Hvar – the final stop

The final stop of my Croatian adventure was the beautiful island of Hvar.


Hvar is easily accessible by ferry from both Split and Dubrovnik. My first impressions of this place were great. The city has a really buzzy atmosphere and is full of inter-railers, definitely a good ‘young peoples’ place and has a great night life!

We stayed in an Airbnb about a 10 minute walk to the main town and a 5 minute walk to the beach – Pukonji Dol. It is a bit of a stony trail to get there however the water is crystal clear and is so nice to swim in! Loungers and umbrellas are available to rent although they are a bit of a rip off! ( 40kn for a plastic lounger, 40kn for an umbrella and 50kn for a cushioned lounger!) They are worth renting if you are planning to spend most of the day there however if not, spreading your towel across the stony beach is definitely doable too!


There are 2 restaurants at the beach Mustaco and Pokonji Dol restaurant. Both are expensive enough – Pokonji Dol even more so however food is much better here!

Hvar is a really nice city to walk around. The easy hike up to the Spanish Fortress is definitely worth doing especially to catch the sunset! Entrance costs 25kn but the views are so beautiful!


Blue Caves: I didn’t actually do the Blue Cave Tour but from my understanding it pretty much takes up the whole day and only a certain amount of people are allowed in the caves at a time. There are lots of companies that offer these trips so if your interested it is definitely worth looking into.

Rent a boat: There are lots of places where you can rent boats and tour around the islands surrounding Hvar for the day. The surrounding islands are supposed to be beautiful although I didn’t have time to do it myself, its highly recommended by locals.

Food:

Nonicas : This really cute patisserie is well worth a visit! Lovely for a coffee and some cakes/buns! It has been around for years and is definitely a nice treat.



Pizzeria Mizarola: this restaurant apparently does the best pizzas in town and it does not disappoint. Not exactly cheap but food is top class! The first night we tried to go it was booked up so I would definitely recommend pre-booking if you can!


Pizzeria ex Rocco Grill : This restaurant is in the main square so prices are touristy however food here was good! I had a really nice prawn and zucchini risotto!

 One thing I’ll always remember about Croatia is the amount of steps, seriously there are so many!! Croatia is expensive so definitely bare that in mind when planning a trip here. The food has a strong Italian influence so expect lots of pizza, pasta and risotto. It’s hard to get nice fresh fruit and veg so if you are planning to do self catering take that into consideration too! But overall it is a very beautiful country with lots to see and explore! 

Hope you enjoyed! 

x

Korčula – Authentic Croatian Culture 

Korčula is a beautiful island just north of Dubrovnik. The medieval town of Korčula itself is full of character and is actually the birth place of the famous explorer Marco Polo. It is a much quieter island than the likes of Hvar, a lot more cultural and less touristy a nice place to relax for a few days. 
To get to the island we got a 2 hour ferry from Dubrovnik which cost €20. 


Things to do:

  • Go to the beach: Lumbarda is the only sandy beach on the whole island. It’s about 6km away from Korčula town and is easily accessible by bus or taxi! ( taxi worked out the same price as the bus for 5 of us 25kn each!)
  • Hire a car: the island of Korčula itself is actually quite big. If you hire a car you can drive to the many villages of the island and Pupnatska Luka which I would highly recommend! This cove is beautiful!! 

  • There isn’t an awful lot to do on the island itself! It’s definitely a place you would come to relax, soak up the rays and have good food and wine rather than ‘sight see’ as such. 

Restaurants:

  • Silk: this is a very casual, trendy restaurant that offers Asian street food – for a taste of something different. The food here is delicious and reasonably priced.

  • Bistro Gajeta: Croatian cuisine has a big Italian influnce so lots of restaurants serve pizza and pasta including this one! The customer service was very good and the food was yum and reasonably priced.

  • Konoba Aurora- this restaurant does great coffees and apple pie! The chef actually came out to us and his passion convinced us to try his authentic octopus salad, one of Croatia’s famous dishes!


You may notice I keep saying “reasonably priced” this is because nothing in Croatia is cheap very much European prices! 

Hope your enjoyed!

S

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City Walls, Stoney beaches & Capon – The Best of Dubrovnik 

The walled old city of Dubrovnik is absolutely beautiful you can see why it is an obvious destination to film the Game of Thrones series. The city is full of character with its narrow streets and marbled pavement. Coffee shops and restaurants line the Main Street – ‘Stradun’ which is a mere 300m long. The city is so clean and with over 48 Churches and 2km of city walls it’s no wonder it’s a popular destination for tourists and crusie ships.

