5 Things to do at Lake Garda

Lake Garda has been the most beautiful, relaxing and magical place I’ve ever been to so far on my journey’s.  Lake Garda is a spectacular lake located in Northern Italy, created during the Quaternary Ice Ages (1.5 million years ago).

When visiting Italy (in September), I stayed at Riva Del Garda located at the top of Lake Garda. It is surrounded by imposing mountains and sparkling blue water, and is known for its medieval towers, Renaissance churches, and narrow cobblestone streets.

What I loved most about Lake Garda was its picturesque villages, medieval castles and lakeside promenades that created a unique magical experience for me. So here are 5 things that I recommend you should try on your trip to Lake Garda:

Lake 1

1.     Visit the Santa Barbara Church

The Santa Barbara Church is located up in the high mountains beside Riva Del Garda (the top of Lake Garda). The small Chapel to Saint Barbara was built in 1935 by the miners who worked on the conduits of the Ponale power plant. Its panoramic views are breath taking. It took me around 3 hours or so to go up and down to visit the church. Unfortunately we picked a day were the rain poured from the skies while we trekked up, but it made the adventure all the more memorable and exciting.

However, one think to note, when you first see it, it is so tiny from the town (almost like a dot) that you would think it is impossible to get to, and when you are walking it can be a little dangerous at times. But when you reach the top it really is a gift to the eyes and a feeling you’ll never forget!

Lake 2

2.     Visit the picturesque villages

On my stay I visited two beautiful villages beside Riva Del Garda by boat called; Malcesine and Limone.

The picturesque Malcesine, framed for its medieval Scaligero Castle is magnificent. The charming village is surrounded by breath taking landscapes and embellished by architectural treasures. It has cobbled lanes and a breathtaking castle, crammed between the blue lake waters and the massive mountain ridge behind (Monte Baldo). If I were to get married abroad I think I would choose this castle in Malcesine because of its fairytale beauty.

There are pretty little squares, cafes and restaurants, and shops selling ice-cream, handbags, shoes, limoncello (a local drink) and clothes. The main harbour is typical of Lake Garda: small, attractive, filled with boats and lined with cafes. A short distance away is the old port, the Porto Vecchio, a quieter spot with good lake views, curious sculptures and more restaurants. There is also a cable-car running up to Monte Baldo which is highly popular and gets very busy as the day goes on. The trip in the cable car will take you 1,800 metres above sea level, with spectacular views. It is perfect for capturing an incredible view and for cyclists, walkers and paragliders.

Lake 3

Limone, is another small village backed by lemon groves, with waterside cafes and cobbled streets lined with shops.

The heart of the old town is the little harbour, the Porto Vecchio (‘Old Port’). It is a very small town and when I went (in September) it was packed with tourists. However it is a peaceful and relaxing place to stop by and have a coffee or an ice-cream, to admire the lake views. Its narrow streets are lined with tourist shops along the shore and up the slopes behind. While you’re here you can also tour an old lemon grove, the Limonaia del Castèl or visit the small Chiesa di San Rocco church close to the old port.

One thing I might add is to avoid buying touristy items here, as you can get them much cheaper in the city. I made the mistake of buying a Venetian mask here and found them cheaper in Verona. Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the Carnival (Carnival of Venice), to hide the wearer’s identity and social status.

3.     Go cycling – hire a bike

There are so many bikes shops and so many people on bikes! Take advantage of your health and the weather and hire a bike out for the morning to enjoy a scenic cycle. We went mountain biking on Sentiero della Ponale beside Riva del Garda, and the views were amazing.

Although, there are so many routes to choose from ranging from beginners to advanced, you can go up into the mountains or around the lakes. Seeing Lake Garda by bike couldn’t be easier!

Lake 5

4.     Paddle on Lake Garda

While my trip was on a budget, we took out a little paddling boat with a slide called a Pedalos to enjoy the lakes natural beauty. The clear and calm waters of the lake make it easy to unwind. Plus there were a lot of people also out kayaking , canoeing and on stand up paddle boards. Or you could always hire out a boat for the day and adventure down to the South side of the lake.

