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Family-friendly trips

Holiday World Show


I N • The exp SIDE:

Adventure experiences

erts’ top ho liday destination s for 2019 • Irish cele favourite t brities share their ra …and muc vel experiences h, much mo re!

Home holidays

Friday 25th Jan, 1pm - 6pm Saturday 26th Jan, 11am - 5.30pm Sunday 27th Jan, 11am - 5.30pm


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent



he Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) look forward to welcoming you to Holiday World Show 2019 at the RDS Simmonscourt Dublin next weekend, Friday 25th to Sunday 27th January. This is the only event in Ireland where you can meet more than 1,000 travel professionals from over 50 countries, while at the same time book real bargain, showonly deals. The annual Holiday World Show is

Maureen Ledwith, Organiser of Holiday World Show

Ireland’s largest consumer travel show, with hundreds of exhibitors representing a buoyant Irish market. Our members in the ITAA urge the public to book their 2019 holidays early because there will be pressure on flights and accommodation in the more popular European resorts. Holiday World Show 2019 will see all the regions of the world represented under one roof – Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, US, Canada, South America, as well as an expanded Home Holidays pavilion. With over 50 countries represented, the show will welcome more US exhibitors than ever before, the largest home holiday pavilion and a new overseas property section. For those looking to get married abroad or searching for their perfect honeymoon, experts from Ireland’s favourite wedding destinations are there to answer all your questions and make your walk down the aisle that much easier. Talk Travel, free travel and tourism discussions hosted by leading travel journalist Eoghan Corry, will be featured at this year’s show. Eoghan will welcome top industry experts to discuss their specialised topic, and answer visitors’ questions on topics such as passports, visas and vaccinations, cruises, airlines, ski and snow holidays, solo holidays, and holiday destinations in Asia, Africa, the US, plus so much more. Other special features are free family entertainment, children’s art competitions, hundreds of free-to-enter holiday competitions, and special show-only deals

4 Trending travel Contents A BeCreative Editorial Production

Shauna McCrudden speaks to John Spollen, President of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) and Managing Director of Cassidy Travel, about the travel trends for 2019

6 Celebrity adventures

Irish stars share their happiest and lifechanging travel memories EDITOR: Kevin Flanagan, ASSOCIATE EDITORS: Clodagh Dooley Shauna McCrudden ADVERTISING MANAGER: Paul Muldoon, (01) 7055 412 ADVERTISING: Orla Mooney, (01) 7055 371 DESIGN: Robert Armstrong and Susan McClean INM Design Studio, Belfast REPRO: Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1 Headshots of Kevin, Clodagh and Shauna by Abe Neihum Photography

8 European delights

From influential cultures to the beginning of ancient civilisations, Europe has a rich history begging to be explored

10 Travel for the soul

Travel editors Kevin Flanagan and Clodagh Dooley walked the ancient Via Francigena pilgrim route in Tuscany and here’s how they got on

12 Holidays close to home

We highlight Cork and Belfast as two Irish destinations to visit in the New Year

14 In America

The travel professionals share some of the lesser-known gems in the States

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association which you will not get anywhere else. For three days, Holiday World Show will transform the RDS Simmonscourt into a hub of exotic, vibrant, multicultural activity. Visitors can experience the locations that are on offer and get first-hand advice which is not available on the internet. Whether you are seeking that once-in-a-lifetime trip, planning a

well-deserved holiday, family break or honeymoon, Holiday World Show is THE must-attend event of the year. We look forward to meeting you at the show.

16 Flying families

26 Holidays in the Caribbean

From camping in France to swimming in Spain, we speak to travel experts on the best options for your family this year

Pat Dawson CEO Irish Travel Agents Association

The Caribbean has much more than just beautiful beaches to offer, as we discovered from the travel experts

A day on-board 17 Holiday World Show floorplan 28 Clodagh Dooley speaks to Irish singer and former X Factor finalist Mary Byrne about PLUS her experience entertaining and travelling on ‘Talk Travel’ with Eoghan Corry timetable

18 Exhibitors list 21 A taste of Thailand

Travel writer Clodagh Dooley takes a solo trip to Phuket in Thailand during the lowseason, and finds herself experiencing the extraordinary

22 Christmas Get-Away

Travel writer Kevin Flanagan spends Christmas on the other side of the world


30 48 hours in Amsterdam

Travel writer Shauna McCrudden tells us about her weekend trip to the capital of the Netherlands

32 Chilled getaways

From skiing and staying in chalets in the Alps to a spa break in the Blue Lagoon

34 Travel news

All the latest in holiday news

24 My treasured travel memories 35 Why you need a travel agent!

Three Irish people share their experiences in South Africa, Thailand and India

Paul Hackett, CEO of, speaks about the benefits of booking through a travel agent

Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Discover your dream destination




very January, thousands of people flock to the RDS Simmonscourt in Dublin for the popular Holiday World Show – in fact, more than 38,000 people visited the show last year. With over 1,000 travel professionals exhibiting, Holiday World Show is a one-stop-shop for advice and inspiration on more than 50 destinations across the world, as well as holiday destinations at home. FINDING THE ONE FOR YOU Holidaymaker and mother-of-four Deirdre Ryan, who visited a previous show, says, “We always try to book a holiday at least once a year, usually to Spain. But as the kids are now older, we wanted something a little different. We had heard good things about Holiday World Show and decided to check the show out for ourselves. I was surprised by the amount of destinations and deals there were to discover at the show! “While we stopped by most exhibitors, we had narrowed our destination choices down to our top three based on the perspective of a family. We used our show exhibitors list to find the experts for those specific destinations. We were considering Turkey, Portugal and Greece, but we ended up going with an entirely different destination to what we had in mind because of the show!” Deirdre was given advice and information from a travel agent at the show, and she ended up booking a trip to Berlin during December in 2017. “We enjoy the sun holidays, but we thought that we have been

there, done that. Now was the time to try something new. “After hearing about Berlin, we thought it would make a perfect getaway to take in the atmosphere of the Christmas markets. There were also plenty of activities for all the family to enjoy, like Madam Tussauds, Berlin Zoo, as well as the more historic attractions like the Berlin Wall.” SHOW EXCLUSIVES With an entire world waiting to be discovered, choosing a destination to visit can be overwhelming. If you are torn between choosing a European location, or going further afield to the USA or Asia, Holiday World Show 2019 provides the opportunity to move from exhibitor-toexhibitor, to get the inside track on not only where to go, but also how to pay less for your holiday. The travel experts will advise on everything from booking your flights and accommodation, to the activities and attractions to visit on your trip. They consider factors such as your budget, your interests, the time of year you want to travel, who is travelling with you, if there will be hidden costs, and if you need a visa and travel insurance. You might end up choosing a place you have never thought about visiting, or even a destination you haven’t heard of! Whether it is a family friendly holiday, a solo trip or a honeymoon location, there are a variety of categories covered. These include: Africa and the Middle East, the Caribbean, Europe and the Mediterranean, the Americas, Asia and

the Pacific, cruise lines and ferries, camping and motorhomes, and adventure travel. Not only will you find dozens of great show-only deals and discounts at Holiday World Show, but there is also the chance to win some great holidays! There are prizes for weekend breaks at home, overseas holidays and some great days out. Not to mention, there is a fun Kids Zone and entertainment throughout the weekend. TIME TO EXPLORE If you are still somehow not convinced about visiting Holiday World Show yet, perhaps research might convince you! There is no doubt that holidays can make you feel happy and relaxed, but travel is also enriching. Studies have shown a connection between travel and an increase

in creativity, a deeper sense of cultural awareness and personal growth. Let 2019 be the year you widen your horizons and explore new destinations. Based on your personality, interests and budget, the travel professionals at Holiday World Show will be able to advise on what destination is best suited. Throughout this supplement, you will find some of the best tips on planning your dream holiday and how to make it one you will never forget. For more information on the show, visit For the show floorplan and full exhibitors listing, turn to page 17. Holiday World Show 2019 is in the RDS, Simmonscourt, Dublin, from Friday 25th January 1pm - 6pm; Saturday and Sunday, 26th and 27th January 11am - 5:30pm



oliday World wouldn’t be THE Eoghan has a special guest, Thoko Holiday World Show without Jili, from KwaZulu Natal in South international awardAfrica. Thoko will provide guests winning travel journalist with her first-hand experience Eoghan Corry taking to the of travelling through the more stage with the ever-popular rural areas of South Africa, Eoghan Corry ‘Talk Travel with Eoghan Corry where there are traditional American Holidays, Visit USA, Las Vegas, New in association with Travel Zulu villages, allowing visitors York and the Wild American West will discuss the Extra’. Visitors can enjoy to enjoy an authentic Zulu hotspots for 2019: from the top theme insider tips and advice on all experience. parks in Orlando, to the new airline aspects of travel and tourism at On stage Friday routes and city break destinations. home and abroad from a panel of with Eoghan is Paul Thoko Jili Thinking of booking a cruise this industry experts. Kelly, Chief Executive year? Don’t miss ‘How to get the The ‘Talk Travel’ sessions, running of Fáilte Ireland, best cruise deals’, where you can every 45 minutes, will see Eoghan leading discussing the growth in Irish get recommendations on the international and Irish travel professionals in an tourism and plans for 2019. best offerings from the experts ‘on the couch’ discussion before opening up the On Sunday, the focus will be at Royal Caribbean, Celebrity floor for questions. This is your chance to pick on flying. Enda Corneille of Cruises, MSC, Princess Cruises, the brains of an industry expert before booking Emirates and Bláithín O’Donnell Cruisescapes and Hurtigruten. your next big trip! of Air Canada will be discussing Experts from Irish Planning on visiting Japan for the 2020 flights from Ireland, with more Kenny Jacobs holidaymakers top favourite Rugby World Cup? Look no further. Official routes announced in the coming destinations – Spain, Portugal and Italy, IRFU agents Paddy Baird of Killester Travel and year. Kenny Jacobs of Ryanair will be will be on hand for the ‘Europe Calling’ session David Slattery of Stein Travel will be on-site to on stage later that afternoon to chat about alongside experts from Sunway Travel and TUI. give the low down on ticketing, travel options updates in one of Europe’s leading airlines and In ‘Holiday Trends’, Eoghan and his panel of and what to expect on the ground. And, Darina to swap his top travel stories with Eoghan. experts will look at the new trends in the travel Slattery of Unique Japan Tours will provide Other sessions over the weekend include market such as luxury holidays, adventure advice on enjoying the finer aspects of Japan. ‘What’s new in the USA’, where experts from

experiences, multi-centre trips and ecotourism. Other ‘Talk Travel’ sessions over the weekend will cover Africa, Solo Holidays, Visas and Passports, Europe, Irish Attractions and Adventure Holidays. Eoghan Corry commented, “Talk Travel gives visitors the opportunity to get a sneak peek into some of the hottest trends, learn about new travel destinations, and put their questions to the most influential people in the industry. This year’s sessions will see a huge range of travel topics being covered across the three days of the show, with contributions from travel’s top gurus.” The FREE to attend ‘Talk Travel with Eoghan Corry in Association with Travel Extra’ takes place at Holiday World Show, RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin for three days 25th27th January, 2019. For further information, see


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent




reland is the ‘most globe-trotting nation’ in the world according to 2017 research carried out by Hostelworld. This looked at overseas and domestic holiday bookings since 2014, and was calculated per head of population, and Irish people came out on top. Irish people are always looking for that next great trip of a lifetime and continue to travel more and more. According to CSO figures, over eight million Irish residents took trips abroad in 2018 which is an increase of 9pc on 2017. Dublin Airport also passed the 30 million passenger mark in 2018 for the first time in the Airport’s history. John Spollen, President of the Irish Travel Agents Association and Managing Director of Cassidy Travel says that this will continue to grow. “We have already seen an increase in early summer bookings for 2019,” says John. “Our latest ITAA quarterly survey revealed that from July to September last year, 28pc of our agents reported an increase in advance bookings for summer 2019, when compared to the same period the year before.” This is great news for the travel industry, but just why are Irish people travelling more? “Irish people have an innate curiosity for exploration and adventure,” continues John. “And now with excellent fares and a plethora of choices for airlines and accommodation, the world is more easily accessible than ever before. It is easy to travel to most places in the world from every airport around Ireland, and particularly from Dublin Airport.” John says that the general public now have much more spending power. That spending power lends itself to the privilege of travelling wherever and whenever you want. With the average spend per person currently at approximately €500-€600 for a


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

one-week holiday, that figure is actually set to increase this year. “Prices are rising at around 3pc this year as demand increases, so early booking secures deals.” FAVOURITE DESTINATIONS According to the last ITAA quarterly survey of 2018, Spain, Portugal, and the USA remain the top destinations for Irish people. These are recurring favourites for the Irish market having topped the list last year too. 60pc of travel agents named Spain as their most popular destination for summer 2018 and this looks set to continue in popularity. “Spain is always a top favourite with the Irish holidaymaker,” says John. “We expect 2019 to be no different. This will be closely followed by Portugal and the USA. I personally know the appeal of such destinations as I continue to have great holidays in Portugal’s Algarve. You can’t beat it for value, for golf, sun, sand, and a short flight. For me, it has it all. “I really enjoyed the cultural experience of Philadelphia. A great American city. I also love Canada as a country. I visit there a lot because of family connections, and I am really enjoying getting to know the country more and what it has to offer. You can see the growth in flights to Canada, including a new flight to Montreal later this year.” These are clearly beloved destinations and John says that family holidays are the types driving the holiday market. But what type of trip are these holidaymakers taking and what will continue to be popular in the new year? “For families, it has to be beach holidays. That will always remain popular. In recent years, we have also seen an upturn for adventure tours. Within that category our travel agents have found that escorted tours, walking and hiking tours, and cruises continue to be the most popular. “At the higher end of the market, couples and those travelling for special occasions such as celebrating anniversaries or retirements, are looking for experimental and soft adventure.” BOOKING TRENDS With all these trips being taken by Irish people, with whom are they booking? It is easy to assume everyone books trips online in this digital age, but according to the ITAA quarterly survey, that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to the research, 36.4pc of ITAA travel agents cited an increase in turnover, and more than one-in-five saw the levels of bookings rise. John says: “These results highlight the resurgence of Irish travel agents and the trust they offer Irish holidaymakers. Reports from pre- and post-Christmas bookings are indicating up to a 25pc increase on last year’s bookings. This is a really good sign for us all and it particularly indicates a recovering economy in Ireland.” Booking with a travel agent has many advantages, especially an ITAA travel agent. The ITAA represents Ireland’s travel

John Spollen, President of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) and Managing Director of Cassidy Travel

2019’s top five travel trends 1. Cruises – There has been an ongoing expansion of cruises in Ireland and that is set to continue. On a cruise, you can visit 10 destinations exploring different cultures all on one trip. John says: “For the third year in a row, our agents found the top growing travel trend for 2019 to be cruises. They will continue to be popular with all different types of traveller from families to couples.” 2. Booking with a travel agent – With over a third of ITAA travel agents reporting an increase in revenue in 2018, booking with travel agents is a rising trend. It is a safer, more comfortable experience than doing everything alone. 3. Adventure holidays – The results of the ITAA survey revealed that over 80pc of agents saw adventure tour sales remain the same or increase during July to September 2018. These adventures can range from hiking in the Italian Dolomite Mountains to a South Africa safari. John says: “Adventure holidays are very popular with those looking for a fun getaway.” 4. Luxury holidays – Luxury holidays are on trend for 2019 with 5-Star getaways and luxury experiences increasing in demand. Popular trips can range from a Hong Kong city break to a tranquil retreat in Mauritius. 5. Skiing – Although there was a decrease in skiing holidays during the financial crash, these types of trips have been coming back into popularity in recent years. John says, “Skiing is seeing a return to its pre-recession numbers, with a huge amount of families travelling, along with schools.”

industry, bringing together 100 travel agent members and 70 affiliate partners. ITAA members cover over 140 outlets in different towns and cities throughout the Republic of Ireland. They offer support, security and the knowledge from years of experience. The travel industry faced a number of challenges in 2018, from an unusually warm summer, to airline strikes and ferry cancellations. But those who booked with a bonded ITAA travel agent felt the benefits of their protection. “For many of us, our annual holiday is our largest discretionary spend, and it’s important that time and care is put into creating the perfect booking. The personal touch of an expert travel agent can help to create the ideal customer experience, bringing together their in-depth knowledge of the industry with an understanding of the client’s wants and needs. Of course, there is also the security of booking your holiday with a bonded travel agent which offers you a financial guarantee. “Dealing with a travel agent also gives you a quick snapshot of all offers – whether from tour operators or from airlines, which is a huge time-saving factor, and time is precious these days.” For those booking a trip in 2019, what does John recommend? “I would recommend booking with a trusted ITAA travel agent. Our travel agents’ knowledge of the travel industry is unparalleled, and we work tirelessly to ensure that you receive unbiased advice and the best value on your dream holiday.” To find your local travel agent, log onto


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Mount Fuji, Japan



WHAT IS YOUR FONDEST TRAVEL MEMORY? “Earlier this year, I spent two wonderful weeks exploring Japan with one of my best friends. The people in Japan are kind and warm, the cuisine is a worldwide treasure for a reason, the cities are beyond unique and unimaginably vibrant, and the countryside is even better. The culture is so strongly rooted and prevalent, so removed from western norms. Two weeks just wasn’t enough, but it is up there with my happiest travel memories. I can’t wait to get back there.” DO YOU HAVE A TRAVEL EXPERIENCE THAT WAS LIFE-CHANGING? “In 2016, I travelled to Northern Uganda to work on a project for a local school in a refugee settlement called Bidi Bidi. This is the largest refugee camp in the world, home to almost 300,000 south Sudanese, fleeing over the border from the ongoing civil war in their country. Over half of those are children, a huge amount of them left without parents, having been lost or murdered. The situation couldn’t be more inhumane or difficult, yet I have never come close to experiencing such a strong sense of community and shared burden. “Watching the children play drums and dance for us was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had, and I came away with an acute sense of my own privilege. I also learned a valuable lesson in the happiness that can be cultivated through community in even the most awful circumstances.” WHERE HAVE YOU TRAVELLED RECENTLY? “Since May of 2017 I have been backpacking. I travelled from Alaska down through Central and South America, then throughout South East Asia, finishing in August of this year. Since then, I have been living in Mexico


because I’m fond of avoiding a winter! In January 2019, I’m going to Bali for one month to take a raw food nutrition course with the Plant Based Academy, which I’m very much looking forward to.”

