Farewell 2016…

As another year draws to a close today, I wanted to share one last post with you all for 2016, a year that was a crazy whirlwind of travel, adventure and change for me. This day last year, I was newly married, fresh out of wedding planning, and looking for a new way to occupy all my spare time now that my days weren’t being spent researching wedding themes on Pinterest and buying up half of Etsy for the big day.

If you’ve read my blog introduction, you’ll already know this information. But for those of you who are not familiar with my story, then allow me to rehash…

Blogging was something I had done before and loved. I missed writing for myself desperately, and I also knew there was a chance my job would be changing, so in order to give myself a new creative outlet, this day last year, on 31st December 2015, I decided it was time to return to one of my first loves, writing, and set up this little blog, Simply Sorcha.

I didn’t know the direction Simply Sorcha would take, I didn’t even know what I was going to write about, but I knew I wanted to write. Since that day I’ve shared almost every day of my 2016 journey with you all, from my wedding photos, my travels and adventures, my beauty loves and loathes, my good days and bad.

2016 was such an incredible year, it had some tough moments like being made redundant from my job and closing a chapter on an incredible journey in a company I loved, but it was also a year of new adventure and discovery with the year of the holiday. I’m sure many of you are familiar with our year of the holiday plan by now, we started out 2016 with a plan to visit as many new places as we possibly could and I think it’s pretty safe to say we achieved our goal.

The year of the holiday was a huge success consisting of 25 destinations, 22 flights, 13 weeks, 9 countries and 3 continents, all within one year. We visited Paris, Rome, Kerry, Ibiza, London (twice), Marbella, Cork, Ubud, the Gili Islands, Seminyak, Cairns, Townsville, Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, Rockhampton, Fraser Island, Noosa, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Surfer’s Paradise, Byron Bay, Port Macquarie, Sydney, Melbourne, Bangkok, Ko Lanta, Dubai, and of course, home to Dublin.

We saw some beautiful places, met some incredible people (weird and wonderful), stayed in some amazing hotels (and some questionable ones!), but most of all, we did it together. And we laughed every step of the way. I still have posts to share on my travels, and they will be up early in the new year for those interested.

All in all, it will be hard to top 2016 but already we know it’s going to be an exciting year of new beginnings. I’m starting a new job in a few weeks, Dave is celebrating a big birthday, and most importantly of all, I’ll be continuing my blogging journey.

As the year of the holiday and blogging successfully for one year challenges are both officially over now, it’s time to create a new challenge for myself for 2017. This one is far less extravagant than the year of the holiday (which I’m sure our bank balance will be happy about), and is essentially a blogging challenge as opposed to a life challenge. It is beauty related, and focusses on just one thing, my favourite makeup product of all the makeup products, lipstick.

More will be revealed tomorrow, when day one of my 2017 challenge begins, but for now I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and all the best of health, happiness, love and success for 2017.

Special thanks to all the amazing bloggers I’ve met this year, the events I’ve been invited to and attended, the blog posts that have inspired me, and all the new friends I’ve made through Simply Sorcha. And to all my readers all over the world, I hope you keep coming along for the ride!

Here’s to a wonderful 2017 for us all.

Sorcha x

Ubud, Bali | My Travel Adventures Part 1

Well, today marks one week since we jumped on that Emirates plane and began our two month trip around the world. As many of you know by now, Dave and I got married last December and decided that our first year of marriage would be spent having a ‘Year of the Holiday’, and basically just one big honeymoon.

We have been to some incredible places already this year, but really we have been gearing up for the main event, a two month trip taking in Bali, Australia and Thailand.

Our first stop was the beautiful cultural town, or more specifically district, of Ubud in Bali. Apart from my Eat, Pray, Love notions about what Ubud would be like, and some stories from friends who have been here before, I really didn’t know what to expect but it wasn’t long before I fell for its charm.



Ubud is rough and ready in many ways, but to me, that’s what makes it so beautiful. Luscious, vast green fields, paired with palm trees sprawled along road sides, make it every inch the tropical countryside you imagine it to be. It is beautiful; it is warm (in both senses of the word); it is friendly; it is spiritual.

We arrived late last Friday night to our hotel, Uma by Como Ubud, a paradise hideaway in the middle of what can only be described as the mountains. Again, luscious greenery accompanied by the sounds of many birds and insects, made us feel very much part of the tropical surrounds.


