A night layover in Seoul, South Korea

Now that I live overseas, I don’t get to travel to new countries too often. My vacation time and money goes towards going back home to visit my family.

Because of this, I always try to have a long stopover in a different country, so that I can tick a new city off. The last trip I made home, I had a 16hr layover in Seoul and I CANNOT wait to go back again one day.

My plane landed around 7pm and my flight departed the next day around 9am.

I knew someone from Korea, who advised me that the best place to stay, for someone my age was, Hongdae (the university district).

I took the Seoul Station train from Incheon Airport to Hongik University. It was about a 50 minute ride. The train is accessible from the airport.

This website is really helpful. http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TRP/TP_ENG_2_1.jsp. It explains when the trains come, and how to get where you are going.

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TRP/TP_ENG_2_1.jsp. It explains when the trains come, and how to get where you are going.

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TRP/TP_ENG_2_1.jsp. It explains when the trains come, and how to get where you are going.

* Where to purchase All Stop Train Passes:

– Single-use transportation cards: Airport Transportation Center on the B1 level of Incheon International Airport

From <http://asiaenglish.visitkorea.or.kr/ena/GK/GK_EN_2_2_2_3.jsp>

Hongik Station was extremely busy and a bit confusing to walk through. I advise you to follow signs to Hongik University station. As soon as you come out of the underground area, you are directly on Yanghwa-ro, which is the road my hotel was on.

I stayed at the Marigold Hotel. It was minutes from all of the action and overall a good experience. The bed wasn’t very comfortable, but the room was a great size.

http://www.hotelmarigold.co.kr/

If I were to go back, I’d stay here again. It cost 128,700 KRW which is around $150 AUD or CAD.

I got to the hotel around 8:30/9pm on Saturday night and dropped my stuff off. From there I walked to the Hongdae Free Market’s/Hongdae (Hongik University Street) which was right behind my hotel.

The market stalls of food and gifts are set up along a variety of large and boutique shops on University Street. University Street is a huge area full of bars, clubs, restaurants and little shops, all lit up in neon colours. It was spectacular. I was so wowed by South Korea that I really failed on the picture side of things.

The streets are also full of people, and so full of life. There were rappers, dancers, singers, bands and so much music. You’d walk by bars and night clubs and hear loud music coming from the buildings. It was such a lively area.

I really liked the clothes in Korea, although in many of the cheap places you were not allowed to try the clothes on and you have no idea what size you are in Korean.

Prices were fair. My suggestion is to have a calculator handy and calculate what it would cost in dollars. The rate on average is 1 AUD to 858 KRW.

There were so many Korean beauty shops. These beauty shops load you up with free samples if you buy something. Prices for Korean beauty items are unreal. SO CHEAP. The free samples are worth any price you pay though, really. There is so much commotion in these beauty shops. I felt that shopping there was really fast paced. I felt like I was on a shopping high.

Learn a few words in Korean before going over there. Hello, goodbye, thank you, how much?, sorry, etc. It was really helpful to know how to say these basic things when I was shopping in Korea.

Some other cool shops were little knickknack type places.

My favourite shops were:

  • Daiso
  • ETUDE House (Beauty)
  • I have a tag from a store called The Gam, the rest of it is in Korean. I can’t find anything about The Gam online, but I really liked this boutique clothing shop.

At the markets, I opted to try the Spicy Rice Cakes/ Ddeokbokki (떡볶이). I did a bit of research prior to heading there and wanted to try this. They were really delicious. Very spicy! Barely cost anything. 

I headed back to my hotel just before midnight and the streets were just as busy as they were when I got there. All of the shops were still open and full of people. I’ve never been anywhere like South Korea before.

I might add that I was there at the very end of July, and it was extremely hot. The humidity was quite high as well. It was winter for me in Australia (not that cold, I know), but it was a huge temperature difference. Expect to get exhausted very easily. The flying, walking around and the heat will get to you.

I headed back to my hotel, connected to the free WiFi and watched some TV.

In the morning, I checked out quite early and headed back to the train station. I think I left my hotel around 5am. It was dark outside, still very humid as well. The streets still had people in them. Fewer people than before, but the streets were full of people stumbling home from the bar.

Again, the walk underground to Hongik Station is very confusing. I ended up touching my ticket on to enter a certain area and I realised that I went into the wrong part and touched my ticket to exit. This mistake cost me a couple of dollars. Enough that I had to go back over to one of the ticket stations and put more money on my card.

I waited for the train and headed back to Incheon on one of the first trains of the morning. Again, expect about 50 minutes to get there.

When you arrive at Incheon, expect long lines to get into customs. I was at the airport at 6am Sunday morning and it was extremely chaotic. *Note that this airport had some interesting things you couldn’t bring on the plane in your carry-on and one of them was liquid foundation…?

