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Home / North America / Canada / Canadian Nature| Hiking in Hamilton the Heart of the Niagara Escarpment

Canadian Nature| Hiking in Hamilton the Heart of the Niagara Escarpment

Updated: September 18, 2017
By: Ian Yacobucci
Hiking in Hamilton

Hamilton, CA – Sanding overlooking Spencer Gorge in the Websters Falls Conservation area (Ian Yaocbucci/Borderless Travles)

It’s Autumn, the perfect time to go hiking. The spectrum of orange and red coloured leaves are arriving, as the summer is coming to an end, turning the forest into a fiery painters pallet.  The   wonderfully cool hiking weather has arrived so that you can dress comfortably without overheating and Hamilton, Ontario, a short drive from Toronto has some of the best hiking in the area.

“Go right to the edge.  It’ll be perfect.  There’s nothing underneath you except forest!” I yelled across the windy gap, as I snapped a perfect Instagam photo of my wife balancing on the edge of Dundas Peak.

For some it’s easy to smile standing more than 135 ft above the forest on a tiny outcropping that looks out towards a massive valley in the the heart of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest.  For others observing the densely forested Spencer Gorge, outside Hamilton, from the safety of a well-groomed trailhead is adventure enough.

It might come as a surprise to hear that the city of Hamilton, once better known for heavy industry, is home to more than 100 waterfalls and dozens of hiking areas where wildlife and the greatest diversity of Ontario tree species can be found.

More stunning is Hamilton’s scenic section of the Bruce Trail, which runs along the 725 kilometer Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO world biosphere reserve), where the distractions of everyday life can easily fade away as you look upon an epitaph of limestone cliffs that detail the regions natural history and glacial past.

Boundary Falls Hiking

Hamilton, CA – Autmn Hiking at Boundary Falls in Hamilton, Ontario Canada (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Located less than an hour from downtown Toronto and Niagara Falls, makes accessing Hamilton’s natural landscape easy and accessible.

There is no doubt that your first hiking stop in Hamilton will take you back in time with a visit to Webster’s falls in the Spencer Gorge Conservation area.  Showcasing a 78ft cascade of water, Webster’s falls is encased by ancient layers of limestone rock and dominated by hard wood forest along its more than 6 km of trails.

For adventurers, and a little extra exercise, you can venture below the forest canopy to the base of the falls, and along Spencer Creek, via the 123-step metal staircase.  As you descend the stairs towards the river, let the limestone walls of the Spencer Gorge envelop you with a sense of awe as you’re taken back to a time long forgotten.

Forget about all the things on your to do list and breathe in the perfumed air of pine and cedar as you try to spot a tiny yellow warbler fluttering from branch to branch, its neon feathers reflecting like light off a piece of river gold among the dark foliage.

Take a moment to listen to the pileated woodpecker hard at work searching for its afternoon meal, as the waterfall fills the air with the soothing sounds of its cascading water crashing on ancient boulders below.

For hikers, the Spencer Gorge/Webster’s Falls Conservation area offers 6km of groomed trails.  From Webster’s Falls, hikers can follow the main trail along the valley’s east rim towards the 135ft Tew’s falls (only a few meters shorter than Niagara Falls) and Dundas Peak.

“I didn’t really know that Hamilton had such good hiking trails” say’s Danielle Aniceto of Orangeville, who was visiting a friend in the area.  “It’s kind of like a hidden treasure,” she describes before posing for a picture on the edge of Dundas Peak.

Dundas Peak is a highlight for many visitors who hike Spencer Gorge because of its unobstructed views of Hamilton and Dundas Valley.  Here you can stand on the edge of a cliff that drops more than hundred feet back towards the city on your left, or down the valley along your right.  Make sure you stop to capture a new profile pic picture to show all your friends.

For a more local feel you can hike along the tucked away section of the Bruce Trail only a few kilometers from Highway 403.  Here lies a quiet hike that starts along side the 6m high Boundary falls (named for it’s location on the Hamilton and Burlington city border).

Fall Leave

Hamilton, CA – Hiking in Hamilton, Ontario Canada an Autumn leaf on a log at Boundry Falls (Ian Yacobucci, Borderless Travels)

Autumn is a great time to visit Boundary Falls along Great Smokey Hollow Walk, although this waterfall is best to visit during the wetter months of the year.  As a ribbon waterfall Boundary Falls cascades into snake falls and eventually meets with Grindstone Creek.

It’s along Grindstone Creek that you’ll find yourself in the heart of Hamilton’s section of the Bruce Trail.  Great Smokey Hollow walk offers visitors 5 km of trails to explore.  Here the trail snakes its way along the quiet creek where you’ll find yourself deep in a forested valley with the remnants of an old limestone structure, wooden bridges with benches to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest, and absolutely stunning nature located only minutes from the highway.

Plan to visit early morning or late afternoon so you can make a quick food stop along Main Street Waterdown, just down the road from the falls.  The quaint shops and restaurants here are a great place to enjoy a well deserved drink and a bite to eat before heading out feeling refreshed and stress free after your hike.

So take some time to explore nature by taking a day trip to Hamilton and revisit a city with some of the best hiking in the Toronto Niagara corridor.  Forget about the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnect with Ontario’s most spectacular geologic formation, the Niagara Escarpment.

 Getting to Hamilton’s Best Hikes

Finding Spencer Gorge (Tew’s Falls) Webster’s Falls Conservation Area

From Toronto: Take Highway 403 to Highway 6 North; turn left onto Hwy.5West. Turn left onto Brock Road. Turn left at the flashing light, onto Harvest Road. Turn right onto Short Road and left onto Fallsview Road and follow the signs for the parking lot. For Dundas Peak and Tew’s Falls lookout parking, follow Harvest Road further down until you see the signs.

Finding Great Smokey Hollow / Boundary Falls

From Toronto take Highway 403 and exit on Highway 6 North (Guelph).  Turn right onto Highway 5 (Dundas St. E).  Turn right onto Mill St.  and park in the Smokey Hollow Resource management Area parking just past the overhead railway bridge on your right.

More Information on these hikes an others visit http://www.waterfalls.hamilton.ca/

Enjoyed these hikes, have more hiking information for us, share your comments below to let know what you discovered hiking in Hamilton!

Home / Europe / France / Perfect Paris| Quintessentials for an artistic, cultural & culinary Parisian visit

Perfect Paris| Quintessentials for an artistic, cultural & culinary Parisian visit

Updated: June 1, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Notre Dame de Paris

Paris, FR – Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral from across La Sienne on a dramatic March afternoon (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Don’t get bombarded with hundreds of ideas highlighting the best things to do in Paris, just ask yourself, “what is Paris known for?” If you answered art, food, architecture and French culture than this short list of ideas for your next Paris visit is all you need.

