Temple Bar and TRADFEST

Ahhh Temple Bar… So much fun to be had in this area of Dublin! It did not disappoint! To be clear… There is an actual Temple Bar Pub in the Temple Bar neighborhood of Dublin, which features live Trad Sessions daily…

The actual neighborhood is an eclectic mix of many pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels, and hostels. We kept hearing that this area is where the tourists go, and I’m sure to an extent it is. We encountered many Europeans on a weekend holiday, and hey… We were there too! You will, however, find plenty of  Irish people also go to Temple Bar! It’s just a fun area to hang out in!

The drinks tend to be pricier in that part of town, however I found it to be comparable to California, New York, Chicago and Las Vegas prices… In other words, I wasn’t shocked by it, and it did not deter me from hanging out there.

Temple Bar Pub in Dublin Ireland

The actual Temple Bar!


It’s most lively from Thursday through Sunday.

The Temple Bar neighborhood also hosts TRADFEST! It’s an annual music festival, now in it’s 10th year,  where many venues play host to Traditional Irish Music Artists. It’s good fun, and not to be missed if you are lucky enough to be in Dublin when it’s happening! We saw many amazingly talented artists, and I am now hooked on Trad!

One of my favs was Mundy at Fitzsimon’s in Temple Bar.


Coming next… Dublin Water Protests.

Ireland… Where Do I Begin?

All stories have a beginning… There are just so many that occurred in Ireland that I struggle as to where to even begin. I guess I’ll start with signs from the Universe… Yes, I’m a big believer! The day before our flight, we were running around getting all our last minute trip essentials. While we were out, we decided to grab a pint to launch our trip, and headed over to the Press Room in Santa Barbara. It’s a small pub where you can find expats from the UK & Ireland enjoying a pint over a football game. It seemed appropriate.

Press Room Pint in Santa Barbara

Pint to launch the trip!


















Sitting at the bar, we struck up a conversation with the only other person there besides the bartender… As luck would have it, he was from Galway, Ireland! We were pretty excited since that was the only other city besides Dublin that we had planned to stay in. He gave us a list of his favorite pubs, restaurants, names of people to ask for, and things to do while we were there! And just for good measure, we grabbed a photo of him to show his friends!

Guy from Galway, Ireland

Galway Guy!














Once we got back home, we scheduled our taxi for our 4:00am pickup, finished packing, and attempted to sleep…

Imagine our surprise when this taxi arrived…

Luck of the Irish, Sign from the Universe, Lucky Cab, Ireland trip transportation

It’s a Lucky Cab… Shamrock and all!

This was not who we had scheduled with! We scheduled with Rose Taxi! We giggled and got in! It seemed right! All was good with the Universe!

Fast forward to our Dublin arrival… How many hours had we been traveling? It seemed like forever… We were lucky enough to arrive an hour earlier than expected! Yay tail winds! We found a bus for 6 Euro that dropped us a couple blocks from our hotel. Our hotel’s entry door was sandwiched between a pizza place and another business. We walked by it several times, wondering if we had been duped!

Can't find our hotel, Dublin Ireland

Where’s our hotel???


After thumping our luggage up a very steep, narrow staircase we were more than ready for a nap! We were hoping for an early check in, but that was not to be had! Instead we were greeted, and I use that word lightly, by a very unfriendly woman that wouldn’t even make eye contact with us! (SHE WAS NOT IRISH!) She pointed to an area, which was not secure whatsoever, where we could leave our luggage, and told us to come back at 2:00pm. I will elaborate in a later post with a scathing review on this hotel, which I wouldn’t recommend to a cockroach… But, I digress…

We had several hours to kill before we could check in, so we set off to find breakfast. We had our first proper Irish breakfast with tea at the Queen of Tarts. It’s small, quaint, cozy and full of delightful treats! Good luck getting a seat! This place packs!

Queen of Tarts, Dublin Ireland, Tea

1st Tea in Dublin!

After breakfast we wandered around the Temple Bar area in Dublin, which was where we were staying… We still had lot’s of time to kill before check in and seriously needed to sit. We had now been up for 24 hours! We stumbled upon Peadar Kearney’s Pub and had to go in… How could you go wrong when the Chef’s Special was Guinness! Our first pint in Ireland was before noon… But, hey that’s 4:00am according to our time zone…

1st pint in Dublin, Ireland at Peadar Kearney's Pub

1st pint in Dublin!

