Relaxing at the Fitzilliam Hotel in Dublin

Fitzwilliam Hotel Lobby
Photo courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Hotel

I recently took an impromptu trip to Dublin, where I spent an exciting 72 hours trying to experience as much as I possibly could in the beautiful city. After two action-packed days, I was in much need of some luxury and relaxation, and the Fitzwilliam Hotel delivered just that. Here’s what I loved about The Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin:

Location:

Situated at the base of Grafton Street, just across from the city’s beautiful landscapes of St. Stephen’s Green, the Fitzwilliam’s location provides the perfect balance between its proximity to both the bustling city centre and peaceful outskirts of town.

Lined with shops, street-side performers, and popular pubs, Grafton Street is the gateway to all of the main tourist attractions that Dublin has to offer. Using St. Stephen’s Green as a base, I was able to stroll down Grafton Street and be minutes away from key places like Trinity College and Temple Bar. When I needed a break from the action, I wandered over to St. Stephen’s Green, which is the perfect dose of greenery that every city needs. I felt a sudden calmness descend upon me as I walked through the park gates – the car horns and loud voices faded, leaving me with the sweet sounds of birds chirping and trees blowing in the wind.

Using these two landmarks, I was able to navigate my way around the city with ease.

 

Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin
Photo courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Hotel

The Rooms:

Characterized by it’s unique vibrant colour scheme, the guest rooms come to life and seem to brighten up what can be otherwiseFitzwilliam Hotel Dublin

dreary day in the city. My room was equipped with all the bells and whistles: a plush bathrobe hanging in my spacious Victorian-style bathroom, a beautiful garden view terrace where I enjoyed a nice glass of wine after dinner, followed by a delightful sleep on my four-post bed…it was like sleeping on a cloud! In the morning, I was able to satisfy my tea addiction and make myself a cup of tea using my full tea set, which I enjoyed on the terrace while reading my freshly delivered newspaper. After I was nice and alert, I strolled down to the Citron Restaurant to indulge (as if I hadn’t indulged enough already) in a traditional Irish breakfast.

 

 

 

The Service:

The service I received was the cherry on top of what was already a fantastic stay. The Fitzwilliam isn’t your average luxury hotel, as they go above and beyond to build their brand with their superb customer service. Each and every staff member greeted me with a smile, and where possible addressed me by name. It goes without saying that the staff have all mastered the customer service basics, but what I was most impressed with were the little details. I checked in quite early in the morning and my room wasn’t ready. Rather than loitering around the lobby for a couple of hours, I decided to stow my luggage and squeeze in some more sightseeing. I returned to the hotel several hours later, exhausted after a full day of zipping around the city. As I stood in the lobby rummaging for my baggage tags to claim my luggage, the Concierge escorted me to the elevator and explained that my luggage had already been taken up to my room. Small gestures like this can make any hotel stand out – it’s certainly something that I’m going to remember!

 

Although my three days in Dublin were slightly chaotic, I returned home feeling well-rested and relaxed thanks to the Fitzwilliam Hotel.

 

Special thanks to the Fitzwilliam Hotel for hosting me. Of course, the views and opinions presented in this post are my own. 

 

 

The Wild West: Australia’s Biggest And Best State

The Wild West: Australia’s Biggest And Best State

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For most travellers, Australia tops the bucket list. Adventures Down Under are synonymous with road trips up Australia’s beautiful east coast, centered around stops at the big five: Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, and Melbourne. It’s almost like a rite of passage – that, or they stick to what they know because they think the rest of this incredible country is nothing but orange rock, desert, and wild animals. What many travellers don’t realize is that Western Australia is the largest state in terms of geography and the richest in terms of things to do and things to see.

So, it’s only fitting that I highly recommend a trip to Western Australia. After all, there is so much to do on this side of the country that at least one of the following will make it into your top ten travel moments:

 

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  1. Pull on some goggles, a pair of fins and start breathing through a snorkel to explore the Ningaloo Reef in all of its glory. Chances are, you’ll swim with a few incredible whale sharks, while a tour of humpback whales is now being trialed too.
  2. Gorge on the banquet of staggering gorges in the north of Western Australia. The best of the best in our eyes are Geikie Gorge and Emma Gorge, both of which you can explore from kayaks. Of course, if this isn’t your thing, a good old hike is easy to do too.

