A Guide to Traveling Solo

I've done quite a bit of solo travel. It was a bit scary at first, going someplace new without knowing anyone. But once I decided to do it and go on an adventure for myself, I realized traveling solo was not that bad. I have traveled domestically and abroad on my own and have figured out a few things to throw caution to the wind and go on a solo adventure.

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Oh, New Orleans!

New Orleans {aka NOLA} is unlike any city I have ever been to. I don't even know how to describe it, but it's not what I thought it would be like. Don't get me wrong - I had a great time and really liked the city. I mainly spent time in the French Quarter and I basically said: "OH MY GOODNESS EVERYTHING IS SO CUTE" a gazillion times. I was obsessed with the architecture.

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5 Things to Do in Atlanta

I escaped a storm in Boston with a couple of friends one weekend and spent some time in the sun in Atlanta. I had never been to Atlanta but had heard great things about the city. I was excited to go and explore.

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The Ten Things You Should Do in Dublin

Visiting Dublin and wondering what you should do? I spent a week in Dublin and explored the city as much as I could! Many of my stops were based on recommendations from friends or ideas that I found on Pinterest. After experiencing Dublin, I have decided what my favorite parts of the trip were and what I would recommend you do if you're visiting for the first time!

Walking Tour

bri rinehart; dublin; ireland; temple bar
bri rinehart; dublin; ireland

Before I went to Dublin, my friends told me I should do a walking tour. One of my friends suggested taking the Sandeman's Walking Tour. It's a free tour with the option to tip your tour guide at the end. The tour is three hours long and takes you to various places in South Dublin. I took this tour my third day in the city and I realized that I should have done within my first two days of the trip so I could plan my week out better. The tour guide is extremely helpful, giving you tips along the way and taking time to chat with people so you can ask questions if you don't want to ask in front of everyone. 

Grafton Street

bri rinehart; dublin; ireland; grafton street
bri rinehart; dublin; ireland

Walk down Grafton Street. Since I went in November, it was decorated for Christmas! It was so pretty. Grafton Street is, in the best way I can put it, an outdoor shopping center. The street is lined with shops and alley ways.

Guinness Factory

guinness; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
bri rinehart; guinness factory; ireland; dublin
bri rinehart; dublin; guinness; ireland

When in Ireland, one must have a Guinness. I went to the Guinness Factory before my trip ended because I heard there are spectacular views once you reach the top of the museum. People were correct. You can look out over the entire city. It's very crowded up there, so trying to get to a window to take pictures was difficult. At the end of the tour, you receive a free pint of Guinness. It's a win-win after exploring seven stories. On one of the floors is a tasting room that you can opt-out of doing if you want to keep going. I recommend waiting in line for this because they explain how to properly drink a Guinness. I was surprised to actually like the taste of Guinness - I'm not a huge beer fan but enjoyed it!

Pro tip: Purchase your tickets online! They're more expensive when you purchase them at the counter.

Pubs!

bri rinehart; pub; o'neill's; dublin; ireland
dublin; brazen head; bri rinehart; ireland
 
bri rinehart; temple bar; ireland; dublin

So, you can't visit Dublin without visiting a pub. You have to do it. Even if you don't drink, just go hang out in one. There are many pubs that play live music - who wouldn't want to listen to live music!? I recommend popping in to the Brazen Head - it's the oldest pub in Ireland, The Temple Bar - yes, it's super touristy but! really cool, O'Neils, and Stags Head.

Pub Crawl

bri rinehart; big bob's; dublin; ireland
bri rinehart; dublin; ireland; pub crawl
bri rinehart; o'neill's; dublin; ireland

Sometimes {okay, maybe a lot of the time} I'm socially awkward and am not always the best at striking up conversations with people at a bar, so if you're the same, I highly recommend going on a pub crawl. It's a great way to meet people without being too awkward and will end up making friends, plus you'll get to see a variety of bars and nightlife in Dublin - which is something I wanted to do. Sandeman's also hosts a pub crawl for 12 euros. I went on the tour a few days after my walking tour and ended up meeting people who had gone on the walking tour that day and had known each other from the group. I thought it was awkward at first, but quickly realized I was being silly. The pub crawl was fun and you get discounts on drinks at every stop. The last stop is a club.

