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Gunpowder Green Tea with Mint from El Corte Inglés

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I bought this Gunpowder Green Tea with Mint on a recent visit to the Gourmet Experience, a high end Food Court and Shop on the 9th Floor of the El Corte Inglés Department Store at Callao, Madrid.  It is a wonderful tea.  As soon as you open the canister and you get the wonderfully minty aroma, you know it is going to be good.  And it is.  I am not a fan of green tea usually and am constantly trying versions that have something added be it lemon, mint etc. The addition of mint to this one makes it smooth, refreshing and highly drinkable.  It is rich in antioxidants and very refreshing, even in hot weather.  Many consider green tea to be a cure-all, and this one is very reviving, a real pick me up.

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Why not add a bit of theatre and pour it from a height to create a froth like they do in Morocco! What is lovely also is the gorgeous aroma that fills the entire room and you can still smell it for some time after you’ve finished your tea.  Also, it comes in a lovely canister that can be put to good use again when all the tea is gone. I am just sorry I did not buy more! Not cheap (c. €8.50 for 100g) but worth it. Highly recommended if you happen to be in Madrid.

A long weekend in Madrid

img_2076.jpgIf you are looking for a relatively inexpensive City Break and are flying from Dublin Airport, check out Madrid.  Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair fly there and the flight time is short so you can make the most of your time away.  Both carriers have competively priced flights so check both when booking.  We actually flew out with Aer Lingus and back with Ryanair when we spent 4 days in Madrid in December 2014. This meant we got the flight prices and times that suited us best. Read More

A week in Marrakech, Morocco

You can now fly direct to Marrakech from Dublin with Ryanair.  This has made Morocco a very affordable holiday destination for Irish people.  Earlier this year, a friend and I booked flights with Ryanair and set about organising ourselves for a week in Marrakech.

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It quickly became apparent that in deciding where to stay, you have to make a choice between the old and the new Marrakech.  The old is the Medina, the area that includes the Square (Jamaa El Fna) and the Souks.  The most popular “new” destination is Gueliz.  I had some idea of what the Medina would be like from watching various travel programmes on TV and did some further research.  Although it would be clearly be a more authentic experience to stay in a traditional Riad within the Medina, we decided to stay in a modern hotel in the new town of Gueliz.  This choice may not be for everyone.  There are many very lovely Riads in Marrakech offering superb accommodation, food and facilities but there were a number of reasons we chose to skip the more traditional side of Marrakech.

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McCambridges, Shop Street, Galway

McCambridges is a food shopping mecca located at 38/39 Shop Street in the heart of Galway City.  In 2012, McCambridges added a restaurant to the fold opening Upstairs at McCambridges so it is now an all round foodie destination.  And what a destination it is!

The shop is great for deli items, sauces, jams, chocolate, fresh breads, vegetables, cheeses, interesting wines and craft beers.  You can also get takeaway lunches (soup, sandwiches, salads, hot items (pies, quiches etc) and coffees.

The restaurant upstairs is a beautiful space.  It is open for breakfast Mon – Sat from 9am to 11.30am.  It serves an All Day menu from Mon – Wed from 12pm to 5.30pm (last orders 5pm) and from Thurs – Sat from 12pm to 8pm.  It serves brunch on Sunday from 10.30am to 6pm (last orders 5.30pm).  Tables can be reserved from 5pm onwards.

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Cashel and the Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary.

Many of us make a real effort to travel far and wide to see well known tourist attractions, historical buildings and great views. Yet many of us have places close to home that would fall into these categories that we may not have visited at all.  Sometimes it’s good to be a tourist in your own county.  I became that tourist recently when I visited Cashel in my home county of Tipperary.

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The Great Western Greenway – Achill to Westport, Co. Mayo

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I am not a cyclist.  I do not own a bicycle.  In fact, I cannot remember the last time I was on a bicycle.  However, I really wanted to cycle the Great Western Greenway from Achill to Westport.  All 42km of it.  In one go…  Many of my friends (particularly those well aware of my level of fitness) were kind when they told me I was being a little ambitious.  Of course, that made me determined to do it.

The 42km long Greenway is the longest off-road cycling (or walking) trail in Ireland.  It follows the old Westport to Achill railway line.  It passes through Mulranny and Newport and some of the most beautiful views in Ireland can be seen along the way.

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Builin Blasta, An Ceardlann, Spiddal, Co. Galway

Builin Blasta (Tasty Loaf) is a gem of a cafe located in the craft center (An Ceardlann) in Spiddal, Co. Galway.  The cafe is owned and run by Chef Jamie (J-Me) Peaker who hails from New Zealand.  J-Me’s cv includes a stint at well known London eatery The Ivy before he opened Builin Blasta in Spiddal.  The cafe is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and on Sunday from 11am until 5pm. Breads, pastries, tarts, sausage rolls, scones, desserts, dressings and preserves are all made on site.  You can also purchase their dressings and chutneys to takeaway and they will also provide you with the recipe for their scones if you would like to try and make them yourself!

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