Itinerary for Trip to Ireland, Scotland, and Turkey

Planning travel itineraries usually take many hours of research and when you’re taking a group of people with you, the details become even more important.  Initially, I was putting together a 9 day trip to Turkey in September for my travel meetup, but then looking at airfare, I realized for just an additional few hundred dollars, I could fly to Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland.  With airfare being the biggest expenditure, hitting a couple of my bucket list spots made sense!

Four nights in Dublin and four in Edinburgh should give me ample time to explore the Cities and take a day trip or two.  Traveling solo, I’ll be able to take photographs and leisurely or quickly make my way through these amazing Cities.  I’ve found a couple of Airbnb accommodations in the City centers that range between $50 and $60 per night.  I’ll have my own bedroom in someone’s flat with access to their kitchen for making breakfast and perhaps a sandwich for dinner to save money.  Of course, I’ll dine out occasionally…probably every day for lunch.

Some of the places I intend to visit in Dublin are Howth Head and St. Stephen’s Green.

Additional spots within Dublin are Temple Bar, Grafton Street, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, O’Connell Street & bridge, Trinity College, Dawson Street, and Kilmainham Gaol (an old jail).

My flight from Dublin to Edinburgh through Ryan Air is $107 with the baggage fees.

In Edinburgh, I’ll walk the Royal Mile, visit the Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and climb up to see the view from Arthur’s Seat.

$170 will take me from Edinburgh to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey (near Fethiye) to a beautiful family owned Villa with a pristine swimming pool, and hiking along the Lycian Way trail to the towns of Oludeniz and Fethiye.  The weather should be perfect, in the 80’s!  I have four tour participants signed up and one gentleman who is very interested.

After spending four glorious days of soaking up the sun and regenerating our spirits, we’ll head to the exciting and bustling City of Istanbul.  Exploring main sites such as the Blue Mosque pictured below, the Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Spice Market, and the Grand Bazaar, our senses will be filled with bright colors, aromatic scents, and the hauntingly beautiful call to prayer as it permeates the Streets!

My philosophy is…if you want something badly enough…you’ll find a way to make it happen!

10 Tips to Cut Your Travel Costs

If you love to travel like I do, here are some tips to stretch your travel dollar…

1.  Lodging

Lodging is by far the largest expense when traveling. Couchsurfing is a terrific alternative to the standard hotel room if you’re a bit adventurous. After making an online profile through, you can search their database based on location and other filters, such as age and male/female, for a place to crash for a few nights. It’s totally free and the friendships you make could become lifelong! You may also host people at your place, if you have a couch, an extra bed, or even an air mattress on the floor. In the past two years, I’ve Couchsurfed in Cape Town, South Africa, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Philadelphia, and New York City.

Patio of Cape Town, S. Africa Couchsurfing home


2.  Solo Travel

 If you’re traveling solo through a travel company, choose a company that doesn’t charge a single supplement fee, such as G Adventures. They’ll pair you up with a roommate and who knows, you may even become Facebook friends with them!

One of my roommates in Thailand through G Adventures


3.  Food Continue reading

Going Solo in Amsterdam

My friend and I arrived to Amsterdam‘s Central Train Station just before 9am on May 30th, following a not so comfortable overnight train ride from Munich.  I’ve taken overnight trains in Egypt and Portugal and I have to say this was the least comfortable.  I’m sure my friend, Richard, can’t get comfortable in many beds because he’s 6’7″ tall, but it was also quite noisy throughout the night and when I would wake, I was being tossed to and fro.  Enough complaining!

We bought our 72 hour transport card and followed the Google Map directions I had printed off leading us to the Metro line that would deposit us less than a half mile from the Airbnb I had rented for our 3 night stay in Amsterdam.  Upon arrival to the Apartment, we were shown around by the owner, and once she left we settled in.  It is situated on a canal and had everything we needed.  We were especially thankful for the washer and dryer, which we put to immediate use!

