A Walking Tour of Dublin

The Old Bridge - Dublin, Ireland.
In my opinion, the best way to explore a new region is by pounding the pavement! By walking along the many side streets and pathways of a vast city, you can discover all of the nooks and crannies that you would otherwise overlook when you zoom past in a car or abroad a packed tour bus.

Take Dublin for example. I've always wanted to visit Ireland but have always opted for destinations further afield to make the most of my time off work. However, once I found out I was expecting a new addition to my family, I listened to the advice of many pregnancy travel guides and decided it'd be best to opt for a holiday closer to home. So after many years of planning to visit the Emerald Isle, I finally took the plunge, booked my flights and before you know it the airport coach had dropped me off in the midst of O'Connell Street. And what a place to start! 

I cannot wait for my little girl to be here!

From the front entrance of my lodging for the week, the Gresham Hotel, I began to take a stroll along O'Connell Street; the city's main thoroughfare. I quickly became mesmerised amongst the many monuments of Daniel O'Connell, William Smith O'Brien, Charles Stewart Parnell and James Larkin. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can even spot a statue of James Joyce along one of the many side streets that filter out along this distinguished road. 

Despite the formidable presence of these statues, no walking tour along O'Connell Street would be complete without a trip to the General Post Office (GPO); the site upon which most of the fighting of the 1916 Easter Rising took place. You can't miss this breathtaking building as its majestic exterior takes centre stage on O'Connell Street. Step inside and you will be equally bowled over by its beautifully restored interior. Although the post office's museum has now closed, the new 'GPO Witness History' visitor centre is set to open in March 2016. Even if you only pop inside to change some Euros or pick up some stamps for your postcards, this fully functioning post office is well worth a visit!

After visiting the GPO, I then proceeded to spend a good hour or two wandering up and down O'Connell street, peering into shop windows, marvelling at the mix of traditional buildings with modern interiors, and craning my neck to catch a glimpse of the top of the 398ft Spire of Dublin.

Dublin street with beautiful moss homes.
Once I had read the names of all 32 counties from the Parnell monument, I tore myself away from O'Connell Street and walked towards the River Liffey, Although you can cross the river alongside the main road of traffic, it's worth venturing along the street to your right and crossing via the Ha'penny Bridge. Despite its official title of the 'Liffey Bridge', like many monuments in Dublin, the bridge has earned a nickname of 'Ha'penny Bridge' due to the fact that you used to have to pay a halfpenny toll to cross. Although this toll has now been lifted, it's worth carrying a couple of coins anyway to give to the street performers who you will meet on the other side of the bridge!

Indeed, as soon as I crossed Ha'penny Bridge I soon found myself in the midst of Temple Bar which is the source of much of Dublin's vibrant nightlife. Full of traditional pubs, lavish bars, eclectic restaurants and quirky shops, these streets are a great place to stop. Although I had to forego the Guinness and Irish ales, I was able to enjoy an amazing cinnamon tea and some homemade toffee cake in a quirky Joy of Chá tearoom. I was also lucky that on the day I arrived, Temple Bar was hosting a second-hand book fair. After stopping to scrounge these stalls and pick up a copy of 

'The Dubliners' (well, when in Rome!), I stopped to listen to some of the local street performers before hitting the main streets once again. By this time, I had ventured back towards Westmoreland Street where I was greeted with views of Trinity College Dublin; home to the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and many hordes of happy students. I chose to save this popular tourist site for the next day and kept travelling towards the main shopping region of Grafton Street. On my way, I stopped to take a few photos of the Molly Malone statue, or 'the Tart with the Cart' as many called her! It's well worth taking a few moments to enjoy this mini monument as it is often crowded with many street performers and eager tourists singing her namesake.

After picking up some souvenirs in Grafton Street and the St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, I decided to take a walk around St Stephen's Green itself. Before even setting foot in the park, I had to stop to marvel at the horse drawn carriages that tour the area and, of course, the impressive Fusilier's Arch entrance. Once you have taken in the overall grandeur of this massive structure, if you take a closer look you can spot the names of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who fought in the Second Boer War inscribed within the stone work. Step into the park itself and you will be equally mesmerised by the park's many monuments, landscaping features and its ornamental lake. Indeed, St Stephen's Green is an ideal spot to take pause, rest your feet on a nearby bench, and watch the ducks and other wildlife that wander in and around the ornamental lake.

In fact, by the time I'd reached the Wolfe Tone Memorial at the other side of the park it was beginning to grow dark; so at this stage I decided to backtrack towards Temple Bar and O'Connell Street for dinner and music at a traditional Irish pub. Although my frequent pit stops and tea breaks meant that my walking tour barely touched the surface of the cultural sites and natural wonders that populate the city of Dublin, my travels had equipped me with a wealth of ideas with which to fill my next few days in Ireland! 

In this manner, I've found that taking a walking tour of a city upon first arrival can be more rewarding than any pre-planned tour guide. By treading a city's stone pathways, you can plan discover unique activities, local culinary hotspots, and explore a new region at a pace which suits you. So why not give a walking tour a try on your next holiday? Who knows what you might find!
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How to Keep Warm When Camping

I actually burnt myself on this - sympathy?
I've got a few blogging friends who have written numerous articles about camping, but none post anything along the lines of keeping warm when the cold night draws in. That's key right? To keep warm.

When it comes to camping in cold weather, in fact any weather, with some simple tips like the following you're able to ensure you have the correct equipment to help keep you and your camping companions comfortable, warm, and make the nighttime more bearable. After all, a tent is only thin, therefore you're bound to get cold no matter what the weather's mood is.

