventured away so many times that I’d simply lost contact. That all changed this year when I got super close with a bunch of absolute huns who I’ve been friends with since I was 16. Turns out they didn’t hate me for leaving , they were just off living their lives too. It’s always a nice feeling knowing that you have people to come back to and I’m really lucky to have my DunHuns (yes we have our own name). I actually had a little going-away do two weeks ago and I got super emotional afterwards when I realised that all these people had gathered in this little country pub for me. 🙂

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    Here’s a pic of my Dunhuns and Ode during my going-away party 🙂

  5. Ireland Yes, that’s right, I’ll miss my home country. Somehow people always think that I hate the Emerald Isle or that I think I’m too good for it. No way, quite the opposite actually. I love this little island and I couldn’t be more proud to be from such an amazing country. Just because I leave,  doesn’t mean that I don’t love Ireland. I just seek adventure. I just want to challenge myself and learn new things. I’m always sad to leave and always happy to return. FACT. I already know for sure that I’ll be a blubbering mess at Dublin airport next week. IMG_3191

So there you have it, my short list of what I’ll miss the most when I’m away. It’s pretty standard, I guess, but sitting down and writing this makes me feel incredibly lucky that I have what I have and who I have. ❤

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Sleigh Day | Estonia 2016 ♡

Throwing yourself down a steep and slippery hill, while trying to remain seated on a plastic sleigh-thing was never on my list of things to do in life. That being said when Ode asked me if I was up for it I decided that I’d give it a go! One day after borrowing Kati’s sleigh gear, we hopped on the bus and headed for one of Tallinn’s few hills. Sleighing or sledding is a winter tradition in Estonia and according to Ode it’s a must if I really wanted to get into this whole winter experience. I was excited to try something new and sure it was a bit of fun. 🙂  Plus frolicking in the snow is always a nice way to spend the afternoon. When we got there, there was already a father and a son who surely put us to shame. The little boy who couldn’t have been older than 8 zipped from side to side in the most impressive way, which was slightly intimidating if I’m honest. He legit had no fear. I wasn’t going to be as smooth, that was obvious, but sure look I gave it a go. God loves a trier. My first few attempts were a bit of a fail, but once we found a good spot, we were able to get a nice wee thing going. I wasn’t good at it by any stretch of the imagination but it was fun and I didn’t break anything, so that’s always a plus. 😉

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Winter Wonderland ♡ Estonia | JANUary 2016 ♡

I used to always tell people that I’d never seen proper snow or experienced a real winter. I say proper snow, simply because I don’t think that the slush we get here in Ireland can be called real snow. Ever since I started going to Estonia, back in 2012 people have always warned me to pack warm clothes, even though I was going in Summer ?!?!? They seemed to think that this little Baltic country only had one season, a perpetual freezing winter. That isn’t the case at all. Once I even got sun burned in Estonia. Shocking, I know. Anyway since 2012, it has been my mission to visit Estonia while it was under a sheet of snow and this year I did just that. I remember telling Kaja, Ode’s mam one summer that I wanted to visit during winter and she just asked Why? 😛  I had only been back in Ireland a mere two-three weeks and I had already purchased my tickets for JANUary. I was excited, but slightly worried if I’m honest. I like the cold, much more than the sun actually, but I don’t think I had ever experienced anything under -10, so I was in for a shock. A big one.

Christmas and New Years festivities had come and gone, so that meant my trip was fast approaching, but so was the fear. THERE WAS NO SNOW. What? No snow? What was the point of going if there was no snow. I wanted the real winter experience and if there was no snow, it would be ruined. 😥 Thankfully a few days ( literally two days ) before I left Ireland, it bucketed down and I was greeted with a pile of beautiful fresh snow. As it was in the middle of January, Ryanair had stopped doing its seasonal one-way fares, so I had to use the trusty SAS Airlines with a short stop-over in Stockholm. (One of my favourite airlines). As soon as I stepped foot on Swedish soil for my 1hr layover, I made my way to the nearest Pressbyrån, which was conveniently located right by my gate, in order to get one of my all time favourite Swedish delicacies, a kanelbullar, more commonly known as a cinnamon bun. ❤ ❤ Oh sweet mother of baby Jesus on a bike!!!! If you haven’t tried one of these bad boys, then you haven’t lived. It’s that simple. Anyway I actually got one cinnamon roll and then a vanilla one too. Overindulging at its finest, ey? To my defense I didn’t think I’d be back in Sweden for a long time, but I went back a lot sooner that expected. You’ll find out in another post 😉 Anywaaaaaay, we boarded the tiniest little plane ever, which was too cute and I was on my way. It was also snowing in Stockholm, but the snow there was put to shame when I got off the plane at Tallinn airport. I slipped of course. It is me after all. The world’s most clumsiest gal. It was freezing. Like coldness on another level. I didn’t think I’d need my gloves for the short walk from the plane to the airport. I was wrong.