Our hotel was the perfect place for a bit of rest and relaxation, but close enough to the town so we could explore as we wanted.

I could talk for days about all the things we did, and probably bore you half to death, so instead I will share my highlights with you all:

Yoga

Every morning our hotel ran a free yoga class from 7.30-8.30am to start the day off in a calm, spiritual way. Overlooking the hills surrounding the hotel, it is easy to feel at peace and settle your mind for the day ahead.

Unfortunately I didn’t get quite as much yoga in as I would have liked, but we only had five days here and had a lot to pack in. I would say however, if you’re looking for a yoga and meditation retreat style holiday, then Ubud is the place for you.

Hindu is the main religion, but Buddhism is also widely practiced as well as varying forms of meditation.

Rice Paddies

The rice paddies are something that really have to be seen to be appreciated. Yes, I had seen many pictures of them before I left for our trip, but nothing quite prepares you for their expanse.

We visited Tegallang rice terrace, which like all rice terraces, is made using a unique Balinese irrigation system, and produces four different kinds of rice.

The layers of terraces are so perfectly landscaped, you can only imagine the time and effort that went into creating them, but apart from being obviously practical, they are incredibly beautiful to look at too.

A really popular thing to do is hire bicycles and cycle through the paddie fields, and I think it would be a great way of seeing them up close. However, if like us you’re short on time then don’t worry because a quick walk through will give you just as great an experience.

Casa Luna

Casa Luna is a restaurant located in the centre of Ubud town, and was recommended to us by my Sister who had been before. 

If you read some of my earlier travel posts, you’ll know that one thing I was very much looking forward to trying out in Bali was some local Jamu. For those of you who don’t know, Jamu is a type of herbal medicine that is believed to have healing properties for both mind and body. It comes in many forms, but one form it comes in is in a healthy juice.

As soon as I saw it on the menu in Casa Luna I knew I had to try so I ordered it, not quite knowing what to expect. I was told their Jamu was a combination of Tumeric, Lime and Honey, full of antioxidants and apparently good for fighting cancer and healing the liver. 

So being the good sport that I am I took a big gulp, and tried not to wince as I swallowed. The flavour was let’s say, unique, and I only managed to consume half the glass before I had to give up.
I convinced myself that half was still good enough though and was happy with my Jamu experience. I don’t think I’ll be having it again though! Lime and honey absolutely, but the amount of Tumeric was just a little much for me. Ah well,  when in Rome as the saying goes… 

Ubud Market

I’m not a big one for markets, especially in 33 degree heat, but the Ubud market is famous for both its products and haggling so I couldn’t wait to pay a visit and see what it was like. And it didn’t disappoint.

It was everything you imagine a bustling market to be; busy, overcrowded, and loud, but at the same time had a calmness about it in a way that I find hard to describe. Like everything in Bali, it somehow manages to be peaceful and crazy at the same time. 


As we wandered through the streets admiring everything from bright silk scarves to beaded necklaces and copious amounts of incense, we soaked it all up and enjoyed haggling with locals as we did some shopping.

It’s not a huge market so you wouldn’t need more than a few hours to cover it all, and is definitely worth a stop during any trip to Ubud.

Elephant Cave

I didn’t know what to expect when visiting the Elephant Cave (Goa Gojah), a Hindu Temple dating back to the 11th century. Goa Gojah is essentially a holy place where locals and tourists alike come to give offerings to the Gods and practice spiritual meditation.


The temple has many stone statues of Buddhas and Gods, which all surround the actual Elephant Cave. The cave itself has a scary looking face at the entrance and is said to be an Elephant’s face based on the face of Ganesh, a Hindu lord worshipped by all who visit.


The temple is quite a peaceful and extraordinary place to visit, though bustling with tourists and locals alike, it has managed to keep a calm and still atmosphere, and the burning smell of incense makes you feel like you are in a different place and time. 

I asked our tour guide if locals get annoyed with all the tourists visiting holy places such as these, but his immediate response was that Hinduism is for everyone, Ganesh is for everyone, Sing Ken Ken! (meaning, no worries!).

And that for me, just sums up Ubud right there. It’s the people that makes it so special. They are happy, they are always smiling, they are friendly, they are chatty; quite simply, they are as charming as the town they live in.