Richard’s twenty something year old Cousin, Tobias, from Germany was arriving by train a couple of hours later, so I went exploring by myself, while he went to meet him at the station.  This little car was parked on the Street in front of our Apartment.  I call it the half car…


Having traveled in Southeast Asia, six countries in Africa, and other developing Countries, and experienced the organized chaos associated with a multitude of bicycles, I was surprised by this in Amsterdam, along with absent helmets on most children and adults, and the legality of motorcycles on bicycle lanes.  There’s nothing like biking along and suddenly feeling the air whoosh by from a large motorcycle within inches of your handlebars!


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Travel Confessions

Letizia from Dutch Goes Italian tagged me for the Travel Confessions series. Thank you so much Letizia!  As you can tell from Letizia’s blog name…she’s Dutch, but loves everything Italian!  If you ever plan a trip to Italy…she’s your travel source!

There are a few rules in the Travel Confessions series:

  • Post a photo (or photos) and description(s) of your confession(s) in a new post.
  • Tweet your post with hashtag #TravelConfession and follow/tweet @Traveling9to5
  • Tag 3 other travelers you’d love to see

Travel confession No. 1

I prefer traveling solo…most of the time.  For some of the obvious reasons…you pick what you want to see and do…eat where and what you want…walk at your own pace…decide when you’re ready to leave…don’t have to deal with a traveling partner’s annoying habits (we all have them)–such as complaining..moodiness..overly talkativeness, etc..odd sleep schedule or snoring, etc.

I also enjoy it because I love to meet new people and it’s easier when you’re on your own.  This is a photo from my solo six week road trip through the Southern U.S. back in November.


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Tarpon Springs, Florida

As I’m revamping my site…I came across this post I neglected to post while on my 6-week road trip adventure…so…a break in the regular telecasting…

Tarpon Springs is another quaint and historic town in Florida!  Through the years I’ve visited most of the “fun in the sun” areas in Florida…Miami..Key West..Ft. Lauderdale..Orlando..St. Augustine..Ft. Myers..Coco Beach…Panhandle, so I was surprised to discover a few of the quaint towns in the Tampa Bay area.  Staying with a local and receiving guidance from her made the difference!  Thanks Zully!

Today, I ventured off on my own and explored the Tarpon Springs area.  With a population of over 23,000, it has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the U.S.  The main street (E. Tarpon Ave.) has some street art (which you know I love) and antique stores.

Browsing in the windows, one store caught my attention–Tarapani’s.  It has been run by the same family for 101 years–I spoke with the son and Grandmother–who were the only people in the store.  They had some very interesting items and paintings…

This beautiful park was located at the end of the main road…

If you turn right onto Alt. Rt. 19, it will bring you to Dodecanese Blvd.–turn left and you’ll find a street filled with Greek shops & restaurants and the Sponge Docks…

Lots of fishing boats were docked.  Some with sponges…

This flower’s beauty stood out to me…

I walked to the end of the street where I found these fishermen.  Notice the fish in mid-air.  I asked permission to take a photo and they said sure and stood there.  I said, “You can keep working” and the guy on the left said, “Oh, thanks!”.

Walking back to my car I took a final photo…

Driving through a residential area of Tarpon Springs, I spotted this lovely home…

I hope you enjoyed your tour of Tarpon Springs and will come back again soon!

26th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship at Fort Myers Beach

This year’s Fort Myers Beach Sand Sculpting Championship was amazing!  I’ve never attended a competition and it was exciting to see them up close.  Their site online said it started at 9:00am…so I arrived there about 8:45am…wanting to get early morning light for good photos.  Once there I found out it didn’t start until 10:00am…so I had an English muffin at the Holiday Inn (where the competition was) and took a walk on the beach…

There was a fence with black netting around the sculptures so you couldn’t see them…until you paid the $5.00 entrance fee.  Since I’m tall…I snuck one…

I was the first one through the entrance and was able to get some photos without people in them…

The event is for 10 days and began on Friday the 16th.  The judging took place on the 18th and I attended on Monday, the 19th.

