In Stockholm: Getting Around The City

So getting around Stockholm is really very easy. Here are the ways I got around Stockholm from the Airport to going to random stops on the tbana.

 

Arlanda airport to the City Centre

So there is the Arlanda Express which gets you into the city in 20 minutes at the last minute cost of SEK 540/€56, *Note if you book early enough in advance you can get a big discount of the Arlanda Express check it out here. The Arlanda Express is twice as expensive as a slower cheaper train that takes 40 minutes and there is also a bus that will take you to the city centre. I took the Arlanda express because although it was really expensive, I was dealing with an injury and I wanted to get into Stockholm as quickly as possible.

Getting Around the City

One thing I like to know is what’s the best tickets to get when I go to a city so I can travel as easily and as cost effectively as possible! Here are the three that I used to get around Stockholm.

phoebegill161005001As I got off the Arlanda Express at Central Station I went to the information desk to ask what’s the best card to get for the metro. The guy gave me this card allows you access to anywhere in the SL network, metros, trams etc. This access card is like the Leap card in Ireland or Oyster card in London and wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but was a great addition to what I actually wanted that I found in my TBex goodie bag. The card costs SEK 20 and then you add how many journeys you want on the card. phoebegill161005004This travelcard is what I actually wanted. I was in Stockholm for 4 days so I liked that I had the back up of the access card but this kind of travelcard was perfect. You can get a 24 hour ticket (115 SEK/€12), a 72 hour ticket (SEK 230/€23) or a 7 day ticket on you Access card (SEK 300/€31). Read more information here. phoebegill161005006Lastly I want to talk about the Stockholm Pass. I got this for free in my TBex goodie bag and I have to say I used it a lot, see that damage? The man who drove the tour bus asked me what did I do to it I used it so much. This card gets you two days of unlimited hop on hop off bus and boat tours.  Discounted and free in to attractions and  points of interest. For a full list check it out here. I actually got three days out of this pass because I was cheeky but they do scan your ticket at attractions so be smart about how you use it. The Stockholm Pass costs SEK 975 (€101) which is expensive but if you use this pass properly and organise yourself so you get free in to most or all of the museums you want and get the bus and boat tours everywhere you need, you can really save a lot of money. phoebegill161005007I did get these two last tickets for free but I used them and got a lot out of them. I really recommend them. Stockholm is really expensive but I loved every minute of my trip because of how easy it was to navigate and I didn’t have to worry if I had enough money on the cards because they were both unlimited.

If you have any questions please leave them below!

Happy Travels!

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In Stockholm: Hop On Hop Off Tours

I got a Stockholm pass in a goodie bag from TBex, thanks TBex,  I looked up what it can do and I was really pleasantly surprised. Amongst a lot of other things, you are able to do unlimited Hop On Hop Off Tours, both bus and boat. So I took full advantage. PhoebeGill160714036Over my three day stay I took 3 bus tours and 2 boats. (Be careful though, Stockholm VIP pass only lasts for two days) The bus is great, it has a removable roof because of the tram lines above but it means that if it rains you aren’t getting soaked. It has the audio tour and free headphones so you will be able to learn about the city. I have to say though, every time I sat at the window I would have someone reach over me and touch my knee to get to the audio box. I would say to them do you want me to do it but they just ignored me and reached over. Ugh it makes me shiver just thinking about it. Don’t touch people you don’t know. PhoebeGill160714668I really recommend it though. You get to go to districts that you wouldn’t normally go to and it gives you lots of information. I wouldn’t know the term brackish water if I didn’t take the bus! (It is said a lot on the tours) The views from the bus are gorgeous, Stockholm is so beautiful and this tour gives you such a nice vantage point! PhoebeGill160714340I really think everyone should see Stockholm by boat, any city by the water just has such a gorgeous feel to it. You would see couples on little motor boats, tour boats, sail boats, big ships. Seeing Stockholm by water gives you a different view of the city and gives you more information the bus doesn’t give. It was really nice being a tourist for a change. Usually I get out of cities to explore but it was a lot of fun to just relax and take my time to see Stockholm properly. PhoebeGill160716554The boat stops in some great areas like The Vasa museum, The Royal Palace and other wonderful areas you have to explore. I fell in love with the buildings by the water and how the city wasn’t impacted with modern sky scrapers.  PhoebeGill160716276With the Stockholm Pass you are permitted to go on the green busses and boats. If you don’t have the pass then you can buy a one (€32) or two (€37) day bus ticket. You can also get a bus, boat combo ticket, one day (€42) and two day (€48). If you want more information check it out herePhoebeGill160716106

Do you do hop on hop off tours when you travel? Which one was your favourite?