Packing for this trip was by far the most stressful experience of my life. Even worse than packing for a year in Spain. I knew that it was going to be cold, so I need clothes and lots of them. Ode taught me the importance of layers, so I practically packed my entire wardrobe for fear that I would need it all in order to survive. Once we arrived at Ode’s apartment block, I admired a massive pile of snow, which looked nothing like I imagined it would. It looked so soft and I wanted to touch it, which I did and I regretted it instantly. Stupid, I know. I just didn’t expect it to look so soft. I imagined a big hard block of snow, not this delicate blanket that looked like it would blow away in the wind. It was pretty and I liked it. As it was late we headed in, stuck on the kettle, caught up and ate some of my favourite Estonian food.

On my first full day in Estonia, we decided to brave the elements and head out on a walk to the beach. We got up at a leisurely hour, put our faces on and that is where I made mistake numero uno. As usual, I put a full face of make-up on, you know,  winged eyeliner, red lips, the whole shebang. I didn’t think that the snowflakes were going to be so big that they would get in my eyes and make me look like a panda. My solution to the problem? To wear sunglasses. Yes, I was that dick wearing sunglasses in Winter when there was no sun in the sky. Hey, it masked the panda eyes!! 😛 Anyway I didn’t let this little blip deter me. We passed a stable with the most beautiful horses on our way and stopped for some pictures. Instead of walking the traditional path down to the beach, I decided that I wanted to drag poor Ode through the forest, where the snow easily came up to our knees in some parts. No regrets though. It was so beautiful. Once we got down to the beach we wandered around for a bit and drank nice warm tea from our thermal flask. Ode had to keep reminding me that it was super hot because I kept forgetting and near scalding the mouth of myself with each sip.

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Now if you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably read many posts where I absolutely  swoon over Old Town. I didn’t think that it was possible for my favourite part of town to get any more beautiful. That was until I saw it under a sheet of snow. It transformed into this Winter Wonder Land. It sounds so cliche, but that is the only way I can truly describe it.

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We also discovered that snow lighting is the best selfie lighting, like ever. So we not only snapped a million pictures of Old town (well I did) but we also took many selfies because yeah, that lighting. ❤

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That day we also made a trip to Kompressor for brunch. ❤ This place had been on our Estonian-to-do-list for at least two summers, so it was about time that we actually went there for real. This place is renowned for their pancakes, which are so damn good. So much so that I have insisted that this place is on our Autumn-to-do-list too. You can choose between sweet or savory pancakes, but of course I chose a sweet one, probably the sweetest one on the menu because I have a massive sweet tooth. I got a condensed milk and raspberry one. I told you it was sweet. 😛 It was delicious. Ode got a savory one but I can’t  quite remember what her filling was. I remember having a taste and it was so good too. Ode told me that this place is always super busy and it’s no surprise at all. The food is good and it is soooo cheap. I remember paying under a fiver for mine and it was massive. I think in total, including my coffee I paid like €7 tops. You would not get it that good in Ireland. Let me tell you that!!!

