opportunities

For the past couple of months, I have been slowly getting into a routine and finding a new normal since starting my new job. I’m still trying to adjust to not working with Josh every day. I’m still trying to adjust to working out at a new gym at 7 am instead of 5 pm, for only one hour a few days a week instead of 2-3 hours six days a week. I’m still trying to adjust to working later hours than I have for the past five years (aka less quality time at home). Some days I feel completely content and happy about the changes. Some days I just plain struggle and want to give up. I know that these “issues” don’t really seem that big in the grand scheme of things, but they were all things that had become a comfort to me, things that were just a part of my life in such an easy way. Through it all, I keep reminding myself that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. All these changes are changing me and making me better. This job is going to be a huge opportunity for me to grow not only career-wise, but also as a person. I was given this opportunity to learn new equipment, techniques, and software. To actually make a difference in someone’s life. To learn patience when waiting in the terrible after-work traffic. To get to work with a group of people that are hard workers and genuinely care about making our world a healthier, better place. In the end, this is going to be a great stepping stone for whatever is next on my journey and a major blessing for my personal growth. Life sure happens, right?

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Enough with all the serious stuff, check out this awesome bibimbap we made this past weekend!

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If you like Korean food at all, I highly recommend purchasing the Half Baked Harvest cookbook and giving her recipes a try asap! Besides marinating the beef for a few hours and chopping all the veggies, all the elements came together rather quickly and easily. And the end result was so worth it. Every bite was different and delicious. I mean who doesn’t love bites made up of marinated steak, sweet potato, kimchi, quinoa, fried egg, avocado, and fresh herbs??

And of course I have to share a picture of our rotten pup…Rocko has started this new thing at Josh’s grandparents where he carries his water bowl into the living room when he thinks he needs more (side note: he was given water probably not more than 15 minutes prior)! It’s a good thing he’s cute!

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things i’m loving right now

This week, I’m keeping it short and sweet. I love reading posts like this, so I decided to do my own. Making lists like this reminds me how truly lucky and blessed I am and that sometimes the littlest things have the most special meaning in life!

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things I’m loving right now:

frozen chocolate mousse with peanut butter glaze, salt, and caramel (from Divvy)

the slow smile my nephew gives me when I tickle his chin

Nonnie’s dutch baby (from the Half Baked Harvest cookbook) covered in Brie cheese, blueberries, homemade honey syrup, and homemade whipped cream

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long walks in the fresh spring air and sunshine

a hot cup of Irish breakfast tea in my favorite mug

puppy cuddles

learning lots of new things at my new job

getting crazy random messages from my friends at all hours

the super welcoming community at my new CF gym

building a blanket fort, watching a movie, and eating ice cream on a Sunday afternoon

 

Of course, I have to throw in some more food pictures from all the great restaurants we ate at this weekend!

Bru Burger

Triple Dip

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Provençal burger & Stilton Bleu cheese burger

Another Broken Egg Cafe

Blackberry Crisp and Brie Waffle Combo & Fried Chicken Benedict

Divvy 

Veggie bisque &  seafood chowder

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Beer cheese, tuxedo tenderloin, seared sesame tuna, corn crème brulée, jalapeno cheddar hushpuppies & whipped feta, porterhouse teasers, sizzlin’ shrimp, blistered brussels sprouts, bruléed brie

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chocolate brownie with white chocolate and strawberries, powder sugared biscuit beignets and caramel & frozen chocolate mousse with peanut butter glaze, salt, and caramel, Tahitian vanilla bean crème brulée with strawberries

 

t h i r t y

Holy moley, I turned 30 this week!!! I really didn’t know how I would feel about it because it has always seemed like a pretty big milestone to me. I thought for sure I would have a total breakdown and panic that my life was “over” (I know, so dramatic), but I actually just felt so very content instead. Who knew that would ever happen??