Incheon International Airport is a good airport. It is full of places for you to sleep and relax before your next flight. There is a shower area for Korean Air, flight passengers. You have to wait a bit for a shower. When it’s your turn though, you get a whole bathroom type thing to your self with plenty of room. Your clothes are far enough away from you that you don’t get anything wet. Most airport showers I’ve been in didn’t leave much room for your clothes.

They supplied towels, blow dryers, tooth brushes, paste, soap etc.

There are many places to eat, cheap and expensive. I opted for Dunkin Donuts and it didn’t disappoint.

If you forgot any Korean beauty products, the airport is your chance to grab them. Although, you’ll find the prices are a lot higher in the airport.

My stay in Seoul was short, but it showed me how much I need to explore the rest of South Korea!

 

 

 

 

 

Wellington, New Zealand

In April of this year, I decided to take a couple of days off and visit an old friend in Wellington. It was an easy trip for me living in Brisbane. Normally, you can find really great deals for $300 return Brisbane to Wellington, but unfortunately I booked too late in the game and went during school holidays. I ended up spending $600.

I didn’t know anything about Wellington before booking my flights. My friend advised me that the weather is usually wet and windy… Wellington is also known as, Windy Wello. I had the most incredible weather during my trip. 4/5 days were perfect, sunny with clear skies. At the end of April, expect a high between 12-16 degrees Celsius and a low between 5-11 degrees.

The nights are VERY cold. In Canada, we are prepared for the cold weather. We’ve got; insulation, heated floors (if you’re lucky), central heating and 2 pane glass windows. In Australia & New Zealand, houses have none of those things. They are built for the hot weather. They build houses so they keep cool in the summer… well they continue to keep cool in the winter.

Expect to freeze going to bed at night and waking up in the morning. If you aren’t staying a room with heat, I recommend investing in a hot water bottle.

Now, I’ve been to many countries, and New Zealand has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been (and I haven’t seen much of it).

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This photo was taken at the top of the Wellington Cable Car. 

MUST SEE/ DO

  1. Visit Cuba Street: Go get some coffee and check out the shops on Cuba street. It’s easy to get there by bus. Cuba street is full of great little cafes, thrift stores, and other cool little boutique shops. I really liked this shop called Abstract, that had wooden abstract art pieces.
  2. From Cuba street, I took the bus over to Lambton Central and walked down to the Harbour. Again, the Harbour has a heap of cafes and restaurants, plus a beautiful view of the mountains.
  3. From the harbour you can continue to walk around to Te Papa Museum. It’s free to walk through and I really enjoyed it.
  4. From there you can continue to walk along the Harbour and you end up walking through: Te Aro (has a funny statue of a naked man leaning into the water), Waitangi Park (has those cool coloured pool sheds you see in instagram photos), and lastly we stopped at Oriental Bay. Oriental Bay has beautiful trees that go along the roadside and are lit up by lights.

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5. Scorching Bay. I got a lift to this destination so I am not sure what the bus routes are like. You’ll want to spend at least an hour here and briefly walk around the water. This was one of the most breathtaking views of Wellington, in my opinion. Stop for a really good coffee at, Scorch O Rama Cafe.

6. Earlier on I mentioned that 4/5 days were beautiful during my trip. On the one day that wasn’t so nice, we went to Owhiro Bay. We walked along the Red Rocks Walkway, where you are likely to see Seals. This was quite a beautiful adventure, although VERY cold as it was cloudy and the wind is very strong coming off of of the water. Wear running shoes and warm clothes!

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7. On the way home from Owhiro Bay, we stopped for coffee at Blue Belle Cafe in Island Bay. This street was a cute little strip with a couple of boutique shops with little knickknacks. Coffee was great and the cafe was very cute. I have a thing for cute cafes. We didn’t have time to eat but the food looked amazing.

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8. SKY DIVING. So we drove from Wellington to Masterton to visit, Skydive Wellington. The drive is through winding mountains. The trip was around 1.5 hrs and my friend told me that I would be car sick by the end of it… I didn’t believe her at the time, but yes, if you are not used to winding roads, you too will have car sickness. I highly recommend Skydive Wellington! We opted for the highest option at 12,500 feet. 50 to 55 seconds freefall, $355 Incl.GST. If you want photos and a video of the experience, add on another $135. It’s tandem, so you are strapped to an instructor! Mine allowed me to steer the parachute at one point.

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If you’re wondering what it was like to go Skydiving, I really wasn’t that impressed. What I mean by that, is it wasn’t what I was expected. It was a very painful experience for me, not to say it would be for everyone. I think because I am fairly tiny, I fell quicker and my face was in a lot of pain during free fall. It feels equivalent to jumping in a pool and getting water up your nose. Except the feeling lasted for 55 seconds or so. It was also the coldest temperature I have ever been in my life. Even though my experience wasn’t really what I expected, I am still SO happy I Skydived and I probably will do it again. They say your second time is better than your first because you know what to expect! The plane ride up to 12,500 ft was INCREDIBLE. You can see the South Island from up there.

