10 things you can’t leave home without

imageLong term travel, budget backpacker lifestyles and limited luggage allowances have created a generation of savvy travellers who know how to make every kilo count. So what are the essentials you mustn’t leave without?

1. Ipad/ tablet
This amazing item will give you every thing you need from maps, email, messaging, skype, travel guides, books, music, currency converter and much much more. In fact I went 6 months without a phone because of how efficient my ipad was as a method of communication.

Optional: A travel charger will allow you to charge your appliances so that you’re not stuck on a 16 hour bus in Peru with no phone/email/music/Ereader etc

2. Enough clothes for all weathers
Shorts, flip flops, T-shirts, hoodie and a light raincoat. Most places you can pick up cute little dresses for nights out and also cheap tshirts. In fact in Asia you can choose your material and design and have a dress made specially for you. Might be something to consider if you have a special event or wedding to go to when you return home from your trip.

3. Take a photocopy of your passport with you for emergency purposes.
I wouldn’t recommend bringing it with you during your daily excursions in case it gets lost or stolen. If you are in a country and a dodgy police officer asks you to see your passport, ask to be brought to the local station where you will be happy to show your passport there. Do not show it to anyone on the street.

4. A book
Although I recommend the ipad as you can store so many books on it without the weight, the battery will inevitably die, perhaps on a 3 day rainforest walk. Whenever it is, it is handy to have one book with you, to enjoy on the beach or on your boat cruise on the Amazon River. Many hostels have a book exchange so when you have finished it you can swap it for another one. A girl, I shared a room with in Hawaii, gave me a book and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to give it to my mum so it came with me through a few more countries before I gave it to her in Malta. I believe it is in Berlin now… What travel stories it has I’m sure 😉

5. Travel sized liquids
No one wants massive bottles of hairspray, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion etc weighing down their bags to I’d recommend investing in the small bottles. They are relatively expensive but you can fill up last years empty bottles before you leave home.

6. Universal adapter
I have bought several expensive ones in the airport and for some reason they always break. I think it’s from the different voltages. But if you plan on travelling to a few countries rather than having to buy a few, a universal one is far more sensible.

7. Travel towel
These are lightweight tiny towels that do they same job as a bit fluffy towel and dry super quick so it can go back in your bag if you are leaving tomorrow.
Instead of bringing a big beach towel, you can buy one there and it doubles as your souvenir or, as I do, pack a lightweight sarong. Perfect for those beach days and weighs nothing. Winning!

8. A first aid kit
This should include antiseptic wipes, band aids, burn cream and maybe some painkillers and motilium, which you can’t get everywhere.
Don’t make the same mistake I did which was go into Boots in Ireland and spend a fortune buying some of everything, then arriving in Bangkok two days later and coming across a Boots there ( and it was cheaper grrr!)

9. A camera
Most of us have camera phones but if you don’t, you need to bring a camera with you. Travels are about making memories but I can assure you, when you return home, there’s nothing you’ll love more than reliving those moments looking at the photos you took of crazy nights out, beautiful sunsets and breathtaking landscapes.(leave the selfies to your phone)

10. Earplugs and eye mask ( usually get these free on long haul flights with socks as well). Also a blow up travel pillow is so handy for any method of travel. Yes they’ll give you one on the plane but I always use the one I brought as well. To save money, a lot of people use over night travel on buses and trains to save money on accommodation so these pillow will be your best friend in these situation.I always bring socks in my hand luggage and a hoodie because as flights get cold and a nice pair of fluffy socks makes the experience a lot more comfy 🙂


I have often succumbed to peoples advice and bought luggage locks. Once I even bought them at the airport on my way to South America (after checking in my bag) so they went into my hand luggage… and stayed there for the duration of my trip. I never use them. Some might criticise that but I have never had anything taken from my bags and I have stayed in countless hotels, hostels, floating houses, tree houses you name it. I think most people who travel all have the same values and respect one another.

