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K C I PRICES AND OPTIONS FOR 2013 P ’M I WASHINGTON CAPITAL EXPERIENCE E UP M NEW GUINEA THE LAST FRONTIER Australia’s north west wonderland
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THE KNOWLEDGE Travel Extra Advertising & Subscriptions 6 Sandyford Office Park Dublin 18 (+3531) 2913708 Fax (+3531) 2957417 Editorial Office Clownings Straffan Co Kildare Managing Editor: Gerry O’Hare email@example.com Editor: Eoghan Corry eoghan.corry@ travelextra.ie Publisher: Edmund Hourican Sales Director: Maureen Ledwith firstname.lastname@example.org Accounts and Advertising: Maria Sinnott email@example.com Picture Editor: Charlie Collins firstname.lastname@example.org Chief Subeditor: Ida Milne email@example.com Chief Features Writer: Anne Cadwallader firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors : Eanna Brophy email@example.com Marie Carberry firstname.lastname@example.org Carmel Higgins email@example.com Cauvery Madhavan firstname.lastname@example.org Sean Mannion email@example.com Ida Milne firstname.lastname@example.org Catherine Murphy email@example.com Cleo Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org
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5 News TV holidays back on airwaves 6 Hotels: News 10 Brochures: First flush of 2013 14 Trends: Places to watch in 2013 16 Destinations: Washington DC, Chiang Mai, San Diego, Australia’s outback, Yosemite, Broome, Alaska, Santi-
ago de Compostela, Asturias, Costa Luz, Papua New Guinea, Lisbon, Alentejo, Kwazulu Natal, Gran Canaria, Brittany, Ski Austria, Ski Andorra. 37 Holiday World: Fair for the fares 58-63 Flying: Trans Atlantic growth 64 Fashion: Courtney & Lennon 65 Cruise launch: Celebrity Reflection 66 Afloat: Cruise and ferry
68 Cruise: Brilliance of the Seas 70 Ireland: Home holiday news 72 Ireland: Glens of Antrim & K Club 74 Postcards: from the travel industry 76 Global Village Inside the travel industry 77 Window seat: Our columnists 78 Pictures: Out and about
sign them accordingly. The computer has a rethink with six weeks to go. With a fortnight to go, prices will climb steadily, so much so that if you miss your flight and have to rebook, the shortest Ryanair flight can cost you €300.
he 2013 holiday season, at first glance, does not throw up much hope for bargains. But if you think laterally and follow the trends in the industry, you can make the most of your free time in 2013.
FLASH sales are
so commonplace now that they may have to be renamed prolonged beam of light sales. Get yourself on as many email lists as possible to keep track of them. Start with the airlines, to catch the flash sales that were pioneered in this country by Ryanair, four days seat promotions at €12, and have been copied by all the main airlines and the main hotel groups. Individual hotels are also holding flash sales.
ESHOT lists are
guaranteed to save you money. The biggest market in the flash sales business is operated by companies such as Groupon, giving their eshot recipients 24 hours to book a low cost deal. These are ridiculously cheap, hotels are selling rooms in the hope of getting a few euro back from a meal or in the bar, or generating repeat business. There are now 25 flash sale websites and eshots, so many that somebody has set up a website to keep track of them all, called dealspage.ie.
were the good news story of 2012. Airlines such as Aer Lingus and British Airways no
Make sure to catch the flash rather than splash the cash
longer force you to pay for your flight in full when you book. Remember that travel agents and tour operators also allow you to pay a low deposit rather than taking your credit card for the full amount in January when you are not travelling until July. Some airlines such as American Airlines are also allowing a hold option” when you see a low price on the Internet you can hold it for a day and then decide. If the price is gone up, you can still buy at yester-
are the currency of recession. Stay in a hotel and expect to have a €50 voucher off your next stay left by your pillow.
BIDE your time if you are flexible with your plans and you don’t like any of the fares or prices you see, flash sales by the major airlines are common place. They sell off the empty seats at a better rate than you can get now. Sign up for the email alerts from all the major airlines to get this. Airline revenue management systems use four main factors in putting prices on the window (computer or your travel agency): historical flight data, seasonality, market demand, and (most importantly) competitive considerations. If there are more than two airlines on a route, prices are harder to manage for the airline and better for the consumer.
BOOK now if you
like the price and are due to fly in the next six months. The airlines like to get the very earliest bookers to pay through the nose for their tickets, people who KNOW they have to be somewhere for a wedding or a family occasion. After that, it is a pretty simple process where the airline fare rises as each section of the aircraft gets blocked off. Sometimes if sales are a little livelier than they anticipated, they will take tickets off the market the reason the lowest fares you’re searching for may already be sold out is because the airline thinks they’ll be able to sell those seats at a higher value and will as-
cost less than well established ones, because they take a while to become well known enough. This applies to package holidays as well as airlines. This year there are new routes to Scandinavia and America that will take some time to establish themselves. New systems can help too. United moved their much-praised Orion revenue management system to origin and destination-based instead of by segment in 2012. It under performed which translates as good news for the consumer..
The wise guys in aviation have been unbundling their products and services. They tell their investors they say this has created “high margin items” which drives profit. Fliers can cherry pick what is left. If you don’t want the checked bag or food, opt out and save money.
FERRY pick. Low
deposits are the norm with ferry companies and they offer a more relaxed journey with day rooms, showers and even a mini-spa. You arrive relaxed and with as many bags as you like.
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FEBRUARY 2013 PAGE 5
Successful getaway he new Irish travel programme Getaways has achieved a Neilsen rating of 420,000 and a 27pc market share onits debut. Produced Maggi Gibson for Holywood based Jannine Waddell and presented by 2005 Rose of Tralee Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and Belfast broadcaster Joe Lindsay, the series covers 12 destinations in six episodes airing on Thursdays on RTE1 and Mondays on BBC NI, a programme which is which is six minutes longer due to the absence of commercial breaks. Each programme features one main foreign destination and a local staycation destination. In this series Aoibhinn and Joe are heading to Malta, northern Italy, Lisbon, the Izmir region in Turkey, Chicago and Morocco. The Holiday Show on TV3 is concentrating on home holidays this season.
record 52m visitors in 2012, a new all-time high and a 2.1pc increase over 2011
VACCINE SHORTAGE There are fears of a typhoid vaccine shortage fears for holiday makers after the recall of the vaccine by Sanofi.
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annual report suggests Ireland dropped from 12th to 22nd in the rankings for end to end passengers since 2003 with a dip of 4pc, in common with many European countries being overtaken by Latin America/Caribbean traffic. US-UK traffic dropped 3.8pc but remains 3rd (after Canada and Mexico). Spain (+17pc) remains 13th, Switzerland (+70pc) rose from 24th to 18th and was the only European country to overtake Ireland. Netherlands dipped 1.5pc and from 14th to 23rd. Belgium (+40pc) improved from 34th to 32nd. Brookings says Dublin provided 1,35m passengers in contrast to DAA's figure of 1,53m for all transatlantic. Kuoni have listed their top 10 in 2012: 1 Maldives, 2 Thailand, 3 Sri Lanka, 4 USA, 5 UAE, 6 Mauritius, 7 Malaysia, 8 Barbados, 9 Singapore, 10 St Lucia
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HOTELS GUILBAUDS The DailyMeal.com has listed Patrick Guilbaud 68th among its 100 best hotel restaurants in world. The number one was Joël Robuchon Restaurant at MGM Grand Las Vegas. ADARE Manor has become the the first ever Irish property to win a World Travel Award It was awarded World’s Leading Boutique Golf Resort. SOFITEL will be opening two new properties in Dubai in 2013. Sofitel The Palm with 361 rooms and 182 serviced residences, and 31-storey, 350-room Sofitel Downtown hotel FERMANAGH Lusty Beg Island owner Michael Cadden has opened a new 35bedroom Fermanagh Hotel on site of the former Fort Lodge Hotel DAILY MEAL Five Irish restaurants in the Daily meal’s top 100 list for Europe, Chapter One 25th, Guilbaud 48th, Fishy Fishy, Kinsale 82nd, Ballymaloe 83rd and Aniar, Galway 88th Osteria Francescana in Modena Italy was selected as the best restaurant in Europe. ABU DHABI Jumeirah at Etihad Towers has opened the Observation Deck at 300 EXPEDIA has bought hotel price comparison website Trivago for €477m. TRAVELODGE hotels have comiled a list of unsuual things left behind by hotel guests in 2012, theyb include a winning EuroMillions ticket, a stamp album worth €250,000, an original Harry Potter wand, breast implants, a box of live crabs, a Persian Chinchilla kitten, a pantomime horse, a €50,000 Rolex watch, a diamond encrusted phone SHANGRI-LA group’s first UK property will also be the first new-build five-star in London in over a decade. It will take up floors 34 to 52 of this architectural giant, offering 202 rooms and suites. Epic views of the capital will, of course, come as standard. OSLO’s “The Thief” opened on 9 January – is so-christened because it sits in Tjuvholmen, a fjord-side district where criminals were once executed. But times change, and The Thief – equipped with 119 rooms – is the latest element in the gentrification of a waterfront that is rapidly shedding its warehouses for cafés, shops and the drama of Norway’s national opera house. NICARAGUA’s first luxury accommodation opens in February, with the unveiling of the Mukul Resort. ouse spa. THE REFINERY is to open in New York’s Garment District on West 38th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), making use of the Colony Arcade Building – a former hat factory.
Charlie Sheil, GM of the Marker Hotel: a four star plus property to open in Dublin’s Grand Canal Harbour Square March, is a sign of renewed optimsim in the hotel industry
Dublin and south-west lead occupancy improvement
rish hotel occupancy has improved in 2012, but there are still regions of the country with dangerously low levels of occupancy. Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn said that things had improved, partical on the touirm hotspots, but that there were parts of the country “where there are lots of 50, which are not good.” Occupancy rates are lowest in the midlands, the trophy properties there are going to find it hardest. Challenge for hotels is generating the margin to reinvest in the property Fáilte Ireland research suggests that domestic trips are holding up, and 9m trips were
PROFITABILITY Profitabllity up down same Hotels 54 25 21 Guesthouses 38 16 46 Hostels 35 16 49 Atratcions 30 31 39 Self catering 25 31 44 Bed & breakfast 15 17 68
taken by Irish people in Ireland but Irish people are spending less, €100m less in 2012. Of hoteliers and guesthouse owners surveyed by Fáilte Ireland 8/10 are increasing marketing effort, 7/10 are cutting operating costs, 6/10 are discounting prices and 1/2 targeting new markets, introducing new products or services, while the other three responses are falling this one is increasing Redmond O’Donoghue, chairman of Fáilte Ireland said that the hotspots reported increased hotel occupancy leading to strong margins. He said that while 2009 and 2010 were about survival, 2011 was stop the bleeding, number up 5pc, 2012 was the year of consolidation, and 2013 is the year for growth at last. “The physical infrastruture is in place, bridges, tunnels, the tourism infrastructure is in place, hotels, golf courses and attractions, the heavy lifting has been done, the programmes are in place with the Gathering.”
O’Donoghue said that 2012 was an exceptional year for business tourism and that 2013 prospects had initially been much weaker but were now strengthening. O’Donoghue praised what he called a “tourism friendly government” and contrasted the irish position on VAT with that in Portugal, there the government increased their 13.5pc VAT rate to 23pc under pressure from the Troika ‘nearly killing the industry’
HOTEL OCCUPANCY Region 2010 Average 58 Dublin 63 East Midlands 44 South East 61 South West 61 Shannon 53 West 59 North west 52 Big town 61 Smal town 55 Rural 55
2011 2012 59 63 66 73 41 46 59 64 62 64 54 49 61 66 51 54 64 69 55 57 54 57
0818 44 44 47
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Page 010 Brochures 14/01/2013 09:16 Page 1
FEBRUARY 2013 PAGE 10
OFF THE RACK
Better safe than sorry, say I – and the list of resorts with this kind of attention to detail is included – there are just four of them, but they are the business! BabyWORLD features baby-bottle sterilising and food-warming facilities. Sunstar resorts are for older children with entertainment laid on such as soccer academies, dance-coaching, crèches, evening cabarets, teen activities and evening sessions so parents get a night off. There is also guidance on which resorts are “young and lively” (now there’s a euphemism) with Club 18-30 if you’re looking for 24-hour non-stop party holidays. Escapades is what to look for if you’re dead set on the world’s best nightlife. After you’ve picked the kind of holiday you want, it’s a choice of destination and hotel. There are literally hundreds to choose between. I know the H10 Estepona Palace on page 105 as it’s where a relative got married eighteen months ago. The view, from the terraces, of the sea, beach and even North Africa is stunning – but it really can be difficult to choose when the list appears endless. For more, contact your local travel agent or 01-514 0328.
THOMAS COOK SUMMER
ith 268 pages of holidays to choose from, the Thomas Cook Summersun 2013 brochure is really packed with new destinations, hotels and ideas for next summer – such as more family activity holidays and more all-inclusives. There are 37 new resort hotels for next year, three of them in stylish France, and an entirely new coastline in Spain – the Costa de la Luz in the southwest of the country. There’s a new hotel also on Crete (which gets warmer earlier and stays warmer later because of its southerly position) and there are the eight “Aquamanias” including a new one on the Algarve. Villas have also been added to the programme, such as the three-bedroom Sunshine Villas in Puerto Rico on Gran Canaria which sleep six adults in a small complex on a hillside from €629 per person for seven nights from Dublin or Cork. For families, the Thomas Cook brochure also tackles the problem head on (see page 7). The low-down on what you and your brood can expect at the company’s specialist familyWORLD resorts is explained in detail, from roomsize to kids’ clubs and pool areas.
Anne Cadwallader’s Brochure Reviews
rom Aruba to Zanzibar – and just about every other letter of the alphabet in-between: Topflight are offering the world this year – and their new brochure is a hefty 140 pages long. Tony Collins and his team are nothing if not enthusiastic and their big selling point is they are Irish-owned, bonded to the hilt and multi-award winning. So you get the choice you want, without the risks of going it alone. New this year in the brochure is the destination of Sri Lanka – perfect to combine with firm favourites such as the Maldives, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. The company uses a wide range of airlines to carry customers across the world including Virgin Atlantic, Thai, China Airlines, Air Mauritius and Etihad, although its specialist partner is British Airways. Needless to say, within the brochure’s pages is a glamorous array of beach hotels, each more alluring than the last, on a dazzling choice of islands from west to east. I was glad to see my old favourite, Blue Waters on Antigua, featured. It’s
genuinely laidback, set on a wonderful, calm beach and it’s not the largest resort in the world, which suits me fine. There are plenty of adult-only beach hotels which are ideal for honeymooners not yet ready for the patter of tiny feet and all-inclusive hotels for those who want nothing more than to put their wallets away for a week. On Cuba, there are some specialist tours for those who want to see this island before the days of Castro end. ARum and Rhythm Tour gives you an insight into Cuba, the beaches as well as history and politics. The Maldives (not a place I have ever visited personally, something I must put right) are quite stunning. If global warming doesn’t get tackled soon, they are first on the list to disappear – so see them quick! Dubai is selling itself now as “affordable luxury” and certainly there is more value to be had here than there was at the height of the boom and the hotels are really top-class. You’ve heard of “The Palm” (a resort of man-made islands in the outline of a palm-tree) – now go and see it for yourself. More from the company direct on 01-240 1788.
TOPFLIGHT WORLD WIDE
Azure options catpion
fter 2012’s sad, sorry, pathetic excuse for a summer, it doesn’t seem one bit too early to be planning ahead for next year. So, if you want to get an idea of what’s likely to be the next trend, the Falcon summer 2013 brochure is ready to rock. There are enticing savings for those ready to book before the end of January 2013 - savings of E150 per adult or E300 per couple, one-parent family savings, guaranteed free child places, free room and board upgrades, group places and holiday flexibility guarantees for those prepared to plump for next year’s summer holiday right now. You can reserve your plane seat for Euro15 (adults) and Euro 7 (children) and babies aged under two get a 10kg baggage allowance on top of their pushchair or car seat. There are family-friendly places with loads of kids’ clubs – and a “grown-up zone” on page 17, if you are travelling with another adult, with a la carte dining in Holiday Villages themed on Mexican, Italian or Chinese food, just for example. The 2013 summer brochure also includes details of next year’s cruise options with an extended choice on two up-graded “Platinum” ships, the Thomson Dream and Thomson Celebration. All Inclusive is the big thing at the moment with both self-catering and half-board upgradable (facilities and timings vary by hotel) – see page 18. If you like the idea of stashing your wallet
for a week or two in your room safe – this is for you! On pages 12 and 13, Falcon include a quick guide to their main Holiday Villages, specially for children. These are ideal for families because of the variety of entertainment, sport and both outdoor and indoor (just in case of a cloud or two) activities ranging from crèches, cartoon character appearances, stage academies, assault courses, football and the like. For under-twos there are “swim-asong” courses where babies and young ones are taught pool skills using nursery rhymes and interactive play (sessions fill up fast so book ahead) and evening sessions are limited to two per week or three per two weeks (clearly these are popular!). For three-to-eight-year-olds there are Kids’ Clubs with expert-run academies (stage and football – although not simultaneously so don’t worry that your youngster will return home with the histrionics of a Roy Keane …). From Egypt to the usual Spanish sunspots in the islands and mainland, the Algarve, Turkey, Bulgaria, Crete, Zakynthos, Corfu and Cyprus – the choice is wide and getting wider at Falcon. Importantly, of course, all holidays are with a licensed and bonded operator with 24/7 support in-resort (if you want it – no intrusive sales talk if you don’t) so no chance of being stranded abroad or losing your precious holiday money. More from Falcon on 1850 45 35 45.
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Westerly wanderings Increased frequency on west bound routes offer possibilities in 2013 Most of the air capacity to the USA is directed to New York
f 2012 was the year of the east thanks to the three airlines who bring us to the Asian gateways. Increased capacity in 2013 will be to the west and to the north. Not that the east has faded. Emirates, Etihad and Turkish have all enjoyed high load factors and each of them is now talking about double daily services. With Etihad offering ten weekly services through Abu Dhabi, Turkish offering ten through Istanbul, and Emirates offering seven through Dubai, a whole new world of one-stop connection possibilities have opened up. Australia is by far the most important for the Irish market. It remains our long haul destination of choice with a large increase in tourism among the young and the over 50s, who seem to be taking the opportunity offered by bargain fares to visit their relatives who have gone out on one year visas. Etihad offer one stop connections to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Emirates offer Adelaide and Perth as well. The Emirates deal with Qantas means that Dubai rather than Singapore is going to be the gateway of choice for people flying to Australia. Direct services to India, a real possibility
before the recession that hit both Ireland and Air India are no longer on the runway but we have lots of new one-stop options. Emirates serve ten cities in India, Etihad nine, and Turkish Airlines serve Delhi and Mumbai. While Dublin’s direct service to Beijing is still a possibility (the Chinese capital is the same distance from Dublin as Los Angeles), Etihad serve seven cities in China, Emirates and Turkish three each. Emirates and Etihad both serve four cities in Pakistan and Turkish two. All three serve Bangkok, our second favourite long haul holiday destination. Kuala Lumpur is still a direct flight possibility. Emirates recently launched a flight to Phuket and improved their Bangkok connections. Etihad have great connections to the Seychelles. Vietnam, for a long time a two stop destination, is now just one stop away via Turkish or Emirates. The options are also increased when you look south to Africa. Durban is now one stop away by Emirates.
o far one exciting new westbound route has been declared for 2011, the United service to Washington Dulles. It offers
100 seats less per aircraft than the equivalent Aer Lingus services to BWI in 2002-3 and Dulles in 2007-9 but it opens up lots of exciting prospects in Virginia and Maryland as well as the vast open air museum that is Washington DC. A hub or an alliance can make a difference. Charlotte was the new route of choice in 2011 and it opened up dozens of extra Florida connections. Aer Lingus’s tie in with Jetblue has created west coast opportunities that would never have justified a direct service. Air Canada has launched a new codeshare with Aer Lingus and increased capacity on the Dublin Toronto route. It is a matter of time before this becomes yearround. South American one stop options are also increasing. British Airways now has eight direct flights under its own livery to Dublin each day. The propensity of other airlines to offer their lower cost flights in the Irish market, rather than affect local sales, means it can also make sense to fly east to go west, to Sao Paola via Istanbul. Extra connections to Frankfurt in 2013 will mean more connection options through Lufthansa’s fast growing hub. A new fourth runway
means it will overtake Heathrow as Europe’s busiest airport in three years’ time.
our operators are showing undue caution in the chartering of services for 2013, many preferring instead to block book seats on scheduled airlines. Tenerife is the only exception, with both Falcon and Thomas Cook returning to the island after pulling out in 2012 because of competition from Aer Lingus and Ryanair. There will be extra weekly charter flights to Corfu, Palma, Faro and Lanzarote. Sunway’s Agadir operation resumes in summer after two seasons when it was just a winter service. Services to Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia are still suffering the effects of the Arab spring. But there is action here as well. Three new tour operators received their licenses in the November licensing round. The entry of One Stop Touring Shop into the Irish market has boosted interest and bookings across their range of three products, Insight Vacations, Contiki for the 18 to 35 age group and Uniworld Boutique River
Cruise Collection. The dramatic entry of Wings Abroad into the market in 2011 was a success despite the effect the new competition had on prices, and are hoping to expand further in the Irish market in 2013 with a longer season from Shannon. Aer Lingus have operated their Izmir flight since 2011 on a charter license. Short haul routes are also growing again after two years of hiatus. Air France’s service to Pau was one of the most exciting developments of 2011. Aer Lingus had 18 and Ryanair 17 seasonal services last summer. Capacity has been cut back so much that it is unlikely there will be further cutbacks in 2013, particularly after a summer of high prices.
ashions change fast in the holiday business. Often the choice of destination is decided for us by an ambitious tour operator or airline operator. Topflight, Sunway and the Travel Department are all planning expansion in Asia in 2013. Direct flights have made a brief impact in the past for unlikely destinations such as the Azores,
Cape Verde, Corsica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, several Greek islands (most recently Santorini and Skiathos), Romania and Thailand. Most featured as fashionable places for about three months before they, or their access routes, stopped. Sometimes a bad experience (Jamaica 1992) or a season of intensive overbooking (Croatia in 2004) can see off the reputation of an entire destination. Croatia and Bulgaria in 2006-8 both peaked only to perish as the punter decided the product was not exactly what they wanted. Sicily and Sardinia, introduced more gingerly by innovative tour operators in the late 1990s, both stayed the pace. Flights to Bulgaria, for instance, went from one to nine weekly and back again to three over an alarming three year period. This ski season Bulgaria has no direct flights from Dublin. Croatia is returning to the bookings chart this autumn and could well be the new Croatia. Let’s hope the beds are still available, unlike last time, when we arrive for the holliers in 2013. The average price of a 2x2 bucket and spade holiday climbed to over €3,000 last summer.
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FEBRUARY 2013 PAGE 15
TRENDS 2013 wine and the finest seafood watching the sunset over the Atlantic.
ALGARVE Nothing seems to dent the popu-
larity of the southern Portuguese coast. It recently captured Majorca’s crown as the mainland summer holiday destination of choice for Irish people and the summer services from all Irish airports are set to stabilise or increase again in 2013.
MAJORCA A victim of its entrenched rela-
tionship with tour operators in the past, tens of thousands of hotel beds along the coast have been released to accommodation only specialists in the past two years and brought greater flexibility.
ANDALUCIA There are 100,000 beds in Torremolinos alone (more than New York), so a change in fashion or a spat between Ryanair and another airport will never stop the trail of Irish holiday makers returning to Spain’s most touristed region.
AUSTRALIA Increasingly our favourite long haul destination out of Ireland. Go diving with the Whale Sharks in Exmouth or swimming with the fresh water crocs in Kakadu and you will never ever forget the experience. All the major cities are now one-stop options through the Middle East. BOSTON
Is Boston the new New York? The availability of an extra aircraft has enabled Aer Lingus have put on extra services for the summer of 2013. Shopping is tax free, the hotels are cheaper and the museums are amazing.
CANADA Air Canada are getting more adventurous by the year with the size of craft and Transat have opened up Montreal as well. The beautiful north beckons. CHINA Ethnic travellers used to fill the few available seats through our favourite European hubs to this vast and diverse country, pushing prices
MALTA Getting married? There are nearly 400 churches in Malta, one at every turn of the road. It also can save a lot of money. A wedding in Malta will set you back an average of €4,500, compared with the average of €23,000 at home.
SCANDINAVIA Lots of extra capacity
from SAS and Aer Lingus’s return to Stockholm and Copenhagen should keep the major Scandinavian destinations on the radar for 2013.
Dublin on the arrivals board at Abu Dhani Pagoda-high. This has changed with the creation of additional transfer options. Direct flights from Dublin? It is an inevitability.
DUBAI An amazing 25-year success story of tourism is set to continue as Emirates increased their craft from a 237-seater to a 360-seater and still find they need more capacity.
LISBON COAST Picture postcard towns
like Ericeira and Obidos are among the highlights of one of the most richly decorated stretches of coast in Europe. For a long time Irish eyes were focussed further south, but good air services to Lisbon has attracted the surfers, of both the real and web variety, golfers or those whose idea of a good time is a nice
This is one of the fastest growing destinations out of Ireland, going from 10 to 20 flights weekly in two years. You can fly to Antalya, Bodrum and Izmir on the south west coast. The Turkish Airlines daily service to Istanbul which offers connections throughout the country is to go from seven to ten flights weekly in May.
WASHINGTON The newest west bound
route of 2012 was the United Airlines daily service. Washington is not just the US capital, it is a vast open air museum. There are lots anniversary commemorations of the US Civil War,
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ashington DC runs on gossip. They spend days cultivating it and plucking it when it is ripe. People gather in the trendy clubs and high end eateries to bitch and backbite. Government agencies and embassies scramble for streetscape, competing with each other like arriviste merchants. Lobbyists and lawyers, tens of thousands of each, and politicians, peacock through the streets and social spots like shopkeeper’s daughters. So what do you do in a village? Take to the saddle, tinkle the bell and cycle the length of its finest sights. The mall is Washington’s viewing gallery of monuments to the fallen, its martyrs and militarists, a map of America’s heroes and hang-ups around a pool of swampy water. The tour, led by Tujon Gallagher of Bike and Roll (“it’s as easy as riding a bike,” he reassures us) is magnificent beyond expectations, his stories informed and entertaining as he talks us through the politics of commemoration, of which the Mall in Washington is a case study. Probably the most complicated of all is the FDR memorial, each section of it a battleground of competing interest groups. America’s
Easy DC Eoghan Corry in Washington
An earthquake has prevented visits to the Washington memorial, adding to the mystique of the column wounds are most openly on display with the Vietnam memorial, commissioned and in place 22 years before the World War II memorial.
here is no WW1 memorial yet, a hundred years after the event. There is a feisty Korean war memorial. Martin Luther King looks white and Maoist, as befits the Chinese design. There is big type to
Biker in Dupont Circle, the way to see the city
the left hand side of Lincoln, his inaugural speech forever in three feet high carving looking to the euture rather that the future. Most impressive of all, slightly eccentric, is Einstein, a short distance from the main cluster. Don’t look for any mention of the losing side in the Civil war anywhere in the city. There is none. “You have to go to Richmond, Virginia, for that,” Eddie Sielenski one of the guides said. “The north won and there was this attitude around.” You couldn’t help but think that after 150 years, a bit of Civil War reconciliation might be in order. If the French and Germans can do it… They have drained the enormously stenchy pond and refreshed the water. A pity, because that was part of the story. You can also ogle the
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White House from beyond the perimeter fence, 132 rooms and six chefs. This is all a prelude to the Hill, all pomp and security and the self importance accorded the political masters of the heaving collection of cultures that is the United States. A security lock-down in the US Congress meant we were shut in like Holy Hour drinkers in the old days, listening to the valedictory speech of Illinois politician Judy Biggert to an empty House of Representatives. They escorted us in, took our mo-
bile phones from us, and when a distant alarm was activated then told us we could not retrieve our possessions even if we were allowed to leave. It was one of the most interesting lock-ins on the planet. We also peeked in to the public gallery of the Senate, looking down on a floor full of failed US presidential candidates.
t Juniper restaurant they tell us they make their own honey on the roof of the hotel.
The Doyle Collection has three hotels in the city, three slices of Ireland in the embassy district. The Dupont Circle Hotel offers 327 rooms, in a great part of the city, near James Hoban’s pub (the man who designed the White House has no monuments in the city but gets an Irish pub named after him) and just round the corner from one of the most eccentric bookshops in the world, an amazing establishment called Kramer Books, a bookshop with a bar, or is it a bar with a bookshop?
A fitting monument to the Irishman who designed the White House
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DESTINATION USA Three blocks away is another slice of Ireland, the Fairmont Embassy Row hotel, where Alexandra Byrne and Stephen Johnston host us for breakfast in their signature restaurant, 2100 Prime. This place used to be the Jockey Club and there are still pictures of horsemen around the walls. This is where Kennedy dined on the evening of his inauguration. The best bit of Washington DC, without a doubt, is the rooftop bar in the W. This place has some amazing monuments, stunning sights, and an occasional historic avenue. And that’s just the fellow-revellers – there is more to see if you turn around to look at the city instead. The White House is waving distance but a tree gets in the way. Hotel GM Ed Baten tells me that half of the
The best view of Pennsylvania Avenue is from the balcony of the Newseum revenue at the W comes from food and beverages. It is easy to see how, this is one of the coolest places in town, topping a very historic hotel, haunt of presidents for 150 years, and a nightmare to refurbish before they reopened it two years ago. Try their Rock and Eye cocktail made with spices and Jamaican dark rum.
nevitably, Washington DC has a media museum, the Newseum where journalism junkies can soak it all in. The tributes to the fallen include Veronica Guerin who gets three mentions while Martin O’Hagan and the Eastbourne victims feature in the list of the fallen. I meet the staff to talk about the inclusion of
Irish journalists Jarlath Dolan and Austin Finn on the list of the fallen and to correct the spelling of Tony Hennigan’s name. This is where I had a sobering meeting with the sister of Gerardo Ortega – a journalist killed in the Philippines last year for exposing corruption in local government at the Freedom Forum section of the journalism mu-
seum on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Newseum.
ince May Washington has been accessible from Ireland once more. The route was profitable from the first month United Airlines launched the direct flight. The key to this is the aircraft type, a Boeing 757-
200, with 16 business class seats plus 186 seats in economy and the fact that Dulles is a United hub with 65pc of their passengers onward bound. There are other options. Is it worth flying east to go west? Lufthansa is the first customer for the new Boeing 747-8 which is being used to launch their new business class product. The staircase up to business class has been widened and become a design feature of the craft. Luggage bins are bigger and tucked out of the way. Lufthansa has configured the aircraft for 467 passengers with 98 business in class and 380 in economy. They serve great food and wine and even change the lighting to resemble the outside world and take the hard edge off the jet lag.
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o beach, big draw. The most popular inland holiday destination in Asia, Chiang Mai is a wonder to behold before you do anything touristy like climb up the steps of its eagle’s nest temple. Thailand was the first Asian country to cut it as a beach destination. Back in the 1950s and 1960s while the rest weren’t sure where to start, Thailand captured five major European markets, getting people excited about Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi and Koh Samui. They even got the movie with the best name, the Beach. How did Chiang Mai fit into all of this? Even the people who oversaw the success are not sure. There are bigger cities like Beijing and more handsome places like Hanan or Ankor Wat. But as a uniquely tourist destination, Chiang Mai tops the inland charts.
