Travelgirlto https://travelgirlto.com Solo Travel Blog Fri, 14 Feb 2020 23:25:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://i1.wp.com/travelgirlto.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/cropped-profile-pic.jpg?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Travelgirlto https://travelgirlto.com 32 32 159918799 Solo travel to the Maldives https://travelgirlto.com/solo-travel-to-the-maldives/ https://travelgirlto.com/solo-travel-to-the-maldives/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2020 01:47:38 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=2031 When people think about travelling to The Maldives, solo travel isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Mainly known as a honeymoon destination, the Maldives is now attracting different types of travellers and should not be overlooked as an option for a solo trip! When planning your trip, one tip is to make a […]

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When people think about travelling to The Maldives, solo travel isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Mainly known as a honeymoon destination, the Maldives is now attracting different types of travellers and should not be overlooked as an option for a solo trip!

When planning your trip, one tip is to make a list of your wants vs needs. For instance, I knew that diving and snorkelling were going to be a big part of my solo trip, so it was important that my resort had an excellent house reef. Staying at a resort with a good house reef would allow me to snorkel right off the beach and avoid having to take boat rides (usually extra money) to reefs.

Things to consider when planning your trip:

Type of Island

The traditional way to visit the Maldives is to stay at one of the resort islands. As of 2009, the Maldivian Government allows local inhabitants of islands to open their own guesthouses. This law has provided a new travel option- visiting and staying on a local island in the Maldives.

Both are excellent options and provide very different experiences, so it’s a good idea to do your homework about both before making a choice.

Resort Island:

ProsCons
Can drink alcohol Resorts charge a high
amount per night
Great amenities are available
such as spa, water bungalows, etc.
Stuck on one island- you
may be able to go
on a trip to another
island but this is dependent
on the resort.
If you don’t enjoy the
beach or water sports,
you may get bored.
Secluded- the island is
for travellers only
Food can be hit and
miss and may not
provide local dishes

Staying on a local island:

ProsCons
Much cheaper cost per nightLocal rules need to be followed
which means modest dress,
no alcohol consumed etc
Exposure to Maldivian
culture and food
Ferry schedules can be hit
and miss so you may
experience delays getting
to and from the island
Small, intimate guesthousesHotels tend to be no-frills,
limited amenities and
food options

Logistics

The Maldives are in the middle of the Indian Ocean and getting to the main airport in Male (the capital) and then to your resort can be an adventure in itself. If you are travelling solo, you will want to think about when you will arrive in the Maldives as landing at night may make it impossible to get to your resort until morning. The seaplane transfers to resorts stop flying after the sun goes down.

There can also be long waits at the Male airport. My flight back to Singapore was at 11:45 pm and I had to leave my resort at 4 pm. The early departure time was not up to the resort. Travelers are at the mercy of when the seaplane transfers are scheduled for the day. The early resort departure gave me just over 6 hours to wait at the airport with really nothing to do. The Male airport leaves a lot to be desired and there are not many food options (besides a fast food area) or shops.

Amenities/Extras

The easiest way to budget for your trip is to consider everything besides the room as an extra cost. Make sure to factor in the extra money when looking at meal plans, included activities, etc. The cost of three meals a day can add up, and when you add on drinks (even water costs $$$), the all-inclusive plans can be a better bet.

My resort choice:

I determined the most important things for my four day solo trip to the Maldives were:

-a great house reef

-safe for a solo woman

-not too many extra costs

-within my budget

The resort I chose was the Ellaidhoo Maldives resort by Cinnamon. The resort is known for its house reef and is close to the main airport. Since I was going for such a short time, it was vital for me only to have a quick “commute” to my island. I also opted for an all-inclusive plan, which still kept me within my budget.

Costs

The cost of staying at a resort can vary based on what type of room you get and extras you add to your trip. Although a water bungalow may be your dream, it can add hundreds of dollars per night to your stay. If your heart is set on a water bungalow, consider a shorter trip or splitting your stay between a bungalow and a cheaper room option.

You may also have the option of taking a speedboat or a seaplane. The seaplane is the fastest and, of course, more expensive option of the two. However, if you have only a few days for your trip or get seasick, you may want to consider the plane. I flew to and from my resort because it was 1.5 hours (speedboat) vs 20 min on a flight. The sea was also quite rough when I was there, so this was a wise decision.

The food and alcohol costs add up quickly. Keep in mind that the Maldives imports the majority of their food, so your meal costs will be high. Meal plans at resorts are usually the better deal, and if you drink even a moderate amount of alcohol, I would recommend an all-inclusive plan.

What to do in the Maldives

Snorkelling/Diving

If you are a fan of snorkelling or diving, make sure you pick an excellent house reef in the Maldives. Having a great house reef onsite allows you to dive/snorkel right off the shore at any time for no extra cost. A quick google search of the best house reefs brings up the following:

  • Dhevanafushi Maldives Luxury Resort
  • Angsana Ighuru
  • Banyan TreeVabbinfaru
  • Six Senses Laamu
  • W Maldives
  • Anantara Kihavah Villas
  • Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
  • Constance Moofushi
  • Soneva Fushi
  • Ellaidhoo Resort by Cinnamon- I added this on as it’s where I stayed!

*Solo Travel consideration*- Never dive alone. I doubt you would even be able to do this at a resort but nevertheless. Snorkelling alone is much less dangerous, but keep in mind that there can be strong currents in the Maldives. If you are snorkelling alone, I recommend a lifejacket (even if you are a strong swimmer) and letting someone know your plan.

Boat trips

For an extra fee, most resorts will take you to a secluded island for some snorkelling and lunch. I didn’t do this on my trip but regretted it after seeing some of the pictures my resort friends took. It indeed looked like an untouched paradise.

Your resort should also be able to arrange snorkelling tours etc. but if you have a great house reef you probably won’t see too much more than you would from shore.

Joining a resort boat trip is also a great way to meet other guests who have the same interests as you. I met a lot of people who shared my love of snorkelling and we were able to share our sea life sightings each day.

Spa

I didn’t try the spa at my resort but did take a look at the packages. The spa experience tends to be a bit expensive at resorts in the Maldives.

Relax

The Maldives has beautiful beaches and pools to lounge by all day. One of the best things to do in the Maldives is nothing at all. As a solo traveller, I met lots of people just sitting at the pool.

My top tips for solo travel to the Maldives

Here are my top tips for traveling to a resort island solo in the Maldives:

Decide your wants vs needs- it’s almost impossible to get everything you want at one resort

Join resort activities as a way to meet other guests and staff

Read lot’s of reviews on the resort and check if anyone has stayed there solo before

Make sure you understand how you’ll get to the resort and the arrival/departure times

A trip to the Maldives is a once in a lifetime experience and being solo should not deter you from visiting. Don’t miss out on experiencing one of the most beautiful places in the world! Are the Maldives on your wish list?

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Solo visit to Body Blitz Spa in Toronto https://travelgirlto.com/solo-visit-to-spa-in-toronto/ https://travelgirlto.com/solo-visit-to-spa-in-toronto/#comments Thu, 03 Oct 2019 22:19:45 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1904 Solo visit to Body Blitz Spa in Toronto Toronto, Canada, is home to many world-class spas, but Body Blitz Spa is unique in that it’s women only. I decided a solo visit to this spa was needed and was the perfect spot for some “me time.” Location The original Body Blitz spa opened in the […]

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Solo visit to Body Blitz Spa in Toronto

Toronto, Canada, is home to many world-class spas, but Body Blitz Spa is unique in that it’s women only. I decided a solo visit to this spa was needed and was the perfect spot for some “me time.”

Photo credit: Body Blitz website

Location

The original Body Blitz spa opened in the west area of downtown Toronto in 2005 and was so successful that a second location opened in the east in 2012. Both locations have the same setup and amenities.

The spa is open everyday:

Mon-Thu: 10am – 8pm | Friday: 10am – 9pm
Saturday: 9am – 8pm | Sunday: 9am – 6pm
*Therapeutic waters circuit closes 15 min before the spa closes.

Costs: It’s possible to just go and enjoy the water therapies without adding on a massage or scrub. I recommend adding on a massage, as you get so relaxed after a soak in the waters.

If you do want to just go for a soak, Tuesdays are their discount day, so you can save about $10.

Body Blitz spa experience


Body Blitz is most well known for its therapeutic waters circuit. The spa provides a collection of saltwater pools, a steam room, and a sauna, to enjoy. Besides enjoying the waters, you can book massages, body scrubs and body mud to detox and nourish your body.

There is a juice bar at reception where you can pre-order your smoothies and teas for pool side delivery.

The Therapeutic waters circuit is set up in the diagram below. Good luck staying 1 minute in the cold plunge! It’s up to you on how you would like to complete the circuit. Just be mindful of not spending too much time in the steam room or sauna. It’s easy to get dehydrated, so make sure you bring a water bottle from home (not a glass one).

Things to know before your visit

What to bring:

Bathing suit bottoms are mandatory to wear, but if you forget yours, you can purchase some from reception. Towels, a robe, and a pair of sandals are provided for use in the spa area. The pool deck can be slippery, so make sure to wear your sandals at all times.

There are loungers in the pool area and I would recommend bringing a magazine or book to read. All electronics are prohibited in the spa and can only be used in reception.

Food and Drink

You cannot bring food inside the spa, but you can order drinks from the juice bar. When planning your visit, it’s a good idea to have something to eat before arriving at the spa. I usually order a drink with some protein powder in it to help keep me full. You should also bring a reusable water bottle.

Time to spend at the spa

If getting a massage or other spa treatment, plan to arrive about 90 minutes in advance to have ample time for a few water circuits. It’s also a good idea to spend some time in the waters after your treatment. On average, I would say 2 hours is a reasonable amount of time to spend at the spa. There is a 2.5-hour time limit.

Health issues to think about

Anyone with a cardiac or respiratory condition, high or low blood pressure or any other health condition should use the waters with a physician’s approval. As well, if you are pregnant, you won’t want to visit the baths.

My visit Solo

I took a Friday off of work to enjoy the spa at a quieter time. I arrived at 11:30 am for my water therapies prior to a massage at 1pm.

The reception area is very welcoming, with a space to shop for their body and skincare products, as well as order your juice. After completing my health form, I was taken on a tour of the baths area and shown how the circuit worked.

I enjoyed a few rounds of the water circuits and some lounging by the pool with my juice. At 1pm, my masseuse picked me up by the pool and brought me to a lovely massage room.

I would recommend enjoying the baths for at least an hour beforehand to loosen up your muscles and really get a relaxing massage. Also, leave some time to enjoy the Epsom salt bath afterward.