I think as I’m getting older I’m finally starting to really learn how to be happy with myself and love who I am. I have always been someone who wants to please everyone else and avoid confrontation at all costs. Ask me what I want to do and I’ll immediately respond with “Whatever you would like to do is good with me” or something similar. I’ve slowly been changing that though because why wouldn’t my opinion be just as valid as someone else’s? Why should I so easily be able to cheer on and support and be incredibly happy for everyone else’s successes while nitpicking my own accomplishments? I really want to try to be better at that. Instead of second guessing myself or berating myself for things I could have done better, I want to be happy that I even tried. To be happy that I didn’t give up. And I want to keep trying new things, new foods, new places to travel. I want to become even more healthy and happy and content in my own skin. I’m super excited to see what turning 30 brings!

To celebrate my birthday, Josh and I finally took a trip to Indy for breakfast at Milktooth! I have been wanting to try this restaurant out for almost 3 years! The restaurant is a converted garage and such a cute place- very eclectic and kind of a retro diner vibe. The chairs were all mismatched and the bookshelves were lined with fun tchotchkes, just like being back at Grandma’s house when we were kids.  

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We arrived a little before 9 am and were told that it was counter service coffee and pastries only until 9, but that we could grab something to drink and get a table until food service started. I’m super glad we got there early because every table was completely packed and there was a line of people waiting by 9:15. Josh ordered the bottomless drip- the drip of the day was a nougat, molasses, and milk chocolate coffee from Tinker Coffee Co. I had the Song Red tea in a tea press. I had never had red tea before, but I really enjoyed it!

There were so many delicious sounding options, it was very hard to choose. They have a rotating menu, so I know we will most definitely be going back to try even more. We decided on a biscuit to share. And not just any biscuit. A maple roasted sweet potato biscuit with cranberry butter and pomegranate port honey. It was scrumptious. The biscuit had a nice crunch on the outside, but was fluffy inside. The cranberry butter was sweet and worked really well with the crunch of the pomegranate seeds on top.

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Josh had the cranberry walnut & geneva & raclette grilled cheese drizzled with black truffle honey and topped with a local sunny duck egg. The cranberry walnut bread was toasted and filled with so much ooey gooey cheese. I wasn’t expecting the honey to complement it so well, but it was such a great touch to all the creaminess of the cheese and the duck egg. Don’t even get me started on the runny egg yolk. I was a little jealous that Josh got to eat all but the few bites he shared with me.

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I ordered the pearl sugar and sourdough lemon poppy-seed waffle with persimmon butter, candied pecans, and maple syrup. The waffle had a great crunch and a touch of sweetness to it from the pearl sugar. It was just savory enough to blend well with the richness of the butter, syrup, and pecans. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

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Milktooth was exactly what I had hoped for and while the menu may seem crazy and weird, everything we tasted was so delicious and well worth a visit!  

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good food, good times

Last weekend, Josh and I had an awesome date night in Louisville. We used to go to Indianapolis all the time, but lately we have really been loving Louisville. They’re totally killing it with the food scene. The only problem with that is there are too many choices…actually, that’s a really good problem to have! Thankfully, I have compiled a spreadsheet of restaurants (from friends’ recommendations, Food Network shows, Instagram pictures, etc) we want to try in cities around the US. If you don’t have a spreadsheet of restaurants you want to eat at, you need to get on that asap. Instead of the forever argument of “where do you want to eat?… I don’t care, where do you want to eat?” we now have a foolproof plan of picking a restaurant. After deciding what city we want to drive to (we usually stay within an hour drive), we open up the spreadsheet and (usually) select the first restaurant on the list that we haven’t eaten at yet. How easy is that?! We decided instead of trying a new restaurant, we would visit one of our favorites again- Migo. We got there pretty soon after they opened and were able to get a table right away. It’s not a huge place, so the earlier you can get there, the better. We started out with mofongo for an appetizer. The plantains and potatoes were covered in chunks of juicy roasted pork, fresh cilantro, and salty crumbly cotija cheese served in a mini cast iron skillet. So. Good.   

