Day trip to Glasgow

A few months ago I noticed that Stena Line does a day trip to Glasgow for the grand total of…£10!

Yes, £10! That includes the ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan and a coach to Glasgow city centre – and back again.

I couldn’t believe the price so booked three of us to go to Glasgow for the day for shopping.

My sister is a teacher so is off school for the summer while I’m on maternity leave, so we were able to go midweek (prices are from £10 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and from £15 on Saturdays.)

The boat leaves Belfast at 7.30am, getting into Cairnryan at 10am. You then board the bus which takes you to Glasgow, arriving at 12.00.

We then had 4 and a half hours to spend in Glasgow, hitting all the shops around Sauchiehall Street and Buchannan Galleries. (Including what must have been near an hour alone in Primark!)

We then went to a pub where we enjoyed a 2-course lunch as well as a few drinks. (It was my day off from mummy duties so why not!)

The time flew in and it wasn’t long before we were making our way back to the bus station to get on the coach at 4.30pm.

The ferry home was at 7.30pm and it was on the return journey that I explored the Stena a little further, including checking out the free cinema and even going to the on-board spa.

My birthday is next week and my brother and sister had very kindly given me some birthday money early so I could spend it in Glasgow. I had some left over so I treated myself to a relaxing back massage, costing £25. It didn’t even feel like I was on a boat!

We arrived back in Belfast about 10pm. The day was completely seamless and the 4.5 hour journey never felt too long or boring. As well as the cinema and spa on board, there are play areas for kids, free WiFi, restaurants and a bar.

I really enjoyed the whole day and still can’t believe it cost £10! Prices do go up depending on the demand so the earlier you book, the better the fare.

Check out my video to see how we got on!


 

 

 

Jet2 launches summer 2017 programme

Starting to think about your holidays? I know I am!

Well Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have today launched their biggest ever flights and holidays programme for next year (summer 2017) from Belfast International Airport.

The launch sees more flights and more seats to 14 sunshine hotspots including brand new destination for Northern Ireland holidaymakers, the Costa Brava (Girona).

The new twice-weekly flights to the Costa Brava will give Northern Irish holidaymakers direct access to iconic Blue Flag beach resorts Malgrat de Mar and Lloret de Mar.

More than 280,000 seats will be available, a 10 per cent growth year on year, with even more flights to popular destinations including Gran Canaria and Reus.

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have also extended their flying programme to key destinations including Faro, Ibiza and Palma so customers can really maximise the summer at the start and the end of the season.

Jet2.com flights are available from just £48pp one way, including taxes at www.jet2.com. Must check it out!

jety

 

Action packed weekend in Tyrone and Sperrins

As I sit and write this, I’m nursing some sore leg muscles! It’s all because I’m just back from an action-packed weekend in Tyrone and Sperrins which, amongst so much more, included mountain biking. I reckon it’s the first time I’d been on a bike in about 20 years so no doubt, there were some muscles used that hadn’t been used in a long, long time!

It was all part of my trip west to check out what the Tyrone and Sperrins region has to offer in terms of a “staycation”; that is, seeing what’s available when it comes to hotels, attractions, adrenaline-fuelled activities, for example, right on our own doorstep.

Honestly I had such a class time that there’s just too much to say, so I’m going to do a blog on each place we went, because I couldn’t do them all justice in just this one!

But as a quick overview; the itinerary was drawn up and off we headed early on Easter Saturday morning straight to Campsie (Egliton, Derry~Londonderry) for our first stop at Campsie Karting for some fast-paced go-karting. There, my inner Lewis Hamilton came out and I was determined to beat Barry! Check out whether I managed to in my next blog.

Barry and I at Campsie Karting, Eglinton

After the go-karting we made our way down to Omagh where we spent almost three hours discovering the Ulster American Folk Park and the tales of the Irish men, women and children who emigrated to America. It was great to see a typical 19th Century “Ulster Street”, before boarding the ship and exiting on to the “American Street”, reminiscent of old ports such as New York or Boston.

Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh 

At closing time, we made the short trip to Cookstown for a lovely dinner and overnight stay at the Greenvale Hotel situated on Drum Road. I must highlight the Super King Size bed in particular- a perfect night’s sleep! And Barry’s “Mixed Grill”, which was so big, it might be the first time he’s ever left food on his plate!

 Our hotel room at Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown

On Easter Sunday it was up early to go mountain biking in Davagh Forest, with the official trailhead provider, Outdoor Concepts. Davagh is right in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains so a stunning untouched landscape, but we decided on the more gentle “green” trail rather than the “red trail” with narrower tracks and rock slab drops!