Solo visit to the spa

When I visited, there was a good mix of people alone and in groups. The advantage of going by yourself is that you can decide how long you want to stay in each bath and set your own pace.

Being an electronics-free environment, I found it relaxing to just spend some time with myself without any other distractions. It was also great to look around and see groups chatting instead of everyone looking down at their phones.


Interested in reading about other solo spa trips? Click here to read about my solo trip to the Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland.

Tips for a Solo visit

I loved my solo visit and think these tips will help you enjoy yours:

*Bring a book/journal to relax with when not in the baths. It’s good to have sometime outside the waters so you don’t get overheated.

*Book a time in the mornings during the week if you want it to be extra quiet. You’ll see a lot of groups on the weekends.

*Make a day of it. Don’t plan anything for after your visit. You will be pretty tired and it’s good to rest and enjoy the therapeutic effects for a few hours.

Solo trip rating: 5/5

Visiting a spa solo should be at the top of your list for experience you can enjoy on your own. Being there in your own company allows you to relax at your own pace and to focus just on you. I wouldn’t hesitate to visit this spa again solo!

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Where I stayed in Iceland as a Solo traveler https://travelgirlto.com/where-i-stayed-in-iceland-as-a-solo-traveler/ https://travelgirlto.com/where-i-stayed-in-iceland-as-a-solo-traveler/#comments Fri, 20 Sep 2019 17:42:54 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1811 Iceland solo stays: Accommodation beyond the hostel I’ve spent a good share of my solo travel adventures staying in hostels. I have fond memories of those solo trips! Many nights having drinks with fellow travelers and sharing stories. Unfortunately, I also have not so fond memories of plastic bags rustling at 4 am as my […]

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Iceland solo stays: Accommodation beyond the hostel

I’ve spent a good share of my solo travel adventures staying in hostels. I have fond memories of those solo trips! Many nights having drinks with fellow travelers and sharing stories. Unfortunately, I also have not so fond memories of plastic bags rustling at 4 am as my fellow bunkmates got up to leave.

Over the years, I’ve moved away from staying in hostels, towards bed and breakfasts, unique accommodation (read my post about sleeping in a lighthouse) and hotels. Being part of a food tour was one of my favorite memories of my trip to Iceland. I highly recommend that you try a tour if you have any interest in local cuisine. For my solo travel friends, this was a great tour to meet other solo travelers who provided me with great tips on where else to visit! 

Iceland Accommodation

Finding cost-effective accommodation in Iceland can be difficult. As a solo traveler, you will want to plan out your wants vs needs when picking a place. Iceland’s tourism has been booming and the amount of tourists visiting the island is increasing each year.

The supply of accommodation does not meet the demand which leads to very high prices for what you get. I’ll admit, when I first started looking at places to stay in Reykjavik, based on the prices, I expected luxury accommodation but, spending $200-300 on a hotel in the capital city will only get you basic amenities.

Once you get out of the city, the supply becomes even less so you’ll have to plan out where you want to stop and pick your hotel/inn accordingly. Read reviews carefully as cheap is not always a good option!

Heading down South

Gorgeous fields in the South of Iceland

My solo travel plans included a day in Reykjavik and then a drive down to the South for some exploring for a few days. You can read all about my solo journey here. Usually, I will loosely plan out my itinerary, being flexible with what sights I stop at and how long I spend at each one. For Iceland, I had to spend a lot of time mapping out where I would be stopping each night and trying to find accommodation in that area. I commonly came across two problems: No vacancy or Not suitable.

No Vacancy: This is due to there not being a lot of places to stop at in the South and all tourists wanting to be at the same attractions. Tour companies also tend to book out blocks of rooms at the larger hotels months in advance so you will be out of luck if you are looking last minute. Accommodation tends to be smaller hotels too, so the good places book up fast!

Not suitable: The low supply of accommodation has led to several local bed and breakfasts and inns popping up in the South. While I love supporting local businesses, I would caution you to read reviews before booking. Some of these places may not be up to standard and once you arrive, you will likely not have an option to find other accommodation.

Plan on budgeting about $200 US a night in the south for nice accommodation and about $150 US a night in the Reykjavik area. These rates will be lower in winter and higher in peak summer.

Based on my planning, these are the four hotels I chose to stay in Iceland. I believe I chose well but the price of my hotel in the south was very expensive and sort of took away from my enjoyment of it.

My Solo stays

After about a week of looking at solo accommodation options, I realized I was going to have to increase my budget and lower my “must haves”. I settled on the following:

Must haves:

  • Private Room/own bathroom
  • Parking
  • Breakfast included
  • In a good location on my route

Day 1 Stay: Reykjavik- Exeter Hotel

I wasn’t supposed to stay at this hotel as I had booked their sister hotel, The Skuggi. Two days before my departure, I received an email from the hotel, indicating they were doing some renovations on some rooms and would need to move me to their sister hotel, The Exeter.

The Exeter is part of the Keahotel chain in Iceland and has good reviews online. Here’s what I thought:

Room: 4/5

Small-sized room with a nice view of the harbor. If you stay here, I would recommend asking for a harbor view. The room has a window you can open for some fresh air which is important in the summer.   Please note that hotels in Iceland tend to not have air conditioning or even fans in the room so having a window stops your room from becoming an oven. Keep this in mind when thinking of where you want to stay in Reykjavik as some areas are quite noisy.

View from the Exeter Hotel

Breakfast 3/5:

Buffet breakfast was hot/cold: The use of Melamine crockery wasn’t a great choice and reminded me of a college cafeteria. The food was ok though and there were enough choices.

Parking: 5/5:

Underground parking was free which was great but it’s limited so you may not get a spot.

Location: 4/5

The harbour location was nice and was away from the bars which makes is a bit quieter. It took me about 10 minutes to walk to the centre of downtown.

Solo stay: 4/5

The location is good and there is a big bar/ eating area where you can chat with other travelers if you’d like. The only downside is the hotel is a bit expensive for what you get and the breakfast was disappointing. I would stay here again though.

Day 2: KirkjubaejarklausturGlacier View Guesthouse

The front of Glacier Guesthouse

Finding a nice place to stay near the Jokulsarlon Glacier is a challenge in high season. I was lucky to find this delightful place that had some vacancy. I loved my stay.

Room : 4/5

The inn is a motel style with smallish rooms and bathrooms. I would not advise more than two people to a room. For a solo traveler, it was perfect. There is a large glass window at the front of each room which is great for light.

Breakfast :5/5

This inn provides both dinner and breakfast. I would highly recommend you do both and enjoy dinner with fellow travelers at shared tables. As a solo traveler, these interactions are what make my trips so memorable. The food is fantastic and the conversations, just as good.

Parking: 5/5

Your car is parked right in front of your door so no issues.

Location: 4/5

The location is about 5 km off the main highway, half way between Vik and Hofn. It’s a good stop point in the south of Iceland but still a bit far from Jokulsarlon Glacier. If you do stay here, I highly recommend going to the Fjadrargljufur Canyon early in the morning to beat the crowd.

Solo Stay: 5/5

The Glacier View Guesthouse is a great place to stay for a solo traveler. The cost of the accommodation may be a bit higher than other hotels but I really enjoyed the communal dinners and think it’s perfect for solo travelers.

Day 3: ArnesGuesthouse Geldingaholt

This was my favourite place I stayed in Iceland. The location and affordability should put it on every solo travelers list! The owners live onsite and are happy to chat with you.

Room: 4/5

I had to break my rule here and take a room with a shared bathroom. Turned out to be fine as there was a sink in the room and two shared bathrooms that were spotlessly clean. The room was well appointed, clean and super quiet.

Breakfast: 4/5

The breakfast is good but a bit basic. The dinner on the other hand was fantastic and I would highly recommend you eat here! The prices are very reasonable and there is a menu of a few choices every night.

Location: 5/5

Located on the outskirts of the Golden Circle, the quiet farmhouse location of Guesthouse Geldingaholt was it’s most outstanding quality. Built on a hobby farm, the inn is surrounded by sheep, horses, and goats. I enjoyed a long walk along the road between the farms after dinner. With the rolling hills, it is a beautiful sight.

Solo Stays :5/5

The location and the friendly staff make this a perfect stop on your Golden Circle tour. The dining area is a great area to meet fellow travelers and the hosts are happy to help you with any travel requests.

Day 4: Skuggi Hotel Reykjavik, Iceland

My last night I was back in Reykjavik again and at the Keahotel sister hotel I had booked, The Skuggi. This ended up being a better fit for me as a solo traveler.

Room 4/5

The room was smaller than my room at the Exeter but was fine for the solo traveler. The room had a window that opened onto a balcony but since all of the balconies were connected, this didn’t seem safe to me. Someone could walk along and just walk right into your room. Keep this in mind if you are booking a room at the back of the hotel.

Breakfast 5/5

The hot/cold buffet breakfast was fantastic and much better than the Exeter’s breakfast. They had normal plates!

Parking: 5/5

There was ample underground parking that was free.

Location: 5/5

The Skuggi is in a better location for sightseeing than the Exeter. The location is five minute walk from a Bonus grocery store and about 10 minute walk from my favourite bakery, Braud &Co.

Solo Stays 5/5

The location and amazing breakfast made this a great choice for me as a solo traveler. I was able to walk to lot’s of restaurants and attractions and even did a grocery shop at Bonus. I would recommend solo travelers stay here.

Where ever you end up staying in Iceland, you will be amazed by the stunning landscape and natural wonders of the country. To make your stay memorable, take some time to plan your trip, including your accommodation, to avoid any unhappy surprises on your trip.

Enjoy Iceland!

Related posts:https://travelgirlto.com/traveling-alone-in-iceland/

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10 Tips for your Solo trip to Paris https://travelgirlto.com/tips-for-solo-trip-to-paris/ https://travelgirlto.com/tips-for-solo-trip-to-paris/#comments Fri, 06 Sep 2019 18:43:51 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1731 Paris, the city of lights, is my favorite city in the world and in my opinion, great to explore solo! My last four trips to Paris have been on my own and I’ve loved each one more and more. Aside from reading a Paris guide book, there are some things I’ve done over the years […]

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Paris, the city of lights, is my favorite city in the world and in my opinion, great to explore solo! My last four trips to Paris have been on my own and I’ve loved each one more and more.

Aside from reading a Paris guide book, there are some things I’ve done over the years that have made my solo trips more enjoyable. I hope my top 10 solo tips will help you in planning your solo Paris trip.

Tip #1 Pick your Arrondissement

What the heck is an arrondissement? Well, it’s what Paris uses to divide itself into districts, numbered from 1-20. The centre of Paris starts at 1 and then it spirals outwards from there. Which arrondissement is right for you will depend on what you want to see, and how central you want to stay.

