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 Mayo: 5 Spots Along the Wild Atlantic Way

I spent a weekend driving around Mayo and it was amazing. Unfortunately I had car trouble and I couldn’t finish my trip so I have more to see. This is my first post of amazing stops along the Wild Atlantic Way. Mayo is completely gorgeous, you might only think about Mayo for Croagh Patrick or Céide Fields but there is such amazing drives and stops along the way that you can’t go to the west and not see them. 

PhoebeGill160409180Downpatrick Head

My sister alerted me to this place in north Mayo before I went so I decided to go on google maps and track it down, there are hidden gems in Mayo so sometimes you have to look at a map and find out where it is and what the official name of it is.  So this location sounds a bit scary, they are fast eroding cliffs that has a blow hole in the earth. I found that the look out points were pretty useless, it is a new construction around the blowhole as it is very dangerous, so I understand why there are there but you can’t actually see down that well. It’s still a really cool attraction though. Further up the field is where it gets fun, terrifying but fun!

PhoebeGill160409355You see the blowhole may have a lot of barriers but further up the field you get to the cliffs, which have zero barriers. I recommend you take it slow, if you are with people, don’t joke or mess around close to the edge because seriously, these cliffs are big and the waves are scary and generally makes your butt shake. Saying that oh my they are completely beautiful! PhoebeGill160409289I mean look at this sea stack, don’t you love a good sea stack! The cliffs are beautiful, the views are stunning and if it’s a sunny warm day I recommend you come here with a picnic and soak up the sun! PhoebeGill160409551

Céide Fields

Céide Fields are a very well known tourist attraction in Mayo, it is an archaeological site in the north of Mayo. Take note that there are zero bits of information outside but there are free guided tours. It is €4 in and it has an exhibition inside the building. PhoebeGill160409195I recommend you go in and take a tour, walk around, the area is gorgeous and don’t forget to cross the road and see the viewing point opposite Céide Fields. There is plenty of parking but maybe in Summer time it will get a lot busier. PhoebeGill160409361

Ballycroy National Park Trail

I was driving along and came across a car park in the middle of nowhere. As I got out of the car I saw that there is a 2km boardwalk in the national park, it goes along the edge of the water and offers some stunning scenery! PhoebeGill160409919I love that you can see the raised bog, it’s a great combination and makes the area really interesting. The whole view is beautiful! Check it out and see for yourself! PhoebeGill160409076

PhoebeGill160409331An Bhinn Bhui

I had been here before but it was raining and I was wearing converse so the experience wasn’t as good as it could have been. This is another place that I had to get out my map and figure out where it was. It’s on an unnamed road in northern Mayo.  PhoebeGill160409165These cliffs are so beautiful. It was gorgeous when I went, sunny and warm, walking around I had such a nice time. I definitely recommend you go get lost and try and find this place. PhoebeGill160409372

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Keem Bay

Just before I had one serious oil leak all over the country I decided I would go to Achill Island and go to one specific location. Keem Beach. At the end of a small winding road, this small little beach is at the very end of Achill Island. It was baltic. I mean the coldest wind I have ever felt! PhoebeGill160410541I love this beach, it is small but idilic. When I was there there was a man on the hill herding sheep with this dog. It is such a charming place. I would have stayed longer if it wasn’t so cold! I would say that this beach is packed in summer! PhoebeGill160410402

So there it is! I am not done with Mayo yet but for now here is my favourite spots in Mayo that you have to check out! Have you been to Mayo? Do you want to go now?

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!

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!

In Croatia: Dubrovnik City Walls

‘I’m walking the walls’

It sounds and feels very Game of Thrones like! Everyone says walking the walls is the top thing to do in Dubrovnik and it is understandable why. The walls fully encircle the Old Town, it is a 2km uninterrupted walk that gives the most fantastic views!
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I recommend doing the route at the first entrance, this entrance is located opposite the Big Onofrio’s Fountain. It costs 100 kuna (€13) to walk the walls and admission into Fortress Lovrijenac so don’t forget your ticket!!
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I loved the Ikea like system they have in place when you are walking the walls. You walk one way, it means you don’t have buildups and people passing you by, you can generally stay in your own group and walk with minimal disruption. Loved the organisation! PhoebeGill150620428-1

The views from the walls are beautiful, there is one side the looks out to see on one side and then over to the buildings and small streets that makes up old town. There are forts and lookouts that give you so many vantage points. PhoebeGill150620468-6

Looking out over the red topped roofs you can imagine ships out at sea and the threat of a siege but you forget there was huge upheaval here twenty years ago. These defence walls are an amazing piece of history that seem untouched by war. It really makes you see how strong Croatia is. PhoebeGill150620704-7

If you take the first entrance your walk will end with the big tower to the North. Tower Minčeta is very popular with not much open space to look at the views it may get a bit crowded. It’s a really great way to end the walk. Walking it, with lots of stops for photos should take less than two hours and it is definitely two hours well spent!

Fortress Lovrijenac

PhoebeGill150620389-8I definitely recommend you go over to Fortress Lovrijenac. When you take the first entrance of the walls one of the first things you see is this beautiful fort on a rock and it looks amazing. Getting to the fort is a little confusing because there is the main square outside Pile Gate with restaurants, a bus stop and tour guide stalls. There are some steps down on the right side of the square that meander down to a small little harbour, you can then see lots of steps up to the fort. Don’t forget to bring your ticket! The views are great, it’s nice to see a different angle of the walls. Fortress Lovrijenac has been repurposed into a theatre space, Shakespeare’s Hamlet is preformed here which would be an amazing experience.

So it’s clear to see why people really like this feature of Dubrovnik. Take note you might want to walk the walls in the morning or evening it can get really hot so morning and evening means it’s a little cooler and a little quieter. It’s a must to visit this amazing structure and learn about it. Would you like to walk the walls?

Happy Travels!