Don’t bring your hair dryer. Nearly all hostels have them and if you’re like me you’ll be travelling to warm countries and can let your hair dry naturally. If you bring a travel hair dryer (I used to during my early travel days!) notice that they will generally have a way to change the voltage which you will need to do if you arrive in a new country and notice there is no strength in it anymore. Definitely, don’t bring your hair straighter. I brought mine to south East Asia where it was dropped on the first week and never worked again… My punishment for bringing it lol!


And here are some other tips

Roll your clothes you get a lot more to fit in.

Always pack another small bag inside your suitcase which you will use on your daily excursions while travelling. Or maybe you’ll just use it to bring all your new stuff that you bought home 😉

In some countries or undeveloped areas, laundrettes may not be at hand so it is sometimes beneficial to bring a clothes line, special packets of hand washing powder and a universal sink plug. I’m not hugely into budget travelling like cooking in the hostel kitchen and hand washing but many travellers I met swear by it.In Asia it is very cheap to give your clothes to local washing service however don’t expect all your clothes to return and your whites will more than likely be yellow! In most good hostels there will washing facilities though especially in Australia.$4 to wash and $4-6 to dry.

For stuff like bikinis and underwear, which take up a surprising amount of space, I pack these in a ziplock bag and then squish the air out!

For a few euro you can buy a luggage weighing scales which can save you arriving at the airport overweight which can be a costly mistake to make.

If you are going to a country where you don’t speak the language, a copy of the hotel name and address written down will help you if you get lost, either when you first arrive or even after you’ve been out for the day. I learned this the hard way after getting lost (with a map) for 7 hours in Beijing, as I only knew the name of the hostel in English and no one there could understand me!!! It’s different in a European country where you can try to phonetically sound out the place you are looking for but when it looked like this ¥%*# I had no hope! ( since then I have learned 20 words in mandarin… Just in case!!)

If you arrive via the airport you can usually pick up free city maps which is handy to have with you and will sometimes have vouchers for local attractions.

