As a city boy when I go away I want to be in nature…so it might seem strange going to Dublin! You would be wrong however, within a 40 minute bike ride you can be in some truly spectacular nature.
My suggestions for a long weekend in Dublin’s nature by cycling ( a must!):
- Route 1-Howth coastal walk. From the city centre head to Clontarf Road where it’s just one long road to the Howth coastal walk, along the way you’ll see some amazing coastal views. When you get to Howth Balscadden view point park your bike and then just follow the coast for the epic sights
- Route 2-to Bray. Similar to Howth this is a cycle route along the coast but this time head up to Bray. From the city centre head to Rock Road. Then it’s just one road along the coast taking in the sights until you can’t cycle anymore
- Route 3-Dublin mountains. There are a number of trials on the mountain. I would personally suggest doing one of the Ticknock loops. I personally did the long loop as the views were amazing (See photo). To get here can be a little tricky. Look for Ticknock Road and off it you will see a marking on the map called biking.ie. This is the place to park your bike and the start of the trial. In essence once you find the trial keep to the left and you will do a loop, around 14km.
Top tips- get a bicycle with a very good seat and bring snacks… you are going to need the energy.
A friend of mine has decided to make the best decision and take some time off to do some extended travelling. We are both natural introverts and therefore we need to put some strategies in place.
So this blog is for my fellow introverts who are worried about going solo travelling.
- Be you– so first and foremost be true to your personality. You are going to meet a lot of extroverts-great for them! Don’t try and copy them-were not good at it.
- Find purpose– it can be hard for some introverts to speak to strangers (although it gets really easy the longer your travel on your own) so find a commonality. There are a few strategies here: do community work like my friend, consider a group travel trip, join group activities and/or speak about possible trips/activities in the area, I have created so many new friendships by asking have you done X and ended up doing it with them.
- Recharge-remember to take ‘me’ time. Introverts energy and best ideas come when we take some time out. I personally find getting into nature and hiking by myself essential.
- Change-brace yourself for a series of different friends. It natural for us to find a few people and build deep connections. This can be dangerous as you need to keep moving forward and getting the best out of your journey.
- Just say no– there will be some strong extroverts who will naturally want to take charge. Just remember this is your adventure so if you don’t want to do something don’t be worried about saying no.
Introverts please write in if you need some advise based on my own persoanl experience.
If you want old, cultured, feisty and amazing food Seville is the place to go.
Seville is the Capital of the Southern Andalusia’s region and not an obvious choice for me as a city without good hiking trails. However I am glad I listened to my Spanish friends as Seville has become one of my top choices for food around the world.
The way to explore Seville is just to wander and get lost taking in the stoned pathments, the golden yellow bricks and the tiny Calles. I’m not going to make any specific recommendations on places to visit in this article as their is a wealth of material.
However I will recommend that you hop to different food spots eating Tapas:
- Bodega 2 de Mayo: Red Tuna with Oil
- Casa Ricardo: Croquettes
- La Flor De Toranzo-Montaditos: Roquefort and black pudding sandwich
- Alvaro Peregil-Montaditode Pringa: Pork sandwich with the famous Seville Orange Wine
- La Sal Calle Doncellas: The Chocolate Truffles are to die for.
My top tip is just have a dish or two in each place so you can eat all day whilst exploring the City.
So when its a sunny day in England, us English have to get out.
My choice when I woke up early in the morning was to go somewhere I had never been and I was feeling in the mood for history. So off to the medieval city of Canterbury.
Canterbury is an old city for England with the remains of the Roman conquest and the ruins of a former English monarch stronghold. To an extent it plays up to the English stereotype of fish and chops, clotted cream and quaint little friendly pubs. For a non-English tourist I suppose it would be endearing I personally found it a little cliche.
What I didn’t find cliche was the canals with the beautiful English plantlife, the cobbled pathments, the cottages with their tiny windows, the crumbling medievil architecture and the numerous Anglican churches with the crowning jewel Canterbury Cathedral at the cities heart. All in all if you want to feel England’s rich history Canterbury is the place to go.
After being their my suggestion would be to do a circuit of the outer city hitting Westgate Gardens, Canterbury Castle, Dane John Gardens, Saint Augustines Abbey and finish it off with a final stop in the city centre for the Cathedral.
The sky stretches grey in the sea of umbrella’s, the clock ticks and tocks…time to go go go go.
London can be a real strange old place and when you first move here…or in my case move back you can find yourself feeling overwhelmed and often lonely. Its strange in a sea of people it can be so hard to make a connection.
Its OK, don’t despair because London can be one of the best cities to live in the world. However you have to be pro-active.
How you ask?
- You need to create a connection to the city to make friends (they won’t just come to you) there are a lot of way to do this, I have personally being using a website/APP called meetup.
- Peace in the city-Find parks and green space, you’ll be amazed at the great walking spots in London-London even has a walk that navigates the whole city, obviously don’t attempt this in one go.
- Get the right place to live-I’m not going to sugar coat it finding in a place in London sucks!!! But don’t despair get the right place. I personally find it essential in mark 2 London to be outside of central London for the tranquillity but of course I need a quick link into central London.
- Don’t try to save for the first year-one of the biggest mistakes I made when first living in London was to try to save. There is only one way forward with London is to experience experience experience. This comes with a prize tag.
