Life was meant for goof friends and good adventures
Outside Carrigtwohill in the Fota Retail Park, you’ll find Ballyseedy Home and Garden Centre. The Cork home of Ballyseedy is a beautiful setting for a casual catch up with friends as the cafe ‘Bakestone’ sources all the food locally and everything you order is made fresh. When choosing my food, this is my main one and only love. Fresh and local always the best, always the best thing about eating in Cork. As you see from below, I went for the usual bacon and eggs benedict (with Americano separate) and no, it did not disappoint. If coming I would really recommend trying the cakes or they have home made brown bread also.
After brunch, we made our way the short distance to Cobh. Expecting a possible sight of a cruise ship, we parked up. If familiar with Cobh, Cruise Ships sometimes make their way into Cobh and the town is filled that day with visitors. Often markets appear when they arrive in also. On this lovely Sunday, no cruise ship was in and thankfully we were packed earlier enough before the town started to get busy. After an ice cream stop, I brough my friends on a hunt for an Instagram photo.
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These house’s with the Catheral in the backround is one of the most iconic photo’s of Cork and I just had to get in on the action. Have you liked me photo? Was it worth the climb?
Orginally, we had planned to take a trip out to Spike Island but as it was a last minute decision all the tours were fully booked this day. So tip, plan Spike Island in advance, especially during summer months. Cork Harbour Boat Hire became our afternoon activity and was THE BEST IDEA ever. We hired a boat or €49 altogether, which breaking it down between four of us really wasn’t expensive, and you could get up to six on board with no problem. With a guide in a separate boat, the trip is self drive and he brought us around the harbour, around Spike Island, so we kinda got close. The spin out in the boat takes up to hour and is really fantastic thing to do some afternoon.
Early on Sunday morning in Tallinn, I booked a ferry to Helsinki, If you had read my post on how I booked this trip, you’ll see I booked through a company called Tallink. The ferry was leaving Tallinn port at 16.30, which was taking two hours to Helsinki. It was a misty day in Tallinn, the first small bit of rain I had got on my trip but nothing too heavy. Thankfully I left my hostel good and early for the port, it wasn’t too far away by any means, I had a minor mishap on my way. I GOT THE WRONG FERRY TERMINAL and I needed to be checked in 20 minutes early. This was 16.00 when I realized. So with a quick sprint across, I checked in 7 minutes later and board by 16.10 exactly.
The ferry was a passenger/car ferry which they all would be between the two cities. Plenty of floors with restaurants, shops, a bar with even a live band playing. Also on board, large lockers are available for luggage (or people) for a mere €2. By 18.30 I arrived in a very rainy Helsinki, and my commute plans in hand for a tram to my hostel, my tram never arrived. Sure why would it?? Anyhow, with some help from a staff member in the ferry terminal (and google maps) I got on another tram and made my way (in the rain) to the hostel, chilled out after my eventful day and had an early night.
Due to the rain from the day before in Helsinki, I booked the Sightseeing Tour Bus something I would normally not partake in. It never rained the next day, It was positively glorious. With only one full day in Helsinki, the bus tour was still a great opportunity for the day. Starting at the beautiful Senate Square which is home to Helsinki Cathedral, I also explored the Rock Church (yes this is what it is), the flea market, the market in the city center. Walking around the city itself. The drive along the seafront and taking in the sights of the little islands was really quite beautiful.
So I mentioned on my Instagram about a really interesting trip home from Helsinki.
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So this post has been a long time coming. When I booked my flight home from Helsinki, I booked with SAS Airlines, to come home via Oslo. The flight duration including a stop over was approx 6 hours to be in Dublin for 11.45. The direct flight was with another airline Finnair, however, at the time of booking had been coming in and about €200 more expensive. When I arrived at Helsinki Airport that morning to collect my boarding pass, I was told my details were flagged. This made me nervous as you can imagine at first until I learned my Oslo flight was overbooked and it was unknown if I could board, I was given a boarding pass to get through security and to be at the gate 15 minutes before departure. I did just this, the plane was overbooked and I never got my flight to Oslo. SAS then arranged for me to get on the Finnair flight direct Dublin, therefore, meaning I would land in Dublin two hours earlier than planned. I laughed at how the overbooking of a flight worked so much to my advantage. SAS also compensated me for the inconvenience (far from it lads). The compensation was more than the cost of the flight.
Tallinn was my favorite city of the three cities (Riga, Helsinki also) that I visited on my recent trip. Not that I didn’t fall in love with Riga and Helsinki, however, Tallinn has a character and charm that I just felt connected with. The Estonian capital on arrival was lunch time on a June Saturday, a little chill in the area. I’ve often been accustomed to the word ‘Baltic’ been used to refer the feeling of cold. I now really can relate to that some much more after being in the Baltic States.
