I wanted to share what I have been up to in August. I work full-time so have vacation to use. This year I did two things I have never done before when travelling. I took a self-guided walking tour through Northern Ireland, the Antrim Causeway Coastal Route. It was with Footfall Walking Tours so check it out. I usually do independent trips, just never a walking tour. I am walking, taking buses, trains and exploring, but not a self-guided hike. Footfall Walking Tours supplied the maps, directions and booked our accommodations (all lovely in smaller towns). They also send the luggage to the next stop. The walk was 15 to 21 km each day for three days. We had to get to the first stop Ballycastle to start the walk. Ireland has a good train and bus system so that was no problem.
When looking into a walking tour make sure you consider how long each day you want to walk. Do you want to walk say for three hours and have all afternoon to relax and explore the area/town you are staying in or are you more hard core and want to cover more ground each day. Also consider the grade of the walk. Walking tours will rate the grade easy, moderate or difficult. Our walk was graded easy but the second day had a lot of ups and down along the Giant’s Causeway coastal route. Do some walking and time it at home and see how much distance you cover in an hour. Next check out my pictures of my walk! These are all from the Antrim Causeway Coastal Walk.
My second new experience was using Airbnb! In the past I have stayed in hostels, motels and hotels. I am usually only there two nights tops. Dublin was our home base for four nights so staying in an apartment was a treat. We bought groceries, had breakfast in the mornings and relaxed in the evenings in the living room, not sitting on beds in a hotel room. Both apartments in Dublin and Belfast were clean and safe. In Dublin we booked in Temple Bar as wanted a central location. Not realizing it was party central. This picture is from our living room. Party central well into the early morning.
So make sure you check out the area and ask questions. I admit we have to wear this but it was safe and clean which were also top priorities. Check out what is happening in the area before you book. You can email your host with questions.
Our Airbnb in Belfast was just outside the downtown core so quiet – great location as 10 minute walk from the train station. The apartment was bigger and had more natural light – I loved it. As you can tell from the picture! I felt like I had my own little office in that chair!
Both the walking tour and Airbnb were positive experiences that I would so recommend. I cannot imagine now staying in a hotel when I travel. Just being able to crash in a living room in the evening, make coffee and have breakfast at the kitchen table in the morning so make the trip more of an experience. Ireland is beautiful and well worth the trip. When they say the emerald isle they mean it. So much history and scenery. Part two of my trip to come!