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  1. Save some money by heading to the cheapest car hire company in Perth and then drive ninety minutes north to what is called The Pinnacles of Cervantes. Here you will set your eyes on one of the most breathtaking and alien-looking landscapes you will have ever seen. To get the most of this experience, we suggest you go on a clear night when the stars are out.
  2. The world heritage site of Purnululu National Park, which is a sea of some of the most astounding natural rock formations. You’ll see a ton of orange and black beehive domes that will have you wondering just how amazing nature is.

 

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  1. You can’t go to Western Australia and not visit its most famous landmark, Cable Beach. It is in a place called Broome and it is spectacular. Turquoise waters stretch out as far as you can sea, the white sand curving along the shoreline. Think you’ve seen beautiful sunsets before? Well, you’ve seen nothing yet.
  2. If mountain biking is your thing, then you have got to check out the Mundi Biddi trail that starts at Mundaring and continues for about a 1000km, finishing up at Albany. It is world famous amongst all those that adore pedal power and is celebrated as one of the best cycling trails in all of Aus.
  3. Forget Ayers Rock. If you want to see – and climb – a big rock then you need to make your way to the Gascoyne and tackle Mount Augustus. This is because it is two and a half times more massive than that puny Ayers Rock that everyone flocks to.

 

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  1. Finally, you have to visit Kalbarri. There is just so much to do here, whether it is exploring their bright red cliffs, fishing along this staggering coastline, or just kicking your sandals off and relaxing in the cozy town. Not to mention the brand new skywalk that has just opened its gates along the Murchison River.

How to Sleep Cheap When Travelling

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Accommodation can be one of the biggest costs when travelling, especially if you’re backpacking or going on a road trip without booking hotels ahead. Fortunately, there are many tips and tricks that can keep you travelling on a shoestring. Here are just a few tips when finding somewhere to sleep.

 

Time your travels right

There are popular times throughout the year to visit certain places, which are often also the most expensive times. For example, if you’re visiting China during Chinese New Year, you can expect hotel prices to be much greater. Similarly, cities may have individual festivals throughout the year – visiting during these time could be more pricy. Christmas and the height of summer are almost always more expensive. October to November and March to May are often the quietest and cheapest times to travel and find accommodation.

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Avoid City Centres

Accommodation will also be more expensive in the centre of a city where all the attractions are. If you’re stopping off in a city, consider staying on the outskirts. You’ll have to get public transport into the centre which may add up costs depending on where you’re visiting. Some cities may also have shuttle services from campsites and popular hotels outside the city.

Staying on the outskirts in particularly worthwhile if you’re driving as parking will be very pricey in any city centre. The further out you go, the more likely you may be able to find free parking (supermarket car parks are worth keeping an eye out for).

 

Sharing is Sparing

You can save a lot of money from sharing a room. If you’re travelling with other people, you may be able to save money on double rooms. You may be able to get a single room and sneak in another guest with a sleeping bag. Hostels are a great place to stay if you’re travelling alone. You can save a lot by sharing a room with other travellers. Some hostels may have several bunks per room – you won’t get much privacy but it’s somewhere to rest your head and it’s a great place to make new friends and travel buddies along the way.

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Go Camping

If you’re not afraid to stay in a tent you can often save a lot of money by checking into a campsite as opposed to a hotel. Wild camping meanwhile is a free option that is ideal for hiking trips in warmer climates (not always so good in cold climates). You can take a sleeping bag or even try sleeping in a hammock. This rugged lifestyle isn’t suited to everyone and some may prefer to check into hostels and hotels.

 

Compare Costs Online

When reaching a new city, there’s nothing more soul-destroying than trudging from hostel to hostel late at night in search of a bed. Searching beforehand online can help you find hotels that aren’t fully booked as well as helping you to locate the cheapest rate. There are lots of hotel comparison sites – most of which allow you to book ahead on them. You should note that you’re not always guaranteed better prices from booking ahead online as sometimes you may also be paying a booking fee on top to pay for the listing.

Because you may not want to turn your data on in a foreign country, you’re best off searching online somewhere that has Wi-Fi. A good strategy is to search the night before using that accommodation’s Wi-Fi. This way, whenever you arrive at your next destination, you’ll know straight away where to go and not have to trudge around.

Paperback guides such as Lonely Planet are also useful for finding a cheap bed and can allow you to travel offline. These guides also provide reviews, which gives you some idea of the quality of the accommodation.