This is the sculpture that won…

Although I really liked that one, it wasn’t my favorite.

I met one of the sculptors and he informed me that the theme was winter wonderland, so I’m surprised they awarded first place to one that wasn’t within that theme.

Love this one…

This is my second favorite…I think the detail is amazing!

Jack Frost was my favorite!  The eyes look so real…I love everything about it!

This is Bill (one of the competitors).  He’s on the road a lot for competitions, and home is Montana.

This is a partial view of one of Rod Green’s chain saw wood carvings.  I lucked out with the position of the fish and the sun.  Twice a day he makes a sculpture for the audience.

Here’s Rod at work…

This one took about 30 minutes to make.  Very cool!!

I had packed a sandwich that was in the car for lunch…so I ate that while I drove the 30 minutes to my condo.  I took an afternoon jog and had salad for dinner.  See you tomorrow for the sunset at the Yacht Club that’s less than 10 minutes away!

Sunsets at Pier 60

Clearwater, Florida has a daily festival on their pier and surrounding area called, “The Sunsets at Pier 60.  I had to jump for joy from the beauty!

The Hilton was glowing…

I noticed this girl and asked if I could take her photo because her hair was pretty.  She seemed surprised and quickly said “Yes”!  Her name was Ebony and we told her she should be a model, but she said she has MS and couldn’t wear high heels.  I told her upon leaving, that she was beautiful!  It feels good to make other people feel good!

This drummer was using empty buckets as drums and was very talented!

Walking back to the car, I told Zully this palm tree looked almost like fireworks going off from the lighting…

When we got back to Zully’s condo, we had pizza delivered and it was sooo good!  Another great day! 🙂

Rosemary Beach Art Festival

After my bicycle ride, I took a quick walk to the beach for a bit, back to the condo to shower and then to a festival that was going on in the common area of Rosemary Beach.

I wanted to show you the path I take to get to the beach…

At the festival, children were making art everywhere…

This lady is on stilts.  She’s not that tall!

More art…

Face painting is fun…

After my long day…it was back to the condo for some photo fun!  The lights are on since it’s the weekend!  I’m wondering if I should contact the owners and see if they want a photo…

Let’s see what Sunday brings!

Bicycling through Alys Beach, Florida

The stretch of pavement that extends 18 miles from Rosemary Beach to the West is perfect for walking and/or bicycling!  After jogging a couple of miles on the beach and having a healthy lunch, I set off to explore the area.

One of the areas you pass is Alys Beach…

Everything is white, blue or green!  Except for the yellow lines in the road!

I like the aura around the entry gates…

This home wasn’t in Alys Beach.  I’m not sure what development it was in, but I love the color!

I passed Camp Creek Lake and Deer Lake on the ride.  I think this is Camp Creek.

Rusty bridge and shadows love!

The day’s not over yet.  Tomorrow I have photos from an Art Festival and another fun sunset photo!


Saturday’s Spectacular Sunrise

I awoke before dawn, started the coffee pot, pulled on my winter jogging clothes, grabbed my camera and my container of coffee and walked to the beach.  It continues to take my breath away.  I feel giddy and excited when I see nature’s display of spectacular colors!  I’m the only one on the beach.

I like the legs of water in this photo.  I’m assuming that’s Panama City Beach in the distance.  I haven’t driven there yet, but plan on it.

I like the birds in the next two photos…

The rising sun was casting a strong glow in the sky and on the water…

I turned around and loved this side too!

Tomorrow I’ll have photos from my 10 mile afternoon bike ride through the Alys Beach area and passing a beautiful deep blue lake!


It just keeps gettin’ better!

It’s so much fun to find new ways of looking at things.  I saw a spine…so I got down to take a photo!

These amazing homes are on a beach called Alys Beach.  They’re right next to Seacrest and Rosemary Beaches, within walking distance.

