Friday, 6 May 2016
Think that the Kentucky Derby equals elegant headpieces and sips of champagne? Well, you're only a tiny bit right. While a select few take to the VIP stands in the Churchill Downs, the rest gather together on the field for what sounds like a pretty raucous session.
As it's technically against the rules to bring in your own alcohol, booze is smuggled in using ingenious methods. One man smuggled a bottle of bourbon into a giant baguette. Another managed to sneak in and bury his stash in the field, ready to dig it up on the big day. And plenty of women arrive with rather large bosoms and leave looking rather depleted. (PS - did you know a wine bra is an actual thing?)
But while the party spirit is most definitely in the air on derby weekend, there are plenty of other reasons to head to Louisville. Whether you're heading there this Saturday or not, here are some great spots to check out in the city.
This bourbon bar is right in the middle of downtown, with a little bit of a speakeasy feel (head through the door of the phone booth and you'll find yourself in a 'secret' room). They make a great Old Fashioned, but be sure to order the Rosemary’s Baby Julep if you spot it on the menu - it's a gorgeous blend of rosemary, bitters and bourbon.
There's a burgeoning farm to fork movement in Kentucky, and one restaurant that sticks to this philosophy is Harvest, in the NuLu district. All the ingredients come from within a 100 mile radius, and when a dish is gone, it's gone. There have been near riots from people looking for a taste of their top notch fried chicken.
Muhammad Ali Center
Believe it or not, there are some people who don't know too much about Louisville's own Muhammad Ali. There are even some people who start walking through the museum dedicated to the man, confused as to who Cassius Clay is. Ahem. But those people do figure it all out - and if you're a fan, you'll love this insightful experience.
Evan Williams Experience
Trust me when I say that Kentucky is all about bourbon. I was there for a week and, at the end of my trip, could have opened my own distillery. There are plenty of distilleries you can tour, but the Evan Williams one is right in the middle of the city, and takes you through the story of the bourbon with an interactive tour and tasting. Added bonus: the guy who plays Evan Williams (on screen and as a hologram) is so handsome that he'll haunt your dreams. Trust me.
Thursday, 5 May 2016
|My camera set up at the first stop, Seljalandsfoss waterfall|
If you want an excellent but inappropriate anecdote about spending 4 hours in the freezing Icelandic countryside, ask me the next time you see me. But it isn't pretty, so just be warned.
Each day, we set off into the depths of the country to see, and snap, the best that Iceland has to offer. We ticked off all of the main sites - the geysers, the waterfalls, the black beach. But at each one, instead of merely traipsing around taking cursory smartphone pictures, we set up shop and were taught how to properly capture each.
Having Sinead and Stewart on hand was invaluable. I am far from a camera pro - despite being taught multiple times, I'm still pretty clueless when it comes to mastering the settings - so having expert tutors available meant I was always able to ask for help.
You can read my full piece on the trip on the Irish Independent, but I thought I'd share a few of what I believe to be my best pictures below.
GeysirWe visited the famous geysers towards the end of the trip, and I think it is where I first realised I needed to spend a little time away from the viewfinder. Each time the geyser exploded into the air, I was spending less time really looking, and more time snapping in something of a panic. I also made sure I took a little wander to the smaller pools and geysers, too.
Oh, and it's essential to say "Alright, geezer" at the moment of each eruption. Every eruption.
Gullfoss WaterfallIceland is filled to the brim with waterfalls. We played around with a few settings to get a silky, liquid appearance to the falling water, with some pretty cool results. But Gulfoss was my favourite, despite it being absolutely freezing. Properly, mind-numbingly chilly.
The Bloody Northern LightsYou know, I'm fairly sure that the Northern Lights are a myth, created to lure tourists to Scandinavian countries. They could even be nuclear pollution, for all we know. And anyway, I can't tell you any more because they chose to hide away (if they even exist). While we waited in a little lay-by, we played with capturing star trails and the night sky. So we didn't leave empty handed.
Random Little HouseI think this was taken at Seljalandsfoss, our first stop. My pictures from this first location were fairly shoddy, if I'm honest... a lot of them were distorted by water on the lens, and the rest just looked a bit, well, crap. But onwards and upwards!
Skogafoss WaterfallI got more into the swing of things at Skogafoss. I stayed further back (to avoid mist on the lens) and played around with different settings, distances and perspectives.
You can see more about these photography holidays at TD Active at tdactive.ie and more about Dublin Photography School at dublinphotographyschool.ie.
Thursday, 20 August 2015
When I went to the Seychelles, I expected to be surrounded by couples gazing adoringly into each other's eyes. I predicted that the only other people there would be part of a pair, and that I would spend the majority of my time rolling my eyes at their displays of affection.
In reality, I saw a lot of couples who had been in the company of only each other for a fortnight. And boy, could you tell.
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
Oh, Bologna. A town so pretty you just want to eat it all up. So you do - tagliatelle with rich Bolognese ragú, thin slices of pizza scattered with torn mozzarella, salty bread dipped into olive oil... and a chilled glass of sparkling wine. That'll do quite nicely.
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
I don't know why I bother asking. Whenever I'm in a tropical country (or any non-Irish country, really) and about to venture outside a city, I ask someone about the snake situation.
Thursday, 13 August 2015
A few weeks ago, I was driving into Sligo with a friend. The sun was inexplicably shining, and Benbulben, our very own table mountain, was standing over Sligo town, glowing in the dwindling light of day. We both admired it.
"You can easily forget it's there, can't you?"
It's true. It dips in and out of view, depending on where you are and how clear the day is, but this imposing monster of a mountain is an incredibly cool landmark to call our own.
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
If you're a fan of tiny boutique hotels, you're going to be out of luck in Vegas. This is the land of mega-hotels - towering beasts filled with thousands of rooms, sprawling casinos and gigantic pools. Most of the world's biggest hotels are located in the city, with The Venetian and The Palazzo taking top place with 7,117 rooms and suites. In fact, out of the top 15 largest hotels on the planet, 10 are in Vegas.
Friday, 24 July 2015
Golly, it's hot, isn't it? What a heatwave we're having! The sun is splitting the sky, we're all walking around looking lovely in our sundresses and...
I can't, I can't. It's FREEZING here. It's boiling in Dublin, sweltering in London and I'm sitting here jealous as sin. In a cardigan.
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Sometimes it's a little difficult to avoid cliches in travel writing. I don't mean the obvious ones, like "hidden gem" (which is just the worst) or "breathtaking views". I mean the other ones, like "There's so much more to Las Vegas than gambling and showgirls"
But guys - there's so much more to Las Vegas than gambling and showgirls.
I'm a tricky person to motivate. Scream in my face, and I'll likely giggle (or scream back, depending on my mood). Encourage me gently and nicely, and there's a high chance I'll take advantage of your lack of authority and overthrow whatever organisation you belong to. Leave me to my own devices, and I'll get distracted by a weirdly shaped cloud or do a google image search on Jeff Goldblum.
So, when it comes to exercise, and bootcamps, I may be a difficult customer. There are a few things that will get me going, though - jealousy and a fear of embarrassment.