WHAT DOES TRAVEL MEAN TO YOU? “We are so very lucky to have the privilege to be able to explore the world. It wasn’t an option for the generations before us and it still isn’t an option for many. Having an Irish passport affords us so much more freedom than we realise, and we are welcomed across almost the entire planet. Travel has taught me so much and it gives me the deep sense of a life well-lived.” Daniella has a Comprehensive Backpackers Guide to Packing and Preparations for €6.95 on and will be releasing a Comprehensive Itinerary Guide for Central & South America in January 2019

America, another trip I am sure will be an eye-opener. My first cousin was a revolutionary priest and worked very hard in dangerous environments for people in Nicaragua and Honduras, throughout the revolutions. I am going over to look at the work, the free legal aid and education programmes that Trócaire are putting in place to help the Indigenous Mayan people, who are being exploited and expelled from their lands, stand up for themselves. “I’m also going trekking in Vietnam in 2019, and I would love to visit Japan someday to experience such a unique and traditional culture.”

WHAT DOES TRAVEL MEAN TO YOU? “I was a late traveller. I had kids at 20 years of age, so foreign travel didn’t happen for me until my late 20s. I’m making up for that now. I have ticked a lot of boxes – I’ve



WHAT IS YOUR HAPPIEST TRAVEL MEMORY? “Visits to West Cork with my parents and 11 siblings back in my childhood are very fond memories. But I went to Norway for RTÉ’s ‘No Frontiers’ a few years ago and we went swimming in the Arctic Ocean at Kirkenes, on the Russian border. It was -37 degrees and I was petrified that a polar bear would grab me from underneath! To be lying on my back in -37 degrees in the Arctic Ocean watching the Northern Lights was as close to not being on the planet as I will ever be! It was five days of fear and exhilaration, and it was an amazing trip.” DO YOU HAVE A TRAVEL EXPERIENCE THAT WAS LIFE-CHANGING? “When I went trekking in Malawi in southeast Africa, it was the first time that real poverty hit me in the face. The number of AIDS orphans and adults with polio was heartbreaking, but they were still smiling. When I returned to Ireland, I was reading an English translation of ‘Mo Scéal Féin’ by Fr Peter O’Leary, an account of the famine through his eyes, and that’s when I suddenly got emotional. It was a release of some form, because you have to say goodbye to these people and move on. I’ve had many travel experiences that opened my eyes, in Mumbai and India also.”

Smile for the camera! Daniella with a llama in Peru

WHAT TRIPS HAVE YOU PLANNED FOR 2019? “I’ll be going to Guatemala in Central

John Creedon

seen the Northern Lights, the Great Wall of China, the Colosseum, and stood on the Equator. That’s a lot of famous landmarks, but it’s just box-ticking. Travel is about encountering new people. For me, no matter where I go, I love meeting people.”

The John Creedon Show is on RTÉ Radio 1 every weeknight from 8-10pm



DO YOU HAVE AN ENRICHING OR LIFECHANGING TRAVEL EXPERIENCE? “I’m originally from Liverpool, so for me, one of my most enriching experiences was being able to fly by myself to Ireland when I was 13, over to my brother Nathan (singer) and friends. That was certainly the moment


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

that had a big influence on my life. Not only did I gain independence at a young age, but being behind-the-scenes at Nathan’s gigs, I learned so much about the music industry. We also don’t realise how much we have on our doorstep. Ireland is such a beautiful country to travel around. I’m currently based in Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh and there is loads to do there, such as walking the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail or visiting the Marble Arch Caves.” WHAT ARE YOUR HOLIDAY PLANS FOR 2019? “After ‘Dancing with the Stars’, it was quite hectic because I went straight on tour across Ireland, but I did manage to get a holiday in to Tenerife and the Costa del Sol with my family, which was nice and relaxing. This year, before my tour kicks off in April, I would love to go somewhere further afield and exotic, like the Maldives or The Dominican Republic. Bora Bora Island is also a destination on my bucket list. I love going anywhere that I can relax on the beach

Jake Carter

with a cocktail and music in the background, but I’m also a lover of water sports. I have a boat license, so I like to rent out boats or jet skis. I have a need for speed!”

Anna Geary. Image credit: Barry McCall

ON WHAT HOLIDAY DID YOU FEEL AT YOUR HAPPIEST? “When I was younger, my family and some other families we were close to would book a trip to Turkey, before there was conflict of course. We would go there every year and it was such a privilege to be able to go on holidays with the family and spend some time together on the beach in 35-degree heat. The furthest I have ever been was to Virginia in America to visit my cousins when I was about 10 years old. We drove from there to Florida, to go to Disneyland and that is a lovely memory.” For Jake’s tour dates, visit



WHAT IS YOUR HAPPIEST TRAVEL MEMORY? “I love travelling, but one of my happiest and enriching experiences is living in Luxembourg for a year in 2008, and I got the opportunity to travel over Europe. I was 20 years old, on work placement abroad as part of university and I could pop on the train to France or Germany, and interrail between Bratislava, Vienna and Prague. Luxemburg is such a central hub in Europe and it was very surreal spending my weekends in different countries. “Another of my happiest travel moments is staying five weeks in New Zealand with my boyfriend, Kevin. We have such fond memories of hiring a car and driving across New Zealand. It was very special to see the other side of the world with someone I am going to be married to this year!”

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ULTIMATE HONEYMOON DESTINATION? “Myself and Kevin are both quite active so we would love to do the Inca Trail in South America or go on a safari in South Africa. There are also wonderful places closer to Ireland, like Italy and Greece. Then, there are the destinations right on our own doorstep. Cork and Kerry are host to many great hiking trails and I would love to cycle or walk a lot more along the Wild Atlantic Way. Directly after we get married, we might

spend a few days somewhere in Ireland and then in 2020, look at the honeymoon abroad.” WHY DO YOU LOVE TRAVELLING? “Travel is a great way to recharge your batteries and try new things. You can come back a different person. I did when I was in Luxemburg, because I was exposed to many cultures and experiences that I wouldn’t have been at home. Travel is something you never grow out of and are never too old to do.”


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

European delights

Plitvice Lakes UNESCO site

Image credit: Damir Fabijanic


“Interest for Croatia is certainly rising,” says Ivona Grgan, Director of Croatian National Tourist Office, UK and Ireland, Ivona Grgan “especially due to the new flight routes launching next year in Ireland. For instance, Aer Lingus are launching a flight from Cork to Dubrovnik in May next year which will add further fuel to the country’s popularity. And, Croatia Airlines already has direct flights from Dublin to Zagreb with a twice-weekly service.” Croatia is a rising destination for Irish holidaymakers according to Ivona. The blend of history and culture along the Adriatic coast makes it a picturesque place with pebbled beaches and perfect peninsulas. With interest and the number of flights on the rise, what is the allure of travelling to Croatia? “Croatia has a diverse offering, from its eno-gastro (wine-tasting breaks) and city break potential, to its cultural heritage and natural beauty. More than 10pc of Croatia is covered by eight national parks and 10 nature parks, combined with a dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites packaged into a relatively small but diverse territory. This ranges from mountains to islands, rivers, caves, waterfalls, peninsulas, forests and glitterati


According to the Irish Travel Agents Association survey of 2018, Portugal is the second most popular tourist destination for Irish travellers. From the João Pedro relative proximity of Ferreira Caldas the country, to the draw Fernandes of the sun and sea, to the culture and history of the region, Portugal and the Algarve in particular, continues to be popular with Irish tourists. “The Irish market is one of the most important to the Algarve,” says João Pedro Ferreira Caldas Fernandes, President of the Algarve Tourism Bureau. “I think that the Irish and Portuguese are very similar. We like the same things in life: good food, good weather and laid-back back life.” João says that Portugal and specifically the Algarve is diverse in terms of landscape, culture, gastronomy and nature activities, while the golf courses and beaches are world-class. “It is one of the safest holiday destinations in the world to visit and holidays here are great value for money. This is why the Algarve is so appealing when booking holidays.” Here are three of João’s top picks to visit in the Algarve: THE NATURAL WORLD “I would definitely recommend going out and exploring, ”says João. “To the western side, you can explore the coast which has totally natural parks such as the Costa Vicentina Natural Park. You will find some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal there, as well as hiking trails.”

Istria Rovinj Credit Ivo Biocina

Croatia images courtesy of Croatian National Tourist Office areas and coastal areas guarantee off the beaten path holidays. And you are guaranteed to have traditional and local cuisine.”

hotspots, such as Hvar and Dubrovnik. “Croatia ticks all the boxes and is able to offer all that in a half or full-week stay, which is unlike many Mediterranean destinations.” Here are just a few of Ivona’s top ideas of what to do in Croatia: SPA DAY Travel to the island of Losinj and Opatija in the Kvarner region. They pride themselves in their long-standing heritage of wellbeing tourism going back to the 1800s. Ivona says: “The Croatian capital of Zagreb and its region of Zagorje are also famous for their spa offering. Croatia is an ideal destination to press pause and relax.”

For those interested in an active holiday, try the biking and hiking trails on the two famous routes of the Algarve – the Via Algarviana which is 340km from Alcoutim in the east until Cape St Vincent in the west. Or try the Vicentina Route along the Western coast of Algarve for about 250km. “I would recommend visiting the Lagoon of Ria Formosa Natural Park, which stretches for 60km east of Quinta do Lago almost to the border with Spain. This is a bird sanctuary great for bird watching lovers. It is also a nursery for small fish and has plenty of seafood like oysters, clams and other delicacies that garnish the Algarvian gastronomy.”

WINE DOWN Croatia is gaining traction as a centre for food and wine according to Ivona. There are three Michelin-star restaurants, in combination with a number of food festivals and events such as Dubrovnik Good Food Festival in October. The peninsula of Istria has award-winning olive oil, and Guinness Book of World Records award-winning truffles. Croatian food has become very enticing. “I would recommend touring the wine cellars in Slavonia, which are loved by the British Royal Family, and so many others,” says Ivon. “Then go back in history and discover the upper town charms of Zagreb. Croatia’s inland

ADRENALINE JUNKIES There are plenty of adrenaline activities around Croatia, from kayaking to deep sea fishing along the Adriatic coastline. There are also wellbeing and yoga sessions along the coast for a cool down. Climb one of the most picturesque Croatian mountains, Velebit, or visit Paklenica National Park known for its canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica, rock formations and black-pine forests. Ivona knows Croatia more than anyone, so where are her favourite places to go? “I have visited every region of Croatia and know what a transformational force the country has on people. Be it the high-quality Croatian coffee, or Istrian truffles and its award-winning white wine, combined with ‘klapa’ singing in Dalmatia. There are endless locations that eventually become your favourites. If I had to choose, I would recommend kayaking or sailing around the more than 1,200 Croatian islands.” For more information, visit


Algarve images courtesy of the Algarve Tourism Bureau BEACH-READY lighthouses of the Algarve. Discover the in the world, a project called The Algarve has won the real country and take an off-road adventure Ocean Revival with several World Travel Awards’ ‘Eusafari to the interior of the Algarve and Portuguese Navy battleships rope’s Leading Beach Destinadiscover the small villages and places like intentionally sunken to form this tion’ award five separate times. the fountains of Alte Village, one of the most Its beaches are an important part of Algarve, amazing underwater scuba diving traditional villages in all of Portugal.” its appeal and are worth travelling Albufeira park. It is an amazing experience.” The Algarve and Portugal as a whole will to. There are also a group of barrier always remain a top choice for Irish travelCHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE islands, in which some have traditional lers, so who does João believe would enjoy “You need to try the only zip-line in the fishing communities, which João says are this diverse and beautiful landscape? world where you cross the border of two amazing to visit. “From budget hotels to high-end luxury countries and a time zone,” says João. “It “The Desert Island stretches for 11km hotels, as well as family dedicated resorts, starts in Spain and finishes in Alcoutim, and only has one restaurant with nothing the Algarve has an offer for every type of Algarve. Definitely worth the visit!” else on the entire island. Access to these isWhen in the Algarve, it’s worth trying all traveller. In terms of accommodation, to the lands is only by boat and it is such a unique bustling Oura strip in Albufeira, from the the local experiences. Get wild and try the area to visit. There are also boat tours on laid-back beaches, to the active tourism in driving experiences in a Porsche or BMW the Algarve coast to visit the famous caves hiking or cycling, we are still Europe’s most at the Algarve International Racing Track, and cliffs there, as well as watch dolphins famous secret.” or skydive over the Ria de Alvor Nature and other marine mammals in the wild. Reserve and over the coastline. “You can also enjoy the natural spa salt For more information, visit “Go on an oyster or clam picking activity pans in Castro Marim which can make you at Ria de Alvor or at Ria Formosa Lagoon feel like you are in the famed Dead Sea. and then watch the sunset in one of the The Algarve has the biggest artificial reef


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Napoli Panorama




“The number of Irish tourists to Italy has been increasing steadily over the past three years,” says Flavio Zappacosta, Manager for UK and Ireland, Flavio Zappacosta ENIT Italian National Tourist Board, “The allure of Italy is the unique combination of sunny weather, varied landscapes with majestic mountains and tranquil lakes.” Italy has always been one of the favourite destinations for Irish people. Italy even won ‘Ireland’s favourite (overseas) destination’ in the Reader Travel Awards 2018. With such love for Italy, Flavio says that 2019 looks very promising for Irish

tourism to Italy. “Even if you have been to Italy many times before, there is always a new place to visit or a new thing to do, so go explore in 2019!” RENAISSANCE ITALY Flavio recommends visiting Parma where a must-see is the Baptistery and the Duomo, fine examples of Renaissance Italy. In Matera, visit the many churches dug in the rocks and in Aquileia, visit the impressive ancient Roman remains and beautiful mosaics. “Parma, which will be the Italian Capital of Culture in 2020, is the perfect place to sample delicious parma ham and parmesan cheese and enjoy Renaissance architecture. Matera in the southern region of Basilicata, which is the European Capital of Culture for 2019, has cave dwellings and dramatic natural settings to witness. The region of Friuli Venezia Giulia

has impressive eastern Dolomites mountain resorts. The historic city of Trieste and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of ancient Roman Aquileia has a new museum which is being opened this year. 2019 is a big year.” DA VINCI 2019 certainly is a big year for Italy as it marks the 500th anniversary of legendary Italian painter, Leonardo Da Vinci’s death on May 2nd. Flavio says he is looking forward to the celebrations which include several exhibitions throughout the country.

Italy images courtesy of the Italian National Tourist Board “The tiny medieval village of Vinci in Tuscany is the birthplace of the great Leonardo, and it’s a delight to visit. It will be hosting a series of Leonardo events this year.” Flavio says that while there is so much to do around Italy, his own personal favourite area is Naples. “It is vibrant, colourful, full of surprises and wonderfully set on the coast. You can go there and soak up its unique atmosphere, have a home-made gelato and eat an authentic pizza. Visit the many places Elena Ferrante mentions in her bestseller ‘My Brilliant Friend’, which is now an acclaimed TV series. I always recommend this to everyone.” For more information, visit At Holiday World Show, Croatia – Vodice Tourist Board are on stand P20. The Algarve Tourism Bureau are on stand L5/M8, and ENIT – Italian State Tourist Board is on stand L10/M12


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

San Gimignano, Tuscany




t was just spiking 30 degrees and it was still only midday. The open countryside stretched all around me, as far as the eye could see. Rolling Tuscan hills filled with golden fields, dotted with wine groves heavy with dark Chianti grapes. I paused as I waited for my companions to catch up. On an instinct I scooped up two handfuls of the baked hard soil and smelt it, crushing it in my hands and watched the dusty particles fall to the ground. I looked down and noticed that the palms of my hands were stained a russet brown. I felt light and heavy, elemental, suddenly out of time. But oh, so good! Welcome to the life of a modern-day pilgrim. Despite the discomfort, I was enjoying the atmosphere, which was created by the troupe we were travelling with. Led by the motivational presence of Today FM DJ Phil Cawley and guide Anna, most of us were seasoned walkers. Some seasoned pilgrims, having completed part or all of the legendary Camino Way in France and Spain. We were walking the Italian version and I was a newbie to it all. So I allowed myself to go with the flow and the group welcomed me, and my colleague Clodagh, as if we were old friends. It’s simple really. The main thing is walking, and it all starts and ends there. Walking, as we know from the Greeks,

produces thoughtfulness. The great philosopher Aristotle even had a name for it – Peripatetic, named after the peripatoi or “covered walkways”, where the philosopher walked while lecturing. Since then, many others have discovered a deep, intuitive connection between walking and reflection. Now, science has stepped in to bolster the case for going on a modern-day pilgrimage. First up, because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to walking, our attention is free to wander, and research shows this is linked to the creation of innovative ideas and insight. Studies also suggest that spending time in green spaces – and we were always surrounded by natural beauty of the most amazing kind – can rejuvenate the mental resources that man-made environments destroy. So I was enjoying a doublewhammy!