9. On the way back from Masterton, we encountered a landslide on the mountains and had to detour… 4 hours back the other way. We had no choice but to drive to Palmerston North, and take another highway back to Wellington. We did this drive late at night, and at one point had to take side roads through hilly areas. The lanes are very small in New Zealand and this ended up being a pretty scary drive. My friend and I are both Canadian, and we discovered a Wendy’s in Palmerston North and stopped in for a burger.

10. Eat dinner at Cin Cin on Cuba street. Some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had. Overall, it was a really great experience. The staff were lovely. I ate the cannelloni and my friend had the lasagna. Both were massive portions. Try the garlic bread as well. Hands down some of the best I’ve ever had.

11. You must do the touristy Wellington Cable Car. You get there from Lambton Key. It’s a very quick ride up and the cars run every 10 minutes. Adult return ticket is $7.50 and one way is $4.00. I opted for the one way and decided I would walk through the botanical gardens and walk back down to Wellington Central. I got lost during this process but luckily there was WiFi at the top of the Cable Car and I had loaded my map. Even though I didn’t have a connection, I was still able to see where I was and how far I had to go.

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**Speaking of WiFi, there is WiFi all over the city. If you need it, keep walking until you find something. Some of the Networks I connected to were; CityLink WiFi, cbdfree, McDonalds and of course some cafes.

12. Have a coffee at Cafe Astoria in Lambton Quay. It has a vintage/European feel to it and great coffee. Plus access to WiFi.

13. The Underground Markets. http://www.undergroundmarket.co.nz/ I highly recommend stopping by these markets. ​​Open Saturdays 10am – 4pm.

14. Get breakfast at Frank’s Cafe in Wellington Central. A highlight of my trip was going here for breakfast. Fast service, excellent food and again, had that cute cafe vibe to it. (Frank’s is very close to the Wellington Cable Car).

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I had the House-made french toast – Blackberry Compote, Lemon Curd, Honeycomb Mascarpone & Pistachio Praline ($17.50) and my friend had FRANK’s Benny – braised beef brisket on agria potato rost, poached eggs, hollandaise and tobacco onions ($19.50). Both delicious dishes, but if I went back to Frank’s I’d get the benny!

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15. Every year at the end of April, Wellington hosts something called The Annual Dog walk. Located in Waitangi Park, there were 100s of dogs of all breeds hanging out in the Sun.

Lastly, I’ll list for you a couple of weird/interesting things about Wellington, New Zealand.

  • Bikes can drive on some highways using a special bike lane…
  • Highways don’t have merge lines, the dotted line kinda just stops and you’re expected to merge. Seems crazy for people who aren’t used to roads like that, but it seems to work fairly well.
  • Lanes are VERY small. In a lot of the suburbs, if there are cars parked on the roads, two cars cannot fit at the same time. You constantly have to pull to the side to let someone through.
  • People are REALLY nice.

I could keep writing about Wellington, but I will cut it off here. Ultimately, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life and I’m told that the South Island is even more beautiful.

I cannot wait to see more.

 

The Waterfall Capital of The World

If you’re skeptical about traveling I hope that this paragraph will change your mind. After spending time away from home you come back with a new found appreciation of where you are from. You see things in a completely different light. You start to appreciate things from home that they may not have somewhere else. An example of this is the grass. The grass at home is a beautiful deep green and it’s comfortable to sit on. The grass in Queensland is very dry and spiky.

Another incredible way to see your home is through another persons eyes. I was lucky enough to travel back home with my boyfriend who was seeing Ontario for the first time. A different set of eyes finds enjoyment in things you never looked twice at. It really teaches you a lot about your city.

My hometown city Hamilton, is the waterfall capital of the world. There are over 100 waterfalls scattered around the outskirts of the city. SO MUCH EXPLORING TO DO.

Hamilton is on the Niagara Escarpment, which provides perfect conditions for waterfalls.

Most people from Hamilton say it is boring and that there is nothing to do. I thought this before my last visit. That’s part of the reason that I left. I was bored. But coming back I realized that there is so much beauty here; beauty that would not have been appreciated if I didn’t leave in the first place.

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The above picture was taken at Felker’s Falls in Stoney Creek. Felker’s falls is a hidden gem right in the middle of a suburban area. You could get lost in this forest. It is literally across the street from a row of houses. How lucky these people are to have so much beauty directly across the street from them.

We traveled to Canada October 8-18. This is the perfect time of year to visit! All of the trees are yellow, orange and red. It is also still quite warm during the day, making it a great time of year to go for hikes.

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I took this photo walking through the forest. Almost all of the trees in this area were yellow. It was incredible.