Dublin Castle

bri rinehart; dublin castle; dublin; ireland
bri rinehart; dublin castle; dublin; ireland
dublin castle; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
dublin castle; throne; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
dublin castle; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
 
dublin castle; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland

Most of the touristy things in Dublin cost money, however, most things were decently priced. The tour costs 10 euros and lasts an hour. I really wanted to know what a castle looked like inside, so I had to take a tour of it. It was a neat experience and worth taking a look at. Do note - if you have a backpack, place it in one of the lockers before the tour. You'll be asked to do it before a section of the tour. The lockers are free.

Trinity College + The Long Room in the Old Library

trinity college; ireland; dublin; bri rinehart
bri rinehart; long library; ireland; dublin; trinity college
bri rinehart; long library; dublin; ireland; trinity college
bri rinehart; dublin; ireland; long library; trinity college

Trinity College is gorgeous. Explore the grounds and make sure to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room in the Old Library. The Book of Kells and Long Room in the Old Library exhibit is 14 euros and definitely worth it! It was one of the best experiences. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript of the Gospel in Latin. The Long Room in the Old Library is one of the oldest libraries and houses many first edition books. The books are ordered by the largest books placed on the bottom shelves, with the books getting smaller as they reach the top. The library is similar to the Oxford Library {where Harry Potter was filmed}, but different as many locals will point out.

Kilmainham Gaol

 
kilmainham gaol; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
kilmainham gaol; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
kilmainham gaol; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
kilmainham gaol; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
kilmainham gaol; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland

The Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison where many prisoners of a variety of Irish history were held - particularly the leaders of the Easter Rising. If you want to go on this tour, I recommend purchasing tickets well ahead of your trip as tours sell out. The tour costs 9 euros and lasts an hour. Be prepared to learn a lot of history about Ireland's first rebellion - the Easter Rising and how the prison changed before it was eventually closed.

St. Stephen's Green

bri rinehart; st. stephen's green; dublin; ireland
 
bri rinehart; st. stephen's green; dublin; ireland
st. stephen's green; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland

St. Stephen's Green is a beautiful garden to walk around. It's located at the end of Grafton Street. There is a pond and a water fountain on the grounds. Even if you just walk through it on your way to your destination, you should check it out. 

Ha'Penny Bridge

ha'penny bridge; bri rinehart; dublin; ireland
 
bri rinehart; dublin; ireland; ha'penny bridge
bri rinehart; dublin; ireland; ha'penny bridge

The Ha'Penny Bridge is a pedestrian bridge over the River Liffey. While there, it appeared to be the most popular pedestrian bridge. Once you cross over the bridge, you are in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. 

Notable Mentions:

- Phoenix Park
- Ireland Museum of Modern Art
- The Spire

Places I Wanted to Go to, but ran out of time:

- Jameson Factory
- Chester Beatty Library {don't take a backpack unless you have the correct change to put it in a locker}

Have you been to Dublin? Would you add or takeaway from this list?

The Splendor of Giant's Causeway

My final day trip during my Ireland adventure was to Giant's Causeway through Love Ireland. There are two day trip tours to Giant's Causeway through Love Ireland. I chose the Giant's Causeway shuttle the other day tour includes a stop in Belfast. Since I had already done a trip dedicated to Belfast, I opted for the "shuttle" version of the tour which does not include a stop in Belfast. Also, unlike the other day tours, this trip starts later in the morning and instead of meeting at the Molly Malone statue, you meet at the Love Ireland office. 

As with the other day trips I took, we stopped about half way through the trip for a bathroom / food / coffee break. Once everyone was back on the shuttle, we made our way up to Giant's Causeway. Giant's Causeway is in Northern Ireland - so make sure you have the correct currency if you're planning on using cash.

dunluce castle; game of thrones; ireland; bri rinehart
dunluce castle; ireland; bri rinehart; game of thrones
dunluce castle; ireland; bri rinehart

The first stop on our tour was outside of Dunluce Castle. This castle was used in Game of Thrones as the House of Greyjoy. The castle sits right on the cliff over looking the ocean. It was a gorgeous view to take in. I don't watch GOT {gasp! Shocker!} so I did not know the reference, but I enjoyed the views.

