Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Aer Lingus flights to Canada

Canada has become an increasingly popular destination for Irish students and holiday-makers alike.  Responding to this trend Aer Lingus has now introduced flights to five Canadian cities.  
Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, via Chicago, can now be booked in one single transaction on the airline's website. Fares to Calgary and Vancouver start at €259 each way and fares to Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton start at €279 each way (for travel during September and October). For more details and booking visit www.AerLingus.com. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Life Festival

There are just three weeks to go until Life Festival 2010.  If you are planning on going then plan on getting your ticket ASAP.  This year the festival has moved to the beautiful grounds of Belvedere House, Park and Gardens in Mullingar, Co. West Meath, where the festival organisers hope to achieve the perfect hybrid between a dance music event and a festival of performing arts.  Life festival runs from the 4th to the 6th of June and boasts a host of big names on the dance scene.  Tickets for both days cost €100 and can be bought here.  For more info on the festival grounds, line up, attractions etc visit the festival website. Enjoy! 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ferry Good Wine

 When I think of holidays as a child two destinations come to mind; Donegal and France.  As far as the younger generation of my family were concerned nowhere else existed.  A wave of nostalgia hits me as I recall a montage of floating memories-long hikes in misty drizzle, feeding greedy donkeys on the roadside, fishing for crabs, sand scratched tennis courts, wet and salty walks home, card games by turf fires.  In better weather we are permanent pool monsters, up the stairs, down the slide and up the stairs again; we are in summer camps, ice-cream parlours, caravans, discos and French castles; we torment frogs and stay out late, rent pedalo boats and tandem bikes. 

More grim memories surface.  Four lively, growing kids crammed into the back of a hot car journeying from Ireland to France and back via road and sea.  Getting there was fairly mild; we were out of school (usually a week early) and loaded with holiday money and promises of extensive pools with numerous flutes and gimmicks.  Minus the usual spits and squabbles, spirits were high.  The way home was a different matter.  We were burnt, broke and distraught at leaving new found best friends behind.  Four foul tempered youngsters pushed up against one another in the back of the car.  Escalating the friction was the addition of some fifty bottles of wine or so, Dad's souvenirs. They were crammed under our feet, tucked between us, on our laps, behind our heads, stealing every ounce of space we had.  This infuriated us. It induced all out war amongst the clan, tempers flaring from every memnber.  There was no comradery in the back seat ranks.  It was each to their own as we twisted and groaned and swore on our lives to stay at home next time.  

The painful memories did not fade with time.  Each and every time Dad brought out a bottle of his French wine we would explode to guests our tails of child abuse in France.  Looking back I am sure our fuss made him enjoy the wine more, every drop a reward for enduring taunts and kicks in the back as he drove in the heat for hundreds of miles.  

When I saw this offer advertised by Irish Ferries I immediately thought how nice it would be for my parents to enjoy rather than fight for the right to buy wine in France.  How nice it would be for us grown-up kids to help consume it on their return too.  

At the end of the month Irish Ferries are running their first summer wine cruise to France.  Departing Rosslare on Friday,  29th May, passengers will arrive Roscoff next morning with up to seven hours to spend ashore shopping before returning to arrive in Rosslare on Sunday, 31st May.

Escorting participants will be wine writer and broadcaster Martin Moran, who will conduct wine tastings on board the Oscar Wilde, previewing some of the wines that can be bought ashore and offering advice on the best bargains available.

Priced at just EUR99 per adult return, including a cabin berth with en suite shower and toilet, the three-day cruise to Roscoff is aimed at wine lovers and novices alike. A car or motorbike can be taken for an additional EUR89 return when two adults travel together. Hotel accommodation can be arranged for those wishing to extend their stay.  At the port passengers of the wine cruise will also benefit from discounts on wine purchases.  

This is a booze cruise without the hooligans, to start with anyway.  A fabulous way to spend the bank holiday weekend and stock up for the months ahead.  Go with your partner or go with friends, but for the love of God don't bring the kids!

Call Irish Ferries on 0818 300 400 for details or visit www.irishferries.com

Friday, May 7, 2010

New Poll Now Up

Pisa won the last poll, but which destination will win the next?  Vote for the city you would like to see reviewed next on The Top Tips for Trips Blog Poll, or leave a comment with your suggestion for a review!  All suggestions will be put into the next poll.  Thank you.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lean Towards Pisa!

