In Norway: Driving Across the Country

Driving the Roads

I booked this trip to  Norway last December and now that I am back it kind of seems like a dream. If I squish the time I actually spent on Norwegien soil, I had two days. This seems crazy to me. I didn’t sleep much and I drove a lot. Over 1200km.

PhoebeGill1604231139I decided to drive from Asker to Bergen, I didn’t have a plan, I just had points of interest that I wanted to see. so I just drove. The roads at this time of year (April) were perfect to drive on. I did get a little worried at night time because the temperatures were dropping to -8 to -13 degree weather but there were no disruptions to roads what so ever. Also note this time of year Norway is gearing up for tourist season and roads will be opening back up again. PhoebeGill1604231255The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, around every corner is another huge mountain, fjords, moose, lakes, it’s never ending even with all of the tunnels! I feel like I saw nothing and loads at the same time. I was enamoured.PhoebeGill1604231167One thing I didn’t do enough of was get out of the car and get closer to beautiful things along this route. All in good time though. I also didn’t see that many waterfalls I think I saw two my entire time! PhoebeGill1604231114

Hardangervidda

This magical part of Norway was incredible! It’s a frozen, snow covered, beautiful landscape. I drove through this area at night and it was crazy, there was so much snow on either side of the road, it seemed like I was in another world! I get very giddy around snow.PhoebeGill160423067-2When the sun shines it is absolutely gorgeous, like a Windows screensaver. I took a moment to sit and take it in. Absolutely stunning! I also saw arctic hare, gah just incredible! PhoebeGill1604231363Although the roads can freeze over it was fine to drive on, just slow and don’t brake like a mad yoke. I would love to see what these roads are like in the height of winter, it must look like you are in a thick cloud. Maybe one day. PhoebeGill160423002

Vøringfossen

I have now discovered that this is getting a big renovation of bridges and look out spots but when I was there it was blocked off and full of building materials! However, the area is awesome. PhoebeGill1604231333This waterfall drops 100ft down into the valley and is so gorgeous, I would love to go down and see it from the bottom. I am sure it will be wonderful when it is finished, it’s a great location which deserves the best view. PhoebeGill1604231355

Stegastein

In the little town of Aurland you start your accent to the Stegatein lookout point. It’s not a very busy area, so the roads get narrower. The road to the lookout point is your classic mountain windy small roads so shudder to think passing a tour bus up there. PhoebeGill1604231185 Once you get up to the top, there is information and toilets but they are closed in the winter time and reopen in summer. Then you walk down the incredible platform and wow is it amazing. PhoebeGill1604231198I was lucky enough to have the place to myself for a bit before a van full of people showed up. As I was snapping away and recording some video, a cruse ship left port and was going down the Fjord. It was a postcard scene. The water was such a beautiful blue and the mountains were huge. It was gorgeous. I recommend you stop off here because it is amazing. PhoebeGill1604231204

Bonus Thing to See

If you have the time and inclination, find the little alpacas. So cute! They aren’t big on people so they will walk away but this was my first time seeing these adorable fluff balls in real life so I had to park up and say hello. I am not going to tell you where to stop so try and find them if you are on the road. PhoebeGill160424100

So that was my crazy two day trip to Norway. I will be back because I need to hike and explore way more! I had so much fun and I definitely recommend you rent a van and have an amazing time, read about my rental experience with Nordic Campers here.

Have you been to Norway? Where else would you go?

Happy Travels!

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In Clare: Cliffs of Moher Helicopter Tour

I have wanted to ride in a helicopter for the longest time and just before christmas I saw the Groupon had an offer that I couldn’t pass up! I went with Executive Helicopters. Usually the 15 minute helicopter tour costs €250 euro but the offer was for €99 euro. Now to me that is a good deal. PhoebeGill160306588You could either choose from a Dublin tour or a Cliffs of Moher tour and when I saw this I thought I could kill two birds with one stone and so I made some plans to go across the country to check off something very high on the bucket list! PhoebeGill160306271To get to Spanish Point airfield type in these coordinates into google or your gps: 52°50’52.0″N 9°24’55.2″W. There is a small amount of parking on site just go though the gate and you can park up. Go into the portacabin and you can get a prosecco or soft drink before your flight. The process to get on your flight is almost instantaneous, it’s a very relaxed atmosphere! PhoebeGill160306060-2There are two helicopters and it’s four people in each. Although it can feel quite cramped I loved every second! I would love to go up by myself but I might make it rock side to side as I slosh around trying to look out every window and trying to get the best shots! PhoebeGill160306341The views are just amazing! I chose to do my flight on the Sunday and I went to the Cliffs of Moher the day before so it was wonderful to see the landscape at a different angle! I recommend you do the same, I think it is a much more well rounded trip if you end it in the air. PhoebeGill160306567The flight feels like 5 minutes but it does take 15, it’s almost as if you are going slow but time has sped up, it’s a mad feeling and it’s something I want to experience again and again! The views are just incredible, seeing the coastline and just how green it is, is astonishingly beautiful! I was smiling ear to ear!PhoebeGill160306072I know €99 euro sounds very expensive for 15 minutes but you have to take into consideration that running a helicopter is very very costly. Saying that I don’t think I would pay €250 but I would pay €99 again. I am so so grateful I was able to check off something I have wanted to do for such a long time and do it in a beautiful part of Ireland.