You may be able to save even more money by using a site such as Homestay, which allows you to stay with a local family in their home. This allows you to see how a local lives and you may be able to get a more rich sense of the culture. Families may be willing to transport you around locally, saving you money on transport, and may cook meals for you to. Their local knowledge may also allow you to see some sights in the area that aren’t in the travel books. The disadvantage of using this service is that you’ll need to book ahead as it’s unlikely a family will take you in at a last minute’s notice.

Solo Traveller’s Survival Guide for an All-Inclusive Resort

Solo Traveller’s Survival Guide for an All-Inclusive Resort

Varadero Beach, Cuba

Generally speaking, all-inclusive resorts aren’t my travel style of choice. Over the 15 years that I’ve been travelling, I’ve stayed at an all-inclusive resort twice, and that’s including my recent trip to Cuba. As a serial solo traveller, I crave the type of travel that challenges me and I enjoy the fear of the unknown, which has enabled me to develop several skills to ensure that I never actually feel lonely when I travel. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to test said skills at an all-inclusive resort, which is typically a place where people travel together as couples, families, or groups of friends.

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Working Holidays: Finding Work in Australia

Working Holidays: Finding Work in Australia

Finding Work in Aus

Finding Work in Australia for a Working Holiday can be difficult.

 

Imagine quitting your job, packing up your belongings and moving halfway across the world to work and travel for a year. Now imagine yourself embarking on said life-changing journey, without an inkling of how to find work or a place to live – that pretty much sums up what most working holidays are like! Read more

Why You Should Travel Solo

worried monkey - you're doing whatConfusion, shock, pity, disbelief and worry are just a few of the reactions that I’ve witnessed in response to an announcement of one of my many solo travel adventures. Most commonly, I get “but won’t you be bored?” or “aren’t you scared?”. Though very valid concerns, I can never find an adequate explanation because I can’t imagine feeling that way – only after having done it a few times, of course. In all honesty, I think I’ve spoiled myself: travelling solo has been such a life-changing experience that I’m afraid that travelling with a companion or a group will pale by comparison.

 

Why do I love solo travel? Here’s 5 reasons:

1. Full control of your schedule

Undoubtedly a no-brainer. Not having to consult or compromise your itinerary with anyone, and most importantly, not having to apologize when a seemingly good idea turns sour. The ability to travel freely – quickly or slowly, with a rigid or loose schedule, to any destination of your choice without fuss, is truly liberating.

2. The invaluable ability it affords you to befriend perfect strangers

Thanks to my first solo trip way back when, I’ve had several years to perfect the art of making friends with locals, fellow travellers, or anyone willing to give me the time of day. So, my answer to those who ask me if I’ll get bored or be lonely will always be a resounding no. The ability to communicate with strangers, especially with those who don’t speak your native language, is an important skill that stays with you forever and helps you in ways unimaginable. Meeting people on the road expands your horizons to different cultures, lifestyles, and beliefs, and it also provides great company, to boot! The best part about befriending perfect strangers is that there is absolutely no obligation to spend time with them if you don’t want to – because after all, they are just strangers! It can be whatever you want it to be – some of my encounters have led to long-lasting friendships, and others have amounted to nothing more than a 5 minute conversation.

Santorini
Santorini

3. Being able to fully engulf yourself in a foreign culture

I hold this one at a particularly high value, yet I find it a bit difficult to explain. To me, being able to absorb and authentically immerse myself into local culture is the essence of travel. The seeing of sights is important, but if I can’t experience the crux of local life and truly understand what it’s like to live there, then I haven’t gained much. Don’t get me wrong – this can certainly be achieved in group or companion travel, but I find it so much easier to ditch my inhibitions and immerse myself in local customs when I’m on my own.

4. The life-changing confidence and empowerment that remains with you forever

Yet another item on my list that I hold at a particularly high value, mainly because it is an enriching quality that will change one’s everyday life. When you arrive in a foreign country alone, you are forced to step out of your comfort zone into the unknown and somehow find your way. No matter how much research you’ve done, or how many guide books you’ve consulted, it’s never like the book – and that’s a good thing! The ability to learn about customs and local etiquette through trial and error can develop into a unique confidence – a confidence that will endure anything, even the things that you once found impossible.