Sorry of my travel tips are a bit girlie… But I am a girl after all 🙂


There’s no such thing as luck

Hola 🙂


This is my first post written from my new home, Barcelona. It’s been two days since I arrived and I really feel I have a good grasp of the city so far. It’s sprawling neighbourhoods, each with a distinct look and feel, gave me many attractive options to choose from when looking for a new home, but perhaps too many. Do I want to be near the beach? The city? A bit further out to escape the busy city? Needless to say, the task of looking for an apartment in a strange city in a language I don’t actually speak, posed a difficult challenge. The offer of a job in ibiza for the summer, just two nights previous, played in the back of my mind, while I tried to deal with the daunting task at hand. Obviously, it was an appealing option. Beautiful beaches, lots of friends, familiar places and amazing nightlife. Why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to go back? I really was tempted. But I knew that by over thinking the situation it would just make the decision harder, so I explored the city, wandered the carreterra and relaxed in the parks. It was while I was writing in the park, soaking up the suns heat and enjoying the ongoings around me like yoga and language exchange meetings, that I realised there was no decision to be made. I’m here. I’m happy to be here so I’m staying. It’s always difficult settling in but once it’s done then I have a whole summer of great times ahead. imageI really don’t believe life should be a struggle. Try your best but really it’s not meant to difficult. Life has a way of giving you all the opportunities you need to be happy without a struggle, if you allow yourself to be open to them. Last night I had already seen one apartment, which was tiny and expensive and had still another 3 to see that night and more today. It was getting so confusing trying to remember which was which, I felt quite upset and stressed. It was then I realised how absurd that was and made the decision to no longer feel that way. I am blessed to have the opportunity to live in an new and exciting city. That is not something to be stressed about, only grateful. I realised that I was putting myself under a lot of pressure to find a home straight away with the extra stress thinking that I should be looking for a job also. I am a firm believer that you attract your reality with your thoughts and so by stressing and focusing on how difficult it was to find a place, I knew it was only going to make that a reality, so I decided I was not going to go view the places that night, while I was I feeling upset. If you are in a happy place in your mind, you will attract more things that will make you happy and I mentally reminded myself that the right place would come to me easily, without the stress and hard work. Every circumstance is only as easy or difficult as you perceive it to be. I choose to perceive my experiences as joyful and easy. I woke today and organised to go see one apartment. I figured I’d try the 20/80 rule. 20% of your efforts give 80% of the rewards because I really didn’t want to go running all over the city to the 20 or so places I’d contacted. As luck would have it (even though I don’t believe in luck) the lady showing me the apartment had to leave 10minutes before I got there and so there was no one to show me around when I arrived, after getting the metro and walking for 10 minutes! Of course I didn’t get annoyed, I merely thought it was an interesting occurrence. I decided to explore the neighbourhood and within two minutes I got a txt from an unknown number asking did I want to see the room. I assumed I must’ve emailed them the night before, as there was no conversation history, so without knowing anything about it, I said ya sure, what’s the address? Turns out it was only a ten minute walk away (how convenient!) and so, following google maps, I made my way there. imageI was so impressed as I walked by historical monuments, lovely restaurants and a huge arena and silently hoped I hadn’t got the address wrong. Just around the corner from the main street, was my building, right in front of a large park. Another box ticked, great. The apartment was big, bright and had a lovely balcony overlooking the park. That was all I needed. Where can I sign? I couldn’t and still can’t believe how amazing it is that I got exactly what I wanted and it was only my second apartment having to go see and is a million times better than the first one. I moved in two hours later and since then, I haven’t been able to contain my happiness. I want to share it with everyone. I am so happy I didn’t give up and leave or continue stressing, thinking I needed to go see every apartment to make the best decision. Life is meant to be enjoyed. The right things will flow to you easily if you allow them. And then the icing on the cake. I sent a message to all the others, explaining I no longer needed a place and one guy txt back asking where I was from. I noticed I had saved his number as ‘room please’ and I recalled having found a particularly nice place online and decided that was the one I wanted so I saved it as ‘room please’ to tell the universe that’s the one I wanted… and the universe was obviously listening. I scrolled up through the conversation and noticed that he had given me directions that were quite near here. I laughed, thinking it was funny I had rented so close to the one I asked for. Then it dawned on me. It is the one I asked for. It was his sister who had messaged me and met me to show me the apartment. So without realising it, without a struggle, not only did I find a new home, but I got the home I really wanted. I couldn’t be happier and I am so grateful to the universe for once again providing for me. I think it is very easy to get caught up in a moment of weakness, frustration, trouble and get in a negative flow, but it’s important to realise you will only attract more of the same into your experience by focusing on it. So if I’ve learned anything is that the most important thing in life is to feel good, to feel happy, maintain a positive outlook on life and you will attract everything you want and lead the life of your dreams.

Fiji Flashback

I’m so grateful that the weather has been so nice here in Ireland recently. Today is going to be 18 degrees if you can believe it (that’s like 28 in Australia!) but sometimes I allow myself to drift off to memories of island life in warmer seas. I decided to use my notes from my old travel diary to create today’s post about the beautiful Fijian islands that I visited a few years ago.

From the place you’d rather be this lovely Monday morning…


Day 1

I arrived at Sydney airport at half 6 this morning and was greeted with the delightful surprise that I cannot go to Fiji on a one way ticket hmmm! Why do they sell one way tickets so? I ended up buying a very expensive return flight on a flexible fare to allow me to change it ( you never know I might want to stay!) problem sorted 🙂 When I arrived in Nadi (pronounced Nandi) airport I was greeted by 3 men singing and playing some native song and they all wore flowers in their hair! It was just lovely!I was even given welcoming beads to wear 🙂

Bula means hello and welcome!!
The resort shuttle bus soon came to pick me up and off we went.My driver’s name was Joe and he was very nice. The roads are quite bad and the driving is atrocious and my suspicions were confirmed when I later witnessed a bus crashing into a car!! Interestingly this incidence did not deter my ambitious desire to attempt the local bus getting into the main town, which isn’t far away as I am staying on the beach! The bus was about 100 years old and had no windows and I can’t even begin to describe the gear stick!! So far, no other tourists, just me, which is probably why, once in the town, I was accosted by every shop owner trying to get me into their store! Opting for the safer choice, I got taxi back and watched an amazing sunset from the rooftop, overlooking the beach.