For your first visit, I would narrow your stay down to the first 1-10 arrondissements. These districts have most of the museums, and tourist attractions that you will want to visit and you’ll be able to walk to quite a few from your accommodation.

My favourite arrondissement is the 6th. This area is known as Saint Germain des Pres and has wonderful cobblestone streets lined with unique boutiques, cafes and wonderful boulangeries. From my place, I could walk to the infamous Cafe de Flore and have un cafe at one of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris.

It’s a good idea to map out what you want to see and try to stay around that area. This will save you commuting time and allow you to get to know a neighborhood well.

Tip #2 Take the train from the airport to the city

The train is the most economical and straightforward way to get from the airport to the center of the city. Prior to buying a ticket, you will need to take a look at where your hotel is situated to check where to change train lines.

The RER B train line runs every 10-15 minutes from the airport from 5 am to 12 am. Multi-use tickets and passes are also available but be careful as tickets & passes are subject to fare zone limits, notably with regards to airports. I usually buy a separate ticket for the airport to the city and then a book of 10 tickets- called a carnet from the vending machines at the station.

A single ticket will take you anywhere within the city of Paris on the Métro and RER networks, and you can transfer between lines–or between the Métro and the RER–on the same ticket. I like having a bunch of tickets in my pocket so I don’t have to keep buying a ticket each time I enter a station.

Major stations from airport to city centre:

  • Airport- CDG
  • Gare Nord
  • Chatelet Les Halles
  • Notre Dame
  • Luxembourg

*Keep in mind there can be a lot of walking and stairs between changes in metro lines. If you have a ton of luggage or are exhausted, you may want to think about taking a taxi. It’s pricier but it will save your feet!

Tip #3 Don’t pack too much into one day

There are so many attractions and amazing museums to see in Paris, you could spend months seeing them all. Pick the main attractions you want to see and rank them in order of priority. Then start visiting each in the order of your list. It’s unlikely you will get see everything, so this way you won’t be as disappointed if you hit your must-see places first.

Seeing attractions in Paris will take more time than you think mainly because:

  1. Waiting in line to get into them takes time- you can wait an hour to get into attractions, especially the Lourve, Musee D’Orsay and Notre Dame.
  2. The actual size of the attractions and crowds means it takes a lot longer to explore them
  3. You will be more tired from walking than you think- breaks will be needed.

**Solo tip for not waiting in line too long- Buy tickets online if possible- this is especially important for the Lourve, Musee D’Orsay and the Effiel Tower.

Or, join a guided tour of the museum- a lot of times you skip the line and get to meet other people!

Tip #4 Join a food tour!

One of my most favorite things to do in a new city is to try its local food. Instead of trying to investigate all the local food myself, I find joining a food tour at the beginning of the trip to be a better choice. Not only do I get to try great food, I get to do it with fellow travelers who love food. Also, if I join at the beginning of a trip, I can return to my favorite places. Pretty smart eh?

*Solo Travel tip- For those solo travelers shy about eating dinner alone, I suggest you book a food tour for the evening and cover one of your dinners!

 I did a fabulous food tour of Montmarte with Secret food tours and am still dreaming of the coffee eclairs! Read all about it here! There are tons of different food tours to do in Paris so take your pick of what interests you…wine and cheese, sweets, gourmet food, food markets, neighborhood tours as well as the ultimate chocolate tour. 

Tip #5 Avoid the scammers

Traveling alone can leave you open to scams from people who want to take advantage of your lack of local knowledge. Help prevent this by using these tips to avoid scammers in Paris:

  1. Scammers are everywhere but they especially love train/metro stations, squares, and tourist attractions. Be extra mindful in these areas.
  2. On the steps of Sacre Coeur Cathedral you will find the “string scam” where someone will walk up to you like they want to shake your hand and put string on your wrist like a bracelet. Avoid these guys, they will ask for money.
  3. Be weary of friendly strangers who approach you. They usually don’t have your best interest at heart.
  4. Avoid anyone asking you to sign a petition, they tend to ask for money after you sign.
  5. If anyone comes up to you asking if you lost a gold ring, keep walking. The ring is a scam where they will ask you for money after they give it to you.
  6. Pickpockets tend to work in teams and are prevalent on the metro. Be aware of your money and phone on the metro at all times.
  7. If you really want someone to take a picture of you, make sure you choose the person. Anyone offering to take the picture could be taking your camera. Use your best judgement.

Tip #6 Research some places to eat ahead of time

One of the challenges of traveling solo is dining alone. In Paris, there are so many wonderful restaurants but some can feel a bit romantic to be taking yourself out for a bite to eat.

I recommend doing a little research to find some restaurants that feel comfortable for you. I usually start by looking for places where there is bar seating. This is my favourite way to dine solo since you are seated near other diners but still have some privacy.

Cafes with some outdoor seating are also a great choice. When I’m in Paris and staying in the 6th arrondisement, you will find me dining outside at Les Deux Magots, where you are free to sit for hours with a coffee after dinner, watching the crowds.

If you are feeling more daring, try the website https://www.eatwith.com/ , where you can dine with locals in their homes. It’s a great way to make some connections with Parisians and get tips for the rest of your trip.

Finally, make sure you plan at least one of your meals around a food tour!

Tip #7 See an event while you are in Paris

There are so many amazing shows and events happening in Paris all the time and just because you are solo, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join in the fun.

On my last trip to Paris, I got last minute tickets to an Opera at the Palais Garnier. The seats ended up being box seats which had a bit of an obstructed view but only cost me 50 euro! Not too bad for a private box.

Solo tip: Join a meetup group for internationals while in Paris. The group https://www.meetup.com/Paris-going-to-the-theatre-Meetup/ has meet ups to see theatre productions in English. What a great way to spend an evening!

Make sure you check what is happening in Paris well in advance of your trip to secure tickets. I usually use https://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/major-events/what-to-do-in-paris to find something fun to see while in town.

Tip #8 Use your feet, the Metro and Uber to get around town

Staying centrally allows you to walk to most of the main attractions and save yourself the hassle of tickets and train stations. However, if you are in Paris for more than two days, your feet will start to hurt from all the walking and you’ll want to conserve your energy.

The metro in Paris is very easy to use and you should not be afraid to use it as a solo traveler. The trains start at about 5:30 am and run until 1 am (and around 2:00 am on Friday/Saturday). I would recommend not using it too late at night, especially if you are staying outside of the tourist areas as it can get a bit sketchy.

Most stations will have a large metro map at the entrance and down at the platform level. All you need to know is what number/color line you are traveling on and the direction you are going in. Keep in mind, it can be a long-distance between metro lines if you have to switch trains. Make sure you keep your ticket until you leave the station. Staff often check tickets and you might be fined if you can’t prove you have a valid ticket.

I only started to use Uber on my last trip to Paris and it’s been a lifesaver. On my way to see the Opera, I was running late and not near any metro stations. I was able to use wifi to call an Uber and made it in time. If you don’t speak French, Uber is a lot more stress-free way to get to your destination than a taxi. I would highly recommend using it when you are tired of walking or it’s later in the evening.

Tip #9 Take a class

In a country known for it’s spectacular boulangeries and delectable duck confit, this is where you want to be taking a cooking class. Choose from croissant making or cooking a three course meal and enjoy eating your creations.

Look for cooking classes where a meal is shared afterward so you have more time to get to know people and enjoy the food. If you are looking for a gourmet cooking class try LeFoodist. If you prefer something a little more casual, try the company Meet the French, where you can cook in someone’s home.

Beyond food, try a French perfume workshop and leave with your very own perfume to take home.

Tip #10 Understand the culture

If you take sometime to read up about the French culture and social etiquette prior to arriving in Paris, you will be rewarded by a smoother trip.

Restaurants

Meals in France can differ a lot from meals in your home country: think longer and more relaxed! Food is extremely important to the culture here so you should prepare to wait a bit to order, then wait for your food between courses and finally you will need to ask for the bill.

Also, wait staff in Paris aren’t into too much chit chat so don’t feel slighted if they seem abrupt.

Meet and Greets

Interactions with everyone should always begin with Bonjour (day)/Bonsoir (evening). This means when you are entering a shop, restaurant or seeing a friend, this should be the first thing out of your mouth. Even if you don’t speak any other French, knowing this phrase is really appreciated by locals. It is polite and respectful to say this when entering anywhere in Paris.

Don’t start kissing everyone

In Paris, it is customary for friends to greet each other with a kiss. When meeting strangers you will shake there hand. On the off chance, someone does go in for the air kiss, remember that you go to your left and don’t actually kiss them, just do an “air kiss”.

I hope these ten tips have been helpful in planning your solo trip to Paris. As I write this, I am dreaming of sitting on a cafe terrase in Paris eating a pain au chocolat and drinking un cafe. Enjoy your trip!!

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Solo Travel Guide to Newfoundland, Canada https://travelgirlto.com/solo-travel-newfoundland-canada/ https://travelgirlto.com/solo-travel-newfoundland-canada/#comments Fri, 16 Aug 2019 21:14:30 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1584 Solo travel in Newfoundland Canada should be on everyone’s bucket list. The easternmost province in Canada, Newfoundland is an island famous for its stunning landscape, fantastic seafood, and Newfoundlander hospitality. You won’t meet a nicer group of people than the people of Newfoundland and you’ll feel welcomed everywhere you visit. Solo travel in Newfoundland requires […]

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Solo travel in Newfoundland Canada should be on everyone’s bucket list. The easternmost province in Canada, Newfoundland is an island famous for its stunning landscape, fantastic seafood, and Newfoundlander hospitality. You won’t meet a nicer group of people than the people of Newfoundland and you’ll feel welcomed everywhere you visit.

Solo travel in Newfoundland requires some planning ahead but the island is very safe and relatively easy to explore. I’ve traveled to Newfoundland solo for the last ten years so I thought it was about time I put together a list of my favorite places to visit and some solo tips to help you plan your trip. Even if you aren’t planning on traveling solo, these tips will help you plan your trip to Newfoundland.

Red chairs seen in Newfoundland’s National Parks

Getting to Newfoundland

You can arrive in Newfoundland by plane or ferry ride from Nova Scotia (the province beside Newfoundland). The plane is much preferred due to the length of the ferry ride being 7-14 hours. However, if you are driving across Canada or coming up for the United States, the ferry might be a good option for you.

Most planes arrive into the eastern side of the island, in the capital city of St. John’s, but there are other airports in central and western Newfoundland that are options as well. However, I highly recommend starting in the east and working your way across the island.