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!

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!

In Life: My First Solo Travel Experience

Smith & SonsStory Time

I never get stressed before I fly I have been flying for years and I know what to do, it’s all good. This was not the case right before my first solo trip. I didn’t know where my passport was, I was dealing with a suitcase, weight restrictions and no online check-in and I got very angry.

Before I went my wonderful friend Jess, The Gap Year Guru, told me that problem solving was going to be the thing that made all the difference and if a problem did occur, being by yourself is going to be a much bigger challenge. I nodded and didn’t think much more about it. Don’t worry Jess, your words would come to fruition!

Day 1

As in most cases there was no need to be stressed at all. I got to the airport, sent my case away and got on my plane. Had a row to myself, I got to nap. All fine.

So as I stepped off the plane in Iceland, My laces got caught in my hiking boot eyelets and I fell over and grazed my knee, hilarious, if only I could have a gif of my falling over, it would actually make any situation a million times better. I am laughing thinking about it now but yes, I was in a lot of pain but I got my bag and changed my shoes and everything was fine!

I got picked up by my rental company and I got given my camper. I went to the shops and then I drove all day to the glacial lagoon. Wonderful, productive first day. Hurray!

Day 2

What a glorious morning, I wake up, go to the black sand iceberg beach at sunrise, take some photos, get annoyed by an ignorant german guy who kept standing right in front of me when I was taking photos. Swine! I then go back to the glacial lagoon, spot a seal, take some pictures, go for a walk. I then go back to the beach to take more shots. When I get back to my car to go off on my adventures, I can’t find my phone…I lost my black phone on a black sand beach. Well the profanities that were coming from me at this time was unnatural and I started to cry, then I started to problem solve.

I thought to myself, do I have to drive the 6 hours back to Reykjavik to buy a new phone? Do I go to a petrol station and ask to call home? How am I supposed to navigate anywhere? At this point I realised just how handy the damn things are!

Thankfully after two rounds of retracing my steps, two lovely girls held up my phone, I thank them profusely and I then went to hug an iceberg with happiness. Thank you kind strangers, I would have been lost without you!

Day 3 + 4

So these two days were fine, I drove, I explored, I went for walks, ate hotdogs, grand stuff. Apart from cooking, that really did suck. I can’t cook and I gave up pretty quickly. Also I did have to sleep in a petrol station car park because I was exhausted and the campsite in town was closed. Kind of felt like a tramp but gave up feeling anything once I was watching Firefly snuggled up in my sleeping bag.

Day 5

My final day, I had gone over my miles in the car so I decided to stay in Reykjavik and explore more, walk the entire length and breath of the city centre. I get quite weird on my own in a city, I feel like I should rush through things, I have no idea why I do this. It was getting pretty exhausting trying to find things to do and I had eaten everything I could. I now had to find a petrol station close to the airport that I could sleep in.

Luckily my parents rang me and said that they had booked me a cheap hotel room really close to the airport. I cried with happiness because living out of a van and walking/driving all day is extremely tiring. I drove to the hotel, got lost, had a cry, got into my room and at 7pm I fell asleep. Woke up at half 2 in the morning, watched some YouTube, ate some breakfast and left for the airport. Nothing could stop me…

Oh wait, everything can.

Getting to the airport

You see, I wrote an entire blog post about my rental. It sucked and at this point I hated it, like with a fiery passion!

It was really dark on the roads and the road I needed to take to get to the airport was closed, so I cried, I was driving around trying to find an exit and I go down a dead end.

This is where it gets fun; there was a giant patch of water in the middle of the road, that I didn’t see and of course I drive into it, I quickly get out of it and try to turn around but it’s too late. The wheels sort of lock up and I am in a lane behind a Subway and I can’t turn my wheels. I thought, I am 5km away from the airport, how am I going to get there, am I going to have to abandon the camper, there are no taxis anywhere. I cry more and I am just so done with this camper, it is a piece of shit. Thankfully I get out of this situation. Park at the airport. Run far far away from the camper and go stand in line for a hour to get on my flight. Then home.