We spent another day hiking through Albion Falls in Hamilton. Another must see. And again, a beautiful forest and waterfall walking distance from peoples houses.

We went on a pretty intense hike through Albion, walking all the way along the top part, climbing down to the bottom and walking all the way to the waterfall, where you are able to sit right by the water. The featured image I used on this post was taken walking along the lower part of the pathway walking towards the waterfall.

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We also stopped off at the Devil’s Punch Bowl in Stoney Creek, just before you drive down the mountain. It was formed throughout the years by glacial waters.. The drop is roughly 120 feet. There is of course a trail you can walk along here as well.

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Unfortunately we did not get a chance to see the famous Webster’s falls, in the Spencer Creek area, but that is next on our list.

http://www.waterfalls.hamilton.ca/default.asp?waterfall=13

Above is a link to a website about Hamilton’s waterfalls.

I am really excited for my next visit home and plan to do a lot of exploring.

You really don’t appreciate where you are from until you have been away.

xx

 

Did you know Abu Dhabi gets an average rainfall of only 12cm per year?

What to do with a 15 hour layover in Abu Dhabi?

Much like Dubai, the sights in Abu Dhabi are fairly spread out around the city. In my opinion, the best way to see the city in a day is to take a hop on hop off bus tour.

Unfortunately there is only one tour bus company in Abu Dhabi; Big Bus, and therefore competitive pricing does not exist ahah.

Here is a link to the website that shows pricing as well as a map.

http://eng.bigbustours.com/abudhabi/home.html

The tour for the day was approximately $57 USD. It is quite steep but if you compare it to the cost of your cabs around the city for the day, it makes sense.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the closest bus pick up location from the airport. Take a cab from the airport to the Mosque for roughly 40 AED. (The cost is higher leaving the airport as there is a 20 AED airport fee. Therefore it will be 20 AED less on the way back to the airport).

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque offers a free guided tour which is a MUST.

Complimentary ‘walk-in’ guided tours are:

Sunday – Thursday:              10am, 11am and 5pm*
Friday:                                     5pm, 7.30pm**
Saturday:                               10am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm*, 7.30pm**
My suggestion would be to take the 5pm tour. It was amazing seeing the Mosque at sunset. I have never seen anything like it.
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There are two separate bus routes that your ticket enables you to go on. These are:
  • City Tour, which includes all the sights you need to see in and around the city.
  • Yas Island Drive, which gives you the opportunity to see the Formula One Yas Marina Circuit, drag racing centre, Ferrari World, theme park and waterworld park.

The map provides you with first and last bus times at the top left corner. I noticed the map says “Buses every 15 minutes”… more like every hour. Whenever we were dropped at a destination the next bus was set to arrive in approximately an hour.

From the Mosque, the first bus arrives at 9:45am for the City tour and 9am for the Yas Island tour.

On our tour we made stops at:

  • The Etihad Art Gallery: It was a very small gallery. The art was done by mostly young and local artists and it was all for sale. The gallery takes about 15 minutes to go through, and then you’re left with 45 minutes waiting in heat for the next bus. There was a cafe attached to the gallery, we had a quick glance at the menu but the prices were quite high. 20 AED for a coffee. Roughly 8 CAD or AUD. There is a small grocery type store directly across the street from the gallery if you need any drinks or snacks!

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  • WTC Souk: We were expecting to find Souk’s like we saw in Dubai, but found more of a mall with a few Souk shops in the lower level. Everything was fairly overpriced compared to the Dubai Souk’s.
  • Heritage Village: The village was cool to see, but again something that only takes you 15-20 minutes to go through and then you’re stuck waiting for the bus. The village is water front so there are some beautiful views of the city. There are also some great little museums that you can walk through to learn about the culture.

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  • Marina Mall: We decided to walk from the Heritage Village to the mall as we could see it in the distance. Terrible decision. We both ended up with mild heat stroke after this 20 minute walk. The mall again is overpriced but a good way to get out of the heat. **No free Wifi in the food court unless you have an Abu Dhabi phone number.

 

There were many other cool places to visit and many of them are in walking distance of each other, in case you do not want to wait for the bus. The Heritage Village, Corniche Cruise, Marina Mall and Etihad towers are all in close proximity to each other.

We finished the day with a guided tour of the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. In order to go into the Mosque you must be dressed appropriately. Men are to have knees and shoulders covered while women must wear Traditional Dress.

 

The staff will tell you which direction to go and you take an elevator to an underground parking lot where you trade your license for an abaya and a card with a number on it.

An abaya is a long black robe with a hijab.

 

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When you are finished the tour you bring the abaya and numbered card back to the parking lot area and they give you your license back.

Cabs back to the airport are very easy to catch from just outside of the Mosque.