All walked out!

On our pilgrimage, we covered the breathtaking section of the Via Francigena from Lucca to Siena. It is one of the most spectacular stretches of the Via Francigena. We started in the walled city of Lucca with its amazing Renaissance wall and citadel, and finished in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Siena. And all the time we were walking in the heart of Tuscany, across beautiful rolling hills and woodland, stopping in villages along the way for a welldeserved rest. There are many wonderful sights on this section of the Via Francigena that I will never forget, including the tiny walled hilltop town of Monteriggioni and two impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the breathtaking town of San Gimignano with its medieval towers, and Siena, the historical, artistic, cultural and gastronomic gem. And we arrived there just before one of Italy’s most traditional horse races: the Palio di Siena, and the atmosphere was crackling. On every level this modern-day pilgrimage ticks every box. I experienced friendship, exercise, deep conversations, laughter, fantastic meals, welcome drinks and a feeling of mental and spiritual wellbeing that I cannot put into words. As the week progressed, I noticed what I would call the slough effect. Just as a snake sheds its old and useless skin over several days, so we shed our uncomfortable, everyday state of background stress and anxiety, (which appears to be the lot of most people, with all the constant digital distractions and interruptions). But the profound change did not happen immediately. On the first day, I found my mind still

racing. But by the last day it was in free flow: calm, relaxed and open and ready to receive one of those rare “peak experiences” that come when you are fully immersed in one activity. My peak experience came when we found ourselves wandering alongside a Tuscan river, surrounded by lush vegetation – nature at its best. Birds chirped and sang, and butterflies appeared to magically follow us, their rainbow colours caught in the sunlight that streamed through the forest. And it disarmed me, this moment of unadulterated bliss. It was a moment of joy and clarity, created by the sounds of the river, the sweet smell of the verdant air, the light breeze and the warmth of both nature and companionship. Not many holidays have given me quite such moments. I am grateful for it. Become a modern-day pilgrim – at least once in your life – you won’t regret it! It will help put life, and your place in it, right where it should be.



here was a salty sensation on my lips as I wiped away the beads of sweat that dripped from my forehead. Every muscle in my legs ached, but my final destination appeared hazily from behind the cypress trees in the distance. It was the first day of the Via Francigena pilgrimage walk in Tuscany. The longest trek our group would be doing across our five days of walking the route from Lucca to Siena. We had walked over 20km and I didn’t think I would be able to go on. After words


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Clodagh looking out over Colle di Val d’Elsa of motivation from fellow walkers in our group, I found the strength and finished the day’s route. One day down. I had always believed the assumption that pilgrim walks are for the older generation or people who were devoted to religion. But our group consisted of men and women of all ages. Despite our different backgrounds, I soon learned we all had one main thing in common. We were all on the same journey, for spiritual or personal reasons. Although, I was the youngest in the group at 26, I learned a lot from my companions, as they shared their life experiences and stories with me. Even if we sometimes walked in silence, their company was a big part of what got me through. The beauty of Tuscany itself, waiting to be discovered, also played a big part in helping me to keep going. Over the next few days, we passed through the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside and saw beautiful villages, medieval towns, Renaissance architecture, churches and vineyards. It was the perfect way to get a true taste of the essence of Italy. And the walking got easier. This was not only because the remaining kilometres weren’t as long as that first day, but also because I was eager to see what else hid behind each and every corner. Life felt so simple and for the first time in a very long time, I felt free from worry. Even though the conversation was flowing within the group, there was still enough time to get lost in my own thoughts. Reaching the hill town Colle di Val d’Elsa on the second-last day of the trip (and final day of walking) was a moment I will never

forget. Live violin sounds echoed through the old town as we passed by well-preserved ancient buildings, finally arriving at an end point which overlooked the rest of the town sitting below. It felt like I was walking through the set of ‘Game of Thrones’ and the views from the top of the town were breathtaking. We had the opportunity to explore Siena on the last day, and that night we all gathered for our final meal together. After a few glasses of Chianti wine (and Aperol Spritz for me!), we all got very emotional about the trip coming to an end. Walking the Via Francigena pilgrimage route was one of the most challenging, but enriching experiences I have ever had. To think I walked over 100km in five days. That’s a real achievement. Particularly when I didn’t think I could make it past day one. For me, this trip has proven that pilgrim walks aren’t for one specific type of person or age group. They are for those who might be looking for an escape from the dayto-day pressures of life or those who may be searching for meaning in their lives. Whatever the reason, I think a pilgrimage is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. And, what better way to walk-the-walk, than amongst the idyllic hilltop villages, vast vineyards and olive groves of the magnificent Tuscan countryside? For more information or to book, visit, email or call (01) 525 2886

Kevin by the mystic river Elsa in Colle di Val d’Elsa


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Holidays close to home



here are so many reasons why Irish people holiday in Ireland,” says Fiona Liversidge, Corporate Communications and Insights Manager for Visit Belfast. “The convenience of the trip is a big draw as there is no need to fly for visitors in the south. There is also the huge amount of investment in our tourism offering. This encourages locals to discover more about their home with some top-class accommodation, attractions, great food and hospitality.” Research from Europcar Ireland’s recent Tourism Index found that one in four Irish people holidayed in Ireland, which is an increase of 39pc on the previous year. It revealed that 53pc of Irish holidaymakers reported holidaying in Ireland as their main getaway of the year. According to Fáilte Ireland, there were 9.8 million domestic trips in Ireland in 2018 and this year, visitor numbers are set to rise by 3pc in Fiona 2019. Home seems to be Liversidge where the heart is.

BEAUTIFUL BELFAST “In the last few years, we have seen an uplift in the number of visitors from the Republic of Ireland coming north, especially to Belfast,” says Fiona. “Belfast has come a long way in a short time as a tourist destination. Don’t just take Fiona’s word for it, Belfast and the Causeway Coast was also chosen as Lonely Planet’s number one region to visit in 2018, while National Geographic Traveller Magazine recently voted Belfast as their ‘City on the Rise’. Belfast has a range of accommodation from 5-Star hotels to B&Bs and in 2018, six new hotels opened in the city centre. Fiona says the city is compact and easy to explore, so it’s very easy to discover visitor attractions. This includes Titanic Belfast, which was awarded the World’s Best Visitor Attraction award by the World Travel Awards in 2016. “Titanic Belfast tells the story of Belfast’s unique place in building the most famous ship in the world.” But that’s not all, “If you are in Belfast over the weekend, St George’s Market is a must – the Victorian-covered market offers great local food, artisan gifts and entertainment. “The Ulster Museum, situated in Botanic Gardens offers exhibitions from Irish art and treasures from the Spanish Armada, all the way through to Egyptian mummies and the story of the Troubles. “Belfast is a Victorian city with some great examples of Victorian architecture, one of which is the Crumlin Road Gaol. Having only closed in 1996, visitors can now take a tour of the building and uncover the social history of Belfast over 150 years.” A CITY OF ARTS AND CULTURE Fiona says that those interested in the culture of the city will be very happy as there are plenty of museums, galleries and cultural outlets to visit. However, Belfast has the added benefit of having some great family attractions including W5 Discovery Centre, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and Belfast Zoo. For those looking for a quiet trip, Belfast

HMS Caroline Belfast images courtesy of Visit Belfast Place. Nano Nagle was born 300 years ago and became a Presentation Sister.” Nano Nagle was an important person for the history of Ireland, for education and for women as she opened seven schools and helped many poor women. The Presentation Order have created an amazing tourist attraction and heritage experience in her honour.

Titanic Belfast

has scenery ideal for hillwalking, cycling, golfing and of course for fans of Game of Thrones®, there are plenty of filming locations to visit. “Game of Thrones® will air its final season in 2019 and Belfast will welcome the Game of Thrones® Touring exhibition in April at the Titanic Exhibition Centre. This new exhibition will drop fans into the centre of the Seven Kingdoms for an upclose look at authentic props, costumes and set decorations from the show.” Fiona adds: “Personally, I have loved every minute of working in Belfast and Northern Ireland over the last 21 years and I feel very lucky to see how Belfast in particular has flourished since the Good Friday agreement. The HMS Caroline is a favourite of mine. Decommissioned by the Royal Navy in 2010, HMS Caroline is the only surviving naval ship from the Battle of Jutland and now restored, it’s a must-see floating museum telling the story of life at sea for over 90 years. I would recommend everyone to visit this at least once.” COME TO CORK “We see more and more staycationers in Ireland and visiting

places like Cork because of the amount of year-round activities available to them,” says Seamus Heaney, Head of Visit Cork. “Cork City is easily accessible with hourly rail services from Dublin and great connectivity to places such as East Cork, Fota Wildlife Park and Cobh. Bus services around the county are frequent and great value, so it’s easy to get around.” Cork is the largest county in Ireland and is part of both the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East, meaning it has an abundance of attractions to suit any visitor. Seamus as Head of Visit Cork knows why people love the Rebel County. He says that visitors love Cork for natural places like Fota Wildlife Park and Gardens, the history and culture of the city and historical sites such as Elizabeth Fort and Cork City Gaol. “Cork offers visitors a real sense of Irishness, which can be found in our food, our attractions and most of all in our people. We have fresh food made by artisan producers throughout the county. The Crawford Art Gallery and Café for one is a must-see in the centre of the city. “When visiting Cork, I would recommend people visit Nano Nagle

THE IRISH EXPERIENCE For those who want to have the Irish experience and enjoy the countryside of Cork, the West Cork Farm Tour is available which is a tour of any one of five dairy or pig farms around Clonakilty and Rosscarbery. Another wildlife experience is Doneraile Wildlife Park which is a free attraction, 25 miles north of Cork City. This 18th century landscaped park has 166 hectares of land filled with trees, deer and many pathways for walking. Doneraile Wildlife Park was named as one of Ireland’s most popular ‘free-to-enter’ attractions by Fáilte Ireland. “You can’t come to Cork and not visit Spike Island and Cobh, with their breathtaking views of Cork Harbour and some great storytelling on the Island. Cobh’s history is fascinating as it was the final port of call for the ill-fated Titanic, so coming here has many tales of Irish immigration. The Cobh Heritage Centre, as well as Titanic Centre are definitely worth visiting.” Seamus says any trip to Cork is suited to couples, families, great escapers and the culturally curious visitor. “With a maritime history spanning over a thousand years, the land, the people and their culture will allow you to discover a quirky way to stimulate your senses. Over 500,000 Corkonians would love to meet you!” For more information on visiting Belfast, see and for information on Cork, visit You can check out Visit Belfast on stand R8 and Pure Cork on stand Q18/R17 at Holiday World Show

Seamus Heaney

Cycling the Ballyhoura Trails

Cork at twilight Cork images courtesy of Pure Cork

Sunday Independent January 20 2019



January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

North Kauai


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In America



Hula dancers Hawai‘i images courtesy of Hawai‘i Tourism Europe most popular island to visit is O‘ahu, followed by Maui and the island of Hawai‘i.” Each island has its own identity and Hawaiian persona, helping visitors choose which island is best for them. “Kaua‘i is known as the ‘rejuvenating’ island, lending itself more to the adventure traveller, whereas O‘ahu is dubbed as the ‘energising’ island, with capital city Honolulu and the buzzing nightlife of Waikiki Beach. “Maui is seen as the ‘captivating’ island and best known as a honeymoon destination or for those looking for a luxury getaway. The Island of Hawai‘i is known as the ‘inspiring’ island, with its blend of volcanoes, rainforests and beaches. It’s the perfect destination for families.” PANORAMIC VIEWS Jess encourages travellers heading to Hawai‘i to visit two or three islands to get a real feel for the destination. “Kaua‘i receives the fewest visitors of the four major islands, but is the lushest and greenest of them all. Here is an insider tip: see the island by sea, boat and air! “Travellers that want the best view of the dramatic coastline can take a boat cruise along the Napali Coast to see the world-famous 3,500-foot sheer cliff formation, or journey across the terrain in a 4X4. Thrill-seeking travellers can venture into Kaua‘i’s rugged and barren terrain by helicopter and land at the foot of Manawaiopuna Falls.”

“Hawai‘i is growing in popularity for Irish travellers looking to explore the isolated and paradisiacal archipelago in the Central Pacific,” says Jess Millett, Sales and Marketing Account Manager, Hawai‘i Tourism Europe. “Home to dramatic landscapes, white sandy beaches, waterfalls and canyons, Hawai‘i’ consists of six DISCOVER LOCAL islands. These are Kauai, CULTURE Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, “There are many ways to Maui, and Hawai‘i’ and each Kenny Jess truly immerse yourself in welcomes visitors with a warm Millett the Hawaiian way of life,” says aloha spirit.” Jess. “In O‘ahu, travellers can visit Jess adds, “Whether you are ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu, the only royal travelling solo, with friends or with family, palace on US soil and the official residence Hawai‘i has something to offer all travellers. of Hawai‘i’s last two monarchs. This will The average holidaymaker in Hawai‘i from provide an understanding about how Europe spends 16-18 days on the Hawaiian Hawai‘i came to be the USA’s 50th state. Islands. This is the perfect length of time, “Travellers visiting Lana‘i can venture to allowing travellers to experience two or three the island’s southern tip to see sacred ruins of the islands.” Here are some of Jess’ top tips on your visit of Kaunolu, an ancient fishing village.” Jess recommends experiencing authentic to Hawai’i: Hawaiian music and hula shows, by visiting Kuhio Beach Hula mound on Kalakaua AN ISLAND FOR EVERYONE Ave, O‘ahu (every Tuesday, Thursday and “It’s difficult to narrow it down to one top Saturday evening at sunset) for a free destination as each of the six Hawaiian performance. “Highlights include torch Islands is so different, having been shaped lighting, traditional blowing of the conch over five million years,” says Jess. “But, the

shell, Hawaiian music and dancing.” Travellers visiting Maui can drop by Whalers Village, along the Ka‘anapali Beachwalk and take part in a traditional leimaking lesson, where visitors will be taught the art of flowers, using ti leaf, haku and wili lei. Sessions take place every Tuesday and Thursday from 11am-1pm. Other activities available to guests include hula lessons, coconut-husking demonstrations and evening Polynesian dance performances.” CULINARY DELIGHTS “Hawaiian food and drink has been shaped over the generations by influences from across Europe, Asia and the rest of the Pacific Islands,” says Jess. “There are a variety of farmer’s markets, local eateries, food trucks and traditional delicacies, such as Loco Moco (rice and burger smothered with rich gravy and eggs). One of the best places to sample Loco Moco is at Aloha Mixed Plate in Maui, where there are recipes passed down from past generations. “Those with a sweet tooth can head to Doughnut Dynamite to enjoy a delicious freshly baked treat, shaved-ice desserts and Portuguese-influenced malasadas, whilst a key traditional food served at lu‘au’s is kalua pig, which is roasted underground.” Hawai‘i also produces 90pc of the world’s macadamia nuts. Jess says visitors looking to sample some should head to Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company in Kawaihae on the Island of Hawai‘i, for free tours and tastings at the new factory store.

“Similarly, travellers on Moloka‘i can visit Purdy’s Macadamia Nut Farm, where Tuddie and Kammy Purdy have been welcoming visitors to their five-acre natural macadamia nut farm for years.” SEA LIFE Jess says Hawai‘i boasts one of the largest seasonal populations of North Pacific humpback whales in the world. “From November to May, travellers can whale-watch from the shore, boats or cruises, as thousands of humpbacks fill the tropical waters surrounding the Hawaiian coastline as they commence their annual winter migration from the Gulf of Alaska to the North Pacific Ocean. “Some of the best whale-watching spots on land include Ka‘anapali Beach, West Maui, Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail, O‘ahu, Pu‘ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Island of Hawai‘i and Kilauea Lighthouse, Kaua‘i.” Meanwhile, Moloka‘i’s southern shore stretches 28 miles long, making it Hawai‘i’s longest continuous fringing reef. “Explore the spectacular underwater paradise, which is home to finger coral and stony coral, as well as turtles and many colourful schools of fish. Water lovers can embark on a scubadiving tour with qualified instructors or those wanting to stay closer to the surface can rent snorkelling equipment and head to the beaches of the south shore. Kumimi Beach is particularly popular as it is home to the green turtles and manta rays.” Visit


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Mount Rushmore and it is stunning. McCall is known in the winter for its snowmobiling, alpine, Nordic and backcountry skiing. Its annual Winter Carnival attracts over 60,000 people each year. In the summer, McCall buzzes with activity as visitors enjoy the water sports, hiking, biking, outdoor music and art festivals.”

