In Outdoor Gear: Hiking Boots

I decided to get my first pair of hiking boots after I took a trip to Mayo and I walked in the rain, on some cliffs, in a pair of Converse. Understandably, it wasn’t a good time, I slipped and fell down countless times. It was from that point I knew I needed to get a pair of boots.

Now my parents aren’t the hiking type, they also deem most of my purchases a waste, I will use that engraver tool one day, just you wait and see. I found The North Face Berkley boots in the shoe shop Office on Carnaby street, London and I needed them! You see my favourite colour is blue and every other colour on the blue spectrum. So when I saw the teal laces I knew they had to be mine!

Out With The OldDSC_5615

The Berkley boot is a really comfortable shoe, it is a great boot for walking on a trail in some maintained forests…you see where I am going. They aren’t really a hiking boot. Although it’s comfortable and has ankle support. It is lacking in the waterproof department. Going through any Irish terrain just floods these beauties, which is such a shame. I think if you are a very light hiker then these are the ones for you.

I needed some more durable boots because I was going to Iceland. I have talked way too much about Iceland but still. I needed something that would keep my feet dry and warm. Living in the back of a van with pneumonia, is no bueno!

In With The New

DSC_5616Enter the Meindl boot! Aren’t they pretty. There aren’t many places (I can think of) that caters to outdoor wear. I know of 53 Degrees North, The Great Outdoors and Snow and Rock but other than that I don’t know where is a good place in Dublin to try on a pair of boots. I went to the Great Outdoors as their selection is a lot bigger that other shops.

I wanted them to be waterproof, durable, leather and nice looking because practicality and style are a wonderful combination. So here they are. They are the Meindl Bhutan Lady MFS and although they were expensive, they were €250. Gasp, I know, they are an investment.

I wore these all around Iceland and they are really a great boot. They kept my feet dry and warm and made me feel a lot more grounded when I was scaling rocks and walking on slippery mud.

One thing I always worry about is getting sore feet with new shoes, especially boots! I wore these in my house for about a week leading up to my trip and went for a walk in them and then it was my adventures in Iceland and the initial breaking in of the boot was really great. No lesions or blisters, ew I know, but there was none of that! Although they are not fully broken in at all really, I think I can say that it’s not going to be torture and that they will be really very comfortable! *Nope, I think the boots heard me, I don’t have heels anymore.

So if you have any questions about this boot let me know!

Happy Hiking!

In Split: Marjan Hill

Marjan hill is the beautiful peak of green you can see as you walk around old town. It was one of the things I really wanted to do in Split. On google maps it looks really far out of the city but it’s actually a really easy walk to do.   PhoebeGill150617014-1

The hill is a spiral uphill walk with a fair few steps. There is a shuttle that can bring you up and down but I wanted the walk so I don’t know when it leaves or how much it is. I would recommend you go early in the morning or in the evening as the colder temperatures are nicer to hike up to the top. PhoebeGill150617125-3

Once you reach the top there is one main view looking over old town and the mountains behind. Although this is a fantastic look out location there are lots of trees covering the view. Now in no way do I think the trees should be taken down but just be aware your view might be obscured. PhoebeGill150617093-2

I really liked the uphill walk, it was nice to get a good bit of exercise when you have just been sitting on buses and eating. It’s not just a lookout point it’s also a park, this is an area where people walk their dogs and play with their kids. It’s a really nice place to go when you are in Split.

One thing I have to note is that this is where Split Zoo is. I urge you to never step foot into this “attraction” there is nothing that is nice or kind about this zoo. I had zero knowledge of this zoo before I went to Split, I wish I knew. I thought this was going to be a quaint little petting zoo, oh how I was wrong. This zoo costs 10 kuna (€1.30) to enter and I have no idea how this covers the cost of living for these creatures that live in this despicable area. I do visit zoos and I like to support breeding programmes and the educating people on animals but this zoo has none of that. It is dirty and small and the animals look miserable, the warthogs have hair missing, the animals had ZERO fresh produce in their cages. I fed some goats fresh grass and they got very excited. They have one tiger who I wanted to throw myself into the enclosure to give it something to do. I urge you, DO NOT enter this awful excuse for a zoo. It is too small for the amount of creatures and I felt sick walking around it.