Day 2
I spent the morning organising my trip and I decided on a bula combo pass, which includes sea transfers and accommodation and food to the Mamanucas and Yasawas. Apparently I will be lucky to have electricity so will have no internet or phone coverage on the islands! The man in the office has kindly requested chicken and chips for me for lunch and dinner at each of the resorts hehe! (Priorities!) Chilled out on the beach for the day!


Day 3
Got picked up at 7.15am (what kind of holiday is this?!) and spent the day on the boat. We passed many of the other islands I didn’t choose to stay at, so was nice to see them all. Some of them are tiny seriously! My first island stop is Bounty Island for a few nights. I met some lovely people staying here as there is only one resort on the whole island and set meal times so everyone has to come to eat at the same time when called. It’s quite funny! I’m not sure a roasted pig constitutes chicken and chips, but I embraced the challenge of trying something new. It wasn’t so bad 🙂 One of the days here I kayaked around the whole island… In 20 minutes!!

image image

Day 6
It seemed the mana flyer (my transport for the day) was on Fiji time, (everything runs late but don’t worry we’re on island time!) when it didn’t turn up to take me to my next island but later, it transpired that it was late because it actually broke down and a little replacement boat came to collect me 3 hours later. While I was waiting I lay out by the pool and watched a little Fijian boy having a scuba diving lesson in the pool. It was very cute! I had my doubts about the dependability of the replacement boat when the engine suddenly stopped mid ocean! Uh oh! I immediately imagined myself heroically swimming to the island with an adventurous tale to tell in the end. Luckily it was just a case of pulling the pipe that was sucking the petrol out of a canister and putting in another petrol container. It had run out of fuel and I found this immensely amusing! I was quite happy bobbing away in those gorgeous waters anyway… As long as the fish didn’t get me ( silly fear of fish.. I’m working on it lol!)



Eventually landed on Mana island. It seems the lonely planet book review was quite accurate about the resort I was booked into, which is why I didn’t want to stay in this place, but according to Ab, who booked my trip, it was the only place that would accommodate my chicken and chips every day request. I found out later that the english couple next door to me were the only other people in the resort and turns out it was Ab who booked their trip too. It was so unprofessional,more like someone’s home. It didn’t even have a name on the establishment!

Anyway, I went for walk and booked my trip on the seaspray for tomorrow. On my return, I asked about using the internet and turns out there’s no electricity until 5pm. It was raining and stormy so I went to lie down only to find 2 black bugs on my bed eggghh!! There was a loud banging noise and I discovered it was a man making cava, a Fijian drink. I’m curious as to what it tastes like because it looks like mud lol!

Day 7
Had fun today on the day trip to Monuriki which is where Castaway, the movie with Tom cruise was filmed. I needed the fun after a horrendous night last night. Briefly, there were many over living creatures keeping me company in my bedrooms me so my sleep was intermittently distrusted by my compulsive need to use the torch on my phone to check and make sure there was nothing crawling on my bed! At about 2am I heard a strange noise. I shone the light around the room. Nothing. And again… The strange scratchy noise. I shot the light directly in front of my bed to see a dark shadow perched upon the other empty bed. Frozen in fear I mentally calculated how safe it would be to get up and turn the light on. Oh wait… No electricity. Bloody marvellous!! Ok maybe I imagined it… So I look again and there is a big fat rat. Omg!! Grabbed bag and legged it out of the room, with my heart racing.As luck would have it the door to the reception was closed and no one was about so I sought refuge in the building next door. It was a bar that I had watched a traditional Fijian dance earlier. I sat, curled up in a ball, on that chair,a fraud to sleep but my fear disappeared with the night and my spirits rose with the sun and I was ready to enjoy another fabulous day in Fiji.
We visited a few other smaller islands as well as a local village to participate in a cava drinking ritual with an elder from the community.