After arriving in Tallin into the bus station from Riga, I accessed the tram to where I was staying in a hostel called ‘Fat Margarets’ near the ferry terminal. The hostel was perfect and really well located.
So here are 6 things I got up to in Tallinn or I recommend:
When I first arrived in Tallinn, I went straight to a walking tour with Traveller and the guide was a lady named called Heli, and no word of a lie, She was the most memorable, charismatic, energetic guide I had the pleasure to experience. Her passion for Estonia her sense of humor. Of all city guides, she’s been my favorite.
One of the recommendations I received was visiting the KBG Museum in the Hotel Viru. Being honest this part of Estonia history and the Soviet Union, I am so ashamed to admit, I knew so little about, here in the KBG Museum is a unique opportunity to get insight into this history up to very recently in 1991 when it was left by the KBG.
My one regret of the whole trip was not visiting Tallinn Legends. A new attraction to the city, this gives you an opportunity to experience the Tallinn middle ages through interactive performances.
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Visit the many museums including the Museum of Occupation which is a real insight to the history of Estonia occupation by other countries. I really enjoyed this museum more than I expected too.
While Estonians themselves are not religious, the country itself comes with many churches. Some not used for religious reasons. Walking through the old town, the most captivating church personally for me was Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which is an Orthodox cathedral.
Spent a day walking through the old town of Tallinn, walk up to one the viewing points taking in the city which resembles a fairy tale city.
Getting to Tallinn from Dublin is pretty easy with direct flights with Ryanair. Personally, I arrived on a bus from Riga and a ferry to Helsinki as you do. Read more about my trip Here
Every summer has its own story and so do you. Go out and create some experiences, some laughter in your belly. Life is not just about bill paying, I promise. Have a search through the events below and enjoy.
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Laya Healthcare City Spectacular Is running in both Dublin and Cork, back to back. Dublin is the 7th to the 9th of July. Cork is the 15 & 16 of July. I’ve volunteered at this event in the past and I can honestly say it is a wonderful day out, no no kids or kids. Completely free and loads going on at it.
SeaFest – A wee marine festival, gwan and gotill July 2nd in Galway,
Italian Fusion Festival Sunday, July the 2nd in Grand Social in Dublin an Italian event that showcases the best the country has to offer
Irish International A Capella Festival Running from the 14th-16th of July this festival includes an opening gala concert, IACC Grand file and also The Swingles live, tickets can be bought on their website.
Riga is the largest city in the Baltic countries and largest in that of Latvia. After hearing ever so slight information about the Latvian city, I was curious and interested in this part of Europe and felt the need to find out for myself. I flew Ryanair on a Wednesday evening and had two full days in Riga, which was enough to see a great chunk of the city.
From wondering and exploring, learning a new culture, every city needs some curiosity and an open mind. Here are a few things why I recommend a stay in Riga
Visit the Central Market – Not a far walk from Old Town Riga, the market is the heart of Latvian and Riga market trade. Full of locals doing a daily shop to tourist making their way through. Full of fresh veg and fish, one not to be missed and if you want to do some normal shopping there is a shopping centre next door as part of the train station.
Take a day trip to Jūrmala – Never went when I was in Riga, yet heard so many lovely stories about the area. However, this summer resort is not far from Riga and seems to be really popular.
On my second morning, I did a Free Walking Tour. Personally, I love doing walking tours on the first morning as I gather a bearing for the city, The guide was great and friendly, learned quite about Riga’s history.
Eat some local food and drink. bad blogger very limited food photos, this being said, my favorite dish which I have pictured below was Latvian Borscht Soup in a bread bowl. I ate my bowl.
Get lost in the Old Town. This to me was just super amazing and my most enjoyable part of my stay. I love arriving at new cities getting lost down the cobblestone streets, exploring the churches and basking in the history.
See all of Riga fro, the viewing point in the Latvian Acadamy of Sciences. Actually came across this slightly by accident. Located near the central market, for just a few euros you can get entry to the top with views throughout the city.
Visit the Freedom Monument, is a tribute to all those who lost their lives during the Latvian War of Independence. Latvia just like it’s neighbor Baltic States has a history of independence, a history I knew so little about before embarking on my trip.
Getting around Riga, I found very easy and accessible. Personally, I walked everywhere I need to go. The only public transport I got was on arrival in Riga, I got a taxi which cost a mere €14. Also on leaving Riga, I got a bus to Tallinn which was only just €12. If going to Riga I would really recommend to combine it with a trip to Tallinn, as the cities are so close.