In 2014 there were reports of it going to be closed, I don’t know why this hasn’t happened yet but I hope that it happens soon. It is a disgrace!

I definitely recommend Marjan Hill. It is a beautiful location but please do not give the zoo any money because the little amount of money that it gets is not going into building a better environment for these animals.

Happy Travels!

In Croatia: Plitvice National Park in June

Plitvice National Park has been on my bucket list for a long long time and as happy as I was to see it there was something that was quite disappointing about the whole thing. I hate coming away from a trip and feeling like I have to go back right away. After my day in Plitvice, I am not finished at all. Also I will never go back in June or Summer ever again.

I got the bus from Zadar to Plitvice, buses are really convenient to get around but the morning I was to leave, my bus was late, about an hour late so that was quite annoying, I also sat in something sticky which is just nasty. Always bring travel wipes with you!

PhoebeGill150615276-1I got to the park at about 12:30 which is pretty late if you want to get the park done in a day, which was the only time I could spend there.  I paid 110 kuna (€14.50) to get into the park which is very good value for money. I also got a big map that cost 20 kuna (€2.60) I started at entrance 2, and waited in line to get across the lake to the park itself. The lake is absolutely beautiful. You can hire boats that you can row by yourself and go off and explore, I will be doing that next time.   PhoebeGill150615477-2If you are looking at a map the of the park and are at entrance 2 you will see on the left that there are three loops around the lakes, I only did the lowest loop. I am annoyed I only saw that because I am sure that the rest of the upper lakes are beautiful.
PhoebeGill150615062-3Walking around the park was really nice but also a little unnerving. Massive groups of tourists would clump together and make you feel like you were going to fall into the water. These aren’t the biggest walkways and there are no banisters on the boardwalks also so take note. 

PhoebeGill150615148-4The waterfalls are absolutely beautiful! There are unfortunately no inlets to take pictures so there is always a bit of a pile up if you want to stop. It also makes the experience feel a bit rushed, like you can’t stop because then you are holding up a lot of people. PhoebeGill150615462-5 There are beautiful dragonflies all over the park, such beautiful, beautiful creatures. There are also lots of fish in the lakes and the water is so clear that you can see them really clearly.
PhoebeGill150615379-6 The right side of the map has ‘The Big Waterfall’. I did this route later in the evening when most of the big big tour groups are gone. I took the big boat across the lake from port 2 to port 3 to walk to the big waterfall. I was still following route K but it was closed off on this side which meant I needed to find an alternative route. This part of the park was a lot quieter. Although I didn’t have any pressure from people it was now almost closing time in the park.
PhoebeGill150615466-7The water is just absolutely amazing! It’s a shame you can’t go for a swim or touch it but to preserve it’s beauty is important and shouldn’t be messed with. PhoebeGill150615283-9When I got to the big waterfall it was worth it. I sat down tried to drown out all the selfie sticks and other people and enjoyed my time. It is utterly stunning!

Tips:

  1. Go early or later. If you are going in June this is your best bet to have a little more comfort walking around the park.
  2. Have a nice time but don’t loose all sense of courtesy. Don’t run past people, don’t walk two or three a breast, don’t be rude. It’s very simple.
  3. Use the boats and buses. They are a fantastic way to get around the park and break up a lot of walking.
  4. Stay at the Plitvice Hotel at entrance 2. Great basic hotel and you get breakfast included.
  5. Don’t touch the water or mess with any flora or fauna in the park.

*Note: I know my shots look empty but that is because I am an expert in taking people out of my shots, it was extremely busy!

I wish I listened to my gut and took an extra day here. I think two days is the perfect amount for a visit in Summer. I will be going back, I am already thinking of how I can go back and see more of Croatia and this park. I would definitely recommend going to see this beautiful park but I don’t recommend you go in Summer, this was just the start of the season and if you don’t like crowds it isn’t the time to go, I couldn’t handle it. Despite all this the park is beautiful and I can’t wait to go back. Have you been to Plitvice? What time of year did you go at? 

Happy Travels!