The people and bartender were extremely friendly here! The pub is just outside of the Temple Bar area, and the prices are easier on the wallet too! They host live music during the week… Check it out!

Coming next… Temple Bar & TRADFEST.

Dublin Bound

Dublin Bound… Ireland here we come!

Trip to Dublin Ireland, Travel bloggers, Photography of Dublin, Dublin Bound

Dublin Bound!

Finally, the day has arrived! I have been quite excited about this trip, and very anxious to start it. I am traveling with Jenna Dosch, a fellow photographer from Las Vegas. We begin our trip in Dublin, arriving just in time for TRADFEST.  We have fifteen days to explore the rest of Ireland and plan on squeezing in as much of possible!

We plan on blogging along the way, and also posting on social media, so be sure to check out our adventures!

If you’re a local, and want to join us for a pint, message us on twitter! If you surf, contact us! We are heading west to Galway and possibly up to Sligo! We want to photograph some big waves and are hoping to find the best locations to do that!

Check out our websites/blogs:

Manipulated Reality I will be blogging here as usual!

Jenna Dosch Photography You can find Jenna here!

Follow us on twitter:

Manipulated Reality

Jenna Dosch

Follow us on Instagram:

Julie Plevak

Jenna Dosch Photo



Burlington In The Winter

Things To Do In Burlington In The Winter

Burlington, VT is one of my favorite cities to visit. It frequently finds itself on many “Best Of” lists, and after spending time there, it is easy to see why. Burlington has a lively downtown scene, a thriving art community, an array of dining choices, and bars featuring local live music. The close proximity to multiple ski resorts makes it easy to spend the day on the slopes snowboarding or skiing! It’s a family friendly town that hosts multiple activities for kids too!

Here are few things to check out while visiting Burlington:

Shelburne Farms

I highly recommend a visit here. It’s my number one choice of places to see. The grounds are absolutely magnificent. The farm covers 1,400 acres and is located on the shores of Lake Champlain. Shelburne Farm provides learning experiences for a sustainable future by partnering with the community, and hosts events year round. In the winter you can take a horse drawn sleigh ride, take a class and learn about the animals, or even learn how to make bread and butter. Check their calendar for the many choices offered.

things to do in burlington in the winter, sustainable farming, shelburne farms vermont

Shelburne Farms

Cross Country Skiing, Ice Skating, Sledding
There are many parks in Burlington that offer groomed ski trails, ice rinks for skating, and hills for sledding. What’s more fun that playing outside in the winter? And, these are all free!

winter activities in Burlington, things to do in the winter in Burlington

Burlington VT in the winter

Church Street Marketplace
The Church Street Marketplace is an open air pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown Burlington. The streets are cobblestone and it’s lit up beautifully at night! It’s a fun place to hang out with many shops, restaurants, and galleries to stop by.

If you like books, be sure to pop into Crow’s Bookshop. They offer a great selection, and a cozy atmosphere, which is a refreshing change if you’re used to the mega bookstores in most cities.

Need a chocolate fix? Lake Champlain Chocolates will hook you up! The chocolates are made locally and you can even visit the factory!

If that’s not enough to feed your sweet tooth, head over to My Little Cupcake. They specialize in delicious mini cupcakes and have a ridiculous amount of flavors to choose from! It’s hard to decide on just one, so plan on trying a variety. They are located at 217 College Street, which isn’t too far from the Church Street Marketplace.

For real food, try out Sweetwaters. They have a full bar, and extensive menu with a large amount of gluten free options. The restaurant is housed in a building from the 1880’s and still retains some original architectural details. Former bank vaults now function as walk-in coolers in the lowest level of the restaurant.

Things to do in Burlington in the winter, church street marketplace

Kids love Church Street Marketplace

Burlington Art Scene

I was really impressed with the art scene in Burlington. Art is everywhere, so you will not have to go far to find it! If you happen to be in Burlington on the first Friday of the month, check out the community wide First Friday Art event. It’s a great way to check out a variety of local artists in one night. You can also check the Vermont Art Guide to find out about current openings and exhibitions.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to two very talented Burlington artists, that were gracious enough to let me wander through their studios while they were working.

Check out the artwork of:

Duane Albro at Tao Woodworking. My favorites were the SUP’s. They are absolutely gorgeous! And, when you stop by, make sure you say hello to Chomsky the St. Bernard. He usually is hanging  out in the shop!

Bruce R. MacDonald at HAVOC. His metal wall sculptures are on stainless panels. Holographic effects create a feeling of movement through out the pieces. To see the visual depth and illusion of the art, check out these videos!

