We flew out to Dublin from Edinburgh late on Thursday night with a smooth transition through customs into Ireland. Much to my annoyance my new “smartphone” decided not to be so smart and wouldn’t pick up any of the roaming signals as the Three network decided not to automatically set this feature up. My fault for not checking I guess. Picked up the rental car and headed off to the outskirts of Dublin for a sleep before an early rise to head down to the Cork region in the morning.
Thanks to the continental brekky providing us with our stamina for the day (plus 8 free muffins stuffed into the girls handbags) we were off to Blarney. Our first stop led us to the recommended Rock of Cashel, which I originally understood to mean that it was Gaelic for Castle but turns out its a grand old Cathedral. We were just in time to catch a tour around the site which always helps with understanding the history of the area. The site even contains a graveyard which you can still be buried in if you are on the register, however this has dwindled to just 5 locals all over the age of 80. Once they have passed away then no one else will be buried on the site.
Stop 2 was right down at Blarney Castle next to Cork. Amazing grounds with Blarney Castle rising above numerous caves and passages dug into the rocks beneath the foundations. The main reason for visiting was to kiss the old Blarney Stone so that we might gain the “Gift of the Gab” or achieve great eloquence. No luck so far but that might be because I only gave it a minor brush after seeing the slobber marks left by the other hundreds off tourists that had preceded us that day! Adela assured me that she gave it a good old smooch though as you hang upside down over the walls of the castle. So was not really looking forward to later on when she leant in close…
As per usual, our holidays are punctuated with food experiences and this was no different as we prowled around for half an hour looking for the best eating spot and decided upon a really tasty Chinese restaurant with starters, mains and desert for a reasonable £15.
Blarney to Galway. Google maps is telling us that its only 5 – 6 hours to drive, however as with previous experience driving across Canada and USA I knew this would extend into 10+ hours after stops and detours. Sure enough after only an hour we had visited Ross Castle on the Killarney lake front which has a spectacular setting. Our drive continued on to the Dingle peninsular with stops at several beaches. Some brave souls decided that since the sun was poking through the clouds it was summertime and speedos seemed to be the order of the day. Luckily I forgot mine on this occasion as the water would have created some incredible disappearing acts in the nether regions that would rival David Copperfield’s acts.
Through Dingle to pick up some lunch and up and over the amazing Connor Pass (the highest mountain road in Ireland) with some beautiful scenery. Unfortunately there was heavy fog at the top but some amazing views nonetheless. Quick pit stop for lunch with turkey and coleslaw sammies on the beach. Amazingly you are allowed to drive along the beaches although I was fairly worried that our tiny Fiat wouldn’t make it off again but some smooth wheel spins ensured our safety.
We drove onwards to the breathtaking Moher Cliffs which plunge over 200m into the Atlantic Ocean. I only wish we had some binoculars so that we could see the Puffin’s clearly. Absolutely gorgeous and produces some great (and not so great) vertigo moments for someone like myself who is petrified of heights! I couldn’t believe Adela and Warrick could stand so close to the edges with no barriers.
We parted ways with our flatties the next morning so that we could head out Aillwell Cave and they could lounge around in the Cafes of Galway. I must say that Aillwell Cave was definitely one of the highlights on the entire trip with a short tour in near pitch-black surroundings with a well informed guide. The caves were formed from an underground river before drying out and is where the local, now extinct, bears use to hibernate. At one moment the guide shut off all the lighting within the cave to understand how it was for the discoverer of the caves. You could not even see your hand 1 cm from your face and the guide informed us that if you spend just 72 hours in that level of darkness you will end up blind from your eyes straining to pick up light sources. Spooky.
We ventured back to Galways and enjoyed the atmosphere of the local Arts festival and tourist sites including the Spanish Arches, Cathedral and canal with an ice cream in hand.
We spent Sunday night in Dublin enjoying a well earned pint of Guiness, which tastes a lot better in the city it is brewed in I must say. After stuffing ourselves from the hotel breakfast buffet the next morning Adela and I joined the free Dublin walking tour. Any chance we get we always jump on a free walking tour in all the major cities as they are a great way to see a large portion of the city and quickly gain your bearings. In addition they are free although always worth at least £5 in tips to the unpaid guide who does a good job of sneaking in the word tips every chance he gets. As usual we took in all the most important sites including the Cathedrals, bridges, top pubs in the Temple Bar area and other historic landmarks. All accompanied with a historical background of the Irish independence movements.
On a final note, make sure if you have not taken the next day off work when you get back to the real world, don’t go catching the 10.55pm flight!
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
New on Four Jandals
- Get Peace of Mind When You Pre-Book Transportation November 29, 2022
- Paris on a Budget: Best Cheap Eats in Paris November 7, 2022
- Travel Tip: Train to Pisa from Florence November 6, 2022
What Are You Looking For?
See Our Favorite Topics
Europe1 month ago
Travel Tip: Train to Pisa from Florence
Asia1 month ago
Devouring seafood at the Fethiye Fish Market
Europe4 weeks ago
Paris on a Budget: Best Cheap Eats in Paris
North America1 month ago
The Best Way to Stay in LoDo Denver
Travel Tips1 month ago
The Top Ways To Avoid Relapse While On Holiday
Travel Tips1 month ago
Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Yacht
Travel Tips1 week ago
Get Peace of Mind When You Pre-Book Transportation