Migo has a lot of options for tacos, from short rib to duck to catfish to sweet potato and so many more, as well as the option of having them served Mexican or Korean style. I finally decided on a pork belly taco served Asian style and a chorizo taco served Mexican style. The chorizo was salty and full of flavor and I loved the pickled onions and fresh cilantro on top. The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth texture, so fatty, so flavorful. The kimchi on top had a bite and mixed well with the fattiness of the pork belly. It’s going to be hard for me to try any other taco after that pork belly.

Josh had a chicharrón taco served Mexican style and a pork belly taco served Korean style. The chicharrón had a lot of flavor, but the texture was a little too chewy. Of course, the pork belly was amazing.

We were halfway through eating our tacos when we realized our sides- Brussels sprouts and elote- hadn’t come out yet. Our waiter had accidentally forgot to put them in with our order, but it wasn’t a big deal at all. He brought them out to us really quickly and they were so hot we had to wait a couple minutes before digging in. The Brussels sprouts were crispy, caramelized, and covered in a delicious Mexican crema, fresh cilantro, and cotija cheese served in a little cast iron pan. I’m not normally a fan of corn, but their elote is amazing- the fresh corn on the cob is slathered in this really yummy chili-lime cream sauce and sprinkled with fresh cilantro. I could eat it non-stop.    

After dinner, you know what time it was…dessert time! I’m sure there are some other really great dessert places, but we can’t stop ourselves from going to Louisville Cream every time. We really just love that they make small batch ice creams and every week there are new flavors to try. Josh had a pretzel cone with their bourbon pecan and corn flake praline ice cream. The corn flake praline was really good, there were whole pecans throughout, and the taste of bourbon came through perfectly but wasn’t overpowering.   

I had the balsamic strawberry sundae with their homemade biscuits and jam ice cream. The ice cream was served in a cute glass dish and was covered in balsamic strawberry sauce, crystallized balsamic and cinnamon brioche crunch and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. The brioche crunch was crispy on the outside, but so soft once you bit into it. The jam in the ice cream was just tart enough and the balsamic strawberry sauce was so full of flavor I could have eaten a bowl of just that.

ch-ch-ch-changes

I know it’s been awhile since I last posted and I have a very good reason for that! For nearly five years, Josh and I had been working together and had a great daily routine set up. We worked about ten minutes from where we live (so convenient), but I was slowly becoming more and more unhappy there and decided a change was necessary. So, I took a new job! I now travel a little over an hour to work and have later work hours which has been quite an adjustment to my routine. Change is so freaking scary (even when it’s by choice)! But, I’m slowly getting into a rhythm and I’m really loving my new job! In the last month, I’ve already learned several new things and I’m doing things I didn’t think I would ever be doing. It also helps a lot that I have friends that were former co-workers already working there.   

I think the hardest part about switching jobs is not being able to see Josh throughout the day. We didn’t work on the same team, but we both worked on the same floor, so it wasn’t unusual for our paths to cross. We still eat breakfast together every morning before heading our separate ways. And of course, we still text each other throughout the day. But, it’s just not the same. I have really come to cherish our time together after work a whole lot more since making this change. If I have extra time in the morning before I leave for work, I’ll do the laundry or clean up around the house so it doesn’t cut into our time together after work. I try not to be on my phone as much when I get home now and just connect more. It’s a work in progress, but every little minute we get together is becoming more special.

With the job change, my workout routine has also changed. I used to go to a CrossFit gym after work about 25 minutes from our house. This past week, I started going to a new CF gym (about 2 minutes from my new job) in the morning before work. I was pretty nervous about starting somewhere new and meeting a whole new group of people. But, I’ve been trying hard to be open to change and going to the new gym in the morning has actually been really great. The coaches have all been very welcoming, the classes have been much smaller so we get a little more individualized coaching, and I start my day being active and feeling refreshed/ready for the day. I still miss my other gym all the time, but I’m very happy to be getting back to the community aspect of CF instead of working out alone in our garage or the basement at work.