Top Tips For Long Flights

Top Tips For Long Flights
Flying tips for a long flight, Top Tips For Long Flights
Ok, here we go… Every frequent flyer has many tips to share with other travelers. I think we all do our best to make it easier for the next guy.  Here are my Top Tips For Long Flights!

Get enough sleep. I try really, really hard to do this before early morning flights. Unfortunately, I am usually not too successful. I’m usually just too excited about my upcoming trip, and everything relating to it is competing in my brain for my attention.

Sleep on the plane. In most cases, I end up doing this for several hours. This one can take some prep if you are a light sleeper as I am. I like the window for sleeping. It provides a little more stability… Of course if you don’t mind getting cozy with your fellow passengers, then definitely pick a middle or aisle seat! Nothing like a good shoulder to lean on right? On shorter flights, I don’t bother with a neck pillow, but I recommend using one for long flights. Your neck and back will thank you later. Eye sleep masks and earplugs are a great if you just want to block everything out! Don’t worry about how you look… If you’re that worried about fashion, draw some eyes on your mask!

Hydrate. However tempting it might be to have a drink, as in alcohol, I avoid it. Water is my first choice, and tea is nice if you want a warm drink. Bring your own individual bags if you like herbal teas and want to avoid caffeine. Just ask for some hot water. You will feel less sluggish once you arrive at your destination.

Don’t carry on that much. Think about your comfort level, and how long your flight is. Suddenly, the extra fees for checking your luggage won’t seem too bad. There is nothing worse than trying to figure out where to cram all your stuff. I for one like my legroom, and I’m not very tall!

Just carry the necessities. Make sure too bring a small toiletry case, with toothpaste (it’s a long flight!), hand lotion, and lip balm. I find myself getting dry while I fly… Once again, I emphasize the importance of staying hydrated. Sanitizing wipes are a must-have, cause you just never know what kind of germs are lingering around! Aspirin, ibuprofen, and throat lozenges are a good idea too.

Entertainment. iPads or other tablets are always a good choice, especially if your traveling with the kiddos. They provide hours of entertainment… Just be sure to charge your batteries before you leave! Inflight TV offers movies on DIRECTV. Bring your own headphones, or get some from the airline. Just swipe your card, and you’re good to go! If you’re not a techie, there are always books and magazines. I usually bring a book too. I zip through magazines way to fast. I’ll blame my self-diagnosed Adult ADD for that one!

Eating. I try to eat something light before any flight. I’m not a fan of eating on a plane, or the food that is usually available. For longer flights, I like to pack my own sandwich, roll-up, fruit and some sort of snack. If you do choose to bring food onto the plane just be conscious of your neighbors… They will be suffering from the stink of the onions, that you just had to add onto your burger, long after it is gone! Being aware of our neighbors brings me to my next tip…

Snacks. I saved this one for last. Who doesn’t love a snack? We all do of course! There are so many to choose from. So, the next time you have to make that choice,  please consider your neighbor. The child or the adult sitting next to you may suffer from a life threatening peanut allergy. Shockingly, people don’t take this seriously enough, and I am quite appalled by the lack of concern and behavior exhibited by normally intelligent adults.

I have family with small children that fear traveling. Two trips have come to a quick end due to a random peanut. Rather than use the trash, someone tossed it on the ground where the children were playing. Thankfully, the children were removed from the situation in time, and no EpiPen was needed.

Nobody should ever have to experience a loved one going into anaphylactic shock or using an EpiPen to save them, praying the whole time that they won’t die.

You won’t die if you don’t eat peanuts for a few hours, but someone else might.

If you’d like to learn more, check out The No Nut Traveler. It’s a great resource for flying with food allergies, and provides current information to help create more public awareness. It will provide a view into the world of what it’s like to travel with life threatening allergies.




10 Free Things To Do In Chicago

10 Free Things To Do In Chicago

10 Free Things to do in Chicago

Chicago Skyline

It’s always fun to find freebies while you’re traveling. Here’s some to check out in Chicago.

Chicago Blues FestivalGrant Park at Jackson & Columbus

This is by far, one of my favorite events to go to in Chicago. It’s held every summer in Grant Park and it’s FREE! It runs for 3 days on 5 different stages, and features some of the best Blues Artists around!

Millenium Park – 201 E Randolph Street

Millenium Park features one of the most popular tourist attractions, commonly referred to as “The Bean”. Be sure to check out Lurie Garden, and the free concerts which are featured all summer long.