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HELPFUL TIPS

Here are a couple of tips that you may find helpful:

  • There is a shower in Abu Dhabi airport in the departures area. They are located between gates 32 and 37. Follow the signs to a stair case that brings you to the men’s and women’s public bathrooms.
  • It is extremely HOT. Carry water with you at all times.
  • Keep in mind appropriate dress wear!!! Girls and guys should cover their shoulders and knees. On our previous layover in Dubai I wore a long sleeve shirt and a light pair of pants. This was too hot! I saw many women wearing dresses or shirts that showed their shoulders off. On the way through Abu Dhabi I opted for a long summer dress with a cardigan. I wore the cardigan in most places but walked around without it occasionally when it got too hot. While you’re not going to get in trouble for it, you will get blown kisses and honked at quite often.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring sunglasses.
  • If you are traveling with your significant other be careful of how much physical contact you show when in public. **
  • Premarital sex is illegal. It is very hard to get a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex unless you can prove that you are married. You can go to jail for this.
  • Homosexuality is illegal.
  • Pornography is illegal.
  • No photos of government or military organizations.
  • When traveling to the UAE check if you are traveling during Ramadan as you will not be able to eat during the day!!!
  • The Big Bus staff were very helpful! They have a person waiting at every destination that are more than happy to suggest things to see and how to see them.

Overall, Abu Dhabi was very beautiful. However at this current time there is a lot of construction going on. One of the new builds is the new Abu Dhabi airport (give it a quick google it is incredible).

I have no desire to travel back to Abu Dhabi, but I am glad I got to tick it off of my list. 🙂

A Day in Dubai

On the way to Canada we had a 21 hour layover in Abu Dhabi. When we booked the trip this sounded awesome, until we felt the heat and humidity of UAE.

With an economy class Etihad airways flight you are able to book a free shuttle from Abu Dhabi to Etihad Travel Mall (in Dubai).

http://www.etihad.com/en-us/experience-etihad/etihad-express/

Above is the link to the Etihad Shuttle. If you scroll down the page you are able to click on a bus schedule which will help you a lot.

Remember to book this shuttle from the Etihad website 24 hrs before your departure by phone or online. (I failed to do this but had read on tripadvisor that you can still get on the bus without registering). So we went to the bus line and had to wait in line until there were extra seats on a bus. We didn’t have to wait long, but I wouldn’t recommend relying on this method if you arrive in Abu Dhabi in the afternoon, because you will be standing in the sun in at least 40 degrees.

Speaking of weather, UAE is by far the hottest place I’ve ever been. The humidity is so awful that you can feel it sitting on your shoulders weighing you down. Mind you we were wearing pants and long sleeve tops and walking in what feels like 50 degrees Celsius (I’ll get back to the dress code shortly).

The shuttle from Abu Dhabi airport to Etihad Travel Mall is roughly 90 minutes long. The views on the drive consist of a lot of construction work all around the cities.

Some tips to keep in mind:

Drink a lot of water. I kept my little water bottle from the plane so that I had water on me as soon as we started our day.

Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously my biggest regret of the day was wearing thongs/flipflops. Dubai involves a lot of walking.

Put your backpack in a locker or keep it light. I couldn’t feel my shoulders and had a kink in my lower back for the whole day. And your sweat pools up on your back and you have a kick ass sweat stain when you sit down at a nice restaurant.

You can’t get on the bus without a bus card. **** Super important because we were trying to catch a bus because taxis were so expensive, and we couldn’t get on one.

Get a data plan for your phone. Everything in Dubai is really spread out and involves transportation between places. We constantly had to check google maps.

Google maps can run without your data being on. Simply select your destination and load everything while in wifi, and it continues to direct you after.

Don’t trust people who say that they are cab drivers (they will scam you).

And if you’re worried about getting scammed by taxi drivers check out worldtaximeter.com. You can input your location and destination and it will tell you how much that cab will cost. Take a screen shot of the price and show it to your driver if they try to overcharge you.

Everything is pretty expensive.

Take a taxi to Old Dubai and explore the Souk’s. There is a whole street of Souk’s that sell jewelery. Be sure to haggle to get better deals!

***Read about the do’s and dont’s in Dubai before heading out on the town.

Here are two examples from thatdubaisite.com that you made not have known before reading this article:

Dress Code: Emirati dress conservatively in traditional dress and can be offended when people dress inappropriately or not in accordance with Islamic values.
In public places such as shopping malls, restaurants and parks, you are encouraged to dress appropriately. Clothing should not be transparent, indecently expose parts of the body or display offensive pictures or slogans. Be careful as well if you are tattooed with what could be deemed offensive images or slogans, if in doubt cover up.  Be aware that if you enter one of these areas dressed inappropriately you may be asked to leave (most of the larger shopping malls display signs warning respectable clothing should be worn). Any form of nudity is strictly forbidden, including topless sunbathing. Swimwear should not be worn in any other area outside the beach, water parks, or swimming pools.