5. Being able to get lost, in both the figurative and literal sense.

I think it’s nearly impossible to travel to any destination for the first time and not get lost. When you’re alone and you are forced to find your way using only a map and a few locals who don’t speak a lick of English, it can be so satisfying to find your way! For those who are somewhat lost in life, remember that “taking a year off to find yourself” isn’t just a silly cliche – it actually has some merit to it. As described above, solo travel can help you discover things about yourself that you never thought existed!

 

 

Photo Credit: [monkey]

The Best Way to Experience the Greece

The Best Way to Experience the Greece

Oia, Santorini, GreeceIf I had to give one piece of advice on travel in Greece, it would be to go in low season, particularly in the month of April. This advice may seem blatantly obvious to many, but the stark contrast between high and low season in Greece is unbelievable, unlike any other European country that I’ve visited. High season in Greece starts with a bang in May, continues with force through the summer months, and exits with a grand finale at the end of September. Read more

6 Tips for Safety in Brazil

6 Tips for Safety in Brazil

Sugarloaf_edited-1Expressions of worry and panic are the types of reactions I got when informing others that I was going to Brazil. Once I went on to explain that I was going alone, the worry began to fade and utter confusion set in, because apparently, it was inconceivable that I could even do such a thing. In their defence, however, the notion of a young woman travelling alone to a notably “dangerous” country could be a bit mind-boggling. Although I’ve never been one to be easily influenced, the combination of the worrisome reactions and warnings from online travel forums began to make me apprehensive.

Concerns for my safety in Brazil were weighing on my mind.

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Don’t Let a Food Allergy Control You

Don’t Let a Food Allergy Control You

TAPAS IN SPAIN

Food allergies are not only a nuisance, but also a serious health risk. I’ve had a severe peanutpeanut allergy since childhood, and it has created many obstacles throughout my years of travelling. Eating in a foreign country can be quite risky with a severe food allergy. Through my travel experience, however, I have learned that there are ways to be prepared and stay safe while consuming food abroad.

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Guest Post: Smart Packing Tips for Women

smart packing tipsAnd we empathize, women. I’ve never encountered a man who’s having trouble packing light. Usually, it’s the ladies, myself included, who find packing daunting. And let’s admit it girls, clothes and beauty regimen paraphernalia take the most space in our packs.

Here are a few packing tips to lessen the load:

Think practical.

Before packing those clothes in your bag, think carefully whether you’ll be able to “really” use them, and some, repeatedly. Pants and shorts can be worn again, for one. As much as possible, choose those that can easily be paired such as neutrals. They are versatile and can be transformed to a whole new look simply by adding accessories.

Consider washing.

Extend the life of your wardrobe. Dedicate at least 10 minutes of your time every night to wash clothes and then let them dry. They must be ready for use the next day or the day after that. In this regard, it helps that you pick garments that dry easily, or that which do not require ironing to look decent. By looking into recycling your clothes, you also minimize volume of wet clothes you’re packing to back home. Your luggage will no doubt be lighter.

Study itinerary.

Many travelers I’ve met attest to using itinerary as an effective packing guide. They are able to see clearly which items to bring and are better left home. If you are scheduled to watch plays or operas then you will need at least a collared shirt and slacks or skirt, or a dress. If you will be spending most of your time in water then the lighter your luggage should be. Swimming attires are known for their fast-drying features.

Look into customs.

Are you going to a conservative place where women are expected to cover up?

You need not attract unnecessary attention. Again, your skin may already be a clear sign you’re not from the place. Baring too much skin, in addition, can only cause you problems or inconveniences when going up and about. For example, wearing shorts may be acceptable in the area. Still, you are likely to receive second glances. Blend in  with the locals by wearing pants or skirts that are at least just above the knee. Skip minis as much as possible.

The same goes for your tops. Beware of dress codes. You might not be allowed entrance in some areas when you’re showing off your shoulders or legs.

Overall, you will do well as long as you’re not offending anyone. Comfort is also another factor worth considering. Couple with manners, and you are most likely good to go.

Accessorize.

Worried about looking dull or lifeless?smart packing tips

Use scarves, pashminas or scarves to accentuate your outfit. Cardigans as well do not only make good layers. They can also be worn as is. Forget about flashy jewelries. They have no place in your belongings during travels. Chances are you will only feel worried about them being lost in transit, thus getting in the way of you fully enjoying the travel experience.

Author Bio:

Nettie Gray loves collecting scarves and pashminas not only because of their beautiful designs but also due to their versatility. She’ll forget her essay writing drafts but, never would leave the house without a scarf in her bag.