What I learned:

  1. I am a stress cryer. I don’t mind a good cry to cleanse you of woes but good god I cried a lot! When I was in a tight spot I just started to weep. Damn it tear ducts!
  2. I do things very quickly. When you are with people you saunter places, you stop and chat and take pictures but when you are on your own, there is nothing left to do. I am Speedy Gonzales. In theory I could have driven the entire island in my 5 days but I didn’t know how quickly I could tick stuff off my list.
  3. I don’t need to talk to people. I think some people may have gone insane with the lack of human interaction I found myself in. I think some days I talked to one person. That is ok to me.
  4. Despite all this, I really do want someone or a small group of people who I can travel with. I like being by myself and doing my own thing but I’d like to have the option. I just haven’t found them.
  5. I am very capable. I have always known this but it’s nice to have confirmation. I can book, travel, explore, everything, by myself. Although I do ring home to talk things out, I can do it. It’s a nice feeling.
  6. I have a great relationship with my family. They may drive me mad at times but they get me, I am a product of their madness and it’s always nice to know that I can call and they will listen. Most people see this as a weakness and think that I get home sick because I call them. Thats not the case. It’s because I feel comfortable talking to them, I trust them when I may not be comfortable or trust talking to others.
  7. Taking pictures of yourself is such an ordeal! I know I could have asked people but I don’t like doing that. Also setting up a tripod is annoying. I saw a solo traveller take some photos of herself and I just wanted to give her props for not caring and doing her thing. I am not there yet.
  8. 5 days was a little long for what I had planned. This is something that will always be hit or miss. Maybe I should be the type that doesn’t plan too much and just go off and come back whenever.

Would I solo travel again? Hell yes! I love doing things my way, answering to no one and not worrying what my travel party thinks of me. It’s so refreshing.

Would I drive solo again? Yes! There is nothing better than being independent. I love driving and the freedom it gives. I will happily rent a car all around the globe if I can.

I think if you are like me and are socially capable but just not forward, start small and work your way up. Get comfortable with yourself in solo situations. That does sound strange but what I mean is, I didn’t know I would cry so much, I didn’t know how quickly I would get stuff done. Start small and see what happens, then go on to bigger and better projects.

Or just jump right in, who am I to tell you anything!

If you are taking your first solo trip I wish you all the luck and hope your tear ducts don’t explode like mine!

Happy Travels!

In Iceland: Reykjavik in August

Last time I was in Reykjavik I didn’t walk around much, there was ice on the paths and it was freezing, I also had a car so I was driving everywhere like a lazy person but this time I walked most places. I stayed in this apartment just outside the city centre right next to Hlemmur station. I definitely recommend this apartment if you want to use the bus system a lot.

The Sun Voyager

PhoebeGill150814015The Sun Voyager statue was really close to the apartment and because the first day of my trip was gloomy and low clouds I couldn’t see Mt. Esja so when the cloud lifted it was the first thing to go and see. I love Mt. Esja and I will one day hike up it.

Harpa

PhoebeGill150814076Harpa is a really cool building, the glass panels shimmer blue and purple. It was nice to walk closer to it this time.

Hallgrímskirkja

PhoebeGill150814439Going to this church is always nice to get a view of the city. Looking down one of the main streets, seeing all the colourful houses, last time I was here the snow was covering most of the city it was great to see it in full colour.

PhoebeGill150814543Grótta Lighthouse

PhoebeGill150815035

I took the bus to Seltjarnarnes to see Grótta Lighthouse. Strætó buses are really really easy to understand and use. All the information you need can be found here. I definitely recommend you download the app. Although you can’t buy tickets you can plan your journey and figure out when a bus is coming. It’s such a nice area for a walk and to see a more residential side of Reykjavik. Definitely recommend you go!  PhoebeGill150815087Reykjavik in August is still quite touristy but around the end of august is the time when a lot of the tourists go home for school or college. The weather is cooler at 11-14 degrees but I was walking around with a hoodie on. In January everyone was bundled up and you couldn’t get a sense of what Icelandic people even looked like. It was nice to see their style and faces this time.

Although seeing Reykjavik in snow is amazing and magical, travelling in August gives you a better sense of the city. So if that is important to you August is great but I recommend both times of year!

Happy Travels!