Lincoln Park Zoo – 2200 N Cannon Drive

Lincoln Park Zoo is open year round. The Zoo covers 35 acres and features more than 230 species of animals. It’s located between Lake Michigan and the high rise buildings of the city! They have featured events throughout the year, so be sure to check the schedule.

City Gallery At The Historic Water Tower – 806 N Michigan Ave

Check out the rotating work of local photographers and artists in the City Gallery. The Chicago Historic Water Tower is located along the Magnificent Mile.

Navy Pier – 600 E Grand Ave

Be sure to take a stroll along the pier’s boardwalk. Admission is free. On Wednesday and Saturday evenings in the summer, free fireworks are featured weekly.

Museum of Contemporary Photography – 600 S Michigan Ave

One of the only museums in the area devoted exclusively to photography.

WFB First Friday ArtWalk  – 1579 North Milwaukee Ave

On the first Friday of every month explore two floors of art in the historic Flat Iron Arts Building. Resident artists, guest artists, impromptu performances, and refreshments are all a part of the celebration.

Chicago Botanic Garden – 100 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

The Chicago Botanic Garden is open year round and a beautiful place to visit. There are 26 gardens and four natural areas to stroll through. The Garden is situated on 385 acres, with 6 miles of lake shoreline.

Tour A Brewery3340 N Kedzie Ave

Revolution Brewery offers 45 minute tours that include a tasting. They cap the tours at 30 people, so get there early! Tour schedule is listed on their website.

Free Music At The Empty Bottle – 1035 N Western Ave

Most Monday and Friday nights feature free music. Check the schedule on their website.

Looking for more to do in Chicago?

5 Most Inspirational TED Talks On Travel

 5 Most Inspirational TED Talks On Travel

Where is home? How many of us ask ourselves that question? Having lived in four different states myself, I often wonder if I will ever feel like I’m really home. I’ve lived in Santa Barbara, California for five years now, however when I travel back to Chicago, I always say I’m going home for a visit. Chicago is where I was born and spent a good portion of my life, but I don’t live there anymore. So, where then is home?

Writer Pico Iyer meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling, and the serenity of standing still.

Where Is Home – Pico Iyer

What have you learned while traveling? How has it impacted your life? After spending 4 months a year for the last 30 years living out of a suitcase, Rick Steves, shares lessons he has learning traveling the world.

Rick Steves – The Value of Travel

If travel allows a life of freedom, are these modern day vagabonds more free than the rest of us?
A photojournalist that dreamed of running away from home to live freely, now follows modern nomads into their homes, giving us a glimpse into a culture on the margins.

Kitra Cahana – A Glimpse of Life On The Road

Have you had a life transformation achieved by traveling? Francis Tapon shares how travel can be a catalyst for transforming your life by giving you insights that may be impossible to achieve by any other means.

Francis Tapon – How And Why Travel Transforms You

Is your personality given or chosen? Gulhan Sen discusses her experiences gained through travel and how it helped her realize the “given identity”.

Gulhan Sen – How Traveling Shapes Your Personality

Top 10 Must-Have Travel Apps

Top 10 Must-Have Travel Apps

With so many options to choose from, these are my favorite top 10 Must-Have Travel Apps:

top 10 travel apps must-have

Word Lens

Instantly translate printed words in real time by using your built-in video camera. How cool is that?

Wi-Fi Finder

Worried you won’t be able to find a WiFi? Be sure to add this app! It has a data base of over 550,000 that is constantly being updated. It gives you directions to the closest spot, and shows whether it is free or you have to pay for the connection.


Who doesn’t need help when it comes to tipping? Whether you are splitting the bill, or just need help figuring out the right amount to leave, this app makes it all easy. It also can convert to the local currency of wherever  you are traveling.

XE Currency

Confused about currency exchange rates? Enter the currency you want to convert between, and a display will give you the value of both. It’s a quick and easy app to use.


How many times have y0u heard music you like and do not have a clue who it is?  Just imagine traveling overseas, hearing amazing local music, and being able to identify the artist!


Create short videos of your travels. You can edit the clips, stitch it all together, add text, filters, and a soundtrack. What’s not to love?


Ok, this one is just fun! Create a digital storybook with your travel photos, videos, and text.


If you don’t want to stay in a hotel, Airbnb offers over 600,000 listings for apartments, rooms, or even houses in more than 34,000 cities. It’s pretty simple to use too!


