If you’re thinking it’s a bit early to be looking at ways to celebrate the Irish Saint of Green Face Paint and Guinness, let me explain. St. Patrick’s Day might be a few weeks away (17th March, just so you know) but the world’s a vast place and Irish Bars are many. So I thought I’d get a jump on the big day itself, do some background research and point you in the direction of a few places where St. Paddy himself would not feel out of place having a Craic and a pint of the black stuff – if he wasn’t a saint, obviously. But, before you go off dismissing my efforts as a thinly disguised excuse to trawl the drinking dens of Dublin, not one of my suggestions for this year’s celebrations is on home soil. They’re spread far and wide, but have one thing in common: a deep and enduring reverence for ‘the auld country’.
Someone once told me that all you needed for a traditional Irish Band was three chords and a Begorra. Working on that logic, it seems the only requirement for an Irish Pub is a leprechaun bobble-head, a liberal sprinkling of shamrocks and a road sign. There was even a tale doing the rounds about Dublin having to spend a fortune replacing street plaques removed by unscrupulous visiting publicans and hived off to add a touch of authenticity to Irish Pubs in less than Irish locations (Mongolia anyone?). That may be so, but my search goes far beyond the superficial window dressing of the Irish Pub to the heart of the true spirit of St. Patrick’s Day – drinking, dancing and telling complete strangers that you’ve always loved them.
And where else would I start my arduous quest, but Boston? The city’s keeper of the flame when it comes to Irish heritage and has the pubs to prove it. Steer clear of the ‘theme’ bars (a green drink does not an Irish pub make). And if it’s part of a chain, I don’t think I need to tell you how that’s going to go. No, my money’s on the Brendan Behan Pub or ‘The Behan’ as it’s known locally. Four times winner of ‘The Best Irish Pub in Boston’ and loved for its wide range of stouts and ales, ‘craic-centric’ philosophy, live music and traditional (for Boston) atmosphere, The Behan’s named after the poet, Republican, political prisoner and hard drinker Brendan Behan. The Brendan Behan, 378 Center Street, Jamaica Plain (a trolley ride from Downtown Boston).
London’s tiny Tipperary is the city’s oldest Irish pub and has held its ground on Fleet Street since 1700 (the original pub is older but not Irish, so doesn’t count). Supposedly this was the first place in England to sell Guinness and it’s been upholding that fine tradition ever since. It’s small and very friendly and has the kind of cosy atmosphere you might expect if you really were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Tipperary and not in fact in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities. The Tipperary, 66 Fleet Street, London EC4Y.
If you’re a diehard traditionalist and you find yourself in Athens on March 17th, despair not, the James Joyce Irish Pub is celebrating like it’s Dublin on a Friday after 5. Everything’s where it should be from the draught Stout and whisky selection to a dark wood long-bar and Steak & Guinness Pie. But the music’s more DJ than Ceilidh and the folks you get to declare undying love for are of the younger variety. James Joyce Irish Pub, Astiggos 12, Thiseio 105 55, Athens.
No one’s going to accuse the world’s Irish pubs of imagination when it comes to names, so you’ll have to forgive Istanbul’s one and only for also heading down the route of James Joyce Irish Pub. But if you’re dying for a long, black drink and some Irish Dancing Classes you’ve arrived. The James Joyce, Istanbul is a bit of a favourite on a city pub crawl and does boisterous as standard so I’m thinking all stops will be pulled for St. Patrick’s Day. James Joyce Irish Pub, İstiklal Caddesi, Balo Sokak 26, Beyoğlu, Istanbul.
If an ‘Open Mike Night’ with Siggi Porbergs isn’t likely to have you weeping into your Jamieson’s, you’ll be right up for the Irish pub experience Reykjavik style. The Celtic Cross is one of two Irish pubs in the city both owned by the same Icelander (he makes no claims to Celtic roots) and while it might not focus on authentic music, the booze is plenty traditional enough to distract you. The Celtic Cross, Hverfisgata 26, 101 Reykjavik.
Paris has always been a pull for Irish ex-pats and has more than a few literary and artistic connections to its Celtic counterpart, so finding an Irish pub is never a problem. For very traditional music, warm atmosphere and a great bar I recommend The Quiet Man, in Le Marais. A lot more authentic than the John Wayne movie it’s named for, The Quiet Man is open from 5pm to late, almost always has live music and will definitely be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The Quiet Man, 5 Rue des Haudriettes, Paris (close to The Pompidou Centre).
