Tag Archives: ireland

The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Well, you’re in Europe, you can’t just sit on your couch! So instead, experience a traditional Christmas market in one of Europe’s coolest cities. The air is crisp, lights are sparkling and there are sugary treats that look like cinnamon rolls on steroids. I assure you a European Christmas market beats that ugly sweater party at home.

  1. Vienna Christmas Markets: November 11 – December 26
    This is the mecca of all Christmas markets. Where it all started. If Santa had a vacation home from the North Pole, it would most definitely be Vienna. These markets date back to the Middle Ages and are some of the best in the world. The smell of fresh schnitzels, roasted chestnuts and that mesmerizing candied walnut smell fill the air. You can grab a glass of hot mulled wine or dabble in chocolate covered strawberries. You will feel like you’re in a fairy tale. There are Christmas trees draped in Christmas lights, horse drawn carriages, and over 200 small wooden market stalls lining the streets selling handcrafted christmas goodies. Now tell me that doesn’t beat sitting on Santa’s lap outside an Macy’s in an American mall.

    bus2alps schonnbrunn
    Being Opulent at Vienna’s Schonnbrunn Palace
  2. Prague: November 26 – January 11
    So you’re probably wondering where you can snack on sausages, enjoy a Czech beer and pet a donkey all at the same time? Right there with you. The Prague markets make you feel like you are stepping into a fairy tale. They ship a giant Christmas tree from the Krykonose Mountains in the Northern Czech region, and it radiates in the middle of Old Town Square. You can find glassware, unique jewelry, embroidered lace, wooden toys, metalware, ceramic, scented candles, ornaments, scarves, puppets…the list goes on!More of an eater than a shopper? I don’t blame you. Traditional Czech foods are made at the market vendors and there are samples galore! It ain’t a market without some free samples. Try a piece of ham roasted on spits, barbecued sausages and flaky pastries prepared right in front of you. Wash it all down with a famous Pilsner, Urquell, Staroprament or Budvar beer. To cap it all off, there’s an animal stable where you can play with some goats, sheep and donkeys.

    Night at the Prague Castle
    Night at the Prague Castle
  3. Budapest: November 13-January 6th 
    The smell of spiced mulled wine and chimney cakes baking will get you into the holiday spirit like nothing else can. Stock up on trinkets for everyone back home. Taste the local cuisine, check out nativity scenes and folk dances and even join in with the caroling. 532821_3491756006620_976708449_n


5 Reasons Why Halloween in Dublin Should Be On Your Bucket List

By Molly Dunn

In the spirit of creepy masks, candy corn and pumpkins, Halloween has developed into one of America’s favorite holidays.  Maybe it’s the sea of sugar skulls, and all of the Disney Channel references to Dia de los Muertos that we grew up with, but, we all seem convinced that Halloween began just across the United States border in Mexico.

I have something really spooky to tell you, something shocking, and even maybe a bit terrifying…the real origin lies in a place where not a soul would think to look…Ireland. We all know that the Irish like to party, and we dress up in green every St. Patty’s day to celebrate with the charmingly accented crew, but who knew they also founded Halloween! 

What started as the pagan festival of Samhain, Halloween as know it now, was a Celtic festival of fire meant to ward off evil spirits as summer changed into winter. In time, October 31st developed from the festival of Samhain, to ‘All Hallows Eve’, to Halloween.

So, now that we all know that Halloween originated in Ireland, it’s becoming clear why going to Ireland for Halloween weekend is a must. There are tons of festivals, parties and celebrations on this spooky day. Who could imagine a better place to be than the country’s capital on the spookiest day of the year? Here is a list of 5 things to do in Dublin, this Halloween.

  1. Monsters! Season at Light House Cinema. This year the Bram Stoker Festival has partnered with Light house Cinema, located just across from The Generator Hostel, in Smithfield square, to offer a series of showings of horror classics. Offering €6.50 matinees and €8.00 nighttime showings. Celebrate the monsters of the 30s by means of watching The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, and of course, Dracula. Get your tickets in advance here

  1. Bleedin’ Deadly Referred to as ‘Ireland’s freakiest Halloween Event’, experience what is left of the dying street performing art that was once Freak shows. With two shows per night, one at 6:45pm followed by a 9:45pm showing, don’t miss the madness! Buy your tickets online at for €25. For the post show hit up the pub Church for two for one drinks!

