Top 5 Things To Do In Ireland

If you listen to the stories about Ireland, you will spend your break drinking, dancing and looking at hills. For many people, this would actually be a brilliant holiday and there would be no need to uncover different activities and past-times. However, in the classic words spoken by Alan Partridge, “there’s more to Ireland than this” and you may be pleasantly surprised by the amount of great holiday options and attractions there are to enjoy in Ireland.

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Galway

Don’t think that Dublin is the only city to choose for exciting nightlife. Galway is a great destination for trips to Connemara and the Aran Islands but with even young Dubliners heading West for a weekend away, you will find plenty in the way of exciting and entertaining bars to party the night and days away. And who knows, you may even find your very own Galway Girl.

The Guinness Storehouse

The tour is quite decent and the advertising campaign section is really entertaining but let’s be honest, if you’re going to Ireland, you need to sample the local wares. The best place to do is at the end of the Guinness tour in the Gravity Bar. Even if you don’t like the drink (and many don’t but you get a free pint), the panoramic views of Dublin afforded by the bar area will delight every guest.

Croke Park

As a deeply religious country, Ireland has plenty sacred places and where people go to pray. The most popular place of this nature is Croke Park, an 80,000 capacity stadium where games such as hurling and Gaelic football are played. These games are mainly amateur games although in recent times, the GAA has given authorisation for “foreign games”, such as rugby, to be played on the hallowed turf at Croke Park.

Croke Park was also the setting for one of the most shameful acts in British history when the Black and Tans and the RIC opened fire on the crowd at the stadium, killing 14 innocent civilians, in 1920. One of the stands at Croke Park was renamed the Michael Hogan Stand after a footballer who was killed that day. This incident played a major part in turning general opinion in Ireland against the British and the Crown.

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Cliffs of Moher

Life in Ireland may seem a little relaxed and casual for your liking so if you want to get your heart racing, take a trip to the Cliffs of Moher. This can be found in County Clare and there is a terrifying drop off the edge and there are not too many handrails around the top. People have fallen off the edge so be sure to approach with caution but if you are keen to experience stunning views and to get the smell of the Atlantic in your nostrils, this is the place to visit.

With the massive drop off the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, your thoughts will no doubt stray towards holiday insurance and you’ll be hoping that you have some in place just in case!

The Blarney Castle

One thing you’ll soon learn about Ireland is that the local people love to tell a tale or two. Whether you choose to take the stories at face value or not is entirely up to you but there is no doubt that you’ll have a hugely entertaining time listen to them talk. One of the ways that the Irish have been given the gift of the gab, so they say, is through the magical powers of the Blarney Stone. Blarney Castle was built over 600 years ago and it is a stunning example of an ancient castle that is well worth checking out in its own right. However, if it is here you will find the Stone of Eloquence, the Blarney Stone, and if you kiss this, you will be gifted the ability to talk and weave a great story for the rest of your life.

The fanciful nature of the story ties in wonderfully with the Irish way of life and if you are keen to retell your stories with the strongest possible delivery after you return home, this may be the helping hand you need.

Greg is an avid travel writer who enjoys trips around Europe. One of his favourite places to visit is the west of Ireland and especially the county of Mayo with its rugged scenery and great coasts.

Tips to Choose the Right Hotel for You

Planning is a necessary part of travelling. It helps keep your organized and ensures that every aspect of your trip is a positive one. One of the most important things you’ll need to think about before you go anywhere is your hotel. There are so many different places you can choose from. That is why it is so important to plan ahead and find the right hotel for your needs. Start planning the right way by considering these hotel tips.

Think About What Really Matters To You

Not every trip is the same. So, it stands to reason that not every hotel will suit every trip you take. That’s why it is so important to start by thinking about what really matters to you. Are you budget conscious on this trip? Is there a certain place or attraction you’d like to be nearby? Do you need to have a gym available to you? It’s all about narrowing down your most important requirements. You don’t want to choose any hotel and then wind up disappointed or unhappy. Avoid that altogether by thinking about what really matters before you book.

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Nothing says opulent like gilded mirrors!

Know Your Budget

Sometimes, there isn’t a lot of money to spend on a hotel room. Other times, you may want to splash out and really treat yourself. To choose the right hotel for your trip, be sure that you know how much you can – and are willing – to spend on accommodations. Most travel sites will organize search results based on the price, so you can easily narrow down your options that way. There are websites with great discounts on hotels, so be sure to look around.