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Kompressor: Rataskaevu 3, 10123 Tallinn, Estonia

 

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Where’s all mah soul sistas. Lemme hear ya’ll flow sistas. Hey sista, go sista, soul sista, flow sista ;) ♡ Moulin Rouge | Paris May 2016 ♡

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One of my favourite pictures that I took on my trip to Paris back in May. ❤

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Going to Russia – VISA FREE (it’s perfectly legal) | My lifelong dream came true ♡

Visa applications are a pain in the arse, so as soon as I found out that I could visit my dream destination without one I knew I HAD to do it. I’ve never applied for a Russian visa (or any visa for that matter) but I could imagine it being a rather lengthily and irritating process (I could be wrong). I don’t know why, but everything about Russia has fascinated me from a young age. I remember as a little girl playing with the Matryoshka doll that my mam got on her own Russian adventure in the late 80’s and telling myself that I’d go to Russia and get my own one day. Like I said, everything about this massive country intrigues me like the history, the culture, but especially the language. When I was 15 I set about trying to master this incredibly difficult Slavic language. I remember one day at school I overheard some of the cleaning staff speaking Russian, so I decided to inquire further. My plan was to ask them if they knew anyone who could teach me. An Estonian woman was actually the one who put me in contact with my future Russian teacher. I remember her being so shocked when I arrived in the following week with a Thank You card and a box of chocolates. She asked if I was joking because the students at my school weren’t renowned for being very friendly towards them. Anyway this is totally off topic. Long story short I’ve wanted to visit Russia for a very long time.

One hot day in Salamanca, when I was nursing the mother-of-all-hangovers (when wasn’t I really? Oh Erasmus, I miss you), Ode and I FaceTimed and she somehow put the idea of Russia in my head again. By this time we were pretty sure that we wanted to do the whole two weeks in Ireland/two weeks in Estonia thing again, but we had no idea what we were going to spend our time doing in each place. She told me that if you take the ferry from either Tallinn or Helsinki to Saint Petersburg, you could enter Russia visa free for up to 72 hours. I remember screaming/shouting/jumping, which caused my mate, David to become very alarmed and irritated as he too was delicate that day. From that moment forward our minds were made up. Russia 2015 was happening and booooy was I excited. If you just want the information on how to get to Russia without a Visa, skip to the last paragraph. I totally get that not everyone wants to read paragraph after paragraph of me swooning over my trip. I’ll leave a link to all the good stuff down there. However, I think the website is only in Estonian, but you can always shoot them an email because they more than likely (most definitely) speak English. They’re Estonian after all and I have yet to meet one who doesn’t, especially if they’re working in the tourism industry. I know not all of us are as lucky to have our own personal Estonian besto to get the job done! 😛 Aitäh, Ode! ❤

By the 14th of August we had already been in Estonia for almost one week. I still know the exact date that I stepped foot in Russia, Saturday 15th August. I can’t explain how excited I was during the days leading up to our departure, but we kept ourselves pretty busy by visiting Tartu and going out, so I don’t think it hit me until I had to pack (my least favourite activity in the world). We were going to be on board our ferry for two nights, so I was just taking a backpack and the bear minimum. I remember being so flustered in Ode’s bedroom surrounded by my entire suitcase’s contents. We left Friday, late afternoonish and would arrive in Saint Petersburg at around 9am the next morning.

Once we got our tickets from the front desk at Tallinn port, we appropriately checked in on Facebook to ensure that everyone knew exactly where we were going, because we all know that if it’s not on fb, it didn’t happen. Right?  😛

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As soon as we got on board, we set about finding our cabin. I’d been on a few ferries previous to this trip, but never an over night one, so I was excited. I remember as soon as we got in and thrown ourselves onto our beds, we decided to take a pic of the room as a memory because it wasn’t going to stay tidy for long.

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Clearly it was already a bit late because we’d made ourselves at home and caused a bit of a mess, but trust me this was the best it was getting! :L

When the ship started to leave the dock, we headed up onto the deck and slowly watched Tallinn drift further and further away from us. I was finally on my way to Russia. Getting closer and closer to my dream destination (so corny but so true!)