It is preferable for both men and women to have their shoulders and knees covered and for women not to reveal too much decolletage when not on the beach or at a hotel.   It is not appropriate for men to walk along the street bare-chested.

Dancing is allowed in the privacy of your home or at licensed clubs and events.  But dancing in public is classed as indecent and provocative.

Again the above is taken from the following website, http://www.thatdubaisite.com/info/dos-and-donts/. Give the list a read if you’re interested in heading to Dubai, especially as an unmarried couple who wants to get a hotel room together in UAE.

We ate dinner at an incredible Lebanese restaurant with one of the best views in Dubai; Al Hallab Restaurant in Dubai Mall. The food, service and prices were amazing. If you want great food and a great view this is the place to visit. Seriously, the staff pulled my chair out for me and happily took pictures for us.

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If you have to catch the Etihad Shuttle back to the airport be sure you keep track of time! There is quite a time gap between buses in the evening so be sure you are back at the Etihad Travel Mall before your bus arrives. If you are ending your day at Dubai Mall, allow time for a roughly 15-20 minute cab back to the Travel Mall.

Dubai was extremely beautiful. However it was so hot (and we were there in autumn) that we were constantly looking for places with air conditioning to hide out in. Someone we met told us that 37-40 degrees was very cool for Dubai. He told us that people are much happier in autumn and winter, but in the spring and summer the heat gets to a lot of people and they hide out in shopping center’s to cool down. This time of year makes people miserable apparently.

If you’re visiting Dubai and do not want to experience 50 degrees Celsius I suggest visiting between Oct-March.

If you do decide to explore Dubai on a layover I encourage you to put your backpack in a locker at the Abu Dhabi airport. It was 30 Dirham (12 AUD) to check a 9kg backpack. 🙂 Easy 5 minute process. Keep in mind it’s cash only!

We both enjoyed Dubai and would go back as long as we had more money to spend and a place to stay where we could put our things and have a shower. It was not the easiest place to have a 21 hour layover as everything is quite spread out across the city and we were exhausted.

A Day in Dublin

We arrived in Dublin at 5:30am on a rainy Monday. We did not have exact plans of what we were going to do but I had previously done some research on the best ways to get around Dublin so we were ahead of the game.

We purchased a “Visitor’s Leap Card” from a shop inside the airport. It was 10 euro per person. The Visitor Leap Card allows for unlimited use on all Dublin Bus services, including Airlink, Nitelink, Xpresso DART and Commuter Rail and Luas services for 24 hrs. (You can buy 72 hours for 20 euro if you’re staying longer).

** Helpful tip. There are printers inside the airport in case you need to print off tickets or itineraries. Keep in mind people had some serious trouble with figuring them out though and it was quite costly.

We walked outside and tapped our card on the Airlink bus to O’ Connell Street (this is the street where all of the tours begin for Hop on Hop off buses) and it was as easy as that.

Now if you know your way around Dublin or have an unlimited data plan you could use your Leap Card to get around the city. However, the city buses driving by were so packed with people it would not be the most comfortable way around the city.

We got off the bus and went into a little cafe called Cafe Kylemore on O’Connell street for breakfast.  It was roughly 6 euro for each meal which included 4 different types of breakfast food and a tea or coffee. It was good value and a tasty breakfast.

We did some research about what Hop on Hop off bus tour we wanted to do and decided on Dublin Sightseeing. We purchased the tickets from a cafe down the road called Blu Apple. It came to 34 euro for two student passes that gave us unlimited travel on all Dublin Sightseeing buses for the day. (The day meaning the time the buses run, 9-5) ** Keep this in mind if you have to be at the airport at a certain time and need to get back to a specific spot. Arrange it so you’re headed to your final destination around 430pm.

Make sure you take a walk down Upper and Lower O’Connell street before getting on your tour bus.

Our first stop off the bus was the Trinity College stop. There was a lot of construction in this area this day so we opted to skip Trinity College and head right to Grafton Street. Trinity is the stop to get off on this bus tour that is the closest to Grafton and Temple Bar. Grafton is the higher end shopping area of Dublin, something you should see while visiting.

We got a little bit lost walking around trying to find Temple Bar afterwards. We ended up on the other side of the river and decided to keep walking until we found a Dublin Sightseeing bus stop. You are provided with a map when you get on the bus. This map locates all the spots where there is a pickup/drop off. It was a little hard to navigate without gps but we managed. At every drop off destination there is a little sign that says Dublin Sightseeing Bus, so you’ll know if you’re at the right spot.

At this point my feet were so sore that we hopped on the bus and stayed on it for a good while. That’s the good thing about these tours. You have a place to rest your feet and even nap if you need to (I did).

This Hop on Hop off tour includes two separate bus routes. One of which drives through the docklands and one that drives through the city.