Typing “things to do in Paris” in any search engine will yield hundreds of ideas. You’ll find articles listing the best things to do in Paris, the top 10 things to do in Paris, the 20 ultimate things to do in Paris, 12 worst things to do in Paris, and of course the unrealistically long 101 things to do in Paris (not to mention the dozens of other “things to do in Paris” variations).

If you’re only in Paris for a few day’s than sifting through all that information just won’t do. Thankfully, this guide to Paris will sit you down for fantastic Parisian meal, help you find the best way to photograph and see the Eiffel tower, give you the must see Paris museum, while providing you with time to discover Paris on your own. 

Photograph the Eiffel tower & picnic at Champes de Mars at sunset

Eiffel Tower

Paris, FR – Eiffel Tower at sunset from Trocadero Gardens. Behind the tower is Champs de Mars where you can finish watching the sunset (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

A trip to Paris would not be whole without visiting the Eiffel tower, the iconic 300 meter wrought iron structure that might just be the most recognizable building in the world.   If you’re visiting Paris you’re bound to get there one way or another but some ways to visit the Eiffel tower are better than others.

Simply put, the best way to visit the Eiffel tower is from the Trocadero metro stop. As you exit the subway station at Trocadero you’ll be acquainted  with a full view of Les Jardins du Trocadero (Trocadero gardens) and it’s iconic fountain as the majestic and unmistakeable Eiffel Tower fills out the horizon.

The best time to visit the Eiffel tower is for sunset overlooking Les Jardins du Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower. At this time the Eiffel tower is front lit by the setting sun with a great view from the steps overlooking Trocadero Gardens and the tower itself. This is hands down the best place to get a photograph of the Eiffel Tower and the best time to do it!

If you plan ahead bring an evening snack, some wine, and a blanket because from Troccadero metro stop you can walk to the Eiffel tower then settle down in Champes de Mars (the large park the Eiffel Tower is located in) to enjoy the rest of the sunset while you sip some good French wine watching the day set over Paris.

Eat a Parisian meal at La Jacobine

In my quest to find the best French onion soup in Paris, a feat that would probably take a lifetime to discover, I found La Jacobine. Located down a narrow alleyway in the Odeon/Saint-Michel neighbourhood the quaint café atmosphere of La Jacobine lends itself to traditional Parisian flavours that are sure to excite your palate and bring you back more than once during your visit.   La Jacobine is a great place for a coffee and Parisian confection but even better for their salads, entrees, and of course their French onion soup.

The best time to visit La Jacobine is between 1pm-3pm to beat the lunch and dinner rushes. If you decide to come at a different time I suggest calling ahead or plan to wait a while, as there’s only select seating in this quintessential Parisian restaurant.

For a perfect day plan with a visit to La Jacobine, might I suggest an early morning visit to the Luvre before adventuring across La Sienne to Le Jacobin for a late afternoon lunch. It’s a great walk, just make sure you have something to hold you over while adventuring through the Louvre as you’ll want to get there early and spend at least a few hours.

La Jacobine Salad

Paris, FR – Salad at La Jacobine restaurant located down a quaint cobblestoned alley in Odeon/Saint-Michel neighbourhood (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Get cultured at Musée du Louvre

Like many Paris destinations the Louvre is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, and a must see if you’re visiting Paris. As you can probably expect, the line-ups to visit the Louvre are immense and often reach more than 100m in length. Yes, you read that correctly.

Louvre

Paris, FR – 11 am Louvre Line Up on a grey March day (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

So, how do you avoid long line-ups and ensure a great trip to the Louvre during your visit?  You do two things:

  1. Buy your tickets online ahead of time (9am is the best ticket time to purchase)
  2. Plan to arrive 30 minutes before it opens to use your 9am ticket

You should know that tickets are usable for the entire day so you can always go back. Getting there first thing in the morning is key because you can visit the more popular sections of the museum (the Mona Lisa and the more spectacular Wedding at Cana across from it) without huge throngs of tourists.

As I mentioned earlier, the best thing to do is to visit Musée du Louvre for the morning and early afternoon then head to La Jacobine for an incredible Parisian lunch!

Mona Lisa

Paris, FR – Mona Lisa at the Louvre (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Discover Impressionism at Musée d’Orsay

Le Musée D’Orsay is one of the greatest contemporary art museums I’ve ever been to. Forget the fact that it’s located in the impressive former Gare d’Orsey railway station, or that it hosts the worlds largest impressionist artwork collection. The Musée d’Orsay is a very well done museum in a cool building that’s impressive to just admire on it’s own.

The biggest mistake people make, and I’m one of them, is visiting the museum from the main floor and working your way up. Take my advice, start at the top on floor 5 (the impressionist gallery). Here you’ll get to explore the great impressionist works of Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Pissarro, Sisley and more. You’ll also get a great view overlooking the city of Paris from behind the buildings clock.

If you’re not arted out after exploring the greatest impressionist collection in the world there are lot’s of other exhibitions worth checking out as you work your way down. Just don’t burn yourself out by starting elsewhere before seeing the impressionist works.

The line up for this the museum d’Orsay is a lot faster and much less busy then the Louvre. You can still get tickets online to fast track, but the wait is usually a decent 30min regardless of what you do.

Walk along La Sienne & photo stop at Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris, FR – Notre Dame de Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral) from behind as we strolled along La Sienne (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Paris is an architectural marvel. Built along La Sienne, it’s wide boulevards and grandeur buildings are great for exploring by foot. Sure, you could splurge on a tourist filled boat ride down La Sienne, or even better you could meander at your own pace along the uncrowded riverside.

If you’re visiting Paris with a romantic partner walking is one of the most romantic things you can do in “the city of light”.  And while your exploring, be sure to pop into a café along your journey and watch the people of Paris mingle with daily life as you try to imagine what life living in one of the worlds greatest cities might be like.

Surely, you’ll need to stop of at the Notre Dame Cathedral, but my best advice is to take a quick picture and move along. If you’re really interested in going in, you can test your patience with the monstrous lines that rival that of the Louvre. To be honest, walking through the city is free, you’ll discover little shops and quaint eateries that you’ll never find online, and you can devote all your attention to the person you’re walking with.

Where to stay in Paris

Finding an affordable place to stay in Paris is hard. You’ll end up paying through the roof no matter what route you take. Thankfully, we found a great room (with breakfast) at the Median Porte de Versailles, right on the Paris metro line at Balard, giving us easy access to the entire city at an affordable rate (around 100€ per night for two). To be honest, we’ll definitely end up here again during our next stay in Paris because one visit to the “city of light” is impossible!