Songkran Festival Chai Phra Kiat Temple
Prayers at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Bright lights small city
hiang Mai looks handsome as we arrive and start with a highly efficient check-in at the Furama Hotel, a three star offering that is better than many four star hotels I have been in, with big rooms. It has two pools surrounded by quasi-religious statues, one of which is an enchanting rooftop pool with a view across the valley to the mountain from which the town’s iconic temple beckons, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The temple is a spiritual place, where people carry flowers as they do
Eoghan Corry in Chiang Mai
circuits and nests of candles fill the air with a spiritual sizzle.
ountain towns in Asia are different from their crowded lowland contemporaries, Chiang Mai is villagey and almost sprawling, with a
European style 17th century walled town at its heart. The night market is full of stuff from China. Aren’t all markets nowadays? There are 30,000 rooms in Chiangmai and 350 hotels, ranging from the D2 discount chain to five star product at about €40 a night. Hoteliers
THINGS TO DO n Night Market Walking Street - Tha Pae Gate. An iconic market in the Old City, the heat and crowds become a bit oppressive but always worth a look. n Chiang Mai Safari. Travel through 300 acres of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park and interact with animals ranging from giraffes to zebras to rhinos. n Chiang Dao Cave turned into a shrine and religious site.
n Wat Umong 14th-century temple built into the side of Suthep mountain and constructed of a series of tunnels. n Wat Chiang Man. This temple was oldest temple in Chiangmai built in 1297 at the site King Mangrai used when he supervised the building of Chiang Mai. n Elephant Nature Park, elephant rescue project set in Northern Thailand.
complain there are too many. Hoteliers always do.
he highlight of the trip? A day at the Chiang Mai school for the blind on Arak Road, splashing paint and generally making a mess as my taste of a Voluntourism project. At meal time the children put their hand up for more food and we rush down to fill their plates. When they sing and perform a cacophony of local instruments and the whole experience is less awkward than I imagined.
I am a critic of supply side well-meaning voluntourism, especially as the travel aspect of it is hopelessly marked up, but when you make a child smile it is difficult to chaff. When I get one of the kids to feel the keys of my laptop he pulls the w off, which is orrying.
t night Chiang Mai offers one of the liveliest scenes on the planet, we spend several hours transferring by tuk-tuk between night clubs, The Riverside restau-
rant, spread between indoor and outdoor sections, where there is a terrific live band. The pounding heavybass Good View. The high soaring singer in the Bali room in Fabrique, here the elders go while the young ones hang out in the techno dancing room. The sardine-packed Mandalay where a woman in our group got hit on by twenty freshfaced youths in the course of a thirty yard scrum push to the bar. The Monkey Club, all screens and bounce. On to the temple of the young night-lifers, Warm Up, where I felt like everybody’s grandfather. There was a Shangi beer and Mekhong Thai whiskey in each one. Thai whiskey is a misnomer: it is made from a sugar cane base which means it is really rum, best drunk with cola and a morning-after warning. Shane MacGowan wrote a song about it, so it must be good.
s there a downside? Of course. Where you have tourists you have chicanery. The Thai tourist board say the biggest number of complaints they get each year is because tourists are ferried into shops they do not want to go. When tourists are brought to the Royal Gems shop, a 40pc commission goes to the driver which gives a hint of what the mark-up is like. One driver got €3500 in one day last year.
n Eoghan Corry flew to Chiang Mai with Emirates via Dubai and Thai Airways from Bangkok.
Page 019 Malta ad feature 14/01/2013 10:32 Page 1
ake an island break. Drop out of the rat race, lose yourself in the stunning Maltese archipelago and find your inner balance by indulging in the intimate experience of relaxed living. Urbanites may be excused for thinking that a small island in the Mediterranean might be rather stifling, but Malta is surprisingly well-connected and highly cosmopolitan. Short distances mean that you can get around with extreme ease and being close to its quieter areas does not mean that you have to forsake the vibes of the city. Imagine being able to wake up in one of the beautiful boutique hotels
around the island, and combine the beach, relaxation, shopping, culture and nightlife at once. This is the beauty of our archipelago. The more urbanised Malta is only a 25 minute ferry ride away from its quieter, smaller sister island of Gozo, where the pace of life allows you the breathing space you need to savour the quaint villages and stunning views which might just leave you breathless once more. If it’s a true combination that you’re after, then look no further than the harbour area – Valletta and the Three Cities or the wonderfully long, winding Sliema and St Julian’s sea front.
For the lowest fares from Dublin to Malta all year round
YOURSELF in Malta Walking along the coast in either area is enough of a cultural tour in itself. The Harbour area is a monument to Baroque architecture and the city of Valletta has been designated a World Heritage Site. You could choose to stay in various architecturally significant buildings, from historic Art Deco outside the revamped City Gate, whose contemporary feel juxtaposes nicely with older buildings just inside; or you could choose to stay in one of the beautifully restored, 16th century town houses or palazzi in the heart of the city – which allow you to mingle with the residents while living it up in style. Shopping on Republic Street, only a few streets away, is a terrific way of sightseeing and getting the latest season’s must haves in one. The stunning architecture of the 19th century Palazzo Ferreria sets the tone of your shopping experience – banks, cafes, restaurants, international franchises and department stores all located
in listed buildings. Indulge in a gelato or try sipping a cappuccino in Piazza Regina, outside the National Library, with the Grandmasters’ Palace on your left and shops to your right. Valletta is furnished with a surprisingly wide selection of restaurants and cafes which cater for discerning tourists. Menus will change regularly so that you can never anticipate how your taste buds will be tantalised: Mediterranean fusion which competes with Italian, French and typical Maltese cuisine. Just across the imposing Grand Harbour, lie the three cities, the chief one of which, Vittoriosa or Birgu, as it is known in Maltese, houses not only monuments and museums, but also a Casino. There’s plenty to see, the Inquisitor’s Palace, the Maritime Museum and the beautiful parish church of St Laurence - waking up in living museums like these is an experience which leaves you wanting more. Indulge in a tour of some of the island’s best shopping in Sliema, across the
Marsamxetto Harbour from Valletta. Shop to your heart’s content along the promenade, the two busy parallel streets Bizazza Street and Tower Road or in Tigne, where local boutiques rub shoulders with international franchises. The wide variety of restaurants and cafes will quell any appetite. Staying in the hotels here is a charming experience. They are woven into the Sliema residential town core, keeping you close to all the amenities while ensuring rest and relaxation after a day shopping or at the beach. The leisurely walk along the Sliema–St Julian’s promenade will bring you to St Julian’s – once a charming fishing village but now a hip sea-side town with a village core and busy nightlife, with bars and restaurants which spill into it’s neighboring suburb of Paceville. So lose yourself in the area and let Malta’s unique melange of old-world charm and contemporary vibes sweep away your stress, making for one of the most enjoyable holidays you’ll ever have.
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he fourth person you meet in a city tells you everything you need to know about it. The fourth person you meet in San Diego will be in the navy. The bay defines the city, rather than the other way round. The skyline attempts to fight back with two tall skyscrapers and 15 other wannabe high-risers. It doesn’t quite make an impact compared with the sparkling ocean and its multifarious jetties and shipping paths (one jetty is named after John Wayne, in tribute to the big-hatted man’s fishing trips to the Baja after which he crashed into it, not once, but twice). San Diego is not just an All-American apple pie city: it is white American, retro American, more Denver than LA or San Fran. Hispanics and African Americans combined make up less than 10pc of the population. Want that border feeling? Go to El Paso. Come here to party. And meet a sailor.
an Diego was all about the navy when Top Gun was filmed here 25 years ago and counting. Naval installations, the largest in the world, dominated the economy. It is a ten minute walk from the dock to Kansas City Barbeque, where the sleazy bar scene in Top Gun was filmed and Tom Cruise romanced Kelly McGillis with their rendition of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling. It looks the same (de-
light BA273 to San Diego may be THE most hidden of hidden treasures of Willie Walsh’s trove. It is the only direct route to the southern Californian destination from Europe and the airline and the local tourism bureau have decided to risk a visit by a group of Irish
Naval Gazing you on the sidewalk: embarrass yourself, get a beer to put the flames out. Or maybe crash and burn.
C Eoghan Corry finds why it’s never lame in Southern california The USS Midway used to be known as the USS Neverdocks, now it is a permanent fixture in San Diego spite a fire in the interim) and is crammed with chatty locals. A red haired woman down the bar declares she is Irish and starts a competition among the clientele and the fun goes on, a chorus line of wit all along the bar. How could they even fit a camera in here, never mind a crew? The naval base has 135,000 military worker bees moving around it at any time. They fill the nightclubs and bars, the streets by day and if you have sharp eyes, you can see the Navy Seals training in the morning from one of the stunning rooms across the bridge from the city in the Hotel del Coronado, the largest resort hotel in the world when it opened in 1888. They say that every week at least one female
visitor on the beach is in need of mouth to mouth resuscitation. It is a spectacle when a battle squadron pulls out to sea, gathering their nautical baggage and disappearing with astonishing speed: the giant aircraft carriers that usually sit in the bay, as important to the cityscape as any skyscrapers, the flotilla of destroyers, fast subs and finally the aircraft, who never leave on board the carrier taking off over the city at intervals. One battle squadron is the size of the entire Irish army. But if they ever considered invading us we could be certain to talk them out of it the night before in the bar.
writers. Embarkation is from Terminal 5, tall and quiet, housing England’s longest escalator and its own rapid transit train to get to the distant satellite gates. A glass of champagne on arrival helps steady the nerves. The flight from Heathrow over the frozen wastelands of Greenland and
Canada is 11 hours but you gain eight hours along the way in time difference. I am in one of the so called “love seats” in the middle of business class, shared with a middle aged American male chemist, we share an interest in good conversation and a copious supply of Californian wine.
hich bar? If it doesn’t look lively enough, you can try the other 39 bars or 100 restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter alone. Other American cities are scrambling around trying to invent neighbourhoods out of urban disarray, San Diego
has eight of them compacted together like pierstones, The two most famous are the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy, the East Village, Embarcadero, Cortes Hill, Columbia and Horton plaza
all come with their own character (I wonder did Horton inspire Dr Seuss who lived locally?). The celebration revs into gear for 6pm and continues until 2am, the streets in the Gaslamp Quarter lively and safe as everyone spills out Fifth Avenue and back in search of the perfect beer – the multifarious local brews are a new attraction. One restaurant sits resplendent amongst them all: Jim Croce’s widow Ingrid has opened a shrine to good food as well as her singer-songwriter husband. Her cookbook is called Thyme in a Bottle. The night then explodes into multi-faceted action. You can hear Tom Cruise’s lines from Top Gun somewhere behind
liffs and beaches, beaches and cliffs. We made peace with the Pacifica on a tour of the coast with Joe Timko, who spent his twenties at Ocean Beach writing the great film script that didn’t happen and then, happily, decided his time would be better spent hosting visitors to this beautiful city. The coast to the north passes through the beach bum magnet of Ocean Beach, with its long holiday pier reminding you of what pier pressure really is in South California. The shoreline life then does a dolphin leap over one large estuary and then gets really interesting. La Jolla (pronounced by the locals, with very unhispanic accentuation, Lahoya) is the expensive, Leucadia the pristine, Torrey Pines the golf mecca, Soledad point the view, but for the exotic head for a little further. Here you find the highest, wildest cliffs and places to laze and spend a little time looking east. And most exotic of all, a stretch of sand below where distant figures are
n BA have a daily direct non-stop service from London Heathrow using a Boeing 777 aircraft with a choice of 3 cabins on board World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and Club World. Arrivals and departures will be into London Heathrow Terminal 5. Arrivals and departures will be into London Heathrow Terminal 5. n San Diego is British Airways’ third destination to California, in addition to Los Angeles and San Francisco. n Fares start at €758 return including all taxes and surcharges from Dublin using codeshare Aer Lingus. n Bookings can be made at www.ba.com or through your travel agent. n Departs Heathrow 15.50 Arrive San Diego 20.05 Depart San Diego 22.00 Arrive Heathrow 15.20. These timings will be updated with the summer timetable.
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DESTINATION USA celebrating naturalism. “There is a gay section on this beach,” says Joe, “a couples section, and a section where all the confused people are.” The surprise herearound is that San Diego’s orientation is so northcentric. It is as if the community is reluctant to look south. They tell you that Tijuana has a reputation for being a dangerous place to visit, but that is only part of the story. It is surely to San Diego’s advantage that a heaving city double the size of San Diego nestles south of the border. On the whale watching expedition (a trip that will always turn up a splashing tail or two) they talk about the sealife that wanders up and down the migration path to the Baja, as if “all that down there” was a distant Tír na nÓg. The mood is: you
Ocean beach pier can go but don’t come crying back to me when you fall off your horse on your return.
egular first time tourists don’t have time for the cliffs, they are too busy cashing in on the big signatures. San Diego has four, their Legoland the best of the family after Billund (subject to the proviso that I have not
visited Tampa), they have the original Seaworld, a famous zoo and its sister safari park. Zoos are something of an acquired taste and have no place in the itinerary of an international tourist who has seen real animals in their natural habitat. San Diego’s zoo, to its credit, knows what is doing, and does it well. The animal kingdom is turned into something of
a soap opera for the visitors, an endless cycle of happy marriages and cute kids, with the hard nosed battle-weary world of getting conservation mentioned as the justification for it all. It is hard not to be taken in by the panda with the stick of bamboo or the condors who have been saved from extinction, their siblings released back to the wild. That is the measure of success: there were only 22 Californian condors left when they were brought into care, the zoo reports that its 300th chick hatched this year and many have been released again to the wild. It works. The policy is so successful and so famous that zoos around the world send people here to find out how they do it. As our guide Emily
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Martin described it “this pair have a cute little story, they definitely like each other so we are keeping our fingers crossed for some baby jaguars this spring.”
he zoo, like much of the energy that illuminates San Diego, was spawned by the opening of the Panama Canal nearly a century ago. Balbao Park nearby remains in pristine “hailthe-new-canal” 1915 condition, unusually for these things (San Diego was supposed to be first port of call of ships heading north). It now houses an eclectic and spell-binding collection of museums, of which the strangest is the model railway museum. The Prado looks like the cover of that Eagles album, the Californian
tower a delicious fauxconquistador construction. And the seafood, beer and wine are great too. Balbao is the secret weapon of San Diego, not as famous as Legoland or Seaworld or the zoo, but more fascinating than any or all of them. If you have one attraction to see before BA274 departs for home, it is the USS Midway, home to 4,104 sailors in its 30year career patrolling the Pacific, where you can see how generations of salts lived, worked and breathed. Visitors climb to the Barillo National Monument to look back along the bay and city skyline. On the way back join the queue for fish tacos at Hodads. You won’t regret it. An all American experience with Mexican food. So San Diego.
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t is easy to understand, as the Romans, the Byzantines and the Ottomans clearly did, that Istanbul is the centre of the universe. Tourists got to the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque and Topkapi palace to learn that. In the process they fail to understand that the Istanbuli universe has its own centre: Eminonu quay. It is a tram ride from the tourist attractions (not just the overground ones, check out the Roman baths) and here the throngs gather to cram the ferries bound every 15 minutes for the magical, mysterious Asian shores. They are coloured vividly with scarlet lifebuoys, and belch black smoke as they chug away from our continent. The 20-minute crossing to Uskudar costs about 50 cents. It can be a breezy pleasure, enhanced with strong tea in tiny tulip glasses. The skyline shines in every direction, billowing mosques, brandishing their towers like medieval bayonets, the silent Galata Tower, a relic of Genoese-colonial times; Topkapi lurking behind its veil of vegetation, the extravagant mansions and palaces that line the shoreline, and in the distance, the gatepost castles of the Bosphorous which reminded everyone that Constantinople was unstormable. The sunshine dances on the choppy surface of the Bosphorus. The mysterious Kiz Kulesi, a fairytale lighthouse on a
Golden Horn Eoghan Corry finds treasure beyond Topkapi in Istanbul
hippest clubs. The restaurant with the best view in town is Hamdi, serving inexpensive local produce made with the best local ingredients in the best location since 1970. Mustafa Bey’s family has built the place up and it is now a 500-seat business over three floors. The food is VERY specialist - minced meat pizza, yoghurt starters, and no one else serves pistachio kebab. Don’t miss it.
There are many treasures beyond the astonishing skyline in Istanbul rocky outcrop, sits near the shore. In the distance you can see the Princes’ Islands, a taste of holiday resort Turkey, a three euro boat ride from the city, like lumps of granite peering out in the Sea of Marmara. They are an enticing sight, sun resorts from the south east magically towed to lie within easy reach of the metropolis. Then before you have taken it all in, the engines go quiet. Welcome to Asia.
THINGS TO DO
n Sirkeci Station is a Germanic masterpiece almost within the shadow of Topkapi Palace. For decades this was the way to arrive in Istanbul, aboard the Orient Express from Paris to Constantinople. The route still operates. n Salacak is hopping-on point for a quick boat trip out to the strange Kiz Kulesi (Maiden’s or Leander’s Tower). (It costs about €3) kizkulesi.com.tr
n Athenian antiquity Uskudar was called Chrysopolis, the “city of gold”. It is a city in its own right, full of life and tradition. You can go to the endpoint at Fehnerbahce (the only major soccer club is on the Asian shore, unlike Galatasaray and Bezitkas) to walk the gardens and look back at Europe. Dominating the main square is the magnificent Iskele Camii, which was built sometime around 1557 by Sinan as a tribute
PLACES TO EAT
n Kanaat Lokantasi (Selmanipak Caddesi 25), a clean, plain, brightly lit dining area. Big tureens brim with classic mezzeler (shared starters), including imam bayildi – aubergine, tomato, onions and olive oil, n House Café Ortaky (Salhanesi Sokak 1; tel +90 212 227 2639), the perfect pit stop for coffee or a shared bottle of Turkish rosé.
to Mihrimah, daughter of Suleyman the Magnificent. If you make it to Yeni Valide Camii you will find a peaceful courtyard to sit in with cats for company. As the evening light fades the buzz of Bagdot Street matches anything back acrosss the Bosphorous. Istanbul is not just a city of 2,000 mosques, 157 churches and 18 synagogues, but also home to some of the hottest nightlife in Europe. The hottest places are within easy reach of each other. Su Ada has the edge on the private yacht scene as it is offshore. It is vying to be trendiest night spot in Istanbul with Sortie (formerly Laila, recently renamed), and Reina (still, as its name
suggests, reigning champion). The rooftop 360 offers floor-to-ceiling windows opens out onto a huge terrace and, late at night, turns into one of the city's
here is lots to see and a short time to do it, so Guide Yirdiray Kirmizi quickly identifies the pace I like and we have 25 stops on a city tour to beat all city tours - five mosques, three churches, four parks, four viewpoints, three museums and other attractions all flash by at speed. We pay homage, in rapid fire succession, to the reliquary (Patriarchate at Fener), the beautiful (St Giorgio), the aesthetic (St Savior in Chora), the spiritual (Church of Panagia of Blechernae, leafy green and out of the way, a real treasure), the boring (Tekfur Palace), the over-rated (spice market) and the sublime (the huge underwater cisterns near Hagia Sophia).
Ice cream sellers awaiting their day
n Eoghan Corry flew to Istanbul with Turkish Airways, who fly daily direct from Dublin.
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agia Sophia is one of three must-dos in picture-postcard Istanbul, the first-stop venue alongside the Blue Mosque (still blue) and the Topkapi Museum, which has probably the most amazing single room of exhibits anywhere in the world, the sword of David, the staff of Moses, the beard of Muhammad and the skull of John the Baptist all in the same place. Hmmm. It costs €10 (20 new Turkish lira, each worthhalf a euro, like an old Deutschmark) to get in to Hagia Sophia, €10 for the Topkapi and €7 in to the harem, which is cheap considering what a male had to forfeit to get a job there in the Sultan’s time. I note the circumcision room too is closed but I am back in Taksim before I have opened my legs again, my return delayed by a joker who diverted me to the wrong tram stop in a bid to get me into the carpet shop.
ost tourists stay in the nest of hotels around Taksim Square, an eclectic area, which mixes legitimate bars like the delightful Biz Jazz Bar (it has GREAT live music and a bubbling atmosphere) with more sordid girly bars where unsusclients are pecting charged €25 a beer and subjected to a drip-pricing technique to part with money than they an afford. Most of the dodgier places are clearly marked with danger signs, such as Tayland 85 but CE&SA bar has a legitimate air about it until you arrive. The tourist bits of Istanbul are filled with a well trained breed of hustlers. A single male in Istanbul makes friends easily. All these guys with woolly hair and friendly eyes all want to talk to you and bring you to a distant door where they bring you down stairs into a darkened room where a friendly woman joins you.
Nightlife is among the most extensive in Europe It is not as much sex they are selling (that too, probably) than overpriced drink, your drink costs €15, hers costs €40, so you are hit with a bill for €150-€200 at the end of the hour. This makes the process more like what happens at the Galway Races than traditional prostitution. I didn’t indulge. The system was explained to me by a friendly waiter more intent on getting me a fish casserole than an exotic belly dance.
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Roof mosaics in the Kariye Museum
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roken Hill is that rarity, a mining town that endured. Because it has 30 hotels and dozens of pubs and great restaurants it can offer that rarity, a comfortable bed and the remoteness of the bush at the same time. My hotel, the Palace, has flamboyant murals and the reflected fame of having been used as a film location for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It is on Argent Street, near Cobalt Street, in a town where the streets seem to have been named from a chemistry set. They felled every tree within a hundred km of Broken Hill to fuel the smelters of the town. The road takes you from sparse scrubland into thick vegetation like it crosses a boundary. The bull dust gets into everything. More the grit outdoors than the great outdoors. The earth is less barren than I expected. When the 12-year drought broke in February 2010 the earth started greening again. Lake Eyre in South Australia, probably the most beautiful ephemeral lake on the planet, started filling with water. I won’t get to see it this trip but instead I visit Coogee Lake and other smaller lakes around Broken Hill, red dust bowls now turned into a playground for ducks and black swans. Who tells the birds the lake is full so they can travel 500km to nest
Enduring tradition of local art is continued by Badger Bates
Back Bush A little touch of Offaly in the abandoned mining town of Silverton here?
inner is in the magnificent Broken Earth restaurant looking down on the town from the minescarred line of lode, what used to be the original
The endless roads are surrounded by greenery
Broken Hill before the open cast machinery tore it to shreds. I tuck into Katie Clifford‘s Australian bush tasting plate marinated char grilled crocodile skewers with a dug and passion berry jam, grilled kangaroo fillet with a native pepper leaf potato hash and drizzled with a honey mustard sauce, paperbark wrapped quail with a sticky lemon myrtle and honey glaze and smoked wallaby fillet served with a bush tomato pickle. I feel like bouncing
down the hill afterwards.
n the ghost town of Silverton the silver ran out long ago so the miners upped with their wooden houses and moved to Broken Hill. The little wooden church used for the wedding scene in a Town Called Alice is dedicated to St Carthage, legacy of an Offaly priest who came this way in the 1880s. Margaret Edwards serves the best quandong pie on theplanetintheSilvertoncafé. Badger Bates shows me the rainbow serpent
n Eoghan Corry flew to Australia with Emirates, who fly direct Dublin to Dubai daily 7 days a week and offer 70 onward connections a week to FIVE Australian cities: Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide since Nov 1. www.emirates.com 01-4773256.
painting he is making in the tiles at Mutawintji National Park, where Tristate tours have brought me to see ancient rock paintings. We use ballistic spears nowadays when we hunt, says tour guide Maca Malyankapa. His whitefellah name is Mark Sutton and he thinks his family originally came from Barberstown in Kildare. “The Irish are the blackfellahs of Europe” I tell him, borrowing a line from the Commitments, and he chuckles all the long drive home.
ow far out back is the outback. Australians, who invented the concept, seem to change their ideas all the time of where it begins and where it ends.The tourist
people describe Broken Hill as Sydney’s most accessible outback. They have a point. Part of the confusion is caused by the fact that tourism to the Australian outback is an oxymoron. Unless, that is, you are a Banjo Patterson wannabe with swag and pole and a masochistic yen for being bitten by unidentifiable insect-life and doing the dunny in a billabong. The outback doesn’t come with comfortable beds, Castlemaine in the evening, croissants for breakfast and running water. Thankfully the miners came to the rescue. Remote mining towns with hotels offer us the opportunity to the outback, or at least that version of it that we recognise from films such as Mad Max and Priscilla.
Mine-fuelled pride on Main Street in Broken Hill
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osemite is where the national parks were invented. It was considered so beautiful, so remote and so iconic that it should be set aside for the people. Of course it had already been set aside for the people who lived there for the previous 8,000 years but that is another story. Even the name rumbles. The seven mile long valley, a shoebox of green between waterfall-pocked granite walls six times the height of the Cliffs of Moher, deserves its reputation. But at 4m visitors a year it is straining under the weight of its own popularity. It is a breathtaking place but it is the branding that makes it different. If Yosemite was in Namibia or Mexico, we wouldn’t have heard of it (or it would be a niche interest, like Fish River Canyon or Copper Canyon).
osemite and Yellowstone are the best known national parks in the US and its all pervading popular culture, and because it is a two hour drive outside San Francisco, Yosemite gets more visitors, 4m of them a year. On peak days in summer there are 35,000 people clamouring to get into the park through the tunnel and the two-lane highway. When they come they scatter round the signature waterfalls, the Bridal veil, straight out of the Jackson interpretation of Tolkien, and the huge Yosemite falls, tallest waterfall in the continent although that is a bit of a cheat because it descends in three stages. There is a cavalcade of bus tours through the valley, two hours with photo stops, pausing at all the right places to look up at the sheer granite cliffs. Put to six times the height of the Cliffs of Moher, El Capitan, 3,300 feet high, the Three Brothers, North Dome, Glacier Point, the
Grandeur canyon Eoghan Corry in Yosemite Yosemite: where the concept of a national park was invented For those who don’t that makes the journey Sentinel, Cathedral, Sentinel Dome and Cloud's have the time and energy here so special and indeRest, from 2,800 to (which is most visitors) it scribable in words or takes a few minutes to video. John Muir, the nearly 6,000 feet high. stroll up to the lower Dunbar native who made here are three no- Yosemite falls and stand Yosemite famous and got table two or three with the spray splashing it designated as a park, hour hikes, to the over your camera lens. described it as “the great Mirror Lake (where I The shuttle driver got a Yosemite Fall pours its went in 2004), the Mist round of applause for her white floods from a walk through the water- corny joke, she described height of 2,600 feet, fall spray and the high it as “a walk in the park.” bathing the mighty cliffs It has a distinctive rum- with clouds of spray and Yosemite Falls around a bling sound, the back- making them tremble circuitous path. ground track of the valley with its thunder-tones.”
he river Merced runs behind the Yosemite View Lodge, a hotel which sounds a lot more grandiose than it is. The view, unless you look upwards, is of the car park and the northern approach road to the park. We landed late and were shown to spacious motel style rooms, you know the type from the movies, an open balcony corridor on the front above the car park. There is also a balcony at the back and the stormy river thundering past, swelled with the melt waters of the High Sierra. I loved the sound the second I heard it, and determined to sleep with the balcony door open. Big mistake. They gave us a little time to settle so I headed down to the open air pool for a plunge and a sauna under the Californian sky. We were fed in a crowded restaurant, 20 of us crammed to-
gether on two long tables that didn’t quite fit and meant the young male waiter had to pass our orders down the line, basic meat and two vegetable dinners (trout, beef or chicken) and the copious bottles of Pinot Noir we emptied in rapid sequence. The conversation at some point during the evening, I am not sure when in my Pinotnoired state, turned to the hotel’s resident ghost. The lads who came in to prepare for breakfast tried to scare us with some eerie laughter and a hand waving from a door. We laughed and went back to our rooms, and I slept soundly with the water thundering by. When I woke the first thing I noticed was the waste paper basket overturned and the sweet wrappers from my Hershey gift chocolates scattered across the floor. I had eaten perhaps four of them but there seemed a lot more than that. Then I saw the bag too
But the rumble of four wheel drives is the more familiar backing track of the park nowadays, 111,000 vehicles fighting for roadspace.
uir did not have a couple of hundred people posing for picture making funny faces and hand trusts when he came here. Yosemite is a victim of
was shredded. There had been a party in my room to which I was not invited. The mystery was solved by my friend Frederico Gigena
its own success, a place to gape and pose rather than meditate and sit in a traffic jam as you try to exit to go home. In Muir’s time the average dwell time in Yosemite was ten weeks, nowadays it is four hours. Did Yosemite change our relationship with nature? They like to think so here. The gold rush was in full flight and people wanted to dig every square foot of dem dar hills. But the granite was not going anywhere, and they allowed coniferous trees to overgrow the tidy shrubbery landscape created by the hundreds of generations of Miwuk and Palate husbandry, dedicated to creating conditions where the Californian Black Oak would thrive and its life sustaining acorns would remain in endless supply. When Muir came by the valley was 80pc meadow, now it is 80pc forest. On the other side of the mountain there was another beautiful valley called Hetchy Hetchy. They flooded the valley for a reservoir in 1914. We did the same to Poulaphuca. Nature’s loss is our loss.
from Buenos Aires. He is a travel agent, but one of the best photographers I have come across on my weekly criss crossing of the planet. When he returned from our wine session he was visited by a racoon who came to play in his bathroom and was given chocolates and peanuts as a present. No doubt he arrived in unannounced to me. Good job it was not a bear. The story of the racoon would normally be enough to liven up everyone’s morning but the others had more dramatic tales to tell. Oksana Kocuriene form Lithuania had felt a presence in her room. John Kailath from Kerala had scratch marks where he had been touched when he was taking one of the lodge’s two headed showers. As they recounted their tales the group was spooked. Maybe it was the ghost of a racoon.
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Broome with a view Eoghan Corry in Western Australia Spot the genuine Aussie: The camel was imported to Australia, tour guide Gudibul Butt was refused a passport because he was not Australian enough
o see the best bits of the norhtern outreaches of Western Australia, you need to take to the sky. Our Cesna is waiting for us on a red dirt airfield. Our pilot Yohan Chandiramani completes a runway inspection for animals before we take off for a flight over Cape Leveque and the vast Buccaneer Archipelago. The star attractions are the horizontal falls, water flushing through two narrow inlets as the tide rises and falls with a ferocity that has created headaches for three centuries of sailing vessels. As we fly over the
nude section of Cable Beach the pilot jokes: “we'll get lower next time to get those sweet back packers.” From up here you are reminded that Western Australia is a vast state on a vast sub-continent. At 976,790 sq miles, if it were independent it would be tenth largest country in the world just after Kazakistan.
ur flight to a sheep station turned camel trek centre in Mount Augustus brings us over a different landscape. When the Fitzroy river floods it becomes the sec-
ond largest in the world, 14km wide, so the land is surprisingly green. There I heard about the aborigine who was refused a passport because he was not Australian enough. Gudibul Butt and Bugily Bangu told me how it happened. They planned a big adventure from their Mount Andersen camel tour operation to Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan. They all trundled into Broome post office to apply for their passports, where a stern woman told them that needed birth certs from both their parents. This was a problem,
n Eoghan Corry flew to Australia with Emirates, who fly direct Dublin to Dubai daily 7 days a week and offer 70 onward connections a week to FIVE Australian cities: Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide since Nov 1. www.emirates.com 01-4773256. n Internal flight from Perth to Broome was with Qantas Airways: www.qantas.com.au n Ground arrangements were by Purely Unreal” Kimberley Dreamtime Adventure(+61 8) 447 214 681 www.kimberleydreamtimeadventures.com.au n Broome Sightseeing Tours www.broomesightseeingtours.com (+61 8) 9192 0043 n Matso's Broome Brewer, www.matsosbroomebrewery.com.au (+61 8) 9193 5811 n Acccommodation was at Eco Beach, Broome WA: www.ecobeach.com.au Tel: (+61 8) 9193 8015 n Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa: www.cablebeachclub.com (+61 8) 9192 0400
for many of the group had parents whose births had not had never been registered. “How do I know you are Australian?” she asked the disbelieving group. The matter was revolved just two hours before the flight was about to take off. Casper my camel responds to the lads shouting “husta” in their native language, Nyikina-Mangala, as we weave
through bush tomato plants, waddle, eucalyptus and boab trees. Gudibul (“that’s my blackfellah name, the tourists call me TJ”) feeds him grass along the way. Rob Bamkin runs indigenous tours on behalf of the Jarlmadangah Burru community in Mount Augustus. The place has a dark past. The aboriginal people were worked here in slave like conditions until
The Hoizantal Falls from the air
1967. They received no money, just their food and clothing. A hundred years after slavery as abolished in America it as still extant in Australia. Eventually, when the owners were required to close down they thrashed the place before they went. There is a toilet but when I flush before returning to the airplane I wash down a frog.
