Full Day Tours to Take from Cardiff That are Worth the Money

Three words… When Where Wales. We took two day trips with the When Where Wales Tours and it turned out to be an amazing way to see the beautiful country. With only a few days budgeted for Wales, our base was Cardiff, the capital city. My friend and I booked two trips with this company because they covered so much ground in the little time we had. Broken down here are the two we took, but there a plenty to choose from!

Tour No. 3: Gower Explorer

Let me start off by saying, the facilitators of the day tours were such kind people. Jan and her husband clearly have a passion for what they do. The tours were extremely organized. They cover every inch of Wales in proximity to Cardiff you could want to explore. Often with group tours, it’s easy to fell forgotten about and rushed through the stops. Not once did I feel this on the When Where Wales tours we took. The Gower Explorer was my favourite of the two. Swansea was a highlight I never knew I even wanted to see!

Here is what the Gower Explorer covered:

  • Swansea Marina & National Waterfront Museum
  • Mumbles Lighthouse
  • Langland Bay to Caswell
  • Rhossili (and lunch stop)
  • Arthur’s Stone
  • Llwcher Estuary and Salt Marshes
  • Cefn Bryn

Swansea, Mumbles, Langland

Rhossilli

Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn

This day exceeded my expectations. The weather turned out to be incredible for the views and feeding wild ponies near Arthur’s Stone. Which yes, you get to touch for good luck! Swansea and the Gower Explorer Tour is something I look back on and think, “I’m so glad I spent money on that experience”.

Tour No. 1: South Wales Valleys Tour

This tour covered the whole idea of what I thought Wales would be like; endless green hills, sheep, castles, sheep, ancient folk tales, and you guessed it… more sheep! Seriously, they are everywhere!

Here is what the South Wales Valleys Tour covered:

  • Caerphilly Castle
  • Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Ancient Standing Stone
  • Welsh Villages
  • Brecon Town
  • Libanus Visitors’ Centre
  • South Wales Valleys

Caerphilly Castle

I think Daenerys Targaryen parked her dragons here between filming seasons, and boy do they fit in well.

Another castle we visited other than Caerphilly Castle, I cannot for the life of me remember it’s name. SORRY. What I do remember is its killer drawbridge and really, that’s what matters most.

Brecon Beacons, Ancient Standing Stone

Myths, Welsh history, legends – I’m into it. If you are too, you’ll love Wales and these tours.

Links to the When Where Wales Tours:

Why “When Where Wales”?

The guides were incredible. As the main source of info, this is the first thing I want on a bus tour. They were so passionate about showing off their beautiful country and they actually invest in their group’s well-being. The whole tour was so organized. Each stop made sense; honestly there was not one part that I thought, “ugh, that was a drag” or “wish that wasn’t included in the price”.

I will be honest for my young travelers out there, the crowd was a little older than anticipated. It doesn’t exactly target two friends in their 20’s, but it completely worked for us. We had a lot going against us in Wales: not enough time, no transportation, not a ton of knowledge on the areas surrounding Cardiff… This tour took care of all of our issue and they did it with a small bus group. I personally love the more intimate groups. It gives you a chance to connect with the guides, as them questions, spend more time (and actually get a turn) at the stops. It also gave you enough time to decide what you wanted to do with your time at certain places. As a smaller group, though there is an itinerary, it has the ability to be somewhat more flexible.

During our lunch break on the Gower Explorer at Rhossilli, we were given so much time to explore the area. If you were unable to walk around, you didn’t have to, they had alternatives. Again, you got to pick how you wanted to use your time. With the average group tour, I often feel rushed; I did not feel this way on any of these tours. I wish I could have taken more of these tours!

If you’re interested…

Be sure to book these ahead of time, the spots fill up. Something to also note: if you were interested in a specific tour, each one only happens on certain days – it is only the two guides after all, and one of them is the driver! This may change the look of your itinerary, but I promise it’s worth it. I’m also all for contributing to a local family business, and Jan and her husband deserve every penny!

When Where Wales, thank you!

5 Pubs to Visit in Dublin

If you want to live like the locals, you can count on visiting a handful of pubs. Dinner, dancing, drinks, live music – Dublin pubs sure know how to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere. Though I wish I could have stayed much longer, here is a short list of pubs I visited in Dublin. Have a read, plan a trip, and grab a Guinness. Sláinte!