In the end, these are just the quintessential Paris attractions that made our most recent visit to the city a memorable one for my fiancée and I. These suggestions offer a reasonably priced way to experience Parisian food, art, and culture along with a little downtime too.

Whether you’re alone, with a friend, or a romantic partner Paris is a massive city with literally 101 things to do. Keeping that in mind, these ideas will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed looking for the best options of things to see and do in Paris, so you can concentrate on enjoying it.

Happy Travels,

Yak

 

Home / Europe / Belgium / Discover Belgium| How to get a fairytale experience ‘In Bruges’

Discover Belgium| How to get a fairytale experience ‘In Bruges’

Updated: May 11, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Bruges

Bruges, BE – Spring Daffodils in March at the tranquil Begijnhof Beguinage of Bruges (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Welcome to Belgium the land of chocolate, waffles, and beer.  For most tourists, a visit to this small yet dynamic Western European country would not be complete without a stopover in it’s romance capital, Bruges.  Famously the location of the 2008 crime drama In Bruge, the city is nothing short of its description as “a fairytale”.  Yet for most tourists, visiting the city of Bruges is often a four hour mad dash of walking, eating, and drinking before returning back to Brussels.

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what I’d recommend you do, but with a little more time and some recommended sights.  If you’re like me, slowing down in Bruges will be relaxing and give you time to appreciate its architecture, quaint streets, Belgian beers, and serene parks. Bruges is a city where you should at least spend the night and unwind from busy travels.

Discover Bruges on foot

Start walking to nowhere in particular, because around every corner in Bruges is a photograph waiting to be taken.  Meandering through the narrow streets filled with artisan shops, bistros, and pubs is best way to discover the city of Bruges.  You don’t need a guide or trip advisor to tell you where to go.  Simply pick the local map (which you can get upon arrival at the train station) then visit Markt (Market Square) and Burg square before heading over to some of its famous churches and historic buildings.

As you amble through Bruges, put your map away for a while and get lost exploring the side streets and canals, you’ll always find your way back.  My recommendation would be to make time for the city parks of Astridpark and Minnewaterpark.  If you’ve been off visiting the metropolis cities of Europe the serenity you’ll find strolling along the riverside will fill you with appreciation.  Be sure to bring your camera and if you’re not a photographer simply tuck into a pub or two and try one of the 1600 beers Belgium has to offer.

Explore Belgian beer and eat at Cambrinus restaurant

Yes, Belgium boasts 1600 beers that are brewed within its borders.  That’s roughly four beers per day if you want to try them all in a year! One of the most popular places to sample Belgian beer in Bruges is Cambrinus.  This traditional Belgian restaurant boasts more than 400 Belgian beers and traditional food to acquaint your Belgian palate.

Cambrinus offers up a pub like atmosphere with wonderful traditional dishes such as Flemish onion soup with cheese and beer (I had this twice), and my personal favourite Flemish carbonades prepared with dark beer (a sumptuous stewed beef that goes nicely with a Trappist beer).

Cambrinus Restaurant

Belguim, BE – It was as delicious as it looks! Flemish Carbonades with a Trappist Beer at Cambrinus Restaurant (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Never heard of Trappist beer?  Picture this; only eleven Trappist beers exist in the world and six of them are from Belgium.  Brewed by monks in Trappist monasteries these beers are created following strict criteria.  In order for a beer to be labeled as a ‘Trappist’ beer the International Trappist Beer Association says it must be brewed within Trappist monastery walls by monks or supervised by them.  Secondly, the brewing of the beer must be secondary to the monastic practices and way of life.  And finally, the beer must not be brewed for profit.  Instead is should be brewed so as to cover the costs associated with monastic life and care of the monastery with left overs donated for charitable purposes.

Visit ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery

Of course, a trip to Belgium wouldn’t be complete without a brewery visit.  Luckily, within the city walls of Bruges you can find ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery.  Translated to half moon brewery in English, it’s the only beer brewed in within the city of Bruges.

Family brewed and run by the Maes family since the mid 1800’s a brewery tour here includes more than just a beer with your ticket entry.  Along with the usual brewery history, tour of the old techniques used in making the family recipes, and a freshly brewed beer pumped straight from the vat is a great view of Bruges from the roof of the brewery (so you don’t have to pay to go up the Markt tower).

Hopefully you’re lucky enough to get there during the seasonal brew of their Heritage beer, which is aged for a year in old oak casks from France.  Uniquely, every year the Half Moon breweries Heritage beer tastes different, since the barrels are used in the processing other liquors.

Bruges city view

Bruges, BE – City view of Bruges from the rooftop of Half Moon Brewery (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Capture a tranquil moment at Begijnhof (The Beguinage of Bruges)

After signing up for a brewery tour at ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery, with a half-hour to kill, my fiancee and I stumbled upon one of the most beautiful courtyard gardens we’d ever seen.  Surrounded by the quaint white facades of old-world buildings, with the sun streaming through the trees illuminating the daffodils and the shimmering off the brooke, it was as if we had left middle earth and entered Rivendell (shameless Lord of the Rings reference).

Later we discovered that this place was a convent dedicated to bequines who, according to UNESCO, are women who devote their lives to God and founded beguinages (convents) in order to fulfill both their spiritual and earthly needs.  To see the daffodilIs you’ll need to visit during the month of March and don’t forget to take some quiet time for reflection; it’s why places like this were created.

Sitting by the fire sipping a freshly brewed beer as you overlook a canal at Half Moon Brewery, wandering through the timeless fairytale streets and canals of Bruges, attempting to try every Belgian beer, or just sitting in the park watching the swans, it’s easy to lose yourself in the company of your partner, a few good friends, or even some new ones while, ‘In Bruges’.

Home / Asia / Cambodia / Angkor Wat Tips| Help yourself tour Angkor Wat like a boss

Angkor Wat Tips| Help yourself tour Angkor Wat like a boss

Updated: March 9, 2016
By: Danielle Aniceto
Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, CM – Arrive at sunrise to capture your perfect picture at Angkor Wat Cambodia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Showing up at the 6:00 am sunrise at Angkor Wat was not exactly what I expected it to be. Being a Lara Croft fan myself, I was hoping to have to swing down from a jungle vine into an undiscovered tomb and watch the sunrise from behind a mysterious untouched ruin. Instead, I arrived to a field full of people with the exact same idea. Having to fight for a place in the crowd for the perfect sunrise view, I couldn’t help but think what the rest of the day exploring would be like. It wasn’t exactly as I imagined it, but it was still pretty spectacular.