Would you go up in a helicopter? Is it on your list?

Happy Travels!

In Clare: 656km in a Weekend

I woke up early on Saturday morning and got ready for my little road trip across the country. I had booked something very special for the Sunday which gave me loads of time to explore a county I had never been too before. So I had a few things I wanted to see but was just going to drive around and see what it was like.

My first spot along the way was Spanish Point.

Spanish Point

PhoebeGill160305331Although it’s a small area it is where I decided to stay for the night. Spanish Point has a lovely sea front area. I can imagine on a hot summers day this beach being packed, with lots of surfers out. Clare has good surf, so if you want to go on a surfing holiday in Ireland I would put Clare on your list! PhoebeGill160305370

Where I Stayed

PhoebeGill160306126I stayed in the Bellbridge House Hotel, it has a classic Irish pub/a family home type feel to it, dark woods, roaring fire, striped wallpaper and warm colours. I booked a single room for €50 euro, it had an ensuite so I was very happy, thankfully when I got there they upgraded me! I got a double room and it was really nice, there was a tv and tea and coffee making facilities. The only thing I would say in the mattress was a little lumpy and the room was a little cold, they don’t have air conditioning, just radiators but the duvet was really comfortable and warm! Breakfast is included it’s a continental style, pastries, cereals, hot food, fruit, pancakes, I think the chef will make you almost any breakfast food if you ask. They also have a bar menu and a restaurant, the restaurant gets booked out on weekends so I would ring ahead but the bar menu is tasty. I definitely recommend this hotel and would definitely stay again. PhoebeGill160305265

Cliffs of Moher

PhoebeGill160305411Admission to the Cliffs of Moher are on good faith if you are walking the coastal route or are generally on foot or bike. If so, you are asked to go to the visitors centre and pay the fee of €6. I took my car and admittance is the same price, so you aren’t charged for parking, which I definitely appreciate, there is lots of parking and its busy all day! O’Brian’s Tower is an additional cost of €2, I didn’t avail of it but I am sure the views are great! PhoebeGill160305384The Cliffs are amazing, like every picture you’ve seen is beautiful but they are stunning in person, I want to go back and do the coastal walk, give myself more time to actually walk around. The main viewing platform gives you an almost 180 degree view of the cliffs but I urge you to walk around and see it! Just be careful if it’s a really windy/rainy day it could be very dangerous. The day I went it was cold and sunny so it was perfect. PhoebeGill160305159I 100% recommend you go around sunset, the cliffs become golden are are so beautiful! The Cliff of Moher have a closing time, which I don’t really understand how you can close a cliff top but I think it is if you come after closing to see the cliffs and you don’t pay, you can be fined. PhoebeGill160305060

The Burren

I then decided to drive! I do love driving, I didn’t have a plan but I gave the Wild Atlantic Way route a try and it didn’t disappoint! The Burren spans 250 square kilometres of limestone rock that cracks and leaves slabs of rock in the landscape, the geology of it all is quite cool! Driving around shows just how big and how beautiful it is, so hop in the car and get exploring! PhoebeGill160305006There are lots of points to stop off and look around, I also saw rock climbers so I am sure there are groups you can join to go climbing. The Wild Atlantic Way is such a gorgeous route to follow and to explore but do keep in mind that the landscape looks very similar so if you go for a long walk make sure you have gps or orienteering skills of some sort. PhoebeGill160305225

