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When Irish Eyes are Smiling

On my way to Munich recently, I had the chance to pick any destination that I wanted to spend a few extra days exploring while en route. It came down to my top two choices: Dublin, Ireland or Edinburgh, Scotland. Apart from spending some quality time parked in front of a screen stalking each city on tumblr and pinterest, I wasn’t exactly an expert on either. But for whatever reason, I woke up one day and decided that it would have to be Dublin. Dublin was the place to be.
            Having absolutely no real reason to be there, I wound up with four whole days to do whatever it was I felt like doing. It's the best way to see any new city: whiling away the hours wondering between various parks and shops or indulging in national pastimes (pubs) and location-centric experiences (pub crawls.)

            After spending about five minutes in this town it’s easy to see why so many people compare it to London. Extraneously, the architecture and weather bear a striking resemblance.  Perhaps a more significant commonality, however, is the prevalence of Nando’s in both capitals. Dining here had recently been added to my life bucket list (yes, it exists) after having heard more than one member of One Direction and Ed Sheeran sing its praises as their “ideal date spot.”

            With the fine eating establishment of Nando’s (the UK’s answer to our embarrassing fast food obsession) crossed off of the list, I decided to try another activity which is almost synonymous with Irelans. I mean, it wouldn’t have seemed to right to come all the way to Dublin and not take a trip to The (Daphne) Guiness Storehouse, right?

 As someone who doesn’t have much experience in the consumption of beer (I have been to a total of 1 frat party while visiting a friend at a college upstate. Otherwise FIT girls are really only here for the champagne and mojitos, thank you very much) it wasn’t something I was dying to do, but I went anyhow to see about this whole ‘Gravity Bar’ situation, which, as it turns out, is an actual bar on the top floor (high up there by Dublin standards) with floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of the surrounding cityscape and mountains beyond. A memorable highlight of the trip. The only truly sad part of the afternoon was the fact that I didn’t have my ID with me and the bartender wouldn’t believe that I was over the age of 17… It’s recently come my attention that I must look like a 12-year-old. The other day I got carded multiple times on my way into the theater to see Don Jon (an R-rated film.) Geeez. 

            The best restaurant in town: The Winding Stair, right on the other side of the Ha’Penny bridge from the hectic Temple Bar district. Had this quiet space been located in the West Village, I could easily imagine having to deal with it being booked out months in advance. Instead, since Dublin is so much better, they can usually take you the same night! And right by the window at that. 

Continuing my mission to get up really early and have my coffee in every major city’s public park while simultaneously boosting my self-confidence.

(6 in the morning is really not a good look for me)

Waking up at the ungodly hour of 5:30am didn’t seem very promising in the moment, but proved to be worth it as we came into Glendalough on our way to Kilkenny (a valley in the County Wicklow which was carved out by glaciers during the ice age) and the realization that Ireland’s natural beauty is every bit as impressive as it’s urban counterparts.

A Weekend in Vienna

It may be one of the cheesiest travel clich├ęs of the tumblr-sphere, but I can’t seem to think of any other way to express it accurately: I love the feeling of being anonymous in a city I’ve never been before. I know it seems like I’ve been doing a lot of that lately (and there is more to come) but I think it was especially applicable to a recent stay in Vienna.
            It was late August, a time when most Europeans head for the hills (literally), so naturally the city was pretty empty. But I was surprised by how completely desolate it actually felt. Exploring some of the back alleys and side streets, I could have walked up to ten blocks without seeing anyone else outside. If it hadn’t been for the cars parked on the streets or the merchandise in the stores, the city’s old world charm would have made a pretty convincing case that I had been transported back a century or two. 

With palaces to explore and operas to attend, my look was decidedly more regal than usual. Sadly I had left my best Chanel Haute Couture in Paris so I had to make due with this midi-skirt, an option a friend had conveniently left in my closet while I was packing. I like how this silhouette has a way of making any girl feel like a (boho - fitting considering my proximity to the Bohemian region here) princess. Well, I'm sure the backdrop doesn't hurt either.  

The palace in question is the Schloss Schonbrunn. Located about 15 minutes outside of Vienna, the former summer residences of the emperor and empress boast exquisite architecture and decor vastly reminiscent of its french equivalent, Versailles. It's own little hall of mirrors and gilded chandeliers above. And don't miss the portrait of Marie Antoinette as a pre-teen. 

As if I would miss the opportunity to stock up on a few of the best UK monthlies at Heathrow (where prices are so much cheaper than they are in US they're basically free... right?) With these on my bedside table, anywhere feels like home. 

The opera, in short, was nothing less than dazzling. 
The audience, however, was a bit less of those genetically blessed/geographically mobile folks I was hoping for and a bit more midwestern tourist. But with the all of that champagne flowing, who really cares? 

An extravagant display of nature.
One would not expect this little gem of serenity to be located right off of the highway leading into (or maybe it was out of?) Vienna. But there it was. The only thing I can think to compare it to is Lake St. Moritz in Switzerland. But even that can seem overpopulated at times whereas this one - on a perfect Saturday afternoon in August - had only the rare sailboat lazily meandering in the wind. 


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Caroline Mason: 21. Native New Yorker (and one time North Carolinian). Assistant to Derek Blasberg. Just a girl who is OCD about all things fashion, drinks way too much coffee, and has an affinity for late night talk shows and travel books. FIT class of 2016. Previously with Karla Otto PR, Lori Goldstein and Lester Garcia.

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