Angkor Wat is full of tourists, but if you can accept the fact and use a little imagination, you can have a lot of fun. Here are the tips and tricks I came up with during my visit to get as much time with my inner Lara Croft as possible and the least amount of time avoiding being in someone else’s photograph.

Angkor Wat photo

Siem Reap, CM – Capturing sunrise at Angkor Wat Cambodia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

1. Sunrise at Angkor Wat

If you are into getting that beautiful sunrise photo at Angkor Wat, I would recommend you still go but not exactly at sunrise. Google the time of the sunrise at Angkor Wat the night before (it will depend on the time of year) and plan to arrive 15/30 minutes after. This will guarantee the best light for photographs and ensure that most tourists would have already left.

Angkor Wat Mistake: Most people arrive too early and get sick of waiting in the crowd by this point.

2. Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat is definitely a splendor to witness. The only problem, once again, is that everyone else wants to witness it at the same time too. I would recommend trying to go off the beaten track for a more authentic and reflective experience. It can be done! Just avoid the flow of the crowds and explore the ancient temples for enjoyment, not to go where everyone else is.  Trust yourself and discover what other people are missing.

Angkor Wat secrets: Start at a less well-known temple in the morning. Such as Bayon or Angkor Thom. Large tour groups always start at Angkor Wat.

If you want to learn about the history of Angkor Wat, I would suggest hiring a tour guide. The books that are being sold all over the grounds for various prices, are also a good idea but may not provide the interesting and more intimate details that the well-trained multi-lingual guides do.

People at Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, CM – Hundreds of people taking photos at sunrise at Angkor Wat (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

3. Bantaey Kdei

This temple complex takes up a lot of square footage and if you tire of crowds, it is one of the least busy temples in Angkor Wat. There are many passages and doorways to venture through and you can get that awesome picture beside a massive tree with fewer tourists to compete with.

4. Ta Phrom

The temple from the Lara Croft movie. The Tomb Raider temple was definitely a sight to see. However, it is also one of the most popular temples because of the allure of the large trees that grow throughout the complex.  If you’re not afraid to venture off you can find a space to get your photo but beware of the most famous tree from the 2001 film version of Tomb Raider.  You won’t get a moment alone there.

Ta Phrom secrets: After 3:00 pm, many tourists start clearing out of the temples. Perhaps the best time of day to get that selfie you were dreaming of.

Tomb Raider Tree

Siem Reap, CM – The famous Tomb Raider tree at Ta Phrom temple in Angkor Wat Tomb Raider tree Ta Phrom Angkor Wat (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

5. Angkor Thom

This temple is stunning and a lot of fun because there are tones of small temples throughout the forest in the surrounding area. This is a temple where you can really get off the beaten track and explore!  Remember the Angkor Wat temple complex is massive and if you’re willing to explore you’ll find hidden treasures that represent the spiritual setting these temples were designed to embody.

Angkor Thom secrets: Just don’t get stuck in the tall grass with the huge spider webs. I am still not sure what kind of spiders were hiding in those webs but I am glad we never found out.

As one of the most famous temple systems in the world Angkor Wat will far exceed your expectations.  Just remember that there are many temples to explore and all of them are several kilometers apart so be prepared to spend a lot of your day enjoying the jungle by tuk tuk (yes, you should definitely spend the little money it costs for a tuk tuk).

No matter how many times you visit you’ll always feel like you’re just scratching the surface of Angkor Wat’s mysteries.  So be kind to yourself and take my advice, get the three-day pass. It is well worth it, and with a little imagination and some childish enthusiasm, you can really make the experience your own.

Have fun and safe travels!

Home / Asia / Cambodia / Cambodia| Get the most out of Phnom Penh

Cambodia| Get the most out of Phnom Penh

Updated: January 11, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
dep of justice

Phnom Penh, KH – motorcycle cruises past Department of Justice Phnom Penh Cambodia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

If you’re coming to Cambodia to experience its world famous temples or natural beautry Phnom Penh you chose the wrong Cambodian city to visit.  Although not the most popular tourist city in Cambodia, as the national capital, Phnom Penh is a valuable starting point for visitors planning to travel this South East Asian country.

Cambodia’s tumultuous history holds much of its modern foundation in Phnom Penh, strongly attributed to the Khmer Rouge take over on the 17th of April 1975.

In order to truly understand Cambodia’s current situation it’s important to learn the basics of the country’s historical context, and Phnom Penh is the perfect place to do this.

As a working city with a few must visit attractions Phnom Penh a great place to recover from jet lag and rest.  Here’s what you should stretch over a day or two if you want to get the most out of your visit to Phnom Penh

 Get a Tuk Tuk

Surprisingly, no one walks in Phnom Penh.  Seriously, scooters, cars, trucks, and tuk tuks dominate the roads and the few sidewalks that exist in the city centre. For tourists and locals alike, Tuk Tuks are the main mode of transportation.

Choosing a tuk tuk to drive you around is a negotiating process and there are tones of websites that will help you gauge a fair price.  What you willing to pay is what its worth but $20 for the day is a good start (you can throw in a lunch for your driver too).  My only advice would be to find a friendly person who speaks relatively good English so you can communicate with them and learn about what life is like in Phnom Penh.

Note: You can also get your driver to take you to a place to purchase bus tickets for the next leg of your trip (Get your tickets a day before).

Tuol Sleng

Phnom Penh, KH – Memorial to Victims of the Democratic Kampuchea Regime at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

 Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

An important first stop for your introductory history lesson to the tragic Khmer Rouge history that left deep national scars on Cambodia.  Tuol Sleng (also called S-21) was one of more than 200 secret prison centres scattered across the country.  In this horrific prison men, women and children were abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the Khmer Rouge.  Of the more than 3 million Cambodians that were killed by the Khmer Rouge between 12, 000 and 20, 000 people were imprisoned here.  Only 12 were confirmed survivors.

If you’re visiting Cambodia, no matter how horrible these atrocities were, it is our international responsibility as global citizens to bare witness to what humans are capable of so that we can stand up against human injustices such as the Cambodian Genocide.

BUY THE AUDIO TOUR $3
ENTRY $3
TIME: 1:30 – 2 hrs

Note: You can pay with large bills (100$) that machines give out and receive more functional change to use on your journey.

Killing Fields Monument

Phnom Penh, KH – Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre Monument (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Visit the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre (Killing Fields)

The most well known of more than 300 killing fields across Cambodia used by Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea regime to rid the country of enemies of the state (mostly innocent Cambodians), Choeung Ek is the location of where the government killed and disposed of the thousands of prisoners who were captive at S-21.