The Battery in St. John’s Newfoundland

Getting around Newfoundland

You will need to rent a car if you are traveling anywhere outside of St. John’s. While there are tours that go across the island by bus, if you are going solo you’ll need your own transportation.

*Tip*

Make sure you have booked your rental car WELL in advance of arriving. There are limited cars and when they are gone, they are gone. In the summer this means booking a few months in advance.

Many people decide to fly into St. Johns and out of Deer Lake, so they don’t have to drive across the island twice. There is an option to pick up your rental car in St. John’s and drop it in Deer lake (and vice versa) so think about this option when planning your trip.

Traveling solo by car will give you the freedom to explore a bit off the grid and see the island on your own schedule. The roads are all in good condition but driving after dark is discouraged due to the high chances of hitting a moose. There are on average 600 moose collisions a year in the province so don’t take the chance.

This is me in Twillingate, the first week of July. Bring warm clothes!

When to go

Choosing when to go to Newfoundland will depend largely on what you want to see and your tolerance for the cold. Do you want to see Icebergs? Your best bet is May to early July. Interested in getting the best weather? Late July to early Sept.

Keep in mind that late spring to early fall is the peak season for visiting Newfoundland so it will be busier than usual but that just means you need to plan out your trip a bit more in advance. You can’t really “wing it” and just go exploring unless you are ok with potentially not having accommodation available at your destination.

The weather can also be a bit finicky in Newfoundland so you’ll have to bring a windbreaker jacket and some warmer clothes no matter what time of year you go. I was in Twillingate, Newfoundland in early July and it was 6 degrees Celcius for two days! That’s not normal but anywhere in the province can have cold spells. If you go in May you may get snow so be prepared and bring your hat and gloves.

What not to Miss in Newfoundland

St. John’s

The capital city, St. John’s, is the starting point for most visits to Newfoundland and definitely worth a few days of your trip. The downtown area is surrounded by the St. John’s harbour, enclosed by a small opening, commonly known as The Narrows. This picturesque view will be the backdrop for many of your pictures!

Some of my top picks for where to stay in St. John’s:

Budget: Hosteling International has a place on Gower street which gets great reviews, is in an excellent location and has the option for a private room.

Mid Range: Gower Manor Historic Bed & Breakfast  or  At Wit’s Inn bed and breakfasts are both consistently rated highly and are located in the downtown in historical houses.

Higher end: Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland or The Ryan Mansion. If you choose the Sheraton, make sure you get a harbour view room- you won’t regret it!

View from The Sheraton

Take your time to stroll the downtown St. John’s area and enjoy the local shops and restaurants. You can’t go wrong with ordering some seafood dishes and a glass of local beer. If it’s whale or iceberg season, consider a tour on one of the iceberg tour boats to sail through the Narrows and see them up close! Bring a jacket- it will be cold.

These houses are part of Jellybean row. You will see them all over downtown St. John’s

In the evening, if you are interested in local music, head to George Street in the downtown district. George Street is a car-free and has tons of bars to choose from. Nervous to go solo? Don’t be- the people couldn’t be any friendlier! Just pull up a stool at the bar and have a chat with those around you and you’ll soon find new friends.

This is a “schreech in” where you become an honorary Newfoundlander

My picks for restaurants to dine alone at in St. John’s:

Merchant Tavern– Lively spot with bar seating. You will love the seafood.

Rocket Bakery– Great place for lunch or a coffee! Lot’s of seating and free wifi.

Evoo in the Courtyard– many gluten free and vegetarian options!

Cape Spear

Cape Spear, St. John’s Newfoundland

For the best views you should prioritize seeing Cape Spear and Signal Hill when it’s sunny.

Cape Spear, a national historic site, is approximately a 10-minute drive from downtown and the location of the oldest lighthouse in Newfoundland. The grounds allow you to walk through the remains of a Second World War Coastal Battery and tour the inside of the lighthouse. There are also guided tours in the summer months. I would budget about 2 hours here.

On your way back to downtown St. John’s make a left turn at the sign for Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove and head down the road for some lunch. This cute town has one of the best fish and chips places in St. Johns- Chafe’s Landing. Stop here for some delicious cod and chips and you won’t be disappointed!

Signal Hill

View from Signal hill St. John’s

If you are wanting some exercise, you can park your car and walk up Signal Hill to the top but I would suggest only doing this if you have proper running shoes and water. Once at the top, enjoy the gorgeous view of St. John’s, and explore the gift shop in Cabot Tower. The tower, located at the top of the hill, houses exhibits about Marconi and the wireless station that operated from there.

Quidi Vidi

About a five minute drive from downtown, the cute village of Quidi Vidi is not to be missed. Make sure to visit the brewery and enjoy some local beer. The roads are very narrow here so it’s best to park your car near the beginning of the village and have a walk around. The best place to eat in Quidi Vidi is Mallard Cottage but make sure you make reservations online before your trip or you will be out of luck! It fills up fast!

My favorite beer in Newfoundland!
Irish loop

If you have another free day in St. John’s, I recommend a drive down to the Irish loop in the south. The Irish loop takes you down the east coast with some lovely stops along the way. It’s a drive to be done on a day preferably with no rain so you have good visibility. You can read more about this drive in my guide to St. John’s here.

Bonavista Peninsula

This peninsula is about 3 and a half hours drive from St. John’s and comprises the towns of Trinty, Port Rexton, and Bonavista. This stunning area is worth at least a three-day visit. There are shuttles between St. John’s and Bonavista but the best way is to drive so you can explore all three towns.

Jigging for cod in Bonavista
Where to stay

Since you are traveling solo, I would suggest setting yourself up at the Port Rexton, Skerwink hostel for a few nights. This area is ideal for hiking the Skerwink Trail and visiting the sites of Port Rexton.

Feeling the need for a bit more solitude? Stay in a Tiny house like I did. Read all about my tiny house stay in Port Rexton here.

My tiny house in Port Rexton

Another option is to stay in Bonavista at the HI Bonavista hostel which is very well located in the downtown area.

*My tip* I’ve stayed in some fantastic bed and breakfasts in this area and it’s my preference to stay in these while in Bonavista. The owners will help you set up tours etc and are so welcoming. You also tend to meet a lot of other travelers on the same route as you so you can share stories over a communal breakfast. My favorite bed and breakfast was: Puffins Landing Bed and Breakfast. Book this place way ahead of time!

What to do:

Skerwink Trail– the trail is a fantastic 5 km circular hike that goes along the coastline between Port Rexton and Trinity and is my favorite hike in Newfoundland. The trail is well constructed and should be hiked clockwise so you get to see the views of Trinity. 

Skerwink Trail in Port Rexton

Port Rexton– Home to the wonderful Port Rexton Brewery, this town is a popular stop for weekend breaks from St. John’s. During the week it’s a lot more quiet. Besides the brewery, check out Two Whales cafe for a great lunch.

Trinity– is a wonderful historic town made up of narrow little streets and houses. Best explored on foot, you can venture to many historic houses that have been turned into museums. Trinity is great for a day trip but as a solo traveler, I would base yourself somewhere else, as it is very quiet.

Colourful houses in Trinity

Bonavista– is the largest town on the peninsula and a good option for a home base. The town has exploded in popularity with the St. John’s crowd in the last few years and tends to get busy on the weekends in the summer. New restaurants and shops have popped up in the last few years making it a great place to explore for the day. Don’t miss the Bonavista lighthouse for wonderful sunsets, the Garrick theatre, a multi-use 200 seat theatre, and the Murray premises for a look at a historical fishing family. 

Elliston– Great for a day trip, the Puffin lookout (see photo below if you don’t know what a Puffin is) should be explored. Arrive early in the morning in puffin season and you’ll have the place to yourself. A short walk will bring you to a rock that the puffins use to nest on. You should see hundreds! I would recommend a zoom lens for great photos. Elliston is also the root cellar capital of Newfoundland so keep an eye out for some along the way.

Puffins in Elliston

Solo Travel in Newfoundland: My top picks for dining alone in Bonavista:

Two Whales in Port Rexton– A great place to grab lunch, snacks or coffee.

The Boreal Diner– great food with lot’s of seating. Good for dinner.

Bonavista Social Club – wonderful pizzas and outdoor seating

Twillingate

This town is a must-visit for its gorgeous scenery and boat tours. The area is a popular spot to see icebergs, puffins, and whales during the late spring through summer. If you are obsessed with seeing icebergs like I am, you may want to stay for 2-3 days. If not, when traveling solo, I would suggest a night here with two days of sightseeing. It’s not my favorite place for solo travel in Newfoundland as the town tends to cater more to families and groups.

On an iceberg tour in Twillingate in July- note the jacket!

Where to stay: There is a great hostel with dorms and a private rooms called Hi Tides Hostel, Twillingate & Beyond Inc. I’ve stayed here before and really enjoyed it. It’s quite small though so you may not run into too many other guests.

Things to do:

Iceberg and puffin tours– There are a fair amount of these boat tours in Twillingate so you will have your choice of whatever suits your schedule. The tours aren’t cheap so if you are hoping to see icebergs make sure you check with the tour operators to see if some in the area. The puffins will be around and I’ve seen whales on one tour out of three.

There are a few museums, a few hiking trails to try and some cute pubs for dinner and drinks.

Top picks for solo dining in Twillingate while traveling solo in Newfoundland:

The Cozy Tea Room- great food at affordable prices, has take out option as well

Pier 39– Nice patio to sit on a sunny day

Georgie’s Restaurant– at the Anchor inn hotel.

Fogo Island

Made famous by the opening of the Fogo Island Inn hotel, Fogo is a very special island in Newfoundland and should be visited for a few days, if your schedule allows. It takes a little bit more time to get there as it’s on an island and needs a ferry crossing. It’s not possible to pre-book your spot on the ferry so if it’s a busy time of year (summer, holiday weekend, etc), make sure you are at the dock at least an hour before to line up.

The famous Fogo island inn

I would recommend staying in Fogo for three days at least to enjoy the island and not feel rushed.

Solo travel Newfoundland: Where to stay in Fogo

If you are traveling here solo, keep in mind there are no hostels or big hotels besides, the Fogo Island Inn, which is very expensive. Your best bet is to stay in a bed and breakfast or rent a house for a few days.

* Travel tip: I highly recommend having all your accommodation booked prior to going to Fogo or you may be out of luck.

Fogo Island is a seasonal place so if you are there in the offseason (Oct-May) you will not have a lot of choices for dining or accommodation. I ate at the same place every night when I visited in May. It was good though! I would also recommend taking some food with you for lunches while you are exploring the area.

The walk down to an artist studio in Fogo. These huts are rented out to artists to live and work in. Note the hat and scarf-end of May.