It is a special kind of a place. I remember when I went to India for the first time, I was young and had never been anywhere like it before, the initial culture shock took some getting used to. But by the time I was leaving, I had become accustomed to the local way of living and didn’t want to leave. That is how I feel about Ubud.

I can see why so many people pack up and move here to lead a yoga and meditation filled spiritual life, it certainly is peaceful. 

But that’s not for everyone and although sad to say goodbye to Ubud, I’m now excited for the next stop on our adventure.

Sorcha x

Hello World, I’m Coming To Get You

It’s official, it’s real, and it’s happening. Eeek! Those of you who follow my Instagram will perhaps already know what I’m about to announce, but for those of you who don’t then here it is – the Year of the Holiday is about to get epic!

As most of you will know by now, for our first year of marriage, Dave and I decided to travel to as many places as possible, to see the places we’ve always wanted to see, to experience new cultures, to go on lots of adventures, and over the past seven months we’ve managed to pack a lot in. But now we’re taking it to a whole new level.

In October we’re going to embark on our biggest adventure yet and go travelling for two months. TWO MONTHS! To some of you that might not seem very long to see the world, but we’ve both been travelling before and the purpose of this trip is to get to the places we didn’t get to last time around. It’ll also be our first time travelling the world together.

Our first stop? Bali. Beautiful Bali.

We both have friends and family who’ve been to Bali travelling or on honeymoon and I’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about it. From its beautiful green rice fields, to incredible culture, from amazingly friendly people, to white sandy beaches, Bali sounds like it has got a little bit of everything worth seeing.

I also have a romantic view of Bali from reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s adventures there in Eat, Pray, Love. I may have mentioned this before but that book had such a profound impact on me. Not because I think a medicine man is going to dramatically change the course of my life or anything, but because I love yoga and meditation, and the dreamer in me wants to find myself a little bit.

And being brutally honest here, I am the type of person to give a medicine man a visit too.

Our plan is to spend five nights in Ubud soaking in the culture, then head over to Gili Trawangan in Lombok for one night. I’ve heard to Gili islands are really worth a visit, and I’ve been longing to stand on the swing in the sea at sunset for quite some time now!

After that we go back to Seminyak and relax by the beach for five nights before heading to our next destination, the grand old continent of Oz.

I’ve been to Australia before, as has Dave, but while he spent a short bit of time around Cairns, neither of us travelled the East Coast. I spent most of my time in Sydney working while I was there, and apart from one weekend visit to Melbourne and Brisbane, didn’t get to see anything else. So this time the plan is to hire a car and spend a month travelling from Cairns to Melbourne. 

There are so many things we want to see and do. We want to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef even though the thought of it fills me with fear, we want to sleep on a Whitsunday island, we want to try to surf in Byron Bay, we want to go to a show in the Opera House, we want to eat delicious food in Melbourne and drink beer on the beach in St. Kilda. We want to do as much as we possibly can.

After Australia we make our way to Bangkok where we plan on spending two weeks discovering Thailand. Again, it’s probably not a huge amount of time to see everything we want to see there and so we’re sticking to the west side.

We will spend two nights in Bangkok to get our bearings and of course soak up the madness that is the infamous Koh San Road. Having spent three months in South America a few years ago, as well as a few weeks in India a few years before that, I’m used to the culture shock of different places, I absorb it, I thrive on it. I’m excited to see Dave’s reaction though as he’s never been anywhere like it before and I imagine the culture shock will be somewhat the biggest in Thailand. 

From Bangkok we will fly down to Phuket for a few days to relax in a nice resort before then making our way to Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and finally the last stop on the trip, Railay in Krabi. 


I’ve heard the beaches in Railay are incredible so we decided to finish our trip there in a gorgeous five star hotel as it will also coincide with our one year wedding anniversary. What better way to end our trip and celebrate being married a year than on a beach in Thailand?!

Writing about it now, I still can’t believe it’s going to happen. But it is. Although it’s been in planning for quite some time now, on Friday we booked our flights and made it all official.

Simply Sorcha was never intended to be a travel blog, my regular readers will know I write about everything from beauty to fashion to anxiety to meditation, and to travel. It’s a blog about all the things happening in my life, and things that I love. But for two months of this year, it will most certainly become a travel blog.