Your tour includes free access to many museum’s that, guess what? Are NOT open on Monday’s… joy. ** If you want to visit museum’s in Dublin, don’t go to Dublin on a Monday.

Fun Fact. The tour guides are hilarious, seriously. I’d pay the ticket cost again just to listen to some of their jokes.

After resting our feet a bit we got off at Trinity again (because all the shops were closed the first time around) and after walking a bit we stumbled on a cobblestone road that was Temple Bar. Finally!

We went in to grab a beer at the Temple Bar Pub… because it’s Dublin and that’s what you do. I enjoyed a pint of Kilkenny over some live music. It was really cool to be in a place that I had imagined myself in many times. And the beer was incredible.

After this we went to find somewhere to eat. My boyfriend was after some meat pies which are quite hard to find in the Grafton area.* We decided on a restaurant called Alfies on South William Street. They had a lunch deal that was 3 choices for 10 euro. The staff were friendly and the service was fast. I think my food came out in  5-8 minutes. They did make a mistake on one of my plates but were quick to fix it for me.

We mapped out getting back to the airport on time. We had to catch an Airlink bus with our Leap Card back to the airport.

Of all the airports we went through during this trip, Dublin was the strictest. They made us take out all liquid products (including foundation) and check that it was under 100mL. They threw away anything that was over or did not have a measurement on it. My boyfriend’s cologne had maybe 20mL left and he had to throw it away simply because it did not say 100mL on it. They gave us a plastic bag each that all of our liquids had to fit in and if they didn’t fit they went in the bin. Just something to keep in mind if you’re flying out of Dublin, something we wish we knew ahead of time! Of course this is standard for all airplane travel, but Dublin has been the only airport that I’ve been to that actually makes sure passengers are abiding.

My conclusion on Dublin is that it would be a great place to have a night out and drink with the locals and enjoy Temple Bar, but I feel as though the 15 hours we had in Dublin was more than enough to get a feel for the city. The streets were extremely busy and most people walking around looked quite miserable (perhaps because it was Monday). I think we would’ve liked Dublin more if it had been a nicer day and if the airport security didn’t throw away our things ha ha. 🙂

Note: There are a lot of really cool spots to Hop off the bus and visit that were not mentioned in this article. I was being a baby because I had swollen feet from the plane and could barely walk, so we opted to ride the bus most of the day and learn about the city. There are tons more spots to visit along this tour.

Here’s the link to the tour we did:

https://citysightseeingdublin.ie/hop-on-hop-off/

You deserve better.

Do you complain more about your significant other than you talk positively about them? Seriously, take a second and really think about it.

Do you cry multiple times a month over them?

What’s the last thing you told the girls at work about your boyfriend? Was it how he took you out for a nice breakfast that morning before work or that he yelled at you when you went out with your girlfriends the night before?

Way too many girls have no idea that they deserve so much better. I see it everywhere. Perhaps because I have been that girl who put up with being disrespected.

Now I find myself in a relationship where I am treated so well that it hurts seeing girls around me that are afraid of their boyfriends, hurt by their boyfriends and ultimately not treated the way that they deserve.

You deserve someone who picks you up from work at night so that you don’t have to take the bus and walk in the dark.

You deserve someone who picks you. Time and time again.

You deserve someone who takes you on dates and wants to show you off.

You deserve someone who brings you out with their friends and comes out with yours.

You deserve someone that makes you a better person.

You deserve someone that wants to be a better person for you.

You deserve someone who can deal with and doesn’t mind your sass. 😉

You deserve someone who cares about your safety and your health.

You deserve someone that cares about their own safety and health. **

You deserve someone who talks to you with respect.

You deserve someone who trusts you.

You deserve someone who you can trust.

You deserve someone that see’s you as their treasure and NOT as their trophy.

You deserve someone that would never lay a hand on you.

You deserve someone that you aren’t afraid of.

If you’re scared of your partner, you deserve better. If they have ever physically hurt you or threatened to hurt you, you deserve better. If they have ever verbal abused you, you deserve better. If they don’t care about your safety, you deserve better. If you don’t feel important, you deserve better. If they make you cry, you deserve better.

Picture your relationship. Now imagine you have a daughter, and she’s the one in this relationship. She gets yelled at and pushed. She gets put down and belittled. She’s scared to come home after a night out with her friends. She cries multiple times a week because she doesn’t feel good enough for someone who isn’t good enough for her. All because she thinks this is love?

What happened that made us think that this is what love is like? That it is okay for someone who loves you to scare you, hurt you, put you in danger or make you feel any less than what you deserve.

Love is supposed to be exhilarating. Love is growing with someone and wanting to be a better person for someone. Love is putting the other person first sometimes.

It’s not my place to tell someone that they should break up with someone, but I can tell someone that they deserve better.