Not only did I join a new gym this week, but the CF Open also started! For those of you who don’t know what the Open is, it is a chance for you to compete against hundreds of thousands of people across the world in five different workouts over five weeks. You sign up online to participate. Every Thursday night for five weeks, a new workout is announced. You then have until Monday evening to complete the workout (with someone “judging” you and keeping track of your workout on an official scorecard) and submit your score online. After each workout has been verified, you get ranked according to your score against everyone else participating. For the majority of people like me, this is just a really fun time to get together with your gym and get a really hard workout in. And it’s really cool to see how you compare to everyone else. This is my fourth year competing in the CF Open and I still get soooo nervous before every workout even though it does not affect my job, my relationships, or anything else at all! I don’t know what it is about the Open, maybe that I know the workout is going to really hurt or that someone is judging me, but it gets me every time. My new gym is holding “Friday Night Lights” where we do the Open workout for that week all together on Friday night. Throughout the day on Friday, I was slightly nervous about doing 18.1, but I was more nervous about going to the gym for the first time in the evening and not knowing anyone but the coaches. I was so surprised that this was the very first Open workout I’ve done where it was just fun. I didn’t know anyone else working out, so while I did work hard and do my best, I didn’t feel any pressure to kill myself during the workout. And the guy who was my judge was so great- he helped me pace during the workout and cheered me on the whole time. Don’t get me wrong, the workout hurt and I was really happy when it was over, but it was so much fun! I can’t wait to see what the next four workouts are!    

I don’t know what the future will hold, but I’m slowly learning that while change can be scary it isn’t always bad and it can bring a lot of wonderful, amazing opportunities! Don’t let fear hold you back!

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Slán go fóill, Ireland!

November 17- Our Last Day in Ireland

After almost two amazing weeks in Ireland, it was finally our last day…and I’ve got to be honest, there wasn’t anything over the top exciting or special about it. We were completely fine with that after the whirlwind of so many super amazing, magical moments. For breakfast, we walked a short distance from SkyBackpackers to The Bakehouse. It was a lovely little cafe with lots of fresh baked goods, coffee and hot chocolate. I ordered a hot chocolate and the bacon butty which was Irish back bacon served with two fried eggs and Bakehouse tomato relish on Bakehouse bloomer bread. The hot chocolate was super chocolatey and creamy and the bread was sooo fresh and soft. Delish!

Josh had a cappuccino (with the cutest snowflake design) and the salmon potato hash, a chunky wedge of potato hash with Wrights smoked salmon, spinach, poached eggs, and Bakehouse breakfast sauce. The Bakehouse sauce with the salmon and poached eggs was so yummy!

We still had a day left on our hop-on-hop-off bus pass, so we rode the bus over to St. Stephen’s Green. St. Stephen’s Green is a really pretty public park in the city. It was quite a chilly and cloudy day, so we didn’t enjoy the park as much as we would have had it been better weather. The park wasn’t far from Grafton Street, so we wandered over to peruse all the great shopping available. Grafton Street has everything you could ever think of- little shops and department stores full of clothes, shoes, food, home goods, toys, restaurants and cafes, everything! We spent quite a bit of time walking in and out of stores until lunch. We were definitely getting a little cold and ready for a break. I still had it in my mind that I wanted to eat at Stag’s Head since the beginning of our trip, so that’s where we headed.

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We ordered the breaded Brie cheese for an appetizer. The golden brown breaded Irish Brie cheese was served with a house salad, red onion marmalade, and balsamic dressing. The red onion marmalade was so delicious, I could have eaten that alone. The gooey, creamy Brie with it took it to a whole other level of yum.

 

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I was craving a big, hot bowl of soup and was not disappointed at all with the seafood chowder and brown bread. They used fresh, smoked seafood and it was made to order. So good!    