I’ll take you all with us, I’ll share our stories, our experiences, our favourites and least favourites, but I’ll try keep some beauty and lifestyle posts in there too. 

So there you go, our big news. To say we’re excited is an understatement, it’s literally a dream come true.

I’m currently lying in the sun in my back garden, taking in the joy that is a sunny Dublin day. So for now, I will say goodbye as it’s time for me to get back to my travel guides.

Hello world, I’m coming to get you…

Sorcha x

Travel Time

Although I only came back from Rome a few weeks ago, it’s time for me to pack my bags again and head off on my next trip. Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while now will know that this year I’m having a Year of the Holiday. And for those of you who are only happening upon my blogging adventures now, let me explain…

Image: WeHeartIt

I got married last December to my amazing other half Dave and we decided to have basically, one very long, fun, drawn out honeymoon. Even though let’s be honest, we had an amazing honeymoon to the Maldives right after we got married.

But for our first year of marriage, we wanted to spread our wings, see the world and go to all the places on our bucket lists that we’ve never been to, and revisit some places that we just haven’t been to together. So as with all resolutions, when the New Year arrived, we sat down and wrote a list. For those of you who want to see that list you can read my original post here, or just keep reading…

Initially when we wrote our list, we had over thirty countries and cities but given work and money and all those serious real-life things, we had to narrow it down to just twelve. The year is now half way through and so far we’ve managed to tick Paris, Rome, London, Kerry and Ibiza off the list, and have travelled to a few little other places around Ireland too.  And while I’m not so sure we’ll make all twelve by the end of the year, we’ll have definitely given it a good whack anyway!

Anyway, enough of my rambling and back to today. Today I go back to London for the second time this year, but this time it’s for a very special occasion – my sister’s hen weekend. Yay! My gorgeous sister is getting married in September and although I can’t reveal our destination for fear of ruining the surprise, I can say that we’ve got a gorgeous, girly weekend planned.

A little pampering, a little chatting, a little gossiping, a lot of bubbles… It’s going to be a great weekend and I can’t wait for some proper girly catch up time with both my sisters.

As always I’ll fill you in on all the adventures next week, but in the meantime if you want to see what we’re up to then don’t forget to come follow me on social media:

  • instagram – @simplysorcha
  • twitter – @simplysorcha
  • facebook – @simplysorchablog
  • snapchat – @imsimplysorcha

Have a great weekend!

Sorcha x

 

Rome, Arrivederci…

Well our trip to Rome is over and all I can say is, when can I go back?! For those of you who read my posts while I was away, you’ll know that I instantly fell in love with the eternal city and enjoyed every second of our time there.

From the moment we arrived, I was sucked in completely. Everything was just so fantastic, the atmosphere, the culture, the history, the food, the energy, the passion, the friendliness of the Italian people, the whole experience.

We were staying in a cute little boutique hotel just off Piazza Navona called the Palazzo Navona hotel. It was a simple, basic but clean hotel, the staff were very friendly and helpful, and the location could not have been better. Everything was so close to us, we could walk everywhere from there, and we did.

We did and saw so much that I’m not going to go into every detail, but here are some of the highlights of our trip:

The Vatican


Whether or not you’re religious, its hard not to be impressed by the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square. The buildings are so beautiful and the architecture is both intricate and grand at the same time.

We started our tour of the Vatican by walking through the various Vatican museums, taking in all the beautiful art and sculpture that it has to offer. But if I’m honest, I don’t think we fully appreciated all the incredible art there because we were just so excited to get to the Sistine Chapel, something that has been on my bucket list for many years now.

When you enter the Sistine Chapel, the artwork literally takes your breath away. I stood for ten, maybe fifteen minutes just staring up at the ceiling like so many others, amazed at the detail, the beauty and the colour. It took Michelangelo four years to paint what he did, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much dedication and concentration went into each day of that four years.

Unfortunately you are not allowed take photographs in the Sistine Chapel, but actually, I think it’s just one of those places that you have to see in real life to really understand just how incredible it is. No matter how many pictures you see, it’s just not the same as standing there and experiencing it in person.

Pantheon


The Pantheon unbeknownst to me, is a temple. I don’t know how I didn’t know this before as I’m usually good with history and famous buildings, but this one took me by surprise. Like many of the wonderful sights in Italy, the Pantheon is located in a beautiful square, surrounded by restaurants, gelateri and bars, not to mention the many tourists.