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Once the ferry docked at Saint Petersburg the next morning,  we had a bit of a wait, as people queued to get off the boat and then go through boarder security. We got off the boat and I took my first steps on Russian soil. It was beautiful.<3  The security check was surprisingly fast. We literally queued up, walked up to a desk like at passport control at any airport, they checked and stamped our passports and we were free to go. No questions. No scary men checking our bags. Nothing. It was fab. There was a free shuttle bus from the port to the city. So we showed the bus driver our ticket and hopped on board, making our way towards what I can only describe as the most beautiful city I have ever set my eyes on (it’s a toss up between it and Paris. They’re just so different, so they’re both my favourites but for different reasons).  We were dropped of at St. Isaacs Cathedral, so a nice central location that was easy to find and set about exploring. Getting off this bus was where one of us had our first Russian language blunder. *cough* Ode *cough*. Upon departing the bus, Ode decided to thank the driver, wait for it, in French, which I found hilarious. Then I rubbed salt in wound by walking out directly after her saying it in Russian and making her look even worse. 😛 I mean who was the one who came from a place where 40% of the population speaks Russian.

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Our first wee stop was at The Hermitage Museum and honestly I can’t even put into words how beautiful this building is. Like there are not enough adjectives of beauty in the dictionary that would do it justice. Our time was limited in Saint Petersburg, we were leaving that evening actually, so I never got to enter the museum unfortunately, but it is on my bucketlist. If anything, this trip just gave me a little taste of Russia and it’s safe to say that I want the full experience. Anyway, we spent quite a while here, taking picture after picture. I wanted one from every angle. You know the usual Kate-on-a-mission to find the perfect pic. This time this need was literally on steroids. I legit have probably 200 pictures of this building alone. I’ll only insert a select few though. 😉

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After this, we headed to a bureau de change, because yours truly needed some cash. I changed a lot, especially if you take into consideration that we spent like 6 hours here. I knew that I wanted to get souvenirs not only for myself, but I wanted to get some cool history things for my brother. Plus I needed to find the perfect Russian doll and money was no object in this quest. After I’d finally gotten some money, we headed for a quick snack. We knew that we wanted proper Russian food later that day, but we were getting peckish and decided to stop on a coffee/eclair break. I know, eclairs in Russia. Where did we think we were, ey? This was were the second Russian language fail occurred. My bad!! You’d think between the two us, we’d be able to order two eclairs and some coffee, but apparently not. We still haven’t gotten over the embarrassment. Apparently listening to Dima Bilan songs isn’t quite enough preparation. I have no idea what the name of this café was and I couldn’t tell you what flavoured eclair I even got. It was inhaled quite literally in seconds because I was so hungry. So it must have been decent. It was just a random café we walked past. There were plenty along the way, but this one looked cute and busy so we thought that it couldn’t be too shabby. The girl working there was super sweet and even though she didn’t have the best English, it bet our Russian skills by a mile. It was our first attempt, so I’m going to put it down to nerves 😛

After this we just did what we do best, we wandered. Luck was on our side because it was such a beautiful sunny day, which made the city even more beautiful. When we were in Ireland we thought about doing a boat tour, because if you don’t already know, Saint Petersburg is a city surrounded by water that is actually built over 42 islands. So we did some research, but Ode found out that there was some sort of protest on that day, so it wasn’t going to happen. However when we got there, we were practically kidnapped and forced onto a boat tour of the city by a very nice lady who just wasn’t taking no for an answer. She spoke no English and we barely understood what she was saying, but yeah we ended up on the boat. The entire tour was in Russian, so I couldn’t tell you what they were saying, but I presume it was the history of the city. To the right of us was a smiley young couple swigging brandy from a bottle in a brown paper bag. Standard. Then, all of a sudden some random man started to take our picture. We didn’t really know what to do with ourselves, so we just sat back, relaxed and took in the beauty of the city.

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Us on the boat!

 

When we got off the boat, the man with the camera started to make more sense. He made little fridge magnets with our pictures on them. Cuuute!!! The picture of us was actually decent, even if our faces were a bit like, wtf is he doing?!?! We both got one, but unfortunately mine broke because when I opened the fridge back home, it hit against the cupboard and smashed into a million pieces. It’s safe to say that I was heartbroken! 😥

After all the excitement of the boat, we were feeling famished. I knew exactly what I wanted. Cabbage rolls and Pelmeni. Real Russian goodness. Along with these two delicacies, we got a side of baked sushi. My Russian friends are always posting amazing pictures of glorious sushi on their instagram/fb, so clearly Russia has some good sushi. I’d never had baked sushi before though, so I was intrigued. Basically we liked it so much that we even considered ordering some more. We restrained ourselves though. Slightly regret that decision now, if I’m honest. It was so damn good. The cabbage rolls and pelmeni were also the best I’d ever had. I’d only ever had frozen pelmeni, so there was no competition really. The waitress was super attentive and sweet, so I decided that a tip would be a nice way to thank her. However my main problem was understanding Russian money because I just couldn’t get my head around it. So yeah, long story short, I messed up the tip and I’m pretty sure I gave her like a euro. A lot less than intended and I feel quite bad about it, even a year later.