I did some great hiking in Fogo, including the amazing Brimstone Head trail. The flat earth society believes it’s one of the four corners of the earth. The views were incredible and I was even able to see some icebergs from the top. Check out my post on iceberg hunting! Dress warm…my fingers have yet to warm up!

Top picks for dining solo in Fogo while traveling solo in Newfoundland (there isn’t much):

Bangbelly– casual place withgreat food for lunch or dinner

The Cod Jigger diner– spent alot of time here as it was the only restaurant open in spring! Get the fish and chip! So good. Also a good option for take out.

Fogo Island Inn– You can book this special place for lunch ahead of time by booking through opentable. https://fogoislandinn.ca/your-stay/dining/ . I highly recommend this option.

The beautiful Fogo Island Inn restaurant. Possible to visit without staying at the hotel.

Although not the easiest place to travel to solo to in Newfoundland, it is definitely doable and very recommended! It’s unlike anywhere I’ve ever visited and it’s got a special feeling you can’t describe unless you experience it first hand.

Gros Morne

The final destination that you must see on your solo trip to Newfoundland is Gros Morne National park. This may be the only place some people visit when they come to Newfoundland. To drive from St. John’s to Gros Morne is about 8 hours so doable in a day but not recommended. If you are only interested in seeing Gros Morne, you should consider flying into Deer Lake which is about an hour away from the park.

West Brook Pond

Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognized for its stunning fjords, unique landscapes, and wonderful hiking trails. This is a destination you must have on your list when you visit Newfoundland. I recommend at least 4-5 days in this area to see everything.

Where to stay in Gros Morne

The park is made up of a few towns: Rocky Harbour, Norris Point, Woody Point, Cow Head, and Trout River. Each has its pros and cons but for first-time visitors, I would recommend staying in Rocky Harbour. This area has the most restaurants and shops and is a good base for hikes.

Getting from Norris Point to Woody Point can be achieved by ferry or car. Keep in mind if you are driving from one side to the other it takes close to an hour. Many people stay a few days in Rocky Harbour and then stay a day or two in Woody Point/Trout River.

Solo Travel Newfoundland: Places to Stay solo in Gros Morne:

Budget: The Out East Adventure Centre in Rocky Harbor is a hostel that gets good reviews but I have not stayed there myself. The location seems great and it has a common area which would make it easy to meet fellow travelers.

Mid Range: Gros Morne Cabins in Rocky Harbor are 25 separate cabins with kitchenettes. There is laundry onsite and each cabin has a view of the ocean.

High end: The Fish sheds– These six cabins are built on a hill over Rocky Harbour with gorgeous views of the ocean. There is a kitchenette and Netflix available. These cabins are good for solo visitors who want a bit more comfort at the end of the day.

Solo travel Newfoundland: What to do in Gros Morne:

Western Brook Pond– The boat ride through this landlocked glacier fjord is a must-do on a trip to Gros Morne. The walk to the boat tour is about 3km on flat ground so keep this in mind if you have mobility issues. The guided tour is about 2 hours on the lake, providing you with a history of the fjord’s formation.

Boat tour in West Brook Pond

The tour is run by Bon Tours and you can get your tickets before online or at the dock. It is better to try and book ahead though since the tours can sell out. Another tip if you buy your tickets dockside, is to have cash as their internet can be unreliable.

This was my number one favourite activity I did in the park and it’s not to be missed.

Hiking– There are tons of beautiful hikes in Gros Morne, the most popular being the hike up Gros Morne mountain itself. If you are going solo, be warned that this is not an easy hike and usually takes about 7 hours or so total. The weather can impact the safety of the climb. If you are not a very experienced hiker, I would recommend booking a day tour for this hike through https://grosmorneadventures.com/book-day-hike/.

Other recommended hikes that are fine to do solo:

Green Gardens Hike

Tablelands Hike

Lookout Hills Hike

Burnt Hills walking trail (located dockside – Norris Point)

Tablelands

The Tablelands

The Tablelands are a barren reddish mountain range that tower hundreds of metres above the Atlantic Ocean. The location is south west of Gros Morne National Park, about a 10 minute drive from Woody Point.

The mantle is the remnants of an ancient ocean floor that was pushed to the surface by tectonic forces. An easy hike here is about 5 km along a flat surface at the base of the mountains ending at a small river. There is also an option to do a guided hike with Parks Canada throughout the summer months at specified times. Check their website for details.

Kayaking

Kayaking in Bonnie Bay from Norris Point

There are different kayaking tours offered by Gros Morne Adventures around Bonne Bay that depart from Norris Point. There are tours for different levels from beginner to intermediate that allow you to experience the area from the water. I have taken the three-hour tour and can highly recommend it! It was also a great way to meet other travelers.

Solo Travel in Newfoundland: Where to dine solo in Gros Morne:

Anchor Pub– Rocky Harbor-Grab dinner and watch one of the live shows- you’ll need tickets for the show though so book ahead.

The Black Spruce– Bit of a fancy place but the mussels are worth the drive to Norris Point

The old loft– Woody Point- great patio right on the water and good food.

Earl’s– Rocky Harbor- Has moose stew, moose burgers etc. Great for take out. Gets busy so go early.

Moose having a drink in the lake

Although I have only chosen five of my favorite places in Newfoundland, you really can’t go wrong with any area you explore. Wherever you wander you will enjoy stunning landscapes, great food, and the wonderful Newfoundland hospitality.

Solo travel in Newfoundland is something you should try! With a little planning ahead of time, you will have a fantastic trip and experience one of the most beautiful places in the world. Enjoy!

In my happy place- Newfoundland!

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I slept in a Lighthouse! Unique accommodation in Newfoundland, Canada https://travelgirlto.com/unique-accommodation-in-newfoundland/ https://travelgirlto.com/unique-accommodation-in-newfoundland/#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2019 23:40:49 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1487 All accommodation was paid for by me and all opinions are my own. Newfoundland is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. I’ve been visiting this Canadian Island for 10 years for both work and pleasure and I can tell you it still amazes me with all it’s beauty. Over the years […]

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  • All accommodation was paid for by me and all opinions are my own.
  • Newfoundland is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. I’ve been visiting this Canadian Island for 10 years for both work and pleasure and I can tell you it still amazes me with all it’s beauty.

    View of St. John’s Harbour in Newfoundland Canada

    Over the years I’ve driven across the island from end to end, taking in all the sights along the way. This trip I decided to “spice up” my solo adventure by staying in some unique accommodations to add to the experience.

    Finding Accommodation in Newfoundland

    Newfoundland is the most eastern part of Canada and has the large capital city of St. John’s, followed by a few smaller cities throughout the island. It’s crucial to book your accommodation ahead of time. Tourist season is from mid May to mid Sept and places book up fast. Outside of tourist season a lot of hotels and restaurants outside major cities close, so make sure you check in advance of your arrival. Read my post on things to do in St. John’s if you want to find out more about my favourite city.

    Iceberg in Greenpoint Newfoundland

    Primarily, I book hotels or bed and breakfasts for my stays in Newfoundland but this time I was going to be criss-crossing the country, looking for icebergs, visiting some small towns along the way. I thought I’d be adventurous and look for some non-conventional places to stay.

    It can be hard to predict where the Icebergs will be months ahead of your trip but you usually have a pretty good guarantee of seeing them in Twillingate. I decided my first unique accommodation would be in the pretty village of Twillingate in a Salt Box house!

    Twillingate- Salt Box House

    A salt box house is a traditional type of house seen all over Newfoundland. The Salt Box style is named for its shape, which resembled the boxes used for shipping salt to Newfoundland. There are still a lot of people in Newfoundland who live in this type of house but unfortunately many houses have fallen into disrepair over the years and been abandoned.

    Aunt Daisy’s house in Twillingate, Newfoundland

    One company, The Old Salt Box Company, has taken it upon themselves to buy and restore some of these houses to their original glory. This was my second stay in a Salt box Company house and it won’t be my last!

    The houses are sprinkled over Newfoundland and really allow you to feel what it must have been like to live in Newfoundland 100 years ago. The views of the landscape will take your breath away as you look out the gorgeous wall to wall windows to the ocean. Each house is colorfully painted on the inside and has both modern and traditional touches.

    A view from Aunt Daisy’s living room

    I stayed for three nights in a Salt Box named “Daisy’s Place”. All of the houses are named after women and like all women, have their own personality. I loved the wall to wall windows, the claw foot tub and the Newfoundland quilt! It was a very remote area to stay but at the same time very peaceful. I loved watching the sunset from my living room.

    The ocean view from Aunt Daisy’s house in Twillingate

    These houses are all self catering and you don’t get any housekeeping so keep this in mind if you are wanting a more hotel feel. I loved staying here solo and would highly recommend this to anyone who wants some quiet reflection in a completely safe and beautiful environment. You will need a car to get here but that is really a requirement for anywhere in Newfoundland outside the cities.

    The walk down to the water by Aunt Daisy’s house in Twillingate

    Burlington-The Lighthouse Inn

    After no success in seeing Icebergs in Twillingate (argh), I moved along to my next destination, Burlington Newfoundland. I picked this area as my second guess to where Icebergs might be hiding. The town of Burlington is about 30 minutes north of the main highway and there is no cell service once you arrive in the town. Yep, there are still a lot of places in Newfoundland that don’t have cell service so keep this in mind if it’s essential for you to be connected at all times.

    Town of Burlington Newfoundland

    Burlington Newfoundland, with a population of under 500 people, was put on the map by Canadian comedian Shaun Majumder, who grew up there and wanted to promote the area. He’s created The Gathering, a festival that is held each August in the town and attracts hundreds to the area.

    Now on to the lighthouse. The Lighthouse Inn is by far the most unique accommodation I have ever stayed in and was a wonderful experience. Run by Gayla and Alonzo, the restoration of the lighthouse is a labor of love and will amaze you with all the wonderful mementos hung with care within the inn.

    The Lighthouse Inn, Burlington Newfoundland

    A full tour of the lighthouse included instructions on how to use the ladders to reach the top two levels. The first level has a kitchen and full bathroom, followed by the second level which has a comfy bed. You won’t want to have more than two people staying here though, it’s just the perfect size for one or two people.

    After successfully getting the ladder down I was greeted with a cute third level, that had a vintage record player (that works) and some cozy seats. Perfect to enjoy a little downtime after iceberg hunting for the day. The lighthouse top level is where I had my coffee in the mornings and was rewarded with a stunning view of the harbor . The only thing missing was an Iceberg!!

    The third floor of the lighthouse with a record player

    Staying here solo was a wonderful adventure and I’d recommend it to anyone who has no mobility issues as there are a lot of stairs. There is also excellent wifi there so you will be connected with the internet world in no time. I felt very looked after at all times and had Gayla and Alonzo just across the way if I needed anything.