O’Neill’s

Recommended by our hostel, O’Neill’s was a short walk from Temple Bar. It had live Irish dancers, live Irish music, good food, and an overall lively atmosphere. This pub, perhaps caters more to the tourists than the locals, but nonetheless, I had such a fun time! The Irish dancers and musicians did a great job of including the crowd and they provided consistent entertainment while we ate our food. I will never not be happy singing Galway Girl by Steve Earle. If you’re not one for standing around, you may want to go earlier in order to get a seat. This place gets crowded fast because of it’s authentic Irish acts.

http://www.oneillspubdublin.com/

Con’s

Okay, I’ll admit it… Con’s is not actually located in Dublin, but for my fellow Directioner’s and Niall Horan lovers, it’s a quick train ride away. Located in Mullingar, Con’s is a pub frequented by locals. If you want a true Irish pub feel away from the novelty of Temple Bar, Con’s is a great choice. The food was delicious, and it was a very relaxed vibe in the pub. I would go again just for their potato leak soup and Irish soda bread. My teenage dreams were officially accomplished (RIP 1D).

The Auld Dubliner

In the words of my friend Carly, “you know a pub has to be good when they spell words the ancient way”. Again, another pub with good food, live entertainment, and most importantly – my favourite cider. I was disappointed to find out they don’t sell “Orchard Thieves” here in Canada. If you prefer cider to beer, be sure to mix up the classic “Bulmer’s” with Orchard Thieves if they have it on tap. The Auld Dubliner is in Temple Bar and easy to find among the cobble stone streets.

https://aulddubliner.ie/

Temple Bar

Temple Bar Pub is one of those “when in Rome” – or rather, when in Dublin – moments. In the center of Temple Bar, Temple Bar Pub is a high volume area of tourists. More live traditional Irish music, statues in the middle of the tables, but it lacks one thing: locals. You find many, if any, locals in this pub. We stopped in for one drink to see what this pub was about, but not one person we spoke to was Irish and the drinks are much more expensive. I’m glad we went, and it certainly can’t hurt to pop in to see for yourself given the location of this pub.

https://www.thetemplebarpub.com/

The Guinness Storehouse

I added the Storehouse to this list, because what better place to try a Guinness than the Guinness store itself? This was one of my favourite experiences in Dublin. The tour provided us with two pints (half-pint Hop House, half-pint Guinness Dark, and one pint of Guinness). You learn the in’s and out’s of how the famous Irish stout beer is made including the ingredients, advertising/ marketing, and of course, lessons on how to properly pour a pint of Guinness. Yes, the whole 119.5 second process is necessary! Coming from a non-beer drinker, this experience is a must. Dare I say I actually enjoyed the taste? We had a chance to shop the gift center and I scored the comfiest sweater of life with the Guinness logo. What an experience this was!

https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en

I loved Dublin and I can’t wait to go back someday if not for my family history, the trad tunes and fresh pies. More pubs will be on the list of things to do. What are some of your suggestions if you’ve been to Dublin?

5 Inexpensive Things To Do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh stole my heart the moment I heard the bagpipes play…which was right away thanks to the street performers. I found Edinburgh to be quite inexpensive for travelers looking to experience Scotland’s capital city. Here is a list of inexpensive/ free things I did while in Edinburgh.

Arthur’s Seat

You will definitely need to break out your walking shoes for this adventure. This hike was reasonably achievable to finish coming from someone who doesn’t partake in a ton of hiking trails (note to self: do more hiking trails). Going up the mountain is something I will recommend to anyone willing and able. Being just a short distance from The Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat is very manageable to get to and completely free to climb up. The views of the city from the top are fantastic, but I have to say… Arthur, you could have made the seat a little more comfortable.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Okay… So this activity is not free, however, if you pair up the above hike with a tour of Holyroodhouse, it makes for a full day and costs only £15. I thought the Palace was beautiful and grand. Truthfully, it was a perfectly planned out day: Hollyroodhouse, Arthur’s Seat, lunch break, Scottish Pub Crawl. To go from the venue of the Queen’s Garden Party to the bars of Edinburgh is quite the stretch, but one I would do again in no time. Speaking of pubs, if you’re staying at a hostel (Castle Rock was stellar), check to see if they arrange pub crawls so you can go with a group. We met so many fun people that night and had such a good time.