In Wicklow: Bray Head

I like to start my hikes very early in the morning. Especially in Summer when it is hot and sunny out. I got up at 5:30am to catch the sunrise. As I have mentioned on my facebook I am trying to see more beautiful things during my day. That morning was particularly stunning at 6am, no one is around and it was really peaceful. PhoebeGill150501037

Bray Head is clearly seen from a lot of angles, it’s a hill that is surrounded by amazing cliffs and has some great walks for you to do! There is the Bray to Greystones walk which I have never actually completed and there is the Bray Head Loop.PhoebeGill150501126The path leading up to the top can be both rocky and paved. I always opt for the more uneven, steep path because it’s more fun. There are gorgeous trees and tiny streams that I like hopping over and around. PhoebeGill150501001You can keep going once you reach the top but the last time I did that a fog descended and I went off track and I got a little lost so I recommend you stay on the path and if fog comes down just turn back. PhoebeGill150501046The views from the top are beautiful you can see beautiful hills, all of Bray town and the gorgeous bay. I like sitting at the top under the cross and just taking it all in. PhoebeGill150501099PhoebeGill150501012I recommend you bring proper foot wear as there is a lot of uneven surfaces as you go up, it can also get steep so just be carful of twisting your ankle. It doesn’t take long at all to get to the cross so you don’t need to bring food and water but if it is a hot sunny day then water is a good idea.

This location is a great spot for some exercise and beautiful views. I definitely recommend you stop off here as you start your trip into Wicklow.

Happy Travels!

In Wicklow: My Happy Place

cover imageI don’t know what it is but when I am out driving, to clear my head, to get away from everything, I end up here. Possibly because of it’s beauty, maybe the breeze from the valley blows away the cobwebs or maybe because I have really happy memories attached to this place. Whatever it is it is a definite must see if you are travelling around Wicklow. cold

If you are travelling in Winter it will be very cold, do you see my face? I thought my fingers were going to fall off. Bring all of your layers! You will need them. Something I really recommend if you are freezing is to go for a walk, the Ballinastoe walk right by Lough Tay is the perfect walk to do if you need to get the feeling back in your body. PhoebeGill150227073

This walk is great for a tourist because of the boardwalk, if you are afraid of getting lost, don’t worry the path will guide you. It protects the landscape because it is such a travelled route. Bring some ankle support because the boards can get uneven in places and you don’t want to twist your ankle.

PhoebeGill150227043 The boardwalk goes all the way up to the base of the mountain, and because there has been so many visitors they have carved out the path in the mountain so it is very easy to follow. Untitled-1The main attraction is Lough Tay, this beautiful lake can be seen all along the road so there are many places to view it. Stopping off at any of them will give you the most amazing pictures! This area is amazing at all times of the year so whenever you are visiting you are sure to experience the best of the area.
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I love this area, it’s not far from South Dublin at all, it’s really accessible, lots of space to park your car and a great place to explore and get some great images! Have you been to this area? 

Happy Travels!

In Wicklow: The Sugarloaf

In Wicklow: The Sugarloaf

I woke up really early on a Monday morning to discover this beautiful sunrise at 5:18 am and I had to go take it in, I then had the idea to climb a mountain. As you do. I have wanted to climb this mountain for about two years and this day felt like the right day.PhoebeGill1407141430-5

Best part of all this; I got to cross this off my bucket list! So happy.

Located in Co. Wicklow, The Sugarloaf is an iconic mountain walk. It’s elevation is 501m above sea level and takes about an hour to do. There is a car park located at the base of the mountain and the path is connected to the car park so it is very easy to navigate.PhoebeGill140714031-1

This walk is very easy, it is a gradual gradient and the path has been carved out by walkers and families so it is a very simple route to follow. The terrain is quite loose and rocky so I would recommend a good pair of walking or hiking shoes as your footing can get dislodged.

If you are walking in summer I would also recommend you bring a light wind breaker as the breeze got quite strong as I started to get close to the summit. The incline up to the summit does get steeper but it is still manageable. The views from the top are stunning, you can see both Dublin and Wicklow.PhoebeGill140714012-4PhoebeGill140714008-2

I definitely recommend this walk, it is close to the south of Dublin and it’s a good starting point in seeing what Wicklow has to offer.

Happy Travels!