A few months back I applied for a role as cabin crew with a well known Irish airline and got to the final stages, a job I dreamt so much as of as a child. Airports and airlines already excited me loads, from studying tourism in CIT I even did work experience with this same company. When three months passed and I never heard back, I felt deflated. Teenage me was well and truly crushed. So I sat down one evening and decided to take my love of travel in a new direction, because in all honesty since I started this blog my motivation and intentions have changed.
Something needed to happen, one evening while home from work, precasting over blogging (Schoolboy error). I needed a pick me up, I needed a holiday. So I opened three tabs Google Maps, Rome2Rio and Skyscanner and began my research. At this stage, I needed and wanted something low cost, not long distance, however unique.
Many options I came across, however, I came up with the conclusion to fly into Riga, Latvia from Dublin and return via Helsinki, Finland, stopping in Tallin, Estonia on the way. So I planned the trip around June bank holiday weekend to maximizing holiday days (needless to say my job situation changed in the meantime). So the very next day I booked the time off work and went straight to booking flights. The flight to Riga was with Ryanair (which was found through Skyscanner, I always go here first for my flights). The flight was a very affordable €70. On the return from Helsinki, this is where things get a little more interesting. Skyscanner provided me with two options, A direct flight with Finnair which was approx €250 in price. The second option was SAS Airlines for €60, however, this was to stop in Oslo making the journey 6 hours. For the sake of three hours, I picked the one with SAS, I was still going to be back in Dublin for lunch time.
Next step was accommodation when I travel by myself, I always tend to stay in hostels. Hostelworld is where I choose to go search for my hostels, since backpacking in Australia 7 years ago now, this has always been the case. As I turned 30 on mt last birthday, I tend to be unaware how long more I can sustain staying in hostels, however, from what I learned and experience on this trips, hostels are really are about a mindset. While I never made many friends like I usually would, people of all age groups, more so than before I experienced had been staying in all three hostels. In Riga, I stayed in a hostel called Funky Hostel which was located pretty central just a few minutes walk from the Old Town. When I arrived in Riga, it was late on a Wednesday night, so I opted for a taxi from the airport, which I normally wouldn’t do due to sheer cost, the taxi cost was €12 so completely affordable.
View from hostel in Riga
In Tallinn, I stayed in Fat Margarets (Hope Margarets won’t be insulted now). This hostel was the biggest and fanciest off all three on this trip. The hostel included a jacuzzi and a sauna, a very rare find in a hostel. Lastly, Hostel Diana Park was where I lay my head in Helsinki. With 24 hour reception, really clean, friendly staff, it was ideal for my short Helsinki stay.
Traveling between the cities was genuinely very easy and very common. Between Riga and Tallinn, Ecolines was the name of the company I got the €12 bus with. The bus journey took 4.5 hours, free coffee and individual tv screen were on board, however, the scenery along the way was worth the bus trip for sure. I mentioned earlier about Rome2Rio was part of my planning process. For those who haven’t heard of the site, it is truly a godsend, especially for trips like this. The site allows you to put in where you are leaving from and destination then supplies you the cheapest and most direct routes. It covers all modes of transport, not just flying. So like Skyscanner in a sense but for every mode of transport to get between two places.
Tallinn to Helsinki – I booked this trip on the morning I left with a ferry company called Talinnk, however, many ferry companies are available and many different services. The ferry was just two hours, many restaurants, bar, shops and lockers for your bags. Another great option for the trip and offered an alternative to flying for sure.
So here’s how I planned the trip, it was very easy, manageable, always there is an opportunity to improve in travel plans, always an opportunity to grow from it. So tell me have you ever been on a trip like this?
Can you believe it’s June already? Now that summer has started, regardless of the weather, more reasons then ever have surfaced to experience the different types of festivals that happen all over the island. I am firm believer that regardless if you are low on cash or the weather is not great, no reason should stop you from going outside. Life happens anyway. Some of these festivals are free, if it means bring a packed lunch and just buying a ice cream.
Vantastiva Is a family themed event happening the bank holiday weekend the 3rd and 4th of June in Beaulieu House, Co Louth. This is a camping festival with some day trips available also.
Bloom in the Park A festival that has seen massive grown in the years from having the opportunity to go last year, I can understand the hype behind it. I’ve no garden I need to add, yet still enjoyed the day, but mostly the food. Always about the food. For those who are unaware, Bloom is held ever year in Phoenix Park, a gardening festival with a food village also supporting local Irish Brands. The event this year takes place between the dates 1st to the 5th of June.