Visiting this place and witnessing the barbaric and cruel crimes of the Khmer Rouge will help you fully understand what happened to Cambodia during the ultra communist years from 1975-79.  At the killing fields you will literally be walking over the mass graves of thousands of people where bones and clothes can still be seen in the ground before ending up at the memorial stupa filled with the remains (hundreds of sculls and bones) of the victims are reverently preserved.  Bare witness, be respectful, and remind yourself of what you’re taking pictures of and why.

BUY THE AUDIO TOUR $3
ENTRY $3
TIME: 30 min– 1 hr

Note: You can pay with large bills (100$) that machines give out and receive more functional change to use on your journey.

Central Market

If buying counterfeit anything is your thing or you need to pick up an item or two that you’re missing than the massive Central Market is a worthwhile stop.

This is a barter market but remember not to be insulting when trying find a deal.

Number 1 barter rule: What you’re willing to pay is what it’s worth.

rooftop pool

Phnom Penh, KH – relaxing by the rooftop pool (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Relax

Phnom Penh is a massive sprawling city that doen’t have an overwhelming number of tourist things to do so make sure you take advantage of it by staying at a comfortable hotel, preferably with a pool and be sure to relax.

riverside

Phnom Penh, KH – walking along the Mekong riverside in Phnom Penh (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Evening in Sisowath Quay (river side)

After a full day of history, a little shopping, and some relaxation you can end your day by spending the evening along Phnom Penh’s riverside.  Popular for expats and Cambodian’s alike you can enjoy lights, sights, and sounds of the local Cambodians spending time along the Meykong River’s esplanade, which is lined with palm trees and green space, or hit up some of the cities better restaurants and bars.  It’s a great atmosphere to grab a beer or a bite to eat, just be aware that as a touristy area there will be the typical hawkers selling drugs and tuk tuk rides by the plenty.

Happy Travels,

Yak

Home / Travel Photography / Beyond the lens / Travel Photo| India’s election day picture louder than words

Travel Photo| India’s election day picture louder than words

Updated: December 5, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
India Train

AGRA, INDIA – FEBRUARY 2012 – Student holds onto a train seat as he travels home on a four hour train ride from Agra to Delhi for India’s national elections in 2012 (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

India’s future:

Back in 2012 when I was training as a mountaineer with the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute I decided to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal before heading East to West Bengal.  To make a long story short, the Indian airline I was planning to fly with went bankrupt and the day I planned to head back to Delhi was the day everyone was returning to their home cities to vote.

Luckily, with the help from the manager at my hotel, I was able to secure a seat on the overpacked train to Delhi.  Elections are extremely important in the world’s second most populated country with more than 1.2 billion people.  Religious, cultural, historical, economic and ethnic diversity make governing India a huge challenge for any politician and extremely important to the wellbeing of its populace.

Sitting on the train absorbing the chaotic atmosphere, watching people deep in discussion, people sleeping, eating and drinking as the chaiwala called out to the masses.  I captured this quiet thought provoking image in the eye of the human cyclone.  For me it represents the many hands of the country.  It represents men, women, and children who make up a country in transition a country that wants change; that needs change.

What do you see in this image?

Happy travels,

Yak

 

Home / South America / Ecuador / Ecuador dentist disaster a lesson in medical tourism dangers

Ecuador dentist disaster a lesson in medical tourism dangers

Updated: November 25, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Eucador Dentist

GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR – MARCH 2014 – CNA Dental office where I experienced what it’s like to visit a dentist in Ecuador (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Lying back in the faded green 1970’s dentist chair I looked right and smiled at Laura and her mother, la signora, who were sitting across the room.   Next to them was an old green desk cluttered with a mini city of disorganized paper piles.   The dentists stood up from his desk and walked past them across length of the room. Watching him from my chair I decided there was no freaking way I was going to get any dental work done in this place, but it was already too late.

It all started during a dinner conversation the night before when the cost of medical work came up. Somehow it was mentioned that getting your teeth cleaned in Ecuador costs about thirty American dollars, and filling cavities ranges from twenty to forty dollar per filling.

Now, I’m not a medical tourist and I don’t travel to save money on medical procedures, but to save $200 for a teeth cleaning (the average cost in Canada) I decided to give it a try. It would be my second cleaning overseas, the first being a professional yet disappointing dental cleaning experience in Tokyo, Japan.

Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city with a busy population of about four million people. On the day we set out for the dentist, an early morning rainfall turned to light drizzle leaving the Sunday morning streets quiet and traffic free. Visiting the dentist and barber seemed like a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon so my Couchsurfing host family booked two appointments and brought me to the city centre.

Parked on a street lined with shops and low-rise apartments we walked towards the dentist office. As we walked, I pictured a modern dental office with snazzy new chairs, LCD screens, marble floors, and lavishly decorated with tropical office ferns. But soon after we started walking my pre-conceptions of a first class dentist in Ecuador were shattered when we turned left down a dark alleyway.

As the rain dripped from the decrepit and rusting tin awning above, I tried not to slip on the shadowed alleyway’s rust stained tile we walked along. After a few meters cautiously walking like a high beam acrobat we arrived at a stairwell, buzzed up, and entered the building.

The wooden stairs that lead to the main landing were poorly lit and the light at the top blinked like a dying star’s last flickers of life.   As we walked up I noticed the old brow paint that covered the stairwell walls was peeling to reveal blotches of lime green hues beneath. Optimistically, with a traveler’s spirit, I resolved to at least follow through with the teeth cleaning and consider the cavities after. I mean, la Signora went to a lot of trouble to book my appointment and I didn’t want to be rude.

Dr. Boris met us at the top of the first floor, greeted me with a handshake, and guided us into the waiting room before gesturing us to sit. The tiny waiting area seemed normal with a small mahogany coffee table topped with a few magazines in the centre, and four leather sitting chairs lining the walls. Perhaps I was wrong to judge the alleyway.

As we flipped through the magazines la signora showed me pictures of things I should see in Ecuador by pointing at the images of volcanoes, mountains, and pristine beaches she recognized in a local travel magazine. In no time I was up. Dr. Boris led us from the waiting room and into the dental office as he said goodbye to his last client. Once we entered and the old wooden door closed behind us I finally confirmed my worst fears, this wasn’t Canada and I was not prepared for this.

The first thing I noticed was that there was no visible sterilization equipment. On the right side of the room were two worn out and faded dental chairs that looked like they belonged on episode of the walking dead rather than a dental office. Wishing I could turn around and walk out, Dr. Boris ushered me over to the far right corner of the room and into one of the decrepit dental chairs located next to to a large window that overlooked the street.