Lake 6

5. Visit a Wine Vinery

On my trip I visited a beautiful vinery in the mountains called Villa Calicantus. We had dinner there as part of a tour group, and of course I was eating their delicious pasta. After dinner, went out to the vineyard for a wine (which was more like a few rounds of shots – because I tried them all), and listened to music amd talked. A very beautiful place!

Lake 7

To sum up, Lake Garda is one of the most romantic locations of natural beauty, and is a MUST to go on to your bucket list for travelling (preferably with your partner).


Shannon Doyle is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @shannond_761 / Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-doyle-28b827109 

What to expect when you’re expecting placement

Who knew that a placement with The Irish News could give you so much real responsibility? Not that I’m complaining I LOVED it and you will love it too when you start your placement.


You’ll find when choosing placements that it’s not about the salary it’s about the experience and which business/ organisation will stand by you when you graduate. For me all the workload and responsibility shaped me into the person I am today. I have developed and improved my skills and knowledge as well as learning new ones, impossible to learn from a text book or a lecture class.


So I figured why not share my insight with you!

I remember my first week like it was yesterday. The thoughts and fears that everything I learnt from my CAM degree over the past two years was not enough and that I was going to be an awful employee who could hardly spell their words right! WHO’S WORKING FOR A NEWSPAPER!! No pressure Shannon, no pressure!

But as the months went on and the previous placement students trained me I realised I can do this. I can organise myself, plan competitions, remember to email people and organise events, yes this is working!

I’ll skim over the fact that I let a few ads run with typos, because my boss had forgave me, so I forgave myself and without those errors I would have not experienced how to better myself and avoid future errors.

My words of wisdom to the new placements students this year; is to “make mistakes, realise what they are and learn from them. You’re not going on placement to be a perfect employee your there to learn.”

My advice about placement now: be yourself and be the best you can be.

Personally, I am a very sarcastic and outgoing individual who likes a bit of crack around the office to keep things interesting. I would often challenge peoples personalities and test the waters on how far their humour can go as humour is an excellent way to build genuine relationships with people in your office. Plus it makes it that bit easier getting up in the morning…


Be passionate!

Everything I do I love! I want to be the best that I can be. I believe “If they can do it then so can I! Challenge accepted!” There is nothing more an employer loves better than passion. If you’re keen to throw out your opinions and challenge their suggestions then your boss and colleagues are going to trust and value your opinion on the team.

challenge accepted

On another note my passion for food on my placement led me and my colleagues to assign food days to the week. In our office we had “Treat Tuesday” which always involved some bars, snacks or biscuits. “Wee bun Wednesday,” a day where we would go around all the local bakeries week to week in Belfast and try them out (delicious) and “Sausage bap Friday,” the day were I would go on our break to the local restaurant on the corner of Donegal Street and get sausage baps for our team each week. I can honestly say these assigned days for food really helped you get through the week and get excited for work the next day.

I highly recommend.

Which leads me on to…building relationships & Teamwork

Within The Irish News we had many different departments which all relied on each other at different times. Teamwork is essential. You need to build relationships with the guy downstairs who you may ever only see getting a coffee in the canteen because it could be his number your dialling next week to ask for a huge favour!

in girls

When you’re working in a small department you’ll realise you get close with your colleagues and teamwork is on top priority, especially with tight deadlines and large volumes of work.

Developing good relationship with external companies is also key as you need to build up a good rapport with the client and the PR companies you work with. It’s always easier to agree on terms and make changes with people when you have took the time to create an established relationship.

Stay organised!

My final word of advice is to stay organised. In the beginning of my placement one of my flaws was forgetting to write down my daily tasks and forward planning. Organisation is key to success! I think we’ve all heard that before, but it’s true. From writing a task down to planning an event or taking contact details it’s the small things on the organisation side of things that will trip you up.

From what I’ve learnt on placement my 5 top tips would be to:

  1. Try not to multitask
  2. Have a diary/ planner
  3. Write a list of your tasks for the day
  4. Make sure to take breaks (I recommend a lot of tea and buns)
  5. Make sure your desk is clean (Mess makes it impossible to find things – trust me I’ve been there)


But to sum up PLACEMENT IS AWESOME! It’s nothing like studying the theory at university. Its real and its happening and you are the person who is doing it! If you’re still considering whether to do a placement don’t consider one, just do it. The skills and people you meet in the short time your out will carry you more than any degree alone ever can! So go for it and if you’ve already done placement and agree ‘High five’.