The polls are in in the UK and they're in on the Top Tips for Trips Blog too!  In this case the voters leaned towards Pisa, ironic really! But good choice everyone!  Here is a review of the Tuscan town with the famous slant!  
  Located in western Tuscany near to the mouth of the Arno river, Pisa is known throughout the world for its famous Leaning Tower. However there is so much more to Pisa than just this captivating landmark.
The ecclesiastical city began life as a seaside settlement around 3,000 years ago and was first laid out in the mid-eleventh century. It is crammed full of striking historical monuments and buildings dating back many hundreds of years and much of Pisa has retained its medieval appearance. The Old Town stretches out in a maze of small winding streets and large piazzas that host bustling food, flower, souvenir and pet markets. Pisa is also known for its excellent university, which was established in 1343 and has become one of Italy's top schools as well as the home of Europe's oldest and most stunning botanical garden. The city also boasts a lively cafe culture, exquisite cuisine and some of the best shopping in Italy.

Pisa's principal tourist attractions are grouped together in the Campo dei Miracoli in the North-West of the city. Here, on an immense green lawn, four impressive buildings stand in gleaming white marble. Combining Moorish, Gothic and Romanesque architectural features, these imposing structures are; the breathtaking Duomo (cathedral) - built almost 1,000 years ago; the cathedral's bell tower - better known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the circular Battistero (Baptistery) - the largest of its kind in the whole of Italy; and the Camposanto - also known as the Holy Field, without doubt one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. The magnificence of the Campo dei Miracoli is a treat in itself, but of course the cherry on top is the absurd Leaning Tower. It truly is a sight to behold and an experience to be had. Climbing up the tilting bell tower is unnerving to say the least and definitely not for the weak-hearted! I climbed it last summer with my vertigo suffering boyfriend and nearly caught the phobia myself! Not that I admitted that to him....
Pisa is a wonderful destination for a city break or as a start-off point on a tour of Italy. A 2 day visit is all you need to take in the sights, so if you are looking for something longer than a mini-break it would be a good idea to move on to Florence, the elegant art capital of Italy, which is a mere one hour journey by train (a one way ticket costs approx. 6 EUR). Another option is to base yourself at one of the many lovely beach resorts located just 30 minutes from Pisa and alternate your city sightseeing with some sunbathing and seaside relaxation (April- September).
In terms of budget Pisa is a bit of a bargain. Ryanair operates a direct flight from Dublin straight into Pisa, leaving you with just a 10 minute journey into the city. The service is regular and very well-priced in comparison to other flight routes between Ireland and Italy. Accommodation is cheaper than the larger Italian cities of Florence, Rome and Venice and you will find all levels of standard here from budget-busting student hostels to five star hotels.  One of Mysterytrips' favourite hotels is the Royal Victoria Hotelhttp://www.royalvictoria.it/, an antique-packed, old-world establishmenment in the heart f the city. Although you will experience inflated tourist prices around the Leaning Tower and surrounding attractions, there are lots of cheaper and often more authentic restaurants, bars and shops to be found 'off the beaten track'. Lose yourself in the ancient inter-winding streets of Pisa Old Town and you will no doubt stumble across some hidden gems.
With so much on offer including easy access and reasonable costs it is difficult not to Lean Towards Pisa when looking for a great Summer city break.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ireland's Best Summer Festivals

The festival season has arrived and what a season it looks set to be!  Us Irish just love partying and will throw up any old excuse to warrant a celebration!  There is an array of micro-festivals happening across Ireland over the coming months, with almost every small town in the country flying flags for some reason or another.  I will be giving you a heads up on these as they arise.  For some of the larger festivals it is likely you will need to book tickets and/or accommodation in advance.  To help you coordinate your plans I have put together the below schedule for Ireland's Biggest and Bestest Festivals! Descriptions of the festivals below will follow over the coming weeks so watch this space!

Life Festival (Belvedere House, Park and Gardens, Co. West Meath)
4th - 6th June

Sea Sessions (Bundoran, Co. Donegal)
25th -27th June

Body and Soul-Solstice Gathering (Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, Co. Meath.)
19th - 20th June
Oxygen (Punchestown, Co. Kildare)
9th - 11th July

Galway Arts Festival
12th -25th July
Castle Palooza (Charleville Castle, Tullamore Co. Galway)
July 31st Aug 1st

Killorglin Puck Fair
Aug 10th - 12th

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (Cavan town, Co. Cavan)
16th -22nd August

Rose of Tralee
20th -24th August

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
All of September
Electric Picnic (Stradbally Hall, Stradbally village, Co. Laois)
3rd - 5th September

Galway Oyster Festival
23rd -26th September
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