Consider the Location

You may be able to get a great deal on a hotel. It’s important to think about the location realistically, though. If you’re staying twenty minutes away from everywhere you’re planning on going, the money you ‘saved’ will likely be spend on transportation costs. Weight the pros and cons of the hotel location.

Think About Who You’re Travelling With

Before you choose a hotel, you’ll need to consider who you’re travelling with. For instance, are you taking children along? Then it’s important to think about the hotel you’re choosing. Some places are kid-friendly and can give children a positive overall experience. Others are less accepting of having a bunch of kids running around the lobby. Take a look at hotel websites for their policies or any family deals they may offer.

Read Reviews Carefully

Few travellers book anything without reading online reviews. There are so many places that you can check out reviews from fellow travellers. What did they think of the hotel? Were the rooms as advertised? What was the customer service like? You can learn from others by carefully reading travel reviews. Be aware that not all reviews are totally accurate. It’s better to read many different reviews before you make up your mind.

Choosing the right hotel doesn’t have to be difficult. The most important thing is to take time to think about what you really want and need. A little planning ahead will help you to find the very best accommodations.

5 Tips to Enjoy France on a Budget

France is a dream destination for most people; however this dream can be cut short due to the fact that it is not a cheap destination. Its allures include historical sites, culinary delights and gorgeous views; these and more may leave most people strapped for cash. It however possible to explore France on a budget that will not leave you starved for the rest of the year if you follow some of our tips:

STAY IN MOBILE HOMES

Who said you have to stay in hotels? You will be amazed to find out that staying in mobile homes will go a long way in cutting off costs as well as allowing you to explore areas that would be otherwise unreachable if you stayed in hotels. The mobile homes range from camps, motor homes to campervans which allow you to move from one part of France to the next without spending too much. You will also meet different kind of people and groups who also opt for this experience and end up making lifelong friends.

GET THE CITY PASS WHEN VISITING PARIS

Paris is the capital of France with spectacular attractions and landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower which in time has become synonymous with the city of love. It is also an expensive destination but if you get the Paris travel pass you will enjoy hopping on and off buses at will during your stay and also get free entrance to some of the attractions as a discount on your pass. Some passes will also give you access to free meals in some restaurants or enjoy discounted rates. A city pass is important if you are travelling on a tight budget.

FIND BOUTIQUE FAMILY ACCOMMODATION

France may boast of some of the world most luxurious and splendid hotels which may be a no go zone for most budget travelers but it is also has some wonderful bargains. In recent years there has been a rise in boutique accommodations even within the cities offering wonderful original designs with pristine bathrooms, at a budget of course, and ideal for the family vacations.

TRY OUT FREE CAMPING

Free camping in France is an exciting experience where you can just pull over at a beach side, in the mountains or even a lakeside and stay for a day or a few weeks. It is a fantastic experience as you get to explore any region of your choice provided you are armed with a good map and ready to be adventurous. However, you should be careful about camping along the roadsides as it may not be safe. Other places such as permitted parks are safe and you are probably going to find other campers along your route.

CARRY ALONG YOUR EUROPEAN HEALTH CARDS

You may not think of falling ill whilst travelling, in fact it is a bad omen to think about infirmities before travelling. All you want is a fantastic experience of France but a budget traveler should always be armed with the basics. This card allows you to enjoy reduced or free medical care in most European countries and this will ensure that you will not incur losses when you are taken down by sickness.

The 5 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Your Next Trip

ipad5_2There’s nothing like a good app to make your next trip a little easier. If you’re bringing your smartphone or tablet along with you, there are so many travel apps you can download. Do you want something for directions? Language translation? Last minute deals? Well, there’s an app for that! Here are some of the best travel apps to download before your next trip:

Say Where

Do you worry about getting lost? Not being able to find what a decent place to eat while you’re travelling? The Say Where app is one easy (and free!) way to travel worry free. Simply press down the button on your screen and say where you are. From there, the app will pull up a map of your location, give you a traffic report, the Yellow Pages, or even a Yelp review of nearby attractions. This app is super handy if you don’t want to ask a stranger for directions. Plus, if you have this downloaded on your phone, you won’t need to download the Yelp app as well.

iTalk

Want to remember every part of your vacation? It’s possible with iTalk. This handy app allows you to record the sounds around you. Whether you want to save a conversation or the sound of a live street band, it’s all at the touch of your fingertips! You can record several minutes of sound before you even notice any change in your memory. Simply press the record button and get ready to hold onto some of those once in a lifetime memories.