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After we were fueled up, we set about a very important task, which was souvenir shopping. I wanted everything, especially postcards. I was pretty shocked at the amount of Putin memorabilia. Like his face was everywhere. On cups, t-shirts, postcards, you name it, Putin’s face was probably stuck onto it. I decided to get a Putin mug for my brother, he wasn’t sure what to think when I handed that over to him. I bought a lot of things. Things that I probably didn’t really need, but I wanted. I think we must have went to about five souvenir shops and I pretty much bought something in each of them. I got the prettiest postcards, calendars and magnets, as well as some bits and bobs for friends and family. My favourite purchase was in the final souvenir shop, where I spent a stressful thirty minutes  (maybe more) trying to pick from the most amazing handcrafted Russian dolls. I had my eyes set on one in particular and was on the verge of buying it. It was 100% handmade/hand-painted etc. and it was so intricate and just so damn beautiful, so to me the whopping price tag (over 100euro) was worth it. However I quickly came to my senses. As much as I wanted it, I had to be more realistic. I had another wee look around and came across a more decently priced one, which in my opinion was just as pretty.

This souvenir shop was conveniently located right next to another stunning building that I fell in love with. Both it and The Hermitage museum are my all time favourite buildings in the world. I don’t think I could pick between the two. This is, The Church of the Savior on Blood, which is another lavish Russian orthodox church. I’m in love with the one in Tallinn, but I must admit that this one takes the biscuit. It’s just so stunning. Like the Hermitage museum, I took many pictures of this too. It was definitely one of my favourite places that I visited in the city. At this point we were coming to the end of our day in Russia, so we didn’t get to spend as much time here. Come to think of it, if I didn’t spend all that time in souvenir shops, stressing over what doll to get, we probably would have had much more time, but no regrets. 😉

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We had one more shop-stop that we wanted to make before hopping back on the bus to the ferry. We wanted ice-cream, Russian ice-cream because it is so much better than any other ice-cream I’ve ever had. It’s like so much more creamy than regular ice-cream and it just gives you all the feels. I also wanted to buy vodka. Standard. We entered into a little corner-like-store and decided that this was perfect. I didn’t want to get any old vodka, I wanted to get vodka that the locals recommended. This is where another embarrassing moment occurred. Not the last one unfortunately. I decided to try and ask the shop keeper, in Russian (emphasise on the try part) his recommendations. I think I asked something along the lines of, what is good vodka. He clearly knew that we weren’t Russian and to his amusement answered back in perfect English. Fuck. Fail number three. Anyway, I got a few bottles. Each person is only allowed to take two bottle of vodka out of Russia, but Ode said that I could take two extra and she’d take them for me because vodka is cheap in Estonia too. She’s too good to me. So we left that store with our Vodka, our Russian ice-cream and some Russian sweets. We decided to sit in the park behind St. Isaac’s Cathedral and eat our ice-cream before getting on the bus. It was a super nice way to end our day in Saint Petersburg.

Once we got to the port, we had to go through security again and this time we had to pass our bags through an x-ray to make sure we weren’t taking anything illegal into Europe. We hadn’t separated the vodka at this point because we just hadn’t expected it at this time. It was in this moment that the most attractive Russian man starts to tell me something in Russian. Nope. Nothing. I understood not a single word. I looked at Ode to see if she had caught anything, but nope. So we just stared at him. Why do we do that? Like why didn’t we just say, sorry I don’t understand. But no, instead we just stared at him with a bemused look on our faces. He copped it after a minute or two, when he realised that we weren’t doing what he had asked us to. He then was very cute and very apologetic and told us that we needed to take the vodka out or put into a clear bag. I can’t quite remember. Oh no wait, he told us that they needed to hold it and that we could come collect it when we were leaving. He then decided that it wasn’t necessary because we had so little and basically brushed it off as if to say ah sure fuck it! He was very sweet and funny too. So yeah, they weren’t that strict. I don’t think they care, unless you’re like trying to smuggle a dozen bottles. I think he figured we were just silly girls and didn’t feel like wasting our time or his.

