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 

First dates from the perspective of your waitress

 It’s Saturday night, clocked in at 5 and the preparation for the night ahead begins. So what keeps me smiling during the grave yard shift? Our bright and shiny new couples!

After being in the game for as long as I have, we servers tend to have picked up a few tell-tale signs on how well your first date is going. So I’m speaking on behalf of most hospitality employees because quite frankly we all do it, while we’re being extra polite serving you your dinner, I’m making a bet with my work BFF on you two splitting the bill. (I’m sorry but we need a little fun too).

season 1 dollar dollar bills yall GIF

So, most people aren’t screaming to their servers that they are on a first date, but a lot of the time we know, typically because the boy arrives in his best shirt and has sprayed too much of that birthday aftershave. I’ll greet you both and take a drink order; he’s going safe and ordering a bottle of Coors. I’ll give him a glass, but hell not use it. She’ll indulge in one of those ‘trendy gins’ with a slimline tonic and a “bit of cucumber” because that just screams girlfriend material.

I’ll fetch those drinks and hit you with “So, folks are you ready to order or do you need another minute?”  If I’m sent away I have a feeling the night is going to go very well, as you simply haven’t had a chance to look at the menu.  I can hear the echoes of small talk on how traffic made you late escalating into a full-blown conversation. I also see you both gazing into one another’s eyes across the candle-lit table that I’m almost naming the kids as I go on to check my other tables.

music video waitress GIF by Lady Gaga

So back I go, and this is when I am 100% certain that you guys swiped right a week ago and tonight is the first night you are meeting. I believe it to be common knowledge that there are some things one just simply cannot order on a first date. Anything garlic, just because. Ribs, Wings anything that requires a “wee finger bowl” is strictly prohibited. I don’t enjoy seeing you with sauce all over your face so I’m sure your date isn’t the biggest fan either and girls if you order the main size chicken ceaser salad, well, I know you’re defiantly wanting to see this gentleman again.

white chicks laughing GIF

Having worked in the hospitality industry for quite a while I’m going to admit it myself that I am nothing short of a delight. I enjoy conversing with the customers so how your date speaks to me is how I know you have found a keeper. As prophecy states if they’re nice to you but rude to the waiter, they’re not a nice person.”  So let me see you help stack those plates using those manners your mother taught you.

Body language is key on a date, so I’m looking out to see if she’s holding her glass of rose too close to his pint that their hands slightly touch, are they placing footsy under the table? (I swear people actually do this) Or are they quite awkward, with little conversation and interested in the other tables.

WARNING if I even see a phone on the table or if he dares asks for the Wi-Fi password, I’ll find it extremely difficult to ask if you would like to see the desert menu because I feel the date was over before it even began.

sad classic film GIF by Film Society of Lincoln Center

After watching the way you sit, judging your food order and waiting on your every need I ask the dreaded question, “Is there anything else I could get you folks or are we ready for the bill?” Off I go to count how many G+Ts you had, and then I think about whether she will lift her purse and if she does, he better act insulted and shun her down or if they’re going to go dutch. Yes, yes we are all millennial’s here but every girl really wants to be wined and dined on their first date and I see her heart-break a bit when he asks her for the £24.50 she owes, and to be fair, mine does too.

sad break up GIF by VH1

Having shared with you the little secrets of the game, please don’t be self-conscious on your next rendezvous that your waitress is judging your every move, as this is the only thing that makes my job a little easier when I’m working weekends. It’s also probably the closest I’ve got to a proper date all year.

Jessica Phillips is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.

Rules of Engagement: What they don’t tell you in the bridal magazines.

Growing up I had an unreal expectation about getting married. I always thought that when the time comes I would be an expert on what I wanted and that it would all come together perfectly. Well, I had been planning it in my head for years. And then I got engaged!

Don’t get me wrong, the buzz of the celebrations and excitement of finally talking about my dream wedding had me on a high for weeks. Straight away I asked those closest to me to be bridesmaids, sending each other ideas from Pinterest became our main method of communicating. But then the well wishes faded and reality hit.

From the moment that ring went on my finger people asked, “have you a date set yet” and twenty other questions. Thinking about venues, guest list, dresses, bands, photographers, makeup, hair, invitations and table plans consumed me. Now, planning a wedding is difficult at the best of times, but when you are a final year student the added stress just makes the fairy tale image disappear. Important moments that I had dreamed off my whole life were over-shadowed by deadlines. My employer assuming that because I was getting married I would need more hours. And at first, this was my belief too. But after a few weeks of burning myself out I had to put an end to that too. And that’s when another stress factor appeared, money.