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Sunset camel trek on Cable beach
roome, rather app r o p r i a t e l y, sweeps a visitor off their feet. As befits the top westernmost corner town of Australia, nearer to Singapore than to Sydney, it has a strong sense of its own identity, a small town always aware of its precious place in a big world. Precious is not an overstatement, because Broome is a town built on pearls. The most expensive pearls in the world still come from here. Pearl shops line Dampier Terrace, selling their
wares, Linney’s, Kaili’s, Paspalay. The pearling masters who lived here were amongst the richest people in Australia in their time, utilising migrant Japanese and virtually enslaved aborigines for diving duties - pregnant women were preferred because they had extra oxygen in their blood stream. They included Patrick Percy, who committed a murder in Cork as Patrick O’Sullivan before fleeing to the new world and becoming, of all things, a policeman.
Drive a couple of hours in either direction, and you will find more beautiful and even more remote coastland.
ou can smell the silkiness of the ocean” says Edwina Kelsch as we approach Eco beach resort. Eco is an aboriginal word although it might have been dreamed up as part of a modern marketing campaign. The name may have been the inspiration for entrepreneur Karl Plunkett who set up his highend resort here, twice,
after it was blown down by a 300kph cyclone in April 2000. They pride themselves on being eco-friendly down to the shampoo and soap. “You can tell from the smell from the sewerage system when people have brought their own soap in for a big event like a wedding,” Simon Murray, our host tells us. An owl comes to sit on the balcony with a doomed mouse dangling from his beak, the sounds of the waves beyond. Later I float on my back for a long time in the dark bay looking up at the
Southern Cross and the milkspill of unfamiliar stars.
aula O'Brien from Leighlinbridge welcomes us to Cygnet bay Oyster farm. She guides tourists through the facilities and brings them on boat rides across the azure bay. It is an astonishing place where the tide can run at 18 knots as a body of water four times the size of Sydney harbour piles in and out of the bay twice a day. There is just one main road in and out of here,
and 2,600 islands to be explored in one of the emptiest places on the planet. Cable Beach resort lodges have the design and feel of a traditional pearling master quarters with the room in the middle of house to keep cool in summer. From the ocean bar we watch the camels returning from their sunset trek. How do people get here? Fly from Perth or Sydney. They are campaigning to get direct flights from Singapore. Not a moment too soon.
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ry telling an Alaskan that size does not matter. The state is more than twice the size of Texas, 560,000 square miles. On its own it would be the 19th biggest country in the world just behind Iran, twice the size of Turkey, three times the size of Spain, 17 and a half times the size of Ireland. It is also EMPTY, home to less than the population of Dublin. It is a challenge to visit somewhere so big. I had two important pieces of advice to follow. DON’T go by cruise ship. SPEND time inland. A lot of it. I was curious about the first bit. More than half of Alaska’s tourists come on cruise ships, hop off for a shore excursion and are back by sundown. What do they see from the sea? Luxuriant coastlines dropping dramatically to the sea, green Sitka spruce and western hemlock faced off against barren mountain and cake-icing snow capped mountains. Island after island, under the low grey sky. Then, a revelation, the first streaks of blue and the white mountains getting ever whiter.
hen I stopped by at the state c a p i t a l , Juneau, to see its famous (fast retreating) downtown glacier the first of the cruise passengers of the five month season had yet to arrive, the only noise was the rumble of the waterfall, and the bears seemed pleased. “A
Juneau and the paycock Eoghan Corry gets his just desserts in Alaska
Canoes in the midnight sun trip up here puts you in your place pretty fast,” Elizabeth Arnett from the town tourism body said. On one side of the city is the Juneau ice field, a frozen wasteland where hikers can dare, and on the other the largest temperate forest in the world, two thirds the size of Ireland. She pointed a hill that was covering an iceberg hill, the lake where children swim in summer (“kids have no nerve end-
John George tells Juneau’s colourful history
ings.”) The state capital is the city paved with gold. They only got 80pc of the gold out of the quartz in their local low grade mine, local tour operator John George explains. And seeing as the entire town is built on mine filings, the streets ARE paved with gold. And, he adds with that air of triumph, if you see a rainbow up here, there is gold at the end of it. Bears wander into town all the time. I am staying in Linda Wendeborn’s splendid guesthouse opposite the Capital building where I am greeted by Duffy, the friendly Scottie who runs to the window and barks every time a black bear comes into the garden. Bears don’t mess with Duffy the fam-bear slayer, he bit one on the
hind quarters last year. Tourists are told they can pan for gold in the local creek, and sometimes people do get little nuggets from it. But the real gold in Juneau today comes in three varieties, MasterCard, Visa and American Express, and all summer long those nuggets get handed in. Up to 600 cruise ships a season stop by. The busy South Franklin Street, once the red light district, is lined with jewellery shops. Alaska does not produce jewellery, it just sells a lot to day trippers from the cruise ships, scrambling onshore from up to five ships a day which dock or lay in the harbour, racing away to the choice of 42 shore
excursions and back on board for dinner. The jewellery shops then close and wait for the next cruise ship or, in September, for the next season. “The red light district used to be legal,” John George says. “We closed it down in 957 in the hope Congress would be impressed before we got statehood in 1959. Now we know a little more about Congress we think we might have kept it open.”
half day downSitka’s coast, tourist attractions are its hikes and its totem poles. Dave Nevins took me on a hike to Beaver Lake, over the green forest and through the piles of snow where the forest meets a few meadows. Then the Totems. My guide Jolene Nielsen got both her Tlingit name Seik and her English name Jolene from her grandmother. Her surname comes from a Danish fur migrant who married in to the family in the Russian fur trading times. You sense that Alaska’s native Americans, 13 nations of them, have a pride and self esteem that has been drained from their people elsewhere.
he promotional material for my whale watching trip out of Seward warned me to witness the amazing annual migration of California Gray Whales, travelling over 5,000 miles from Baja California to Alaska's Bering Sea. I last saw a distant splashing tail of a grey whale in San Diego in February. Could these be the same whales? The captain on the ship Tim Fleming was a bit of a character. “If you keep your feet on the deck we will return with the number of people we left
with,” he tells his passengers. “This is a non smoking vessel Don’t smoke.” The whale whisperer, as his colleagues call him, brings us out in quest of porpoises and greys and humpbacks. The coolest thing we saw on the trip was two humpbacks in tangent, like synchronised swimmers. It would be a bonus to see an Orca. Everyone’s dream is to see a Blue Whale. Tim has only ever seen one. Anchorage is a lively place with more pubs and restaurants than a Corksized city might suggest it could support. My favourite is the F Street Station bar, where Diane is serving pints of amber to a lively clientele. There is a block of cheese on the counter where customers help themselves. When the local health authorities objected, they put a “for display reasons” only sign atop. It is jumping off point for one of the great tourist experiences, the flight over Mount McKinley. Willis Thayer welcomed me to Rusts; flying service and loaded me on a Cessna 206 where we took off at 140mph to see north America’s highest mountain, McKinley for the Americans or Denali for the native Alaskan people. We flew across Susitna valley and watch the roads and civilization stop and entered the roadless part of the state. Roadless means snowmobiles in winter, one of the unforgettable sights you see the figure skating marks on all the frozen lakes, the tracks caused by snowmobiles, the playground expands when the ground goes white. It is a nice place to take stock of the vastness of Alaska and the mighty Susitna river which drains 8pc of the state. Big and empty.
n Eoghan Corry flew with Alaska to Juneau from Los Angeles. www.alaskaair.com fly to 91 destinations and operate from the Irish gateway of Chicago n He was hosted by the Alaska Division of Tourism www.travelalaska.com
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K sera sera Eoghan Corry brings some local memories to the K Club
here are places to unravel the secrets of the Liffey. All of us have our favourite locations, all have their attractions. You can sit in the morning by the Half Moon looking back at the city, the Ha’penny bridge with its love locks, Islandbridge weir and the boat houses, Lucan’s elegant single span bridge, the capricious artificial lake at Salmon Leap, or all the spots from Clane to Kippure have their
fans. For me, it is at its finest viewed from the corner room of the K Club, a low sun shimmering through the leaves of the north Kildare trees. The K Club as it has been known since 1993, or Straffan House, as it has been since its construction exactly 180 years ago, is enthroned on a small ridge over a mile and a half stretch of the storied river. Here the water is a world apart from the tidal
urban waters of the city, more Anna than Livia, quintessentially bucolic and rural, crisscrossed by period footbridges, dividing into little islands (on one of which is the hallowed 16th green where the Ryder Cup was won in 2006) and tumbling over an angled weir within earshot of the luxury suites, the first spill of the Liffey descent for many a canoeist. Hotel guests have the opportunity to fish here, bream brown trout or salmon in season and have the chef cook their catch for dinner.
the spa in Straffan
ots of hotels claim be part of history but this one is personal. To come to Straffan House is to become part of history. The portraits on the walls give you the flavours, French wine and art collecting entrepreneurs, but the history here is personal. The year 1974 for instance, when I took my first dive off the weir and swam in the deep fresh Liffey, my lungs puffed up with young boy’s pride and the dreams of
making it across the river without surfacing for air like the older lads could do. The K Club was in my neighbourhood. My first visits to the house were in the raucous madness of Kevin McClory’s time when the nearest thing the Ireland of the Cosgrave coalition had to a rat pack hung out there. It gave us the first taste of a world that was more exotic than we were used to. Straffan continued to do that and continues to do that to this day.
o one would have known or imagined it, but that was a foretaste of the scale of the ambition that the visionary Michael Smurfit with that far fetched dream of staging the Ryder Cup, Michael Davern and Audrey Brophy have brought to the faux-French mansion in North Kildare over the past twenty years. No scheme was too great for Straffan to attempt it, no thoughts too exotic. And as times changed, the country’s most ambi-
tious hotel and country club has reinvented itself. The K club had an Easter egg hunt when we visited. There were 50 children staying over. How times have changed. Three years ago a fouryear-old would not be let past the gate. The drawing room with its fabulous chandeliers is set out for a children’s lunch. There are families in the pool. For an extra hundred euro they will give you an adjoining room for the family on one of their special offer breaks. I live two miles from the K Club, but had never stayed there. Easter Thursday sounded like a good idea time to try it.
o know your home territory it is always good to take a look from a different angle. North Kildare is looking its best as we check in. From our turreted corner room the sun was shimmering on the mile and a half stretch of Liffey.
There are miles of woodland walks through the gardens and storied golf courses. Each has a personal memory, if only to remark on how the dilapidated and decayed was restored to such grandeur. Caitríona from Blessington sorted out a series of complicated back knots in the spa and a fillet of seabass with fresh native mussels crayfish artichoke and yellow coconut sauce awaited in the dining room.
ohn Ryan from Thurles, the barman and custodian of the Vintage Crop bar, gave an engaging tour of the house and its artwork. Concierge Brendan Farrell has been here since the hotel opened. Always a good sign. It was a splendid visit, way above expectations, and a revelation of how times have changed in our country and my county. And I was home in a minute and a half.
K Club packages generally start at €285pps for a two night break with one meal. Wedding packages start at €67.50 a plate.
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Gerry O’Hare is cockle shell-shocked by Santiago de Compostela Journey’s end
f you think the word “pilgrimage” is synonymous with pain, hardship, self-denial and darkness, you’ve clearly not thought, or experienced the “Camino del Santiago de Compostela” in Galicia, north-western Spain. Even the singular word “Camino” does not truly describe the experience, because there’s more than
one, and they start off at various points throughout Spain and France. The word “Camino”, however, throughout the world now means Santiago because ALL “Caminos” end in that ancient and dignified city – a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985. Ireland has Croke Patrick – and everyone should do that climb just
THINGS TO DO
n We stayed at the Hotel Virxe da Cerca, located in the heart of the city and occupying a building dating back to the 18th century. It was once a banking house and Jesuit residence. n There are literally hundreds of hotels, hostels and guesthouses in the city to cater for the thousands of pilgrims and other visitors who find Santiago irresistible – whatever the time of year.
once. Santiago is another experience that the religious, and the not-so religious, should try at least once. The 74-metre-high twin towers of the magnificent Cathedral (which were once also used as watchtowers) dominate the city skyline. And inside the Cathedral, the sights are just as compelling.
PLACES TO SEE n A must-visit is the city centre daily covered market “Plaza de Abastos”where fish, meat and vegetables, plus flowers, are in abundance. You will wring your hands that such produce is not available back home. n Outside the market, country-women from the fertile valleys around the city bring in huge panniers of fresh greens, onions and garlic. They also bring in rabbits, chickens and pyramids of different cheeses. n The food in Santiago is fabulous with fish available everywhere, particularly shell fish – very apt when you consider the shells along the pilgrims’ way. Santiago is the capital of Atlantic gastronomy.
erhaps because of the crowds of travel-worn and unwashed pilgrims that have flocked to the Cathedral for centuries, it has a unique feature: the world’s largest incense censer. Weighing some 80 kilos, and swung by eight robust and robed men, the censer is brought out only on special occasions. We were lucky enough to witness it… It hangs from the high ceiling with eight ropes which, at a given signal, are pulled so it sways rhythmically from side to side in a pendulum effect. It swings ever higher and higher, until it almost reaches the roof … Pilgrims are awe struck. Anyone standing in its way would meet
their Maker rather sooner than intended – but check the dates when it’s being used so as not to be disappointed. Visitors can climb to the roof of the Cathedral. The bird’s eye view from the top looking out over the historical squares surrounding the Cathedral, not to mention the outlying hills, is well worth the climb.
he roof-top tour also informs visitors about the Cathedral’s history. The reason it was built to be walked-on was that it was intended as much for defence as for worship. The battlements along its top are another reminder that medieval Spain was torn apart by warring factions. The Cathedral was once even
used for pilgrims to sleep in as well as worship. The Camino is what brings people to Santiago, irrespective of where you start or end. The wellworn path takes you through medieval villages, forests, fields, hills and mountains. All along the way – the “Way of Saint James” – there are ancient shell signs marking the path. Shakespeare and Chaucer speak of pilgrim’s shells. It’s that traditional. There are also hostelries, restaurants and many, many places to eat, sleep and rest as you make your way to Santiago. The views of the Spanish countryside are unimaginable and many miles of the Way are totally inaccessible any other way than by foot.
n Aer Lingus operates a daily afternoon service which takes 95 minutes and has become hugely popular with both Irish pilgrims and other walkers. The airport in Santiago is a mere fifteen minutes away from the city centre.
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sturias is a part of Spain NOBODY goes to. More Irish people go to Santa Ponsa in a week than go to Asturias in a year. It has tourists of course, lots of them, but 92pc of them are Spaniards, understandably slow to tell the rest of the world about their country’s hidden treasure, tucked away in the north west, like Galicia next door but with real mountains. The province has an influential celebrity fan in Woody Allen, who shot parts of Vicky Cristina Barcelona in Avilés and Oviedo. They have celebrated this and his kind quotes about the province. They also have a famous camino path to Santiago. The Irish, to date, have tended to stick to the south on their Caminoquest, through Bourgas and other centres in Castille-Leon. The journey starts well, a lunch stop at an ancient converted convent Hotel Don Paco, swarthy hams and Beronia wine topped off with a blast of Aguardiente de Orujo that would put hairs on a bear’s chest. Bears are a thing around here, one of their last refuges on the mainland. The night stop is in Casona La Paca, a haven amid the greenery. The nearby Casonas se Indanos are worth a visit, mansions of colonial returnees at Nalon, Muro and Somao villages. Dinner consists of what may have been the most deli-
Asturias’ unique pre-Romanesque architecture is exemplified by the church of San Miguel de Lillo
Eoghan Corry goes to the greenest part of Spain cious monkfish I have ever tasted. For a song to end the evening, ask for the anthem, Asturias Patria Queria, sung as passionately as the Banks would be by any Corkperson.
he effervescent Lorena Diaz shows us round the Talasoterapia centre in Gijon, celebrating each feature with an excited smile, guiding us to the dark relaxation pools, hot and cold running treatments, and basins of hungry garra rufa fish to
THINGS TO DO
n Centro de Talasoterapia offers sweater spa sessions and much more. www.talasoponiente.com n Gijon, sea port town on the Cantabrian Coast. The city dates to the 5th century BC and the Roman 1st century BC. It sits on two beaches, check out Cimadevilla the old town. n Oviedo is on the coastal camino, the San Salvador cathedral has gold studded treasures such as the 1000-yearold Cross of the Victory, the days of the reconquista from the Muslims.
nibble dead skin from your toes. Fish pedicure has its tail-fin of controversy but this felt good. At lunch in Sidrearia Tierra Astur restaurant in Gijon we sample 35 of the 40 different types of cheeses found in Asturias. The signature cheese, Cabrales, is matured in a natural cave for three months. Two bites and you KNOW it is worth the trouble. Las Caldas Villa Termal, 8km from Oviedo, is an epic five star with huge rooms, stunning plaster work and gilded mirrors. The hotel was
EAT AND STAY
n Stay at the bucolic garden hotel in Cudillero Hotel Casona de la Paca www.casonadelpaca.com. n Las Caldas Villa Termal a luscious five star waters resort, 8km from Oviedo, dine in the salon de los epejos. n Dine at Casa Chema a short distance from Oviedo www.casachema.com n Dine at Sidreria Tierra Astur to taste the local cider, www.tierra-astur.com n Hotel Don Paco 18th century convent once home to Napoleon’s occupying troops, hotelesmontemar com
converted in 2008, and uses the healing waters of its own thermal spring. Evening ends with a massage, as these things do, muscles melting under the firm grip of a masseuse.
sturias is as far from the laminated menus flaunting €6.99 egg and chips meals as you could dream. Better, Asturias offers the same great wine, frothy local cider, astonishing hams, angula (baby eels plucked from where the river meets the ocean), eccentric spicy sausages, bean-based meals and cheese, all at two thirds of the prices you pay a couple of hours down the motorway. A round of drinks at the little bar down the road costs six euro, Bar Jardin Las Caldas. You would
pay that for a glass of wine on the Costa. The five star is okay but if you want atmosphere, a generous vino tinto and a snack and a chat about local soccer star Juan Mata or Kevin Moran’s days at Sporting Gijon head 50 metres down the road to the corner ristorante.
he price differential applies to everything. Beer is cheaper. Food is cheaper. Golf is cheaper, and they have 18 great courses. Rooms are cheaper in every category, they have 30,700 beds, eight five star, 58 four star and 159 three star. For this you get access to the most Spanish of Spanish provinces, far removed from Flamenco and bull fighting but offering something equally rich, diverse and aston-
ishing and unknown. Apart from the 2,400 Irish who come each year, just 26,000 come from England and 39,000 from France. The shortage of international visitors means fewer people who work in the hospitality sector speak English than in probably any other province except Extremadura. That can be an advantage, of course. Nobody else offers that pre-Romanesque architecture, beautifully high forehead churches that pop up on the side of the mountainy road or even in the suburbs of Oviedo, such as the stunning San Miguel de Lillo and Santa María del Naranco on the Naranco mount. You don’t find the like anywhere else except Asturias.
here is another intriguing identity question about the place and one of particular interest to Ireland. Asturias turned up at this year’s Festival Interceltique as the seventh Celtic nation (Galicia as the eighth). They have their own pipes, and judging by the museum in Teverga, Manuel Fernandez Delgado is their version of Willie Clancy and Diamantina Rodríguez is their Mary O’Hara. We went indoors that day because the rain in Spain falls mainly on the mountains, apparently, rather than the plain. Our cycle trip along a disused colliery railway is cancelled, although Mirte Saskia, a Dutch travel consultant, takes that option through a protected area for bears. ‘What do bears do in the woods?’ She didn’t see anyone to ask. Like Asturias itself, they are there but few take the trouble to see them. Time to change that.
Eoghan Corry was hosted in Asturias by the Spanish Tourist Board and Asturian Regional Tourism. Access is through Santander direct from Dublin or through Madrid to Asturias airport.
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t is no surprise that Spain’s south western coast, the bit on the Portuguese side of the strait, is much more restrained than their Costa Del Sol or Algarve equivalents. Somehow it went undetected during the big rush to the departure gates over recent years. It is a big hit with the Germans and Scandinavians. This year they want to tempt the Irish to come as well. Daniel Navarro explains why they decided to change the branding from Costa de Luz, the old name that has been tried in some Irish brochures such as Topflight’s down the years. The thinking behind Luz made sense: a different light, but it never caught the Irish imagination. So now it’s Huelva. The average of 156 days of sunshine give the area five times more sunny hours than the north of Europe, and the last sunset of Andalucia before Portugal, a factor that helps keep both green fees and hotel prices on Portuguese as well as Spanish price points. Huelva has had good beaches, good golf and the great bars that Irish people love in Spain. Alongside the 16 kilometres of virgin beach there are 80 kilometres of protected coastal area and 60pc of the area is woodland. The extras mean Huelva’s product is less seasonal than the beaches to the east, 65pc of off season clients are foreign. There are 25,800 hotel
Eoghan Corry ponders why Columbus left Huelva
The ravaged landscape of Rio Tinto beds, ensuring the competition to keep prices from spiking too outrageously and a wide choice of hotel type to tempt even the most demanding traveller.
o is he right? Huelva suggests something more than the sunshine. The shrine of El Rocio pops up on satellite channel travel shows often enough to indicate that this is somewhere completely different. It is our first stop, what a sight. Devotional pilgrims at the shrine of El Rocio, praying and lighting candles in a cavern like building that fills
THINGS TO DO
n Donana Natural park, a wildlife habitat with the reputed site of the lost city of Atlantis in the Marisma de Hinojos in the centre of the park, n La Rábida Monaster, Gothic and Moorish revival architecture; their walls are decorated with frescos by the twentieth-century Spanish artist, Daniel Vázquez Diaz.
with eerie sanctified smoke. The village is straight from the wild west, with horse rails outside the taverns and sand in the streets. You can almost hear the Ennio Morricone film score as you walk down the street, except there is a “Dios te salve, María” humming away in the background instead of that Clint Eastwood spaghetti western theme that would go with a town like this. La Rábida monastery does not look like it has changed a bit since Chris Columbus got the nod here to meet the Queen of Spain. You can imagine him sitting a disk here drawing up his sales pitch for his Caribbean cash-
PLACES TO STAY n El Rompido Cartaya 196 rooms all suite hotel with two golf courses weaving their way around the marshlands (marismas) and down the coast. n Hotel Nuevo Portil, splendidly situated golf hotel on a beach facing out on to a lagoon www.nuevoportilgolf.es n There are 11 golf resorts in the Huelva region.
pile. We all learned at school that Christopher thought he was going to India and China and was convinced he had reached it until his deathbed. It is not the full story. Our guide drops a few hints that Columbus was being clever, telling tales to impress the venture capitalists before he could venture on his real mission. Nobody would pay for a voyage to an unknown new continent that held no means of paying back the debt. So he pretended he would get to the spicelands instead. It was a ruse to loosen the purse strings of the Spanish monarchy and pay for his dream. In Galway in 1579 he would have found out about St Brendan. He had access to navigational aides that he was a long way short of China than he pretended. And he was the rocket scientist of his era, the premier navigator
in an age ruled by the culture of caravel. In nearby Palos de la Frontera they have reconstructed the three ships. Visitors are not admitted on rainy days. We had to talk our way in, feeling a bit like Columbus looking for his voyage money. But the argument was worth winning. The ships are the size of a camper vehicle, without ANY of the mod cons, and these guys sailed west into the unknown on THESE?
or more earthy wonders, drive north to peek into the Cave of Wonders in Aracena, imaginatively lit to highlight the colourful ponds beneath the surface. Then a train ride through the sculpted mining scars of the Rio Tinto valley, one of the oldest and best known mines in the world. The Romans left 15m tonnes of slag here and that was before the copper mining started. For years we have been ignoring our main product, golf, Daniel says. ‘That is crazy, especially when you are trying to attract business from Ireland.’ The pool in the sprawling golf resort of El Rompido is bracing and the hospitality is great, a big-ticket lobby, buffet laden with traditional fish and paella dishes and their western cousins, and a bar where the view back on to the greens reminds you of why you came. The main golf hotels are open throughout the year, and the bug commercial golf developments, El Compido, and Elsantila are emphatic that their product is better value than the competition. Green fees on their magnificent courses ranging from €30 to €45. Nor is there a handicap of distance. The most convenient access is through Faro, rather than Malaga.
You can visit replicas of Columbus’ three vessels
n Eoghan Corry travelled to Huelva as a guest of the Spanish and Andalusian Tourist Boards and stayed at El Rompido Cartaya.
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alaysia’s dance of the seven veils has been a joy to behold. In the late 1970s and early 1980s it revealed its beach destinations to Ireland’s growing band of holiday hunters, Penang and half a dozen others whose white sand, palm lined beaches fill our brochures. Then we got interested in the exotic jungles of Sabah and Sarawak, the Borneo provinces – as far from peninsular Malaysia as Poland is from us. Nearly 15,000 Irish people a year now travel to Malaysia. But the one that was most familiar, the stopover destination of Kuala Lumpur, has been overlooked for what it is. Kuala Lumpur barely featured on maps, never mind traveller maps, until the 19th century. When Malacca was a famous destination, Kuala Lumpur was a river swamp, prone to flooding. The last 20 years has seen the rise of a new type of tourist destination, the Asian citybreak. The Asian citybreak was a creation of the stopover requirements of Aussie-bound airlines, but it has now got a life of its own, KL, as they call it, wanted to be top of the market. They built the signature attractions – the KL tower and the Petronas Towers, two of the tallest structures in the world. Tourists like an icon – here they get two of them.
Twin peaks Eoghan Corry walks tall in Kuala Lumpur
Klang (Klang River) were used to derive the name Kuala Lumpur which literally means "muddy estuary" The swamp is buried under a city whose frenzied activity belies the heat, as market stalls mix it with massive shopping centres. The gadgets and computer centre is an attraction in itself. Chinatown, with its fake Rolexes and pirate DVDs is best visited in the dark, when the air is filled with bargains struck and tourists being persuaded to pay five times the going price for everything. Everything needs to be argued, even the top end malls expect you to haggle, about 20pc below the going rate. In Chinatown offer one sixth the price and endure the insults. It is worth it in the end.
Kuala Lumpur’s twin towers
he KL tower comes complete with spectacular views, the revolving restaurant that creates at least one
THINGS TO DO
n Kenko Fish Spa where fish gently nibble at your toes, exfoliating your weary feet. It’s an exotic experience, but perhaps not recommended by podiatrists. n Lake Gardens Park is a green oasis in the city. n Royal Selangor Pewter Factory and Visitor Centre, has been producing world class pewter since 1885. It’s a popular tourist stop, but may not help the luggage weight on the return home.
“where’s my handbag gone” incident every evening - it’s usually on the window sill at the other side of the room by the time you have fin-
PLACES TO SEE
n Petronas Towers are open 6 days a week and offer a tours to the skybridge on floor 41/ 42 and the observation deck on floor 86 in tower 2. Tickets are available from 8:30am n Kuala Lumpur bird park is the world's largest free-flight, walk-in aviary, home to more than 3,000 birds n Aquaria is a world-class aquarium boasting more than 5,000 exhibits of land and aquatic creatures n Menara Kuala Lumpur the world's 7th tallest communication tower
ished the post-dinner Tiger beer). The Towers visit brings you to the viewing deck on the 38th floor between them, giving the viewer a unique feeling of being suspended above with KL spreadeagled below. This is a strange place to have such a built environment. The place is still true to its marshy heritage, and still floods in
monsoon season. The rivers are, by necessity, filled with concrete culverts and drains. The two rivers that gave the city its name are now almost peripheral to the landscape, but they remind us all of their existence every rainy season. Sungai Gombak (previously known as Sungai Lumpur, which means muddy river) and Sungai
he charm of the city is that it is a stopping off point, not just for tourists, but for every aspect of Asian culture, every aspect of the world. It applies to its religion, its culture and most famously to its food, where peninsular Malay cuisine picks up influences from its Indian, Chinese, and European heritage. The Malaysian side cafes are like pubs in rural Ireland, full of character and eccentricities in their own right, staffed and patronized by characters and eccentrics. The conversations are long and unhurried, and the local delicacies are served with pride. The slow-cooked works of art served up by the amazing chef John Locke in Precious restaurant in Chinatown look too handsome to eat, but you will be glad when you do.
n www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my n Malaysian Tourism Board, Level 3 A Shelbourne House, Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge , Dublin 4 Tel: (01) 237 62 43 email@example.com n Flight time from Ireland is 12 hours with Malaysian Airlines (Via London or Amsterdam) www.malaysiaairlines.com, Etihad Airways (Via Abu Dhabi) www.etihadairways.com or Emirates, via Dubai www.emirates.com
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wenty hours on the Qantas A380 top deck to Sydney, then a connection QF757 to Adelaide, and it is all worth it. Adelaide is known as the city of a hundred churches because it was the first colony where settlers were not forced to go to the mandatory Anglican church each week, unlike other parts of Australia. Nowadays, it is also the city of a hundred pubs, where believers come to listen to the good word, the one on the bottle with all the Xs. They even named the street with the trendy watering holes and restaurants Gouger Street. Brendan Behan could not have put it better. If you want to see the grape on the vine you don’t have to go far. Penfold’s winery is out at Magill, eight kilometres from the city to see where Australia’s most famous wine is made. Grange 2005 retails at bout €500 a bottle and was the first attempt to produce a premium wine in Australia, which didn’t have the confidence to go unfortified until the 1950s. Nowadays South Australia is responsible for most of the country’s exports, a miracle considering it is a region known for Riesling and Shiraz, two grapes that a previous generation were considering ditching altogether. After our meal at the
Adelaide of the oddities Eoghan Corry in the city of 100 churches .. and hundreds of other things too
The accommodation that comes with, not just a fire escape, but a complete engine Majestic Roof Garden Hotel myself and Graham Howe, a South African wine writer who has become a genial travelling companion on many continents, work our way through the wine menu and the journey around the region is rewarding.
hiraz is the wine type that rules the Barossa and Clare Valleys outside of Adelaide. Now 95pc of the world’s Shiraz comes from here. “The export market went for fruity flavours of shiraz,” says Jeff Easley, the owner of Tourabout Adelaide who conducts wine tours in the region. “Wine that did not have too much tannin, that could be enjoyed young.” South Australian Shiraz started appearing on Irish shelves in the early 1960s. Now we can’t get enough of it. More bottles of Jacob’s Creek (from Barossa) are consumed in Ireland than
he indigenous tour was not a part of Australian tourism when I first visited this country. It has transformed perception of a land which otherwise has precious little history. In Maitland there is a bar where the whites and blacks are still segregated, in 2010 Australia.
anywhere else. South Australia produces 65pc of the sub-continent’s export wine. It is not the only variety from here but it might be. Jeff’s verdict on the local Pinot Noir: “It is like an Agatha Christie novel, all plums and cherries and pepper.” There are five wine producing areas within easy reach of Adelaide: n Adelaide Hills, n Barossa Valley, n Clare Valley, n McClaren Vale region n Langhrone Creek, To this can be added Coonawara, half way to Melbourne, 4 hours from the city.