From the front of the building you’d be forgiven for thinking it was square in shape, but once inside, you are greeted by a massive circular space.  A concrete dome towers over the top with a centre opening looking up into the sky.

The structure of the dome is beautifully made up of a series of stone arches, and is still the worlds largest unreinforced concrete dome. Now used as a Catholic Church, the building is still very much in use and is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Rome.

Piazza Navona 


As mentioned above, we were staying right off Piazza Navona which is such a beautiful area. Apart from the Piazza itself, the streets are small and narrow, with cobble stone roads and flower boxes hanging from apartment windows, exactly what you imagine when you think of Italy.

As you walk up the tiny streets, vespas passing by you, you can’t help but smile. There is so much character and charm in these streets, you just want to sit and watch the world go by as you sip on a nice Chianti. And that is exactly what we did on so many occasions. A midday aperitif, a long lunch, an after dinner drink on our walk home… We just couldn’t help but revisit it every day of our trip.

The Colosseum

As much as I was in awe of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square, the Colosseum was the place that had the most impact on me. I was literally starstruck as I stood and gazed at this wondrous structure. As you walk up the street towards the Colosseum, you feel as though you are entering a different world with ancient ruins surrounding you on either side. Everywhere you look there is a little piece of history there beside you.

I knew Rome had ruins, I knew it had history, but nothing can quite prepare you for the grandeur and scale of what has been left behind. The pillars, the stone, the structures – it is really quite incredible.

When entering the Colosseum I almost became emotional, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands of other tourists there, yet when standing within its walls overlooking the old cells and ground below us, there was a quiet stillness all around us. I can’t explain it. The atmosphere was almost peaceful, and profound in its silence. People just looking, and I imagine doing exactly what I was doing, wondering what on earth it must have been like to have stood in that very place thousands of years ago.


We spent several hours wandering around the different levels in the midday sun, taking it all in, because it’s just the kind of place where you have to do that. A quick visit won’t work for you here, you need to breath it, smell it, experience it, look at it. You have to give yourself time to take it all in because it is just that breathtaking.

Of course we saw so much more too, the Spanish Steps were unfortunately undergoing some restoration works while we were there so we had to admire from a distance, and the Trevi Fountain, although stunning, was swarmed by so many tourists we could hardly take it all in. But nevertheless, it was still a sight to behold. I think next time I’ll go back at night to get a different experience, and maybe sit for a while in admiration.


We went sightseeing, we drank prosecco, we ate antipasti, we walked, we laughed, we admired, we people-watched, we drank wine, we ate pizza, we adventured, we devoured ice cream, we ate pasta, we drank beer, we took many photographs, we travelled, we experienced, we loved.


We loved every single second of our trip, I’ve been to many places all over the world, and only once before has a place exceeded my expectations in such a massive, massive way.

For now, Rome, it’s Arrivederci, but I know I’ll see you again soon…

Sorcha x

From Rome, with love…

To those of you wondering, we are having an incredible time in Rome, the eternal city. In fact, the sole purpose of this mini blog post is to say Arrivederci, we’re never coming home!

Never in my life has a place exceeded and gone so far beyond any expectations I had. We only have one day left and I wish we didn’t have to leave.

It’s love…


Sorcha x

When In Rome…

We’re here in Rome, it’s 28 degrees and the sun is shining and I’m already falling in love with this city. It’s just got that something, that cool, chic, sexy vibe about it, that something that makes you want to stay forever.

Although I don’t speak Italian I would love to be able to, for me it really is the language of love. I know this is usually said about French, but there’s just something about how the Italians speak, with so much passion, energy and enthusiasm that you just can’t help but be drawn in by it. It’s intoxicating in the best possible way.

So for the weekend that’s in it, I’ve decided to share some of my favourite Italian sayings with you all, to put some passion into your weekend and let me, even if just for a few moments, feel a very little bit Italian!

We Came, We Saw, We Loved
Life is a combination of magic and pasta.
Years, lovers and glasses of wine; these things must not be counted.
The sweetness of doing nothing
We cannot have a perfect life without friends.
All roads lead to Rome!

 

Ciao for now. Tanti baci…

Sorcha x