  1. Nightmare Plants For €10 visit Dublin’s Botanical Gardens for an ‘immersive performance, told by an ensemble of actors’. Each show is about 30 minutes and brings you face to face with mother natures deadliest creations.  Check out all the details here.

  1. Werewolves Participate in this high energy, high stakes parlor game, any evening of Halloweekend. The concept of this game is simple. There are werewolves among you, a villager was stolen away by them. Now the villagers meet to discuss their strategy, electing a leader. You must be careful as there are werewolves among you, waiting to out number the scared humans. The werewolves aim to subsume the village and it’s survival of the fittest for the villagers. Admission is free but you must get a ticket to participate. Play Friday night at Generator Hostel starting at 7:30pm. Arrive early, grab a drink and get ready to play! Book your tickets here.


  1. Stokerland Visit this ‘pop-up Victorian fun park’ on Saturday or Sunday, for a ‘gothic gathering of fun and cames’ in St. Patricks Park. Admission is free, get dressed up and feel like a kid again at this family friendly halloween event! Halloween in Dublin should be on everyone’s bucket list, and you have the chance to cross it off early! Visit bramstokerfestival.com to find out more information and events for this Halloween! Whether you attend this ghoulish festival, or parade around Dublin’s incredibly fun Pubs, you can’t go wrong spending Halloween in it’s birthplace, Dublin.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s another reason!  Bus2alps just dropped the Ireland Coast 2 Coast trip to €135 for Halloween weekend…. I can’t think of a better time to go!  


How to avoid being basic in Dublin

By Chas Ellis

WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! You’re studying in or visiting Dublin! Time to throw caution and learning to the wind and drink all day! Just kidding, what is wrong with you? As Americans we are wired to assume we are right in all matters and learn nothing about other cultures. You may be thinking, “Ugh, I don’t wanna research Irish things. Reading is boring and the Internet has every movie ever on it for free.” Fair point, which is why I have created the official* guide on all the things you need to know before heading to the Emerald Isle (poetic name for Ireland). Look, you guys are learning already. I lived there for several months and loved it like a small puppy, so listen to my words.

  1. Get ready to meet and chat with strangers constantly


The Irish people love casual chats at the bar almost more than the alcohol itself. They love getting to hear stories from other people and telling countless ones of their own, so don’t be intimidated if you are approached. We met our local best friends because we asked them to take a picture, and then they proceeded to chat us up and join the rest of the night’s festivities. Be careful not to ask anything to personal however, as these chats are always fun and casual.

  1. Master the bus system


You will definitely want to walk around the city to get your bearings at first, but it is also very large and no one wants to take taxis everywhere. Dublin has a terrific bus system that runs very frequently to most places you need it to. You will have it down pat in no time once you’ve ridden around a bit. I still remember taking the 39A every day.

  1. Be careful in Temple Bar


Temple Bar is an awesome area to go see when you first explore Dublin, but I would recommend not spending too much time in the area. It is a huge tourist trap with massive prices, crafty pickpockets, and unsavory locals. Check it out, but there are many better areas throughout the city.

  1. You have to experience the Cliffs of Moher


The Cliffs of Moher are maybe the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. You can walk along the edge the whole way and get some unreal views. When the wind blows right, it will blow up sea foam into the air and you will feel emotions about it. They are located a few hours outside of Dublin, but many companies will run day trips there bundled with a tour of the Ring of Kerry which is a beautiful loop through the Irish countryside. A must see for anyone in Ireland.

  1. Get in touch with the slang


The Irish have a lot of little phrases you will pick up, but I thought I would list a few.

  • Craic is Gaelic for fun. You will often hear “Any Craic?” or “How’s the Craic?”
  • You will constantly hear “Who’s your man?” or “Your man came in the other day and…” This doesn’t mean someone associated with you necessarily. It’s a general term like “that person” or “this person.”
  • Bolloxed is slang for tired, derived from the word Bollocks, meaning things are bad.
  • If someone asks you “Any joy?”, they are asking if you have had any adult sleepovers during your time in Ireland.
  • The Irish also love to curse, particularly the C word, but the way they pronounce things almost makes it soothing.


While this is a delicious way to become intoxicated in the States, car bombs are a real threat in Northern Ireland and no one in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland finds it amusing. I had a friend who was almost beaten up by a group of people because of it. There is a great deal of tension in Ireland over the separation from Britain due to Protestantism that has been going on for hundreds of years. Many terrorists groups like the IRA exist because of it. If you can, avoid discussions about all of these topics while there as I have never seen one end cordially.