Sit or Squat

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go! Unfortunately, when you travel, you need to think about where the nearest washrooms are. That is where this next travel app comes in handy. Sponsored by Charmin, Sit or Squat is a database of the nearest locations of free washrooms to use. It doesn’t just list the locations, though. You’ll also get user reviews and an actual photo of the facilities. Yes, you can be a little choosey…. even on the go.

Lingolook Flashcards

For just $4.99, you can have a little extra help dealing with foreign languages. This next travel app is all about providing flashcards with simple words and phrases, like: “Speak slowly” and “I need a taxi.” It comes in a number of different languages, like Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, and Chinese. Best of all? It doesn’t require a data plan to work.

Packing Pro

Do you worry about your suitcase going over the weight allowance? How about bringing back more goods than you’re allowed? With the Packing Pro travel app, you won’t have to worry about that anymore. This program sets up a to-do list and helps you to keep track of everything you’ve got with you. Everyone in your family can make use of this. There are settings for women, men, and children, so that every packing list is customized to your individual needs.

Make the most of the latest technology by downloading some of these useful apps. When you’re travelling the world, you’ll be glad to have a little back up!

The Oddest Things to See in the United States

Do you love anything and everything novelty? Then, it’s time to get a little creative with your next trip. You don’t have to stick to the regular tourist attractions to have fun. There are some strange yet interesting things you can go see. While they may not be the most mainstream, they are certainly a talking point.

Before taking a trip to the US, remember to think about any necessary paperwork or visas you may need. For instance, if you’re based in parts of Europe, you may requite a visum usa-ESA (or Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Make sure you know before you go! Now that you’re prepared….here are some of the oddest things you can see in the United States:

The World’s Largest Dresser

What could be odder than going to see the world’s largest dresser? Yes, North Carolina has not one – but two – giant dressers to visit. (Clearly one wasn’t enough!) There is a 38-foot dresser that features a pair of socks hanging out of the dresser. Or if you’d rather go sock free, there is an 80-foot dresser to visit as well. You can take pictures of the dressers or in front of them. If you’re feeling really ambitious, why not see them both? If oversized furniture is your thing, you may also want to drive to Anniston, Alabama. They offer tourists a peek at the world’s largest chair.

The Barbed Wire Museum

Everyone has an interest in barbed wire…. right? Okay, maybe not. If you’re up for something a little different, though, the Barbed Wire Museum might be worth the trip. It is located in Texas and is focused on telling the world “all about the history of barbed wire, its artefacts, the significance of the invention, and the impact on the development of the Old West.” In one afternoon, all the questions you ever had (or didn’t have) about barbed wire will be answered. This is definitely one odd place to visit in the United States.

carhengeCarhenge

Okay, this next attraction is kind of cool, even if it is really weird. Have you ever dreamed of visiting Stonehenge? If you can’t afford the airfare, you can head on over to Alliance, Nebraska instead. Don’t go there expecting to see stacked stones. This attraction is called carhenge for a reason…and yes, it really is made up of stacked, grey cars. While this may not be your average tourist destination, you can still find ways to have a lot of fun.

The Corn Palace

Who knew that corn was so popular? Apparently in South Dakota, it is. Forget going to see Mount Rushmore…head to the Corn Palace instead! This ‘palace’ is dedicated entirely to corn crops. It offers tons of entertainment, events, and local festivals. With bright yellow and green minarets out front, you won’t be able to miss this endearingly odd place.

The National Museum of Funeral History

Who doesn’t have an interest in funerals? Oh, wait, most people. If you’re in Texas and want to learn all about the history of funerals, there is only one place to visit. The National Museum of Funeral History has a raft of exhibits from Civil War embalming to the use of the motorized hearse. This may not be how you pictured spending a vacation, but hey – it’s an interesting story to bring back to your friends.
Want to do something a little different? Then get creative and check out some odd attractions on your next trip to the United States. With so many strange things to see, you’ll have your pick.

Why London Is My Favourite Place to Visit

We all have that one place that speaks to us. Maybe it’s a place that you’ve travelled to before – or maybe you dream of going one day. For me, that place is London, England. There is just something about it. I visited for the first time when I was ten or eleven. Since then, I’ve returned five times…. and every time it is just as memorable as the last.

315035_10100412306661521_27003789_nThe first time I went, my entire family stayed in a tiny flat. My brother, sister, and I all shared one very cramped room. It didn’t matter, though. We were just excited to be there. It was our first trip to Europe and we were in awe of the fact everything was so different than it was at home. During the day, we visited local attractions like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London Dungeon. At night, we stayed in the flat and watched British television. It was like being transported into a totally new world.