    The view from the top floor of the lighthouse

    You couldn’t ask for a better welcome to the area and both Gayla and Alonzo love their town and want you to have the best experience while staying with them. While you are staying with them, make sure you check out Gayla’s store in her house where she sells bath bombs,sugar scrub,soapy bars, & lip balms as well as other local crafts. I loved the sugar scrub!

    Oh, and I finally saw some Icebergs!

    Icelbergs in Kings Point Newfoundland

    Port Rexton- Tiny House

    On my way back to St. John’s I decided my last unique accommodation would be a Tiny house. I’ve always been fascinated by the prospect of having a tiny house that you could take with you to a plot of land and be self sufficient. So, on my search for unique accommodation, I made sure to book a stay in Port Rexton at Jon’s Tiny house.

    The Tiny House in Port Rexton

    Located very close to the Skerwink Trail, this tiny house sits on top of a hill on a property that has a lovely view of the ocean. Jon was there to meet me and immediately provided suggestions for dinner and called them to confirm they were still open. Turned out to be a fantastic spot- The Peace Cove Inn, try it if you are in town.

    Sitting outside the tiny house in Port Rexton

    After a short tour of the house, I settled into my two day stay. As Jon describes the house on his airbnb site: ” The outside of the home is reminiscent of a traditional Newfoundland Saltbox with colourful clapboard siding, while the interior features modern architectural design with clean lines and warm accents, such as exposed wood cathedral ceiling and natural birch hardwood floors. The home comes fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, cozy loft bedroom with queen sized bed, a space that can be easily converted for dining, lounging or sleeping and plenty of unique storage solutions.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. I did some work from the lovely bench and table at the front of the house and watched a spectacular sunset from the picnic table.

    Inside the tiny house in Port Rexton
    Port Rexton Brewing Company

    All in all, I would stay here again and recommend this place for a solo or stay for two people in the Port Rexton area. Jon was very friendly and made me feel at home in my tiny home. Make sure you check out the Port Rexton brewery which you can technically walk to (I’m lazy so I drove) and the Two Whales restaurant which has amazing healthy lunches, snacks and coffee.

    Life’s too short for regular hotels

    Over all, staying in these unique accommodations allowed me to have not only have a unique experience in an interesting place but to also meet wonderful people who take pride in their creations and want to share their love of Newfoundland with others. Staying in hotels, you miss out on the unique places that make up part of the Newfoundland culture and provide you with fantastic memories of a trip to a beautiful place. I highly recommend you try something more unique on your next trip!

    Have you stayed in some interesting accommodation?

    Related Posts on Newfoundland:

    https://travelgirlto.com/guide-to-visiting-st-johns-newfoundland/

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    Traveling alone in Iceland- I did it solo and you can too! https://travelgirlto.com/traveling-alone-in-iceland/ https://travelgirlto.com/traveling-alone-in-iceland/#comments Fri, 26 Jul 2019 23:14:55 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1402 Iceland has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. I’d heard how beautiful the scenery was and decided I had to go check it out. This would be another solo trip for me so I knew I had to plan it out before I left to make sure I got the […]

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    Iceland has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. I’d heard how beautiful the scenery was and decided I had to go check it out. This would be another solo trip for me so I knew I had to plan it out before I left to make sure I got the best experience out of my five days there.

    Traveling Solo

    Traveling solo in Iceland was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it for any traveler on the fence about it. When traveling solo, there are some countries where you can just buy your plane ticket and figure everything else out when you arrive. Iceland is not one of those countries. The country’s popularity as a travel destination has exploded over the past 10 years and unfortunately, the tourism industry is a bit behind. There can be a shortage of hotels, restaurants, and rental cars in the busy season so some planning ahead is necessary.

    What do I need to plan?

    How long?

    At first, I planned on doing a long weekend in Iceland but the more I read about the country, the more I wanted to see the South. To not be rushed, I added on another night to my trip so I was there 5 days/4 nights total. Of course, I would have loved to stay longer but Iceland is an expensive country and traveling solo, you need to keep this in mind.

    You can drive around Iceland, with stops in about a week. To do the South coast, you need at least two days to see the sights and not be too rushed. Add on another day for the Golden Circle drive (details below) and you are up to three days. You’ll probably want to spend at least a day in Reykjavik and the blue lagoon so there’s another day. So, I think 5 days is the minimum.

    One of many waterfalls in Iceland

    Car, tour bus or camper?

    My recommendation is to rent a car even if you are traveling solo. Why? Freedom! You can stop where you’d like (you’ll want to stop often for pictures), eat when/where you’d like and stay where you’d like. Sure, renting a car on your own in Iceland isn’t cheap, but trust me, when you work out how much the bus tours cost and the amount of time you are on the bus, it looks much more attractive.

    Tour Bus

    The bus was an option for me at first when I thought I would just tour the Golden Circle and Reykjavik. Tons of tours pick you up at 7-8 am from Reykjavik and drop you back in the city around 5 pm or so. You get to hit the major highlights on the circle and stop for lunch. Plus, it’s a good way to meet people.

    Once I added the South on to my trip, bus tours were off the table. It was just too far to take a five-hour journey (one way!) down to the glacier and then back to Reykjavik in one day. There are of course some bus tours that go for a few days and those are a better option for long distances but by then the price is looking the same as a rental car.

    If you still think a tour bus may be the right choice for you, here are some of the most popular:

    Renting a car

    I decided to use the RentalCars.com site to book my car. Their website lists all the big car rental brands and you can choose the car that’s right for you. Make sure you read all the terms and conditions, especially what is included for damage coverage. You can read a ton of horror stories on the internet about people renting cars in Iceland and having to pay a huge fee when returning them with damages. Wind damage and gravel damage being the main culprits. Don’t assume you are covered by your insurance- check your policy as some do exclude Iceland.

    I opted for the extra insurance coverage that Rentalcars.com offered and was glad to have the peace of mind and not be stressing out when a stone hit my car.

    You don’t need a massive SUV in the summer if you are sticking to the main highways. In the winter, you are probably safer to rent an SUV regardless of where you are going.

    *TIP* Get the WIFI option if they have it. It’s basically a WIFI hot spot that you can carry with you everywhere. It was amazing and my best decision on the trip. I used it as my GPS as well as researching what I was visiting along the way.

    Campers

    Campers are a very popular choice for travelers driving long distances in Iceland. I can see the positives of not having to pay huge hotel prices and meals in restaurants but I also think as a solo traveler, it can be very isolating to be alone 24 hours a day. Don’t get me wrong, if this is what you are looking for- you do you, but for me, it would be a bit too much alone time.

    In the end, a rental car was the right choice for me. I loved being able to stop and take pictures whenever I wanted to and drive at my own pace. I was very tired from all the driving, which is something you should think about when deciding what mode of transportation is best for you. I think if I was going to do the trip again, I would add on another day, just to cut down on the driving time per day.

    When?

    The summer and winter in Iceland make a big difference to what activities you can do, types of driving conditions and number of daylight hours. Think about this when you are mapping out your itinerary.

    I chose to go in the summer which gave me the advantage of about 20 hours of daylight in June. It allowed me to fit in a lot more sights during the day and then drive to my next accommodation later in the evening when it was still light out. If you visit in the winter you could only have about 4 hours of daylight so some planning around when you will see things needs to be done before the trip.

    10pm in Reykjavik

    Where to go?

    The majority of visitors to Iceland will just do Reykjavik and the Golden Circle route. This route is essentially a road that you can follow from Reykjavik that will take you to three tourist sites: Pingvellir National Park, the Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall.  

    To do the Golden Circle, you need at least a day. If you are solo, you can book a bus tour to pick you up from many locations in Reykjavik or you can be like me and rent a car.

    If you have longer than a few days, I highly encourage you to venture down to the South or, if time allows, to complete the Ring road (the road that goes all around the country) to see all the sights.

    Where I wandered

    If you have the time, I highly encourage you to add on a visit to the South of Iceland. The landscape is completely different than the Golden Circle and you will be rewarded with seeing the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. The glacier is a 5-hour drive from Reykjavik and while you can do a bus tour in a day from there, I would recommend taking a car or a tour that splits the drive into two days. Don’t underestimate the distances between towns in Iceland. 

    Zodiac tour in Jokulsarlon

    The plan-Day 1 Jokulsarlon

    I took one day to drive from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon to do a zodiac tour of the lagoon. This was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I did it. Plan to spend a few hours here. I planned to drive straight down to the glacier and then slowly work my way back to Reykjavik, touring the Golden circle as well. This was a smart way to do it except next time, I would stay closer to the Jokulsarlon Glacier after seeing it so I didn’t have to drive anymore. I ended up driving a totally of 7 hours in one day and it was too much.

    After leaving the glacier, I had to drive 2 hours back to my first night accommodation at the Glacier View Guesthouse which was a wonderful stay. I enjoyed eating dinner at a shared table and chatting with other travelers. After so much alone time in the car, this was exactly what I needed.


    Interested in hearing more about where I stayed in Iceland? Read my Guide to Solo Accommodation in Iceland post here!


    Day 2- Fjaðrárgljúfur, Svartifoss and Vik

    The next day I went to the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon which was one of the highlights of my visit. A short walk uphill brings you to the gorgeous lookout where you can view the canyon below. I loved being there early in the morning and missing the crowds too.

    The Canyon Fjaðrárgljúfurnyon

    After leaving the canyon, I made my way to my first waterfall of the trip: Svartifoss. This gorgeous waterfall falls over a semicircle of basalt columns and is worth the hike to see. This place was much busier thank the canyon so try and also get here as early as you can if this bothers you.

    Vik is a city in the South of Iceland and a great place to stop for lunch, gas and stocking up on food. I ate at the Sudur Vik restaurant and highly recommend the burger! From Vik, it’s a short drive to the amazing Black Sand beach, Reynisfjara. You’ll want to spend an hour or so here and walk up and down the beach, checking out the amazing basalt stacks. Please be cautious of walking too close to the water as the waves can be unpredictable!

    It was then time to head to my guesthouse Geldingaholt in Arnes, a tiny little town in Iceland that was just what I needed. The guesthouse is located on a farm in the middle of nowhere (common in Iceland) and has horses and sheep. I loved walking up the road, not a soul in sight besides me and the horses in the fields. So peaceful.

    Day 3

    I planned to be at the Secret Lagoon in Fludir when it opened at 10 am and have it all to myself. This lagoon is often compared to the Blue lagoon and seen as a more authentic Icelandic spa experience. Unfortunately, about 25 other people got the same idea to show up before it opened so it wasn’t as peaceful as I had hoped. It was fun to walk around the boardwalk and see the bubbling pools of water though.