How do you pay deposits for venues, bands, photographers etc on a part-time wage? It seemed impossible. It finally got to the stage where I didn’t even want to talk about the wedding. I lay at night thinking about money, deadlines, dresses and 100 other things. It became overwhelming and was affecting my state of mind and mood. The one moment in my life that I had dreamed about since I was a little girl was ruined. I became irritable, emotional and lashed out at those close to me. I even blamed my other half for being selfish and asking me to marry him just because his life and career was stable. Even though deep down I wanted nothing more than to be married (and was probably hinting about it for months).
Then it hit me, this expectation us girls have of the perfect day from magazines and films is unrealistic. Anything worth having isn’t easy, just like a university degree. From talking to other people about their wedding planning, I know now I’m not alone in these thoughts and feelings and understand that nothing in life is perfect, especially not people. So now I have taken the pressure of myself and am enjoying being engaged. What is the point in stressing about the best day of your life, enjoy the moment.

 

Lisa Corrigan is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Facebook @facebook.com/lisa.corrigan.372  

Netflix and Chill- Is this form of dating for our generation?

Ok, so I’ll admit it. I have a Netflix addiction. For the past few weeks my life has consisted of work, eat, sleep and Orange is the New Black. Am I sorry? No not really…

However, if a guy asks me over to his student flat for a Netflix date (otherwise known as a ‘Netflix and Chill’) alarm bells immediately sound inside my head. Now for those of you that aren’t familiar with this terminology, please allow me to enlighten you.

If invited to a ‘Netflix and Chill’ sesh you may quite literally just go to a guy’s house and watch the latest Reese Witherspoon RomCom. But more often than not, an invite to a ‘Netflix and Chill’ is known as a total booty call, where by accepting the invitation you are indirectly saying that you are definitely up for having intercourse that night.

H2

Is this dating or is this just a secret code for casual sex?

When I look back at old black and white moves or speak to my grandparents about how they met, technology such as social media, the internet and Netflix simply did not exist. It turns out that people actually had to speak to one and other (I know right? So weird!). People actually used to go on real life, proper dates. You know, the ones where one human being sat across a table from another human being, ordered a milkshake and learnt about the other person’s interests, life and dreams for the future. Sadly, this isn’t really how dating appears to work anymore.

So in my opinion going for a ‘Netflix and Chill’ isn’t really a form of proper romantic dating. Even if I do go to a guy’s house and genuinely do just literally watch a movie (without any Netflix and Chilling going on), what on earth is romantic about that? The two of us just sitting there on his bed, staring at the laptop screen, not speaking, and struggling to concentrate on the movie as his flatmates scream in the next room due to their latest ongoing FIFA tournament. Thanks, but no thanks.

But if a ‘Netflix and Chill’ is just an invite for casual sex, am I ok with that?

Well the answer is yes, yes I am! If I like that guy and as long as I am being safe why wouldn’t I embrace my sexuality and no longer be ashamed to come out and say “Yeah, I had sex last night!”.

Traditionally the idea of a female having a one night stand would brand her ‘promiscuous’ or a ‘slut’. Whereas a male that has had various one night stands would be branded a ‘legend’ and a ‘player’ amongst his fellow male friends.

H1

Well I say no longer! Why shouldn’t all of us women embrace our sexuality, if we want to of course? Now to be clear, I am in no way suggesting that we ladies stop respecting ourselves and jump into bed with every man we come across. Moreover, it is vital to highlight that if we do agree to go for a ‘Netflix and Chill’ sesh, we are under absolutely no obligation to actually have sex. But if we do want to sleep with someone and we are being careful and are happy and healthy, well why the hell not!?

Let’s turn that walk of shame into the walk of fame and applaud the women of or Netflix and Chill generation.

If you have any questions about safe sex or are concerned about your personal sexual health please contact the National Sexual Helpline on 0300 123 7123 for details or visit http://www.nhs.uk.Livewell/Talkingaboutsex/Pages/Ineedhelpnow.aspx

Hannah O’ Connor is a final year student on BSc in Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @hannahrose94 and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-o-connor-0140b3150/