The truth is-if you’re with someone that makes you feel bad about yourself or makes you feel worthless – YOU DESERVE BETTER. Someone who loves you, makes you feel better about yourself and keeps you striving to be a better person.

The Beauty of Home

It is alright to leave home. Home will always be there. You will always carry your home with you. Home will never be mad at you for leaving, If anything home will be happy you did. For every time you leave home to discover new places, you discover the goodness of your own home. You appreciate where you are from. You will share your home with others and others will share their homes with you. Home is with you wherever you go.

Samantha Eydt

Stop making excuses (some travel tips)

You hear it all the time, “I can’t afford to travel.” “i want to go to Australia, but it is so expensive to fly.”

But that is a MYTH.

I am currently playing with some flights to fly to Australia in November (cheapest month of the year to fly by far from my own research).

I discovered the cheapest route to Australia is to stop in Hawaii… can’t complain right?

I use kayak.com and flighthub.com to search for my flights.

On any given Monday (cheapest day to travel) in November you can fly from Toronto -> Honolulu for roughly $302-340 with decent airlines too! Here’s some examples:

November 17th YYZ-HNL $302 with Westjet (air canada also has a few flights in the low $300 range)

Layover in Vancouver (different prices for different times of flights and shorter or longer layover times)

The less layovers the better of course. Some of the flights have a layover in Edmonton and Vancouver but the cost is exactly the same so in this sense it is obvious to pick the flight with only one layover. Some of the flights have 4 hr layovers (just relax in the airport, have a couple beers) and some of the flights have 20 hour layovers. Pick the one you want based on what you want to do. If you have the time and money, take the longer layover and explore Vancouver for the day. 🙂 Just be back at the airport 3 hrs before your flight!!!

November 27th HNL->SYD $350

Direct flight with Jetstar  (australian airline) I personally flew with jetstar from Brisbane to Sydney and had a great flight. I like the airline.

This is a direct 10hr flight to Sydney.

So basically in November, if you play with the dates and flights properly.. you can fly to Sydney, Australia from Toronto, Canada for $652

Compare this to booking a flight YYZ-SYD. On Monday November 24th, a flight with 1-2 layovers is approximately $1100.

You are saving roughly $400 to spend a few days in Honolulu. WHAT?

Now you might be thinking.. well if I do that I am spending that $400 or more to stay in a hotel in Hawaii.. but that isn’t true.

If you are a daring and trusting traveler like myself, you can couch surf. I play around with this app on my phone all the time. I’ve found a couple cool people who live on Waikiki in Honolulu who will give me a couch or a bed in their house for FREE. Because they want to meet travelers, and show you where they live etc. You could stay with one person the entire time if you are able to, or just for few days and then couch surf at someone elses house.

If you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can rent someones house or a room off http://www.airbnb.com. This is a great website. People will rent you their place in Honolulu at an average of $50-150 per night. With a discounted weekly or monthly rate.

You can also stay at a hostel but they average $30-50 a person per night in Honolulu. (www.hostelworld.com http://www.hostels.com)

Essentially, if you want to get to Australia and you want to save money. You can get there for less than $700. Only spending money on eating and excursions while in HNL. Or if you’ve already been to Hawaii and don’t want that vacation, you can book a flight on the same day or the next day out of HNL to SYD. Because regardless of how many days you stay, you’re saving money by booking two separate flights and getting to Australia with less layovers.

Why am a not a travel agent…? Or perhaps I am a travel agents worse enemy.

Happy Travels 😉

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Travel Websites you NEED to Know

Now I am about to give away some of my travel secrets… please take advantage of them.

Flights:

http://www.kayak.com 

Kayak is a fantastic website that tracks prices of flights on all kinds of airlines. 

http://www.airfarewatchdog.com (very similar)

Google flights also is super helpful and can show you all the prices of flights around the world on a specific day from your specific location. This is useful if you just want to go on a trip but are not sure where to. I found a 400$ flight to Spain in November using this.

Tip: When looking for flights open an incognito window (right click and instead of new tab, click new tab incognito window). These websites track you to see how often you use the website, and increase the prices of flights. You can thank me later. 

Fundraising for Travel:

http://www.gofundme.com 

This is a great website if you want to have friends and family fund you for your traveling. You make a profile and just paste your link where you want it. People then have the ability to donate you money. 

Free Volunteering:

http://www.workaway.info

http://www.volunteersbase.com (this one does not make you pay to register)

These websites allow you to volunteer in different countries for free food and accommodation.

Travel Blogs:

Home

Awesome travel blogger, buy his book on Travel Hacking. It is a great read.

The Solo Female Traveler’s Manifesto

http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/

http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/budget-travel-vacation-ideas-how-to-travel-the-world-for-free,14967/?page=3

10 travel jobs within your reach

Teaching English as a Second Language:

http://www.internationalteflacademy.com

https://oxfordseminars.ca

 

 

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.