Swedish Torch

I've recently stumbled upon a video on YouTube of a guy building a campfire, with just one log - insane. Basically, you'll need one log - half a metre will do. With a saw, cut a cross shape down the middle and around 3/4 of the log deep. Then, burn something in the middle of the cross and apply a few extra twigs/sticks on top - the end result is that the burning on top will eventually burn down to the middle of the log. 

Lifehacker wrote a post with an incredible written tutorial on how to do this, or you can simply watch the video.

Sleeping Mats & Air Beds

In the past, I've used air beds. They have their pros, such as the comfiness and how easy they are to put up, but they also have their cons. This would be the weight and I can tell you for a fact this is not the lightest pack I've ever had. On the plus side, you can instead pack sleeping mats. These are rollable, thin and just sit on top of your pack. 

The point of having both of these mattress type objects for camping is they keep you from sleeping on the floor with just a sleeping bag. The floor underneath a tent, especially during the night, isn't the warmest. 

A DIY tip for you all, which I have tried previously, is to undo the sleeping bag hem and place the sleeping mat within the sleeping bag. It may take up a little more room, but it saves you unclipping, unfolding, refolding and reclipping.


It's not rocket science, wearing something warm to bed is always key. And don't think because it was '20+ degrees today' that you don't need to wear warm clothing; because the chances are you will get cold as night sets in. 

When I camp, I generally take along my pyjamas that I use at home. Not just because they are warm, but because they are lightweight. Check out my post where I talk about lightweight clothing. Bring some of those warm and fluffy socks too! You don't want blue feet. 

Accessories & Other Tips

Taking along a hot water bottle will increase the warmth of your sleeping bag too. It's light in the pack and the water can be used again for the next night if reheated. Do not drink the water you once used to keep yourself warm though, it could be a very bad thing - read this article.

More bodies, more heat. Body heat is a great way to keep warm when camping. Have you ever been to a nightclub, wearing just a t-shirt and jeans, thin socks and leather shoes? I have and the body heat is so intense, I had to go outside and chill with the smokers (I don't smoke, just needed air). And no, I am not on about rumpus camping.

If you're like me, and spend most of your travels around Europe - particularly cold countries - then don't assume you only need a sleeping bag. Bring along extra, lightweight but effective blankets to keep you warm.
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What's in My Pack? (5 Backpacker Essentials)

Montserrat, Spain. Perfect day.
Here's a serious question, what do you pack for travelling? I mean, you don't want to be taking your whole bedroom along with you when travelling - right? When I travel I tend to take light and necessary belongings. Over the years, what I generally tend to pack has changed quite significantly. In recent years, I've started to take more technological equipment to help capture the memory and to be honest, it has been a great success!

I know a lot of you are probably thinking there are plenty of independent bloggers who write about travel. But has Jake Olivier ever written a blog like this? No. So here goes.

1. Lightweight Clothing

This is an obvious start. But after all, who goes travelling naked? Well... me, but that was only once - shhh! Clothing is essential and without it you're going to freeze, but taking too much can definitely weigh you down.

Pack based on the destination you'll be travelling to and don't just pack clothes because you think the weather may change. If you do pack extra clothes, make sure you pack lightly, efficiently and needfully.The following list is what I took when I hiked Serra de Tramuntana Palma (Mallorca, Spain).
  • 6 t-shirts 
  • 1 pair of running shoes 
  • 4 pairs of socks 
  • 2 vests 
  • 2 pairs of shorts 
  • 1 pair of trousers 
There's a pattern in that I carried more for the top half of my body, due to sweat and needing to change after a wash - I also have a certain way of folding t-shirts to save space in my backpack (but we can talk about that later).

2. Technology

Capturing every moment is important to me. If you don't capture it, how can you show it off? Exactly.
  • Nikon Camera - If I didn't take my camera I couldn't bear looking at the scenery. I love to capture every major moment when taking a nice vacation. I also bring my small tripod, just in case I want to take a distant selfie that my selfie-stick cannot handle. 
  • GPS - How are you supposed to navigate your way if you don't have a GPS? I find using a GPS helps because I like to take the most satisfying and safest route. I purchased a Garmin nüvi 2597LMT on Amazon and it was great for travelling Mallorca - excellent battery life. 
  • iPod - On my travels, I usually bring my iPod for listening to music. It gets me in the zone. Uptown funk you up, uptown funk you up. 

3. Toiletries

A pretty self-explanatory essential, but, it's definitely worth adding - the amount of times I haven't brought along a toothbrush or extra toilet paper - resulting in bad breath and some other unfortunate disasters. Thanks to previous experiences, I now bring along 3 toilet rolls for a one week travel; you can do the maths. Toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs and earbuds, deodorant and bodywash / shampoo.

4. Sleeping Essentials and Accessories

When I travelled Greece's Mount Ida I had to bring along a tent in which I camped for three nights with a group of friends. I bought a quality sleeping bag from Amazon last year and it has lasted a great time, but not only this - it allowed me to get the benefit out a quality night's sleep when travelling - check it out!
  • Tent - I have recently purchased a one-man tent, perfect for lone camping and hiking. It's easy to put up and light to carry. Use code WINTERSAVE on Amazon.co.uk on selected camping gear! 
  • Sleeping mat and bag - I've found packing a sleeping mat can cure a rough night's sleep, especially the rollable memory foam ones. Also, a cosy sleeping bag on top of the mat is a great idea - especially in the minus weather conditions. 

5. Medical Kit

Safety first! I always bring a medical kit, whether I'm travelling alone or with a group of friends - just in case. Within my medi-kit I have some antibiotics, bandages and plasters, tweezers and scissors. You know, the normal first aid stuff. Also, as a little treat I keep a small capsule of pure Russian vodka, just in case.

TIP: Remember to make a checklist before packing, don't just ram everything in.
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Tweeting about travel. Blogging about travel. Dreaming about travel. Let's face it, I like to travel.

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