Once back in our cabin, we dived on our beds. We had been walking all day in the sun and we were tired. That night we decided that we were going to go out, if you can call it that. Grab some drinks, that’s better, but first we were hungry again. So we checked out what there was to offer. We opted for sushi again and it was delicious. The woman seemed a little offended that we hadn’t cleared our plates, but there was just so much for such a small price. That night the ferry was on its way to Helsinki, where we were going to spend the following day. We had gone to Helsinki the year before so we weren’t too pushed at being super fresh for it. Like we didn’t mind just wandering around chilling, perhaps a little hungover. If you know what I mean. After food, we headed to a little bar where we had a few cocktails, served by the cutest barman.(Ode: ankles).  I guess we just weren’t in the drinking mood. We had a few drinks and then Ode decided that a shot of tequila was needed. I hate tequila but willingly drank it. It was disgusting and ruined me. Before heading to our cabin to just chill, we decided to stop at the store to get some drunk food. This is possibly where we made the biggest mistake of our lives because our food combination choice that night was very questionable. For some reason we got two flavours of crisps, yeah, crisps, what’s wrong with that? Nothing at all. Then we decided that we wanted these vanilla wafer things that are delicious, just not with barbecue crisps, as well as sour cream crisps. Like the actual thought of this combination makes me feel sick right now, but that night it was on the menu. We headed back to our cabin, threw ourselves on our beds and I can only describe it as shoveling food into our mouths by the fist full. So attractive, I know. I feel like we thought it was a competition, or that we were scared the other was going to eat all the food before us, but let’s just say this combination did not make for a very happy Kate the next morning and I spent the morning throwing up. The tequila probably didn’t help either.

So morning came and by morning I mean 6AM. I woke to what can only be described as the worst feeling ever. The boat was rocking way more than usual or maybe I’d just never noticed it before because I wasn’t dying the previous day. Let’s just say I was ill for much of that day and Helsinki was the last place I wanted to be. Where I wanted to be, was my bed or to stay on this boat until this feeling had passed. That wasn’t an option because the boat was getting closer and closer to Helsinki and we needed to pack because we hadn’t done that the night before. Now I hate packing on a normal day, imagine doing it hungover. Thank fuck I only had to shove things into a bag.

Have you ever been on a Ryanair flight and seen how people start queuing extra early, even when they have seats reserved? Yeah, well that is the best way to describe people trying to get off these ferries. We did it the day before, but honestly I just did not have the energy or desire to be pushed around by impatient tourists. So while everyone else queued up, myself and Ode kind of flung ourselves on the floor of the lobby, waiting for things to move. We probably looked homeless because everyone stared at us and judged us, but we had zero fucks to give. At this moment Everything I do by Bryan Adams came on and we just went for it and sang out load and proud, which attracted even more attention. We were probably still drunk. Who knows…. I’m sure it was some sight though.

Once we docked we hopped off and thanks to the EU we got to go through the quick queue. Passing all the Russians stuck waiting at boarder security. Thank you EU ❤ We’ll never leave you!!!!!! We decided to make ourselves a little decent because we were looking, well, rough. So we just sat at the port doing our make-up, very slowly. Then we dumped our stuff in a locker and headed towards the city, in search of coffee and breakfast! I must admit the walk did me wonders. The fresh air hit the spot and soon enough I was back to myself. Still a bit moody though because I hadn’t had my coffee yet. It’s a working process. 😉 We did the usual white-girl-coffee and headed to Starbucks because it soothes souls. FACT.

It was a pretty chilled out day, with not much excitement. We chilled down by the water and just relaxed. It was a Sunday so most places were closed, so there actually wasn’t much going on anyway. There was this cool food market though, with food stalls from all over the world. We grabbed a few bites here, but the amount of people and the pushing was doing our heads in so we abandoned ship and decided that we’d just grab dinner at the same Chinese restaurant we dined at the summer before, which was soooooo gooooood and so cheap.