Once I was seated and comfortable, Dr. Boris sat down between the chair and the window then looked over at Laura and la signora who were sitting across the room. Not being able to communicate, Laura translated that I was interested in getting my teeth cleaned. Spinning his chair to face the window, underneath which his dental tools were located, I freaked! The lady who finished just before me had left the tooth gunk from her recent work sitting in a little bowl beside the chair I was sitting in. Not only that, but I noticed Dr. Boris had only one set of tools and there was no sterilization equipment in sight.

Calming myself, I realized that I was probably over thinking the situation so I gave Dr. Boris benefit of the doubt and tried to relax in the chair. Turning back around, Dr. Boris laid a piece of brown paper towel across my chest, picked up a water pic, and without any protective eye wear or that suction tube dentists use to get rid of access mouth water, pulled the overhead lamp above my face and started spraying.

Water and plaque sprayed in all directions as he cleaned. Like an innocent bystander standing too close to a street puddle, as an unaware car drives by, I got soaked. Every few minutes the water boarding would stop and I’d get a chance to spit into the bowl beside the chair with everyone’s tooth gunk looking back at me like frog eyes in a swamp..

Finally the torture ended as Dr. Boris walked across the room, giving me a chance to catch my breath and clean myself with the brown elementary school paper towel that absorbed the water like tree bark. Staring at the ceiling I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into. Now that the he was done with the water pic I figured Dr. Boris was going to get sterilized dental equipment to finish cleaning the hard plaque that the water pic missed. Wrong! Instead he opened a black cabinet located across the room, bent over, and took out a tattered shoe-sized box that looked like it hadn’t been sitting untouched for a decade. Sitting back beside me he opened it and pulled out a giant silver gun that looked like the mini laser weapon Will Smith used in Men in Black.

“Don’t worry, it’s for teeth cleaning,” Laura translated in a thick Spanish accent. Comforting as those kind words were supposed to be I was not at ease. What was I thinking getting strangers to set up a dentist appointment in a country where I couldn’t communicate because I didn’t speak the language or had any idea of the medical standards. But it was to late, loading the gun from beneath he inserted a CO2 cartridge, handed me another paper towel, leaned over, aimed the weapon at my face and pressed the trigger.

A fine dust blasted my teeth dispersing a cloud of particles like a military flashbang into my mouth, nose, and eyes. I closed my eyes tight and held my breath hoping that whatever I was getting a dose of was good for my teeth and free of any long-term side effects.   Eventually, I cracked as the seconds passed and I took in a big breath of the powder that was suffocating me. There was no way of stopping Dr. Boris because I couldn’t communicate with the dust like chemical choking me, so I kept my eyes closed tight, tried to breathe as little as possible, and accepted it.

When it was all over he gave me a chance to brush the scratchy fine particles off my face before grabbing a dental mirror to check my mouth for cavities. When he finished searching Laura translated that I had I had four cavities and that two of them should be addressed immediately. After my traumatic cleaning experience I decided to politely decline any further dental work, paid my thirty dollars for services rendered, and headed off to a wonderfully uneventful haircut.

Back in Canada, first thing I did when I got home was visit the dentist where I paid the $200 for a professional cleaning, had x-rays of my mouth taken, found out that I actually had 10 cavities (5 of which needed to be filled) and that the four cavities Dr. Boris suggested I get filled were just stains.

In the end, I paid $1100 to get everything taken care of in Canada by a professionally licensed Canadian doctor and came out with an important lesson in medical tourism. If you’re planning on going overseas for medical procedures you should probably do some research, know whom you’re working with, and be able to speak the language.

Happy Travels,

Yak

Have you had any crazy medical experiences while overseas??

 

Home / Travel Photography / Beyond the lens / Travel Photo| Incredible view of Prague

Travel Photo| Incredible view of Prague

Updated: November 12, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Prague hike

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – SEPTEMBER 2013 – Looking out over Prague with fellow Couchsurfers on a hike meet up (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Couchsurfing in Prague:

While backpacking through Europe with my sister we decided to see if we could find a couch to crash on in Prague.  Reluctantly, we ended up having to book a hostel but discovered that the Prague Couchsurfing community was hosting a series of events during the weekend we visited the city.  Luckily we joined up with a hiking group who took us on a fantastic hike just outside the city, and got the chance to learn a bit about the cities more contemporary history.

After the hike we joined some of the group for a traditional meal at a local brewery, but before heading down we all stopped to take in the view from its surrounding hillsides.  It was a great way to meet some new people, check out a part of the area that most tourists wouldn’t get a chance to explore, and snap a unique photo.

What I used: ISO 200 – 50mm – F/4.8 – Sec 1/2500

Happy shooting,

Yak

Home / South America / Ecuador / Counterfeit money how I schemed my way back to zero

Counterfeit money how I schemed my way back to zero

Updated: November 6, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Counterfeit American money

MONTANITA, ECUADOR – MARCH 2014 – Back of a counterfeit American twenty-dollar bill I received at a currency exchange (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

To tell you the truth, it wasn’t for lack of trying that I couldn’t get rid of the counterfeit twenty-dollar bill I found amongst my real American cash while traveling in Ecuador. A feat that would consume a good deal of time, and several battles with my conscience, while surfing and partying in Montanita on Ecuador’s Pacific coast.

The quaint surf-town that transforms into the biggest party on the Ecuadorian coast was the last place I thought I’d find a couple fake twenty-dollar bills amongst the American currency tucked secretly away in the dark crevices of my backpack.  Then again, I was a foreigner in a fantasyland of dark clubs and cheap drinks where thousands of people flock when the weekend hits.

It all started on one of those frenetic nights out in the party capital of Ecuador.  Carlos, one of Montanita’s infamous mixologists, spends most nights fancifully flipping out colourful alcohol ridden fruit drinks and snapping picks with visitors along Montanita’s cocktail alley.

Cocktail alley naturally attracts flocks of people who come to start untamed nights out sitting in red and white lawn chairs as they share drinks and conversation with tourists, Ecuadorians, and locals alike.  It’s here that I started my night with Carlos and his devilishly tasty rum saturated fruit bombs.

“Falsa,” he said as he handed back the crisp new twenty-dollar bill I had just given him in exchange for the two drinks my friend and I had consumed.  It’s real I assured him as I handed it back reaffirming that it was a new one from Canada.

