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!

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In Croatia: Top 8 things to do in Split

The next stop on the trip was Split, the bus from Plitvice to Split goes back to Zadar so it does take a long time but there was great scenery and an ok journey.

I enjoyed Split, coming from Zadar it felt a lot more touristy, there are a lot of people in stalls and booths with boat trips and day trips to the islands and I was even approached by two British people asking if I wanted to go on their pub crawl (my idea of hell). The architecture is once again beautiful and there are some fun things to do in the Old Town and everything is an easy walk away.

Things to do in Split:

  1. Walk up the Bell Tower of St. Domnius. It costs €2 to go up. My favourite thing by far. I’ve read reviews and people said can be scary, there is a great breeze closer to the top, the stairs are sometimes more difficult than others, it is narrow, it’s a pretty open staircase so you can see how far down. But if you are like me and like heights than you’ll be fine and it will be a lot of fun!
  2. Diocletian’s Palace, there is a really great square where you can sit and have a drink. In the evening time there is music which is really nice to experience. I also went into the basement halls which are quite interesting.
  3. Have a drink by the Riva. Although there are lots of stalls by the seafront you can ignore them and look out to sea and relax.
  4. Walk all around the small streets. The beautiful architecture and pretty squares are a really nice thing to do when scouting for a place to eat.
  5. Go to the beach. Beautiful waters and great coves means for a great swim in the sea.
  6. Rub bishop Gregory of Nin’s toe. It’s an 8m tall statue and it’s said it can bring you good luck.
  7. Walk up Marjan Hill.
  8. Get a picture with the Gladiators, just because.

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This is the view of Marjan Hill. A really great hike to do if you want to feel a bit more active. PhoebeGill150617049-2

There are beautiful mountains all around Croatia, this is north of Diocletian’s Palace. You can see the walls of Old Town and this is where the big statue of Gregory of Nin. PhoebeGill150617108-4

The marina is right next to the bus station and the railway line. Just past all of this is the beaches and coves that are a great place to swim.

PhoebeGill150617080-3I found these were the best things to do in Split, I was there for three days, I don’t really drink and I don’t like to go out so I don’t have any idea about that side of the city. I think it’s a really nice point to stop on the Dalmatian coast.

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 Austalia: Uluru

Going to Uluru was a really cool experience! If you are travelling all the way to Australia on holiday going to the red centre is a must! When I was there is 2008 there were 5 resorts that you could stay in and we stayed in the Desert Gardens Hotel. PhoebeGill081229674-1

So before I get in to the wonders of Ayers Rock I must tell you that although my pictures look all sunny and wonderful…do you remember that Hurricane Billy I mentioned before, well he was in full swing, it rained every day we were there, torrential rain!

Also please note that Ayers Rock has a lot of bugs, there are different plagues of various creatures that come with the seasons, we just missed the locusts and when we where there, December time, there were giant moths and Christmas stink bugs.

When I say a plague, I mean a disgustingly large amount of bugs everywhere, even in the hotel. The stink bugs would be crawling up the back of chairs, on peoples backs and scurrying around the floor. As the name suggests, if you step on them, the smell is rotten so just ignore them, they are harmless. Moths were on every sign, painting, flat surface you can think of. It is even worse at night. Believe me when I say, it can get really bad, the lights are crawling with every bug you can think of and the lights are in the centre of the paths as you go to your room. Quite off putting. It’s not somewhere I could stay for very long. I would be a shaking mess in the corner. Right, now that that’s out of the way let me get on with the wonder that is Uluru!

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This beautiful sandstone rock in the middle of the Outback is beautiful! It is quite fascinating, think of an Iceberg, most of this rock is underground, we can just see the top. It is 348 meters tall and just under 10km walk around. PhoebeGill081229609-1

The natural erosion is beautiful! Above is the barrel, it is absolutely gorgeous! A big thing I noticed is that in the pictures of Ayres rock it is round, relatively flat and big but in person it is all different heights and bumpy. It also looked like quite a doable hike. I liked that it wasn’t like the postcards I had seen so many times over, I found that it was more interesting and engaging! TIP: buy a net hat. The flies are everywhere and they get in your ears. Buy one, it doesn’t matter how unattractive it is, it is more unattractive twitching and swatting as you try to shoo away the flies. PhoebeGill081229618-2

There are a couple of things I didn’t like about this tour I took, apologies I don’t have any information on what tour I took so you can know before you go but the first thing was that I didn’t like the way the guide used the Indigenous Australians as part of the tour.

About halfway through, two women joined the tour in order for us to get a better understanding of Aboriginal history and culture. Our guide would tell us what happened and their history but looking back as a 23 year old woman who has learnt a little bit more about the world, if I was there now I would want the white man to stop talking and for the people that were shoved into ‘our society’ (ie. into inadequate housing, with little help) to educate us. I still have a very primitive understanding of their history, (one of my favourite films is Rabbit Proof Fence, I recommend you watch it) which I must rectify. Getting back to my point, it felt that these two women were asked to come out in the blistering heat to stand around, answer a couple of questions and then be used for photos. I purposefully didn’t take a photo and I am very glad my 16 year old self refused to use these women. I understand that this interaction benefits both parties in some way but I don’t think of these two women as tourist attractions, they are human beings.

The more I travel and the older I get, the more I don’t always want to hear what someone who has learnt the information from a book, has to say on the matter. If possible I want real accounts, real people, real stories.
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The other, less major thing I didn’t like is that we didn’t go to a lookout point in order to see the rock from a distance. I got my photos, which are terrible, from the bus window.

Anyway, I want to finish this post by saying that my trip was definitely worth it. It is a beautiful, other worldly part of Australia. Couldn’t recommend it enough and am so glad I got the opportunity to see this wonder! Have you been to Ayers Rock? Do you want to go?

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!