    Next I drove to the Kerið crater, which is a volcanic crater with a lake that is a spectacular shade of blue. I did a quick walk around it and took some pictures and left. I would say this is not a must see stop but nice if you had some extra time.

    Next, onto lunch, and a stop at the well-known tomato restaurant Friðheimar. All the tomatoes are grown onsite and the menu is all tomato-based. Of course, you need to make a reservation, which I didn’t do but I was still allowed to sit at the bar and have the soup and try a beer. They have tomato beer there too but they wouldn’t let me try a sample before I bought it so I passed. Anyways, it’s a beautiful restaurant with great food and I highly recommend.

    The Golden Circle: Geysers and Waterfalls

    After filling my face with tomato soup I made my way to the famous Strokkur Geyser. I think this was my least favorite stop in Iceland. The number of tour buses and people was outrageous. This was a very crowded place but you only have to spend about 10 minutes here to wait for the geyser to spout water and then you can be on your way. There is a great gift shop here which I enjoyed with about a thousand other people.

    My final stop on my tour was Gullfoss. This is an amazing waterfall and worth walking to the end, although you will get wet! I was lucky to see it on a sunny day and there was a beautiful rainbow over the falls. A wonderful way to end my tour.

    After this stop, I was exhausted and started the drive back to Reykjavik.

    Day 4- Reykjavik

    As a solo traveler, I found Reykjavik to be a very safe and walk-able city. I stayed at the Skuggi hotel which was very well located in the downtown core, had free parking and a great breakfast included. This was not a cheap hotel but you will find all accommodation in Reykjavik to be quite expensive. The Kex hostel is also a great alternative for those who enjoy the communal environment!

    During my time in Reykjavik, I managed to take a fantastic food tour, Wake up Reykjavik which you can read about in a separate post I wrote. I love food tours because it usually covers one of my dinners and I get to meet other travelers who love food!

    I also did a walk around the city and enjoyed the view of the city from the Hallgrímskirkja church tower. I enjoyed an amazing cinnamon bun from Braud and Co! It was so good I went back to buy some for the plane ride home! There are a few museums in Reykjavik and of course, bars that would keep you busy for a day or two but I wouldn’t spend too much more time in Reykjavik as most of the amazing scenery is outside the city.

    Blue Lagoon

    On the way to or from the airport, make sure you tag on a trip to the Blue Lagoon. I went for a solo visit and loved it! You can read my post on it here! I would give yourself at least half a day to fully enjoy it. It was such a great way to end my trip!

    Blue lagoon

    Solo in Iceland

    I really enjoyed my time in Iceland and if I was to do it again, I’d do it pretty much the same except I’d extend my stay and visit the north and west of the country. I’m sure I will be back there again soon to continue the adventure!

    Pros for traveling Solo in Iceland:

    • Very safe for female solo travelers
    • Lot’s of daylight in the summer so you feel comfortable after dark and can see many things in one day
    • Everyone speaks English
    • Great nightlife- easy to meet people
    • Lot’s of travellers- hostels are packed with solo travelers
    • You can stop and take photos whenever you want!! It’s so beautiful you will want to every minute.

    Cons for traveling Solo in Iceland:

    • Expensive!!- try to bring some snacks from home if you are really watching your $$. Stay in hostels and try to ride share if you can.
    • Winter can be brutal for weather- be careful driving and mindful of the daylight hours.
    • Accommodation outside of Reykjavik is sparse so some planning is needed- make reservations before you go.

    As you can see the pros definitely outweigh the cons! Solo travel is great in Iceland and I hope you decide to choose it for your next trip!

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    A food tour in Reykjavik Iceland! https://travelgirlto.com/a-food-tour-in-reykjavik-iceland/ https://travelgirlto.com/a-food-tour-in-reykjavik-iceland/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2019 20:41:01 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1368 *This tour was paid for by me and is not a collaboration A food tour in Reykjavik Iceland! I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do when I’m in a new city is to try the local food. I will sometimes research some recommended restaurants and try to make some […]

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    *This tour was paid for by me and is not a collaboration

    A food tour in Reykjavik Iceland!

    I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do when I’m in a new city is to try the local food. I will sometimes research some recommended restaurants and try to make some reservations but this is quite time-consuming.

    Finally, I figured out that joining a food tour was a much better use of my time and a more cost-effective way to try local dishes. Plus, I have the expertise of a local guide, so I know I’m headed to some great places. I just need to show up and they lead the way.

    Being a solo traveler, I also like the idea of being able to share something I love (food) with others who are also visiting a new place. It can be lonely sometimes traveling solo and it’s great to share a meal and swap some travel stories too.

    I like to book a food tour at the beginning of my trip for a few reasons:

    1. If we visit a place I love, I can return to it on another day of my trip
    2. I don’t know anyone and if I meet some people and hit it off we may end up hanging out later on.
    3. I usually get some great trips on other places to see in the city from fellow tour participants.
    4. Usually, I take a food tour the day or night I arrive. This forces me to get out and do something instead of falling asleep early from jet lag.

    The food tour

    I chose to take a tour with Wake Up Reykjavík: The Reykjavík Food Walk in Iceland. This is a popular tour in Reykjavik, so you will need to book ahead online to secure a spot. I picked the 17:00 time slot as I knew this would also cover my dinner! Come hungry, you will eat a lot.

    Meeting our host Agnes!

    About 10 people arrived at the agreed-upon meeting place to meet our guide, Agnes. Agnes was enthusiastic about Iceland and its food and shared a lot of Icelandic history with us. The emphasis of this tour is on the food so you won’t get a history lesson but you have plenty of chances to ask questions.

    First stop

    The first stop was at Messinn, a wonderful restaurant with an emphasis on fish. We tried arctic char with honey and almonds and fish stew – (cod, potatoes, onions, butter, cream, garlic, celery, white wine, and lime ). Both dishes were delicious and the presentation was breathtaking. The meal was served family-style so you could take as much (within reason) or a little as you wanted. It was also nice to get to know fellow travelers while we sat down and ate.

    Second Stop

    After filling our faces with fish, we then headed off to try the infamous Icelandic hot dog. I recommend you try the hotdog with the works- Icelandic ketchup, Icelandic mustard, remoulade sauce, deep-fried onion, raw onion. I’m not sure I can describe the taste, but it was delicious. I loved the deep-fried onion on it! There aren’t many places to site as it’s a hotdog stand so if it’s cold, you’ll scarf these down pretty quick.

    Third Stop

    The next stop was at, Íslenski Barinn, to try some Icelandic meat soup. This was my least favorite dish as I’m not a fan of lamb. The broth had a nice flavor though. It was also wonderful to sit down again and enjoy some time chatting with the other travelers. By this time I was starting to get full so I appreciated the break between meals.

    Fourth stop

    Our fourth stop, Ostabúðin, was very interesting, as it wasn’t just a restaurant but also a butcher/cheese shop. I had passed it earlier in the day while walking through Reykjavik and it was crowded so I was excited about our tasting here. We sampled some Icelandic cheese and meats that are popular in Iceland as a snack. 

    On the menu for the meats were: Cured Icelandic sheep seasoned with rosemary, thyme and anise, Cured Icelandic horse seasoned with rosemary, thyme and Curry Smoked Icelandic goose with Raspberry champagne vinaigrette.

    The goose was my favourite and paired really well with the vinaigrette. Some people opted not to try some of the meats which was totally fine.

    Last stop!

    The best was saved for last- well if you are a fan of dessert! We finished off the tour at Cafe Loki, for some Rye bread ice cream. Yes, you read that correctly. This ice cream was delicious and has to be tasted!

    Finally, our tour was done. I can’t say enough good things about this tour. The food was delicious and with well thought out stops. Our guide, Agnes, was enthusiastic and we had fun learning fun facts about Iceland and sharing some English sayings with her. She also introduced me to chocolate bars with licorice that I have developed a real love for!

    Being part of this food tour was one of my favorite memories of my trip to Iceland. I highly recommend that you try a tour if you have any interest in local cuisine. For my solo travel friends, this was a great tour to meet other solo travelers who provided me with great tips on where else to visit!

    Have you gone on a food tour while visiting a new place?

    Looking to do something more relaxing on your stay in Reykjavik ? Check out my visit to the amazing Blue lagoon.

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    Solo trip to the Blue Lagoon- The perfect day! https://travelgirlto.com/a-day-at-the-blue-lagoon-iceland/ https://travelgirlto.com/a-day-at-the-blue-lagoon-iceland/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2019 20:51:47 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1327 * everything was paid by me on this trip, not a sponsored post Solo trip to the Blue Lagoon- The perfect day! The most amazing birthday present I gave to myself was a solo trip to the Blue Lagoon while I was in Iceland. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate your big day […]

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    * everything was paid by me on this trip, not a sponsored post

    Solo trip to the Blue Lagoon- The perfect day!

    The most amazing birthday present I gave to myself was a solo trip to the Blue Lagoon while I was in Iceland. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate your big day than lounging in a warm pool with a glass of wine! Birthday or not, I highly recommend that you book some time on your Iceland adventure to visit the Blue Lagoon. Yes, it’s touristy but it’s still worth a visit.

    Location

    The Blue Lagoon is very close to the Reykjavik International Airport so it’s worth visiting right after you arrive or right before you leave. I opted to go right before I got on the plane and it was great to be able to relax for a few hours before flying instead of running around the city. I also thought I might be too tired to enjoy the lagoon when I first arrived as I was on a red-eye from Canada and hadn’t slept.

    The lagoon gets its waters from a geothermal station that is right beside it. Some people think the station takes away from the atmosphere but honestly, I didn’t even notice it.

    The entrance to the Lagoon

    The easiest way to get to the lagoon is to drive yourself and there is a ton of parking onsite. There is also the option of a shuttle bus that you have to pay for that will take you to either Reykjavik or the airport once you are done.

    Arriving at the Lagoon

    If you want to enjoy a less crowded experience, I would recommend getting to the Blue Lagoon as early as possible. I arrived at 11 am which is probably peak time so the lagoon was pretty busy. That being said, the pools are really large and I didn’t find it noisy or disruptive with so many people. There are a lot of tiny corners where you can enjoy some quiet time in the waters.

    When I arrived, I checked in at the front desk with the online voucher I’d printed out from the computer (I’m sure you can just show the online ticket but I like paper). There are a few different packages that you can choose from on the Blue Lagoon website. I ended up taking the Premium package for CAD 100 which included:

    • Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
    • Silica mud mask
    • Use of towel
    • 1st drink of your choice
    • Second mask of choice
    • Slippers
    • Use of bathrobe
    • Table reservation at Lava Restaurant
    • Sparkling wine if dining

    I highly recommend that you book in advance, as there is a limit to how many people can use the lagoon waters so you don’t want to be disappointed when you arrive.