Shannon Doyle is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @shannond_761 / Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-doyle-28b827109


Online Money Saving Secrets

For the first time ever, shoppers are going to the web for most of their purchases. According to an annual survey conducted by comScore (SCOR, +0.62%) and UPS (UPS, -0.44%) shoppers now make 51% of their purchases online, compared to 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014.

Because of this major fact I thought why not share my online money saving secrets with you!

When I shop online I now expect to get discounts and offers because it’s built in my head “I can get this cheaper online”. And it’s true I can! I always use cashback websites mainly Quidco and Topcashback.

You’re probably wondering what the hell is a cashback website and why would I even use it?

Well cashback websites are basically sites that pay you when you click through them, go to a retailer’s site and spend money. Using Topcashback or Quidco to shop can build you £100’s over the year if you use them right, and they let you cash out and pay instantly to your bank, PayPal or they’ll send you an amazon voucher. (If you choose to take a voucher instead of cash you will usually get an extra 8% on top: more savings) As a customer of their site I can personally confirm they are 100% safe and reliable.

Why do they give cashback?

Topcashback  and Quidco  give cashback to us because they receive a commission from the merchant for directing you to their website. Basically they get paid and pass a proportion of their commission onto us ‘the shopper’.

So, how do you use it?

You simply shop your favourite brand. E.g. ASOS and boom 12% cashback on your spend.

However, some of the biggest savings are on “essential” buys…such as Mobile phones, sims, Broadband, electricity & gas. These often offer up to £100 cashback.

As a student I would always use it for my WIFI, buying clothes, shopping on ebay, amazon and all the other retailers. I also recently planned a trip to Paris for my boyfriend’s birthday and used it for hotel bookings (lastminute.com), flights (EasyJet) and of course Disneyland tickets! BOOM over £30.00 went into my account just for clicking through their site, it’s that easy.

Quidco also has a feature that allows you to register your bank card with them and it gives you cashback when you use that card in selected stores (only the shops on their list of retailers), allowing for more cashback on your spending.

ClickSnap is another way to earn cashback. You simply shop in participating supermarkets and keep your receipts to redeem the grocery offers that Quidco provides. For example, if you go to Tesco and buy PROPERCORN perfectly sweet 90g you get 90p cashback (A current offer they have on their website). A point to note is that the ClickSnap deals change regularly, meaning they have a time limit but there will always be something to your taste that you would like to buy and get cashback on.

I personally have added the two websites Topcashback and Quidco to my browser so even when I’m on google or a retailer’s site the cashback sites can tell me if the website I’m currently on has cashback, meaning I’m never missing out on a cashback deal. This happens by giving Topcashback and/or Quidco permission to have pop ups to inform you on the cashback of ‘New Look’ for example. The pop up will ask you to click through them to their site then they will re-direct you back to New Look and track your spending to give you cashback.



Another useful website is Qmee, it pops up ads based on the keywords you search into Google. For example I could search hats and on the left of the screen several websites pop up in a sidebar that sells hats. By clicking on these Qmee gives me 10p and 15p per click as well as offers and money saving coupons. So after 3 years using this extension I have now £11.00 built up with Qmee which required no effort at all. Easy money, a site that I’d highly recommend.

Student Discounts

And last but not least don’t forget Unidays, Student Beans and Student Money Saver, all great student sites that you should definitely have a look through for finding great discounts, offers and voucher codes. All of these sites offer constant discounts on your favourite brands, helping your money go that bit further, to buy mostly useless stuff and more clothes that we all don’t need.

So, to sum up if you’re a discount, money saver, code finding student like me who wants to save some cash online, then I suggest you check out all the recommended sites above and find out what suits you. Trust me you’ll save a lot of money online with these sites, because we all have our inner shopaholics who just can’t stop themselves from buying. But who can blame us? All these tailored Instagram and Facebook ads make it impossible for us not to spend, so beat the system and check them out.

Shannon (The wanna-be money saving expert)

Shannon Doyle is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter: @shannond_761 and Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-doyle-28b827109