Dubrovnik is very expensive. Expect to pay anything from 89- 150kn+ for a meal. They also charge you for literally everything! Milk with coffee is an extra as are the toilets! It’s a great spot for a romantic city break and is very doable in 2-3 days!

Things to do: 

  • Walk the Old City Walls – a definite must do when in Dubrovnik, however a rather pricey one too! ( 150kn which is just over €20!) The Walls are 2km long but vistas are beautiful so it’s definitely worth it! It takes about an hour to an hour and a half to complete. I would recommend doing it either early morning or evening as it’s very busy during the day with passengers from cruise ships! We did it at 5pm and it wasn’t too busy.
  • Walking Tour of the City – we booked this through the tourist office. It cost 90kn per person for an hour walking tour of the old city. If you like history the city has plenty of it to offer and the tour gives you a sufficient briefing of Dubrovnik’s past.
  • Go to the Beach – Banje Beach is the nearest beach to the old city ( about a 5 minute walk) The beach is quite cramped and stoney so make sure to bring your flip flops/water shoes however, the water is crystal clear and really nice to swim in! You can also go cliff/rock jumping off some rocks at the back of the city just follow the path around the back of the walls at the port! 
  • Day Trip to Lockrum : Lockrum is an island about a 10 minute boat journey from Dubrovnik. The island is a nature reserve and is a really nice place to walk around and discover the old monastery or have a swim off the rocks ( there is no beach as such. )  The return boat journey ticket includes admission to the island and costs 120kn. When you get off the boat there is a coffee shop called Snack bar Lacrowa. It’s a lot cheaper than the other restaurant on the island. When we were there they had a meal deal for a ham and cheese sandwich, fruit plate and a glass of white wine for 80kn. Yummy and affordable, it hit the spot nicely! 

  • Water Sports : Jet Skiing or kayaking- quite pricey – jet skiing was 1300kn/1800kn for a unguided/guided hour rental! But guaranteed fun! 

Food:

  • Kupon: if you want to experience authentic Croatian food this is the place to go! This restaurant was recommended to us by our Airbnb host and although it’s a bit on the pricey side we certainly got the taste of Croatia. The waiter recommended 2 famous Croatian dishes that were recipes dating back to the 16th century. I went for the Capon or as the waiter described it ‘Virgin Cock’ that was served with an orange stew/sauce with fruit and gnocchi. It was a delicious yet rather interesting dish. The customer service was excellent I would definitely recommend it.

  • Soul Cafe – really good coffee, teas and cakes but a little on the expensive side, a green tea was 34kn and coffee with milk 24kn
  • Micro Cafe – coffee at a more reasonable price (14kn) 
  • Gradska Kavana Arsenal – talk about dinner with a view! Just over looking the port right on the waters edge, this restaurant is the perfect place for some fresh fish. Although it’s a little on the pricey side the whole experience and customer service is impeccable! Food is delicious, I had the salmon for dinner & fresh fruit platter for dessert was so yum!! 

  • Cafe Festival – wouldn’t recommend. It’s on the Main Street and charges rip off prices for TINY portions! Service was also extremely slow and food was only ok! Unfortunately I will not be returning here! 

Working Holiday Visa – Vancouver tips & tricks

Thinking of going to Vancouver on a working holiday visa? DO IT!! Vancouver is an amazing city and you can will have so much fun! I did it last year in the summer of 2016 and it did not disappoint.


What to expect:

Expect crowded living conditions ( we had 12 people living in a 4 bedroom house at one stage!), expensive food shops, working multiple jobs but having an absolute BALL at the same time.

Tips:

  • Apply for your visa early. The visa is done on a lottery basis! However don’t panic if it takes a while for your invitation to apply to come through. I applied for my visa in January and didn’t get my invitation to apply until the end of April! (Unlike my brother who got his the day after he applied!) It’s pure luck so don’t stress.
  • Get accommodation near UBC/ Kitsilano area. This place is full of Irish during the summer! Plenty of beaches nearby ( Wreck beach, Kistilano) and on the 14, 4, 99 bus route it’s a prime location for easy access to work, the city and frat parties!! Craigslist is the best way to find accommodation. It can be dodgy at times so be careful but it’s mainly genuine posts! It’s also handy for sourcing some furniture & matresses when you arrive! ( really cheap!) 
  • Jobs: not only is Craigslist used for accommodation but it’s also great for finding jobs and is the place where most businesses post! Make sure to adapt your CV to a Canadian style resume before sending it off! (there are lots of templates online! )
  • Arriving in Vancouver Airport: make sure to have your visa invitation letter printed, along with travel insurance, a bank statement and confirmation of your return flights if you have them!!They don’t tend to question you too much but better to be prepared just incase! 
  • When you get there: Get a Sin Number  ( this is your social security number you need it to get a job!) , Set up a bank account ( I would recommend Scotia Bank!) and finally get a compass card ( like a leap card in Ireland!) you can buy them in shops such as London Drugs they cost like $6 and just top up when you need to! You can use them on the buses and sky trains!
  • Phone Plans: if you want to get a SIM card over in Canada firstly make sure your phone is unlocked. Most of the phone plans in Vancouver are quite expensive and offer very little data! Just shop around for the best one, I went with Koodo prepay and for $35 got free texts and calls and 1GB data ( this is the norm!!)
  • Food shopping: some people turn vegetarian for the summer purely because the price of meat is so expensive! Cheese also becomes a luxury many cannot afford! Make sure to get a loyalty card for Safeway or your local supermarket. This will allow you to get special deals and some items for cheaper! Every little helps!
  • Good night life locations: Backstage Lounge on Granville Island is great, they have a live band and there are always lots of Irish there!Make sure to also check out Celebrities ( gay club ) but always great fun! And of course the infamous Frat Parties are a must do! 
  • Good Restaurant to Know: Cactus Club – yum for food and great for drinks! It’s a chain so there’s plenty of them around!
  • Vancouver is also a prime destination to travel from! Flights to the USA, Mexico and Hawaii are all pretty cheap and car hire is pretty reasonable when split between w group! Domestic flights within Canada are quite expensive so you might be better off travelling state side! Greyhound buses also offer daily trips to America including Seattle! 

Hope this post helps! Check out my other post on ‘Scenic things to do in Vancouver’ for some ideas on things to do while over there! 

Split, Croatia

Split is a beautiful city with Diocletian’s Palace at its core. The narrow streets are lovely to walk around and most restaurants are pretty reasonably priced but by no means cheap! (be aware the city can be a bit smelly in places!)


Things to do:

– Walk the streets

– The Bell Tower: beside the Cathedral of St. Dominus, it costs about €3 to climb the bell tower. I’ve climbed bell towers before but this was a bit more scary with steep steps and a rather rusty stairs with not much margin for error on either side! However the views from the top are beautiful so if your not afraid of heights it’s definitely worth doing! 


– The Crypt: ( Cathedral of St. Dominus) not worth doing at all! Save yourself the time and money literally nothing inside!!

– Walk the promenade

– Hike the Marjan: this is a hill overlooking Split with beautiful views from the top. Although we didn’t have time to do it, apparently it’s about a 25 minute hike and is well worth doing but not in the midday sun! 


Food:

Brasserie 7: located on the riva front does amazing breakfast and lunches and really reasonable priced! The restaurant overlooks the promenade, such great food and lovely views! 

Hope you enjoy,

x

14 Scenic things to do in Vancouver

Last year I got to have the pleasure of living in Vancouver for 8 months. I was there on a university exchange with Simon Fraser University for a semester and then stayed on an worked for the summer.

Vancouver is so cool, there’s so much to do. From English Bay to Grouse Mountain, Whistler,  Stanley Park, Gas Town and China Town the city has it all. Vancouver is a very relaxed city but still has a great buzz. Canadians are so friendly and welcoming and I enjoyed every moment living here! The city has many different areas with Gastown and Kitsilano being my personal favourite!

Canada overall, but particularly British Columbia (BC) is just stunning, so I’ve complied a list of my top 12 scenic must do’s when in Vancouver and BC:

  1. Whistler –  ( like my 2nd home! )Skiing here in winter is incredible! I was lucky enough to have a season pass and I definitely feel I got my money’s worth! In the summer Whistler is taken over by mountain bikers but the resort and its scenery is definitely still worth a visit – Lost Lake and Green Lake are so pretty!
  2.  Joffre Lakes – just past Whistler outside of Pemberton this shortish hike is well worth it to capture the breath taking lakes!
  3. Sea to Sky Gondola – prices are a little steep but views are so worth it!
  4. Sunshine Coast – if your around in Vancouver for awhile take a road/camping trip along the coast, so worth it!
  5. Garibaldi Lake – long hike but well worth it!
  6. Vancouver Island – definitely a must! Visit Victoria to go whale watching I had an amazing time there and the city is so pretty! See my blog post on my whale watching trip for more details! If your in to surfing Tofino is also a great destination, waves are unreal but water is freezing!!!
  7. Lynn Canyon  – a nice day out in Vancouver
  8. Deep Cove – a small hike with amazing views, lovely day out!
  9. Sunsets at English Bay – just breathtaking!
  10. Stanley Park – Vancouver’s famous city park definitely worth renting bikes for a few hours and cycling around.
  11. The Chief Hike – very tough, long hike but worth it for the views!
  12. Cypress/Grouse Mountain – not as good for skiing as Whistler but views over the city are just WOW especially the night skiing! AMAZING
  13. Granville Island – the public market on Granville island is so nice to walk around. Lots of cute and quirky shops, nice food and local craft beers, definitely worth a visit.
  14. Visit Seattle – Greyhound buses do daily trips to Seattle well worth doing! It’s about a 3-4 hour drive! See my ‘Vancouver to San Diego Roadtrip’ blog post for things to do in Seattle! 
  • Banff National Park and Jasper National Park in Alberta are supposed to be so beautiful! Unfortunately I never made it there, but I’m 100% going back to do them! Jasper is about an 8 hour drive from Vancouver, however there is also a Greyhound bus that does the route as well as tours or there is always the option of flying to Calgary too!

Literally would go back to Vancouver at any chance I could! I have so much love for the city!

Hope you enjoyed,

S

x

 

Tequila & Tacos – My trip to Cancun

I can’t believe its been a whole year since I was touring the east coast of Mexico! Time flies so fast..its scary sometimes! I’ve been meaning to blog about Cancun for so long and always get asked lots of questions about my trip there, so I decided to kick start this summer with a brief post on my Mexican adventure!

First of all Cancun is amazing! I would highly recommend it to anyone. There are so many beautiful islands, turquoise waters and white beaches its a little taste of paradise.

Cancun:

Accommodation: While in Cancun itself, we stayed in an all-inclusive resort, which is a package majority of places seem to offer. Prices range from affordable to luxury so there is something for everyone. We stayed in the Occidental Costa Cancun which was definitely a more affordable option( was $90 CAD for 2 nights!)  The food here was actually really good too! Our stay also allowed us to use kayaks for a day which was really cool! We saw turtles and spent hours paddling and catching starfish, such a fun experience We spent 2 nights here and really enjoyed it!

 

Isla Mujeres: a beautiful island just off Cancun with incredible turquoise waters! Isla Mujeres is quite touristy however, it is very relaxing and the beach near our hotel was stunning! 

Accommodation: We stayed in Playa la Media Luna which I would definitely recommend although a little on the pricey side! Its a lovely small hotel with a really nice pool and in walking distance to almost everything. 

Activities: We rented out a golf buggy and drove around the island which is worth doing. There is Mayan temple ruins and a light house at the Southern Tip of the island which is really nice to drive to. We spent 3 nights here and were able to see everything while still have time to relax and take in this beautiful island.

 

 

Isla Holbox: out of all places mentioned make this one your priority! It’s INCREDIBLE!!

Hands down it is one of the most beautiful and amazing and most definitely my favourite place I’ve ever visited.

You need to take the ferry from Chiquila (we got a taxi from Cancun, I think it was about a 2hr drive and cost about 4000-6000 pesos but split between 4 of us it wasn’t too bad!) 

Accommodation: I stayed in Hotel Casa Iguana which was a nice small hotel but with very comfortable and spacious rooms. The breakfast included wasn’t great to be honest. If your looking for a hostel to stay I would recommend Hostel Tribu its a really social spot and has a great bar at night time!

Activities: Everything about this place is amazing, words can’t even describe it and pictures don’t do it justice. 

• Boat Day Trip Around the Island. We booked this through the tourist office. It involved us essentially renting out a private tour boat for the day with a local captain and it was AMAZING! He gave us a tour of the island where we got to snorkel with turtles and stingrays and see wild flamingos and wild dolphins! The island literally has it all its a little paradise! We were unfortunate to just miss the whale sharks season (as many tours offer swimming with whale sharks!) but overall it was definitely my favourite part of the entire trip. A delicious fresh lunch was included in the price too which was 600 pesos each!

Tip: Make sure to haggle with Mexicans our tour was originally 900 each so there is always some room for bargaining. 

Other must do’s:

Coco Bongo, Cancun : a must, to experience the Cancun nightlife 

Xel-ha Water Park : (so fun!)

• Akumal : famous for swimming and snorkelling with turtles!! 

• Chichen Itza : Mayan ruins ( very overpriced, but worth it if you like history)

•Tulum : Cenotes ( under water caves, are amazing! ) 

Hope you enjoyed!

S

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