giant's causeway; bri rinehart; ireland
giant's causeway; ireland; bri rinehart
giant's causeway; ireland; bri rinehart
giant's causeway; bri rinehart; ireland
giant's causeway; ireland; bri rinehart
giant's causeway; ireland; bri rinehart
bri rinehart; giant's causeway; ireland
bri rinehart; giant's causeway; ireland

We made it to Giant's Causeway and had about an hour and a half to explore and eat. Giant's Causeway is amazingly gorgeous. I kept saying: "This is so gorgeous." I'm fairly certain I annoyed my new friends I had made, but I couldn't get over the views. It was like I was in a fairy tale.

giant's causeway; ireland; bri rinehart; hexagon
bri rinehart; ireland; giant's causeway
giant's causeway; ireland; bri rinehart
giant's causeway; bri rinehart; ireland
bri rinehart; ireland; giant's causeway

The Giant's Causeway is a natural formation of hexagon columns made by massive volcanic activity. Not only could you climb on the rocks to take in the views, but there were also paths you can take that lead up to the cliffs. We walked up to this rock formation embedded into a cliff. We aren't sure if there is a significance to why the rocks are like that, but it was pretty cool to see standing up close. We walked back and checked out the hexagon columns formation. We walked out a bit to absorb more of the views. 

giant's causeway; ireland; bri rinehart
bri rinehart; giant's causeway; ireland
giant's causeway; rainbow; ireland; bri rinehart
giant's causeway; bri rinehart; ireland

While we were there, we saw two rainbows. One rainbow as a full rainbow and we wondered where the pot of gold was. After we took an endless amount of pictures, we headed back to the cafe near our shuttle to grab a quick bite to eat. On our walk back, it began to rain and hail - making it a bit miserable and cold. Thankfully, it only lasted the duration of our walk and did not continue on for the whole trip.

carrick-a-rede; carrick-a-rede bridge; ireland; bri rinehart
bri rinehart; ireland; carrick-a-rede
carrick-a-rede; ireland; bri rinehart
carrick-a-rede-bridge; carrick-a-rede; ireland; bri rinehart
bri rinehart; carrick-a-rede; ireland
bri rinehart; carrick-a-rede; ireland

Our next stop was the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. They stop selling tickets early in the afternoon - so we had to make sure we were there by a certain time to get our tickets. From the parking lot, it is a 15 minute walk - if you don't stop to take pictures. Which is what we did. The Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge is a bridge suspended 100 feet over the rocks below. The bridge was originally made for fisherman who would walk across it - originally with one handrail! - and hang their nets off of.

carrick-a-rede; ireland; bri rinehart
bri rinehart; carrick-a-rede; ireland
carrick-a-rede; ireland; bri rinehart

The bridge is not wide, so they would let a certain amount of people from one side cross before allowing the other side to cross back over. It was a little wait to cross the bridge when we arrived. Normally I would not go anywhere near a bridge like that because I'm deathly afraid of heights - but when in Ireland, right? I walked across the bridge and made it to the other side. However, while we were walking across it, some kids decided to bounce on it and I freaked out just a tad bit {okay, really a lot!}. I was really glad I walked across because the views from the other side were amazing. The island is small so there is not much exploring to do. Once we took our pictures, we headed back to the bridge and waited for our time to cross back to the main land.

the dark hedges; ireland; game of thrones; bri rinehart
the dark hedges; ireland; bri rinheart; game of thrones
bri rinehart; the dark hedges; game of thrones; ireland
the dark hedges; ireland; bri rinehart; game of thrones

After walking back to our bus, we headed to our final stop on the tour - The Dark Hedges. The Dark Hedges was featured in Game of Thrones. Again, I do not watch GOT, so I don't know the reference, but! the site is absolutely gorgeous. The road is lined with trees that look like they're in an old time horror movie. It was a little eerie, but fantastic images to take in.

Once we were all back on the shuttle, we made our way back to Dublin. It took a little longer than expected because there was traffic through Belfast on the way back. We made a pit stop for a bathroom / food break.

This tour was my favorite day trip out of the three that I went on. The views are breathtaking and it was sunny {minus the one rain shower}! If you could only do one tour outside of Dublin, I would recommend the Giant's Causeway. You won't regret it.