Wyoming. The Great American West images courtesy of The Great American West. Photo taken by Andy Barden

The Great American West adventure

wildlife along the way, including grizzly local rodeo, as it is a great way to immerse bears, buffalo, elk, wolves and much more. yourself in a true Western tradition!” I’d advise getting a guided tour for an in-depth CHARMING RESORTS understanding of Nestled between five mountain Yellowstone.” ranges in Idaho, Sun Valley is “For those seeking adventure and looking to Ciara says few an all-season family resort go off the beaten path, The Great American landscapes in destination for skiing, West is a perfect choice,” says Ciara Foley of the world are snowboarding, icePlatinum Travel. “It is the ultimate US road as striking and skating, golfing, bowling, destination, combining iconic attractions memorable shopping, spas, dining • Going -to-the like Yellowstone National Park and Mount as that of and much more. -Sun R Rushmore National Memorial with Grand Teton “Sun Valley is home Park, M oad, Glacier • Beart N o a n tional mountains, national parks, scenic byways, National Park to the world’s first Monta ooth Highwa tana na into y from wildlife, small town charm, Wild West in Wyoming. chairlift and the ski Yellow stone N Red Lodge in history and Native American culture.” “Located south resort attracts some of ationa W yoming • Need l Park, les H There are many ways to explore the five of Yellowstone, the top athletes who take • Ench ighway, Sout states of The Great American Teton’s advantage of the terrain anted H h Dako ta igh West, Idaho, Montana, 310,000 and facilities,” says Ciara. Dakota way, North • Sawtoo North Dakota, South acres “Whether it’s a winter or t Byway h Scenic Dakota and Wyoming. include summer escape, there are , Idaho “The Great American mountain so many activities to suit all West is particularly meadows, ages and interests. And, there are well-suited as a alpine lakes, a variety of accommodation options, destination for the 4,000-metre Grand including condos, lodges and cottages. couples looking Teton peak, and the valley “Ernest Hemingway was a regular visitor for a fly-drive or known as Jackson Hole. to Sun Valley and established a permanent a motorhome It’s a popular destination in and final residence there with his fourth holiday. The region summer for mountaineering, wife, Mary. You can visit the author’s final encompasses over hiking, backcountry camping resting place at the Ketchum Cemetery.” 62 byways, backways and fishing. Another vibrant resort town in Idaho and highways, so the “Other top national parks in is McCall, located two hours north of best and easiest way to the West worth visiting include Boise. “McCall is nestled between forested Ciara Foley explore is by car. Theodore Roosevelt National Park mountains and the shores of Payette Lake, “In The Great American in North Dakota, Badlands National West, you are bound to experience Park in South Dakota and Glacier National the unforgettable.” Park in Montana.” Here, alongside Platinum Travel’s tourism partner The Great American West, RANCH LIFE Ciara shares some of the highlights of The Ciara says there is no better way to Great American West. experience the Wild West than with a ranch stay. NATIONAL PARKS “Ranches range from working to luxury. “Much of the West has been carefully Luxury ranches combine indulgence with preserved in America’s national parks,” says adventure seamlessly and guests will Ciara. “So, travellers are able to experience generally stay in log cabins and tented the same pristine natural beauty as the first cabins, with fine dining and service. For a pioneers. real taste of ranch life, the working ranch “Yellowstone National Park is a popular primarily raises livestock and guests can attraction for visitors and it is America’s become real cowboys or cowgirls, learning first national park, having been established to drive cattle or horses, eating around in 1872. The park is mainly located in campfires and sleeping under the stars. Wyoming, but also in Montana and Idaho. “During a ranch stay, there are a Yellowstone is home to the world’s most variety of activities holidaymakers can try, extraordinary geysers, hot springs and the including horse riding, mountain biking, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. fishing, kayaking and hiking. A night or two “There is also a vast network of trails, at a guest ranch can work brilliantly as part which will take hikers to hundreds of of a fly-drive itinerary. Yellowstone National Park secluded places. You’re bound to see “If you can, it is worthwhile attending a


LOCAL FOOD The Great American West is a food lover’s paradise, where you can enjoy fine dining on a downtown rooftop bar or a rustic meal on an expansive prairie. “We would strongly recommend tasting a Bison Burger or elk meat for a true taste of the Wild West,” says Ciara. “For those with a sweet tooth, Windmill Bakery, Arlo, Montana has the best donuts! The Meeteetse Chocolatier creates divine artisan Belgian chocolates. Owner, Tim Kellogg was trained in Europe and has stores in Meeteetse and Jackson in Wyoming.” MONUMENTS AND MEMORIALS “As you explore The Great American West, there are some significant monuments and memorials not to be missed,” says Ciara. “Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming is a one-of-a-kind natural wonder, looming 1,200 feet above the eastern plains and Belle Fourche River. “Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota is the majestic 60-foot (18m) mountain, with the faces of US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved in. “In Montana, visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, which memorialises the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn which took place in 1876.” For those who visit the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, Ciara advises spending a day hiking amongst the volcanic remains and exposed caves. Platinum Travel tailor make every USA road trip for each client for their own personal needs and budget. Visit www.platinumtravel. ie and For more travel tips, visit Discover more of The Great American West with Platinum Travel on stand H7 at Holiday World Show. Hawaii Tourism Authority are on stand G4.


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Animations at la Guyonnière

Parc-Aquatique at la Guyonnière Camping Village images courtesy of Camping Village de la Guyonnière




uncomfortable or a lot of work, but Thys says that couldn’t be further from the truth at a specialised camping site like the 5-Star Camping Village de la Guyonnière. “We offer spacious pitches, modern and fully equipped accommodation, a fully heated waterpark, animations for adults and children all day and in the evening, a top restaurant, shop, a pub and even a wellness centre. It is a fun trip for all.” Visit

Sun, sea and sand

According to the ITAA, Spain is the number the site, are visiting the beautiful beaches one destination for Irish people. This is due f you have ever wanted to take the kids nearby and the islands, Yeu and to proximity, the beautiful surroundings, on a big family adventure but the Noirmoutier. Yeu is only accessible number of flights, and the major factor, the price tag put you off, there are by boat and has picturesque low cost. Many families in particular travel other options you can choose towns and harbours, and a very to Spain as their main vacation spot. which may suit your budget. wild coastline with steep cliffs. “More than two million Irish people With serene locations, a stressMy tip would be to go for a day, visited Spain last year,” says Teresa Gancedo, free environment and daily hire a bike and do a tour of the Managing Director of the Spanish Tourism activities, a camping holiday is island.” Office. “Our country has a lot to offer for all a perfect option for those who Thys Jaspers For families of all ages, Puy types of travellers. want to enjoy a trip away. du Fou theme park is near the “What is particularly alluring about our “Camping in France means site in Les Epesses. The park is the country is our breathtaking landscapes quality time with the family,” says second most popular theme park in France and the cultural heritage of the people. Thys Jaspers, Manager of Camping Village only after Disneyland Paris. Grand Defi The variety of festivals, traditions and de la Guyonnière in Vendée in the west of adventure park is also close-by which gastronomy in all of our regions is France. “It’s the time you take to reconnect includes ziplines and tree climbing beyond anywhere else.” with yourself and the ones you love.” for the adventurous sort. Camping Village de la Guyonnière has “Lac du Jaunay is a lake FAMILY FUN been in business for over 25 years. In that There are an incredible amount time, the staff has seen more and more Irish which is five minutes away from the site. It is perfect for of things to do in Spain for guests arriving at the site each year. But a morning or afternoon walk families that won’t cost an arm what is the appeal of camping in France to with the family. My personal and a leg. For those thinking of so many Irish people? : Teresa Gancedo favourite thing to do is to go for travelling to Spain in 2019, Teresa “I believe our Irish guests appreciate the a run around the lake. There is says to consider the north of Spain spacious setting of the campsite. We are always another trail to follow where for a different family holiday this year. in a very convenient location between the you have never gone before, and the scenery “The flights from Dublin to Santander coastal harbours and sandy beaches of Les is just magical.” have been extended to all year round, and Sables d’Olonne and Saint Gilles Croix de Some people may think camping is the ferry route from Cork to Santander Vie. The Vendée and Côte d’Azur, known for their beautiful beaches and coastlines, are not too far away from the site which is very appealing.” At Camping Village de la Guyonnière, you can come with your own caravan or tent, or you can rent their available mobile homes, glamping accommodation or chalets. It is an inexpensive option for staying in such a beautiful area. FUN ACTIVITIES With a large swimming pool on-site, a fishing lake, woodlands and beaches nearby, both adults and children can have a packed schedule every day. These are not only fun excursions in a different country and culture, but also won’t break the bank. “The absolute must-dos, when staying at

Pilgrims on Somo beach – View of Santander. Spain images courtesy of the Spanish Tourism Office

makes this option more accessible to people in Munster. You can visit the wildlife park in Cabárceno (11km outside Santander city) and take part in the surfing activities in the surrounding areas. “Many Irish people will travel to Lanzarote this year, and I encourage them to visit the volcanic installations of Cesar Manrique. These are unusual uses of the underground lava tubes made into exhibition areas. Children will love to spot the albino crabs in the cave pool in the magical Jameos del Agua! While in Lanzarote, a charming day trip is a boat excursion to the sparsely populated island of La Graciosa. Families with children can have a great day on board. They can stop off to have a swim and a snorkel after a wander around the tiny island. Some boats even offer a ‘paella on-board’ option!” For sea-loving families, the recently opened aquarium, Poema del Mar (an Ode to the Sea) is in Gran Canaria’s capital, Las Palmas. It has three different zones replicating three different parts of the world’s oceans. Stingrays and sharks are to be seen as well as turtles and exotic fish and is great to see all year round. “For a holiday outside the summer season, you should have a look at Sierra Nevada in Granada. This is a family friendly ski resort in the winter with beginners’ options for skiing. During the winter you can enjoy the ski resort, and then drive 40 minutes away to the coast of the Costa Tropical. The locals are very proud of the fact that you can ski in the morning and sunbathe on the beach all in the same day!” Teresa would advise people travelling to Spain with children to “use sunscreen and hats and avoid activities during the middle of the day in summer. Always drink plenty of water and book in good time. There are so many options for families in Spain. That is why, together with the character of the people, Spain will probably continue to be the top travel destination for Irish holidays.” Visit At Holiday World Show check out Camping Village de la Guyonniere on stand Q4/C5 and the Spanish Tourism Office on stand L9/M11 and F3/G3

Sierra Nevada

Cardona Parador


Sunday Independent January 20 2019












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SPEAKER SCHEDULE AND TIMINGS (Schedule subject to change)

FREE with special guests! SATURDAY 26th JANUARY 2019


12.30pm Musical entertainment

12.30pm Musical entertainment

12.45pm Irish Attractions

12.45pm Flying & Flights

Biddy Hughes, Westport House Mark Langtry, Explorium Daragh Feighery, Center Parcs Longford Forest Charles Coyle, Nissan Driving School Tayto Park



Holiday Trends 2019

Deirdre Sweeney, Sunway Maurice Shiels, Topflight Simon Eaton, TUI Dominic Burke, Travel Centres Pat Dawson, ITAA


Official Opening with Minister Shane Ross


Growing Irish tourism


Exciting Year in Cruising





Paul Kelly, Fáilte Ireland

Jennifer Callister, Royal Caribbean Michael English, Celebrity Cruises Claire Rose , Princess Cruises Alana Byrne, MSC Cruises Alan Lynch, Cruisescapes Jayne Lambert, Hurtigruten


Kristin Skinner, American Holidays Tony Lane, Visit USA Committee Mary McKenna, Tour America Tryphavana Cross, Las Vegas & New York Jenny Rafter, Aer Lingus Greg Evans , Atlantic City & Philadelphia

African Adventure

Kgomotso Ramothea, South Africa Tourism Amanda Zinman, Adams & Butler Thoko Jili, KwaZulu Natal


Japan World Cup

Darina Slattery, Unique Japan Tours David Slattery, Stein Travel Paddy Baird, Killester Travel

Snow Holidays

Anthony Collins, Topflight Orla Markey, Crystal Ski Holidays Catherine Murphy, Award Winning Journalist Grainne Caffrey, Club Med



Asian Experience

John Warr, Wendy Wu Tours Chris Lee, Thailand Fiona Foster, Cassidy Travel Paul Hackett, Click&Go


Europe calling


Visas, Passports & Vaccinations, what you need to know

What's new in the USA

Enda Corneille, Emirates Bláithín O'Donnell, Air Canada

Kathryn MacDonnell, Spanish Tourism Board Dublin Mary Denton, Sunway European Holidays Susana Cardoso, Portuguese National Tourist Office Leila McCabe, TUI

Joane King, Passport Office Kyle O’Sullivan, Department of Foreign Affairs Consular Chief Mary Virginia Hantsch, Embassy of the United States of America Siobhan Grehen, Tropical Medical Bureau

Weddings Abroad & Honeymoons

Mandy Walsh, Travel Counsellors Brian McCarthy, Island Marketing (Maldives) Fiona Dobbyn, Classic Resorts Lanzarote

Solo Travel

Sharon Jordan, The Travel Corporation Ciara Mooney, Freedom Travel Claire Doherty, Travel Department

Joy of Travel with Irelands best travel agents

Paula Coughlan, Dawson Travel / Pamela Brownlee, Cruises For You / Fly Away Travel Ciara Foley, Platinum Travel




Discovering Ireland

Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair

Triona O’Mahony, Munster Vale Barney McLaughlin, Donegal Mark McGovern, Fáilte Ireland Seamus Heaney, Pure Cork Lee Griffin, The Reeks District

HOLIDAY WORLD SHOW RDS Simmonscourt | Dublin 4


EXHIBITORS Caravan & Motorhome Show 2019

Exhibitor ACSI Publishing BCo. V Name Batteryworld BBikes Beechgrove Camping & Caravan Park Brokers 4 Motorhomes Buccaner Touring Caravans Charles Camping Country Caravans Curraghchase Caravan & Camp Site & Forest Park Donegal Motorhomes Downshire Camping & Caravans Elddis Touring Caravans

Stand No Website CM16 CM23 CM30 CM22 CM29 CM19 CM15 CM14 CM26 CM18 CM19 CM19

Holiday World Show 2019

Exhibitor Co. Name 3HB Hotels A R Brassington & Company Abbey Travel Adventures Acorn Insurance Actons Hotel Kinsale Advantage Austria Aer Lingus Aherlow House Hotel Aillwee Cave Air Canada Airfield Estate Alabama Tourism Albufeira Promotion Bureau Alentejo Promotion Office AlgarExperience Algarve Manta Properties Algarve Tourism Bureau Aluna Vacances - Ardeche (Sunelia) AMA Waterways American Holidays AMResorts Cara An Post ANA - All Nippon Airways Andalucia Tourist Board Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Aqua Suites Lanzarote Armagh City Arnolds Hotel Ashling Caravan Park Athlone - At the Heart of it Athlone Springs Hotel Atlantic City & Pennsylvania Attraction Tickets Direct Balaia Golf Village Bahamas Tourist Office Ballyhoura Luxury Hostel Ballyliffin and Clonmany Tourism Ballyrobert Gardens Ballyshannon Tourism Balmoral Resort Florida Barcelo Hotel Group Gran Canaria Be Cordial Hotels & Resorts Beatriz Costa Spa Beauty Glow Belleek Pottery Visitors Centre Benidorm Tourism Board Berrua Sunelia Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre Blackwater Eco Tours Blue & Green Servicos de Gestao SA Blue Insurance Bradley International Airport Breakaway Explore Breffni Arms Hotel Brian McEniff Hotels Budapest City Tourism Board Buddha Bar Hotel Budapest Budget Travel Bus Eireann C'est Si Bon Ardeche Camping C'est Si Bon Bocage Du Lac C'est Si Bon Cap Soleil C'est Si Bon Champ La Chevre C'est Si Bon Chateau Des Tilleuls C'est Si Bon Domaine Des Messires C'est Si Bon Eurosol C'est Si Bon France C'est Si Bon Guyonniere C'est Si Bon L'isle Verte C'est Si Bon La Belle Etoile C'est Si Bon Le Coin Tranquille C'est Si Bon Les Genets C'est Si Bon Point De Bourgogne

Stand No Website L12/M14 P18 B7 J18 Q18/R17 N18 K1 S3 S15 P9 V4 K4 L12/M14 L6/M9 L12/M14 B9 L5/M8 N6 E1/F1 J4/K3 L1a J2 B3 L9/M11 Q11 P17 Q1 T9/U7 R6 T5 T5 H6 L4 L12/M14 F8 S3 T9/U7 Q11 T9/U7 D10 L9/M11 L9/M11 P17 S14 Q1 L9/M11 N6 P24 S3 L5/M8 V1 J8 C5 Q15/R14 Q8 P23 P23 A9 Q10 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7

January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

ADMISSION CHARGES Adults ¤7 Senior citizens ¤4 Students ¤3 Special family price: 2 adults & up to 4 children ¤14

OPENING TIMES Friday 25th January, 1pm – 6pm Saturday 26th January, 11am – 5:30pm Sunday, 27th January, 11am – 5:30pm Exhibitor Co. Name Green Guide Happy Campers Hobby GBI Hobby Touring Caravans Irish Camping and Caravan Club Kampa Tents & Awnings Magnetic Balance O'Meara Camping Ireland Outwell Tents & Awnings Royal Awnings & Furniture Royal Tents & Awnings Rushin House Caravan Park Vango Tents & Awnings Weinsberg Touring Caravan Whiterocks

Stand No Website CM28 CM13 CM18 CM19 CM31 CM20 CM35 CM20 CM15 CM19 CM20 CM32 CM15 CM19 CM25