 Look at me go! Mountain biking in Davagh Forest

Finally, it was back on four wheels to make our way to the last part of the Tyrone and Sperrins experience- The Jungle NI in Moneymore. There, we took the “Tarzan Tree Top Adventure Course” which saw us cross rope bridges and tackle various obstacles high up in the trees! A few wibbles and wobbles along the way but I made it! We ended the afternoon being strapped inside a giant ball and rolled down a hill- otherwise known as zorbing! I screamed the whole way down but it was absolutely hilarious.

Upside down in the zorbing ball! The Jungle NI

We got back on Sunday evening absolutely buzzing after the whole weekend- from the adrenaline rush of the go karting and hearing the history of our forefathers, right through to seeing the lovely landscape of the Sperrin Mountains by bike and the rush of being thrown down a big hill!

Visiting Tyrone and Sperrins was a great way to spend our Easter weekend and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for that sense of adventure “staycation”.

Sunning myself in Portugal

So, it’s my first few days back at work after an amazing week away in Portugal! It had been a few years since I’d had a proper holiday so I was looking for some winter’s sun- something warm and relaxing!

After researching on the internet, we decided to go for a week-long holiday to Albufeira, and booked Clube Praia da Oura, owned by MGM Muthu Hotel Group, via lastminute.com.

We headed of early on Saturday 18th, getting the 7.10am Jet 2 flight from Belfast International, arriving in Faro Airport just before 11am. Check-in at the hotel isn’t until 5pm, but we had requested early check in (if possible) at the time of booking- and were delighted that we were able to get into the room at around 1pm.

The first thing that struck me was the views from both our front entrance and the large back balcony- stunning sea views! The hotel is situated right on the beach which is perfect for young families and ol’ romantics wanting a sunset beach stroll! Some of the apartments are ‘sea view’, while the others are ‘pool view’.

Our apartment was a large one bedroom apartment, with a kitchen fully equipped for a self-catering holiday. We had got a great deal on all -inclusive so didn’t use the self-catering facilities, apart from some tea and coffee at night time. The room had amenities such as TV, safe and hairdryer, as well as sun loungers and table and chairs on the balcony.

The first thing we did after dumping our bags was check out the large grounds, which included two swimming pools, sauna, and tropical gardens (complete with lovely touches such as outside ‘beds’ and oversized ‘seats’). Some of the areas are reserved for ‘Infiniti’ members (a kind of membership scheme) but the grounds are that big, that you don’t really feel that you are ‘missing out” as such.

It was soon time for eating and drinking and we headed to Jac’s Restaurant where the all-inclusive buffet is served. Breakfast is available from 07.30am, lunch from 1pm and dinner from 6.30pm. I’ve never had an all-inclusive package before so was hoping the food wouldn’t get too repetitive, but each night has a different ‘theme’ so you don’t get bored of the food. During our week there we had International buffet, Taste of Algarve, Curry night, Chinese, Portuguese, Tex Mex and Italian.  In between meals there was also bar snacks available for those on all-inclusive, which included sandwiches, croissants and pastries. The all-inclusive drinks included local beer and wine, juices, spirits and sangrias. I enjoyed a few sangrias by the pool!

Most days we spent by the pool (as the weather reached a unseasonal 32/33 degrees that week!), but on one of the days we visited the ‘Old Town’. Our hotel was situated at the end of the ‘new town’ or the ‘strip’ but the old town is only about 10 minutes away. It looks completely different to the ‘strip’ (where all the lively bars and nightclubs are), with pretty cobbled streets and stalls selling Portuguese clothes and handbags.  It was lovely to see the different side of Albufeira. There is a free shuttle bus that runs from the hotel a few times a day so we were able to get that there and back without having to spend any money (although I’m sure it’s only a few euros in a taxi if you cannot make the shuttle bus times!)

Back to the ‘strip’, if you’re looking for a good night out pub-crawling and dancing, then the location of our hotel was great. It’s only a 5 minute walk right to the heart of the action. All in all, it was a lovely holiday just spent eating, drinking, sunbathing (under a parasol for me, of course!) and being those ol’ romantics taking sunset strolls along the beach! We loved the hotel and have come back suitably relaxed!

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View from our front door

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Sea View from our balcony

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1 bedroom apartment

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Apartment

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Entrance to the beach

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Barry and I by one of the pools

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Pool

IMG_4164.JPGHotel Grounds- oversized beds and seats

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Old TownIMG_4176.JPG

Sunset along the beach

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Me and Barry