Edinburgh Castle

Another perk to staying at a hostel so central in the city is that you are in walking distance to major highlights like Edinburgh Castle! For around £13, you can discover a lot at this landmark. It was one “attraction” I walked away feeling I had got my money’s worth. I found the layout of this castle was very well done. This castle was one of my favorites – the information, the views, how centralized the location was – it was all great. Did I mention this castle was the view from out hostel room? It was quite literally steps away from us. When you find good cheap, clean accommodations be sure to book right away. You never know, there could be a rugby tournament and you’ll be scrambling to find somewhere to stay… oh wait… The story has a happy ending, we managed to get a room, but not quite as cheap is an understatement! #CastleRock4ever

University of Edinburgh

This section of the University, referred to as “Old College”, was absolutely mesmerizing. If I could go back in time and apply to uni here, I would strongly consider it. If it’s wrong to pick a school based on it’s building, then I don’t want to be right. I mean just look at that stone work! We discovered this tucked away gem just by walking through the city. Again, completely free, but I believe there is an option for a guided tour which may or may not be conducted for a fee.

Scott Monument

Speaking of architecture… The Scott Monument takes the cake for eye-catching buildings in Edinburgh. The Gothic feel given to this building draws people in and the view from the top gets them to stay. This attraction cost about £8 and worth every penny in order to maintain the upkeep of this Victorian Era building. Upon entry, you climb up 287 steps on on a spiral staircase. As you could guess by the peak, each step closer to the top means a smaller area to walk through. Once you’re up and think to yourself, thank God I made it up 287 steps, the views speak for itself. Above is my favourite picture from the top – I spy with my little eye, Edinburgh Castle. The contract of old and new in Edinburgh was one of my favourtie takeaways. I can confidently say I will 1000% be coming back here.

I did not want to leave this city, mainly because of the amazing experiences, but also because my bank account took a little hit back in London. I got a little travel happy. Edinburgh, as mentioned, was full of amazing experiences that cost little to no money at all. I walked away from Edinburgh wanting to come back ASAP. ASAP hasn’t come soon enough!

8 Tourist Highlights of London, England

The endless amounts of tea I drink made this city an obvious choice for me. London was the perfect first-stop destination on my United Kingdom tour. And if you were wondering…the tea, chocolate and “royal” history did not disappoint.

Piccadilly Circus

Easily one of the most touristy spots we visited, but a check off the London Bucket List. It’s a little strip with fun shops (I recommend Cath Kidston) that made for a fun day. This busy spot was full of traffic (people and cars) and was accompanied by a street performer doing covers of Ed Sheeran songs. This spot is very accessible via “the tube” if you’re in the mood for a buzzing part of London.

Poppie’s Fish n’ Chips

A local shop worked had recommended “Poppie’s” fish n’ chips to us if we were looking for authentic British food. We ventured out of our way just to try it, and it was hands down the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. This is coming from someone who before this trip did not eat fish in any form. In the moment, I told myself, if I’m going to try fish, it’s going to be in England. I’m so glad I did and when I’m back, you can bet I’m going here again!

The London Eye

The London Eye was a fun experience. There were other London activities that were much more cost effective, but in hindsight I’m glad we made this one of our stops. The history behind the materials that went into building this landmark was very interesting to learn about. I do have to say that I would not wait in the mid-day “queues” to go up the wheel. We lucked out in how this experience played out: I would recommend buying your tickets ahead of time and not the day of. This way, you have your ticket ready to go without the dreaded first line before the real line. Make a morning of it! Stop for breakfast (cuppa tea and bacon roll photographed above), stroll through empty pathway while people are still waking up, and get in line a few minutes before the attraction opens. This minimizes your wait time and you still have the rest of the day for other sightseeing activities.

The Big Ben

Not far from the London Eye, The Big Ben is glorious even on gloomy days. It’s no wonder this clock is a London staple; beautiful intricate architecture and the alerting sounds that make this building come alive. I know the clock is undergoing repairs, but I would make a visit to London when this clock goes off. Another easy stop to visit, we came straight from the London Eye.

Buckingham Palace

Unfortunately, Queen E II did not open the gates for afternoon tea, but I admired her home through the slits of these gates. Buckingham Palace was at the top of my list for things to visit in England and it did not disappoint. Everything about this Palace was so grand. As you can imagine, the crowds around here are insane, so when you have a chance to snap your “long-distance selfie” with the Queen (she’s in there somewhere I swear), take it.