Exhibitor Co. Name C'est Si Bon Pyrenees Natura Cambrils Tourism Board Camino Groups Campasun L'aigle Campasun Les Hautes Prairies Campasun Mas De Pierredon Campasun Parc Mogador Camping & Resort Sanguli Salou/Cambrils Park Resort Camping A La Rencontre Du Soleil Camping Chateau De L'Eperviere Camping Cros De Mouton Camping Domaine De La Bergerie 83 Camping Domaine De La Bergerie 06 Camping Dowmaine Des Chenes Camping Holiday Green Camping Ker Helen Camping La Baume La Palmeraie Camping La Bretonniere***** Camping Le Bois de Valmarie Camping Camping Le Bosc**** Camping Le Domaine De Gil Camping Le Domaine Du Logis Camping Le Rochelongue Camping Le Ventoulou Camping Turiscampo Camping Village de la Guyonniere***** Camping Alpes Maritimes Campissimo / ESE Communication Campsites of Costa Brava & Pyrenees Canary Islands Cantabria - Green Spain Carlingford & Cooley Peninsula Carlow Tourism Carrick Cottage Carrickcraft Casada Cascais Tourist Board Cashel Folk Village Cassidy Travel Castel La Garangeoire Camping***** Castellon Tourist Board Castle Dargan Golf Hotel & Wellness Resort Castlemartyr Resort Castlerosse Park Resort Castletroy Park Hotel/So Hotels Castro Marim Golfe Catalonia - Catalan Tourist Board Causeway Coastal Route Cavan County Museum Celebrity Cruises Celestyal Cruises Celtic Ross Hotel / Farm Tours Charles Taylor Trading China Airlines China National Tourist Office Choice Hotel Group Christ Church Cathedral City Break USA Clare Tourism Clayotic Workshop Clayton Hotel Sligo Clayton Hotels Click& Clonakilty Park Hotel Clonmacnoise Monastic Site Clube Albufeira Coker Travels International Col D'Ibardin - Cote Basque Colina Verde Golf Resort Complete Insulations Costa Blanca Costa Calida - Region De Murcia Costa Sal Villas and Suites

Stand No N7/P7 L9/M11 L8 N4/P4 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 L9/M11 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 Q4 P5 M5 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 P3 Q4 N7/P7 N7/P7 N7/P7 G10 L9/M11 L9/M11 R5 T6 RV11 U2 M15 L6/M9 S3 G1 N5 L9/M11 S17/T15 Q18/R17 T12 Q7 L5/M8 L9/M11 S9 Q15/R14 F3/F4 F3/F4 Q18/R17 B8 B1 E3 T13a Q1 H7 S15 S15a S15b RV4 S17/T15 S2 J15 Q18/R17 P24 L12/M14 D3a N6 L5/M8 RV9 L9/M11 L9/M11 P17



Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Exhibitor Co. Name Cottage Pride County Arms Hotel & Leisure Club Craft Granary, Cahir Croatia - Vodice Tourist Board Cruise & Maritime Voyages Cruise USA Cuba Tourist Board Cyprus Tourism Organisation Czech Tourism Dawson Deep South USA Derg Isle Diamond Coast Hotel Enniscrone Dine In Hotels Discover Boyne Valley Discover Bundoran Discover New England Dolphins Discover Newport Rhode Island Domaine De Champe Sunelia Domaine De La Dragonniere Sunelia Domaine Du Logis Domaine Les Ranchisses Sunelia Dominican Republic Tourist Office Donegal East Tourism Donegal Gaeltacht Donegal International Airport Donegal Self Catering Association Donegal Tourism Donegal Town Doolin Cave Down County Museum Dublin's City Hall - The Story of the Capital Dubrovnik and Neretva Tourist Board Dunadry Hotel Dundrum House Golf & Leisure Resort E-magine Travel Services - Cruise Specialist Eagles Flying/Irish Raptor Research Centre Eccles Hotel Glengariff Echlinville Distillery Elit Dental Clinic Embassy of Brazil Embassy of Ethiopia, Federal Democratic Republic of Embassy of Slovakia Embassy of South Africa Energy Wipe England's Northern World Heritage Collection ENIT - Italian State Tourist Board Enniskillen Motel EPIC Ireland Escolas do Turismo de Portugal Escorted Tours USA Etang de la Breche Ethiopian Airlines EUROHIKE Exodus Travel Explore Georgia Explore Minnesota Explore! Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism Fethard Horse Country Experience Fitzpatrick Hotel Group Fly Drive USA Follow The Camino Forever Lifestyle Fosters Chocolates Fota Group Fota House & Gardens Four Seasons Fairways Frank Keane Group Fuerteventura Tourism Board Gaeltacht na hEireann Galicia Tourism Board Galway Coast Cottages Garryvoe Hotel Shanagarry Garvetur S.A. Glasnevin Cemetery Museum Gloria Thalasso & Hotels Gran Canaria Tourist Board Great Lakes North America Great Lighthouses Of Ireland Greek National Tourism Organisation Green Impact Travel & Tour Grimming/Donnersbachtal Tourist Board Hankyu Travel International Hawaii Tourism Authority Hayes & Jarvis Heritage Island - Ireland's Premier Attraction Hertz Car Hire HIDDEN IN SPAIN Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa Himalaya Seekers Hodson Bay Hotel & Leisure Centre Hogan Estates Holiday Green Sunelia Holiday Inn Algarve Hotel & Apartments Fariones Lanzarote Hotel Ambassador Hotel Jardin Tecina - Fred.Olsen La Gomera Hotel Quinta do Lago & Ria Park Hotel

Stand No Website V5 P24 S3 P20 H13 H7 G7 J9/K7 P21 A2 K4 S15a S17/T15 T10 Q3 T9/U7 J7/K5 L12/M14 J7/K5 N6 N6 N7/P7 N6 G9 T9/U7 T9/U7 T9/U7 T9/U7 T9/U7 T9/U7 Q1 Q1 Q1 P19 Q11 S3 P23 N2/P2 U15 R16 S11 M3 F2 D6 P22 E7 RV8 U8 L10/M12 U14 R12 Q1 L6/M9 H7 N5 D6 N18 B7 H7 H8 C5 R12 S3 J3 H7 J12 U18 RV1 Q18/R17 Q2 L5/M8 A11 L9/M11 U16/U17 L9/M11 U12 Q18/R17 L5/M8 Q1 L9/M11 A4 L9/M11 H8 Q1 H10 E8 N18 B3 G4 K2 Q1 Outside N13 L5/M8 E6 T5 C9/C10 N6 L5/M8 P17 N18 L9/M11 L5/M8

Exhibitor Co. Name Hotel Westport Hotels Olympia & Olympia Sky Croatia House of Waterford Crystal Hurtigruten Ibiza Tourist Board ICELANDAIR ICELANDAIR Hotels Imperial Park Hotel Croatia Independent News & Media India Tourist Office Insight Vacations Interlude - Ile de Re (Sunelia) Ireland West Airport Irish Ferries Irish Golf Review Irish Heritage Trust Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) Irish Whiskey Museum Island Marketing (Maldives) Israel Government Tourist Office J Barter Travel Jamaica Tourist Board Japan Airlines Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Jetline Cruise JMG Travel Joe Walsh Tours/Concorde Travel Johnstown Castle Estate and Gardens Namibia with Kanes Travel Kansas/Oklahoma Travel & Tourism KelAir Campotel Keller Travel Killarney Tourism Kilmallock Heritage Town Kilmallock Medieval Tours Kinnitty Castle Hotel Kinsale Hotel and Spa Knockmealdown Active Kompas Touristik International Budapest Kuramathi Island Resort L'Atlantique Sunelia L'escale St.Giles Sunelia L'Hippocampe - Haute Provence (Sunelia) L'Hipppocampe Camping La Gomera Tourism Board La Manga Club La Palma Tourism Board La Pointe Du Medoc - Medoc (Sunelia) La Ribeyre Sunelia La Sirene Camping Clubs Lanzarote Tourist Board Laois Tourism Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Laura Lynn Foundation Le Clos Du Rhone Sunelia Le Fief - Loire Atlantique (Sunelia) Le Malazeou -Ariege (Sunelia) Le Pin Parasol Camping***** Le Ranc Davaine Sunelia Leitrim Tourism Les Campings C'est Si Bon Les Campings Campasun Les Oyats Les Pins Sunelia Les Rives Du Lac Sunelia Les Trois Vallees - Pyrenees (Sunelia) Les Trois Vallees Sunelia Letterkenny Tourism Lismacue House Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council Lismore Heritage Lismore Heritage Town Lithuania Little Windsor Longford Tourism Longueville House Lough Boora Discovery Park Louisiana Office of Tourism Luna Hoteis & Resorts Lusty Beg Island Luxury Gold Madeira Promotion Bureau Magic Hill Holidays Magic Vacations Maine Office of Tourism Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board Maldron Hotels & Partners Mallorca Balleraics Islands Mallorca Tourist Board Malta Tourism Authority Marina Club Lagos Resort Mariner International Travel Maryland Office of Tourism Mas Des Lavandes Sunelia Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism Mayo The Adventure Capital McKeever Hotels Medieval Mile Museum Kilkenny Mellow Mood Hotels Budapest Michael Collins House Mid & East Antrim Borough Council Mid Ulster District Council Midleton Park Hotel & Spa

Stand No R4 P20 R3 J14 K6 G5 G5 P20 C4 B5/B6 N9/N10/A10 N6 P14 P8 Q9 Q2 A3 Q1 G2 G6 E4 F7 B3 B3 G3 H13 A5 Q2 A7 H4 N8 N8 S13 Q1 S3 P24 Q17 S3 P23 G2 N6 N6 N6 P5 L9/M11 F10 L9/M11 N6 N6 P5 P17 N23 H1 U13 N6 N6 N6 Q4 N6 N20 N7/P7 N7/P7 N6 N6 N6 N6 N6 T9/U7 S3 Q12 S3 Q1 N19a D12 T3 S3 P24 K4 L12/M14 R12 N9/N10 L6/M9 P15 F5 J7/K5 C1/D1 R2 L9/M11 L9/M11 N17 L5/M8 J17 H7 N6 J7/K5 S16/T14 Q11 Q1 P23 Q18/R17 S10 R10 U1

Website www.sunelia/latlantique

20 Exhibitor Co. Name Minister of Tourism Development Sri Lanka Mississippi Tourism Montana Tourism Monte da Quinta Resort Monte Santo Resort Montenotte Hotel Moroccan National Tourist Office Mount Steward House Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa & Golf Resort Mourne Mountains & Ring of Gullion MSC Cruises Munster Vales Murcia Golf Services Murcia Property Services Mysteries of India Namibia with Kanes Travel NAR UK Navan Centre & Fort - Emain Macha New Hampshire's White Mountains New Nation Travel & Tours New Orleans New York State Division of Tourism Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre Newry Mourne and Down District Council Nire Valley County Waterford Nire Valley Glamping Nombre Seaside Los Jameos Playa North Dakota Department of Tourism North Wales Tourism Norwegian Cruise Line Nuevo Mundo - Latin America Nuts In Bulk NYC & Company O'Leary Travel Worldchoice Old Butter Roads Omagh & Sperrins Region Oman Tourism Board Oriel House Hotel Cork Orlando Parisi Udvar Hotel Budapest Passport Services & Consular Directorate Pearl Afric Tour and Travel Pearse Lyons Distillery Perla Di Mare Sunelia PhoneWatch Pine Cliffs Resort Planet Cruise Platinum Travel PortAventura World Princesa Yaiza & Fariones Hotels Princess Cruises Program Centrum KFT Project Travel Pure Cork Purely Pyrenees Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa Sligo Rathlin Island Ferry Richmond Barracks Riu Hotels & Resorts Riverside Park Hotel Riviera Travel Road Safety Authority Rocky Mountaineer Roscommon Tourism Royal Caribbean International Rubina Resort Sunelia Saint-Cyprien Tourism Board Salou Tourism Board Salthill Hotel Galway Salzburg Tourism Sands Beach Resort Lanzarote & International Marathon SATUR Travel a.s. Scattery Island Tours Seafarer Cruising & Sailing Holidays Seaside Hotels Gran Canaria SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Secure Financial Select Hotels of Ireland Shamrock Lodge Hotel Athlone Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium Sheraton Athlone Hotel Shop4choice Siblu 2016 Head Office Silver Line Cruises Silversea Cruises Sirene Holidays Slieve Bloom Mountains Sligo Park Hotel & Leisure Club Smilebright Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny South African Tourism South Dakota Department of Tourism South Dublin County Council Spanish Tourism Office Sparkle Bright Spike Island Spring Hotels Stena Line Stormhall Strokestown Park House Gardens & Famine Museum

January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Stand No Website E1a K4 H7 L5/M8 L5/M8 Q18/R17 H11 S11 T8 S12 J15 V1 S3 F10 F10 B4 A7 H5 Q1 J7/K5 C8 K4 H2 Q1 S12 U3 S3 P17 H7 S6/S7 H12 D3 C11 J1 A8 S3 R11 D2 U1 H5 RV2 P23 Q13/R13 D7 Q1 N6 B11 L12/M14 J16 H7 M11a N15 E4 P23 J14 Q18/R17 C7 P18 S17/T15 S10 Q1 P16 U6 N3 U19 P12 N22 N2/P2 N6 M5 L9/M11 U11 N18 P17 P22 S15b E5 L9/M11 L4 F12 U9 T5 GD7 T5 RV10 Q6 U10 K10 P5 P24 S17/T15 S18 Q1 E7 H7 GD8 L9/M11 RV3 Q18/R17 N12 K9 F13 Q2

Exhibitor Co. Name Suite Hotel Fariones & Apartment fariones Sundowners Overland Sunelia Domaine de la Breche Sunsail Sunway/Lapland Sunway Travel Taipei Representative Office in Ireland Talbot Hotel Carlow Talbot Hotel Stillorgan Talbot Hotel Wexford Talbot Suites at Stonebridge Wexford Tatry Mountain Resorts a.s Taylormade Tour & Event Management Tenerife Tourism Corporation Tennessee Tourism Texas Tourism The Booley House The Bridge House Hotel & Leisure Club The Central Hotel Tullamore The Earth Trip The Enniskillen Hotel The Glasshouse Hotel Sligo The Great American West The Inn At Dromoland The Lake Hotel Killarney The Library of Trinity College Dublin The Magnolia Hotels The Port Authority Of New York and New Jersey The Talbot Collection The Titanic Experience The Travel Broker The Travel Department THIS IS CAVAN Tipperary Excel Centre Tirol Tourist Board Topflight Tour America Tourism Authority of Thailand Tourism Northern Ireland Tourism Nova Scotia Trabolgan Holiday Village Trailfinders Tralee Chamber Alliance Travel House of America Travel Oregon Travel Trade Tickets and Tours Trident Hotel Kinsale Trigon Hotel Group TUI Tullamore Court Hotel Conference & Leisure Centre Tullamore D.E.W Visitors Centre Tunisian National Tourist Office Turkish Airlines Uganda Tourism Board Union Bretonne de l'Hotellerie de Plein-Air (UBHPA) Unique Japan Tours Universal Orlando Resort Uniworld Boutique River Cruises Utah Office of Tourism uWalk Vacances Sunelia Valencia Region Valerie Gallery Variety Cruises Viajes Olympia VIK Hotel San Antonio Lanzarote Vilanova Park Villaggio Dei Fiori - Italie (Sunelia) Virginia Visit Ards and North Down Visit Belfast Visit California Visit Derry Visit Florida Visit Idaho Visit Kentucky Tourism Visit Maldives Visit North Carolina Visit Offaly Visit Portugal Visit Santa - Lapland Visit Sligo Visit USA Visit Waterford Visit Westmeath Visit Wexford Vorarlberg Tourism Washington DC Capital Region Waterford Camino Tours Wendy Wu Tours West Cork Islands WestJet Wien Tourism Wineport Lodge Athlone Wirefree Cameras Wyoming Office of Tourism Yelloh Village L'ocean Breton & La Plage Youghal Tourism Your Dream Home Zagreb Tourist Board ZOOMARINE

Stand No Website P17 C6 N6 J17 F1a E1/F1 B1 U1 U1 U1 U1 P22 R5 L9/M11 K4 H7 S3 P24 P24 F6 R12 S17/T15 H7 T13 R7 Q1 L5/M8 H2 U1 Q1 A6 V2 Q15/R14 S3 N18 N18 F3/F4 C2 S8 P13 T4 L2/M4 T11 H5 H7 H5 A2 E4 Q18/R17 Q18/R17 M2 P24 P24 G3a D5 D9 N7/P7 A1 & B3 H3 N9/N10 H7 N18 N6 L9/M11 S3 E5 M11a P17 M10 N6 H7 S11 R8 L3 R9 J5 H7 K4 G2 H7 P24 L6/M9 C3 S17/T15 L1 U4 N21 T7 N18 H7 S3 B2 Q18/R17 P13 N18 T5 E13 H7 N5a Q18/R17 E11/F11 P19 L5/M8


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Karon Viewpoint, Phuket

A taste of Thailand

Master chef!



he purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, Former First Lady of the US What makes an experience extraordinary? For me, an extraordinary experience is something new, something that takes you out of your comfort zone. It is a moment that provides a deeper understanding about the surrounding culture, while having a profound effect on yourself. I travel to seek new experiences that are somewhat out of the ordinary, because I am a believer that, like with anything – a job or a relationship – life can get boring if you don’t try to shake it up a little. When I travelled solo to southern Phuket for a week during the lowseason (May-October), not only did I find that there was great value for money. But there was also value in the fact that less tourists around the island meant greater opportunity to fully immerse myself in the culture of Thailand. Here are just some of the extraordinary experiences I had… THAI COOKING CLASS Many visitors enjoy eating the traditional cuisine of Thailand, but what about uncovering the secrets of local dishes? I took a Thai Cooking Class with Chef Ann at Cosmo Restaurant at The Nai Harn Phuket to learn how to make traditional Southern Thai Enjoying a rum cocktail at Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

island and I visited Wat Chalong, which is the largest. Here, I saw many Thai locals and tourists arrive to pray in the temples, which gave me an insight into the important role Buddhism plays in their day-to-day lives. Then, there cuisine. Before we began, is also the Big we visited Rawai Sea Buddha statue, Gypsy Fishing Market, approximately where Chef Ann a 16-minute sources some of her drive away. ingredients. This, At 45-metres in turn, benefits tall and the local families sitting on top Include s: baggag selling the many of Nakkerd e, taxe flights from D a s ccomm ublin, c , airpor varieties of fish Hills, it is od hecked t/ Based ation The Na hotel/airpor and fresh fruit and visible from t trans on two i Harn fe H a vegetables. Back at afar, and the Early B dults sharin otel on B&B rs, g, depa basis. ird 20% the restaurant, Chef site itself offers r To boo t in d is g c J o une. (01) 23 k, contact Su unt applied. Ann cooked alongside 360-degree nway H 11 800 o o r li me, while I followed views of the d v ays on isit ww worldw w.sunw ide-h her steps on my own island. phuket olidays/thaila /the-na n workbench. We cooked i-harn/ d/ two separate dishes each, Pad A BOTTLE OF RUM Thai and a Thai curry dish. Once Don’t visit the Chalong garnished, we tasted the dishes and area in Phuket without a visit were both impressed with my results – for to the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery. Thailand someone who isn’t the best cook at home, I produces over 200 different varieties of had perfected the flavour of Thailand and sugarcane and Chalong Bay Rum is 100pc received a certificate and apron! natural sugarcane rum. Along with getting a guided tour of the distillery to learn about CULTURAL JOURNEY how the award-winning rum is made, I was During my stay at The Nai Harn, I had the taught how to make three tasty cocktails. opportunity to take part in a Buddhist almsgiving ceremony, giving food offerings, such as rice and traditional snacks, to the monks. The idea is for the Buddhist monks to make WANDER AND WONDER merit and collect food for their one meal of In Old Phuket Town, there is a strong a day. It was incredible to be involved and Portuguese and Chinese influence to be develop an understanding of Buddhism. found in the colourful architecture. The Phuket has 29 Buddhist temples around the streets are lined with shrines, temples, ornate shophouses, boutique and vintage shops, as well as cafes, restaurants, museums and street art. Visit on a Sunday to experience the street market on Thalong Road (from 5pm to 10pm) or stop by family-run Aroon restaurant for traditional roti (pan-fried bread) and curry.