And, for the Foodies… This app is a visual guide to good food and where to find it!


Ever wish you could send a postcard with your own photo on it? Well this app allows you to do just that! Touchnote has customizable templates which allow you to share your travels, and add a personalized message. For $1.99 you can send one to your family and friends.

A Vegas Kind of Christmas

A Vegas Christmas
Who goes to Vegas at Christmas? Me for one! I have family in Chicago and Las Vegas, so I split the holiday between the two cities. My Chicago Christmas was celebrated a couple weeks earlier. I spent Christmas in Vegas!

So what do people do for Christmas in Las Vegas? Believe it or not, most people do have traditional celebrations. My family had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner, and then exchanged gifts. Christmas morning was celebrated with the kiddos opening gifts from Santa.

That’s pretty much what most people do right? Well, here’s what I’m guessing most don’t!

Several years ago, bowling somehow made it into a Christmas Day activity for our Las Vegas family! It seems to have stuck, so I guess we can now call it a tradition. None of us are very good at it, but we always have a lot of fun!

I guess a lot of other people have made this part of their Vegas Christmas too.  There was a pretty big line to get a lane and shoes!

Vegas Christmas Bowling

Hey look! They decorated!

They even had Cosmic Bowling! It was quite festive!

cosmic bowling Vegas Christmas

Cosmic Bowling!

If bowling’s not your thing, there’s always ice skating! I know, you’re thinking in Vegas? Yes, actually there are several places to choose from! I like The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan. They transform their Boulevard Pool into an ice rink that overlooks the Vegas Strip! They also have fire pits to sit around where you can enjoy holiday cocktails.

Ice Skating at The Cosmopolitan Vegas Christmas

Ice Skating at The Cosmopolitan















A new addition to Vegas is The High Roller, a 550 foot tall Ferris wheel. This is fun for kids and adults. If you are going with adults only, I recommend the happy hour ride!

Las Vegas Ferris Wheel

High Roller Ferris Wheel Pod

The views are spectacular!

High Roller view of the strip in Vegas

View of Vegas from The High Roller

And, if that’s not enough for your Vegas Christmas, you can always head down to Freemont Street to go sledding! Yep! That’s right… Sledding! There is a snow hill! The snow is trucked in daily… And, that my friends is what a Vegas Christmas looks like!

A Chicago Christmas

 Downtown Chicago Christmas

I had expected snow for my Chicago Christmas adventure, but instead it was a balmy 48 degrees! At first I was a bit disappointed, however, it was pretty nice walking around downtown Chicago and not freezing to death!

First stop was Macy’s… I was heading there with family to see the holiday window displays, the Great Christmas tree in the Walnut Room, and of course to see Santa!

Chicago Macy's State Street

Heading to Macy’s!

We skipped Santa… There was a two hour wait! I can’t imagine waiting in any line that long, especially with a child under two years old! We headed over to Christkindlmarket. It is an open-air market that features unique gifts, German food and drinks, and holiday entertainment.

Christkindlmarket in Chicago

Vendor at the Christmas Market

This place was packed! The people were squished inside like sardines… There was no chance we were getting a stroller through that crowd! Luckily there were a few vendors on the outside perimeter! It might be better to visit during the week. The crowds might be thinner!

Switching gears, we headed to Lincoln Park. We stopped in at Bricks Pizza. I had never been there before, but was drawn in by their sign. It said they were the best on earth! Could it be! I might live in Cali now, but this Chicago girl knows her pizza!

Outside of Bricks Pizza

Best on Earth? I had to find out!















The atmosphere was great! We ordered our pizza, some beers, and waited to see if it was really the best.

Bricks Pizza Beer

Big beer at Bricks Pizza















It looked promising! And, it was good… But, I don’t believe it’s the best on Earth! I have definitely had better pizza in Chicago. Bricks has a great neighborhood bar, and it would be fun to go back again sometime for drinks.

Pizza at Bricks in Chicago

Good… But not best on Earth!

Our next stop was Lincoln Park Zoo. ZooLights was almost about to begin! This is a fun event for children and adults. The zoo is decorated with lights throughout the grounds, and there are many festive activities going on too!

Chicago skyline downtown

My kind of town Chicago is!

After a walk around the zoo, the light show began. I have to say, this was one of my favorite parts of the day. Well done Lincoln Park Zoo… Well done!

A peek at the light show. Click for video: ZooLights Chicago