Montanita Cocktail Alley

MONTANITA, ECUADOR – MARCH 2014 – Out for a drink on Montanita’s cocktail alley with Carlo’s the mixologist and Columbian friend Jorge (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

I could have sworn I had brought the money directly from my Canadian bank to Ecuador.  That’s when then I remembered that businesses in Ecuador don’t accept fifty-dollar bills and I was forced to change some of it at an exchange booth in Guayaquil.  Guayaquil, being the largest city in Ecuador, is where I figure I unassumingly got duped into taking two freshly minted, incredibly fake, counterfeit twenty-dollar American bills along with a half-dozen real tens.

Counterfeit money is not something new in Ecuador.  In fact, shortly after the Ecuador switched from the sucre to the American dollar in 2000, illegitimate currency started percolating into the country via Columbia.As the story goes, Columbian taxi drivers were bringing in thousands of dollars in fake currency and exchanging it with the real thing through daily transactions and other illegal practices.

The night I discovered I had come by forty-dollars in counterfeits was no big deal, since the club I went to cost $15 and the attendant was collecting money as fast as she could get people in.  By slipping a fake twenty under a real one I was able reinsert the currency back into the system and out of my wallet.  To be honest, the club was absolutely horrible and completely empty, so ironically, I still felt like I had been ripped off.

Happy that I wasn’t completely at a loss over my recently acquired counterfeit money, I realized that there was one problem; I still had another twenty to get rid of. You’d think it’d be easy to get rid of a fake currency when there are hundreds of places to do it. However, in Ecuador this isn’t the case because people know what to look for and no one wants to get ripped off.

Realizing this, my first job was to make the bill look well used and more realistic, since it was in pristine condition and noticeably fake under good light.  With some advice from a friend of mine I decided to take the bill for a swim in the ocean.  When I took the mashed up twenty out of my board short pocket, it certainly looked like the idea had worked.  The bill had gained years of use from just five minutes in the water, but since it was made out of paper (not currency paper) it ripped and looked even more fake than before.

Luckily, a little tape fixed the bill, but making it look real wasn’t the only problem to getting rid of the money.  The other problem was my conscience.  Montanita is a small seaside village, and in a few short weeks I had already begun establishing relationships with the shopkeepers, restaurant staff, and bar owners.  The longer I stayed in Montanita the harder it was to justify tricking one the wonderful people I was meeting into taking the counterfeit money, and so I resolved to hold onto the bill as a souvenir.

Montanita

MONTANITA, ECUADOR – MARCH 2014 – Main street in Montanita at night where artists selling crafts, restaurants, bars, and clubs are located (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Finally, it was time to leave Montanita and head back to Quito before returning home to Canada.  Realizing that I would be taking a late evening taxi from the airport in Quito to my hotel downtown, I resolved to give it one last try and finally rid myself of my last fake twenty-dollar bill.

Duping the taxi was the perfect plan.  It was dark and late, the driver had probably been on the road for a while, and there was a good chance that I could just hand over the money, grab my bags, and head into the hotel without any trouble.  I even planned to get dropped off around the corner so the driver wouldn’t find me and harass the hotel staff.

When the driver picked me up at the airport he quoted my cab fare at twenty-seven dollars, which was perfect amount to go through with my plan.  By placing a real ten-dollar bill over the counterfeit twenty I was hoping that I’d leave right after handing over the money, and that the tip incentive would be enough to distract the driver.  I didn’t feel good about it, but neither did I want to be the one who got ripped off.

Sitting in the front seat of the taxi I went over the scenario in my head and resolved to hand over the money and be done with it.  Why should I be the one that gets screwed, I thought.  The reality was that the money was a real thing, looked relatively realistic, and would probably find its way through the system somehow.

As my conniving came to an end I determined to just do it and move on.  That’s when the taxi driver looked over and started a conversation with me.  After a few minutes of conversation, I noticed that he was a kind looking man and spoke with a gentle voice in his maroon sweater vest and grey tie.

He garnered respect with his outfit and demeanor, liked his job, loved his family, and was genuinely interested in me. On that hour-long ride from the airport to Quito central we became friends.  We talked family, life, sports, love, and politics all in broken Spanish, Italian, and English.  We laughed, we philosophized, we reflected on the world, and when I arrived at the hotel I reached in my wallet and handed him all real American bills (no counterfeit).

In the end, I returned home with my counterfeit twenty-dollars and learned that the kindness and generosity of people is worth more than a few dollars.  Honesty, respect, and loving your neighbors no matter where you are in the world is far more important than ripping someone off for your own benefit.  Ultimately, I learned to always check your change no matter where you are in the world, and that corporations like McDonalds are considered individual people according to law so giving them your fake money is okay in my books.

Lets just say the American McDonalds coffee I had the other day tasted amazing!

Happy Travels,

Yak

Home / Europe / Ireland / Epic Ireland road trip to do before you die

Epic Ireland road trip to do before you die

Updated: November 4, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Downhill Beach

IRELAND – Downhill Beach Iron Islands location Game of Thrones (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The ultimate Ireland road trip itinerary: eight unforgettable days exploring the Emerald Isle on a road trip trip to make your Irish friends proud.

Ancient ruins older than the Egyptian pyramids, the most stunning vistas at every turn, Game of Thrones shooting locations, whisky tasting, and driving 100km an hour on winding roads that barely fit two cars and appear to be the inspiration for racing video games are just start of an epic Ireland road trip!

In fact, the least exciting thing about visiting Ireland is drinking Guinness; so yeah, it’s pretty awesome.  With so much to do and so many places to see where do you even start creating the perfect Ireland road trip itinerary? Well fear not fellow travelers!

On a recent trip with Irish travel blogger and friend David M Byrne, we “did” Ireland the way it should be traveled.  No really, this guide has almost every worthwhile stop, creating a complete Ireland road trip itinerary that is guaranteed to make your Irish friends proud.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary – Day 1

Arrive in Dublin  Overnight in Ballycastle – this small ocean side town is a great stop before you head to the Causeway costal drive of Northern Ireland.  If you’re there in August you can plan your stay for the last Monday and Tuesday in August for the Auld Lammas fair dating back more than 400 years!

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 2

Giants Causeway

IRELAND – People taking a photo op on the Giants Causeway (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Causeway Coastal Drive – costal drive through Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

Carick-A-Rede Rope Bridge – walk across the1800s salmon fishing bridge 100ft above the sea.  High winds sometimes close the bridge as I experienced but it’s still worth a visit and a few pictures.

Ballintoy Harbour – stop for a picture at the setting of the Game of Thrones Pike Harbor.

White Park Bay – this picturesque beach is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy an incredible Irish view!