The Tower of London

While on the subject of the Royal Family, another stop to make is the Tower of London. A highlight for me was seeing the Crown Jewels and the history of Queen Elizabeth II. She is the definition of a boss lady. If you’ve watched The Crown on Netflix, you know what I mean. There is so much to see in the Tower of London that it really is a day-trip in itself. I wish we had a little more time, because we were unable to get around to all the sections. Something to keep in mind is that the Crown Jewels line is extremely long; be sure to plan your time wisely in order to see them along with the other exhibits. My sister had already seen them and volunteered to wait in line (bless her!).

St. Paul’s Cathedral

For reference, I’m standing in front of this famous Cathedral and I look like an ant… This is right in the city! We did not have time to go inside, but it’s something I want to see one day. We took a long walk back to our hotel after visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and passed St. Paul’s Cathedral in all it’s glory.
Side note: The Globe Theater was honestly my favourite experience in London. We walked over to see the Globe and ended up standing in a separate line for last minute tickets. We scored super cheap tickets for a performance of Romeo and Juliette (standing room), and it was a beautifully done show. The performance and atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The performance and atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My legs might have hated me (Shakespeare didn’t cut corners with the story line or dialogue…) but my soul was happy.

Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tourimg_3391img_3479img_3409

The first day we arrived in London was at 8am after a 7 hour flight. The hop-on-hop-off bus tour was a great way to see the city with the little energy we had left before checking into our hotel. These tours really give you additional information with the luxury of choosing which stops you want to spend a little more time at. Above are a few pictures I was able to capture during the drive (or when we “hopped off”). I lived all my Amanda Bynes “What a Girl Wants” dreams by seeing double decker buses and the iconic telephone booths plastered all over the city.

Fab Fit Fun Box: My 1st Yearly Subscription Box

A present to myself every time the seasons change?  Yes please.  From the box design to the goodies inside, I hopped aboard the subscription box train with no hesitation – or regrets.

IMG_9892Fall FFF Box, 2018

I was first introduced to Fab Fit Fun boxes when one of my friends got me the Editor’s Box for my birthday.  I’d of course seen them circulating online and debated whether to get one or not.  Needless to say I was hooked!  A few months later I ordered my first yearly subscription.  There are a few subscription boxes going around lately, but I have to say the Fab Fit Fun box was everything I hoped it would be.  Full size products, great customer service, and a trustworthy organization.  My box was delivered when expected, no products were damaged, and all the products I custom selected were correct.  I was a happy customer!

IMG_0740Spring FFF Box, 2019

Each box comes with goodies selected for a particular season.  A huge selling point for me was that all the products are full size.  I often collect sample sized items and feel like I didn’t get enough product to truly see if it worked for me.  The boxes have a great variety of products that target lifestyle, fitness, beauty etc.  If you sign up for the yearly subscription, they allow you to “customize” your box.  For a handful of the products, you can select which items you want that month.  This is a big thumbs-up because you may want to pass on a product you already own or maybe feel you wouldn’t get much value from.  In addition to the customization, all boxes come with a few standard products for everyone.  All of the prices and descriptions can be viewed in the seasonal magazine that connects you to the Fab Fit Fun community. What’s not to love?

IMG_8345Summer FFF Box, 2018

In addition to the already stand-out subscription box, you’ll notice that each box supports an organization.  I signed up for the year not knowing this, but it totally made me love the brand that much more.  In one year, the four boxes featured the following causes: Wildlife Conservation Society, Right Action for Women, the Kindness Factory, and the Ian Somerhalder Foundation.  The magazine that comes in the box dedicates a page to the charity you can read up on.
Another perk to the full year subscription (and a brilliant marketing approach) is to have the subscribers post a photo of the box on their social media for the chance to win a grand prize.  By using specified hashtags and photographing your box, you are entered to win an all expenses paid trip. Though the chances might be slim, it’s fun to see the final shot. The draw is random and chances of winning are based on how many people have entered; wish me luck for the next one friends!
IMG_0182Winter FFF Box, 2019

I absolutely loved receiving the Fab Fit Fun box each season. What can I say, it’s a shopaholic’s dream!  More importantly, it’s allowed me to try products that I wouldn’t normally reach for.  I can admit I’m a creature of habit!  The section for add-ons has gotten me in trouble as well… with products like Tarte, Summer & Rose on major sale  how could I resist?