Day 9
Finally, some luxury. I arrived for four glorious nights in Malolo. Walu beach, where I was staying, was specially built for the reality show called The Resort!!! In fact Bounty Island, which is a 20hectare coral island, was used for Celebrity Love Island while Mana was the setting for tv show, Fiji Survivor. ( I think I deserve that title!lol!) I spent these few days chilling I a. Hammock, reading by the pool, learning about the medicinal purposes of plants found on the island, enjoying food cooked underground and I even made my own bracelets from leaves and coconuts. I feel very accomplished lol!


This is really the colour of the water!!!

This is really the colour of the water!!

I’d love to hear about your experiences of Fiji. There are so many more islands to visit I definitely will return.

5 Beaches with a difference… The most colourful beaches in the world

Now we all have that image in our minds of crystal clear turquoise waters ebbing gently on beautiful white powdery sand… It’s the stuff of day dreams and fantasies. Being addicted to sunshine and coastal living I’ve seen my fair share of golden beaches but if you want something different you might like these…

Punalu’u black sand beach, Hawaii


Black sand beaches can be found on volcanic islands such as Hawaii or Lanzarote, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. This beach, I visited in Hawaii, was about 2 hours drive south of Hilo and we found it easily reading the signs and the rental cars map. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t amazing that day but the beach was lovely. An entire beach covered in black sand with huge columns of trees swaying violently along the edge of the sand created quite the dramatic effect.There’s little more than a shop here so bring whatever you need with you for a day trip.  Also, another tourist attraction here is the turtles. They were swimming right at the waters edge and in the middle of the beach had a little nest where they laid their eggs. Pretty awesome 🙂

Papakolea Green sand beach, Hawaii


It’s quite a hike to get to this beach (2.6miles to be exact)! Locals have copped on to the fact that some visitors are on the lazier side (me!) and offer rides on the back of their trucks from the make shift car park to the top of the cliff where you want down to the beach. I think they charge $15-20 per person return. Alas, I wasn’t alone and my German compadre was more than happy for us to walk the whole way to the beach! So, as I longingly gazed as each truck drove by, we progressed through fields, sand and mud to get to our destination. To the right was a beautiful horizon and it had become a habit of mine to stare out into the ocean as I had successfully seen many whales breach and this time did not fail. Watching as a family of three or four whales swim by,far in the distance, makes my heart slip every time. After about 45 minutes we arrived at the top of the cliff and began to descend the steep slope to greener pastures! We were greeted by a handful of people who were chilling out on the beach but in general the beach was quiet. After a bit of splashing about in the water and taking some photos it was time to head back to the car as we still had quite a drive to go before evening fell. It’s illegal to take the green sand with you as it is considered rare so be careful if you do go there! Interestingly enough, a few weeks later I ended up on a private beach, accessible only by sea, and there was also some green sand there as well as white, brown, red and purple. The most interesting sand combination I’d ever seen!


Rainbow beach, Australia


During my travels down the east coast of Australia we stopped at Rainbow Beach for a few nights. It may have just initially been a stopover with the intention of sailing out to Fraser Island from here, however, this small town boosts a gorgeous beach that is said to be made from 72 different coloured sands, hence the name!
Perfect for a day of relaxing in the endless Sunshine Coast.

Siesta Key, Florida, USA


Everyone likes to play sometimes and Siesta Key is the perfect playground. The famous white sand here is so soft and powdery it actually feels like snow. This is because it is 99% silica in its content. Every year they hold world famous sand building competition in May and people of every age come from all over the globe to participate in this fun in the sun. http://www.escape-to-sarasota.com/siesta-sand-sculpture-contest.html. I’m not generally a fan of sand and the way it gets in all the awkward crevices but this soft sand felt so amazing I couldn’t help myself from making some sand angels lol!