  1. Learn how to say Smithwick’s


Smithwick’s is a very popular beer in Ireland you will no doubt enjoy a few times. However be sure you pronounce it “Smit-icks.” The locals will appreciate your accuracy and you won’t look like a scrub to your pals.


You guys also need to try the two liter bottle of Balmers cider. It is amazing and only three euro. Then of course you must try the Guinness. It tastes worlds different there than any you’ve had before as it is brewed right down the street.

  1. Check out some Gaelic sports


Ireland still plays many of the ancient Gaelic sports that were created by the original natives of Ireland. They are so much fun and unlike anything else. If you get a chance to check out a hurling match, definitely jump on that opportunity. It’s like lacrosse, but with no pads and people occasionally get hit in the face with the stick. It’s great stuff.

There you have it. You are now ready to be fully embraced by the Irish people. I have been a lot of places after Ireland, but there is still nowhere I would rather go back to. Lastly, don’t throw bikes into the river. People do that and it’s stupid. Good Craic!

A Little Bit of Irish Slang

By Heather Monte

Dublin is an amazing city to visit for a weekend, to live in for a semester abroad, or even to stop in for a quick layover in the airport. Part of what makes Dublin (and Ireland in general) such a fantastic place to explore is that the Irish are some of the friendliest people in the world. There’s no one better to strike up a conversation with over a Guinness or in the grocery store with than an Irishman. The Irish are kind and friendly and always willing to lend a helping hand. The only thing that can make your experience meeting the country’s citizens even better is if you know a little Irish slang to help you know exactly what they are saying…


Pronounced like “crack”. Probably the most common Irish slang word you will hear—everyone uses it. It can mean anything from a good time to hot gossip. It really can be used for anything, so you pay attention to context clues.

Ex: She was good craic last night.

Ex: What’s the craic?


Irish slang for make-out/hook up.

Ex: Last night at Coppers she shifted with 6 different guys.

Dublin 4/D4

In Dublin, there are 17 different postal districts that range from Dublin 1 to Dublin 17. These are like the zip codes for the city of Dublin. Dublin 4 is known as a very “posh” area, so if someone looks classy or sophisticated they might be referred to as “Dublin 4” or “D4” regardless of whether or not they are actually from Dublin 4.


Locked means to be very, very drunk.

Ex: I was so locked last night that I ate 4 McChickens and then passed out on the floor of my kitchen in my heels.

Slàinte isn’t exactly Irish slang, but is a Gaelic word that means “to your health” or “cheers.” You shouldn’t go out in Dublin without knowing what it means!

This post originally appeared on All Things Abroad.

Hidden Gems in Galway & Dublin


1. For the best Fish and Chips in Galways, visit McDonagh’s.



It is cheap and hands down the freshest and most authentic in town. Click this to check out the menu and prices.

2. Visit the Claddagh Ring Museum 


3. Visit The Kylemore Abbey

kylemore abbey

This is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The abbey was founded for nuns who fled Belgium in World War I. Before this was turned into an Abbey, it was a home for the Henry family. There were 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room and various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper and other servants. Other buildings include a Gothic cathedral and family mausoleum containing the bodies of Margaret Henry, Mitchell Henry and a great grand-nephew. (Original owners of the castle) My favorite part of this Abbey had to be the garden however. Not only was it massive, but was strewn with various flowers, herbs, shrubbery in an incredible design.


4.  Day Trip to the Cliffs of Moher



5.  The Brazen Head


Not only one of the oldest and greatest pubs in Dublin, but a family friend runs his business here: “An Evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies” Find the link to his business here. Johnny Daly will host a group of people with an included delicious meal, filled with laughs and music. The storytellers take you into a world of imagination with wonderful insights and mystical tales about the Irish way of life in the past. Click here to read some reviews on Tripadvisor!

6. St. Stephen’s Green



7. Bewley’s Cafe


It is beautiful, but still has a cozy vibe…and obviously quite charming. I love the second floor level inside the Bewley’s on Grafton Street.

8. The Blue Light 


This is the least touristy spot you’ll find. My grandmother is from Sandyford, a small town outside Dublin city. If you follow the one road in her town, walk up the mountains…(while simultaneously having near death experiences every time a car is flies past you down the mountain) eventually you hit this pub, The Blue Light. This is where Bono, from U2, gets his beers when he is home. 

The real beauty in the place has to be the incredible view you get to see while sitting outside. Dublin skyline is breathtaking.