On Yorke Peninsula there is an old barn where the aboriginals were huddled. You can still see the holes in the wall where the guns were pointed as King William’s men massacred men, women, children, the lot. Throughout South Australia there are monuments to the perpetrators, none to the victims. An Aussie back in the bar inAdelaide says there is no written evidence of the massacre from white sources, so it never took place. I explain my theory, that this is how a lot of Aussie history works, indeed a lot of world history. Aggressors aren’t good at keeping records of their own atrocities. We agree to differ and have another beer.
n Tynte Street in North Adelaide you can stay in a fire station. Yes, complete with fire brigade intact. It is the idea of a third generation Limerick man, Rodney Twiss and his wife Regina have a range of heritage properties in the lush suburbs, recreating the 1880s in modern Adelaide. Rodney was an antique dealer in a previous life and is putting fun back in to the lives of frequent fliers as hobby hospitality, and furnishes his houses lovingly with artefacts to capture the tone of each residence. It is a far cry from the homogenised world of corporate hotels, right beside the airport.
The old classic Victorian bluestone fire station was bought and restored by Rodney and Regina Twiss in 1998. They refurbished it to offer three accommodation suites to choose from, each with its own ensuite king size spa bathroom, and each decorated with fine antiques and appointments. The Penthouse suite has a seven metre sundeck, an ultra-modern West Australian red jarrah kitchen, Juliette balconies, two squashy leather sofas and a toasty log gas fire. The Loggia has a huge marble two person spa bathroom, and Italianate courtyard decorated with Tuscan hued walls, a lions head cascading fountain and slim pencil pines,. The Fire Engine suite comes complete with a 1942 International Fire Engine, the original fireman hooded lights (creating a wonderful mood) as well as the fire pole with the luxurious fittings and comfort, including a relaxing spa bathroom. The Fire Station Inn is just doors away from cosmopolitan North Adelaide's fabulous restaurants, cafes and trendy hotels.
he city of a hundred churches and pubs is also the city of a hundred restaurants. On O’Connell Street (yes, named after the same man) the mixed platter at Café Mykonos is daunting but duty requires me to work my way through it. South Australians say you can find wine, outback and wildlife, within three hours from Adelaide. Just don’t forget to taste before you go.
n Consumer www.australia.com Trade www.tourism.australia.com n Eoghan Corry flew to Adelaide with Qantas.
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HOLIDAY WORLD SHOW
Fair for the Fares
JAN 25-27 2013 Holiday World 2013 opens in the RDS Simmonscourt
Model Lynn Kelly gets into the escape-it-all spirit at the 2013 Holiday World Show this weekend in the RDS. Over 50,000 people from across the country are expected to use the show as a wonderful opportunity to banish the recession blues and pick up money saving tips for that well earned holiday.
s the holiday business changes rapidly, so does Ireland’s premier travel and holiday fair. This year people are looking for value for money, and there are 1,500 experts all assembled under one roof to tell them how to get it. This year the show has a new dimension. The Over-55s Show gives those with more time on their hands the opportunity to check out hotel-based holidays in Ireland, sun holidays at special sen-
ior rates, cruise bargains, including over 55s only cruises, trekking and walking activity holidays and city breaks. The visitors to the Dublin Holiday World at the RDS this month are more savvy and better prepared customers than previous years. The hunger for information about the 70-odd destinations where Irish people now travel for their holidays has grown with each of the show’s 20 years. “They have access to a great deal of information not just from guide
books and the internet but from word of mouth of their friends and family who have also travelled. They come to the show looking for first hand knowledge,” says Maureen Ledwith, sales director of Holiday World. Three times as many people take a longhaul holiday compared to ten years ago and the cruise sector has grown even faster. Adventure and experience are the themes of this year’s Holiday World Show with a new dedicated adven-
ture travel section. The show is also offering impressive good value. The average holiday is cheaper now than they were twenty years ago, even before you consider inflation. In recent years over 50,000 visitors have attended the exhibition annually; market research indicates that most people go to the Holiday World Show to look for ideas and expert advice from assembled travel professionals.
n Ireland the average person takes 4.8 trips abroad per head. The European average is 1.5. That partly explains why the Holiday World Show has become such a part of our lives. “As fast as the industry changes, the more the benefit of the show,” Edmund Hourican of Business Exhibitions says. “Many more visitors are now using the internet for research before they visit the show. That means they can make better use of their time
when they are here.” Holiday World Show is divided into zones to help information gathering and to help you find experts who answer questions face to face. Exhibitors include tourist boards, tour operators, travel agents, airlines, hotels and their marketing groups, ferries and the fast growing cruise sector. All 32 counties are among home holiday exhibitors. The show is organised on behalf of the Irish Travel Agents Association by Business Exhibitions Ltd.
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HOLIDAY WORLD SHOW
JAN 25-27 2013
WELCOME FROM TRAVEL AGENTS ASSOCIATION
The Low Down
Friday January 25th1.00pm – 7.00pm Saturday January 26th 11.00am – 5.30pm Sunday January 27th 11.00am – 5.30pm Trade Only Friday January 25th 10.00am – 1.00pm How Much: Adults €7 OAPs €4 Students €3 Children Free Family Price: €14 2 Adults & up to 4 children DART: Don't forget that the DART has great family rates on Saturday and Sunday. How Many: 40,000 visitors Who's’ there: 2,000 travel experts from 55 countries, tour operators, travel agents, hotels, national and global tourist organisations, airports, airlines, theme parks, bus, coach, car, rail, camping, travel services, adventure holidays, ferry and cruise companies, caravans and motorhomes, Where From: n Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland n Europe and the Mediterranean n The Caribbean n The Americas n Africa and the Middle East n Asia and the Pacific n Caravans and motorhomes n Adventure Holidays n Tour operators Official Opening: Friday January 25th at 2pm Official opening by Lord Mayor of Dublin www.holidayworldshow.com Website: Over 55s Show: Explore the ENDLESS OPTIONS for Over 55s Hotel-based holidays in Ireland Sun holidays at special senior rates Cruise bargains, including over 55s only cruises Trekking & walking activity holidays City Breaks Belfast January 17-19 2014 Next Year: Dublin January 24-26 2014
elcome to Holiday World 2013 here at the RDS. This is the annual gathering of the world’s best and most appealing destinations brought home right here to your doorstep for you to consider, investigate and then discover for yourselves! After another year of relentless austerity I have seen that people are deciding it is time to get back living again, rather than just existing, and constantly putting ‘Real life’ on hold. Planning for a holiday a cruise or short trip abroad is an essential part of that process for very many of us and Holiday World is the ideal place to gather all of the information you need ... then make life easy for yourself and grab one of the many fantastic value ‘Exclusive Holiday World’ offers available here at the RDS. We extend a very warm welcome to all of our industry partners who join us this weekend from all over the globe. They have travelled here in order to share their intimate knowledge and love for their destination with You, our Hol-
iday World visitor. We do hope you take advantage of their presence to glean as much insider information as you can from the real experts – people who live and breathe their regions and love to share their knowledge with you. The destinations and holidays showcased this weekend are available to book here with your ITAA Travel Agents all of whom are fully licensed and bonded for your protection. ITAA Agents represent a wealth of knowledge, experience and exceptional personal service which is just not available on the Internet. Why not avail of their expertise and book your holiday here, secure in the knowledge that you are getting professional advice, your money is safe and should you need assistance before, during or after your holiday your agent is ready, willing and able to help you? Home holidays are of course also an integral part of Holiday World and our entire island is represented here with a great selection of attractions, holiday ideas and destinations. In this
year of The Gathering why not take the opportunity to share some of the knowledge and ideas available here at Holiday World with your friends and relations abroad and encourage them to visit us during what promises to be an exciting and eventful year in Ireland. Whether you are looking for your ideal Family Holiday, an Exotic Cruise, ‘a long- promised’ Faraway Holiday or information on getaways that will indulge your passions or discover new ones..., be assured you have come to the right place. I do hope you enjoy your time at Holiday World and your 2013 holiday wherever it takes you and if one of our ITAA Travel Professionals can assist you along the way we will be delighted, after all that’s what we’re here for! With all good wishes for a happy and enjoyable 2013 holiday .
Clare Dunne President ITAA
LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU
f you dance with your heart, your feet will follow. Entertainment at the 2013 Holiday World will be provided by Dancerite, the acclaimed theatrical show which is run by Orla and Geraldine O’Hanlon
and based in Rathcoole. It caters for children and teenagers between the ages of 3 and 17, offering an environment where you can learn to dance, meet people of common interest and have fun while you do
so in a friendly and stress free environment. Every two year the Dancerite team offer their students the opportunity to participate in a live performance to showcase their work.
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HOLIDAY WORLD SHOW
JAN 25-27 2013
Passport to 2013 The world under one roof
oliday World provides a unique opportunity for the consumer to meet, network, negotiate, conduct business and stay abreast with the latest developments in the travel industry. If you have a passion for adventure, culture, cruises, city breaks, ecofriendly, beach or safari holidays, or are considering a career break Holiday World 2013 is the ultimate show to get information from some 1,500 travel and tourism professionals who will be ready to give one-to-one advice and information. Over 700 exhibitors representing 70 countries will be available at the show to provide you with face-to-face information on how best to access your dream holiday. The Holiday World Show, now in its 24th year, has become the biggest single event in travel and tourism in Ireland, providing an anticipated 50,000 visitors with the unique opportunity of
meeting with over 1,500 industry professionals for personal advice and information.
taged annually in Dublin under one roof, Holiday World is a must attend travel exhibition for both business and consumer. The show brings together hundreds of exhibitors from all around the world with tour operators, travel agents, hotels, airports, national and international tourism organisations, as well as theme parks, adventure travel, airlines, bus, coach, ferry and cruise companies and more besides. Those seeking the independence of a camping or caravan holiday are also particularly well catered for, with this burgeoning sector very well represented at this year’s event. “Hundreds of special low price deals are available for show visitors for
holidays and short breaks. In addition there are also hundreds of free to enter holiday prize draws throughout the show.” Maureen Ledwith says: “After the economic stresses and strains of the past few years, it’s time everyone turned their attention to planning a well-earned break for 2013. “The Holidayworld Show packs expert advice, special offers, notto-be-missed promotions, entertainment and exclusive competitions all under the one roof for a great value-for-money, family day out.”
and for ideas. They also attend for the opportunity to win one of the many fantastic trips, while at the same time having a good family day out”. “The number and diversity of exhibitors means that visitors are able to gain first hand information to enable them to better plan holidays. In short, visitors to the show will get advice that is not available from any other source,” he concluded. “It is the only place in Ireland that you can meet, and take advice from over 1,500 travel and tourism industry professionals to assist you in planning the
perfect holiday for you and your family. At the Holiday World Show you will literally be able to roam the globe in search of that dream holiday. It may be Aruba, Antigua, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, China, Greece, India, Mauritius, Mexico, Thailand, or the USA. It is the place to find the next hip city break, or best destination in the “new Europe” or a safari, a luxury cruise, beach holiday, ski holiday, home holiday, activity holiday, spa holiday, or a short break. Visitors to the show
will also be able to gain first-hand information on cruise holidays, the fastest growing sector of the Irish travel market. Holiday World Show 2013 will provide the excitement of new places to visit, and others to dream about. Visitors will receive a free catalogue, children have free admission, and there are hundred of chances to win free holidays and short breaks in free to enter prize draws on exhibitors’ stands. All you have to do is visit, and you could win the holiday of your dreams.
dmund Hourican, managing director, Business Exhibitions Ltd., organisers of Holiday World Show said “Our professional market research taken at Holiday World Show indicates that most people go along to the show looking for expert personal advice,
Holiday World’s resident High King Frankie O’Gorman
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Holiday World SHoW
Jan 25-27 2013
Answers to questions The world under one roof
ondering where to find the bargains? There is no shortage of places to look.
FliGHTS: Airlines are doing ‘core free goods’ off-peak promotions for flexible passengers who are then charged for all ancillary services. Ryanair have started running two types of offers, one in which you pay the taxes and one in which they pay the taxes. The ways in which they calculate this are complex, but relate to the number of unfilled seats they have and the mechanics of collecting departure tax. It means that a savvy traveller can travel without paying anything at all. HoTElS: There is one network
which claims to offer a network of completely free hotels, for an annual €40 membership fee. This strategy fills planes and ships. The idea is that it offers 320 hotels where accommodation is free, but guests are required to pay for breakfast and dinner. It involves relatively few restrictions on when and how long you stay. Soon clients will be naming their own price or expecting to have a major slice of the product or service for gratis.
aUCTionS: New pricing models in the travel industry include ‘pay what you want,’ auctions and ‘core free goods.’ Some of the more innovative holiday companies see this as the way forward. It makes sense because these offers give brands the chance to engage with consumers and build loyalty, and occasionally give them an opportunity to shake off some of their competition as well.
CrUiSE: Some cruise lines have worked out that getting a passenger on board means they can make money on onboard spend in the bars and casinos, so they are doing everything they can to sell cruise holidays cheap without destabilising their market. Virtually nobody pays full brochure prices for cruises nowadays, even at peak period. One cruise company has not sold a single cruise at full brochure price for many years. They are offering ‘second passenger travels free deals.’ SUPErSaVEr: Anonymous
hotels invite people to ‘name your own price’ via blind auctions. It is done with flights and car rental, too, and this idea is likely to expand because it allows operators to move stock that would remain unsold if left to traditional booking methods.
SoCial nET: Social networking sites such as couchsurfing.com offer a showcases for ‘no-cost, full-service’ offer. They sometimes even provide free guided tours, leisure activities with their friends and tips on experiencing local life.
UPGradES:. Business class
seat sales depend on the economy being strong. When they lie empty it costs the airline unearned revenue. Some airlines are offering business class upgrades for a few hundred euro. Best of all this tends to happens when business traffic is lightest, the summer, which happens to coincide with the period when leisure traffic is highest.
ToUrS: City tours are geared to generate business for the paid ones and there can be nearly fifty per cent referral rates.
HaGGlinG Haggling with the
hotel for a better price is as old as the hills but is enjoying a revival. Savvy consumers can now use the internet to do their comparative research while watching the pennies, and are more likely to be confident and make a ‘hard sell.’ Pricing flexibility has made life easier.
FrEE is the new cheap. Customers are in the driving seat during these squeezed market times and looking to be given something for nothing as they weigh up their getaway options.
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HOlidAy WORld SHOW
JAn 25-27 2013
Michael O’leary speaking at Holidayworld 2011
oghan Corry’s travel clinics will run over the three days of the Holiday World show in RDS Simmonscourt, Jan 25-27. Experts from around the world will be on hand to answer consumer questions from the floor. Included among the speakers this year will be:
HElEnCAROn: CEO of Falcon Holidays Ireland, CEO of Falcon Holidays in Ireland, Ireland’s largest outbound holiday company, formerly commercial and trading director for Thomson and First Choice Holidays in England with responsibility for in-house and thirdparty trade sales, as well as cruise distribution strategy and commercial relationships. JOHn KinAnE: CEO of
Thomas Cook Ireland, Ireland’s second largest outbound holiday company, associated with the
travel industry in Ireland for more than 20 years.
departure point for a selection of its cruises.
Caribbean, Manager in Ireland of the cruise line which has more than 70pc of the Irish cruise market and has turned cruising from a niche into a core part of our holidays plans. Royal Caribbean have launched the two largest cruise ships in the world and invested heavily in new luxury ships that ply the waters of the med, Caribbean, Baltic, Middle East and Alaska.
wedding planner, whose “best job in the world” promotion in 2010 which earned worldwide publicity. She will talk about wedding and honeymoon options for public, the legal and financial obstacles to look out for and the key answers you need before you plan your wedding or honeymoon abroad.
lORRAinE QUinn of Royal
REBECCA KElly, Develop-
ment Manager of MSC cruises, the Italian cruise line which has become a big favourite of the Irish holiday population.
SOniA liMBRiCK of
Azamara cruises, one of the most luxurious cruise clines in the world which has chosen Dublin as a
ROSiE MElEAdy, the
sell holidays in Spain to the public up to date with the fast changing tourism product in our biggest holiday market, over a million Irish holiday makers go to Spain each year.
expert skier and instructor with the ski club of Ireland who has skied all of the terrain familiar to Irish snowseekers, who will give tips on how to get the best value out of your snow holiday.
AndRE MiGliRiAni sa- ORlA CARROll of fari specialist with
Gohop holidays, South African born expert on the complex business of managing tourism up close with stunning wildlife, who is familiar with the all the options right across Africa.
KATHRyn McdOnnEll of the Spanish tourist board, responsible for keeping the people who
Failte Ireland, who will talk about the new and upgraded attractions on offer to the home holiday maker in 2013.
of Nuevo Mundo, South American specialist with Gohop holidays, on the locations and prices to watch
THE PROGRAMME FRIDAY: 3.0 Forum Travel in 2013: Home and Abroad. 3.30 Dance routine 4.0 Spain 2013 with Kathryn McDonnell 5.0 Cruising with Rebecca Kelly of MSC cruises & Lorraine Quinn of RCL 5.30 Going to India with Raj Sunani SATURDAY 12: Get active in 2013, expert panel. 12.30 Go to Turkey, Discussion with Turkish Airlines and Turkish tourism. 1 Ski and snow with Rosemary Mayruhber 1.30 USA in 2013 expert panel 2.0 Dance performance 2.30pm Safari with Andre Migliarina 3.0 Luxury cruising with Sonia Limbrick od Azamara 3.30 Dance performance 4.0 Weddings & Honeymoons with Rosie Meleady, the wedding planner 4.45 Meet the experts, Helen Caron & John Kinane on the Irish holiday industry. SUNDAY 12.30 Dance performance 1.0 Meet the experts: Australia, Thailand, Action holidays. 1,45 Meet the experts: Travel and health 2.30 Michael Harrington of Nuevo Mundo 3 o’clock dance performance 3.30 Home Holdiay options with Orla Carroll 4.0 Safari with Andre Migliarina 4.45 Meet the experts, open forum on cruise
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Holiday World SHoW
Jan 25-27 2013
Stands to check out you feel like you have been around the world
here are lots of exciting stands to check out at Holiday World 2013.
Each year sees an explosion of new things to do in Abu Dhabi. Etihad is increased capacity again this year, and the Emirate wants Irish people to learn more about what’s at the other end of the journey, They have just signed the contract to build a branch fo the Louvre.
One of Europe’s biggest tourist destinations still has lots of secrets to reveal. Find out about the cycle tracks, the city of Malaga that tourists miss when they turn left at the airport exit, the amazing seafood and spendid historical sites.
BraZil Hosts for
the next World Cup, the next Olympics and new routes through the major European and Middle East hubs have already led to an increase in hol-
iday making to Brazil,.
TThe Caribbean quarter is one of the liveliest at Holiday World. Think of the song.
CHina an exciting place to visit at the best of times, there are new regulations in place this year that allow Irish tourists to visit for 72 hours without requiring a visa.
CrUiSE Agents such as and cruise operators will all be here. Cruise is the fastest growing sector in Irish travel and there will be lots of show only options. dUBroVniK
new arrival at Holiday World 2013, offering a taste of one of the most stunning medieval cities in the world.
Gateway to the east for many of us, they have grown phenomenally in just twelve months. Plane for the future in-
clude a lounge at Dublin airport.
The Baltic country is small, but has four UNESCO world heritage sites, and lively cities with direct flights from Dublin.
Even in recession Malaysia is growing its traffic from Ireland. Find out why at their stand.
laS VEGaS is in the midst of a building boom and still delivering more beds in the middle of a recession which means great prices in an action city. You don\t even need to be a gambler. Go to see all eight Cirque du Soleil performances, and get out of the city, it is surrounded by amazing desert landscape.
of Italy's boot, has lots to offer, exciting hotels and restaurants in caves, ancient towns, deserted beaches and some of the best food on the planet.
As exotic as it gets, it has great connections form Ireland this year, and stunning resorts such as the Banyan tree in Mahé.
countries are building more luxury hotels, Thailand will deliver 16,018 rooms in the coming three years. There is a dizzying range of flight connections from Ireland, including a
new Emirates flight to Phuket.
investment in high-end hotel and spa facilities over the years has been combined with amazing prices as the visitors stayed away over the past two years. Don’t let the opportunity to go there pass you by.
TUrKEy there is
lots of interesting news from Turkish Airlines and the tourist board. Check out the huge number of domestic and international connections on offer from Turkish, exotic Istanbul, and the playground of the south
There is more than 20pc more air capacity to the city that never sleeps for 2013.
PUGlia the heel
Allow time to browse the stands
west coast where the Irish go in their droves. Our visits to Turkey are increasing each year.
USa The launch of
brand USA has brought a sense of unity and purpose to the vast number of competing destinations and cultures on offer. There are 18 flights a day throughout next summer to six different destination cities
don’t miss the series of ADVICE CLINICS over the three days should enable you to find all the answers to those questions that have been keeping you awake
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HOLIDAY WORLD SHOW
Stars of the show
JAN 25-27 2013
Teresa Murphy of Air Fra nce/KLM/Delta and Matthew Davies, Port Director, US Customs Border Protection pictured at Holiday World Dublin
ited Airlines and Tom Yvonne Muldoon of Un Hotel in New York at Travers of the Beacon show. Belfast Holiday World
ams aja Naik of Indian Dre Alice Potts and Padm y lida Ho blin stand at Du on the Incredible India World 2012
Kim Sperry of New Ha mpshire Lakes, Patricia Purdue of Massachusetts, Kathy Murphy of Verm ont Tourism, Nancy Garde lla of Martha's Vineyard, Kathy Scatamacchia of Discover New England
ty nnessey-Niland Depu Beverleigh Fly, John He ne on Yv d an ssy ba Em US Chief of Mission at the rld blin Holiday Wo Muldoon of United at Du
Michael Bowe of Micha el Bowe Travel and Ma rtin Skelly of Navan Tra vel at the ITAA stand at the Holiday World Show
Sandra Corkin of Oasis Travel and Lorraine Quinn of Royal Caribbean at the Belfast Holiday World Show
Richard Greenaway of Mercury Direct, Veronica Calimerri of Malta Tourism and Richard Camber of Belleair Holidays at Belfast Holiday World
Henry Healy, reputedly Barack Obama's eighth cousin with Yvonne Muldoon and Aoife Gregg of United Airlines at the Holiday World Show
Irwin Gill, travel trade support, and Aisling O'C onnell, sales and traffic, Turkish Airlines, at the Holiday World Show in Be lfast
ort Music Festival, Daryl Downey of Westp ent of State at the Departm Michael Ring Minister on d lan Ire ilte Fรก of rroll of Tourism and Orla Ca nd at Holiday World sta d lan Ire er cov Dis the
Peter Ward, Maria Sly e and Wayne Timmons on the Cyprus stand at Ho liday World
tel and the Riverside Park Ho Minister Michael Ring, Matt Corcoran, Elena Ciu- Sharon Carroll of Hotel on ory am of the Lady Greg perceanu of IATA and Jean Maxwell at the ITAA Thecia Birmingh y World lida Ho at tels stand the Great Northern Ho stand at the Holiday World Show
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iversity. We do not know the meaning of the word. Papua New Guinea is a country of 830 languages (in a country with a similar population to our own, 6.4m) and values that were uncorrupted by the colonial bullies that rampaged through each and every one of its neighbours. It is as if the people from Malahide cannot understand the people from Swords. In Madang there are 170 languages in one province. English is spoken by less than 1pc of the population, the street pidgin formulated from the three nearest things they have to a majority language is gaining currency adequate for the bureaucrats to operate. It drags as many of the easiest spellings for common words together as it can, haus for House is a prominent one, and although it utilises words of English, I cannot understand a single sentence when people speak it. But the soul of the people is untouched by such
Thousand Guineas Eoghan Corry in Papua New Guinea Where Robinson Crusoe landed (or at least Pierce Brosnan in the 1994 movie) concerns.When I landed in Madang, my guide Kaut Idel and driver Bugau Damon taught me a few words in the Em dialect of the Darus language. This is important, because the Ea dialect of the Darus language can-
not always understand what the Em dialect speakers are saying. ILUK. I was like a little boy who has learned my first swear-word, launching it at everyone whether they deserve it or not, iluk – for good morning. ILUK. ILUK. ILUK. Everyone smiles and replies, glad I have made the effort until the woman who has come to do the garden arrives with her angry looking machete. She stared back blankly. She doesn’t speak our language, Kaut said.
N Desert island life
obody suspected that, tucked in the folds of those inaccessible mountains under the equator were a million shy people, hidden from the outside world until 1930. Three second generation Kilkennymen, Aus-
THINGS TO DO
PLACES TO SEE
n Mount Hagen Sung Sing held once per year with Unesco support, a great way to see a huge range of diverse cultures in two days. n Mount Willhem, the highest in Papua New Guinea, has an excellent trail that takes hikers to the top, past lakes, waterfalls, moss forests, and the vestiges of a WW2 American aircraft.
n The national museum in Port Moresby has an excellent collection of folk art from all around the country. n Try the excellent black mountain coffee. n Story boards, the local wood carving which sell at reasonable prices
tralian born Mick Leahy and his brothers James and Dan, came up here panning for gold in the 1930s and found a million people here that nobody had heard of. The locals were pretty unique, uncontaminated by contact with the outside world. The Leahy brothers (they pronounced it layhee, which is closer to the Irish language original than the normal English translation) eventually found some gold and started about mining it with the help of the friendly natives who had not a clue what was going on. He gave them a shell for a month’s work, imported from Thursday Island and they were grateful. When the Leahys crossed this path they expected to find the place barren and empty. Instead they found it marked out with well drained gardens of sweet potato. The people who saw them are mostly dead now. But Anis Waka, my driver from Wurup Pogla (“beds verry cheap,” as in merry, the sign outside the local
lodge says) told me about his grandfather. The grandfather who died, aged 101, in 2008, remembers the white men brought salt and tasting it for the first time. He told Anis that the big change in people’s lives was that it made log felling and timber work easier with
the technology they brought, modern axes replaced stone age ones. The piece of technology that impressed them most? The umbrella. In a very monsoony country they were amazed by the umbrella. He was afraid of these white skinned people
n www.papuanewguinea.travel Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, No. 4, 2 Archie Street, London SE1 3JT firstname.lastname@example.org
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Where Robinson Crusoe landed (or at least Pierce Brosnan in the 1994 movie) when first he saw them, but thought they were the sprits of the ancestors. The logic went that when people died at that time, their bodies were burned, they bones were collected and put them in the river. Now a group of white men had arrived with these pans and dirt, they went down to the river and collected river water in the pans. The people thought they might be their ancestors looking for their bones back, not Queensland adventurers looking for gold.
hen my hosts met me in the highlands at Mount Hagen everything had changed except the landscape, a valley was reminiscent of Africa, maybe more Mauritius, with exotic green plants everywhere, bananas,
coffee and carefully irrigated fields. It was supposed to be dry season but it bucketed on me the night I arrived in Mount Haven. The forest chorus line is filled with the Chirrup of grass hoppers as the light tails off. It rises in volume until it drowns out all other sounds, real and imaginary, for this is a land where every room and every hallway is decorated with scary masks . The electricity failed and we had glorious darkness, until the generator kicked in. And the grass hoppers came to full chirrup at the same time as the generator. I spent most of the time eating western food, but after a couple of broad hints, Lawrence Walep and Josephine Leo served me up a traditional dish on Thursday: sweet po-
Eoghan Corry with village elder Simon Lusam and friends in Sokaka village
tato, pumpkin, hibika (spinach), snakebin and yellow fin tuna, not exactly a traditional mumu (where animals are fed out of the same pit as the humans) and no taro, but it hit the spot and was served with the sound of the waves nearby.
t Tokoe I met the village elders in full dress and they told me that their neck decorations indicate their wealth, a bar of wood for every ten pigs. Ten pigs is the bride price for a woman up here. Some of them have many wives. Pigs are important. When something scurries across the road it is usually a dog or a pig and often it is a pig. Everyone eats pork, except the Seventh day Adventists, they eat chicken. They believe that the bad spirits in the water are picked up by pigs. They showed me how the women bury the umbilical cord of a newborn child beside the codlin plant. It delineates the boundaries later if there is a family dispute, the size of the plant also shows whether the child is worthy. You get the impression the Christian layer over the old religion is very thin indeed. As you pass the graveyard each grave is covered by a little
house to house the spirits of the ancestors. There is a cross by the door to keep St Peter happy, but they donâ€™t think they go to the pearly gates straightaway. Rondon Lodge is on a hilltop at some great height, so high that in the evening you watch the white fluffy clouds roll in below your deck like giant cruise ships floating in to the valley, the great cloud of white at one end, streaks of fluffy white at the other, that leave the mountains on the other side visible above and below. It is a floor show, not the skyshow we are used to. The Wahgi River valley is stunning, with high mountains on each side and a big muddy ribbon serving as the river, with women washing clothes
and children diving in the refreshing muddy water.
he country gets fewer tourists than County Carlow. Getting there is not too difficult, with direct flights from Singapore â€“ I came through Sydney with Air Niugini. The isolation made its people resourceful and resilient. As the world gets more boring and homogenised, Papua New Guinea still stands out as an example of a former golden age. It is a modern society where people watch the Rugby League matches from Australia in TV, but when the screen flickers still it is as if nothing has changed. The one success story of Papua New Guinea tourism is its diving. My day snorkelling
was as pleasant as can be imagined, we swam to the island that Robinson Crusoe landed on (or at least Pierce Brosnan when he played Crusoe in the 1994 movie version) and splashed around in the shallows for a couple of hours. In that underwater wonderland there were crabs moving house, fish grazing, large waving anemones. Maybe that is why the tourists like to dive. Sealife is more familiar than the diversity that lies beyond each clearing in the forest, behind every mountain pass. We all talk about how we like to find something new when we travel. In Papua new Guinea we have too much of it to ignore.
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here were many contenders for the best new visitor attraction in Europe last year. Our vote goes to Lisbon. The new Lisboa Story Centre opened in September, located in former government offices at Praça do Comércio where decades of bureaucratic fastidiousness obscured the fact that this was considered among the most majestic squares in the world when the city was rebuilt after the Great Earthquake of 1755, looking out meekly on the capricious Tagos. The bureaucrats have moved out and there has been attempt to introduce a plaza culture to the sense of squandered grandeur. Street chairs from new restaurants spill on to the square, stalls selling the bitter ginjinha cherry liquor, with a statue of King Don José on horseback in the middle of it all, surveying the change with a stern eye. The story centre is designed to shake up the local tourist scene – literally. One of its features is a theatre where the earthquake effect is recreated, while a video shows reenacted scenes of daily life on a panoramic wide screen, until eventually the walls begin to tumble and visitors get a three side video depiction of the monastery of Carmo collapsing on the inhabitants. It is more Doomsday than Disney but it works. As in Belfast, disaster makes for a great visitor experience.