Pink Sand Beach, Bermuda


Located in Bermuda, this beach indeed a pinky colour. It’s pink hue is as a result of tiny red organisms living under the coral reef and when they die, they, along with shell and coral particles, are corroded and abraded into tiny sand particles.


These are my favourite beaches with a difference. Please feel to leave a comment below to tell me about an unusual beach you’ve been to. Otherwise you can just use the poll to vote for your favourite! Maybe I should trade in my flip flops for  Dorothy’s shoes… Simply click your heels together… I wish 🙂




Relaxing in Romantic Rome

Here is a photo journal of my few days in the beautiful city of Rome. It really stole my heart and I would definitely love to live here some day.

Trevi Fountainimageimageimageimage


imageSpanish Steps

My Observations…

Everyone is so friendly here. They dont speak with their hands as much as I expected.The men are living up to their Romeo reputations and are not shy in their approving stares!It is not as busy as we expected, even in the very touristy areas like the Colosseum. The streets are filled with trattoria and people eating al fresco, although there is a noticeable lack of presence of open green areas- none to be exact.I read about pop-up pools alongside the River Tiber but we didn’t have time to sample these cooling treats. I did, however, have plenty of famous Italian gelato to cool me down! My favourite part of the city are the cobbled stone streets, and its italianess is accentuated with the many scooters flying along the narrow , haphazard streets.The map of Rome is quite hilarious and seems to have no plan or strategic method to it at all and yet everything seems to be within walking distance, thankfully, as I’d say the public transport leaves much to be desired here!My second favourite feature in Roman life are the shutters on all the buildings.Fascinatingly old most of the time, but beautiful. I imagine myself living in one of these old buildings, waking to the sound of the singing birds, with the sunshine streaming in through the filters of the dusty shutters and when opened, I could observe the busy village affairs on the cobbled street below, with Italian men shouting loudly at a tv screen with the soccer on and the local women sitting on the steps, idly chatting, with one eye on their diapered, bare footed children who are happily playing with stray dogs.I havent actually seen this scene with my own eyes but I can imagine it’s not too far from me!Something new I learned here is that they call many things pizza, not just what we westerns call pizza. After trying spaghetti bolgonese last night I am sure I could adapt to their simple diet of pasta and pizza, with the odd mc donalds thrown in of course 🙂 I was also saddened to learn that pizza originated here out of necessity to feed the poor population and unfortunately there is still a noticeable homeless population present.There is also a lot of construction work going on in the local buildings and basilicas, though obviously the authenticity and character of the buildings are strictly maintained. Romantic Rome you have truly stolen my heart.

Ciao XX

7 days to see… Ireland

This lovely Emerald Isle is small enough that you can drive from north to South in 8 hours and east to west in just over 2 hours! On my travels I’ve often been asked for advice on where to go in Ireland. There’s so much to choose from but I’ve managed to put together an itinerary here that includes the best sights Ireland has to offer.
Day 1 – 2 Dublin

Dublin, the capital and biggest city in the country, certainly is bustling with activity and has lots of sights to appeal to tourists. In fact I’m always surprised how few Irish people I hear when I’m wandering through the city. Dublin seems to have become an international hub for foreign students especially South Americans, which, in my opinion definitely adds to Dublin’s appeal 😉
There are several tourist offices on the O Connell St. where you will find maps and information on places to go. In the middle of O Connell street is the Spire which is 120m in height and has towered above the city’s skyline since it’s unveiling in 2002.
The city is built along the River Liffey and there are many lovely bridges to cross over but my favourite is the city’s first pedestrian bridge, the Ha’ penny Bridge, where couples write their names on padlocks and padlock them to the bridge and throw away the key as a symbol of their love and commitment to each other. I think it’s very sweet!
The Guinness Storehouse is a very popular place to visit in Dublin also. Despite it being typically an old mans drink, many young and old visitors to the city can be seen sipping on the famous Irish drink, trying to experience the famous Irish culture!
Temple bar is perhaps the most popular area as it is filled with restaurants and bars playing traditional Irish music and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see live bands playing on any given evening with merry folk dancing around! For shopping, check out Grafton St. and make sure to walk by St. Stephens Green to enjoy the lake and beautiful gardens. Dublin zoo in Phoenix park is another lovely outing.

