You get out of the pretty Arashiyama train station and start walking. This Ghibli like area is beautiful, small roads and neighbourhoods that reflects the serene nature I was about to come upon. The sun was shining, it was warm and I was here to see the bamboo forest.
I didn’t want to take the path everyone was going because when you join a heard you can miss things. I decided to go down a small path and it’s as if this path had it’s own micro climate. It was humid and smelt like a rainforest, it was so peaceful and calm. The Katsura river is still except the boats and ducks that are cutting through the water. Along the bank of the river people are making food to sell, I stood and watched the way they use what’s around them, a small stream of water from the top of the mountain is filtered down to their fish tanks, keeping their fish alive and water in their sinks. It was wonderful. I sat here and ate my breakfast and watched the boats go buy. It’s times like these that it’s great to get lost and go the wrong way because what you can find is wonderful.
I then realised that if I was to ever make the Bamboo forest I needed to go the right way. This means going back along the pretty river and over the Togetsukyō Bridge. This beautiful structure gets you across the river, has the most stunning views and was nicknamed the Moon Crossing Bridge. It’s all very romantic and totally deserved. When you get to the main area of Arasiyama it becomes a lot more busy. There are lots of tourist nicknacks, restaurants and other wonderful finds that you just have to explore for yourself. There are lots of signs alerting you on where to go but what I have found is that if you follow where most of the people are going, they will bring you to the main tourist spot. After I went to the bamboo forest, it was the middle of the day and the sun was getting hot, I walked over the bridge to find people painting by the water. I stopped and watched this older gentleman watercolour the scene. Arashiyama is a place where I felt like I fit, it felt easy and familiar but at the same time so new and exciting.
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.
I 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. The 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.One 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!
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.When 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! Although 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.
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. This 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.
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. 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. I 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.
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.
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.
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!
You 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! I 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!
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. I 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.
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! I 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!
An 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. These 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.
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! I 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!
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?
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.
Although 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!
Where I Stayed
I 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.
Cliffs of Moher
Admission 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! The 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. I 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.
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! There 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.
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. The 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.
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!
I 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!
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. This 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! Take 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! The 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! Once 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. Once 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. Although 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!I then drove home with a stupidly big smile on my face and donned some blister plasters and spent the rest of the day relaxing.
If there is one thing I wanted this time round in Iceland, it was to go further, to push outside of where I have been and to explore more. Going west was something that I really wanted to do. There was one sight in particular that I was desperate to see and I have to say, it was utterly stunning.The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is like Co. Kerry on crack. It has got that luscious green colour with mountains and stunning beauty but it’s also something out of Lord of the Rings. You go from normal green mountains, to red soiled peaks, to moss covered lava fields that looks like the perfect Orc dwelling. You go from towering mountains to beautiful small towns and then you get to the most incredible postcard view.I pulled up to the most beautiful view and I got my camera gear ready. I then walked to the site with the fog rolling in and turned around to see the most iconic mountain in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Kirkjufell.Keep in mind this is just off the road. You don’t have to trek to see it, there is a car park. If you get the chance. Go. It is beautiful. It is so close to Reykjavik, so easy to get to, the drive is amazing. I am already missing it. I will be back.