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Belfast Book Festival is a ten day festival from the 7 the 17th of June. Now in it’s in 7th year the festival has different stages and different events to capture the minds of most from workshops, poetry and discussions.
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Ava Festival is a really interesting one, why? Because it combines a conference and a festival but also can purchase separately. The event is all being held in the Urban Sports Academy in Titanic Quarter in Belfast. The event is almost sold out and is on the June bank holiday weekend.
When traveling to different cities throughout the world, in the places you can visit, is there anything more peaceful then Botanic Gardens in a city. Gardens or parks of this kind. In the middle of urban sprawl, a place far removed from the traffic and noise to just wander. Located in Glasnevin right beside the cemetery in the National Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1975 by what is now know as the Royal Dublin Society, the botanical gardens are home to many living plants and multi-storey complex which includes training facilities and a cafe. On my experience, I just wondering around aimless for about an hour and a half taking in a natural beauty. Also in my visit to the area, I visited a cafe not far from the entrance called McMahon. Possibly one of the cutest cafe’s, the personal favorite points I need to note are the blankets out front and the doggie bowls also, cause furry friends are the best.
Brunch at Fallon and Byrne
My girls and I do love out food and use any excuse to meet up to involve food. One particular Sunday we met for Sunday brunch at Fallon and Byrne, the Wine Celler. When entering at door level, you go down to the cellar (obvs) the only reservation I have against this, when the weather is better in the summer months, it may proof to be somewhere less attractive. What I did enjoy about the layout tough is the wine itself across the side wall making the set up some bit more authentic. Yes, I know it is called the Wine Celler.
For my brunch delight, I indulged in Smoked Salmon on brown bread with scrambled egg (which was extra) and crushed avocado. I’m really happy I branched out from my usual Eggs Benedict as every inch of this serving went down whole. After we as a group decided on two desserts of mini donuts, salted caramel & Jam. This being honest we were a little less impressed. The chocolate sauce was great though. However, as a whole, the dessert was an average result from us.
Sorry Ted, I was concentrating too hard on looking holy
For those who don’t know the above quote is from Father Ted, one of Ireland’s most loved TV shows. A series that was last aired in 1998, and repeated yearly and to this date, quoted over and over since. Every year in Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare a company called Ted Tours organize a festival on the May Bank Holiday. After many conversations and dreams to go, 6 of my friends and I arrived dressed as nuns. No words will ever describe the hilarious feeling of being in a minibus arriving at Father Ted’s house singing ‘My Lovely Horse’ The tour also included many other areas where the show was set, Tea and cake at the house itself. After arriving back in Lisdoonvarna, to The Burren Storehouse we fed ourselves before ‘The Lovely Ladies’ Competition and the evening disco. The whole festival if you are a Father Ted fan and have the friends who up for a Ted laugh, this quite possibly will the best laugh you’ll have. One word for everything: Random. It’s the people who make the memories in this case.
The following Sunday morning before leaving Lisdoonvarna we had breakfast in a small cafe across from the famous and colourful The Matchmaker Bar before heading on our way. The first stop on our travels was the breathtaking Doolin. A few minutes drive from Lisdoonvarna, by the coast, this village stole my heart in so many ways. From the cute cottages with thatched roofs to the most welcoming people, my love for the little village has grown beyond expectation.
From Doolin we took a scenic drive to one of Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions to The Cliffs of Moher. And what Irish Travel Blogger am I if I don’t come visit these cliff’s eh? The biggest negative is having to pay €6 per person to park in the car park but eh what harm? The cliffs as windy as they are, take in some stunning sights and a walk over to see the stunning views to take anyone’s breath away, even with a Sunday hangover.
From here, we drove the Burren Coastal Drive to the beautiful village of Ballyvaughan were we drove into Aillwee Cave. Ailwee Cave for any Father Ted fans is actually were they shot the cave episode of the show. A privately owned cave that includes a 30 minute tour, there is a option to include a Bird’s of Prey demonstration which we actually didn’t opt for. (At this point the tiredness was kicking in and a journey to Dublin was still ahead of us). A visit to the cave is well worth it if in the region.
Whatever the weather here in Ireland, (preferably warm and unreal though as it totally suits us), this Ice Cream and frozen yogurt have craze has taken Dublin to the next level and we are becoming very continental and trendy meeting for Ice Cream instead of drink. If you have any more favourites we would love to hear about them.
Like this place is always busy even in the depths of winter so these guys must be doing something right, like maybe being in a warm shopping centre, HA this being said it does say a lot when you always have a good customer