Eoghan Corry finds Lisbon is rocking Exhibits at the new Lisboa story centre
he new Lisboa centre serves as a decent starting point for a walking tour of the city, through Rue Augusta and the Baixa, with its wooden cage like structures, and Rossio square, best seen in the characteristic sunlight. You can take a tram from there to the panoramic views over the city from of St Jorge Castle, Lisbon’s historical top hat. The two latest highlights here on the hilltop are some of the oldest and the newest, Catia David talks us through the prehistoric Moorish homesteads with their internal gardens, neatly excavated
little bit of Ireland is to be found at Lumiar, forgotten and unknown, where you can take the route past the Sporting Lisbon stadium to see the relics of St Brigid. Some disorientated Kildare crusader brought them here in 1587 and they have stayed here ever since.
Brigid’s relics The relics are in a small-undistinguished urn to the left of the altar,
and recreated as they might have been in cantilevered whitewash that hangs over the precious original walls like an apparition, a modern cloud overhanging a prehistoric dream world. They also offer a periscope tour of the city, where in a darkened room visitors watch a mirror reflection of the traffic moving all around the living-breathing city.
isbon is an example of a city that used its Expo experience well. The decayed docklands, so long a repository of acres of
where you can switch on a light bulb to illuminate them. Few people ever ask about her. They take the relics out for a holy procession on February 2nd, not the 1st like at home. Brigit does not have a nameplate or a statue in her honour in the picturesque church. It seems appropriate and wonderfully spiritual.
abandoned military vehicles shipped home from the abandoned empire, was transformed into the new Parque das Nações for Expo 98. Orient Station designed by Santiago Calatrava (of THAT Liffey bridge), a cable car that brings visitors an aerial view of the reborn wasteland which includes Europe’s second largest aquarium, housing 8000 animals and plants from 500 different species it was the largest at the time of Peter Chermayeff’s design. It sits on the Tagus inlet like an oversized life buoy, and signs will direct you through the five oceans,
Antarctic third from the bottom on the right and mind-the-octopus. After dark you don’t have to look far to find something else uniquely Portuguese. Lisbon celebrates its fado music, a musical tradition distilled for touristic purposes into something more like Stockton’s Wing than sean-nós. In Clube de Fado our first encounter was tasteful and haunting, the taste of Cabo Verde soup made from potatoes, onion and olive oil and cabbage chourico washed down with the sounds of “Ay Mouraria” in our ears as we did a quick pub crawl
of the streets around our hotel. “Nostalgia is what is left when all is passed away,” they sang. And it makes sense over a litre of Bocks. An amazing performance by Mafalda Taborda, who starts her recital by launching into Poema Deolinda Maria alongside stunning guitar work by Fernando Silva. The city is currently staging a fado-based musical, Uma Noite em Casa de Amalia. Producer Filipe La Feria greets us to the theatre in a booming voice. We are the only tourists here. There are jokes in Portuguese interspaced with poems and rousing songs. Our hotel is the LX boutique Hotel, perched noisily over one of the two best nightclubs in Lisbon, Music Box (the other is Lux), and within walking distance of everything worth seeing. Our hostess Carmo Botelho starts the tour with a visit to the new Lisboa Story Centre and a cup of ginjinha, the local bitter cherry liquor, from a roadside stall.
reat your palate to a visit to Confeitaria de Belém, where they make 20,000 pastries a followed by a gorgeous pastry covered in cinnamon and icing sugar. Miguel Clarinha tells us the secret Pasteis de Belém recipe is still cherished and preserved by members of his family. They haven’t told him the secret yet, which is worrying. What happens if one of them chokes on a cinnamon fleck?
LISBOA STORY CENTRE
n The revitalised Terreiro do Paço in Praça Do Comercio square has outdoor terraces, restaurants, cafés and a discothèque, a food court, refreshment kiosks, a florist’s, a tourist office and kiosks selling the city’s bitter cherry liquor, ginjinha. n An audio-guide system depicts
scenes from Lisbon history through six themes. Myths and Realities; Global City; All Saints’ Day 1755; Pombal’s Vision, Terreiro do Paço and Virtual Lisboa. n The 1755 earthquake is presented in an immersion experience theatre.
n Aer Lingus flies daily from Dublin to Lisbon and twice weekly from Cork (commencing 1 April). One-way fares start from €49.99. For more information, visit www.aerlingus.com
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hink Portugal and you think “Algarve” (or maybe Lisbon and its coastline) and although they are, without doubt, the country’s top tourism attractions, you could go so much further. Increasingly, visitors to southern Europe are looking for that indefinable moment which they know they will remember forever. The unexpected and unique instant when they suddenly fall in love with the country they are visiting. Which is where the Alentejo region of Portugal comes in with its warm spring sunshine, its wine and incomparable food. The region is almost exactly plumb in the centre of Portugal, on the edges of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park – a vast, mountainous area sculpted during the Ice Age with valleys shaped like horseshoes, polished rocks and glacial lakes. The villages of the area are clustered in the valleys and the economy is based on sheep and goatherding and the manufacture of the local Serra da Estrela cheese with many authentic crafts for sale such as basket work using chestnut and wicker, weaving, embroidered cotton and smoked produce.
lthough there are no bears here anymore, there are wolves – and you would need the appetite of a wolf to enjoy all the ethnic fare available in the local restaurants. If you consider yourself a wine buff and a gastronome, Alentejo is a secret just waiting to be discovered – which it can be, so easily, now Aer Lingus has a Thursday and Tuesday service. The region is almost entirely unknown to Irish travellers although it offers top-class hotels (fancy staying in a restored castle?) stunning
buzz as you sit down to dinner somewhere like The Evora Hotel before an overnight at The Hotel Convento do Espinheiro (which, as its name suggests, is a former monastery now restored to a five star hotel) Next day we visited the picturesque village of Monsaraz, and two more wineries at Adega da Ervideira and Herdado do Esporao, which is reputably the largest vineyard in all of Europe, before moving on to the vineyards of Carmin and a night stopover and dinner at the Hotel da Moura.
A Gerry O’Hare in undiscovered Portugal Alentejo: a different, less commercial Portugal views, quiet roads and gourmet restaurants at affordable prices. Add to that the many wineries where you can savour the region’s many organic and home-grown products, and it’s the stuff of a foodie’s dreams. Ireland is now transformed into a nation of wine drinkers but, while we take almost all our holidays in wine-producing countries, and imbibe the product marvelling at the low cost, our knowledge and confidence in wine is often quite poor. One of the best ways of understanding wine is by visiting vineyards and either getting a tour or simply sampling the wines on offer and learning the differences between the grape varieties. Some countries are better than others for this – in Australia and California the wineries are fully geared up for visits and many have restaurants
and other attractions. European wineries tend to be significantly smaller in scale and there is almost never a charge to taste the wines.
ou will generally be greeted by the owner or a member of the family – often the eldest daughter or the wife of the eldest son. Don't be afraid to ask questions as producers are generally passionate about their subject and are happy to show you around and explain how they make their wine. Co-operatives in Europe are often excellent places to begin your wine tasting adventure as you will not feel the same obligation to buy wine if you dealing with employees rather than family members. The same could be said of large
commercial wineries. If you are travelling by ferry and plan to bring a large quantity of wine home there is no limit on buying alcohol but customs must believe it is for personal consumption so it would be wise to leave the white van at home. So this year if you are holidaying in Portugal, why not take the opportunity to learn a little more about the wine you drink at lunch and remember there is likely to be a vineyard within an hour's drive. Alentejo is dotted with wineries and with castles where you can stay overnight – a legacy of fending-off their neighbours, the Spanish conquistadors.
ithin an hour of arriving at Lisbon airport, you can be enjoying lunch and a wine-tasting at Monte da Ravasqueira – a traditional estate where the local landlord planted his vines as recently as 1990. You can visit the vines, their cork trees, olive trees, bee-hives and also the specialist cattle and horses they breed here. The Adega da Cartuxa was our next stop and here again you will be impressed with the property and enjoy the wine tasting – but a word to the wise. Your hosts everywhere will insist on you sampling everything. So, by evening, there is a certain
fter a lazy breakfast of tropical dishes and cheese we went to the Herdade Grange vineyard. Yet another “must see” before lunch at the Hotel Gale Clube de Campo which (beside the obligatory wine tasting) has a spa if you feel the need to sober up after lunch. We took a jeep ride to Heradade da Malhadinha Nova (a restored, cobblestoned village with tiny houses and a couple of restaurants) similar to the village at Bunratty for an evening meal and stayed overnight at Herdade da Malhadinha Nova. Finally, and our last vineyard was and lunch was at Heradade dos grous and a city tour of Beja.. Our final night was yet another imposing castle the Pousada Estremoz, a royal palace from the 12th century. The accommodation was definitely fit for a king or a queen. In four days we had visited and stayed at the premium vineyards and impressive accommodation before the journey home to Ireland. Dare I say it. We were well fortified...
n Aer Lingus flies daily from Dublin to Lisbon and twice weekly from Cork (commencing 1 April). One-way fares start from €49.99. For more information, visit www.aerlingus.com n Hotel Convento do Espinheiro. email@example.com, Horta da Moura:firstname.lastname@example.org Herdade da Malhadinha, Pousada Don Alfonso.
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y cheetah purred.
I thought it was growling at first. But it was definitely a purr. I stroked behind its ears. I tickled under its chin. And then with its rasping tongue it licked my arm, and licked, and licked. “That is how it tenderises its meat,” the handler Dumisani Ncube said with a great guffaw which sounded like it was at my expense, an in-joke between him and the spotted one. I didn’t just handle the cheetah, I handled a caracal as well, stroking behind its lynx like ears, reminding me of my cat at home. The claws were ferocious. This smallish animal jumps on an impala’s neck, wraps its claws round the jugular while simultaneously ripping out the stomach with hits hind legs, and then tucking in on the carcass while it is still half alive. Here it was stretched on the ground while I petted it. There is a thin dividing line between so-called wildlife "sanctuaries", reserves and zoos. How did a ferocious wildcat predator end up in what is effectively a petting zoo? The theory behind the Wild Cat Project is that
Eoghan Corry finds new friends in KZN Who is the real cheater? damaged animals will be nursed back to health and sent back to the wild. They haven’t released any cheetahs, but they have released eight servals, seven caracals and two wild cats. The animals are given Disney-
names (mine was Moya) as part of the deal. It’s what these places do to generate funds to keep their projects going. There is a big debate about using wild animal for entertainment - and very critical conserva-
tionist opinions on elephant-back safaris, close encounters with wildlife (especially endangered species). There are good examples of cheetah conservation at Samara game reserve in Eastern Cape
and the cheetah breeding centre at Wilgespurit. The concept takes all the wildness out of wildlife - they become petting zoos. But I LOVED cuddling my cheetah. I felt subversive, at one with wildest Africa and at one with the Pharaohs who thought cuddling cheetahs was something spiritual or immortal.
Ask about the selephant who once sat on a safari vehicle in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi
he first challenge of visiting Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is pronouncing the name. It is a contender for the most unpronounceable tourist attraction on the planet, more like shlushlewy, with a very light emphasis on the L. Our base was Hluhluwe river lodge, a family owned lodge perched on a ridge over the river valley, a shadow of its former self thanks to eight years of drought. Cyclonic rain in February
and March failed to solve the problem. We meet some black rhino almost as soon as we embark on our first game drive and ascend the low hills look back on the world’s very first wildlife park – five years ahead of Yellowstone, our guide Garth Larrett declares proudly. “Do you know the mating call of a hippo?” Garth asks, “me neither.” Garth entangles us in acacia bushes when he goes offroad. Hluhluwe is rhino central. The animal is under real pressure from a new poaching epidemic (200 lost so far this year, up to six a day) as rhino horn fetches a higher price than gold. “Saving private rhino” is the one of the most clever names of one of the projects to prevent this happening. The rooms are plush self-contained buildings with fetching gecko droppings on the sheets. There is a small and deep pool in the centre of
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The rhino is among the most under pressure animals in Africa the lawn and picking your way back from the bar or the pool at night time it is natural for every log or leaf to take on an a mysterious life of its own. Someone spotted a python coming through the lodge grounds day before we arrived. The daughter of the owner fears for her hens (three of them were lost to a genet, while Sprinkles the chicken was taken by an eagle). “It is not the snake bite that kills you it’s the venom,” Garth Larrett says with that sort of “it’s not the fall that kills you it’s the sudden stop at the end” style of logic. “There is no such thing as a poisonous snakes, just venomous snakes.”
ryan Olver trains many of the guides who do game drives in private lodges all over Africa and he is an amazing game drive companion. He wears his knowledge lightly and reveals the background details of the
animals like a fairground card-player. Hippos might not be truly vegetarian after all. The story about how black and white rhino got their names might be wrong. The leguaan, the Nile water monitor eats more animals than the crocodile. A thought from Bryan Olver: the impala is the world’s most successful mammal. All the young arrive together, flooding the predator market, and the dominant male gets booted off the harem when he gets out of condition. The impala are everywhere, the McDonalds of the bush, lots of them, everyone east them, very tasty and they even have an M on their backside for good measure. The best way to see animals is from the back of one. One of the things about being from Ireland is that you are always given the crankiest horse when you do one of those horse riding experiences. At Hluhluwe River Lodge adventures they
threaten me with a retired racehorse called Danzig Lane. Instead I get Spike, a feisty eleven year old polo pony with a mind of his own and no second or third gears. Elmarie Larrett (“us Free State chicks don’t take any nonsense”) warns us about hippos in the reeds as we descend to the lake.
n route to a local school Garth tells us that the goats we encounter on the road are known as Zululand speed control. At Phumalani School, the children sang a song which had the chorus Limpopo. What do they need? Toilets that work, says Martin Verbeek, who owns another sustainable tourism lodge, the Wildebeest Eco Lodge. The vice principal Thobile Ngobese, her English name is Angel, talked about more playing space. The teachers Thandi Buthelezi, Thandi Mkwanazi and Nomathemba Ngcobo don’t mind tourists coming to gawk
at their kids, especially as they bring money to the school. Later we go to a Zulu homestead to participate in some magical rituals. Our sangoma promises not to tell our fortunes but instead summons the ancestors to wish us well amid much angst-ridden chanting.
hinda Mountain Lodge won’t let guests lock their doors. Our hostess Tammy Vermaak explains why. There are no
uch of South Africa’s safari product is a fraud. The private reserves that most tourists visit in South Africa are effectively safari parks, farmland that was allowed to regenerate. Carnivores and herbivores are kept apart by fences. It works for them, it works for the animals, and it works for the country.
fences around the Lodge, so you might need somewhere to run if you meet a predator on the lodge grounds. They aren’t joking. In 1994 one of the guests slipped away from the dinner table to fetch her jumper and was eaten by a lioness. Nowadays they get a guard to accompany you back to your lodge after dark. They had a hyena call last week, today a nyala stopped by to drink at swimming pool, and there is a rainbow skink in my own personal plunge pool as the sun descended over
the valley and the cicada chime ushered in the African night. The ecotourism group @beyond like to style their dining areas by the Zulu traditional fiesta term Boma, part of their mission to pay homage to local culture. We dine on warthog in the boma at Phinda Mountain Lodge, with sand at our feet and glowing flames in the centre of the faux-tent structure. It is very wildboar in taste, like gamey pork and I try to get the Disney cartoon out of my head.
Even the big national parks have managed populations, not that it matters to most of the tourists who come through with their checklist. The dilemma of letting camera laden tourists trample through fragile environments to see real wildlife is solved with the flick of a switch. Other countries, those to the north and east, call it credit card Africa, where the wine list is as
important as the game viewing options. But they miss the point. When you go to South Africa you stay in that Euro-American comfort zone that most of us do not wish to leave. We want our animals in a reasonably natural condition, up close and personal. A cheetah that purrs? It is not as nature intended. But the alternative may be worse.
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ou could call it a camino to the Calima. Irish people have long fallen in love with the Calima, the warm sandy breeze that blows from the Sahara that blows to Gran Canaria and is responsible for those famous Maspalomas sand dunes. On EI 782 en route to the sun and over the last St Patrick’s Day I met some of them, people who have returned to the same group of resorts for three decades. On St Patrick’s Day in Playa des Ingles (it had an air of Playa des Irlandeses for the day) we were guests of Victor Auz, a gracious lawyer who serves as consul general of Ireland on the island, for St Patrick’s day. The day was marked with a message from Michael D Higgins and one of the sweetest prize giving ceremonies I have ever attended, “for being nice people” to Rita and Jack Costigan, Connie Scanlan and Laly Lozano Martel, a Canarian with the most extraordinary Limerick accent acquired after years of dealing with Irish clients for Corona, Stein and Sunway. It wasn’t the biggest Patrick’s day party I have ever attended, but it might be the most pleasant. As night fell a Thin Lizzy cover group gave it socks in a stage outside Mulligan’s Pub. They should give more of those nice person awards.
Eoghan Corry in Gran Canaria The famous inland craters: one of the enduring attractions of Gran Canaria
C is the second most popular Canary after Lanza. Every year 90,000 visitors from Ireland trundle to this island alone, as many as Greece. What brings them? Urs Rohrig hosts many of them at the Hotel Marina Suites in Puerto Rico. He knows what his Irish guests like. The Irish spend more money on holiday than any other nation, he says.
THE LOW DOWN
n There are seven Canary islands in all, the big four, La Gomera, La Palma, Hierro and six islets of which the only inhabited one is La Graciosa n Tourism fashioned Gran Canaria from the moment the first Swedish charters in the 1960s and now of the Canaries total of 12m some 4m come to GC, 4m Germans, 3.5m English, 3.5m Scandinavians, 500,000 Danes, then Dutch, Irish and French. n Emmett’s Irish liquor is made from Canary bananas and exported back to the Canaries
Get it right, get the crispy bacon in the right place at the breakfast buffet, the conviviality in the bar, the pace of life just at the right pitch, and they keep coming back. Marina Suites, and a few other local hotels is one of the reasons why Puerto Rico is our second most popular resort on Gran Canaria - I retell the story of a travel agent who once sent someone to the wrong Puerto Rico .
n Sam Stephenson designed some of the avant garde apartment buildings in Puerto Rico. n The far western show Sioux City is a popular excursion at a faux American desert film set built for the 1975 Lee van Cleef movie Take a Hard Ride, with a classic rope and knife act and the Leha family show. www.siouxcity.es n Gloria Palace Thalasso & Resort hotel (www.gloriapalaceth.com). Take time to enjoy the thalasso therapy facilities, the pools and the sun.
ctivities and variety can do it as well. Some of these are water based, cruises along the shoreline and some exhilarating paragliding out of Mogán, described in the brochures as a fishing village but it is tourists that are baited and reeled in here nowadays. Mogán is the only town where tourists can get married on Gran Canaria. A trek inland can be just as exciting and surprising. A drive up to the 16km wide crater that dominates Gran Canaria. Travel a few kilometres away from the shore and you find yourself in little villages where mass tourism is far behind, At Fataga you can stop and sample the ancient atmosphere, at Guayadeque Ravine you can do a light
hike, at Cueva Bermeja in the Tagoror Restaurant you can lunch in a real cave in, at the poetic picture postcard village of Aguimes you can, well, write poetry, or just take an expresso and sit in the street and try to imagine what Hemingway or Charlie Donnelly might say about it. The most iconic feature is not faraway at all, it is just outside our hotel, the dunes at Maspalomas, a tidy slice of Sahara sand hills misplaced here by the ocean current system and the wind. They are the island’s most accessible natural attraction, and like all of nature’s beauties in a mass tourism age, under threat. An unexpected hazard is the nudist area on the way. Not glamorous at
all, unless crinkly Germans are your taste.
he capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, capital of the island of Gran Canaria, is situated on the north-eastern vertex of the island where a small peninsula sticks out into the sea. It is a five euro, one hour daytrip into the country’s past. The centre of the city is divided by the old Guiniguada Gully where a little Seville colony was established after the five year battle for the island. Triana, the oldest neighbourhood, even looks like Seville. This is where Francisco Franco planned his war, was transported by an English sympathiser Webb who took him to Morocco. The clock is even left stopped at 17 July 1936 in the 18 room boutique Hotel Madrid. In the San Juan district where the houses are painted, as fishermen do, in the colour of their boats.
otel Palm Beach in Maspalomas was my home for five nights. It is a six floor hotel with the most amazing retro bar, a splendid path to a splashy beach double-dip beach. Two pools and a breakfast buffet designed for every nationality (you can always tell that Germans come in numbers when the buffet is stacked with jugs of tomato juice). I like to sleep with my balcony door open and the sound of the waves filtering through. There is nothing more conducive to a night’s sleep than the sound of the ocean outside. They tell me one client once complained about the sound of the waves. They said they would switch it off.
n Aer Lingus flies three times weekly to Gran Canaria throughout the year on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. EI 783 from Gran Canaria departs at tea-time leaving time for a last day at the resort or some shopping.
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ourism in Barcelona is thriving. Vast queues snake along the sides of Antoni Gaudí 's still unfinished Basilica de la Sagrada familia masterpiece, waiting for the surprises inside. Over in the Barri Gotic, it’s shoulder to shoulder at peak times as a medley of languages hit your ears, tourists rambling in and out of the boutique shops, exploring the narrow streets with their Roman and medieval building in the old heart of the city. Las Ramblas, a long series of shopping streets, is also packed with tourists and atmosphere. Nip in to the Mercat de Sant Josep; the enclosed market is a feast for senses of smell, sight and taste, a hall full of jamon, the superlative Spanish dried ham, cheeses of improbable shapes and sizes, fish far fresher and more interesting than typically seen on an Irish fish stall, and a delectable array of fruit in peak condition, again something seldom seen on Irish shop shelves.
arcelona province tourism interests are anxious to steer some of the business the city finds so easy to attract out to the rest of the province, which they think has at least as much again to offer. Irish tourists know about the sun and sand product, so local tourism interests are keen to open their eyes to the
tect is Antoni Gaudí. A visit to Colonia Guell, another 17 minute train ride from Barcelona, offers the rare treat to see a Gaudí building that, for me, is even more magical than the better-known Sagrada Familia.
Barcelona and more
Ida Milne finds out why travelling out from Barca opens a whole new world Passeig de la Rambla in Badalona province’s architectural riches. The public transport network aides their cause. It’s cheap and efficient. The Barcelona metro L2 (purple line) will bring you to Badalona in 30 minutes for two euro, or the Rodalia commuter train will get you there in 20 minutes, to the beach and the historical and commercial centre. There you’ll find a recently redeveloped Roman museum located on the site of the city of Baetulo. It’s one of those rare museums designed by people who know how
to entertain even the whingiest pre-teen. The experience brings you through pathways raised over the dug-out Roman ruins, with soundtracks leading your imagination into the ancient streets. Barking dogs, bleating sheep, the chime of goat bells, the sounds of the communal baths, the sounds of workers, brings the exhibition to life. For €3.60 return, you can get from Barcelona city to the seaside resorts of Sitges and Canet del Mar. Both have a formidable
PLACES TO STAY n The Hotel Estela in Sitges (www.hotelestela.com): located almost on the beach, nine bedrooms are covered in fantastic creations by artists - mine had walls dripping in paint blood. n The Cal Ruget Biohotel in Penedès (calrugetbiohtel.com)has magnificent views of the mountains of Montserrat. A typical masia or farmhouse, the property has its own vineyard, organic garden and a pleasure garden with a pool and bar. The property offers lots of corners de-
signed to relax and enjoy unparalleled peace of mind. Run by Veronica Grimal and Florian Porsche, who worked in the hotel industry before setting up their dream enterprise, using fair trade local produce. Their friend Paddy Mannion, with Clare connections, helped entertain us. n The Hotel Colón Thalasso Termal, Plaza de les Barques, Caldes d'Estrac www.hotelcolon.net/web/ct/index.php offers a wonderful spa and a swimming pool with heated sea water.
range of attractions, apart from the Mediterranean coast and sunshine. With an array of pretty half moon beaches, old whitewashed fishermen’s houses, meandering narrow streets and a slightly Bohemian atmosphere, Sitges is a lively town which remains a popular destination for rich Catalunyans on holidays. Picasso and his set frequented it in the late 19th century. It’s now popular with gay tourists - the rainbow flag can often be seen outside nightclubs and bars.
n the town’s Mercat Vell (old market) there’s a new permanent exhibition explaining the history of Bacardi rum, Casa Bacardi. It takes visitors through the story of the local residents who moved to Santiago de Cuba in search of their fortunes, in the process creating one of the world’s most famous brands. At the end of the tour, visitors get to try
their hand at making mojitos under the guidance of expert bartenders. The secret? Slap the mint between your palms to release the flavour. Canet del Mar, less of a party town than Sitges, is worth viewing for its unique modernist architecture – local architect Lluís Doménech i Montaner used the town as a laboratory for his development of the Catalan modernist style, a search for a particular national style for Catalonia drawing on Medieval and Arab styles, characterized by the predominance of the curve over the straight line, by rich decoration and detail, by the frequent use of vegetal and other organic motifs, the taste for asymmetry. The former home of modernist architect Lluís Doménech i Montaner and his family has been turned into a museum explaining the finer points of his designs. Today, the best-known Catalan modernist archi-
eacting to social conflicts in factories in Barcelona city, in 1890 Eusebi Guell set up a new ideal textile factory complex. It was in a rural area, in a colony with good housing conditions for the workers, hospital, shops, schools and day-care facilities. The colony was designed by various modernist architects, and Gaudí was commissioned to build the church. Like Sagrada familia, the church has never been completed, only the crypt was finished. It’s incredibly beautiful, and is regarded as a culminating point in the architect’s work as most of his advanced architectural ideas were introduced for the first time, the hyperbolic paraboloid shape of the outside walls, the fluid treatment of the interior and the blending of the building into the environment. He used controversial materials – burnt ceramic bricks of irregular shape and size mingle with basalt and limestone, smelting slag, glass and different types of mortar. In the hands of a lesser talent, the work would have been a shambolic mess, but in these gifted hands it’s a building of rare beauty, mingling energy, colour and serenity. Some of the ideas and decorations echo those used in his later design for the rather larger Sagrada Familia project. Beautiful conch shells encased in wrought iron stands form the holy water fonts and baptismal fonts, an idea also used in the Barcelona basilica.
Ida Milne travelled to Barcelona province courtesy of the Spanish Tourism Office.
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ake the ferry to France, turn right and you will feel at home instantly. The stone walls, the roadsigns, the Ty Failtiud outside the little crossroad taverns, give this place a Connemara with cider feel. Oscar Wilde, the ship not the writer, brought us here to Roscoff, the smaller and prettier of the French ports served from Ireland. The range of cabin options is probably the big selling point on the Oscar Wilde, giving it more a feel of a cruise ship than a ferry as does the excellent dinner in the Berneval (is the Berneval the only restaurant in the world named after a stonemason?), where the food is up to the standard of Alexandre de Berneval’s other creations. Interestingly, if you have a family you don’t save much money by going to the Left Bank buffet. Oscar is pretty close to full capacity, 1250 on board can (the ship can hold 1600) but there are still late deals. One of my fellow passengers got a late sailing with a cabin for €350. That beats Ryanair. Roscoff is a town worthy of a visit on its own and I love the drive on the D58 down through Morlaix, smaller and occas i o n a l l y stuck-behind-a-truck more frustrating than the E03 and A84 highway link from Cherbourg to the coast. Our family have been doing this since the days you had to drive through the entangled town centres of Coutances and Granville. When bound for Cherbourg, our arrival-day ritual always involves a visit to Mont St Michel. This year we stop by the Cairn de Barnenez instead. Most of the stones were taken away for building as late as the
The ordered lines of megaliths in Carnac have a theory for every stone
Speared by Brittany
Eoghan Corry finds Carnac rocks 1950s and had to be replaced. It offers an intimate encounter with ancient Brittany, and does not require you to park miles away and be bussed to the main site, as Mont St Michel has done since last summer.
he drive is across country through the Parc d’Armorique. Our stop for lunch for four in Huelgoat costs €36. I love this country, but sometimes I wish that my entire vocabulary in French was not learned from Inspector Clousseau movies. One of the joys of a holiday in France is shopping in their amazing supermarkets. Monsieur Le Clerc’s hypermarché supplies us with our groceries. Shampoo which costs €6 at home was on sale for €2.49. Nutella which costs €12.20 at home cost €4.40. Fresh green beans cost 29 cent. It is nearly worth coming to do the weekly shop-
ping. Canvas Holidays have our accommodation ready, microwaves and barbecues are pretty much standard as these things go nowadays. The river flows by, there is Breton cider in the fridge, Calvados and Bordeaux on the shelf, and Nuadhán is in his heaven. Oddly Brittany is the hottest part of France when we arrive for our annual family holiday, 33 degrees. It sometimes happens.
n to the banks of the River Ellé in South Brittany we found Ty Nadan, presumably Tigh Nuadháin or Tigh Neamhain to us, a sort of Ticknevin Co Kildare in the sun. Just three hours from the ferry you feel the little cluster of villages around Ty Nadan are in deepest France. On our meals in La Casa on Rue General de Gaulle in
Plouay, and Grignotiere on Rue de Bourgneuf in Quimplerlé, we are the only tourists in restaurants crowded with French. The Grignotiere has five pages of a menu offering amazing local crepes, Think of a flavour and it is there (I have chestnut on mine). They even have Breton kir with cidre instead of white wine. The sign said not to swim, but I pretend my French is not up to reading it before a plunge in the whirlpool under Les Roches du Diable. The water is warmer than I expected but the currents a little more capricious than I anticipated and the act of getting out on slippery rocks a little more difficult than I expected.
The countryside abounds with classic Breton stunning but unostentatious country churches such as chapelle St Catherine de Bonigeard According to the celebrated Barzaz Breiz, an Irish saint Guénolé did a deal with the devil to build a bridge if he got custody of the first soul that crossed it. Guénolé sent across a squirrel, and the devil plunged into the whirlpool and waits there for the chance to snatch another soul. Nobody, apparently consulted the squirrel in this adventure.
he first marché of the visit and the first supermarket of the visit remind me why we come every year. There is a culture of caring about food in an almost spiritual way. There is a peculiarly French way that people here focus on the quality of life. It is a joy to sample it for a few weeks every year. Thursday’s marché is in nearby La Trinité sur Mer, where we dine in a busy seafood restaurant, Le Quaie. We then eat
pistachio ice cream on the sea front with a forest of sailing masts ahead of us in the bay. The drive along Quiberon peninsula opens up a new type of landscape, a sort of Breton camping theme park filled with Dutch, Germans, English and Irish and the occasional French to break up the traffic. Carnac is a pleasant town of two halves, the medieval centre and the 1903 resort built on the old salt flats. The seaside area has been overtaken by the sort of development that we saw in Gorey, Bundoran and a dozen other Irish seaside towns. The coastal drive has been turned into a successions of rondpoints and chicanes. The beaches are crowded and devoid of atmosphere until you approach La Trinite and there at the end of Chemin des Douaniers you have one of those distinctively Bre-
n Ty Nadan and Grand Metairie are among the handpicked sites for camping in France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Holland offer by Canvas Holidays. Canvas provides self-catering accommodation to suit all budgets, offering flexibility on dates, duration and travel arrangements. n Irish Ferries cruise ferry ‘Oscar Wilde’ which operates services from Rosslare to Cherbourg and Roscoff year-round. www.irishferries.com 0818 300 400
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DESTINATION FRANCE ton vantage points that survive through boom and bust. France has had 17 of those since the revolution. We are worried about ours.
nd stones. Lots of them. Carnac in Brittany has a backdrop straight out of those Asterix cartoons the French teacher was always trying to get us to read. Around Carnac there are several thousand in carefully stones arranged lines, spreading out across the hills and slopes. Tourists arrive every day wondering what they mean. There is only one way to answer that: shrug the shoulders. They are so old, nobody knows. For my part I think it is an elaborate calendar predicting the end of the world. I told an English bus tourist that, and he
Shoes off at the beach of Ly Guard, La Trinite Sur Mer loved it. La Grande Metairie is a gargantuan campsite beside the menhirs of Carnac. It is pretty easy to find, head for the thousand standing stones in formations at Kemario, turn left at the old mill and you are – back in Ireland. Lots of Irish have been coming here since it
opened in 1969, when it as the one of the first campsites to respond to Georges Pilliet’s call to chateau owners to open up- as campsites, but it didn’t prepare me for the scale of the invasion, and the car registrations I was to find here. The signature is the petting farm of goats that are housed near the pool.