I would call this palatial!



It seems the more photographs I take, interesting scenes pop out.  Almost like I was blind before and now I can see!

He waved at me!!

Someone’s home…


This is one good reason not to have a place right on the beach!  You can take photos of the people in front of you!  Tomorrow is another full day…see you then!

Bicycling through Rosemary Beach, Florida

Hopping on my bike, I set off to explore the Rosemary Beach area located four blocks east of my condo.  With over 500 homesites and a town center with shops, restaurants, and activities, you never need to leave home!

The town is a master-planned community and with its cobblestone streets and gas lanterns, has a definite European vibe.  I began to imagine the perfect couples with their perfect children, living their perfect lives in their perfect homes (kind of like The Stepford Wives), but then remembered no one is perfect!  Even on the beach you feel a bit out of place…me in my bikini…them in their one piece with a little skirt bathing suit!  Oh gad….what must they think of me…the interloper!

Rosemary is also known for its Bocce ball tournaments and the popular candy store, The Sugar Shak.

They have plenty of bicycles for hire…

The Town Hall and Post Office are charming!

A partial view of some of the shops…cafes…

The homes and condos varied in design.  This is one of the more modern homes…

The community has some beautiful common use areas…

No code…No Access!

This is another community two blocks from Rosemary…

I worked up an appetite.  Salad–Bread with Cheese–Vino!  On the balcony.  Life is grand!

After lunch…time to soak up some sun at the pool!  I think it made it to 70 degrees…just barely warm enough.

Tomorrow we’ll finish up my day with some absolutely gorgeous photos from my walk on the beach!!

I’m in Love!

I’m in love!  The colors in the gulf are surreal!  As promised in yesterday’s post, here are some images I captured walking to the beach and then with my zoom lens from the balcony of my condo…

Symmetry appeals to me…

Standing at the top of the steps…

These are from the balcony…

I have a Mac laptop with iPhoto and that’s what I use to tweek photos if necessary.  Most of these are the true colors that were captured.  I can’t believe how beautiful our world is!!

I’m a lucky girl!!

It was still early so I drove 4 blocks down the road to Rosemary beach, which is the cutest planned beach side development I’ve ever seen!  It’s upscale and trendy.  Not much of a night life…but there were a few places.  There was a musician singing and playing the guitar at one of the restaurant/bars that offered outside seating.

I stopped a lady walking by and asked her for suggestions.  Her name was Paige and as we were going over the options, she said I could come with her.  She was going to pick up pizzas and salad from one of the restaurants and taking it back to a friend’s home around the corner, where there were about 10 women celebrating one of them turning 50!  We had a glass of wine and then walked around the corner to the home/condo.  I really enjoyed talking with them.  I think they were surprised that Paige had picked up a visitor to bring back.  The condo was gorgeous and the women were well traveled and interesting!  Paige had attended the prestigious Vanderbilt University.  I love meeting new people and solo travel definitely encourages you to expand beyond your comfort zone!

Historic Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola, Florida has a lovely historic area contained within a few blocks, consisting of 27 properties, 11 of which are open to the public (for a fee).  I packed a lunch and drove the hour and 45 minutes to Pensacola from Seacrest, with no agenda or knowledge of the area.   Along the way, I passed through a variety of beach towns–Santa Rosa, Miramar, Destin, and Fort Walton.  Destin reminded me of Myrtle Beach…very commercialized with shops, restaurants, putt-putt golf…and lots more!

A stop at the Visitor’s Center and I had information about the historic area.  The Old Christ Church is located there…

I’ve never seen a green wooden fence…

I LOVE brightly colored homes with porches…

This looks to be a nice area to sit and relax…

Not sure what this is…I parked momentarily in a pay lot (but didn’t pay)…so I had to hurry.

I have a big treat for you tomorrow!  After I drove back home…I walked to the beach and have some extra special photos!