Remember its never too late to truly enjoy London. You need to be pro-active!
The first emergence of summer appears in the the big apple and its time for a very unlazy Sunday.
Recovering slightly from a heavy night on Saturday you make your way to Syvlia’s in Harlem for some match needed Southern carbs, the fried chicken is the one for me. Whilst there you sip on some energising Sweet Tea (and I mean sweet) and take in the electric live gospel music.
When you finally tear yourself away from the tunes you head down to Central Park. Exploring the first blooms of summer you work your way through the park. You stumble on one of the many baseball games in motion and absorb the competitive excitement.
When you finally emerge back into the concrete jungle its time to embrace the wild, of course its time to hit China or Korea town depending on your preference. Go round the many little shops for some souvenirs and eat dumplings or drink bubble tea. Then there is only one course of action a little power nap before exploring the NYC night life.
Waking up refreshed you head over to emerge yourself in the electricity of Times Square at night. Exploring the lights and sounds absorbing the atmosphere. Of course a trip to times square isn’t complete with a much needed visit to Hershey Chocolate shop. Then once you are chocolate filled, its time to head to West village for one of the many great Jazz bars such as Arthurs Tavern.
Then its time to stumble home for some much needed sleep.
In my experience cities can often have two major effects; they can drain or energise you. Barcelona makes you feel like the Duracell bunny.
Stroll out after a siesta around 9ish (yes life starts late in Barcelona) hit up Carrer de Blai for some tapa, strike up a conversation with locals and see where the night takes you. I know it sounds hard, especially if you are on your own but its the best way to experience Barcelona. If you want to do a little cheat go on to the couchsurfing app and there are loads of lovely locals wanting to grab a drink.
So I personally would just suggest wondering around and seeing where it leads. However I know my readers like little tips, so here are my favourite spots:
- Bunkers Del Carmel-for a great view of the city head here for sunrise. There’s nothing quite like a Barcelona City sunrise (sunset tends to be more social and crowded).
- Sagdrada Familia– I don’t usually recommend mass tourist paid spots, but Sagdrada Familia is the exception to the rule. It is a truly marvellous architectural delight, and has become my number one Cathedral.
- Parc de Monjuic-As readers know I love nature and this is the closest you really get in Barcelona. With the winding pathways its another chance for a great view of the city.
If it doubt just get to Barcelona… You won’t regret the decision.
Hola Chicos its Barcelona time.
I have been in Barcelona now for three days, I will write a little guide on what to do whilst here shortly but wanted to give some initial thoughts.
Personally Barcelona is one of my favourite European cities. I have been finding it hard however to quantify why! On paper Barcelona in itself doesn’t have anything particularly unique, don’t get me wrong there are plenty of amazing sights but nothing that truly stands out. The people again are amazing but there are a couple of countries that I prefer. So I have come to the conclusion its the combination of the ethos, the cool architecture, the glorious food and chilled people.
So how best to experience Barcelona?
Daytime: Go to a high point like Parc de Montjuic find something in the distance that looks interesting and head in that direction. Barcelona is great city to get lost in and as you never know what’s round the corner.
Night time: Its all about food and fiesta. Two tips here don’t go to dinner before 9pm as places you would want to go e.g places local go to will be empty and make sure to strike up a conversation with locals to find all the best spots.
I found myself this week almost falling into bad habits that I had hoped I shaked.
It was a cold and miserable week in England, I found myself stranded in a hotel for the week and not in the best of moods. At this low point I was starting to take my work home with me! Not in the physical sense which I have been very disciplined over but mentally .
The reason I mention this is because as most things if you want certain things in life you have to work for them. In my case I wanted that work life balance which is so important to my wellbeing. This week confirmed the danger of falling into old harmful patterns, which was the whole point taking a year off to rediscover my passion for life.
In this case it was about focusing my energies.
- Firstly, it was about clearing my mind which was one of the first lessons I learnt travelling.
- Secondly, it was about focusing my attention. In this case it was about reconnecting with travel friends and concentrating on filling my life with something outside of work.
So you ask what was the point of this story? Well the point is even when have a life changing event that helps redefine your life things don’t automatically change. Its about putting in hard work to make the lessons stick.
Finding a place to live in London can be tricky. When you have such a shortage of accommodation the goods ones go fast, and even if you find a good one it doesn’t mean the people are nice/normal.
I have been experiencing the tricky obstacles of navigating this maze. I haven’t found anything yet that was available when I want it, yet every house I have seen so far has been good quality.
What to consider?
- Central vs. Outer London– assuming your budget is the same. Central London offers excitement but is also likely to be in a smaller flat vs. Outer London offering an oasis from the chaos and some large ‘house’ house shares. Remember London has such great transport links that even being in outer London doesn’t mean its hard to get to your favourite hangout spots.
- Look for key words– words like home, friends and easy going. Having the right housemate makes such a massive difference. People who treat the accommodation as a home instead of a crash pad will pay in the long run.
- Live-in landlords– On the onehand they will look after their home but ulimately they are the boss. It can often feel like being a second class citizen in these types of shares.
- The viewing– Obviously ask questions about the bills etc but the most important ones is to find out about the people. Find out about routines e.g. work hours, hobbies (if you like quiet and they play the drums its not for you) and about house rules as these can end up being strange…..
Most of all, if possible, give your self time, in London you have to kiss alot of frogs before finding the right one.