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We were wrecked when we got onto the ferry and even more so when we got back to Tallinn. It was an eventful weekend that I’ll always remember and I’m so glad that I got to experience it with my best friend. Russia was more than I ever imagined and I’m still trying to figure out ways I could possibly work there in the future. One thing is for sure though, I will be back.

THE IMPORTANT STUFF!! | How to actually get to Russia without a Visa!!

Okay, so the good stuff and how this whole thing works. Like I mentioned above, you can stay in Russia Visa free for up to 72hrs depending on where you arrive from. I think that it’s 72hours from Finland and a little less from Estonia. This is the site where you can organise your own Visa free trip. It appears as though it’s all in Estonian, but there’s an email address at the bottom, so your best bet is to shoot them an email and you can find out more information that way. I was really impressed with the entire experience. The cabins were amazing, there was such a good selection of food to choose from on board and there was some really amazing duty free prices (especially on cigarettes). The prices for smokes are more expensive on the Helsinki-Tallinn ferry, so if you want to get the best deal, grab them on the Tallinn- Saint Petersburg one. 😉 As well as all this, there’s entertainment each night and lots of bars too. I feel like it was quite a party boat, but we just weren’t in the party mood so we didn’t go looking. It wasn’t noisy though, so if you’re not into that, you’ll be able to chill too. The staff speak a wide variety of languages and were incredibly attentive. We honestly didn’t have one single problem and it all went as smooth as possible, which was great. I’d recommend this company 100%. You don’t get a whole lot of time in Russia,  but it’s the only way you can go visa free, so it’s your best bet.

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Georgian food brings out emotions I never knew I had! ♡

I have no idea how or why but last summer we started a new tradition, which involves going for Georgian food whenever I’m in Estonia. Can we really call it a tradition? We’ve only technically done it twice, last summer and then during my winter trip in January. It’s on our list again for my autumn trip, so I’m going to call it our “new thing” that all started a year ago. At some point myself and Ode were chatting about what we wanted to do/eat when we got to Estonia and somehow Georgian food came up in conversation. Probably somewhere along the lines of OMG IT IS SO GOOD. I trust Ode when it comes to food and restaurants as she hasn’t failed me yet (except for that sushi place in Tallinn.VOM). Soooo we planned to have my first Georgian experience during our short stay in Tartu and even checked out some places with good reviews online. That day, we went about our business as usual, strolling through this pretty university city and soaking up its charm. Our plan was to lunch it up Georgian style but when we arrived at the restaurant, whose pictures we had drooled over for days, we realised that it was closed. 😦  My heart sank, but only momentarily. Thankfully Tartu isn’t shy of good restaurants so we weren’t going to starve. As we wandered around and chatted about what we fancied, we came across another Georgian restaurant by the name of Georgian Kitchen -Gruusia köök . RESULT! 😀 Since then, we’ve dined at this particular establishment twice and on both occasions I’ve left both incredibly full and satisfied. I don’t even know how to explain Georgian cuisine, other than it’s so damn good and flavoursome. ❤  You have to try it. It’s simple, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s bland. Quite the opposite actually. Estonia really does have a good selection when it comes to food, especially in Tallinn. There’s a real mix of cuisines and it’s one of the things that I love about this wee country. The majority of our plans for September are food related, as are the ones I’ve made for Ireland. We like to eat, especially when we’re abroad. Who doesn’t?  Sure calories don’t count when you’re on holiday , right?;) This autumn, even though we’ll be popping down to Tartu, we’re going to try out another Georgian restaurant, maybe in Tallinn so we can broaden our Georgian food horizons. I shall report back with my findings. 😉 Let’s hope that it’s not shit and that I don’t regret not playing it safe with the trusty Gruusia Köök  😛

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Summer 2015 | Not all of this was mine. The little dumplings, or Khinkali on the bottom right are glorious ❤

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Winter 2016 | All sooooo good!

#Georgianfood&cry ❤

Georgian Kitchen – Gruusia Köök,  Rüütli 8, Tartu, Estonia

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