Day 3 – 4 Kerry

Kerry is home to many beautiful beaches. Ireland isn’t famous for it’s good weather but when the sun does appear, these beaches are crowded with people, enjoying the sunshine.
Killarney is a popular town to visit and you can spend hours wandering the quaint streets or sampling some Irish coffees while listening to live Irish music in many of the pubs here. Most people use Killarney as their base for exploring the surrounding regions, especially the famous Ring of Kerry. Click on the link for more information on the amazing mountains, waterfalls and lakes that can be seen in the area.
Another gorgeous, little town is Dingle, which is home to one of our most famous celebrities, Fungi the dolphin. He has been living here for over 30 years and a statue has been erected in his honour.
Another interesting fact is that there are some parts of Kerry that are part of the Gaeltacht which means they only speak the native Irish language, Gaelige/Irish.


Day 5 Limerick

This is my home town 🙂
Limerick is a small city located on the River Shannon. A 15 minute drive from the city you will arrive in Killaloe from where you can do a self driven boat trip along the river. There are lovely cafés and restaurants here if you fancy just relaxing with a nice view.
Bunratty is located just a short distance outside the city as well and is a well preserved medieval fortress built in 1425. You will definitely enjoy a day exploring the folk park and climbing the steep,narrow, winding staircases in the castle. At night, you can participate in a lavish banquet served by waiting staff in native costumes and enjoy the live musical and dance performances. If you don’t fancy leaving the city I’d recommend a visit to St. John’s Castle which is right in the city centre.


Day 6 Clare

Located in the west of Ireland, is County Clare, which is best known for its stunning coastline. It is home to one of the most visited sights in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. Here you can witness the staggering columns of rock lining the jagged coast of Clare which is absolutely breathtaking so don’t forget your camera.
Beaches are plentiful in this part of the country. Kilkee and Lahinch are the biggest beach towns and are often crowded on a sunny day. Lahinch is a popular place for hen and stag nights so pubs are often filled with young people having a great time and wearing costumes for the occasion. Luckily nothing cures a hangover like a dip in the Atlantic so the surf schools are usually busy at the weekends. I have enjoyed some surfing lessons here myself!
The Burren is a unique karst landscape which should also be visited if you have some extra time in Clare.


Day 7 Galway

Galway is always a favourite city for visitors. Drop by the beach in Salthill for an early morning jog and spend the afternoon revelling in some retail therapy in the lovely pedestrian shopping streets. Galway is a great place for a night out to get to know the friendly locals and have the ‘craic’!


7 days to see… Florida

Day 1
Starting location: Orlando airport
End destination: Orlando
Main attractions along the way: Orlando

I really wanted to rent a vintage VW bus for the week but they were all booked out for Easter. Check them out http://www.floridavwrentals.com/
I would advise booking your rental car online. Try these sites.

We ended up renting a car from advantage and they lived up to their name and took advantage of us. Beware of unnecessary upgrades and insurance costs. You should not have to pay anymore than the price given on your booking.
Begin your trip with a jaunt into the city. It is best explored on foot so park your car on a side street and off you go. We discovered a very cute Mexican themed street where we lunched on quesadillas and enchiladas.
Our villa was booked on Florida Vacation Villas on http://www.hotels.com.
Thanks to technology we followed google maps the whole way to the house. I would happily have moved in forever. It had a swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, 6 bedrooms and a games room in the garage. It even had an air hockey table, which I love!