Giants Causeway (for free) – the only UNESCO site in Northern Ireland, this geologic wonder is a must do. You can visit the Giants Causeway for free instead of being suckered into paying like all the other tourists.  What you do is park at the hotel (gets you parked super close to the attraction) then go in for a coffee or a drink.  Afterwards, you walk to the side of the hotel (where the tourist shop is) and take the footpath across the grassy knoll over the visitors center then down the stairs.

Bushmills Distillery – I like learning about whisky so this was a given as the worlds oldest licensed brewer.  The 1608 Bushmills is whisky tour that’s worth a visit.  It’s also my favourite in Irish whisky.

Downhill beach – A great beach with a few surfers and a really cool observatory.  Downhill beach was the shooting location for the Game of Thrones Iron Islands.  If you walk down to the right of the beach there’s a really cool gave worth checking out.

Overnight in Bundorn -  A famous Irish surf spot in the winter Bundorn is a bustling  summer tourist spot with a lot of good places to sleep, eat, and drink.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary – Day 3

Connemara National Park

IRELAND – Hikers taking in the view from Connemara National Park hiking trail (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Westport – stop off for lunch at this traditional Irish town.  It’s definitely worth a wander around.

Kylemore Abbey – a cool stop for a photo but the 13 Euro ticket to see what’s inside isn’t worth the money.  We skipped it and opted to save our coffee money, took a picture, and moved on.

Connemara National Park – one of a handful of national parks in Ireland Connemara National Park is a great stop with an awesome hike called the diamond loop.  It’s free and takes a couple hours.  It has some fantastic views and exhibits the natural history of this region.

Overnight in Knockcroghery – so you can say you stayed in a place that you can’t even pronounce.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary -Day 4

Cliffs of Moher

IRELAND – Cliffs of Moher from the main viewing area (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Kilmacduagh Monastery – No tourists visit here but it’s an amazing 6th century monastery with a pristine round tower.  It’s open to explore and walk around and literally in a farmer’s field.  Leave some time here because this place will take you back to the 6th century and won’t be on  many tourist maps!

Ciffs of Moher – You can’t miss this geologic wonder.  The 200m cliffs are one of the most popular tourist sights in Ireland, and for good reason.  If you want to truly see the beauty of the cliffs walk right towards the lookout then walk along the Burren Way.

Killimer Tarbert ferry – save time and get to the Dingle Peninsula with a ferry trip across the mouth of the River Shannon the longest river in Ireland.

Conor Pass – drive the highest mountain pass in Ireland to get to Dingle.  This drive is insane and does not have nearly enough room for two cars, which makes it a pretty exciting drive.

Overnight in Dingle – one of the most famous Irish cultural towns enjoy traditional Irish music and great food.  Don’t forget to snap a pic with the broze statue of Fungie the dolphin.

Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 5

Blasket Island

IRELAND – Blasket Island Lookout overlooking the in Dingle Peninsula (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Drive the Dingle Peninsula – take Sleahead drive and enjoy the scenery.  Make sure to make time for stops because around every bend is a breathtaking vista worth a few pictures.

Blasket Islands Lookout – DON’T MISS THIS because it’s probably the most incredible view in Ireland!

Gallarus Oratory – stop to see one of the oldest examples of ancient monastic architecture.  Built by stacking stones this church is an incredible example of ancient Irish culture and architecture.

Kilmacduagh Church – Really cool stop if you’re not too churched out.  There are no tourists here and it’s great for a few pictures.  Some of the Gallarus Oratory film highlights the churches archeological features.

Drive the Ring Kerry – Much like the Dingle Peninsula the Ring of Kerry is another costal drive that will have you stopping for pictures at every turn.

Night out in Cork City – a great university town with live music, good eats, and a fun nightlife.  This is where you’ll want to take a break to let loose and sleep in a bit!

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 6

Cohb

IRELAND – View of Cobh from the port with St. Coleman’s Cathedral in the background (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Explore Cobh Cobh is one of the pretties towns in Ireland.  Nestled along a hillside with St. Coleman’s Cathedral stoically perched high above the town, Cobh is a city made for walking.  Tour along the winding hillside streets as you explore the small cafe’s and pubs.  Venture away from the main avenue and get lost in your camera as you visit the last docking point of the Titanic.

Titanic museum – Cobh was the final stop for the Titanic before it embarked on it’s maiden voyage.  With a profile and replica ticket this museum takes you on a journey of what the Titanic was like.  It’s a great museum and worth the money to see.  The museum is interactive and short enough that you don’t get bored.

Blarney castle – Most tourists make the stop here so it’s on the list, but when I arrived and found out it was 12 Euros and an 1hr queue to kiss the blarney stone I said forget it.  There are so many cooler things to see in Ireland, and my friends already complain that I have the gift of the gab (which kissing the blarney stone gives you).

Overnight in Middleton

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 7

 The Rock of Cashel

IRELAND – View of an ancient abbey from The Rock of Cashel (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Jameson Distillery – Located Middleton Jameson is the world’s most popular whisky.  The tour was pretty good and has a few good photo ops.  The whisky isn’t bad either.

The Rock of Cashel – Close to Middleton in Co. Tipperary the Rock of Cashel is way better than the Blarney Castle and offers in depth tours of it’s royal and monastic past.  The Queen Elizabeth took the time to visit so you should too!

Visit Kilkenny – Another great city with a vibrant night life.  Kilkenny is a great city to watch some traditional Irish sports like Gaelic football or Hurling and crush a few beers.

Overnight in Wicklow

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 8

Powers Court Gardens

IRELAND – View of Powers Court Gardens with the sugar loaf in the background (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Wicklow – A popular town for visitors to Ireland Wicklow is a short drive from Dublin and has a few of Irelands most famous sites, a really nice beach, and the ancient Black Castle ruins that date back to the Vikings.

Glendalough – this is the location of Ireland’s most famous round tower.

Powers Court Estate and Gardens – rated 3rd most beautiful gardens in the world by National Geographic Powers Court is worth a visit.  You’ll see the colourful Sugar Loaf mountain in the background and can enjoy a hike around the gardens.

Climb Sugar Loaf – Located in Wicklow this small mountain only takes 20 minutes to climb and overlooks Dublin and Wicklow.  Don’t leave anything in the car because the parking lot is prone to theft.

Overnight in Wicklow

View from atop the Sugar Loaf

IRELAND – View of Wicklow’s surrounding area from atop the Sugar Loaf (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Must see highlights of this Ireland Road Trip

Giants Causeway

Connemara National Park

Ciffs of Moher Dingle Peninsula

Blasket islands lookout

Ring Kerry

 

Sláinte,

Yak