FROM SPORTING TO SHOPPING A good start to a day in Phuket was with a trip to Tiger Gym, to try my hand at Muay Thai (Thai boxing). While I won’t be winning gold medals any time soon, it was fun to attempt the national combat sport of Thailand. Tiger Gym is approximately a 10-minute drive from Central Festival Phuket, the largest shopping centre in Phuket, so of course I spent the afternoon here! Two great stops for a rainy day. TREAT FOR THE SENSES After a long-haul flight, it’s worth treating yourself to a traditional Thai massage, and there are many masseuses to find in Phuket. For an immersive massage experience, visit Sukko Wellness & Spa Resort in Chalong, where herbal recipes and treatments have

Ocean View Suite at The Nai Harn Phuket been handed down through generations. Not only did I experience a relaxing aromatherapy massage treatment, I also had a lesson on how to give massages (which can be booked with therapists). Afterwards, I enjoyed a traditional Thai buffet lunch. Stop by Sukko for the day or stay in one of the on-site spa villas. The resort is a true oasis in Phuket.

Travelling to Phuket Fly with – I flew with Cathay Pacific direct from Dublin to Hong Kong, and then onto Phuket. Although the flight was approximately 13 hours in total, with the latest films on the flight and a couple of hours sleep, time went by quickly. The staff were also very friendly, and I was very well catered for. I would highly recommend experiencing a flight with Cathay Pacific. Stay – During my week in Phuket, I stayed in two hotels, both of which were based in southern Phuket. First up, was the 5-Star Nai Harn Phuket, a Leading Hotel of the World and it was easy to see why. Waking up each morning in the luxurious Ocean View Suite to views over Nai Harn Beach was bliss. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in a romantic sanctuary beside the sea and be treated like royalty, The Nai Harn Phuket is your hotel. The spa facilities and dining options are also excellent, with Rock Salt and Cosmo Restaurant offering a variety of local and international dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Staying at Nai Harn Phuket will make anyone’s time in Thailand feel very special. I then moved onto the Katathani Phuket Beach Resort, approximately a 20-minute drive from the Nai Harn Phuket. Again, located right beside the beach, the Katathani offers many accommodation options, whether it’s for a couple that wants sea views and a jacuzzi in their room, or a family who wants easy access to the beach and on-site pools and slides. The resort was very vibrant, with plenty of activities, dining options, shops and bars. It’s the perfect beach resort for those who want to get away from it all, yet have it all. For more travel tips, visit


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Hong Kong Harbour

Christmas Get-Away



always enjoyed the lead up to Christmas. The lights, the holly, the buzz. But once Christmas Day dawned, I switched off. Too much sitting around. And as for New Year’s Day – don’t get me started! By then most people have turned into festive zombies. Too much food, drink and hanging around doing nothing. I always envied people who got away for Christmas and this year, I finally joined them! On the morning of Christmas Eve, I found myself sitting on a plane taxiing down the runway at Dublin Airport. It was not just any plane, but a Cathay Pacific direct flight to Hong Kong. I was in Business Class sipping a glass of champagne and feeling the thrill of a totally new adventure. Finally, I was getting away from an Irish Christmas but would I be disappointed? The itinerary had been decided. Christmas Day in Hong Kong and New Year’s Day in China, with a lot of sightseeing in between. I was meeting my Chinese companion who would be my guide, especially for the Chinese leg of the trip. Settling back in my seat, I watched wintry Dublin disappear under the clouds. I drained my glass and ordered another. I was off, for better or worse. But what would Christmas in the Orient be like? HONG KONG CHRISTMAS Twelve hours later, I began to find out as I landed in Hong Kong. Although my internal clock told me it was still eleven at night on Christmas Eve, due to the time difference it

was actually 7am on Christmas morning! I had been flying around the world at exactly the same time as Santa and his sleigh, and had magically gained half a day. I called home from the airport, and the family were still up celebrating Christmas Eve! So, what was Christmas Day like in Hong Kong? The rather disappointing answer was very much like Christmas in Ireland. All the shops were decked with holly. Santa Claus beamed from shop windows. As I wandered around the fabulous shopping malls of Hong Kong airport, waiting for my companion, I really could have been in Dublin’s Dundrum Shopping Centre! There was one big difference though – the temperature outside was heading towards the twenties and the sun beamed down. It was time to take off my winter coat. GETTING AROUND The Airport Express, part of the MTR (the Mass Transit Railway) and the cheapest and best mode of transport in Hong Kong, took us on the 35km journey into the city in less than 24 minutes. We were staying in The Murray, a 5-Star hotel in the heart of the city. Recently redesigned and refurbished, this was the place we would be spending Christmas Day. First off, we were treated to a fabulous yuletide lunch, a combo of local Asian dishes and traditional Christmas pudding all served with that Hong Kong panache. We finished taking cocktails on the veranda, relaxing in the sun. So far, so good. It got even better that night as we

Kevin in Hong Kong Harbour on Christmas Day stood on Victoria Heights looking down on the neon lit city, breathing in one of the most remarkable cityscapes in the world. Although jet-lagged, I would later turn into my bed a happy man, having never experienced a Christmas Day quite like it. KOWLOON AND BEYOND Four days in Hong Kong passed quickly. There were trips across the bay to Kowloon on the ferry, a breathtaking experience costing less than a euro. Kowloon makes up the northern part of Hong Kong. It was acquired by Britain in 1860 and returned to China with the rest of the colony in 1997. It’s now a fabulous shopping, arts and entertainment district and is not to be missed. We spent hours browsing the stores that line Nathan Road, searching the traditional markets that offer goods from flowers, to clothes, to watches, to sculpted decorations made of jade or gold.

We made visits to the backstreets to try out some local dishes: sweet and sour pork, wontons, wind sand chicken, shrimp and chicken balls, Phoenix Talons (Chickens’ Feet), Har Gow (steamed Shrimp Dumplings). The dishes looked amazing and tasted even better. And transporting us here, there and everywhere was the fabulous MTR. It’s the safest, most reliable and efficient way of getting around Hong Kong. It connects you with Light Rail and feeder bus services, if you plan to visit Tuen Mun and Yuen Long in the northwestern New Territories. Hong Kong is not cheap. You need to watch your budget and keep translating the HK dollar into the euro. But it has an exotic life and feel. A combination of its British colonial past and brash, consumer present. And many people did speak English. That all changed the moment we took the train into mainland China to spend the New Year.


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

The amazing city of Shenzhen, China

Lounging about: Kevin’s guide to airport lounges On my journey to Hong Kong this Christmas, I discovered one way to counter that stress of finding a seat, queuing for food or whiling away the time while waiting at a busy airport. It is the airport lounge! At Dublin Airport, you can purchase access to both DAA lounges for ¤30. That may sound a lot but if you use all that is on offer, it turns out to be a bargain. Dublin – the DAA lounges There are two lounges run by the DAA at both terminals. I used the T1 lounge, and enjoyed immediate benefits. There were complimentary drinks (including wine spirits and beer), snacks, newspapers and magazines. And for those working, there is a dedicated Business Centre providing computer access and excellent Wi-Fi. If you really want to enjoy a stress-free flight, give this lounge a go. Visit to book not only the DAA lounges, but car parking, fast track and Platinum Services Hong Kong – the Cathay Pacific lounges Cathay Pacific has so many passengers traveling through Hong Kong airport, it has several different lounges. On my return journey, I tried them all and spent a very happy time waiting for my plane! From top wines, to Champagnes and cocktails, to hot showers and a chef cooking you a fresh noodle dish of your choice. All this is yours if you are a Business or First Class passenger. This was lounging-about at the very top level! Here is my quick guide to what you can expect: The Wing Cathay Pacific’s flagship lounge and one of the best I have ever experienced. Amazing Asian and European dishes freshly cooked. A glass of bubbly while relaxing in one of their amazing Solus Chairs, designed in collaboration with Foster + Partners. I did not want to leave!

CHINESE NEW YEAR We were in Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China and similarly rich. I have never seen more Teslas on the road or passed more shops selling Prada and diamondcovered Rolex watches. I found the blatant consumerism odd, seeing that China is still a totalitarian, socialist state. We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Shenzhen, a fine property, and explored the city. The Hong Kong buzz was replaced with a more muted tone. As when visiting Russia, I find that one-party states tend to breed a different, more diffident atmosphere. COOKED MY GOOSE! For New Year’s Eve, my companion treated me to one of the best goose meals I have ever tasted at the legendary Michelinstar restaurant Chen peng peng – a truly mouthwatering experience. Later, we mixed with the crowds, as I stood on the packed train heading back to our hotel. It was filled

with festive locals, celebrating the New Year, and I realised that I was the only Caucasian in sight. In fact, I had not seen another Westerner all day. I returned the curious looks with a smile. I was a stranger in a foreign land. A place where I stood out like a sore thumb and didn’t speak a word of the language. Yet strangely, I felt right at home and fully alive. It brought to mind the words of the great travel writer Bill Bryson: “I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again.” CHRISTMAS GIFTS After this trip, I would heartily agree with Bill. My Christmas abroad was truly amazing. What’s more, when I came back, I was refreshed and energized in a way I could not have imagined. One week later spring seems just around the corner and I am looking at Dublin with fresh eyes. Going away for Christmas turned out to be one of my better decisions. Why don’t you make it one of yours?


• Kevin travelled on Cathay Pacific from Dublin to Hong Kong direct. • Kevin stayed in The Murray Hotel in Hong Kong. Go to and click on The Murray • MTR train services: • To enter China, you need a visa: • Crowne Plaza Hotel & Suites Landmark Shenzhen,3018 Nanhu Rd, Shenzhen, 518001 Mainland China | 86-755-82172288 • Best goose restaurant in the world: Chen peng peng (#8-East Bai shi (White Stone) Road, Shenzhen

Fabulous food in the Orient

Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong Lounge The Bridge Cathay Pacific’s newest lounge. There is a buffet of Asian and Western dishes, while the South wing offers a dedicated IT Zone. The Pier This offers a First Class section where you can enjoy a complimentary foot massage, among all the other treats. I enjoyed a bowl of steaming hot noodle soup before heading off to the Tea Lounge, where I relaxed and sampled a selection of calming teas. The Deck The Deck feels like you are at home relaxing in your living room, while you enjoy local classics like wonton, fish ball noodles and dan dan noodles. It also offers panoramic views of the airport’s northern runway and eight shower suites. For more information, visit


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Sri Mangesh Temple

Goa market

amazing to see and quite emotional. We then flew to Krabi, where we stayed for seven nights in Ao Nang and from there we travelled by longboat each day to the surrounding islands, such as Railay Beach, Poda Island, Monkey Island and Phi Phi Island.” Mairéad says she and her new husband went to Koh Lanta on the coast for four nights. The island was a completely different experience for them as it was very isolated, with only a ferry boat to transport people, and vehicles to and from the island. “We rented a scooter each day for only 200 Thai Baht (approx €5.50), and with this, we got to see the whole island. We did a jungle trek to Seven Wells Waterfall which took us nearly four hours, but was definitely worth it. And we also visited the National Park where we met lots of wild monkeys on the beach. “The sunsets in Koh Lanta were the best we have ever seen and tourists and locals gather on the beach each evening to witness it. It was spectacular.” The couple flew to Kuala Lumpur for Christmas, which was a huge contrast going from a very small island to a huge city. But the biggest moment of their trip was when they finished their honeymoon with three nights in Singapore, arriving on New Year’s Eve. “This was the best way to finish a fantastic holiday,” says Dermot Gath. “I loved the honeymoon. I particularly love water and the snorkelling on Phi Phi Island was the most memorable part, and I would was my highlight. love to do it all again.” “We had a GoPro camera with us on the When Mairéad, 28, married Dermot trip and this captured every part of the Gath in 2018, they dreamed of the perfect honeymoon. I would recommend having honeymoon. They had always wanted to go a GoPro for a trip like this to capture the to Thailand for the hot weather, the culture views, as we just spent most of the and the unfamiliarity of it all. She says time wandering around with our she was inspired to experience the mouths open in amazement different areas by travel bloggers and could have missed on Instagram. everything!” “I follow travel bloggers While in Singapore for on Instagram called ‘@ New Year’s, they were nothingfamiliar’. We followed stationed at the famous their every move and planned Marina Bay Sands Hotel. our trip around what they did. They had a view of the city We wanted to make sure we and according to Mairéad, Mairead and Dermot didn’t miss anything in every the fireworks display for the place we went to. countdown was the best they “We started our honeymoon had ever seen. in Bangkok and then flew north to “We spent New Year’s Day in Chiang Mai. We spent two nights there and Sentosa Universal Studios, and our final day our highlight was definitely the elephant in Singapore in Gardens by the Bay,” says sanctuary for rescued elephants. It was Mairéad. “We wandered around and walked

My treasured travel memory


Goa was once colonised by the INSPIRING INDIA Portuguese and almost a quarter of Goans India is home to some of the most are Catholics. Goa has some beautiful impressive sights in all of Asia. With 37 architectural churches, particularly in Old World Heritage sites, 104 National Goa, and Chantelle and her family Parks, an incredible number of visited several of them. beaches, rivers, temples and “‘Bom Jesus Basilica’ was a cultural areas, it’s no wonder beautifully designed church that the World Tourism and probably the most famous Organisation reported that one in Goa. It holds the India was in the top 20 mortal remains of St Francis countries in the world for Xavier (a Spanish Saint) who tourism. my grandfather, Xavier, was One person who knows named after. the allure of India, is “I also visited the Hindu Chantelle Hussey. Chantelle, Chantelle Hussey Mangeshi Temple which is over 28, went to Goa, India for two 450 years old. It was nice to see weeks in 2009 with 13 other another religion I wasn’t overly familiar family members. with.” “A family member was getting married Chantelle went haggling at the Anjuna in Goa, and we decided to make it into a Flea Market and learned to barter for goods, holiday to remember. and she also visited the Tropical Spice “We stayed in Village Royale, near to Plantation, a spice plantation and farm. She Calangute beach, in North Goa and also made sure she was getting a real insight stayed at the Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa, into Goan life. for a few nights. This was so luxurious and “The plantation was picturesque. There somewhere I recommend visiting as it is was only a €7 entrance fee and for this right by the Aguada Fort, a 17th Century price, you are given a tour around the Portuguese fort.” plantation and taught about different spices Chantelle says that India was always a that grow there. You can also pay extra at place that she wanted to visit, and she still the plantation to ride an elephant or ‘have wants to explore other parts of the country. Chantelle says that what surprised her were a bath’ with an elephant. It was such an amazing experience!” the many differences between Ireland and “I would recommend this experience to India. any laid-back beach goers and those that “We left on December 27th, just after would like to experience other cultures. Christmas, and the difference between Travelling to Goa is one of my all-time the temperatures of Ireland and India was treasured travel memories. One of my astounding! The biggest contrast between favourite memories was getting to spend the countries would have to be the extreme New Year’s Eve on Baga Beach, watching poverty that you see on a day-to-day basis, fireworks from the boats out in the sea. I as shanty towns were visible when driving can’t wait to visit again.” around Goa. “Another big culture difference was A HONEYMOON TO REMEMBER seeing cows roaming all over the place! It is “Getting to see all the different cultures a very normal thing to have cows wherever you look in India, as they are sacred animals in Thailand and how other people live was truly amazing,” says Mairéad Dooley. there. Once when I was walking along the “After being so busy throughout the year beach front, I saw a cow walking along the preparing for my wedding, the honeymoon sand – the locals didn’t even bat an eye!”