Like most sites the activities have expanded and the site of teenagers ziplining across the campus is now normal. There are 2,500 people on site and one fifth of them are from Ireland. My regular morning plunge here is off a marina in St Philibert. The sea is relatively stormy this week, and it is excit-
ing to swim through the sealife along the shore and back to the beach, then departing home to La Grande Metairie campsite, stopping for one of those amazing French loaves, and have breakfast ready for the sleepy teenagers in my mobile home and my gracious mother-in-law, who has come along for the occasion. Each morning the conversation is the same. Why can’t we make bread like the French do?
he drive north to Cherbourg, a big shop in Auchan (the range and price of the cheese is enough to make a grown man cry, and that is before you reach the wine section), and we are on the ferry by 5pm. It is a bumpier crossing than the journey out, but I sleep through most of it, in a state of exhaustion.
BE ON YOUR TOES! BOOK FRANCE 2013
Get ready, get set, go to France next Summer with Irish Ferries. Book now for your preferred dates and sailings, and pay only €100 deposit. Then you can put your feet up. We’ll also give you a return trip to Britain, absolutely free!
Book now at irishferries.com or call 0818 300 400 Book now and pay only €100 deposit on your 2013 trip to France. Book with a €100 deposit a minimum of 43 days before travel, for travel from 27 Feb - 20 Dec 2013; ﬁnal balance payable 42 days before departure. Complete a return trip to France on the Oscar Wilde between 1st June 2013 and return by 31st August 2013 and you can qualify for a free trip to Britain.
With one break. I always love to wander round the decks in the middle of the night on the crossing from France. It is one of the great travel experiences. They now have free wi-fi on the Oscar Wilde but it gets a bit clunky so the best time to douse is 4am. We dock at 11 and the drive home is a happy one. Time to unload all that wine. My daughters have been going to France on their holidays since before they could walk. We have sampled over 60 campsites in all corners of the vast country as the sites graduated from splash pools to archery and zip lines and as the French campsite product evolved and improved. They are young ladies now, but still want to go back to a campsite in France. Says a lot.
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nlike other nations, the eastern Alps are the favourite playground of the Irish snow-goers. We tend to cluster in half a dozen Austrian resorts, the local hostelries as familiar as any in Bishopstown or Balbriggan. So it seemed like a good idea to kick off the 2013 ski season with three resorts in three days. Even in the peepand-flee world of travel journalism, its seemed a lot to ask. Saalbach, Zell an Zee and Bad Gastein are the Riviera of the Irish ski market,Saalbach and Zell Am Zee are an hour apart and Bad Gastein a further 40 minutes further.
he warm winter of 2007-8 led to Saalbach investing Eu1.8m in snow machines. “No matter what happens we can now guarantee good skiing,” skischule director Hans Hinterholzer says. You get the impression that Saalbach is in control of its own destiny. The investment is provided by 12 local investors from the town’s hotels. Over by the Spielberghaus they offer tobogganing down the slopes. Karin Pasterer from the tourist board accompanied us around Saalbach,
Eoghan Corry tries three Austrian resorts
Sallbach offers 138km of groomed slopes and ski instructor Kostadinovic Nemanja brought us into the icingcake Kohlmaiskopf, the most spectacular of the 180 km on offer, served by 60 lifts. At Christmas and midterm they can bring 70,000 people on to this mountain with new fast lifts bringing them from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. Notably the dreaded drag lift on the lower slopes has been replaced by a proper gondola two years ago. Soon the t-bar will be as extinct as T-Rex here around. The region offers summer skiing at the Kaprun glacier but as Kostadinovic says, “it is not fun in winter.” At Bobbie's pub there is an Irish rugby jersey on the wall. They
like the Irish skiers who come in large numbers to the town.
ell am Zee is a smaller resort, with just 8,000 beds but comes with a star attraction, a lake that freezes from mid January to the end of February. It is also accessible by railway, with the Salzburg to Innsbruck line running through the heart of the town. The rail journey form Salzburg takes and hour and 15 minutes. The slopes here offer 138km of good skiing served by 53 lifts but this will be dwarfed by the prospect of a direct link to Saalbach planned for three years time, putting this up with the big linked ski areas such as Four
LOW DOWN ABOUT HIGH PLACES n The lift pass for Saalbach Ski Circus costs €220 in high season for adults. n Ski and Boot Hire costs €99 and Ski School well worth the investment regardless of your standard €172. n With Topflight, a week’s holiday in Saalbach costs from €749 including Topflight Aer Lingus charter to Salzburg, transfers, and Half Board accommodation as well as rep services and full luggage allowances. n The Lift Pass for Zell am See costs €216. Standard Boots and Skis cost €129 and Ski School costs €170 for 5 days tuition. n With Topflight, a week’s holiday in Zell am See-Kaprun costs from €589 including Topflight Aer Lingus charter to Salzburg, transfers, and B&B accommodation as well as rep services and full luggage allowances.
n A six day lift pass to the Gastein Valley costs €218 in high season. Standard skis and boots cost €129 and ski school costs €178. n A week’s accommodation in Gastein costs from €599 in the Mondi Bellevue Apartments with Wellness Centre including Topflight Aer Lingus Charter, transfers, accommodation, and rep services, including full luggage allowance. n Tobogganing is one of the fun things to do un Saalbach. It is usually made more enjoyable by a visit to a mountain hut before the journey starts. n Zell am See is located on the lake and has ice skating, curling, sleigh rides, tubing, and ice hockey. Great bars include the Diele and Crazy Daisy Bars as well as Flanagans Irish Bar.
Valleys, Les Trois Vallées, Espace Killy, Skiwelt, Paradiski, and Grandvalira. The nightlife is lively. The town has an Irish pub, O’Flanagans is the Irish pub and terrific evening dining at the famed Crazy Daisy restaurant. We adjourned afterwards for beers and bop in the Dillie, floods of dry ice spewing form the walls to interrupt the talk of the white stuff. To discover one of three real treasures of the Eastern Alps you have to head uphill. Christian Schatzer runs Pinzgauer Hutte on a mountain spur, looking down on the valley. After lunch he will arrange to have you brought up by skidoo, a reindeer sleigh in reverse with the cart dragging skiers stopping each time a snowboarder comes undone. It is fun. The dining on the mountain is proudly local, offering the delicacies such as Tiroler Grostl and Kaiser Schmarm alongside Anglophone imports. On the ski down I met an amazing 72-year-old, Joaquim Temmel from Linz, who spends a week here each year.
He doesn’t do wimpish tings like use the lift. He walks up the mountain and skies back down, often off piste. This year he is mourning for his dog who used to accompany him on these adventures. Sometimes he would ski waist deep as the dog pranced up and down through the powder “like a dolphin.”
ad Gastein, as indicated by the name, was a spa town long before ski became popular and carries all the bow-tie grandeur that its status can bestow. It has a tuxedo casino (bring your passport or you won’t get in), a signature midtown waterfall whose sound thunders down the main street, and a famously lively bar, the Silver Bullet, well known to Irish repeat Gasteiners. It fits the brochures neatly because it has more accommodation when you count the three towns, 7,000 beds in Bad Hofgastein, 5,000 in Bad Gastein and 2,500 in Dorfgastein. Both Bad Hofgastein (Alpentherme Gastein) and Bad Gastein (the Felsemtherme) have large communal spas with fit-
ness centres, massage treatment rooms and multiple pools, including unisex saunas where nudity is mandatory. The best restaurant in the valley is a short drive out of town. At Bertahof restaurant we tasted the local delicacies, trout, chicken stuffed with reindeer, and a delicately prepared heifer thyroid. If the slopes have chilled you, you can warm up among the thigh slappers at the Hirschenhutte where Astrid Schafflinger the waitress promised our vegetarian colleague a surprise. The dinner show is pricey but the communal dance afterwards gets everyone on their feet, amid much ringing of cowbells and toasts in Swedish. It was going to be all uphill after that. It was windy when we reached the Stubnerkogel joint ski area, gondolas swinging in the breeze as we ascended 2200m to the top in seven and a half minutes. Bad Gastein and Bad Hofgastein offer access to 200kms of ski slope. Hans Naglmayr, who plays the long wooden Alpine horn in his spare time, was our guide and lunched in Schlossam restaurant on the mountain where we ate noodle soup, Kaiser Schnitzel and baked potato, a signed photo of racer Johann Grugger on the wall. Hans is a park ranger by summer who has seen the snowline rise in his short lifetime. When the talk turns to global warming he declares, “it is twelve, not a minute before twelve, the time has come.” After three of these resorts you understand why these things matter.
n Topflight www.topflight.ie 01 2401700 is a wholly Irish owned and has been voted Ireland’s leading ski tour operator at the Irish Travel Industry Awards. n The ski season continues right up to Easter which is on March 31st this year. n Topflight uses Salzburg Airport as its gateway to all its ski resorts in Austria including the resorts of Saalbach, Zell am See-Kaprun and The Gastein Valley. n The best value for ski holidays is always in mid January, but the longer days of spring – with sunny days on the slopes – are a great alternative in March.
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p is the word. has Andorra grown up, which is an achievement considering the top of Croagh Patrick is lower than the lowest point in the little principality. The principality made its name as a playground for beginners after the first ski lifts opened in 1957, became all trendy when the Grandvalira was created in 2004 opening up 193km of piste, and then became a tad too expensive for the Irish who looked east to Austria, Italy and Bulgaria instead. For 2012-3 Andorra is back. Prices have been reined in and the season is looking good. Better hotels and spas have been thrown alongside shopping into Andorra’s box.
here were blue skies above when we reach Les Escaldes and the Hotel Prisma near Andorra la Vella, an unusually urban setting for a ski experience. The town got its name from the numerous hot springs and we are here to
taking the James Bond cable car over to Pal and throwing another snowball at the Spanish border.
Exploring Andorra Children under 11 get free lift passes in selected Andorran resorts
Eoghan Corry skis like a prince in the principality sample the Caldea, a space age wellness centre near the little river. It is the reason to stay a few kilometres from the slopes, One nearby sixkilometre gondola run can get you up the mountains in 14 minutes. Entry to Caldea is €39 to use the pools, €59 in-
THINGS TO DO
n Soldeu has over 200kms of piste is an excellent resort for all levels of skiers with some challenging red and black runs, as well as cruising reds. Topflight would recommend the Sports Village complex ski in and gondola within the complex, or the Piolets Park Hotel, as well as other budget price accommodation. Après ski activities include husky dog rides, skidooing etc. as well as the usual après ski for singles. Lift Pass for Grandvalira costs €189, children under 11 get FREE lift pass when one adult pre books. First Time Ski pack €275 n Prices at the 4 Star Sport Hotel from €799pps, Sport Hotel Villages from €1049pps, Piolets Hotel from €799pps and Hotel Piolets Park from €829 pps prices are based on March departures when snow is always good days are longer and sun is usually shining n Arinsal has 63kms of piste in the VallNord sector of Arinsal. The lift pass for the area can be used for Arcalis as well, reachable by free ski bus. Arinsal is a very good value resort,
cluding treatments, offering five storeys of pools, treatment rooms, and saunas. There is a free bus from Arinsal for people staying on that side of the mountain and shops stay open until 8 o’clock at night, with great duty free prices. It comes complete with
great for families as well as singles, and better for beginners and lower intermediates. n Lift Pass €148 children under 11 get FREE lift pass when one adult pre books. n First time ski pack €239 to include 6 days ski and boot hire, 5 days ski school and 6 day lift pass n Prices at the 4 Star St Gothard Hotel from €479pps price includes flights, accommodation and transfers and half board free ski bus into Andorra la Vella for shopping and Caldea wellness and live entertainment 6 days per week n Entry to Caldea is €39. entry to wellness extra facilities is €59 and watch out for special offer packages including massage etc. n A big plus for Andorra is its capital Andorra la Vella and its 3kms of shopping including well known shops such as Mango, Bershka and Zara all offering low prices, as well as ski gear, electrics, and low low drinks prices, especially for quality brands.
a bizarre grapefruit pool, a small swimming pool with grapefruits bobbing around in the dark, something to help your skin, apparently. It doesn’t work. I tried.
oldeu is a good place to measure how far Andorra has come from the ‘bargains and beginners’ place it used to be. A morning on the slopes shows what a good job they have done. As we lap up the kilometres around the resort there are some challenges and a few icy wobbly bits (Soldeu ain’t drowning in snow, like Ischgl is this week) but the scenery makes it all worthwhile. A line of Andorran kindergartners parade by in little suits with magnets on their back, to hold them on the ski lift. One day a week they get up the mountain to ski. What an education.
An Irish ski instructress. Lesley Boyd from Dundrum spends her winter here, and is one of the best tutors in the resort. You can ski down to the little village of Pas de la Casa, throw a snowball into France and take the lift back up again, rattling along at the regulation 2.4 metres per second as the scenery unfolds around. Not to be outdone, Noemi Roguera and Aina Perez brought us on an amazing tour of Arinsal,
ndorra’s big drawback used to be the transfer time, but the French have shaved an hour off the transfer time to Toulouse with the grandiosely named European Route E09. Barcelona has three direct flights a day from Dublin but Toulouse is a better transfer option. Unless something gets lodged in the bridge at Prat de la Plau. But you don’t get to visit a mountain principality without having to go up the mountain.
travel insurance glitch was solved last season. Andorra is outside the EU, so travel insurance claims used to take time while to get processed. The ski resorts have decided to offer their own, at 3.20 a day, or 45 for the season. It means no paperwork when you present with that sprained wrist, and they will have you strapped and back on the slopes straightaway. Andorra won’t ever be Espace Killy but it has infinitely cheaper wine and better shopping.
Spend a day-ah at the Caldea
Eoghan Corry travelled to Andorra with Topflight, Ireland’s leading ski tour operator, supported by Ski Andorra and Aer Lingus. Topflight operates an Aer Lingus Charter programme to Andorra for the full ski season, from Dublin to Toulouse and from Cork to Barcelona on Aer Lingus scheduled flights. All flights operate on a Sunday to Sunday basis. See www.topflight.ie (telephone 01 2401700) Aer Lingus schedule is on www.aerlingus.com
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THE FLYING COLUMN
Aviation with Gerry O’Hare
AER LINGUS is to provide customers on its European network with in-cabin internet access from mid-2013. It will provide services via the KA-SAT satellite operated by Eutelsat Communications. JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV is also involved. The service will be implemented on a phased basis throughout the fleet. Aer Lingus already signed a deal to bring internet access to its long-haul flights early in the New Year.
IBERIA EXPRESS will double capacity on Dublin-Madrid June 29-July 31, flying twice daily at 12.05 and 18.20, increasing from 9 to 14 weekly. In August it will operate 10 weekly, up from 8 in 2012 and remain daily for other months. DUBLIN AIRPORT reports 10m passengers to/from Europe in 2012 (+2pc) 6.9m to Britain (-1pc), 1.6m trans-Atlantic (+5pc), 480,000 Middle East and North Africa (+84pc) domestic 63,000 ( down 49pc). Terminal 1 was used by 10.3m passenegrs and Temrinal 2 by 8.8m.
BEIJING The site for the new 28.7sq km nine runway US$112bn Beijing Airport has been selected for Daxing district. It is scheduled for completion between 2017 and 2018. FASTJET has bought collapsed South
African budget airline 1time for one rand.
HEATHROW Airport has confirmed
that the new Terminal 2 will be home to STAR Alliance, Aer Lingus flights and Virgin Atlantic’s domestic routes when it opens in 2014.
AER LINGUS has reported that the four Heathrow routes are among the 10 most profitable routes in its network, which spans more than 100 routes.
SHANNON Airport’s new management should review the high costs associated with the airport’s designation as a diversion airport for mechanical and medical emergencies over the North Atlantic, a government task force has recommended. RYANAIR Girona routes to Bologna,
Fez, Nador and Turin will be transferred to Barcelona in summer 2013.
AER LINGUS says that the four
Heathrow routes are among the 10 most profitable routes in its network of 00 routes.
ENGLAND’s CAA responded to a complaint by Aer Lingus about landing charges for small aircraft, finding that while Heathrow’s landing charges discriminate by not reflecting that it is cheaper to handle smaller aircraft, they are not unreasonable as, given Heathrow’s constrained runway capacity, they incentivise best use of scarce capacity. DUBLIN AIRPORT’s Twitter ac-
count has been named Best Airport Twitter Feed in the Moodies,
RYANAIR is to launch a Dublin-Jerez route for summer 2013.
SHANNON airport reported 1.45m passengers in 2012 and target of 1.7m in 2013.
Flybe’s future could be secured by Ryanair’s takeover bid for Aer Lingus
Flybe in the frame
English regional airline eyes up cross-channel routes
lybe has offered to operate flights for three years on 20 routes where Ryanair and Aer Lingus currently both have services, a move that could secure the future of the airline. The largest English regional airline has made the offer to facilitate Ryanair’s takeover bid for Aer Lingus. Without Flybe’s offer, the combined Ryanair-Aer Lingus would be in a monopoly or dominant position on those 20 routes. Flybe has issued four profit warn-
ings since its 2010 flotation. British Airways is offering to take responsibility for some of Aer Lingus’s services out of Heathrow for at least three years. The moves by British Airways and Flybe are a core part of a remedies package that Ryanair has submitted to the European Commission, to try to persuade Brussels to approve the takeover bid. British Airways would run these services for between three and five years.
After that it would have the right to buy the Irish flag carrier’s Heathrow slots and reallocate them to different destinations, such as New York. British Airways would be able to purchase up to 20 pairs of slots for daily flights that are held by Aer Lingus at the airport. International Airlines Group, parent of British Airways, say they have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Ryanair which is subject to EU approval and IAG board approval.
AIRLINES NOW LIABLEFOR 3 HOUR DELAYS
udges in European courts have been interpreting EU261 liability so compensation is now payable for a delay of three hours, rather than five as was the case under February 2005 legislation. Originally passengers whose flights were delayed could expect to be
given meals and accommodation only, as opposed to those whose flights were cancelled. A court case in 2009 held that any delay over three hours qualifies for the same payments as a cancelled flight. Late last year, the verdict was confirmed. Delays of three hours
that are not excused on the grounds of ‘exceptional circumstances’ such as weather or tech faults invite the passenger to demand a cash payment of €250 for flights of up to 1,500km, €400 for a flight between 1,500 and 3,500km and €600 for above 3,500km.
Waiting for EU261
CITYJET KEEPS FLEET IN AF PLAN
ityJet is projected to have 26 aircraft in summer 2014, according to the latest investor plans from Air France/KLM. Air France’s mediumhaul fleet is to be reduced from 146 aircraft in Sum-
mer 2012 to 127 in summer 2014. The airline says this can be done without loss of capacity due to flexibility and utilisation. The Regional fleet is to be reduced from 150 aircraft to 118. KLM fleet wil be unchanged.
The Transavia France fleet is to grow from 8 in 2012 to 20 aircraft by 2016 for leisure routes. Air France-KLM says its Transformation Plan should enable it to generate, in 2015, an operating margin of 6 to 8pc, compa-
rable to its peers. Operations will be reduced by 34 aircraft to allow medium haul to break even in 2014. Medium haul is 38pc of Air France revenue and 31pc of KLM and is vital for longhaul feed.
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THE FLYING COLUMN
Aviation with Gerry O’Hare
Back to growth
Dublin sees new services and capacity for 2013
EU-wide secondary trading of slots by air-
lines has been approved by the European Parliament, a step proposed a year ago by the European Commission. The assembly rejected a separate proposal to raise the use-it-or-lose-it slot obligation form 80pc to 85pc. The EU wants to end an opt-out on a 1996 law which allows EU nations to limit competition to two suppliers in four handling areas: baggage, ramp, fuel and freight or mail.
will pull out of its routes from Cork to Warsaw and Wroclaw in Poland and Vilnius in Lithuania from 13 January. It will continue to operate services from Cork to Gdansk, Poznan and Katowice in Poland. Wizz Air Corporate Communications Manager, Daniel de Carvalho, once European Communications Manager for Ryanair, has written to the newspapers, claiming the closures were seasonal factors and unconnected with the launch of similar services by Ryanair in November.
Emirates over 220,000 passenger con-
Delta’s 767 service to JFK will see three extra flights this summer (inset) business class on Delta’s 767
welve airlines have announced increased capacity and new routes for the summer. It is the first sign that the decline of 15-20pc in air capacity has stabilised and may be about to change. After last year’s growth in Middle Eastern service, the biggest growth area for 2013 has been in North American and Scandinavian services: n Aer Lingus is increasing frequency on Dublin-Boston and Dublin-Chicago and will increase Dublin-Orlando to three weekly. Aer Lingus is launching weekly to Corfu on March 13. n Air Moldova which is to increase its Dublin–Frankfurt–Chisinau A320 weekly service to twice weekly from June 19 to Sept 4, an extension of 8 extra weeks using an E-190 instead of A320, 58 extra seats per week. n Air Canada which resumes its seasonal service two weeks earlier
than last year on May 18. n American Airlines is to operate Dublin to JFK daily at 9am using a 2-class B757 from June 12. n Delta is increasing Dublin-JFK from seven to ten weekly, using a 767-300ER instead of a 757, June 17 to August 28. Flights will be at 11.20 and 14.50, return flights from JFK at 19.20 and 21.25. n Etihad is to increase capacity on six of its 10 weekly Dublin-Abu Dhabi morning flights from A330200 (262 seats) to B777-300 (412 seats) aircraft from July 1 from A330-200 (262 seats) to B777-300 (412 seats) from July 1. n Minoan is to fly to Oxford 12 times weekly increased from daily. n Norwegian is to fly twice weekly from Dublin to Helsinki April 14October 26, although there is a chance this will remain year round. n Ryanair is to launch twice weekly
from its base in Zadar from summer 2013. n SAS is increasing capacity and will fly 26 non stop flights a week gtp, Dublin to Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. n Smartwings is to fly Dublin to Prague from June 3 to September 23 using a B737-800. n Turkish is to increase its DublinIstanbul from seven to ten weekly in March. n US Airways is to upgrade its Dublin-Philadelphia service to a daily B767-200ER from a daily B757 on March 22. There will be extra weekly charter flights to Corfu, Palma, Faro and Lanzarote as well as the new two weekly service to Tenerife. Sunway’s Agadir operation resumes in summer after two seasons when it was just a winter service.
TURKISH PLANS 300 DESTINATIONS BY 2015
urkish Airlines now flies to 214 destinations in 94 countries. The airline increased its Dublin frequencies from seven to ten in 2012 and is planning to go double daily, depending on aircraft availability. CEO Temel Kotil says that 300 destinations by
2015 “will be the absolute limit. More will be not possible. We will also increase frequencies throughout our network.” He expects to add 20 to 25 new destinations per year, including Havana and Mexico City. The carrier is considering more long-haul
routes, which could include destinations like Bogota or Panama City. New destinations already announced include Buenos Aires (Argentina), Sebha (Libya), Niamey (Niger), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Yaounde and Douala (Cameroon) as well Isfahan (Iran).
nections in its first year on the Dublin Dubai route. It carried over 10,000 tonnes of freight in and out of Ireland. The freight included Botox for Australia, live crab to China, family pets to Australia and New Zealand and Irish potatoes to Dubai.
BA is now code-sharing with Flybe/Loganair on Donegal Carrickfin-Dublin.
AER LINGUS has one extra daily Amsterdam service in 2013, up from seven daily to eight daily.
RYANAIR has been designated as the
Irish carrier on Dublin-St Petersburg. A curious new ryanair.ru website is reading as “under development.”
AER LINGUS is offering a premium Premier Class seat, without Premier Class service, is offered on a selection of Aer Lingus European flights according to the web-site, suggesting that their A330s will be used on some Dublin-Malaga flights.
AUSTRALIA’s Competition and Consumer Commission has authorised an alliance between Qantas and Emirates for a period of five years. The federal government, the state governments of Victoria and Queensland, Australian Tourism Export Council and the National Tourism Alliance have all supported the application, which will effectively turn Dubai into the gateway to Australia, an unofficial position formerly held by Singapore. DELTA is to buy Singapore Airlines' 49pc
stake in Virgin Atlantic for $360m. Benefits for passengers will include shared access to Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse airport lounges for elite passengers. The airlines have agreed a transatlantic joint venture with the British carrier on routes between Britain and North America. The pair plan to cooperate on services between New York and London, with a total of nine daily round-trip flights from London Heathrow to JFK and Newark. Singapore paid $950m for this stake in 1999.
Turkish CEO Temel Kotil
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KNOCK airport passenger numbers were up 5pc to 685,000 in 2012. New Ryanair routes to Spain, Germany, France and Italy helped contribute to the increase, with the airport now serving 25 international destinations.
RYANAIR have struck a deal of €49.99 per seat for bureaucrats during Ireland’s presidency of the EU. Other services include a presidency helpline open 15 hours a day, 30 days ‘credit’ terms, free flight changes, and assistance desks at Dublin and Brussels Charleroi. AER LINGUS reported that its oper-
ating profit of €90.9m, passenger revenue up 5.5pc, yield per passenger up 7.2pc, long haul yields up 11.5pc.
EMIRATES will offer better connections from Ireland from March 31, with a fifth daily service to Bangkok departing Dubai 0340 and arriving 1300.
CAPA Centre for Aviation says that Emirates is now within touching distance of becoming biggest airline in the world rated by available seat kilometres (ASK), Turkish is one of the fastest growing with ASK up 24pc. EMIRATES has launched the first A380 concourse in the world, at Dubai International Airport.
AIR FRANCE is to launch its low cost operation ‘mini’ to 58 domestic destinations, with a €15 charge for checked baggage, fares from €49 one-way, and no seat selection.
CITYJET's Dublin-Pau flight has gone from summer 2013 schedules. Air Baltic's summer schedule flights to Vilnius are still under negotiation. Baltic have stated their intention to withdraw the route.
POWERSCOURT Ritz Carlton hotel in Wicklow is to host CAPA’s second CEO conference, ‘Airlines in Transition’ on April 11-12. The conference will be over two days and feature approximately 20-30 CEO speakers of full service and low-cost airlines.
AIR CANADA’s Dublin-Toronto service resumes two weeks earlier than last year on May 18 and operates five weekly before daily service from May 28. Air Canada will keep their one remaining larger B763 on the route six weekly with business class on offer once weekly.
AIRFREIGHT capacity from Irish airports fell by 50pc between 2007 and 2011, according to John Whelan, chief executive of the Irish Exporters Association. The IEA has published recommendations to reverse this trend with support from DAA, the Mid-West Regional Authority (MWRA), Shannon Development and Bombardier. It finds that airfreight capacity (non-stop and multi-stop routings) leaving Irish airports amounted to 207,730 tonnes in 2007, but that this had fallen to 105,077 tonnes by 2011.‘ DAA says that online pre-booking services at its car parks represent 70pc of parking sold to customers each year, one of the top four such operators in Europe.
Terminal 4 in JFK: Aer Lingus will be moving to Terminal 5 to join Jetblue this year
More seats to USA
Capacity increases from trans-Atlantic airlines
ach of the airlines operating trans-Atlantic routes from Ireland has announced an increase in capacity for 2013. Shannon airport’s transatlantic passenger numbers will increase by 22pc this year according to the chair of the new Shannon Airport Authority, Rosie Hynes. Aer Lingus now has direct nonstop competition to New York from the three major US airlines and from the three global alliances. Dublin Airport will have 12 daily scheduled flights to nine different US airports. Aer Lingus is increasing frequency on Dublin-Boston and Dublin-Chicago and will increase Dublin-Orlando to three weekly. Delta is increasing the Dublin-JFK service from 7 to 10 weekly and introducing more capacity on the nor-
mal daily service, with three flights using a 226 seat aircraft in a 26-200 configuration rather than the current 208 seat B767-300 in a 36-172 configuration. Dublin-JFK flights take off at 11.20 and land at 13.50 daily and the new afternoon flight on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays takes off at 14.50 and lands at 17.15. The return flight takes off from JFK at 19.30 and lands at 07.25 while the second flight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays takes off from JFK at 21.30 and lands at 9.30. American Airlines’ previously announced daily Dublin-JFK service will probably be year round. It will use a 2-class B757 from June 12. The flight will leave Dublin at 9am making it the first service to leave Dublin for New York each day. United to
Newark is also scheduled at 0900. Air Canada’s Dublin-Toronto service resumes two weeks earlier than last year on May 18 and operates five weekly before daily service from May 28. Air Canada will keep their one remaining larger B763 on the route six weekly with business class once weekly. US Airways will operate Shannon to Philadelphia daily from May 22 to early September, using a B757. United Airlines are to fly Shannon to Chicago five times a week on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday June 6-August 28 at 11.00am. Delta Air Lines has confirmed that its seasonal flight between Shannon Airport and JFK will recommence on May 11, using a B757-200 aircraft with 170 seats.
2012 WAS SAFEST YEAR IN AIR
he International Air Transport Association said 2012 was the safest year on record, without a single crash on modern western aircraft for any of its members, which comprise the world's 240 leading airlines. It claimed that, statistically, a passenger could travel for 14,000 years
without being in a crash. The Air Safety Network also claimed 2012 had the fewest number of passenger flight accidents (11) since 1945. Worldwide fatal airliner (12 or more passengers) accidents totalled 23, resulting in 511 fatalities, including 36 killed on the ground.
By the IATA definition of "western-built jet hullloss accidents" – or one where a modern aircraft is written off – the industry rate was at a new low of just one significant incident per 5.3m flights. Including all aircraft in service, the global rate is one crash per 470,000 flights. Günther Matschnigg,
IATA's senior vice president for safety, operations and infrastructure, said: "It's an incredibly safe industry, the safest way to travel – but we still need to make it safer." He called for a rigorous safety audit programme for Africa, the only region where the air accident rate had worsened.
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THE FLYING COLUMN
Aviation with Gerry O’Hare EMIRATES has launched its first com-
mercial flight from Dubai to Phuket, Margaret Shannon told the travel press at a dinner to celebrate Emirates' first year in business in Ireland. She reported on an excellent year's start-up business out of Dublin for the airline, one of the most positive of the new routes they have opened in the last year.
BA has announced that its B787 Dreamliner will not have first class, 214 passengers in 3525-154 (3:3:3) configuration. BA’s A380s will have 469 seats, 14 first, 97 business, 55 premium economy and 303 economy.
DUBLIN is among top five transfer mar-
kets to Islamabad, Karachi and Lagos through Turkish airlines Istanbul hub, figures leaked to Ralph Anker of anna.aero reveal.
RYANAIR have announced a weekly Knock-Malaga for summer 2013.