    My time at the Lagoon

    The women’s change rooms are enormous and they have very advanced lockers for all of your valuables and private changing areas if you need more privacy. You must take a shower before getting in the pools and make sure you are clean. They have employees there making sure that everyone does this!

    The showers are individual stalls that have body wash/shampoo and conditioner. I would recommend if you have long hair to not get it wet in the lagoon but if you choose to, you can add some conditioner to your hair before entering the pools to help protect it. I didn’t dare try it with my thick hair but I have heard it can make your hair stiff and difficult to manage.

    In the water

    You can enter the lagoon from inside through an opening (more popular in the winter) or the main outdoor exit down a ramp into the waters. There are hooks to place your towels but don’t be surprised if when you come back someones taken it. No worries, you can always get another one!

    Face mask station

    The first thing I did when I got in the waters was head for a drink! Hey, if it’s included and it’s my birthday, I should indulge! The drink you choose can be a smoothie, pop, water, juice or an alcoholic one. Since it was my special day, I had a glass of wine. There is something so decadent in drinking wine in the lagoon- so indulgent.

    Next, I was on my way to get my first face mask. There is a “mask bar” where you get the gooey mask (Silica from the lagoon) and rub it on your face. I’ll be honest, it’s not the most flattering look but it’s supposed to “strengthen and provide radiance” so I tried it. Since I had two masks in my package, I got to choose from one of the three other types. I went with the Algae mask which felt a lot nicer on my skin.

    There is also a steam bath and sauna that can be accessed from outside and in-water massages in a private section of the lagoon. I happened to walk by this area and regretted not doing this unique experience. Next time!

    You can also take your phone into the lagoon waters but I would recommend you bring a waterproof case from home. You can buy cases that go around your neck. The case can also be purchased at the lagoon store if you forget yours but it will cost you. I was just super careful with my phone near the water but it was risky.

    Lunch at Lava Restaurant

    I can’t recommend lunch at the Lava Restaurant enough. It was a wonderful meal and if you get the upgraded option, you get a glass of sparkling wine that is delicious. Since it was my birthday, I opted to eat in my robe. It’s a great option if you feel comfortable- just don’t use your robe outside before lunch so it’s nice and dry!

    There are three different set menus or an a la carte menu to choose from. I chose the Seafood set menu which consisted of:

    Langoustine soup – Garlic marinated langoustine, dulse

    Cod – Barley, avocado, almonds, broccolini, mussel sauce

    Crème brûlée – Liquorice, skyr ice cream

    They serve the most amazing bread beforehand but don’t fill up on it as the portion of fish was quite big. The staff were nice enough to write a “Congratulations” note on my creme brulee for my birthday. At least I hope that’s what it said- I don’t understand Icelandic!

    I was sad to leave the Blue Lagoon and wished I could have spent the whole day there. One tip I would say is to give yourself a bit more time than you think at the lagoon. You’ll be amazed how time flies and it’s nice not to feel rushed.

    How was it going solo to the lagoon?

    It was fantastic and I highly recommend a visit regardless of how many people you are with. It’s easy to strike up conversations with people if you choose and compare face masks or just chill on your own. The great thing about going solo is you can stay as long as you please without worrying about anyone else’s schedule. I highly recommend a solo trip!

    Top tips for your visit

    1. Book ahead to avoid disappointment
    2. Try to come before or after your flight to avoid extra driving
    3. Put sunscreen on! I got burnt.
    4. Have lunch at the Lava restaurant
    5. Allow for more time than you think you’ll need there
    6. Bring a waterproof phone case
    7. If it’s sunny, sunglasses are a must! The reflection is brutal off the water.
    8. Visit the relaxation area inside the main building and take a nap in the swing chairs

    Have you been to the Blue Lagoon? What was your experience like?

    If you are hungry after your day at the spa and want a fun activity to do, check out my post on the Reykjavik Food tour I went on!

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    Best wineries in Prince Edward County https://travelgirlto.com/best-wineries-in-prince-edward-county/ https://travelgirlto.com/best-wineries-in-prince-edward-county/#comments Sat, 01 Jun 2019 15:56:21 +0000 https://travelgirlto.com/?p=1286 There is nothing like spending a Saturday touring Prince Edward County wineries with your besties to brighten your mood. I just got back from a girls weekend getaway in Prince Edward County (PEC) and had the best time touring wineries, sampling wines, taking pictures in front of barns and enjoy some country air. We hit […]

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    There is nothing like spending a Saturday touring Prince Edward County wineries with your besties to brighten your mood. I just got back from a girls weekend getaway in Prince Edward County (PEC) and had the best time touring wineries, sampling wines, taking pictures in front of barns and enjoy some country air.

    We hit up a lot of PEC wineries in one day doing our own wine tour- I’m not going to lie, we got a tad tipsy by the end. Good news though, I got to visit a ton of wineries and pick my favourites pec wineries to share!

    Prince Edward County

    Prince Edward County is about 2 hours east of Toronto along highway 401 which makes it a great weekend getaway from the city. It’s grown in popularity over the past ten years and is now a common getaway for Torontonians wanting to taste some wine and visit Sandbanks Provincial Park. You’ll want to book ahead for accommodations and restaurants so you aren’t disappointed.

    There are about 40 wineries in PEC so you’ll need to get an early start! Ok, so it’s probably not possible to visit all of them in one weekend but I’ll leave that decision up to you!

    Wineries

    The majority of PEC wineries are located closest to the city of Wellington so that’s a great place to make your home base if you want to minimize your driving time between stops. There are a bunch of wine tours you can find as well that do the driving for you. This post though will focus on my favourite wineries we stopped at along the way and what I liked and disliked.

    Sugarbush winery

    What a cute name for a winery! Sugarbush was our second stop on our tour and one of my favourites. This is a small family owned winery that also makes maple syrup, so make sure you stock up! Here’s what I liked and disliked:

    Liked:

    • Loved the set up of the winery- they had a separate tasting area for tour groups which meant you didn’t have to wait hours on end to do a tasting.
    • The Gewurztraminer was outstanding- I highly recommend trying this when you are tasting.
    • The employee who greeted us was so welcoming and truly seemed to love her job. She was also very knowledgeable about the wines. This made a huge difference to our tasting experience.

    Disliked:

    Nothing really- this was one of my favourites!

    Closson Chase Vineyards

    This winery is well known for it’s Chardonnay but I love it for the purple barn! The winery has been around for many years and now has a “swinery” on the property where you can get pork sandwiches etc for lunch.

    Liked:

    • The Rose and Chardonnay here were extraordinary and I ended up buying two bottles. The staff we had looking after us were very knowledgeable and patient with us!
    • The space is fantastic, with seats to enjoy a glass of wine inside or out. They also have a separate purchasing area which really helps move traffic around the winery.

    Disliked:

    • It’s quite busy here and popular so expect a crowd.
    • Tastings here are expensive and they don’t waive the fee unless you buy three bottles.

    The Old Third vineyard and winery

    Instagram fans will think they’ve died and gone to heaven in this winery. Their massive barn is used for events and is incredibly beautiful. Don’t miss the upstairs that has couches and some amazing views. I could have stayed in this barn for days (with access to the wine, of course).

    Likes:

    • The barn is so beautifully set up and makes you want to spend hours sipping wine
    • Unique wines to try- Sparkling Pinot Noir, traditional method sparkling cider .

    Dislikes:

    • Not really a dislike, more of an fyi, the tasting prices are a bit high- eg. $7 to taste the sparkling Pinot was a bit high. That being said, these are specialty wines with limited production so you will pay more for bottles.

    Sandbanks

    This is one of the oldest and largest wine producers in Prince Edward County and makes some of my favorite wines. Sandbanks is located just off the highway on the way into Wellington so it’s a great stop to pick up some “house wine”.

    Liked:

    • The tasting menu is extensive and you get 5 tastings for $7 which is waived if you buy two bottles. This is one of the more generous tasting offers you’ll see in the county.
    • They make some great wines that are reasonably priced. My favourite is their cassis aprevito, Love. So unique and lovely to sip on a hot summer evening.
    • The staff were super friendly and helpful and you didn’t feel rushed.

    Disliked:

    • It’s a bigger winery so it will be busier and you may need to wait for tastings.

    The Grange

    Just the drive up to the Grange winery will put you in a more relaxed state of mind. As you drive up to the barn, you’ll be met by resident chickens pecking at the grass. The grounds are gorgeous and the winery does picnic baskets to sit on the lawn. Perfection on a nice day.

    Liked:

    • Gorgeous interior with a large tasting area that doesn’t make you feel you need to rush through your tasting to make room for others
    • They have a popcorn machine! Enough said.

    Disliked:

    None of the wines really stood out for me here. Wine is a personal taste so you may have a different experience.

    Waupoos Winery

    This winery is situated in Waupoos which is about a 20 minute drive from the wineries in the Wellington area. It’s a wonderful property set up with a restaurant and a scenic walk down to the water. Ideally, you are sipping a glass of wine as you stroll!

    Liked:

    We were here on a beautiful sunny day and I would recommend trying to visit on a sunny day so you can experience the grounds.

    • Lots of different wines to try here- many blends. I loved the red rabbit which is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet
    • Reasonably priced wines compared to other wineries we visited
    • Great gift shop so you can browse for gifts/souvenirs around after tasting wine

    Disliked:

    • I wasn’t a fan of some of their white wines. The limestone from the lake does add a strong nose to some of the wines and it’s hard to ignore.

    County Cider Company

    This was our last stop on the three day wine tour extravaganza. We decided to end with a trip to the County Cider Company. This was a place I had visited the year before and fell in love with their unique ciders. If you come for a visit, I recommend trying the tasting flight that allows you to taste all their different ciders from dry to sweet.

    Liked:

    • I’ll be honest, I’m a little obsessed with their peach cider. It’s so sweet and unique and worth a try. I’ll be pairing it with orange juice this summer!
    • The tastings are $10 for a flight of all their ciders. I would recommend sharing one between two people. It’s fantastic to try them all!
    • There is a lovely restaurant across the street to enjoy lunch

    Disliked:

    Nothing, I’m obsessed with this place. ☺

    Regardless of what wineries you choose, you will have a great time exploring Prince Edward County wineries and finding those hidden gems that you love. I highly recommend this place for a weekend getaway to enjoy some great tasting wine, good food and experience some country living.

    Do you have a favorite wine region? Let me know!

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