Craggy Island’s Parochial  House

You can’t go to Clare without seeing Father Ted’s house, this is a private home and farm so don’t go up the drive, or knock on the door or obstruct the gates. There is a farm tour €25 and  you can go for tea €10 and hear the history of the house. Check out their website to see what’s on offer. PhoebeGill160306534The route to get to the house are tiny roads, very very tiny! Be careful driving around, although the area is quiet make sure you take the corners carefully and drive with lights on, even in the day time, lights are easier to see than cars that are similar colours to the hedging. Make sure you take a look at the farm life, lots of cows, sheep and horses, there is nothing better than seeing these faces peer over a stone wall. PhoebeGill160306542

In Closing

I think the only thing I didn’t like was that the roads aren’t built for the amount tourism that Clare gets, huge tour buses are going along country roads which means the side of your car is scraping the bushes, that sound makes my heart hurt! My poor car. Also a red car whacked off the side of my door so thank you person, that was nice of you…but that’s my only gripe, everything else was amazing!

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 08.36.57I think in total I spent €252 for the weekend including petrol, activities, food, accommodation. It was such a good trip and there is still more to see of Clare. I think three days is enough time to see and do the upper half of the county! There are also the Doolin cave, the Alawee caves, there is the surf town of Lahinch. I am very happy I chose Clare to explore, it’s a great county with so much to do and see. Definitely rent a car, do the Wild Atlantic Way route, see the Cliffs of Moher, get in the sea and have an amazing weekend! PhoebeGill160305162

Happy Travels!

When Booking: Do NOT go with eDreams!

So I booked a flight to the UK for work and as always I go on SkyScanner. I find the cheapest flight as it is last minute and I click through to eDreams. I see that the price has dropped, I see that in my email confirmation I am charged three things:

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 8.00.17 a.m.

So all is well and I continue about my business. As I am waiting for a payment to go through on another trip I have been checking my bank transactions and I notice that eDreams has taken an additional €56.25 in the transaction.

Also note that the terms and conditions link you see there is a dead link. Also read through the T&Cs on their site and there is not one mention that they will additionally charge you just for making a booking.

They state that the price you see is the price you pay which is not the case.

There is a whole load of other charges that can occur if you want to change or if your card is faulty. Again nothing is mentioned about an additional service charge.

Update: 23/01/16 – Money was put back in my account after I called the a New York customer services number. I was told it was a mistake but I don’t know about you but I don’t like people making mistakes with my money. Still wont use them again.

In Life: A Perfect Sunday

So for many reasons, most notably I am very grateful for the ability to move and the fact that I am reasonably healthy, I decided to go for a hike on Sunday. I have decided to get out and do more on the weekends since I sit at a desk all week.

I left the house at 7:30am to do the 45 minute drive to Glendalough, somewhere I love and go to an awful lot. I was the first person in the car park, I love being the first person in a car park. PhoebeGill160110052This hike is a part of the white route in Glendalough, there are a lot of rocks as the path winds up the hill. I see various outfits whenever I’ve walked up here. I’ve seen hiking poles, I’ve been waterproofs and thick coats, I’ve seen shorts and gym gear. My suggestion is you wear any shoe with good enough ankle support, bring gloves because the wind comes down this valley and it can get quite cold, especially in winter. Also wear something that is comfortable, I’ve done this hike in jeans in the height of summer…terrible terrible decision! Like awful! Just wear exercise clothes or sweatpants, be comfy! I also recommend water and a clementine. Clementines are fantastic! PhoebeGill160110061Take note, in this area there is lots of wildlife! I love looking at the side of the hill and spotting all the deer and the feral goats. I like the feral goats, I was hiking in a spot close to here and I heard a noise above me, I look up to see a line of goats wandering on the side of the hill. I then called the person I was with and they thought I was mad but believe me there are goats, look out for them they are pretty cool! PhoebeGill160110094The hike up is fun, there is a gorgeous waterfall that is now strong and thunderous, it’s pretty great! The view from the top is amazing and I love it. I have so many memories around this place! PhoebeGill160110088Once I reached the top I realised how much snow had fallen the night before. I knew that the fact I am like a new born giraffe on ice meant that I probably shouldn’t walk up the mountain ridge. I met two dogs and their human said that it was quite icy on the walk so that only confirmed that I should venture any further. PhoebeGill160110105Once I descended the hill I got back to my car and drove up to the top of Glendalough to see more snow. I got to see the most gorgeous view of the Wicklow gap. Snow makes me ridiculously happy! Ever since 2010 I have learnt that in Wicklow it snows and that if it’s not too bad I can drive around and go see it. I love snow, it makes all my memories happier and warm. PhoebeGill160110179Although I was giddy at the prospect of new powder hugging the ground, my heels at this point were on fire! I needed to break in those Mendel boots I bought for Iceland, I did walking in Iceland but I didn’t do any hiking, so this was their first proper outing…ouchy!PhoebeGill160110185I then drove home with a stupidly big smile on my face and donned some blister plasters and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

My definition of a perfect Sunday!