Leo Varadkar: Aviation developments in Irish EU presidency may see agreement with Russia
Russia a priority
EU transport ministers move to curb ME expansion
urope’s transport ministers have implemented a series of proposals which could make growth by Gulf carriers in European markets more difficult and might also affect US airlines in Chapter 11. The council of ministers asked the EU Commission to n reach comprehensive EU-level agreements with all neighbouring
countries by 2015; n open negotiations with Turkey and India; n prepare a roadmap for EU-Russia aviation relations once Russia agrees to phase out royalties for overflying Siberia. n engage in a dialogue with Gulf countries with a view to enhancing transparency and fair competition;
n revise regulations protecting against subsidisation and unfair practices; n modernise the regulatory framework governing the global aviation market in association with the International Civil Aviation Organization n liberalise market access and airline ownership and control while safeguarding fair competition.
friendly continuous descent approaches to an airport. Continuous Descent Approaches permit the aircraft to reduce their fuel burn by up to 250kgs per flight depending on aircraft size. Point Merge at Dublin will greatly reduce the need to put aircraft into traditional holding pat-
terns, thereby providing environmental benefits by cutting fuel burn and CO2 emissions, as well as reducing delays to passengers. Rather than using traditional “race track pattern” holding stacks, Point Merge places arriving aircraft onto defined arcs.
A Yes, I ordered it last night
ETIHAD says that all aircraft to have
connectivity by end of 2014, wifi will cost US$13.95 for one hour, US$24.95 for 24 hours
BA has started flights from London
Heathrow Terminal 1 to Zagreb in Croatia.
AER LINGUS are to operate 24 Vir-
gin flights daily linking Manchester, Edinburgh, Aberdeen with London Heathrow, using Lingus aircraft and crews from April.
MERGER The much anticipated merger
between American Airlines and US Airways could be announced this month.
SATA’s weekly charter to Madeira will re-
sume from February 3, eight weeks earlier than last year.
don OFT go-ahead to investigate Ryanair shareholding in Aer Lingus because of the amount of routes served by both airlines out of England.
RYANAIR has announced that Julie
O’Neill and Louise Phelan are to join its board.
IATA’s Brian Pearce says that he expects air fares to fall in 2013.
VIRGIN is to facilitate boarding pass scans from Apple Passbook at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.
AERCAP leasing company has sealed a $1bn deal with Guggenheim.
Point merge in action
MEALS ON ORDER
er Lingus report a strong response to their new pre-order facility for meals. Meals can be ordered in advance at www.aerlingus.com of which the favourite is the €7.50 Irish Breakfast of two pork sausages, grilled bacon,
Dresden and Paderborn for summer 2013.
BRITAIN’s Court of Appeal gives Lon-
DUBLIN GETS NEW HOLDING PATTERNS
ew technology will reduce holding patterns at Dublin airport, according to the Irish Aviation Authority. Point Merge is an innovative system which uses new air traffic management techniques to assist airlines in flying more environmentally
CITYJET is to fly from London City to
tomato, black & white pudding and a hash brown served with McCambridge's Irish brown bread, fresh orange juice and a choice of tea or coffee, which is available all day. Breakfast is not available on EI Regional flights.
AMERICAN Airlines to launch Dublin-JFK using Boeing 757-200 June 12 2013, available for sale from November 5, the first flight leaving Ireland for New York each day, 9am from Dublin. WHICH magazine’s airline survey for 2012 put Swiss top, Turkish 2nd, Lufthansa 3rd, Aer Lingus 4th, KLM 5th and Ryanair 16th and last. Turkish Airlines were top for food and drink. ETIHAD
report that Dublin-Abu Dhabi was their 10th busiest route in 2012.
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AIR CANADA has announced its
new low-cost carrier and leisure group under a new brand, Air Canada Rouge. initially to fly routes which are new for Air Canada to Venice, Athens, Edinburgh and several destinations in Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Service will primarily be out of Toronto initially, with two flights a week to Athens from Montreal. Rouge’s B767s will have a three-class configuration with 282 seats, including 230 economy, or ‘rouge,’ seats; 28 “rouge plus” premium economy seats with more legroom; and 24 “premium rouge” seats. Air Canada’s last remaining 767 will fly Dublin to Toronto in summer 2013, leading to rumours Dublin may become a Rouge route in 2014.
NORWEGIAN Air Shuttle is to operate Dublin-Helsinki next summer twice weekly April 14-October 26, competing with Aer Lingus. Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA warned it will go outside Norway to register the B787 planes it has purchased for long-haul flights unless the government loosens up labour laws. Norwegian plans to begin flying to New York and Bangkok next summer, but it may need to register the planes in Sweden or another country in order to hire foreign staff.
Ryanair pushes ‘fresh concessions’ in takeover bid
LUFTHANSA’s Dublin Frankfurt morning flight departure will be one hour earlier during summer 2013 than before (at 05.45), as the current winter times continue. Dublin-Munich increases to 3 weekly between May 1 and October 2. A Wednesday A319 flight has been added. SCHIPHOL airport is to be moved
from a six to a seven wave hub.
RYANAIR has received the last of its ordered B737-800 aircraft from Boeing, making 350 delivered, 305 in service. Ryanair said. “We remain ready to place a significant order for more aircraft if and when we can reach a sensible pricing agreement with one of the manufacturers.”
WALES government wants to buy Cardiff Airport from its current owners, First Minister Carwyn Jones has announced. He said an agreement had been reached with owner TBI and it will work towards a purchase over the next few months. Passenger numbers fell in the first half of the year to 440,000 from 558,000, which the airport said was mostly caused by the decision by low-cost carrier bmibaby to end its Cardiff flights. The airport reported a 2011 operating loss of £319,000. CYPRUS Airways is asking the state for an additional €73m as part of a restructuring plan to make the company viable. This would be over and above €31m requested earlier this year, with €15m already granted.
ETIHAD is buying a 70pc stake in Air Berlin's frequent-flyer scheme. Air Berlin said it expected cash proceeds of €184.4m from the sale of the 'topbonus' scheme - more than the whole company's market value. Under the deal, Air Berlin will keep 30pc of the scheme, which has 3.1 million members.
Ryanair’s chances of EU approval for their Aer Lingus takeover bid are about one in three yanair has offered fresh con- competitor to bolster its Irish opera- ing its Aer Lingus stake if regulators cessions in December to Eu- tion, five years after the EU blocked turned down a “revolutionary” packropean Union antitrust an earlier takeover attempt because it age of concessions. The airline has regulators reviewing its €694m bid would create a monopoly for Irish said it could exit all 46 Dublin routes flights. The bid has also drawn oppo- that overlap with Aer Lingus and that for Aer Lingus. The EU’s antitrust authority in sition from Aer Lingus management several rival carriers are interested in competing at Irish airports. Brussels extended until Feb. 27 its and Irish politicians. Ryanair last month received formal Ryanair is also facing a full invesdeadline to rule on the deal, according to a website filing today. It didn’t antitrust objections from the Euro- tigation by the U.K.’s Competition give details of Ryanair’s offer. The pean Commission, listing the regula- Commission of its holding in the carrier’s previous offer to allay possi- tor’s competition concerns with the smaller carrier after the national regble antitrust problems failed to con- deal. The antitrust agency said in Au- ulator said it may lead to higher vince regulators who didn’t send it to gust that the takeover could eliminate prices. When Leo Varadkar said he would rival airlines for their comments, ac- competition on a large number of routes because the two airlines are not sell the government share holding cording to two people familiar with each other’s closest competitors and to Ryanair, Ryanair responded by saythe matter. ing Varadkar had has no power to Ryanair, which owns 29.8 percent few new competitors are likely. Ryanair Chief Executive Officer block Ryanair’s offer “if we acquire a of Aer Lingus, in June renewed its pursuit to buy the rest of the smaller Michael O’Leary said in September shareholding of 50pc or more.” that the company would consider sell-
NEW EU AIR INCIDENTS DATA RULES
he European Commission has proposed new rules for the better protection of air passengers. The rules aim to achieve a decreased number of aircraft accidents and fatalities through better use of
data on occurrences. An occurrence is defined as any type of event significant in the context of aviation safety which might not have resulted in an accident but which merits being collected and analysed. In addition, new rules
would promote more efficient exchange of information between member states. This legislative proposal is the core element of the future European aviation safety system which aims to shift Europe towards a
proactive and evidencebased safety system, i.e. a system that attempts to foresee and prevent accidents based on the collection and analysis of data, rather than simply reacting after accidents.
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Aviation with Gerry O’Hare
Michael O’Leary speaking at Holiday World in 2911
RockyroadtoDoublin Ryanair seeking new 200 aircraft deal with Boeing
here is no doubting which airline group was the biggest in Europe this year. The Lufthansa group carried 96m passengers to the end of November and will finish the year with something approaching last year’s total of 106m. The second biggest, and the biggest standalone, will be Ireland’s airline, Ryanair, who reported passenger numbers for 2012 of 79.6m, up 4pc on the year before. The figures are phenomenal for an airline that started with a 15-seater Bandeirante aircraft from Waterford to Luton in 1985. Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary doesn’t believe the airline has reached its full potential yet. But he faces a big problem if his airline is to grow further, he has run out of aircraft. “There is still so much growth within the EU countries,” he told Travel Extra late last year, “Ryanair can double in the next ten years.” “Ryanair’s growth is continuing. It is just that the percentages get smaller as the base gets bigger. One of the reasons we are only growing by 5pc is that we sit 80 aircraft on the ground for the winter.” The figures came just days after Ryanair took delivery of the last two aircraft of their Boeing 737-800 deal.
Ryanair is now in the market for 200 new aircraft. O’Leary says that the rate of further growth depends on when the next aircraft comes. “We will carry 8384m passengers next year based on the current aircraft deliveries. Then we need another aircraft delivery.” “Prices of aircraft have not come down yet but this is a fluid situation. We are continuing the dialogue with Boeing and continuing the dialogue with Comac. Boeing have plenty of availability in the order book. We are in the early stages of talks to see if we can reach an agreement on price.” Ryanair is looking for deliveries in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the year that Boeing’s upgraded 737 Max jetliner is due to enter service. “There is no dialogue with Airbus but again if we got hold of Aer Lingus we would want to talk to Airbus about immediate aircraft orders for Aer Lingus.” This month in Gothenburg he said that a new order was possible before the end of 2013, to grow passenger numbers to 120m. He said the long term plan is to assemble a fleet of 500 aircraft. “We are talking to 60 new airports we do not fly to it, some in Israel, we
are inundated with requests and airport deals at the moment. We are frankly less enthused by Russia, Ukraine and those countries at the moment.” If O’Leary gets his way with the EU next February he would control a group that had 89.3m passengers, within striking distance of Lufthansa. Aer Lingus carried 9.7m passengers in 2012, up 1.5pc from 9.51m. Short haul operations were up 0.7pc, and long haul was up 9.4pc after the big capacity cuts of 2010-1. Aer Lingus numbers are being driven by transfer traffic. Aer Lingus' Annual Report 2011 says that 21pc of passenger revenues are now generated from passengers connecting from inter-airline carriers. Aer Lingus have said that over 47pc of their passenger bookings are from outside Ireland. On trans-Atlantic services 30pc of passengers are transfer customers, about 300,000 passengers. O’Leary says he would grow Aer Lingus numbers to 15m. Then the game would commence. In the meantime Air France are stalking Alitalia once more. It will be an interesting year.
ITALY’S ANTI-RYANAIR MOVE
n Italian government has drawn up new financial regulations for the aviation sector which are directed specifically at Ryanair. The legislation seeks to redefine the term 'air base' and which air carriers shall
be considered established in Italy. Although Ryanair operates in 10 Italian airports and carried 22m passengers in Italy in 2011, it does not have an office in Italy and that none of its employees are based in the country,
even when they are formally registered as residents. The government's intervention aims to extend domestic tax, social security obligations and labour laws to those air carriers that, although established in an-
other EU member state, regularly operate within Italian territory. Italian prosecutors recently opened an investigation against the airline's chief executive and legal affairs director for alleged tax evasion.
RYANAIR now have 55 bases. Ryanair new bases from April 2013 include: n 52nd base at Eindhoven with one aircraft and new routes to/from Agadir, Bordeaux, Chania and Fez. n 53rd base at Krakow with two aircraft and new routes to/from Dortmund, Gothenburg, and Manchester. Ryanair offers 32pc of all seats from Krakow, more than double LOT, the second largest carrier there. n 54th base (first in Croatia) at Zadar with one based aircraft and 7 new routes to Dublin, East Midlands, Gothenburg, Haugesund, Liverpool, Paris and Wroclaw, a total of 68 weekly flights (up 60pc on last year). n 55th base at Chania in Crete with one based aircraft and 10 new routes (26 in total), to Billund, Bremen, Bristol, Eindhoven, Katowice, Memmingen, Thessaloniki, Venice, Vilnius and Warsaw. There is talk of two Moroccan bases and a Tel Aviv operation, which is supported by tourism interests but opposed by El Al. GALWAY County Council has responded to a request for funding by the board of Galway Airport by agreeing to provide a contingency sum of €50,000 to the Carnmore facility, provided Galway City Council provides a sum of €50,000, the Department of Transport provides €100,000 and commercial interests can generate €500,000 by Feb 28. ENGLAND’s Competition Authority
has cleared the proposed transaction whereby Stobart Group Limited would acquire sole control of Aer Arann. The Authority’s investigation and analysis indicates that there is little or no overlap in the activities of Stobart and Aer Arann. Stobart is active in road haulage whereas Aer Arann is active in air transport.
BMI Regional has replaced the BD flight designator used under its previous incarnation with a new BM flight code.
LOT CEO Marcin Piróg has been dismissed and the airline is to shrink by half in a bid to survive.
EMIRATES has upgraded all five daily
flights to London Heathrow to A380s two months earlier than expected.
ETIHAD have signed a three-year $6m
marketing agreement with Tourism Australia after Qantas pulled out of its arrangement with Tourism Australia.
RYANAIR will increase Dublin to Warsaw Modlin from 5w to 6w from April 1. PRE-CLEARANCE President
Obama has signed the No Hassle Flying Act allowing The USA Transportation Security Administration the discretion to allow checked baggage arriving in the US on an international pre-cleared flights, including those from Ireland, to be transferred through to its final destination without having to be re-checked.
ETIHAD is to upgrade six of its 10
weekly Dublin-Abu Dhabi morning operations from A330-200 (262 seats) to B777-300 (412 seats) aircraft from July 1.
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FASHION AND HEALTH
with Carmel Higgins
Arnotts’s summer collection is shaking off the gloom of winter
his season sees an explosion of floral patterns. There are wonderful girly feminine dresses, skirts and coats, oversized floral prints, watercolour prints layered on top of a pastel palette, geometric designs and plain fabrics in sharp clean cut lines, as well as lots of ankle length pants in multi patterned fabrics. It is an eclectic mix which can be as individual as you want. Brands like Just Cavalli, Love Moschino and Vivienne Westwood Anglomania as well as Anna Sui are labels to look out for. Their clothes take us from the gloom of late to a new fresh feel, teamed with accessories like clutch bags, high high heels and scarves which this season is very much in vogue, The newest clothes fashion label comes from the TV 'Off The Rails' duo Courtney Lennon. Their fabrics are wonderful and designs can be worn from day into evening, from workplace to dinner. A full length dress will take you over many days hols whether sitting at a bar, cruising, dining at the captain’s table. Understated, multifunctional, yet powerful, these clothes will take you everywhere. Their designs can begin with a simple dress, add-on mini capes, peplums, jackets change a simple dress to whatever you want to wear it to. Courtney Lennon clothes are available at Arnotts and five outlets throughout the country, including the Cavalli floral print jean on the right, €270. Sizes come up to 16. These clothes should be in everyone’s wardrobe, as they are suitable for almost all occasions.
F Sonia Lennon wears a Courtney Lennon long white dress €390 at the launch of the Arnotts Spring Summer 2013 collection
ollowers of NUXE products are thrilled that they have just launched Nuxellence Jeunesse, containing Calendula Petals, Galanga Leaves, as well as many more botanical ingredients, this anti-aging fluid will show huge signs of skin improvement after using for two weeks. Many followers of Nuxe are delighted that it is now available in Ireland. Murrays Pharmacies is one of the stockists. Another very useful product from the range is their Nuxe Huile Prodiguese dry oil, this year celebrating 20 years, it can be used on face, body or hair and gives this wonderful sheen. It also contains vitamin E. For Holiday glamour, this one item with several uses is a must have
or sun or cruising holidays, which is growing year on year, Arnotts in Dublin have a huge selection of swimwear, beach clothes and fashion clothes suitable for cruising, with tropical colours in one pieces or bikinis to die for. For gals who want high glamour, Arnotts have some amazing French brands, a fuchsia red two piece. A one piece swimsuit and matching pareo is an investment buy. The swimsuit has one shoulder adorned with diamante. Stunning and worth the price, another French brand Huit, has aptly named Cleopatra swimwear in black with gold spiral motifs. It is also available in bikinis, and costs approx €98. Sizes go up to 16. Brands like Gotex have swimwear with matching cover-ups which take you from beach to bar. And if you want to look ten pounds lighter in ten seconds, then Miracle swimwear is worth looking at. It comes with control panels using the latest technology It is worth investing in a few good pieces, then you can't go wrong buying the latest from Penneys high street stores, costs are unbelievably cheap and sun hats, beach bags and flip-flops can allow you spend your money on a couple of expensive items which sets the tone for your holiday wardrobe. Mixed with Penneys beachwear this will give you more choice yet knowing that your holiday wardrobe has some very high quality items to mix and match with. Cosmetic companies who work closely with fash-
ion houses to co-ordinate seasons colour trends are also very much into skincare and anti aging products. With our pared down spending, we are more careful about what to buy and what to spend cash on. Holiday World takes us around the globe and with luggage an expensive add on to our flights we have to pack sensibly and bring clothes to take us from the beach to the bar and on into the night. The latest cosmetics for real glam colour comes from LASplash Cosmetic from California. The range includes fabulous eye colours, vivid, intense colour, mineral eye shadows, glitter splash for face and body, loved by the young and trendy, high pigment pressed shadows that are easy to blend. Making smokey eyes is easy peasy with LA Splash Cosmetics and their eyeliners are almost foolproof, precision pen eyeliners the perfect tool to acquire a bold liquid finish, the LA Splash definitive multi purpose eyeliner and eyeshadow in one, use the pointed tip for defining lines and the full tip for blendable coverage, these won't break the bank as prices are extremely affordable, available throughout the country, for further info www.makeupshop.ie Oona Doherty opened the Oona Doherty Beauty Clinic in 1985 with a dream to have an outstanding Beauty Centre, she has achieved that, her salon MakeUpShop at 2-3 market Cross Sligo offers many excellent treatments as well as having won 10 consecutive Guinot Crown Salon Awards for high standards in Beauty Therapy. Oona specialises in Red Vein treatment and Skin Tag removal as well as being a professional Makeup Artist. She trains therapists and salon owners in Airbrush Makeup, used by most photographic fashion models, film stars and now available in Ireland, this is amazing especially for weddings and TV. Oona is very interested in skincare and recently while in Budapest found a range of organic skincare Ilcsi, which is very affordable, whilst there she visited the lab and witnessed the fresh hand picked produce arriving in and being made into cleansers, toners, moisturizers, treatment creams and all using just pure natural ingredients. The shelf life is approx twelve months. These products smell divine, Ilcsi is in business for the past 50 years, Oona is now selling these at her salon, online and is also the distributor. The Airbrush she uses is Kett Airbrush from New York, Kett also do a range of high definition cosmetics and is used here in Ireland by TV3 as well as countless makeup artists. 071 9145523 or www.makeupshop.ie
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hoever coined the phrase “new car smell” knew a thing or two about anticipation and excitement. A smell lasts longer in the memory than anything else, an image, a sound, a touch. So you can imagine the feeling when your nostrils fill once again with that new ship smell. One single, identifiable smell for a ship of 319 metres length, 122,000 tonnes and 3,046 passenger capacity? Unlikely until you get it. It permeates over the background blend of all those salty sea flavours we associate with getaways. It seeps in from everywhere, the carpets, the fixtures, the bed linen on the luxurious staterooms, as far ahead of the previous generation of cruise ships as we are from windy-handle windows in our cars. So it was when Celebrity Reflection launched in Florida this month. And when European agents and travel writers were brought on a two day pre-launch cruise out of Eemshaven and back to Amsterdam. It became apparent how deeply the crisp new image the Solstice class has been implanted on the mindset of the travel industry. Ireland and UK sales manager Michael English talked about Celebrity reflection being Modern Luxury, a trump over traditional luxury. He wants passengers to pay more
Eoghan Corry takes a pre-launch on Celebrity Reflection The magnificent ceiling of the Opus dining room on board the new Celebrity Reflection for the premium. Delivering five Solstice ships in the middle of a recession has made that a tad more difficult.
he Celebrity product has been tweaked somewhat from the four previous ship launches in the Solstice class. The signature product is the spa. Celebrity Reflection AquaSpa will be the most versatile such facility in its fleet. It will have a Persian Garden with 15 curved, heated
tile beds, a heated stone slab called The Hammam, infrared saunas, aromatic steam rooms, an icy cold "Cold Room" for use after warm/hot immersions, do-it-yourself scrub and salt bars, and sensory showers that will allow tropical rain infused with fragrances, arctic cold mists, and sound, scent, and light choices. The ship’s captain Nicholas Pagonis nominated the Spa as his favourite place to relax on board. Even the showers in
the staterooms have spray showers to calm the muscles after a night of exertion on the dance floor at the Skybar. Captain Pagonis says: “Everywhere you go there is something unique. When I have my family on board my daughter’s favourite place is the hideaway. When I want to dine, the Merano,
Tuscan or Blu.” Hotel manager Damien O’Connor, of a Ballybunion father and Skerries mother, says nobody in the industry has the hardware that Celebrity has. He has worked on five cruise lines and on 30-40 ships in 15 years, and “worked on Silverseas the five star product, on
Carnival the fun ships, I was involved in the Disney set-up and I have done work for cruise lines in Greece.” ‘We were all involved in the Solstice, and we stepped on board that beautiful cruise ship and we thought we had never seen anything like it. Then this newest ship was handed over to us.”
n Celebrity Reflection set sail on a series of Mediterranean sailings before crossing the Atlantic to begin its first Caribbean season. Celebrity Reflection was be named on 1 December in Miami, with four Godmothers – all of them employees of the company whose lives have been touched by breast cancer – presiding over the ceremony.
CELEBRITY PLANS 7-NIGHT CRUISES IN 2014
elebrity intends to offer seven night cruises in the Mediterranean in the near future, including open jaw itineraries in summer 2014. “We will continue with our 10 and 11-night cruises,” CEO Michael Bayley said at the launch of Celebrity reflection off the Dutch coast, “but we can offer more because of the capacity we have added in to
the market and became of the demand we have had both from the American and European markets. “We are working on other ideas that we will unveil in the coming months as it relates to deployment, itinerary, and particularly how it relates to destination how we are planning on bundling destination with the cruise experience, how we can
partner with you in selling those products into the marketplace. “We are particularly interested in the affluent segment. We will be working with you more in the future on our marketing partnerships targeting the customers who will enjoy this experience and willing to pay a premium for that experience. That will become our
focus over the next year or two. “If you think it is good now it is going to get even better. We are working on our product. With the fifth of the Solstice class and Solsticisation of Millennium class we have a world class product and an exceptional level of service and product quality. “We believe from the feedback of our customers that our
cuisine is really quite good. We are continuing to focus on our product, invest and improve many elements of the product. We really hope you will stay with us on this journey over the coming couple of years. “To the trade I say your success is our success. Together we can move into the future and be even more successful.”
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AFLOAT ASSOCIATION A new cruise lobbying and information body, the Cruise Lines International Association, has been formed by the merger of Passenger Shipping Association and Association of Cruise Experts.
GREENCASTLE There has been warm reaction to a report making a strong case for the proposed €8m Greencastle-Greenore ferry link. The link could provide a €10m a year boost for the counties.
CELEBRITY cruises are offering complimentary drinks package on all 2013 cruises booked before Feb 28, includes domestic beers, spirits, house wines, specialty coffees and soft drinks (worth $50 per person, per day)
UNIWORLD will offer river cruising in Italy in 2013, Splendors of Italy combines a seven-night river cruise along the Po River and the Venice Lagoon with a two-night land stay in Florence and three nights in Rome.
A cabin on Irish Ferries’ luxury ferry, Oscar Wilde
ROYAL CARIBBEAN are offering up to USD$1,000 free onboard credit on selected Southampton & Harwich cruises booked before Feb 28.
PRINCESS new 3600-passenger Royal Princess, currently under construction, will enter service in June in the Med. Among the features will be a glass-bottomed Sea Walk, extending 28 feet beyond the side of the ship 128 feet above the ocean; two fresh water pools flanking an island area between them; evening water and light shows featuring a computerized fountain with 85 water jets.
AZAMARA late-night and overnight stays are a new feature of each cruise in Azamara's 2014 schedule. Its two ships will conduct 72 new voyages, ranging from four to 17 days and visiting some 240 ports in 66 countries. In 2014, the ships will be positioned in Europe, the Far East, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the U.S. Pacific Coast. A three-day call in San Francisco will allow for an exploration of its nearby wine country.
CARNIVAL has unveiled additional design details for the 3006-passenger Carnival Sunshine (the former Carnival Destiny) which will complete a $155m makeover in April. New attractions include a racing-themed water park featuring five water slides and 40 interactive water features, a Cuba-themed tropical bar, an Asian restaurant, and more. CELEBRITY four-day, five-day, and
eight-day trips will ply the Pacific in April, linking popular California points like San Diego, Catalina, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco. After the April cycle, the 1814passenger Celebrity Century will travel north to begin its seven-day all-summer schedule from Vancouver to Alaska.
SEABOURNE's 2014 World Cruise
will visit 53 ports in 20 countries during its 116-day circuit that leaves Los Angeles next January and terminates in Venice. Among its stops: Sydney, Honolulu, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. The 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn will conduct the voyage.
Ferry companies gear up for exciting summer
hree ferry companies are gearing up for increased traffic on the Irish-French ferry routes this summer. Irish Ferries Ireland to France offers include a €100 booking deposit and a free trip to Britain for a car plus two passengers on their Ireland to Britain services. The offer is open to motorists making a return booking to France during June, July and August. On board features include live family entertainment, free wi-fi, and early ar-
rival times in France. Brittany Ferries resume their weekly sailings from Cork to Roscoff on their luxury ship Pont Aven (some cabins even have balconies) on Mar 23rd and continue until Nov 1st. Celtic Link Ferries will transport all vehicles on Friday 15 March 2013 for €1 each. The deal includes a vehicle, cabin and the people in the cabin for one euro, for St. Patrick’s Day 2013. “Celtic Link Ferries are simply bringing in as many passen-
gers as they can for as little price that they can” said Passenger Manager Rory McCall. On the Irish Sea, Irish Ferries is promoting Haven Holidays packages, inclusive arrangements to Alton Towers and various other resorts. Irish Ferries’ Head of Passenger Sales, Dermot Merrigan said: “Oscar Wilde will once again operate a three return sailings per week schedule between Rosslare and the French ports of Cherbourg and Roscoff this year.”
ROYAL CARIBBEAN TO EXTEND DINING OPTION
multimillion dollar investment in dining will greet Royal Caribbean's passengers this year. Each ship will have revamped menus and more variety. Calling in 72 coun-
tries, Royal Caribbean has added international flavours to its dining rooms and "hot from the oven" desserts. It is establishing additional training courses for its chefs and staffs. Allergen and dietary programs, gluten-free, lactose-free, and low
calorie options will be available, with icons on menus identifying the items. The carrier claims to have the most extensive selection of dining venues at sea, with a total of about 100 options across the fleet.
Allure of the Seas
NORWEGIAN TO LAUNCH ICE BAR
orwegian has signed a contract with a German ship builder for a new 4200-passenger, 163,000 gross tons ship to be delivered late in 2015. It will be the largest in Norwegian's fleet. The same yard is currently
completing two other new ships, the 4000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway and the 4000-passenger Norwegian Getaway. The Breakaway is scheduled for delivery this April, while the Getaway will follow next January. The Breakaway will in-
clude three Broadway shows, a comedy troupe, dueling pianos, a celebrity restaurant, five water slides including the first free fall slides at sea, a three-level sports complex, a nine-hole miniature golf course, basketball court, rock climbing wall, studio cabins for sin-
gle travellers, private-enclave suites, a 23,000 square foot spa covering two decks and featuring 22 treatment rooms, and more. Among its more exotic features will be a real ice bar — requiring guests to wear hooded coats and gloves to keep warm.
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AFLOAT CUNARD’s three Queens will each em-
bark on long voyages in 2014, from Southampton, New York, Fort Lauderdale, and San Francisco. The 2620-passenger Queen Mary 2 will leave Southampton on its tenth world cruise. The 2014-passenger Queen Victoria will also sail from Southampton and visit 40 ports in 19 countries over 116 days. The 2010passenger Queen Elizabeth will embark on a 118-day voyage featuring embarkation points in Southampton, Ft Lauderdale, and San Fran.
CELEBRITY will call on 170 prima-
The 5,400 passenger Allure and Oasis of the Seas are the biggest ships on the ocean
Big ships are back Third ship in biggest in the world class to be built
ig ships are back. Royal Caribbean Cruises has struck a deal with STX France in Saint-Nazaire to add a third Oasis class ship to its fleet which could enter service in 2016. The line, which already operates the two largest cruise liners on the seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, said during their Q3 investor conference call in October that they were close to ordering a third Oasis Class vessel. On St Stephen’s Day they confirmed that order with STX France, based in St Nazaire. STX Finland (formerly Aker) in Turku, which built Royal Caribbean’s first two Oasis-class vessels, was unable to secure the finance to build a third ship of this size. It is the clearest signal yet of renewed optimism in the sector. “The Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas have fundamentally transformed the cruise experience for our guests,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean. “These ships
ne good reason for increase in cruise holidays, amidst the recession, be that the cost of a cruise holiday is one that you can budget for in advance, as full board, entertainments and many activities are always included in the upfront price. The trend in new ships is to make them burst with attractions and operate with a high capacity. Of the six new ships due to be launched in 2013, three are biggies: MSC Preziosa, to be "christened" by Sophia Loren in March, has a capacity of 3,500; the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway launches in May; and Royal Princess sets sail in
have consistently generated outstanding guest satisfaction ratings and continue to produce superior financial results. We are thrilled to be adding a sister to this extraordinary class of vessels at a compelling price. Being back building in France just adds to the pleasure.” Just four giant cruise ships are due for delivery next year, the lowest total since the 2008. They will include the stylish Norwegian Breakaway, joint third largest ship on the seas with its sister Epic. This will be surpassed in late 2014 by two 4,100 passenger Project Sunshine ships from Royal Caribbean which to be delivered six months apart, the second largest class of passenger ships behind Royal Caribbean International’s existing two giants, the 5,400 passenger Oasis and Allure. Norwegian Cruise Line will launch Project Breakaway Plus in 2015 to reclaim third place after the two Oasis class ships. Eight large ships were delivered in 2007, four in 2008, eight in 2009, six
in 2010, six in 2011 and seven in 2012. Despite the Costa Concordia disaster and resulting temporary fall in bookings, the number of international cruise customers is expected to rise again this year. Carnival Cruise Line, which already has a fleet of 25, recently ordered a 4,000-capacity ship, while Holland America has commissioned a 2,660-passenger vessel. Costa’s largest ship ever, due in 2014, will be a variation of Carnival Cruise Line’s Dream class cruise ship. The 2013 order book: n MSC Preziosa – 3,502 passengers n Norwegian Breakaway – 4,028 passengers n AIDAstella – 2,192 passengers n Europa 2 – 516 passengers n Avalon Artistry II – 164 passengers n Scenic Jewel – 169 passengers n Royal Princess – 3,600 passengers n Le Soleal – 264 passengers
June with room for 3,600. Two new "boutique" ships are among the 2013 launches. The great luxury offered by Hapag-Lloyd's Europa 2 is that of space. By no means small, with tonnage of 139,500, the all-suite, all-balcony ship is for a maximum of only 516 passengers. Family friendly, and with short itineraries aimed at time-poor professionals, all cruises will be conducted in German and English. Le Soléal, which carries up to 264 passengers, is a new "soft expedition" ship marrying a sleek silhouette and chic French decor with an icestrengthened hull to sail Arctic and Antarctic waters.