I couldn’t write about Irish pubs without including at least one ‘tavern’ – I love a tavern. It’s New York, of course, and if you like your Guinness surrounded by flat-screen sport The Kinsale Tavern is the place for you. Not that New York City’s lacking in Irish pubs (there’s even one at JFK, if you’re desperate). But The Kinsale Tavern does a mean Shepherd’s Pie and a Full Irish Breakfast. And everyone knows how important it is to max the carbs if you’re going to do St. Patrick’s Day justice. The Kinsale Tavern, 1672 3rd Avenue, New York, NY10128.
And come the 17th March, when the Guinness is flowing and the Craic is crackling, feel free to have at my all-time-favourite bad Irish Joke:
Q. What did St. Patrick say to the snakes when he was driving them out of Ireland?
A. ‘Are you all right in the back there lads?
Yes, that’s quite enough St. Patrick’s Day nonsense from me. I know.
If your children are animal lovers, care for a treasured pet or deliver heartfelt speeches on the terrible effects of whaling on the sperm whale population; they’ve probably already told you that today is World Animal Day.
To celebrate a day of caring for the cute and fuzzy, the feathered and winged, even the scaly and slimy; we’ve put together some pictures ideas for your next holiday break, if you want to centre your holiday around getting your little activists enthused about some of the amazing creatures to be found in all corners of the globe.
When some animal rights lovers think of a zoo, they sometimes think of dank, dark cages and sad animals in wretched captivity. But the truth is that many zoos around the world are beautiful places to live, dedicated to animal conservation and providing their fluffy guests with plenty of room to roam and live free-range, as it were. These are some of the best.
Chester Zoo, Chester, England.
credit: Adam Foster
Tiergarten Schönbrunn, Vienna, Austria
National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Bronx Zoo, New York City, United States
Berlin Zoological Garden, Berlin, Germany
credit: Tambako the Jaguar
Apart from the only way for many of us to experience incredibly tough to spot deepwater fish (such as the rarely-seen-in-captivity Sunfish which you can find in Valencia or Lisbon) – and the slow, otherworldly elegance of the earth beneath sea-level, aquariums are homebase for many marine biologists, whose jobs are to try and keep the oceanic ecosystems in balance.
Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre, Dubai, U.A.E.
The Deep Aquarium, Hull, England
credit: Bruce Stokes
L’Oceanogràfic, Valencia, Spain
credit: Jofre Ferrer
Turkuazoo, Istanbul, Turkey
Oceanário de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Featured image of Squid, the HouseTrip office dog, by reversepanda.
Video, words and images courtesy of The Planet D, exclusively for HouseTrip as part of our #housetripping series.
Istanbul, Turkey is arguably one of the most exotic cities in Europe. Straddling two continents, it is a destination filled with cultural diversity and ancient traditions. With a population of nearly 14 million people, Istanbul is a true international city that can be overwhelming to the first time visitor.
Some people may feel a bit of culture shock when they first arrive and this can put a lot of stress on your vacation. While part of the excitement of travel is to experience new things, it’s also important to feel comfortable while you see the sights.
Staying in an apartment rental can definitely help alleviate the stress of travel. Having the comforts of home at your fingertips can make you feel more relaxed and ready to take on the hustle and bustle of the day ahead. When you are comfortable in your surroundings, it gives you the confidence to explore the city.
While visiting Istanbul with HouseTrip, we came up with a few ideas to help get over that homesick feeling that you may get when travelling.
1. Meet the Locals
When you’re missing your friends and family at home, the best way to feel better is to make new friends. You’ll find that most people are very warm and welcoming, and if you open up and give a smile, people will be happy to say hello.
2. Cook at home
Cooking in your apartment is the best way to get into the swing of things. Exotic food can be wonderful, but sometimes you may want to eat your favourite meal from home. Head to the nearest supermarket and buy your food and drinks for your dinner and breakfast the next morning, Being able to stay inside for a night without having to search for a place to dine or find a taxi back home, can add that extra element of comfort that is so often lacking when traveling.
3. Go to the market.
A little retail therapy would never hurt anyone. Shopping at the local markets is fun and a great way to get to know the people who live there.
4. Go to the movies.
If you are traveling for a while or really feeling the culture shock, sometimes it is great to escape to the movies. Eating popcorn, turning off your brain and enjoying the air conditioning for a couple of hours can rejeuvinate even the most weary of travellers.
5. Learn the local customs.
Find out what makes the locals comfortable and try it yourself. In Istanbul, tea and coffee are a large part of their culture. Go into a local coffee shop and order a traditional Turkish coffee. It’s pure heaven. But don’t stop there, learn one of their favourite games like backgammon and if you are feeling truly daring, give a sheesha a try. Sheesha is a waterpipe used for smoking flavoured tobacco and you will see many people settling in for the night inhaling flavours like mint or lemon.