It was several years before I returned. Since my last visit, though, I had become obsessed with British culture. I would watch British music videos and TV shows online. I had the Union Jack hanging up in my room. I just couldn’t get enough! That trip, I was more excited than ever to return to London. I even came prepared with a list of CDs and singles to bring back with me.

That second trip was one of the best I have ever been on. Why? I was back in my favourite place. Even better, was the fact that I went to a concert by my favourite British pop star, Gareth Gates. (My dad had pulled some massive strings to snag a pair of tickets to the sold-out show.) Even now, I look back on that trip and feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

I always vowed to return to London, though it was a while before I actually did. Gone were the days of tourist attractions, though. I was more interested in shopping, concerts, and going to West End plays. While my interests had changed somewhat, I still had an incredible time. After that trip, I returned the following year, and the year after that as well. Each time, I tried to have a special experience lined up: a book signing, a show, or a new attraction to see. I desperately wanted every single trip there to be unique. London became my happy place.

Even though I haven’t been able to return to London for a few years now, I still dream of the day that I will. There is so much that I miss about it: the people, the places, the culture, and most importantly, the atmosphere. I think that is the best part about travelling to a city or country that you love. Somehow you fall head over heels about every little thing it has to offer.

While I may not be heading back to London anytime soon, I know that I will. When you truly love a place, you’ll do anything to get back there again! London is my favourite place in the world. What is yours?

What to See and What to Skip in Florida

Florida is attraction central. With so much to do, there are almost too many choices! If you’re planning a trip to the sunshine state, you’ll need to start thinking about what is really worth your time. To narrow down your choices, here is a list of what to see and what to skip in Florida.

See: Disney World

It almost goes without saying that heading to the most popular theme park in the entire world is a good idea. There are many different parks to spend time in: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and The Animal Kingdom. If all of that wasn’t enough, there are also water parks like Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. If you are planning to spend time in Disney during your Florida vacation, be careful. You could easily spend your entire trip just seeing Disney! So, if you want to branch out a little, only take in a couple of parks and skip the water parks altogether. That way, you’ll get the best of Disney – without sacrificing your entire trip.

Skip: Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

Sometimes dinner theatre can be fun. You get good food and a show to go along with it. However, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure might not be the best example of an enjoyable night out in Florida. Not only does the food get terrible reviews, but the show does as well. Set inside of a pirate ship, this loud, chaotic performance leaves much to be desired. If you’re looking for more exciting dinner theatre, head to Arabian Nights or Medieval Times instead.

seaworld7See: SeaWorld Orlando

For a theme park that is a little bit different, be sure to check out SeaWorld. It has a variety of things to do and experience. Don’t believe it? For the thrill seekers, there are lots of exciting rollercoasters and even some tame rides to entertain the little ones. For the animal lovers, there are so many ways that you can explore marine life. You can get up close and personal with animals like dolphins and exotic birds at Discovery Cove. Or you can check out a great show or two! There is no better way to have some fun and even learn something new.

Skip: Scuba Quest Florida Dive Center

Are you interested in learning how to scuba dive? Well, Florida is the perfect place to learn! Maybe a trip to Scuba Quest in Florida isn’t the best place, though. Yes, the staff goes through all of the basics to get you on your way – and you can even choose locations that you want to dive. They offer a number of boat trips, beach trips, and so on. However, you may not get everything you need at Scuba Quest. For a professional attitude and one-on-one attention, look into your options first before you make your final decision.

Florida is jam packed with fun things to do and experience. If you’re having trouble deciding exactly how to spend your time, start doing some research. You’ll quickly discover what to see and what to skip.

Great things to do in Geneva

Whether you enjoy basking in the refreshing air coming off of Lake Geneva, going skiing in the French Alps, or the cosmopolitan allure of the city Geneva has plenty of options for things to do. Filled with history and culture, people that come to this city always enjoy the restaurants and various sites to visit. A few things to do in Geneva include:

St- Pierre Cathedral

Invented than reinvented again and again St Pierre Cathedral is often described as a combination of Roman, Gothic and Neoclassic architecture and decoration. A church with much history, the Cathedral was in the center of the Geneva religious reformation when John Calvin made is the vessel for the Protestant Reformation. Still a central part of the Old Town of Geneva visitors still flock to it. The interior is lined with a 4th century mosaics, a 12th century column and 15th century frescoes any of which on its own is treat for art lovers. Be sure to visit the Chapel of the Maccabees which is filled with lavish and beautiful 18th century decoration. For a couple of Swiss Francs you can also climb the north tower for a great view over the city or head under the cathedral to visit the current archaeological dig site. St Pierre’s Cathedral is open each day of the week.

geneva-amsterdam-paris-2012-palais-des-nations-geneva-1-700x700Palais des Nations

The Palais des Nations previously housed the now defunct League of Nations. Still an impressive building this massive complex is the home to the United Nations European office and is the world’s largest center of multicultural diplomacy. Guided tours are offered on the grounds between 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday in the winter months and seven days a week in the summer. Admission costs around $10 US dollars. In order to get into the Palais des Nations you will need to show proper identification.