 

What’s your perfect day? Tell me in the comments! 

Happy Travels!

2015 According To My Instagram

It’s that time again where we go through the year and see the ups and downs of the last 12 months. Check out my 2014 wrap up!  2015 was a great year, lets take a look. Jan

My first trip to Iceland. Words cannot describe how amazing this trip was. I went with my father, this meant I have now travelled with every member of my family alone and it’s pretty cool. Although we have travelled together for years it’s really interesting to see each member as an individual. Iceland in snow is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. This trip sparked a complete infatuation with Iceland and I vouched that I would be back sooner rather than later.

FebI went to a Google, Irish YouTube event. This really inspired me to create more content on YouTube and my channel. I wanted to make travel videos to go along with this blog. I have watched YouTube since 2007 and love the community and love watching content.

March April MaySo something very exciting happened in March, I gained new family members which was an amazing feeling and I am so so happy I got to be a part of it. In April, we lost a member of our family. It was a hard time but am so appreciative of peoples help and kindness. We also adopted Tiffin, the Beagle pup, we started out puppy training at the DSPCA in April and most of the month was training the pup and making her new life as wonderful as possible. In May something very wonderful happened in Ireland. We became the first country to pass same sex marriage by popular vote. I was so so proud of my country, amazing day. JuneJune is my birthday month. I had planned a trip away to Croatia with a couple of friends. I actually was travelling over my birthday. Plitvice was a place that had been on the bucket list for a long long time and I built the trip around this amazing park. Croatia was beautiful but I don’t think I want to spend another birthday away from the people that love me. I loved travelling around Croatia and I will be back one day to do one epic roadtrip.

July

I got to use my christmas present from my sister and have a falconry experience which was so so much fun! When I got back from Croatia I decided to do something that turned out to be a bad decision. I thought I could help, I thought I could do something but it’s not up to me to make a change. It basically went how it always did but this time I was strong enough to make the decision I should have made a long long time ago. Although this was a bad month I can look back now and see the good and I can see the bad but most importantly, I can see my worth and if someone can’t see that, then they don’t deserve me.augustAn amazing thing happened in August. I won a trip to Iceland!!! I was crying I was so happy. I decided to take my wonderful friend with me and we had such a good time! We walked around the city, we went to a Kings of Leon concert, we went puffin watching, we went on the golden circle tour, we debated about veganism. It was just awesome! I am so so glad I went with her. That is now two trips we have been on in two years! Woo! sepMy third time in Iceland! This month marked something very exciting, I was ticking off two things on my bucket list. Driving in another country and travelling solo. Iceland on my own time was incredible! I couldn’t recommend it enough, no tour busses, no set times, no limits to where you can stay.  It was such a good experience. I would do it over and over again. octnovBefore I left for Iceland, my parents said when I was back I needed to get a job, that was fine and I had been looking previously. Well it turns out luck was on my side because the day after I got back from Iceland I got myself a job. It’s really interesting and I am so excited for the business to succeed. It also means I get to work in the centre of the city which is really handy and will be great when one of my friends moves back into the city.   decDecember was a lot of fun but there was also a big shock to my household. It was scary and truly showed me what to be thankful for and what not to waste energy on. With that I booked my next adventure. Thinking that money can’t give you much sitting in an account, they adventure is priceless. Christmas was lovely, I got to spend it with my family and it was so relaxing. I got lovely things and was so happy to give people I care about the gifts they had wanted. I also spoiled myself a lot this month most notably in this shop so now I have to calm down and save for more adventures.

2015 had no where near as many downs as last year and that is so nice to say. I have learnt quite a lot about myself and others and it’s invaluable. I completed 5 things off my bucket list this year which is wonderful! I cannot wait for 2016 and to see where it takes me. There are a few goals I have for 2016 so they will be coming soon!

Lastly, thank you so much for reading my blog. I just want The Start and The Bean to be a resource for like minded people. Thank you! I hope your 2016 is fantastic!

Happy Travels!