Day 2 – 3
Starting location: Orlando
End destination: Orlando
Main attractions along the way: Disneyland

Tickets can be bought in stores along the road offering specials. Otherwise you can buy packages online. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/


Day 4
Starting location: Orlando
End destination: St. Petersburg
Main attractions along the way: Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island Beach

Just a two hour drive from Orlando, is the large, popular tourist spot that is Clearwater Beach. It was very busy but we found a nice spot by the water to enjoy a few hours of sunbathing and swimming. We stopped at several beaches enroute to St. Pete’s, some of which I have mentioned above. It seemed like every stop had miles of gorgeous white sandy beaches, each more beautiful than the next. We arrived at St. Pete Beach in time to observe the gorgeous sunset, and listened to the waves crash as day became night.

If you have extra days, optional stops
* Honeymoon Island
* Caladesi Island


Day 5
Starting location: St. Petersburg
End destination: Siesta Keys
Main attractions along the way: Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Longboat Key Beach, Sarasota Island

Enjoy the incredible views of the Gulf and tiny beaches as you cross the famous 5.5 mile Sunshine Skywalk Bridge. Taking the scenic coastal route, you will have lots of opportunities to stop beautiful beaches along the way, some of which I mentioned above. Long bridges connect each of the islands, and the drive is very enjoyable across the Gulf of Mexico. A good place to stop for lunch is Sarasota. We chose to picnic in Sarasota Island Park and Marina and enjoyed the sunshine and the artistic displays in the park. Next, we took Ocean Blvd. and Beach Road to Siesta Keys, which apparently was awarded No. 1 beach in 2011. It certainly deserved its title, as this massive beach not only had volleyball nets, picnic tables and loud dance music, it also had the most unbelievably soft sand I’d ever felt ( I even rolled around in it and I’m not the fondest of sand generally!). Once a year, this beach holds world sand building competitions where people come from all over the globe to produce some marvelous sand creations. Every Sunday there is a drum circle held on the beach at sunset and as luck would have it, we were there on a Sunday (of course!), and got to observe people of all ages dancing, playing music and even hula hoop dancing. Coincidently, I had bought a hula hoop earlier that day, but my skills are atrocious so I didn’t partake, but promised myself to practice before next time!


Day 6
Starting location: Siesta Keys
End destination: Fort Myers
Main attractions along the way: Venice Beach, Sanibel Island, Tarpon Bay, Lighthouse Beach, Bowman’s Beach

The first stop of the day is Venice Beach. It is a large white sandy beach and was very quiet when we were there. After a lovely morning walk, we headed for Sanibel Island which is famous for its shell beaches. I have never seen anything like them before. There are shells of all shapes and sizes and if you make a quick stop at the touristy information office, they will give you plenty of informative leaflets so you can tell what type of shells they are. Shells are a great souvenirs to bring home.

There are many activities to choose from on this island especially water sports but I would recommend the Thriller Dolphin cruise. It leaves from Tarpon Bay and is a 90 mile exhilarating ride around the two islands while dolphins chase your speed boat. In the evening you have many beaches to choose from on the island. We drove to Lighthouse Island, which was another beautiful strip of white sand lined with the warm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was here, one of my life dreams came true. As I was out swimming, two young dolphins swam in close beside me. I’ll admit I got a little scared as I recalled (falsely I’m sure) an article about being bitten by dolphins ( I watch too many movies!). Despite this, it was a magical moment for me as I watched them play for a few minutes before gliding off into deeper waters. To top a wonderful day off, watch the sunset at Bowman’s Beach.

If you have extra days, optional stops:
* Captiva Islands
* Cayo Costa


Day 7
Starting location: Fort Myers
End destination: Miami airport
Main attractions along the way: Naples Beach

This drive was less than 3 hours so we had time to stop for some last minute sun at Naples Beach before heading to the airport. There is a state park here for some nice walks.

If you have extra days, optional stops:
* Miami
* The Everglades