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Josh had the fish and chips- fresh Atlantic cod in a light crispy O’Haras beer batter served with chunky chips and homemade tartar sauce.

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After warming up and filling our bellies, we headed back out for more window shopping on Grafton Street. Eventually we ran out of stores that we were interested in, so we came up with a great idea to go see Justice League at a movie theater on O’Connell Street. The theater we watched the movie in was so huge that there were restrooms inside. And assigned seating. I don’t know why I thought that was all so cool, but it was! We both enjoyed the movie and it helped us fill up some more time before heading to the airport.

For dinner, we decided to go back to Murray’s Bar and Grill. I’m really glad we did. We had to have our last meal in a pub and I just couldn’t leave Ireland without one last meal of fish and chips. The Irish cod was fried in a light beer batter and served with a homemade tartar sauce and crispy fries. Josh had the baby back ribs and chips…so random, I know! We really enjoyed our food and having our last meal in a pub filled with cold drinks and music and laughter and fun.

After dinner, we walked back to SkyBackpackers to pick up our luggage. We loaded up our car and drove to the rental car drop-off. We got to Dublin Airport around 9 or 10 pm, but our flight wasn’t until 6 am the next morning. We were really hoping we would be able to print off our boarding passes and get through security, but no counters were open to check us in, so we had to go upstairs to the food court to spend the night. I mean, who doesn’t want to sleep on the booths at McDonald’s? (We totally debated back and forth about staying at a hotel for our last night, but decided against it to save money and not have to worry about transportation to the airport at 4 am).

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It was not glamorous by any means and we didn’t get much sleep, but it worked. If we had to do it over again, I think we would book a later morning flight so we could stay in a hotel instead of the airport food court. You live and learn, right?

The rest of our journey home was majorly uneventful- a short flight to Amsterdam, a 3.5 hour layover with naps and reading, an 8.5 hour flight to Chicago full of watching movies, a 5 hour train ride to Indianapolis with more sleeping and movies, and an hour car ride home. After all that time traveling, we were soooo happy to be home, words can’t even describe. And the best part was coming home to our cute pup!

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Tip of the day: Don’t book such an early flight that you have to spend the night in the airport food court! But, please please please, take a trip to Ireland as soon as you possibly can!!!

dublin or bust

November 16- Kilmainham Gaol & Dublin Zoo

Thursday morning we woke up to sunny, but quite chilly weather. We walked just down the block to Cinnamon Cafe for breakfast. I had hot chocolate and the breakfast bagel stuffed with bacon, sausage, and scrambled egg. Josh had a cappuccino and scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. One part of the cafe I really liked was that they had a whole selection of fresh jams to try out. The cafe was nothing super fancy, but it was good, simple food and there were tons of options available to choose from.  

After breakfast, we had the whole day free to do absolutely anything. We had a few things left on our list of sight-seeing wants, so we purchased a 48 hour DoDublin hop-On-hop-off bus pass. Our first stop of the day was the Kilmainham Gaol. We found out on the bus ride over that the Gaol usually sells out pretty early, so if we hadn’t purchased tickets already there was a chance there wouldn’t be any tours left available. Thankfully, we arrived fairly early in the day and were able to snag tickets for a tour within the next half hour. If the Gaol is one of the top things on your list, I would recommend purchasing tickets online ahead of time just to be safe. The hour long tour was chock full of information. I was amazed at how many dates and stories about different rebellions (such as the Easter Rising) the tour guide was able to spout off from memory!

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Seeing the small cells and feeling the chill of the air in the West Wing, I was super happy that I would never be a prisoner there.

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My favorite part of the Gaol was the East or Victorian wing. It was the complete opposite of the West Wing- there was a huge skylight that let in the sun and every cell opened up into large airy room.

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Our tour ended at the Stonebreaker’s Yard. This is one of the most famous yards at the Gaol and where several leaders of the Easter Rising were executed.