Patek Philippe Museum

Switzerland is a well known location for watch-making and enameling. A fantastic collection of different time pieces throughout the ages can be founded at the Patek Philippe Museum. The museum has two permanent exhibits: the antique collection that has watches dating back to the 16th century and the Patek Phillippe collection which high lights watches made by the Patek Philippe Company – – one of the world’s preeminent watch making companies. The museum is open from 10 am to 6 p.m with admission costing around $9 US dollars.

Cross the Atlantic the Old Fashioned Way!

Have you ever wanted to travel with the modern conveniences of today but in the style of centuries ago? It’s entirely possible if you opt to take a Trans Atlantic cruise ship instead of flying!

It’s perfect for anyone who cares more about the voyage than the ultimate destination because it gives you plenty of time to relax and enjoy your surroundings. On board a vessel like the Queen Mary II you can have a great time stuffing yourself silly on fabulous food and taking part in all the leisure activities provided as you cross the wide open ocean from the UK to North America. Along the way you’ll stop in a number of different port cities, giving you a chance to see some of the local colour before heading on to your ultimate destination – it wouldn’t be a proper cruise if you did it any other way!

For a geek like me, I enjoy the idea of doing something a bit out of the ordinary, particularly in an age of cruises that only do the same old thing. I love heading to the Caribbean as much as the next bloke but after you’ve seen one tropical island they all start to look the same. Taking to the sea in this way seems to me like a connection to the past… but with swimming pools, fantastic cuisine and a lack of scurvy.

To celebrate the 200th Trans Atlantic crossing in July 2013, the Queen Mary II has a fancy little infographic drawn up to give you some information on the ship and its workings. If you’re in the market for a holiday this year and fancy taking a bit of a sail across the Atlantic, why not hop on board and give it a go? You’ll be in good company if you do!

(click on image for larger view!)

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Haggle, haggle!

If you’ve ever been on holiday to any Middle Eastern country, or even holiday resorts in Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey, then you’ll have encountered the art of haggling. For some, including me at first, this is an uncomfortable experience, because we’re simply not used to arguing over what we want to pay! We see a price tag and we decide whether we’re paying it or not, then we either do, or we don’t. Simple. However, on a market in say Dubai, you’ll be expected to haggle, and if you don’t, then you’ll be thought to be very odd indeed!

dubai-soukYou will get bargains by haggling, that’s for sure, but make sure you have the money in the first place to be shopping by doing our version of haggling – bargain hunting. Grabbing that cheap flight, a last minute deal, a free child place, or booking airport services that save you money, are all ways to make sure extra cash stays in your pocket, and enables you to have a more enjoyable holiday as a result. I recently saved a on booking airport parking, and decided against booking a rather expensive train fare. I booked Stansted parking with BCP, and used the money I saved to do a little retail therapy on my two weeks’ break. You will find this service at most large UK airports, so I’d definitely recommend looking at what’s available from your terminal. I’ve booked Parking with BCP before, and found the same money saving, great value service so it’s a service I would recommend.

Of course, once you find yourself on that market, and you see something you want to buy, saved money in your pocket which you’re itching to spend, it will be an odd experience if it’s your first haggling attempt. The key here is to be confident! The seller will tell you his price, which is not the price you’re going to pay of course. Half it, and offer them that. They will probably laugh at you, tell you that you’re trying to rob them, blah blah, but it’s all usually in jest and you will find in a lot of tourist resorts, they do it to make you laugh! From that half offering, you’ll work between you and agree on somewhere in the middle. It’s quite easy once you start, and you’ll always come away with bargains.

The first time I visited a Turkish market, I was amazed at the size, the noise and the colour, but it was a real experience too, and despite a rather nervy start, I was soon away with the haggling and bargain hunting! It’s really just a case of appearing confident, even if you don’t feel it!

For me, markets are a great place to buy souvenirs for home, and something a little different, that you can’t get anywhere else. Haggling means you’ll get more for your money, and that is never a bad thing!