6. Visit a Home
Feeling homesick? If you visit a family you will feel right at home. In Istanbul, it’s not uncommon for a foreigner to be welcomed into people’s homes. There’s nothing more soothing than eating a home cooked meal and getting a hug from someone’s mom to make you feel warm and fuzzy all over.
Travel to a city like Istanbul doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming, if you keep your mind open and embrace the culture, you will find that it can be a very comfortable place to be. By following our advice and staying in an apartment to suite your taste, you’ll find that you are so comfortable, you may never want to leave.
The International Olympic Committee are getting ready for a huge announcement this weekend: who will host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games? The 3 contenders have been preening their feathers, flexing their muscles and showing their best side.
And it’s all come down to this.
Will current favourite Madrid claim this incredible honour?
credit: Víctor Peña
credit: Tonymadrid Photography
Will Tokyo be able to overcome the negativity surrounding the Fukushima disaster, and prove to the world they have the passion to host the best games yet?
credit: Brendan Skinner
credit: Stuck in Customs
credit: Jun Takeuchi
credit: Stuck in Customs
Or perhaps Istanbul, making its 5th bid for the games, will finally be able to show us all just what their flourishing economy, young population and widespread support will give to a transcontinental games.
credit: Christopher Chan
credit: Kıvanç Niş
Who would you like to see hosting the 2020 Olympics?
Words and images by renowned photo blogger Kirsten Alana, exclusively for Trip+ as part of our #housetripping series.
Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world, with an estimated population of between 12 and 19 million and eight main districts that span two continents, both physically and culturally — it should be on every traveler’s list to visit eventually.
How do you adequately experience such a large, diverse city in one visit? A private city tour is a great place to start! However you choose to structure your holiday, here are some places you should not miss.
Landmarks such as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, which sit facing one another, almost need no introduction. Both have been featured in films, television shows and as scene setters in novels many many times. Their fame is warranted, for both provide a cultural and historical reference that is difficult to replicate elsewhere in Istanbul.
The Blue Mosque,
as it has become popularly known, is actually Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It is still in use as a place of worship. Built during the rule of Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616, it was given its popular moniker because of the blue tulip tiles that adorn the interior walls. It has one main dome, six minarets (highly unusual for a mosque) and eight secondary domes.
my favorite place to visit in Istanbul, was once a Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica, then it was an Eastern Orthodox cathedral, and finally a Roman Catholic cathedral before it became an imperial mosque. It was the principal mosque of Istanbul in fact, until 1616 when Sultan Ahmed opened. Construction was begun in 537, continued throughout the different versions, and finally it was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Today, parts of Hagia Sophia are still under construction for the purposes of restoration but that hardly affects the beauty to be seen inside. On the very top level, stunning mosaics with gleaming gold tiles can still be seen, bearing religious scenes. Whether one is religious or not, the historical impact of the building is unmistakable.
Of course, what’s incredible about the city doesn’t begin and end with these two mosques. Nearby is the Old City, known as the Sultanahmet, which has a collection of wooden buildings and typical restaurants that should also be on any traveler’s list.
Across the Golden Horn, up on the hill is Galata Tower,
and the accompanying neighborhood, which shares the name, is a colorful area filled with locals, excellent shopping, plentiful nightlife options and many wonderful views from rooftop cafes.
Combined with the neighboring area of Beyoğlu it also shelters Istiklal Street and the adjoining Taksim Square.
İstiklal Caddesi is a prominent pedestrian street and one of the best places in the city to simply roam. This area was the original diplomatic district when Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire so many embassies and consulates can still be found, of which the British consulate is probably most worthy of a visit. Also, keep an eye out for one of the many Simit carts so that you can try this round, pretzel type bread that is such a part of Turkish food culture.
When you’re looking for a place to stay in the city, this Galata apartment very close to the tower has wonderful views of the Bosphorus and a rooftop courtyard where it’s possible to really understand the layout of this vast city because you can see it all laid out before you.
This apartment, also in Galata, is new and decorated in a modern style. It’s centrally located on a busy street close to trains and other forms of public transportation.
This luxurious and well-appointed apartment packs a lot of amenities into a compact space. Very recently renovated, it features all of the most modern comforts with architectural details such as brick walls that help to preserve the historical importance of the neighborhood it is situated in.
Wherever you choose to stay in Istanbul, take your time getting to know the city. There are secrets and surprises just waiting to be uncovered where Europe meets Asia, all along the Bosphorus.