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We waited for what seemed like forever to catch the next bus on the hop-on-hop-off tour, but finally it arrived and we were on our way to Dublin Zoo . I was super happy walking around the zoo, as it seemed almost every single animal was out and about, walking and moving around. We were super lucky to visit during November because they had just begun their Wild Lights exhibit which featured so many giant, beautiful, colorful lanterns shaped like the animals. We saw lions (we even got video of a male lion roaring!), leopards, orangutans, and penguins as we ventured through the Asian forests, orangutan forest, and the cove.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the African savanna where several giraffes, rhinoceros, oryx, and zebra roamed free together.

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Walking through the gorilla rainforest and the Kaziranga Forest trail, we unfortunately didn’t see any gorillas or elephants. I tried not to be disappointed because up until that point literally every other animal had been out and active.

Seriously, how amazing were these Chinese lanterns?! The elephant lantern stood about 52 feet high and the Chinese dragon was almost 100 feet long!

And there was a giant sloth!

We were getting really hungry after touring the gaol and the zoo, so we hopped back on the bus and made our way closer to the city centre. We couldn’t decide where to eat, so after a little research, Josh suggested Beshoff. It was the cutest little restaurant with cafe seating and black and white checkered floors. Unfortunately, the food was so disgusting. We both had the fresh cod and chips and were very disappointed. I was only a few bites into my fish when i bit into a bundle of bones. No thank you! And it was overly greasy, even for fried fish. The chips weren’t good either, they tasted like they had been fried earlier and reheated to serve. I would not ever recommend going there to eat.

To make up for our gross lunch, we popped over to Gelato Di Natura Dublin to drown our sorrows in something sweet. I had the Fabbri Choccomint which was a very creamy, yummy mint chocolate chip. Josh had the cookies flavor which tasted like Biscoff cookie butter. Yum!

For our last night, we stayed at SkyBackpackers Hostel. Our friend, Alex, recommended it to us from when he had stayed there a few months before while in Dublin. The hostel was really fun and hip with lots of bright colors and fun decorations. They had free luggage storage, a kitchen, laundry room, and lounge areas with couches, books, and a tv with a variety of DVDs to watch. The hostel was also really close walking distance to Temple Bar and all the shopping areas. I would definitely recommend staying there.   

After getting our luggage settled into our room (we stayed in a 6-person mixed dorm to save money), we headed south across the River Liffey for dinner at The Bank on College Green. The Bank was such a gorgeous restaurant housed in a previous bank building. While waiting for our table, we ordered some drinks at the bar and took in our surroundings. There were large marble columns, chandeliers, and mirrored walls. The ceiling was beautiful, made up of stained glass and floral plasterwork. It was the perfect date night atmosphere with live piano music and the glow of candlelight with the lights down low. I can’t recommend this restaurant enough.

We thoroughly enjoyed the goats cheese and red pepper croquettes served with apple and celeriac remoulade and a horseradish crème fraiche for our starter.

For dinner, Josh had the fish of the day which was pan fried halibut with turnip purée, gratin potatoes, asparagus, baby carrots, and a lime and dill Hollandaise. I had the slow roasted pork belly served with an apple and cumin purée, champ mash, crackling, spiced white cabbage with chorizo and red wine jus. The pork belly was melt in your mouth and so good.   

Dessert was just as delicious! I had a warm chocolate brownie with fresh berries and Tickety Moo vanilla ice cream and honeycomb. Josh had the orangecrème brûlée with a raspberry coulis and shortbread cookie.

We went back to our hostel after dinner for their free beer/cider night hosted in the lounge. We ended up playing a game called Quiplash with a few other guys staying there. It was a pretty fun game, but a little hard to play with strangers. It would definitely be a good game to play with friends though. Once we finished our drinks, Josh and I walked a few blocks up to Murray’s Bar and Grill for drinks and live music. We sat at the bar (it was packed) which worked out really well to see the stage. The music was really good and the whole place had a great pub feel.

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Tip of the day: Don’t leave Dublin without eating at The Bank on College Green.