Mairéad Dooley

Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Phi Phi Island not to feed them as they can become aggressive. “You have to travel in a carriage which takes you up the mountain. It was such a beautiful view as we could see over the ocean and so many other sights of South Africa.” When in South Africa, Shannon says that seeing indigenous animals was at the top of her list of things to do. But one of her biggest dreams was travelling the winelands to SOUTH AFRICAN ADVENTURE experience the famous wines of the region. South Africa offers diverse landscapes, “We went wine tasting in the vineyards fascinating history along with some of of Franschhoek. It was about an hour’s drive the most beautiful wildlife in the world. There is no greater feeling than getting the from where we were staying in Cape Town. opportunity to see this stunning country. The driver that took us to this destination And for Shannon Traynor, 22 she couldn’t was so lovely and he told us about the history wait to get the chance to visit the Rainbow of Cape Town. It has such a fascinating story Nation. and has a link to the beginning of humans “I travelled to South Africa last October today. for my 21st birthday with my mother “The grounds surrounding the vineyards and my aunt,” says Shannon. “My aunt had little houses which had many different surprised me with this present as art forms inside. We tasted lots of I had always wanted to go to different, fabulous wines. One South Africa. of my favourite memories is “We travelled to Cape enjoying the sunshine while Town where we stayed sipping on wine.” along the coast. We ate Shannon was amazed at in different types of the sights in South Africa, but restaurants where we tried what most drew her in was different sea foods such as the incredible people. calamari. Everything was “The people in South Africa just so pleasant and I loved are so pleasant and helpful. Shannon Traynor every minute of it.” They live to tell stories! The While there, Shannon and difference between Cape Town and her mother and aunt had organised Ireland is not only the weather, but how a trip to see Cape Point, a South African open people are. Everyone is very friendly nature reserve. and it is a very beautiful city. It’s full of little “At Cape Point, we stopped along the way houses scattered with this beautiful beach at to see sights. But one of the most memorable the end.” experiences was when we came across a After such a great time in South Africa, family of baboons. In South Africa, this is Shannon says it is one of the most treasured normal for people to see, but for myself it travel memories she has and would go back was totally out of the ordinary! We were again. warned about the baboons as they can often “I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to steal your belongings or become aggressive, do while there so I would definitely go again. but if you’re not too close to them, it’s I’m always recommending it to my friends amazing to see. They come in packs and will because it was truly a memorable experience walk beside or behind you. But it’s important for me.” for miles. It’s so beautiful there and they have everything spotless. “I would definitely go back to Singapore again. I think it is a city I would never get sick of. Its travel system makes it so easy to get around and the shopping is amazing! This was such a memorable experience for us and a honeymoon to remember.”

Clifton Beach in Cape Town, South Africa



January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Holidays in the Caribbean

Kite-surfing in Cabarete

Cape Santa Maria, The Bahamas


El Limón waterfall

Cable car in Puerto Plata THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC “The Dominican Republic is the secondlargest and most diverse Caribbean country,” says Sabrina Cambiaso, Director of Dominican Republic Tourist Board. “In 2019, the main three destinations that we’re highlighting are our capital city Santo Domingo, along with the north and northeast areas of Puerto Plata and Samaná respectively.” Sabrina recommends Santo Domingo for its rich history, as it is one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities, “Santo Domingo was the first European settlement of the Americas and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic neighbourhood has a pedestrianfriendly maze of narrow streets, which are brimming with 16th to early 20th century architecture. “The Zona Colonial has buildings that date to the 1500s, including the cathedral which was the first built in the New World. And, there are many colonial buildings which are now shops, hotels, restaurants, cafés and museums. The Alcázar de Colón palace is now one of the city’s many museums, displaying notable medieval and Renaissance art. Hop on the Chu Chu Colonial train for a 45-minute tour of the

coastline, valleys and mountains, Samaná Bay plays host to approximately 2,500 humpback whales that visit each year to mate, give birth and bask in the tropical scenery! “The Dominican Republic is perfect for families, honeymooners, adventure seekers, independent travellers and nature lovers.” Visit Sabrina Cambiaso area, hire a walking guide, or rent a bike and meander on your own.” For those who want a sea holiday blended with city life and adventure, Sabrina says Puerto Plata on the Atlantic north coast is perfect, “The destination combines the largest collection of preserved 19th century Victorian-style buildings, street art, beaches, kite-surfing, a cable car and more! And with its fertile soil growing cacao and coffee trees, coffee lovers will be in heaven.” For a more secluded break, Sabrina recommends Samaná in the north coast which she says is a “paradisiacal escape of wild beaches, coconut plantations and rainforests”. “Along with beautiful views of the

Plaza España, Santo Domingo

The Dominican Republic images courtesy of Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

5 things not to be missed in the Dominican Republic! 1. National Botanical Garden – “Have a picnic on the lawns of the beautiful National Botanical Garden in Santo Domingo. Or, stroll down the Malecón at sunset for sea views, roadside snacks and people-watching.” 2. Cotubanamá National Park (Parque Nacional Cotubanamá) – “Located on the southeast coast in La Romana, about a two-hour drive from Santo Domingo, Cotubanamá National Park is one of the Dominican Republic’s most popular tourist areas. The park is home to 112 different bird species, marine manatees, dolphins and turtles, as well as Taino (Indian warriors) cave art.” 3. El Limón waterfall – “Reach the beautiful secluded waterfall in Samaná by hiking, canoeing or horseback riding. 4. Altos de Chavon – “For more relaxed cultural activities, visit Altos de Chavon, in the La Romana area. The medieval village has the most spectacular views of the Chavon River and the Caribbean Sea. It is also an artistic village, with an array of shops with handcrafted jewellery, ceramics and galleries featuring Dominican and international artists.” 5. Island excursions – “Book an excursion to Saona Island, an authentic Caribbean island with lovely long white beaches, or Catalina Islands, which is more popular for divers and snorkelers. Catalina is around 30 minutes from the port in La Romana, whereas getting to Saona can be over an hour.”

THE BAHAMAS “The glorious beaches of The Bahamas are famous worldwide, but there is so much more to see and do,” says Iain Rodgers, Senior Marketing Representative at The Bahamas Tourist Office. “Most first-time visitors head for Nassau Paradise Island. It is the tourism hub of the archipelago, offering luxury resorts, casinos, dining, shopping, and a vibrant nightlife, yet still holding true to its authentic Bahamian culture.” Getting to The Bahamas is easy, says Iain. “Along with the British Airways direct service from London into Nassau, there are regular Aer Lingus flights from Ireland to the US. This provides the opportunity to connect with a broad range of flightand-ferry services to The Islands Of The Bahamas, making for exciting twin-centre holidays. For example, contrast the high-rise glamour of New York with the low-lying village atmosphere of The Abacos.” Iain adds there are a variety of accommodation options for different preferences, “Atlantis Paradise Island caters well for families, with its Aquaventure water park and extensive marine lagoon and exhibition tanks. Comfort Suites on Paradise Island offers a smaller, quieter environment. “Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is suitable for multi-generational holidays with adjoining room options. Rosewood at Baha Mar is especially luxurious and caters to families looking for a high-end experience. “The two Sandals Resorts, one in Nassau and the other in The Exumas, one of The Out Islands, offer luxurious all-inclusive experiences for couples. The swim-up suites at Sandals Royal Bahamian are a first in The Bahamas – you can swim from your room! Warwick Paradise Island is another adults’ only all-inclusive resort. “The SLS at Baha Mar offers a colourful party atmosphere for all ages, especially

Iain Rodgers


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Swim with the pigs!

5 things not to be missed in The Bahamas! 1. Swimming with pigs – “It’s a mystery as to

Aquaventure at Atlantis Paradise Island


popular with parties and groups celebrating weddings, anniversaries, or simply getting away!” There are also many smaller properties for families who want to enjoy a relaxed time on the beach in the Out Islands, such as Cape Santa Maria on Long Island, Hope Town Harbour Lodge and Bluff House in The Abacos. Iain’s own fond memories of The Bahamas include experiencing the Lucayan National Park and Nature Tour on Grand Bahama Island. “I really enjoyed kayaking through the mangrove creeks to reach Gold Rock Beach and seeing all the birdlife along the way – there are seven endemic species of birds in The Bahamas.” Originally from Eleuthera, Iain has a special fondness for the Out Islands, “The laid-back atmosphere of the Out Islands is a real treat, especially on Eleuthera, which has pink sand beaches to explore – you can easily spend a day enjoying great food and company at Tippy’s Restaurant and Bar overlooking the beach. If you’re staying in Nassau Paradise Island, take a one-day trip to the Out Islands, to check where you’d like to visit next time!” Visit At Holiday World Show, check out Dominican Republic Tourist Office on stand G9 and Bahamas Tourist Office on stand F8.




how our porcine friends got there, but Big Major Cay – aka Pig Beach – has become home to a group of pigs and piglets. This excursion can be combined with a trip to The Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park. A private powerboat charter with Powerboat Adventures can be organised to whizz guests from Nassau and around The Exumas. Swimming with pigs is also available on Rose Island, Spanish Wells on Eleuthera and The Abacos.” People-to-people tea party experience – “Attend a tea party at the historic Government House in Nassau, hosted by the Governor General’s wife. Enjoy local bush teas, cold ‘Switcha’ lemonade, live music, view a fashion show by local designers and sample locally-made sandwiches and pastries.” Diving with sea life – “From December to April each year, great hammerhead sharks can be seen off the shores of Bimini. Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Centre runs the Great Hammerhead Safari, a day-long diving expedition for a group of 14 people. Non-divers can take a 20-minute scenic boat ride through historic Nassau harbour on a double-decker catamaran to private Blue Lagoon Island to hug, feed and swim with dolphins. Encounters with California Sea Lions and stingrays are also available.” Junkanoo – “A trip to The Bahamas wouldn’t be complete without a Junkanoo experience. The 200-year-old national cultural festival – celebrated in spectacular street parades – has been expertly recreated by Educulture Bahamas. A Junkanoo workshop includes costume-making, performers dancing to goatskin drums and cowbells, and a presentation on the history and culture of the annual festival.” Lucayan National Park Kayak and Nature Tour – “Home to one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world, the 40-acre Lucayan National Park on Grand Bahama Island can be explored in a twoperson kayak. The 90-minute guided tour includes lunch on a private beach, with time for swimming and beach combing. A guided nature walk and visit to the caves can also be arranged.”

Paradise Island

The Bahamas images courtesy of Bahamas Tourist Office


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Visit Greese on a Mediterranean cruise



The Galleria on-board the MSC Meraviglia

MSC Meraviglia open-deck pool. Photo by Clodagh Dooley


dining venues; 20 bars and lounges; gaming eing on a cruise liner is like rooms; a spa and even a waterpark. being on a floating city,” says singer Mary Byrne. “You SETTING SAIL have everything in A few years ago, Mary one place – shopping malls, developed her love for restaurants, bars, pools, cruises, when she was entertainment. It is asked to sing by Gertrude spectacular.” Byrne Promotions on the It’s August and we’re All-Star Irish Charter sitting in the lavish Cruise to the Caribbean. entrance of the MSC “I was initially very Meraviglia, which scared to go on a cruise, arrived in Dublin Port because I don’t like the to celebrate 10 years of water,” says Mary. “But MSC Cruises trading in when I got out onto the Ireland. It was the largest Mary Byrne ship, and saw how spectacular cruise ship ever to dock in the it was, it ended up being the best capital and, alongside a variety thing I ever did. of travel writers and TV presenters, “My first cruise was a Caribbean cruise I was lucky to get an invite to tour the and it lasted for seven days out at sea, but incredible 5,700-passenger cruiser. we also had three additional days to fly Mary is right – a cruise ship is like a out to America and spend some time in floating city and there is so much on-board beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before to keep passengers entertained. On the we docked. MSC Meraviglia, there’s the Galleria, an “I was singing in the theatre at least 80-metre long, indoor promenade filled two or three nights of the trip, and inwith boutiques and restaurants; two between, there was the chance to lie by the theatres, which hold shows such as an pool, mix with passengers and watch an exclusive Cirque du Soleil performance; 12


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Cruise in Croatia entertainment show. When the ship docked at a variety of destinations, many passengers would use their time to explore. I remember going to Jamaica and we found this little bar, where a local was banging drums and playing a Bob Marley tune. We all just sat down and had a few glasses of rum, and it was the most fabulous feeling ever.” Mary describes seeing the Caribbean as “outstanding”. “It’s somewhere I would never have thought to visit before. That’s why cruises are so great. You get to see many different places you probably would never get to see yourself. Many people get really involved in on-shore excursions and activities, such as sky-diving or motorboats, too.” CARRY ON CRUISING Mary, who has been on five cruises since, has even received a badge to say she is now a “qualified cruiser”. “One of my fondest memories from those cruises is meeting singer Cliff Richard, when we were both performing on a Mediterranean cruise.” Meeting Cliff won’t happen for everyone, of course, but who knows who you might bump into on-board! For Mary, visiting Greece was another ‘pinch me’ moment. “I had been to Greece before, but to be docked out on the sea and looking over at the Greek Islands was magical.” When I asked Mary what advice she would give for first-time cruisers, she says bring plenty of sunscreen! “I didn’t realise that being out at sea, with the sun shining down and the breeze from the sea, can cause you to get badly sunburnt. Make sure you pack top-of-therange sun tan lotion. Mary adds, “Be prepared to be surprised

Mary Byrne with Cliff Richard

by cruises. If you are a first-time cruiser, don’t be worried. You are well looked after, so sit back, enjoy, and you will likely be back again and again!” We finished off our day on the MSC Meraviglia in The Sky Lounge. With beautiful views, live piano music in the background, songs from Mary, and an apple martini in-hand, I thought to myself: this is something anybody could get used to!

3 tips for first-time cruisers Booking your first cruise can be overwhelming, with so much choice and information out there. Here are our top tips on how to get it right 1. Book through a cruise specialist It is easy to be tempted by cheap cruise offers online, but if this is your first voyage, then it makes sense to consult a travel agent and make sure you find the right ship for you. However, you can do your homework in advance and have an idea about the type of ship and holiday you would prefer. If you would like to go on a smaller cruise and stay closer to land, then a river cruise may suit best, as you still have a variety of facilities on-board and can easily dock in the heart of the city. Meanwhile an ocean cruise provides additional entertainment, dining options and activities for families, with more days onsea. Speak with an agent about your tastes, age ranges and the kind of holidays you have taken in the past, and they will help choose the perfect liner and destination. 2. Be organised Have a rough idea about what you would like to see and do while on the cruise, but make sure not to overload your itinerary so that you end up exhausted! When you have limited time, booking shore excursions in advance can be less stressful. Commit to doing at least one thing at each port, rather than trying to do everything. 3. Manage your money All cruise liners operate a cashless system on-board. This means that you register a card when you check in and then charge everything to your cruise account as you go. However, if you are on a cruise that isn’t all-inclusive, there is the possibility of overspending during your holiday, whether that’s on drinks, money for casino chips or spa treatments. It is worth checking out what currency is used on-board to be aware what the exchange rate is, so you don’t lose out. Speak to the cruise specialist about all your inclusions before you book, so you know in advance exactly what your holiday will cost.


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

48 hours in Amsterdam



erlin, London, Paris…I have been to many capital cities in my time but somehow I missed out on one of the most intriguing, Amsterdam. Thankfully, 2018 saw me able to tick off Amsterdam from my ‘to-visit’ list. I was under the impression that 48 hours in a city isn’t enough time to really delve into a city, but I could not have been more wrong. Myself and my three friends, Eileen, Orla and Dympna, decided to pay the ‘Venice of the North’ a visit back in November 2018. Fly in Saturday and fly back Monday, seemed the best bet as the Netherlands is barely a two-hour flight from Dublin to Schiphol Airport. Here is how I spent my 48 hours in Amsterdam: GETTING THERE Hour one: After we settled into our hotel, the Hotel Mercure Amsterdam, Sloterdijk Station, we immediately went out to see the city. Getting around Amsterdam is surprisingly easy for four people who don’t speak a word of Dutch. Public transportation is firstclass. You can get single, day or multi-day tickets from GVB vending machines and these tickets can be used on trams, trains and buses to take you across

the city. We purchased 48-hour tickets for less than €14, which was a good thing as we travelled the length and breadth of Amsterdam in our time there. DUTCH CULTURE Hour three: The Van Gogh Museum was our first introduction to the arts and culture of the Netherlands. We had a pre-booked time slot at the Van Gogh Museum at the Museum Square. Tickets can be bought at The famous artist’s museum has three floors and takes you through the life and work of Van Gogh. Most of his work was on display, including my personal favourite, ‘Sunflowers’. It took a good hour and a half just to get around the museum without going in depth or taking an audio tour, so I would advise giving yourself enough time. It’s possible to just stand looking in awe at the paintings without realising it’s closing time. Hour 10: After our introduction to Van Gogh’s art, we explored this foreign city, and we found our way to the most infamous area in Amsterdam, the Red Light District. Prostitution is legalised in the Netherlands and there are working prostitutes in this area. We visited the Red

Amsterdam Canal tour Light Secrets Museum, which explains the history of the profession in the country. We were slightly awkward while walking through at the start, but it suddenly turned more serious as we learned of the dangers associated with this job which is so taboo in Ireland. Amsterdam is also famous for its marijuana. While mistakenly believed to be legal, it is actually simply tolerated by the authorities and not fully legalised. But that doesn’t stop shops and cafes selling it quite openly. When we went inside one of

the packed pubs along the street, everyone there appeared quite relaxed about any laws and were lighting up and eating ‘brownies’ with no regard to what anyone else thought. No wonder we were giggly on our way back to the hotel! NEVER FORGET Hour 21: The next day was much more sombre as we visited the Anne Frank House. According to the website, www., there are 1.3 million visits to the museum every year. There was an


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

impressive line all the way down the street waiting to go inside. As we had our times booked on the website, we were able to bypass the line and go straight in. The museum is dedicated to the Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank, who died during the Holocaust at age 15. The museum preserves the real hiding place where Anne, her family and four others hid from Nazi persecution during the Second World War, before they were discovered. The museum offered me an insight into everything I take for granted in my own life, knowing how Anne spent the remainder of her days in cramped rooms, hiding in fear for her life. NIGHTLIFE Hour 29: When night-time came around, we decided to hit the town and travelled to literally the coolest place in the city, the Xtracold Icebar in Amstel (www.xtracold. com). When you first enter, it seems like a typical pub, but hidden in the back is a bar made completely of ice. Everything from the walls to the glasses were iced and we were given large coats and gloves to protect us from the -10 cold. I’m glad I wore warm boots as I could feel the cold seeping into my feet

from the iced floor. With our booked tickets from the website, we received entry and two free drinks. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, but I was glad to go back to the hotel afterwards and cosy up under the blankets. CRUISE THROUGH THE CITY Hour 43: On our last day, we knew we couldn’t leave without experiencing an Amsterdam canal cruise which are available to book at most canal entrances. The three main canals form a ring around the city so it’s incredibly easy to get from one side of the city to the other, only on water. On our guided one-hour cruise tour, we were able to witness the history and culture of the colourful city while taking a well-earned warm rest from the freezing cold day outside. It’s a great way to see the scenery including the odd narrow and tilted houses along the canals and the ‘Bridge of Fifteen Bridges’ which is the only place in Amsterdam when you can see 15 bridges in one place. What an experience we had and how much we managed to see and do! I used to think a weekend trip and 48 hours in a city couldn’t possibly be enough time to enjoy the break, but it really can.

Kilkenny Castle

Want to have a weekend city break? Why not try these? NEW YORK Who doesn’t dream of visiting the Big Apple at least once? I’ll be travelling there myself at the end of January with WOW air, see, and will be using CityPASS. Save 42pc off admission prices to the best attractions and skip ticket lines with a CityPASS ticket booklet. Purchase from one of the participating New York attractions or online at For more travel ideas, see BUDAPEST From dramatic history and architecture to healing thermal waters and an incredible nightlife, the capital city of Hungary is the perfect choice. Visit KILKENNY Meander through Ireland’s Medieval Mile to discover the hidden gems waiting to be explored:

Outside the Amsterdam Icebar

1. Kilkenny Castle Bring Kilkenny’s history to life in this magnificently restored 13th Century Castle set in a beautiful parkland. 2. Smithwick’s Experience The tour includes a series of interactive encounters and culminates in every guest savouring a Smithwick’s Ale whilst learning about its process. 3. Climb to the top of St Canice’s Round Tower Climb to the top of St Canice’s Round Tower for stunning views of Kilkenny and the surrounding countryside. 4. Kilkenny Famine Experience The free, self-guided audio-visual Famine Experience tour at MacDonagh Junction is new to Kilkenny and a must-see attraction. 5. A dining experience with a cookery school There are mouth-watering treats, cookery demonstrations and much more, with Kilkenny’s array of Cookery schools including celebrity Chef Edward Hayden at the helm of his new Cookery School in Graiguenamanagh. Visit


January 20 2019 Sunday Independent

Chilled getaways



wouldn’t say I am the adventurous type. I tend to like my holidays to be relaxing - a little sightseeing, a little sunbathing, a little lounging. I never thought of a holiday as being strenuous or physical in any way. But when I got the opportunity to go on a four-day ski trip with Direct Ski in April last year, I jumped at the chance. I had never skied before. That much should be obvious. In fact, I try to stay out of the snow entirely when it powders down in Ireland for a few days every year. But, after days of worrying about whether I should

A restaurant on the slopes

even attempt this, I got a grip, packed my ski clothing and got on the plane to La Plagne, France. SKI RESORT When we reached La Plagne, a French ski area in the alpine valley of the Tarentaise in France, I was in awe at the scenery. Despite being April and technically at the end of ski season, the slopes were pure white, and the chalets were wooden perfection. Myself and my group stayed at a Direct Ski chalet, Chalet Alisier, which was expertly hosted by two wonderful chalet hosts, Mike and Matt. They would cook for us every night, including local meat and vegetarian dishes suitable for any taste. The meals were so good, that when we were to go to a restaurant for dinner one evening, I was actually annoyed we were missing a chalet meal. One side dish we had in the chalet in particular, a honeyed sweetcorn and red pepper dish, took my breath away and I had to ask for the recipe. The chalet was incredibly spacious and warm and especially suitable for large groups such as families, or groups of friends. The sauna and outdoor hot tub helped with the many aches after skiing all day. Our first day was a relaxed affair and a ‘getting to know you’ session, but the next day was take-off time. We were brought to get our ski equipment nearby in one of the many equipment shops in the resort. With 10 villages spread throughout the resort,

including Plagne Centre, Belle Plagne and Plagne 1800 where we were stationed, there are plenty of food shops, clothes shops and pubs in the area, so there was no reason to go anywhere else. There was a pub along Plagne 1800 called Bar La Mine decorated in mining equipment where we spent more one than one joyful night. I would highly recommend it. TIME TO SKI Our chalet was only 150km from the Plagne 1800 chairlift, which takes skiers to the top of the piste. Our group of eight were sorted into appropriate ski levels for different instructors. I was the only beginner there. There were those in the group so advanced that they owned their own skis and snowboards, but I was not intimidated…definitely not! La Plagne is perfect for any skill level. With 225km of marked runs, it is equipped with beginners’

The view from the chalet

slopes to family areas to expert and off-piste runs. The group dispersed, and my beginner instructor taught me the basics - how to stop and slow down, and how to turn left and right. And then we were off down the green beginner slopes, which as a newbie to the sport felt like I was skiing down Mount Everest. It’s only when I saw five-year-old children skiing speedily past me, that I realised I needed to toughen up a little. And suddenly, out of the blue, I started to enjoy myself! But it wasn’t just the skiing which blew me away. The views of the surrounding mountains were unbelievable. By taking the ski lift up the slopes, it seemed I could see heaven itself. Two other activities we enjoyed in the resort along with skiing were the 1,500m long Olympic bobsleigh run to travel down in a single-seater luge, and a 600m zip line from Aime 2000 to La Plagne Centre flying above the resort. These were terrifying but so much fun. Skiing has clearly introduced me to scarier pastimes. TAKING ON A CHALLENGE There were many challenges during my ski experience and those really forced me to up my game. We had lunch every day in one of the many restaurants on the slopes and


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

to get there, you had to ski down areas you weren’t used to and be out of your element. But I managed it. Food is a great motivator to learn anything! On my second day of skiing, I started down an ‘easy’ blue slope which is a step up from pure beginner, so I felt very proud of myself. I started to get pats on the back for being brave and pushing myself. I was able to follow along with my instructor, up and down slopes, up and down ski lifts. Doing small twists and bends became easier and I was even able to go down a steep hill all on my own. I suddenly realised why people chose to do this for fun. On my last day putting my ski boots on, I started to get rather emotional about the whole experience which I never thought I would. I didn’t think I could do it. I thought I would fall and break something and if there is a person who would suffer such a fate, it would be me. But I didn’t, and instead I had more fun than I ever thought I would. If you’re afraid of trying it out, just remember that I tried it and now I’m planning to go back again. That’s not something I thought I would ever say. To book a ski holiday, visit offers chalets in a selection of French resorts

Shauna in gear

The starting line

Refreshing travel

The Blue Lagoon

Want a chilled holiday but aren’t too sure about skiing? A short trip to Iceland will wow the senses, as Clodagh Dooley discovered

I went on a weekend trip to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, with my sister Caoimhe at the beginning of May. It was my first time to fly with low-cost airline, WOW air, and I was impressed with how stress-free and quick the flight was. We stayed at the Fosshotel Reykjavik and I was impressed by the stylish 16-floor hotel and its location. The hotel was a short walk from the main shopping street, Laugavegur, and had sea views from the Tower View room. Being a small city, it’s very easy to get around Reykjavik, so a weekend is plenty of time to explore all the colourful capital has to offer. However, if you are planning on visiting Iceland, I would advise exploring the natural wonders outside of Reykjavik too. There are many intriguing places to visit including Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal area and Raufarhólshellir lava tunnel. Not to mention, the iconic Blue Lagoon, which we both really enjoyed. Although it was freezing when making that journey from the dressing room to the hot spring, once we were in the geothermally heated waters of the Blue Lagoon, we didn’t want to leave! My skin, which is usually dry in cold weather, felt very soft after bathing in the water rich in minerals such as silica and sulfur. Excursions can be booked with Reykjavik Excursions Flybus, which collected us right outside our hotel. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights during our stay (peak viewing time is typically between November and March), but this just gives us another reason to return!

Clodagh and Caoimhe Dooley

To book flights, visit To book a stay in the Fosshotel Reykjavik, see or call +354 531 9000



January 20 2019 Sunday Independent


Croatian Cruise

Chelsea Flower Show and The Beautiful Cotswolds

Japan Rugby World Cup

If you have always wanted to explore Croatia, then there is no better way than the Deluxe Croatian Island Cruise, Northern Gems, departing on 29th June for €2,036pp. Experience seven unforgettable days cruising on the southern Adriatic Sea from one island to another. The deluxe Superior Cruises (19 cabins), will offer you a luxurious and an intimate setting for perfect relaxation, while exploring the stunningly beautiful scenery of the Adriatic Coast. Includes guided walking tour in Split, Sibenik, Zadar, Trogir, National Park’s Krka and Kornati, and the famous Bibich winery for wine tasting.

On this trip, you will discover the beauty of lushly forested Mediterranean Islands, historical towns and hidden coves. Dive in crystal clear waters during daily swimming stops at secluded bays and at world famous beaches. Dock in the centres of the smallest towns and villages, which will allow you to come on or off the ship in your own time and in your own pace. Feel completely at ease and settle in on a journey of a lifetime as you cruise to discover the timeless wonders Croatia has to offer. For more, visit

As the Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan later this year, supporting the Boys in Green has never been so exciting. It is estimated that between five to eight thousand supporters will follow the team to Japan. There is a large choice in flights from Ireland, and Turkish Airlines will present at Stand D5 to answer questions on the best routes. Prospective travellers are encouraged to book as early as possible to avoid premium prices and to consider extending the trip to surrounding countries such as Thailand or China to offer more flight options and possibly lower costs. Travel agents have developed a wide range of packages to choose from and can take the sting out of organising such a large trip! Unique Japan Tours, experts in travel to Japan and specialising in tours around the World Cup, will be ready to advise visitors from Stands A1 and B3 at Holiday World Show Dublin.

With spring just around the corner, why not plan a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show with PAB Tours, the greatest flower show in the world. Attracting over 150,000 visitors each year, the show is a great source of inspiration for new ideas for your garden and a delight to wonder at the show garden designs by world famous gardeners. Departs 24th May and PAB Tours includes a full-day entrance ticket to the show, three nights hotel staying at the Copthorne Hotel with breakfast each morning and luxury coach with reserved seat, all for only €499. The tour also takes in the delightful Cotswolds with its stunning scenery and delightful villages. For bookings and more great tour offers call PAB Tours on (01) 871 9888 or visit their website If you book online you can save a great 5pc off the tour price and for readers of the Sunday Independent you can save a further €25 off the Chelsea Flower show tour by using the discount code IND195

For further information, please see To book any packages and deals, visit Unique Japan Tours on

Reflect on an idyllic childhood with a holiday to Wexford


Find yourself experiencing the extraordinary in India. From top to toe, this is a land full of wonders and on a Wendy Wu tour to India, you’ll delve straight into the vibrant culture, age-old heritage and vivid colours! Visit the magical Taj Mahal, admire the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur and delight in delicious local cuisine. Explore Ranthambore National Park, home to tigers, leopards and sloth bears, on a safari through striking landscapes and venture deep into the rolling green hills and tranquil backwaters of Kerala. Wander the bustling streets of Delhi and uncover

the delights of Humayun’s Tomb, conquer the magnificent hillforts of Rajasthan and stand beneath the ever-watchful peaks of the mighty Himalaya. You can experience all of the charm and beauty of this enchanting country with Wendy Wu Tours. Enjoy a FREE Premium Economy Upgrade, saving up to £500, when you book a tour to India by 31st January. Visit www. for more information, or call now to book on 0808 239 1212. Visit stand B2 and find yourself on an adventure with Wendy Wu Tours in 2019

Wexford enjoys an enviable location, bursting with nature and adventures just waiting to be explored. From winding coastal roads and breathtaking views to movie star beaches and magical family memories.

WEXFORD’S MOVIE-STAR BEACHES Wexford boasts a series of stretched, sandy beaches. These include the 13km oasis of golden sand that is Curracloe Beach and further south, Ballinesker beach, both renowned for their filming of Saving Private Ryan and Brooklyn. THINGS TO DO and PLACES TO GO Woodland walks, beautiful animals, a fairy garden and a fantastic restaurant await in Wells House and Gardens, whilst Dunbrody Famine Ship experience will provide a tour

of Irish history brought to life. Plus, no trip to Wexford is complete without piling into the car for a coastal drive. CORNERSTONE OF IRELAND’S ANCIENT EAST Some of the most scenic areas of Ireland’s Ancient East include Hook Peninsula, Johnstown Castle, Colclough Walled Gardens, Loftus Hall and Tintern Abbey. These can be enjoyed as part of a tour or on a leisurely walk followed by a tasty lunch. Create a lifetime of memories to pass on to your own family and bring back the nostalgia of a holiday to Wexford. For more, see


Sunday Independent January 20 2019

Why you need a travel agent!

WITH HUNDREDS OF TRAVEL WEBSITES AND APPS AVAILABLE, IT IS EASY TO BOOK A HOLIDAY WITH A CLICK. HOWEVER, MAKING YOUR OWN TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS MAY NOT ALWAYS BE THE BEST OPTION. WE SPEAK TO PAUL HACKETT, CEO OF CLICKANDGO.COM, ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF BOOKING THROUGH A TRAVEL AGENT THEY ARE THE EXPERTS going to cost you more, then “A holiday should be a why would you not use their special time for everyone, expertise and advice?” so it is very important to get it right,” says Paul. THEY WILL COME TO THE “A travel agent knows RESCUE the best airlines, places, Back in 2016, online travel accommodation and site experiences and will come went bust. More than 15,000 up with the best option for Irish people on holidays at you, no matter what type of the time had used the site to Paul Hackett holiday you want. A good travel book their accommodation and agent can provide useful tips and were forced to pay for their hotel hints to customers and tell you things again – or forced out. that the websites won’t always tell you.” “The great thing about booking with a travel agent is that they are responsible THEY PROVIDE VALUE for you. The consumer legislation is very Paul says a huge advantage of booking a strong,” says Paul. “All good travel agents holiday with a travel agent is being able to are fully bonded and licensed for their make the payment in one place, rather than customers’ protection. So, your money to multiple individual sources, such as the is safe, in the event something happens hotel, flights and transfers. which is out of your control. For example, a “Everyone thinks it is going to cost delayed or cancelled flight, French air traffic more to go to a travel agent, but it isn’t. controls, natural disasters or weather events A travel agent will have many customers, like the Beast from the East.” with whom they have already done this. So The Irish Travel Agents Association they’re going to have feedback, knowledge, (ITAA) are the main body representing experience, preferential rates and great agents in Ireland, with approximately supplier contracts. 100-member companies covering 140 “Ask yourself the question: if it’s not branches in different towns and cities

throughout the Republic of Ireland. This means it is easy to find a good, trustworthy travel agent in Ireland. “The travel agent will step in and do everything they can to fix any issues, whether that is arranging an alternative flight route, or providing accommodation for the time period that you are delayed. “That one point of contact is critical, to make sure everything works out for that holiday. And, the travel agent has a vested interest in it working out, because they want you to come back and book another holiday, and the next. “If you book a holiday on your own, using multiple suppliers, you are on your own.” THEY STILL HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY While many people may have the impression that booking a holiday through a travel agent means physically meeting with the agent, Paul says this isn’t the case. “We are an online business, but we also have a call centre, so consumers don’t physically need to come in and make an appointment. They can do everything on our website.

“We are seeing an increase in calls. We took 40,000 phone calls last year, up 15pc on the previous year. We’ve also increased the team in our call centre, head count is up 25pc in our call centre.” Paul feels that some of the younger demographic may have the impression that travel agents are old-school. “Younger holidaymakers should understand the advantages of booking with a travel agent. They can still use the internet and communicate with a travel agent in any form they want – it doesn’t need to be faceto-face. Why spend hours of your valuable time researching, when travel agents have everything at their fingertips?” Paul adds, “Building a relationship with your travel agency means they can perfect your needs for future bookings. With our technology, we can find the best deals instantly and we have thousands of holiday options to suit your budget and personal preferences.” Click&Go are on the Aer Lingus stand K1 and the MSC Cruises stand J15 at Holiday World Show. Visit

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Holiday World Show 2019  

Holiday World Show 2019