It will be launched in Venice on 1 July and will specialise in visiting places large ships can't reach. The 2,200-passenger AIDAstella will launch in March, but like the rest of the AIDA fleet is for Germanspeaking passengers. Its home port will be Hamburg for cruises of northern Europe until September when the ship will relocate to the Canary Islands for the winter. According to the Passenger Shipping Association, nearly $5bn was spent on six major new ship launches last year, with $3.2bn invested in six more new ships setting sail in 2013. There's also about $4.2bn due to be spent on a further six ships in 2014.
rily warm-weather ports in 42 countries next winter, 2013 - 2014. Ships will leave from 20 home ports. Six ships will sail the Caribbean, while others will ply Australia-New Zealand waters, the South Pacific, and the Galapagos. On the West Coast, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Hawaii will figure in a new series of itineraries, replacing many trips that formerly went to Mexico. Rounding out the offerings will be a South America series.
DISNEY In 2014, for the first time, each
of Disney's four ships will be based in Florida. Three of its ships depart from its terminal at Port Canaveral, while the fourth, the 2700-passenger Disney Wonder, will conduct Bahamas and Western Caribbean cruises from Miami. Almost all will stop at Castaway Cay, the company's popular private island.
HOLLAND America will assign seven ships to Europe this summer sailing 107 departures on 53 different itineraries. Trips range from 7 to 64 days and include 20 overnights CELEBRITY will have six ships in Europe this summer, sailing from seven departure ports to 25 countries all over the Med, Britain, Ireland, and the Baltic.
CARNIVAL has ordered two ships, one
carrying 4000 passengers and the other 2660. To be built in Italy, they are scheduled for delivery to Holland America in the autumn of 2015 and to Carnival in the winter of 2016. Carnival Corporation operates 100 ships with about 203,000 lower berths. Nine new ships are currently under order for 10 cruise brands.
MSC has redesigned its casual buffet serv-
ice under the direction of Italian food designer Paolo Baricella. Bakers will bake at a bakery corner, and there will even be a Children's Corner. The whole MSC fleet will have the new buffet by mid-summer.
REGENT South America, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean, and Alaska will figure in Regent Seven Seas' 2013 - 2014 Winter Collection of cruises. 97 percent of Regent's cabins include balconies
SILVERSEA has announced its world cruise for Jan 2014. It will travel for 113 days from LA to Barcelona aboard the 382-passenger Silver Whisper. The ship will visit 54 ports in 29 countries with 12 overnight stays.
SILVERSEA’s 296-passenger Silver Cloud has re-entered service following a major renovation completed in Italy.
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ven the biggest of big ships have a quiet place. Just hours into our cruise on the Dubai based Brilliance of the Seas we found the quietest part of the ship: a helicopter pad at the front of the ship on Deck 5. It is not lit and you have to stumble through the dark to get there to marvel at the swish of the ship, 11 knots into the waves. At night time as the ship sails through the balmy air you can look up and see constellations (modern light pollution means we can only do stars, if even that). There are patches of white every so often that we glide through. You can hear fish splash in the dark. We saw dolphins last night and prayed they should not crash into the cruising steel. “It takes some skill to hit a sleeping whale but it has been known to happen” Paul the second officer told us during the bridge visit. Our giant ship is graceful on the water. As we pass through the sun is streaming down on the water around us which laps us like an Aran Island currach. The coast of Iran is on one side, the UAE on the other. The narrowness of the strait (think Antrim and Scotland) makes one think about the region. No wonder the Persians conquered so much so quickly when they only had to take a running jump to reach Arabia. Land routes count for so little to those who makes their lives at sea. The seas are the highways if today as they were of ancient times.
n one day we were buzzed by an Iranian plane that flew about thirty feet over the top deck. The second officer, Paul, told us about coming through the Gulf of Aden. You would pass a fishing boat
into little more than a glorified spin through the pebbly hills in a 4x4. There no falcons, no rare Arabian Leopard, not even an Egyptian vulture.
The pool area on Brilliant of the Seas
The Gulf course Eoghan Corry cruises from Dubai with RCCL
with 35 dodgy looking characters standing on deck not doing any fishing. That’s how you knew they were pirates, he said. So is it safe? Brilliance of the Seas is too high in the water for any pirates to board. Cruise ships passing through the more difficult zones usually hire former soldiers working for private security companies, and told all passengers not to go on deck during the night. My daughter Síofra, who accompanied me on the trip, has a theory about it. She says that they would surely be able to tell if they were pirates from the Jolly Roger on the flagpole, the preponderance of parrots and peg legs, and the bandanas. And the captain will have a broad tricorne. And the oooh-arrs. And if they call you a scallywag they are DEFINITELY pirates.
ating. Cruise passengers do lots of it. If you so desire, you can eat from 5am to 2 am in the collected restaurants. The buffet plates are always overloaded. We go for seconds then thirds then to the ice cream /frozen yoghurt machine that goes BRRRRRRRR. We just call it the machine that goes BRRRRRRRR. In the evening we go for the early seating at 6 :30 and are show to the same window table for two where we chat and eat. There is an 800 calorie vitality menus but we keep postponing it for another night. According to the fact sheet we consume 18,450 fresh eggs and 31,345 pounds of chicken a week on this cruise, 18,000 bottles of liquor and 12,500 cans of beer. They usually sell 65 barrels of beer on a twelve day cruise in Europe, they sell 95 barrels on the seven day cruise
from Dubai. They had to bring extra beer from Egypt when they started the programme.
he shore excursions are another famous ritual. No doubt little has changed since the time of the Persians. All of the passengers gather by the quayside, thrown together by circumstance, and are boarded on a bus with a guide who speaks imperfect English, and off to go to see the signature attractions of a city in the most overcrowded circumstances possible, overcrowded because a couple of dozen coachloads of other tourists from cruise ships have all landed there to-
gether. “This is a corruption free country, very gentle people, no crime” Khan our guide the first day in Oman told us. He translated a slogan on the mountain on our way back to the ship, “We love our country.” Yup, sounds authentic all right. Everywhere we travelled they told us about the magnanimous sultan and what he had done for the people. Coach after coach then piles into the carpet shop where the guides or the tour company are likely getting a generous bounty. Cruise passengers are always over charged. The shore excursions are a month’s wages for a local, $99 for a “mountain safari” that turned
here are intriguing dark blue bespeckled patches hither and thither on the water as we trundle through the sea. We are an odd family, 2069 guests from 61 countries (60 didn’t show up) in a giant floating conurbation melting pot the size of New Ross. There are bars and restaurants on five of the 13 decks, and staff running behind us to collect every dish. The staff come from everywhere but so do the guests, 79 from Russia, 34 from China, 35 from Australia, 37 from Ukraine, 42 from Spain, 101 from S Africa, 191 from Benelux, 187 from Germany, 140 from Scandinavia but mainly the USA (286) and England (549) with 24 from Ireland. The crew count is the reverse, a barometer of the developing world, 867 of them, 208 from the Philippines, 121 from India, 46 from Indonesia and all the way down to Nicaragua, Turkey, Ukraine and UK with 3035 each, with two from Ireland. With all these nationalities, there are not as many chance conversations as you would think. There are a lot of couples, a small number of families, and a lot of elderly people and a few dozen younger kids here, playing in the water park on deck.
ll cruise ships come from the same template, more or less decided by the previous generation
n Dubai cruising onboard Brilliance of the Seas has been on sale to consumers from €459. n Brilliance of the Seas is offering seven day itineraries from Dubai this winter. n Serenade of the Seas will replace Brilliance of the Seas for Dubai itineraries in 2013.
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CRUISE DUBAI of Americans for Americans, but now some afterthought is being shown to the rest of the world, a big crimson-upholstered theatre at the front over two floors, a big crimson-upholstered dining room at the back over two floors, a long casino in between on one level, a shopping precinct between them on another level. The deck, where ship meets fresh air after 11 storeys in our case but 16 in some of the bigger beasts, will always have a spa and an indoor pool at the front, then an open air pool and poolside bars on the midship deck with an upper deck area for beach beds, and finally a big informal buffet restaurant at the back. On top of that is an activity areas (in our case rock climbing wall, pitch and putt, and a soccer court) on the roof/deck.
ship at the start of the seven day sailing from Dubai. “We have an Irish mammy for a lift.” Síofra said. If you press the up button when you want to go down it won’t let you go down. “You should have thought of that before you pressed the up button.”
W Brilliance of the Seas The decks in between shopping/casino and the pools have corridors of cabins that go on for ever. They serve 14,000 meals a day, and 1,000 full meals are dumped, pulped and sent into the sea (the only thing they
fish who apparently know when this is happening and gather for the feed. ALL the food is brought from the USA in container ships and frozen meat, fish, and vegetables are then loaded on to the cruise
Behind the scenes
ll cruise ships come from the same template, more or less decided by the previous generation of Americans for Americans, but now some afterthought is being shown to the rest of the world. The essentials are: n a big crimson-upholstered theatre at the front over two floors, n a big crimson-upholstered dining room at the back over two floors, n a long casino in between on one level (Disney is the only cruise ship not to have a casino) n a shopping precinct between them on another level, usually the deck above the casino. The deck, where ship meets fresh air after 11 storeys in midsized ships and 16 decks in some of the bigger beasts, will have: n a spa and an indoor pool at the front, n an open air pool and poolside bars in midship deck with an upper deck area for beach beds, n a big informal buffet restaurant at the back. Once you have been on
are allowed to dump) a few hundred miles from the Horn of Africa, where people are starving. The ship speed when they dump must be six knots, as they roll along the pulped food is shot into the sea, and there are
hat is special about this part of the world is the ubiquitous call to prayer. There is no escaping it. Five times each day a mosque will give the signal and explode into foghorn-like intensity, exultations to heaven. Another echoes it, then another and the sound is strangely soothing, spiritual and reflective. Two English Muslim girls wore their abayas per-
fectly on the way of the ship, red with a flower on the side of her head in one case, respectful and making a statement at the same time. Síofra brought a scarf and promptly forgot to bring it the day we went to see the Grand Mosque in Muscat so I had to buy her a full gear for ten dollars. I told our driver on one of the excursions about the Christian call to prayer, originally three, now two Angelus dingdong bells, they make it a full call to prayer in Ethiopia still. I will never forget my surprise the first time I heard it on Mount Entoto, and the dawning on me that the Islamic tradition is probably borrowed from Christianity and now patented by them. The songs too make me feel at home, the melismatic tone of a sean-nós singer.
Marcus Zillman in the kitchen of Brilliance where 14,000 meals a day are prepared one, you will know your and confined. way around them all. There is no escaping this fact although most n top of that is an lines now call them stateactivity area (per- rooms for image reasons. haps a rock They are standard design climbing wall, a pitch as well, but Norwegian and putt, and a soccer Epic had a neat departure when they built their cabcourt) on the roof/deck. ins/ staterooms with a The decks in between curve, in the form of a shopping/casino and the pools have corridors of wave. Each ship has a well cabins that go on for ever. kept secret cabin or two, Big ships offer fewer inside cabins and more bal- one on a turn that can be conies. The premium bought for the same price brands now offer bal- as the one next door but it conies with 90pc of their offers a little extra space. Knowing these secrets is cabins. the key to success as a Cabins, no matter what travel agent. the view, tend to be small
otel manager Marcus Zillman brought Travel Extra behind the scenes of the operation on the 2,500-passenger Brilliance of the Seas recently. Cruise lines discovered long ago that a well fed passenger is a happy passengers, and the result is that people eat 20pc more when they are on a cruise ship. But there is a pattern here. Zillman says: “the over indulgence starts in the first three days and then tapers off and the meal sizes are reduced in all the restaurants.” The food is prepared centrally for the first sitting, then the second sitting, the buffet (Windjammer in RCCL ships), speciality restaurants (although some have their own kitchen, such as the Portofino on RCCL ships) and at 8pm the night shift starts and bread is baked for the morning.
hey serve 14,000 meals a day, and the makings of 1,000 full meals are pulped and sent into the sea (the only thing they are allowed to dump). The ship speed when they dump must be six knots, as they roll along the pulped food is shot into the sea, and there are fish who apparently know when this is happening and gather for the feed. Depending on ingredients, they prepare one meal in the largest volume, the chef’s recommendation. About 50pc of people take the chef’s recommendation. The dessert hierarchy is soufflé, cheesecake and then crème bruleé. “We wreck our heads trying to think up new desserts,” Zillman says. “But people just want the stuff momma used to make.” Burgers and pizzas are brought in for school holidays, when the ship first moved to Europe they ran out of lamb shank.
ll the food is brought from the USA in container ships and frozen meat, fish, and vegetables are then loaded on to the cruise ship, 18 pallets of them, meat, veg and fish come in sequence so that they can be moved in order and to make sure all the meat does not arrive at the same time. The beer is calculated carefully, 65 barrels for a 12 day cruise in Europe. Serving the meals is a mini miracle, performed daily. Each waiter deals with ten guests in one sitting and 22 in another. Then they alternate. “We have 1,100 chairs in the main dining room,” Zillman says. “1,000 people all arrive looking to be served in a 15 minute period. Unlike a banquet you get a choice of three soups and three starters, ten main courses and seven desserts.” And then, three hours later, the miracle all happens again.
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DESTINATION IRELAND FOYNES A new maritime museum showcasing the Shannon Estuary from Limerick City to the mouth of the estuary will open in the port village of Foynes in March
LIMERICK King John’s Castle visitor attractionis to open this year after a €5.7m redevelopment FÁILTE Ireland reports that domestic
trips are holding up in the firgures for 2012, there were 9m trips by Irish people in Ireland but the Irish are spending less, a total of €100m less in 2012. Shaun Quinn of Fáilte Ireland said the challenge for hotels is generating enough margin to reinvest in their property
SHANNON development says that 2012 visitor figures were up 3.5pc, banquets were up 2pc and day visitors up 3.7pc. Tourism revenues increased by 3.5pc
2,562 events were registered for the Gathering by mid-January, 800 more than at the official launch last month. Fáilte Ireland said they were confident they would hit their target of 325,000 extra visitors for the Gathering. SPIKE ISLAND A report by Scott Tallon Walker suggests that turning Spike Island into a tourist resort would cost €40m
The Gathering New Year’s eve festival has already been hailed as a success in worldwide media coverage
DIASPORA Research by the Amárach company suggest that 60pc of USA diapsora considerting visiting Ireland in 2013 COTTAGES A portfolio of 450 cot-
tages in Ireland aee being launched this year by cottages4you
IRELAND finished seventh in Fly.com;s
annual New Year Travel Resolutions Survey taken in America behind number one sihed for sdestination Italy Australia (2), N Zealand (3), France (4), England (5), US (6) with Spain (8), Fiji (9) & S Africa (10)
TALL SHIP Sheffield Haslam Universities’ report for Dublin City Council detemrined that the Tall Ships festival was worth €30m for Dublin. A tosal of 1.25m attended, 27pc rest of Ire and 12pc overseas. PORTMAGEE has been announced as the first ever winner of Fáilte Ireland’s National Tourism Towns Award ITIC
Eamon McKeon CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation said he would be disappointed if we don’t get double digit growth from N America next year because of the proposed 20pc increase in seats. ITIC’s Review shows 6.5m visitors in 2012, Britain down 4pc, US & Europe both up 2pc, emerging markets up 4pc. British market fell from 5.0m in 2006 to 3.6m in 2011. Holiday trips are down from 1.8m to 1.0m average spend per visit (all types) down from £294 to £269, despite an increase in stay from 4.8 nights to 5.4.
FÁILTE Ireland reports that there were 12,000 more employed in the tourism industry in 2012, withthe figure rising to 185,000. Fáilte Ireland traditionally have a broader definition of the tourism than the CSO, who confine their figures to the hospitality and restaurant sector.
British inbound market set to shrink further in 2013
he arrival of new tourism figures is always the prelude for a past. The Central Statistics Office figures for three of the last four months in 2012 will make cheerful reading for some. Trips to Ireland were up 3.9pc, with North America up 19.7pc. But Britain was down 3pc. And in the statistical zone in which Irish tourism is trapped, that 3pc is very very bad news. Ireland’s dilemma is that, in the good times when marketing budgets were fat, we were lazy. We went for a dependency culture, instead of taking the alternative, trying to escape our addiction to four key markets, Britain, the US, France and Germany. Even spending time and energy building up the German market, which should have been an obvious thing to do, would have saved us from the dilemma in which we now are stuck. British figures are collapsing, not because we are doing anything inherently wrong, but because the British economy is going down the sinkhole. At the end of the year 2011, the last complete year for which we have figures, we had attracted 7.29m tourists to the island, (+4%), 3.6m from Britain (+0pc), 968,000 from North America (+6%), and 2.3m from
Mainland Europe (+9pc). The numbers from our third and fourth biggest markets, France (407,000, up from 356,000 in 2010) and Germany 432,000 (up from 399,000 in 2010) are only a fraction of what the British market was supplying. It s a long way back to Italy, then Spain, Scandinavia, Our total visitors from other areas were 395,0000 (+14pc), nearly half of them from Australia and New Zealand, , numbers that our crazy visa arrangements will prevent growing, not to mention our total inability to grasp the subtle requirements of the Russian, Brazilian, Mexican, Indian and Chinese inbound markets. The figures are not bad. Twenty years ago the target was 2m visitors and it took a long time to reach it. We could still be trying were it not for Ryanair. A look at our peer group shows how impressive the figures are, Norway attracted 2.7m visitors in 2011, Finland 3.8m, Sweden 4.9m Even Portugal got just 7.4m and Cyprus 2.4m. Faraway Australia, for all its size and stunning scenery, gets just 5.8m tourists and New Zealand 2.6m. Market share is the real indicator of our worth in these trying times. In 2011 we actually increased market share in Britain, to around 8pc in
2011, and still lost numbers. The problem is in 2012 that market share appears to be slipping, accelerating the slide in numbers in a shrinking market. While Irish people are enthusiastic travellers, our annual trips abroad exceeding our population by a factor of almost two, the Brits are not, taking fewer trips than their annual population annually. Which makes our failure to engage with Germany an even greater tragedy. Can you imagine if we had 8pc of the German market, instead of less than half a percent? It would mean an annual influx of 5m German speaking tourists flooding our hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses, dispersing wisely into the country side, much further than the end lounge of Temple Bar which is the limit of many of the existing tourists form our biggest inbound market. They would be hiking our mountains and cycling our cycling trails, if such a thing existed, even Mayo’s Greenways spills unsuspecting cyclists into the paths of dangerous traffic on windy country roads. To paraphrase a certain former female Tánaiste, in tourism terms it would be much, much wiser to have stayed closer to Berlin than Boston.
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Visitor attractions on high
Titanic and Tayto join the big league
ildare Village shopping centre is the biggest visitor attraction on the island, although it is not included in the official statistics for tourist and visitor attractions. Over 2.2m people passed through the shopping village in 2012, Sales increased 255pc on 2012, with the Chinese and Russian markets showing the biggest gains, and tax free sales tripled year on year. While some countries include shopping attractions in their list of major visitor facilities, it is not the norm in Europe. Guinness Storehouse was the top visitor again attraction in 2012, as has been the case in eight of
the nine years since they first took number one spot from Dublin Zoo. The Storehouse and the Zoo both reported record visits, while the four branches of the National Museum of Ireland, who collectively have 1,071,093, reported their second best year ever thanks to a fall of 8pc each in Collins Barracks and Turlough park. The Kildare St branch, the Archaeology museum, once the most visited facility in the capital, had its best ever year. Success story of 2012 has been the Titanic Centre in Belfast, originally projected at 400,000 visitors, it reached 650,000 and generated media coverage beyond expectations. the new Giants
Causeway Visitor Centre in Antrim has also been a success, with a similar number. Tayto Park in Ashbourne is the other newcomer to the top ten. It saw 450,000 visitors pass through its gates in 2012, a number it expects to rise to 550,000 in 2013. An 8pc increase helped the Cliffs of Moher (873,988 up from 809,474) jump ahead of the National Aquatic Centre (813,987, 1pc down from 825,049). The Science Gallery in Trinity College enters the top twenty for the first time, its visitor numbers of 300,500 are 25pc up from 242,189 continuing the major gains of recent years. Science Gallery has attracted more than
BATTLE FOR NO 1 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Guinness 485,939 640,720 738,000 764,118 780,851 858,504 948,577 1,038,910 1,019,166 930,000 1,025,677 1,087,209
D Zoo 601,000 607,000 772,322 731,705 746,291 754,208 900,005 932,000 898,469 963,053 1,001,083 1,030,000
IRELAND’S TOP 60 VISITOR ATTRACTIONS
The Titanic centre was the surprise of 2012
FAMOUS FIVE FOR 2013
Paul Carthy of the Guiness Storehouse: celebrating first place again in 2012 1m visitors to its exhibi- zoo in visits worldwide it. It is part of everyone’s tions, ranging in theme and a debate about the life, everyone’s childfrom contagion to the fu- ethics of animals in cap- hood.” Leo Oosterweghel ture of fashion, since it tivity, the zoo has in- of the Zoo says. Most of opened in Dublin in Feb- creased its numbers by the visitors to the zoo are ruary 2008. 80pc over the past local visitors. Fota’s visiConnemara National decade, “Irish people tor numbers were Park’s figure of 167,464 have enormous loyalty to 376,696 down from was down from 202,543. Dublin zoo, I have never 390,124.. Despite a decline in encountered anything like
ive project have been identified to headline the development of Irish tourism over the next twelve months. The five signature projubects which wil be the focus of Irish tourism activity over the next year wil be: n The Dubline, mnedieval discovery trail between TCD and Kilmainham that follows the east-west alignment of the ancient city, through Dame St, Cork Hill, Castle St, High St, Cornmarket, Thomas St, James’s St, Bow Lane West, Bow Bridge, Kilmainham Lane and Inchicore Road. n Medieval Mile’ in Kilkenny, from the Craft Yard to St Mary’s Cathedral,
which will become an exhibition space. The new Butler Gallery for contemporary art is being developed at Evans Home, and High Street wil be upgraded. n Viking Triangle in Waterford, past Reginald’s Tower, Christ Church Cathedral, Bishop’s Palace (Museum of Treasures) the medieval Franciscan Friary and City Hall n Wild Atlantic Way, set to be Ireland’s first long-distance touring route, stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork. n GreenwayPhase2, the accclaimed cycle path from Connemara to Oughterard.
1 Guinness Storehouse 1,087,209 2 Dublin Zoo 1,030,000 3 Cliffs of Moher 873,988 4 National Aquatic Centre 813,987 5 National Gallery 660,486 6 Giant’s Causeway Centre 650,000* 7 Titanic Centre 650,000 8 Book of Kells 524,119 9 Botanic Gardens Glasnevin 506,517 10 Tayto Park Ashbourne 450,000 11 Nat Museum Kildare St 409,275 12 Fota Park Cork 390,124 13 St Patrick’s Cathedral 362,000 14 IMMA Kilmainham 362,000 15 Oxford I Reserve Antrim 330,000 16 Blarney Castle 325,000 17 Farmleigh 315,464 18 Science Gallery 300,500 19 Nat Museum Collins Bks 271,309 20 Kilmainham Gaol Dublin 294,095 21 Waterford Crystal Centre 290,000 22 Natural History Museum 290,927 23 Bunratty Castle 275,986 24 Belfast Zoo 275,494 25 Carrick-a-rede, Antrim 258,000 26 W5 Odyssey, Belfast 251,357 27 Holy Cross Abbey Tipp 250,000 28 Brú Na Bóinne Meath 207,872 29 Jameson Distillery Dublin 208,767 30 Chester Beatty Lib Dublin 247,729
31 Rock of Cashel Tipperary 204,270 32 Powerscourt Wicklow 207,446 33 Kilkenny Castle 206,277 34 Connemara Nat Park 167,464 35 Ulster Folk Musm, Cultra 190,580 36 Kylemore Abbey Galway 180,000 37 National Library 172,163 38 Christ Church Cath Dublin 155,944 38 Atlantic Edge, Moher 166,017 39 Belvedere House W’meath 164,211 41 Ulster American folk park 152,717 42 Aquadome Tralee 142,301 43 Nat Wax Museum 141,960 44 Dublin Castle 141,849 45 Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin135,007 46 Clonmacnoise Offaly 134,034 47 Dublinia Dublin 134,089 48 Glenveagh Nat park 117,000 49 Airfield, Dundrum 113,930 50 National Stud Kildare 112,470 51 Dún Aonghasa Inis Mor 109,361 52 JF Kennedy Arb New Ross 105,651 53 Skerries Mill 109,033 54 Phoenix Pk Vis Centre 121,487 55 Jameson Midleton 100,000 56 Nat Sealife Ctre Wicklow 100,000 57 Ailwee Cave Clare 100,000 58 Nat Museum Castlebar 99,682 59 Imaginocity 93,275 60 Nicholas Mosse, Kilkenny 92,000
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ach of the nine legendary Glens of Antrim has its own personality. The haunts of champion hurlers and carefree sheep, they spring to life when the sun is low, gashing inland from the north eastern headlands, all sheer limestone, granite and basalt rising from the splashy surf. The empty and beautiful Glendun is the most splendid of them all. Turn back inland from picture postcard Cushendun and drive under the railway viaduct on a little leafy, round the bend and mindthe-sheep road, red-pasture and rivulet-runny stunning. The landscape changes suddenly, foxglove hedges and honeysuckle giving way to green valleys. giving way in turn to black brown moors and views to the hills beyond, shadowy and purple. Each of the nine is worth a small journey cross crossing the hills: Glentassie has a beautiful drive from Ballycastle to Armoy of the Round Tower, Glenshesk is the sedgy Glen, Glencorp, Glenaan of the rush lights, Glenballyeamonn, Glenariff and Glencoy.
drian Morrow brings me around the garden centre in the greenest of the nine, Glenarm, the Glen of the waterfalls with its neat village of narrow streets, and famous forest and gardens. People pay a fiver to see it, the leading horti-
Dunluce: dinner lost but much gained
Down the rushy glens Eoghan Corry rambles through the storied glens of Antrim
cultural garden in the north, with a famous 300year-old hedge and the most famous home grown figs in Ireland. It even bred its own potato, the Dunluce spud. It was thought to be extinct but a couple of years ago they found a French enthusiast who had preserved the strain. The Frenchman very kindly allowed them to take some seedlings back to Glenarm and, a few months later, they gathered expectantly to tuck into the fruit of Antrim ingenuity all those genera-
affron Antrim a hotbed of creationism? How can this have happened? For all the fuss it has, erm, created, you would expect the creationist exhibit at the Giant’s Causeway centre to be bigger. When they installed it has put made the new centre famous throughout the twilight zone of the internet. Tour guide Gavin Lapworth defies me to find to offending
tions ago. It tasted like soap. “We thanked the Frenchman very nicely for his kindness,” says Adrian. “And then we forgot about it.”
inzi Simpson hosted us on a tour of the classical Mussendun temple of the Downhill estate, built by Frederick Hervey the famously amorous Bishop of Derry. The coastal view under wide skies over Downhill beach and Cúil Dabhcha strand over to Inishowen
exhibit. It is not even a storyboard, just a 55-second, equivocal audio voiced over by a young male actor. You wonder why it the panel was needed at all, because the whole debate was summarised neatly in a child-friendly fashion in the previous screen. Building a visitor centre on such a large scale on a fragile site was controversial in its own right without any creationist input.
was breathtaking, all along a blustery the walk with the ruined great house in the distance to the graceful circular temple perched on a headland. It looks like a fort when view from the sea. The wind gets high here. You were able to run a coach and four around the temple in former years, nowadays the coast has crept back to its graceful walls and the foundations have had to be reinforced to guarantee another few decades. In one storm the statue of the bishop’s brother's
Róisín Heneghan’s visitor centre works, a first impression impact on the eye that no amount of photographs or film footage cannot match, with its poetic black basalty hard edges. It works because it looks as accidental as the landscape. The construction materials was quarried in Kilrea from the same lava flow, sent to Connells in Killeel and came back to be fitted into place.
head got blown away and was never found. The day ends with fabulous Guinness onion soup, peppered fillet and sticky toffee pudding at the Bushmills Inn, washed down by Montes Val de Casablanc, which of course was a prelude for the climax of the evening, the dram of Bushmills.
f you are thinking of a kitchen floor tour guide in Dunluce Castle, Hazel Porter, says, “use basalt flags. They
In the centre there is a topographical map of the scale of the formations, not just the most famous locations of the wishing chair, Grand causeway, Giant’s boot and the amphitheatre further down the coast. The Centre has excellent storyboards representing some of the local characters, including John McKay, the tram boy, whose grandson posed for the photograph.
last about 400 years.” The McDonnell family once owned 350,000 acres stretching from Larne to Donegal. They moved to Glenarm after the disastrous cliff collapse in Dunluce Castle when their lunch disappeared in to the surf one Sunday. We are indeed standing on amazingly hard wearing stuff, the bit of the kitchen that didn’t fall into the sink. Great views, great location, pity about the disappearing dinner. “Was it apple crumble” asks one of the party...
“A lot of the exhibition is about people,” Gavin Lapworth says, “because it is just a pile of stones after all.” The comfortable Causeway Hotel has rooms that bring you within feet of the cliff walks, When you waken you can hop out your balcony door, scale the fence and look down on the surf where the Spaniards lost their mojo, or at least their Girona.
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Inside the Travel Business
1STS is adding a 4th product to their port-
folio this month, Boutique Journeys by Brendan Vacations, an all new collection of premium itineraries open to a maximum of 24 guests (typical guided tours book up to 50 guests) with more than 35 itineraries to 30 emerging destinations such as South Africa, China, Thailand, Vietnam and South America. Each tour works on a guaranteed departure basis. Sharon Jordan says that Boutique Journey brochures will be with agents in the coming weeks. “1STS Rewards will reward agents not only for all bookings they make with our four brands but will also reward agents who are quoting our product to customers.”
TRAVEL CENTRES conference
will be held at the Killashee House hotel in Naas, on November 8-9, the weekend immediately after WTM (Nov 4-5). Entertainment will be by the RPJ band, fronted by Rick Parfitt Jr (son of Rick Parfitt of Status Quo).
WORLDCHOICE has recruited two new members, O’Driscoll Travel in Macroom and Phoenix Travel in Greystones. bringing membership to 57 (12 in the six counties). Other agents who have joined in recent months are East West Travel in Roscommon and Dawson Travel in Cork. Contact Garry Zancanaro on 085 112 4197 or email@example.com
BOOKABED have launched a new online group booking engine which links agents to 1m global group co-ordinators and their 40,000 hotel supplier partners. The system sends proposals to these co-ordinators who process the requests to hotel sales contacts in the requested destination. Bookabed says rates can be as low as 70pc off normal room rates. WINNERS of the draw for ITAA stands
at Holiday World Show Jan 25-27 2013 are Arrow Tours, Cill Dara Travel, Rory McDyer Travel, Strand Travel, The Travel Broker and Tour America.
TRAVEL CENTRES latest re-
cruit is 1Stop Travel Shop in Galway, owned and managed by Colm McDonagh, bringing membership to 68.
VENUE for the 2013 ITAA conference
will be announced at the Travel Etxra Travel writer awards on Janaury 25th.
WORLDCHOICE 2013 conference
will be held on November 30th, venue to be announced in the near future.
FALCON unique products have seen a
53pc increase year on year, Irish manager Helen Caron says. Sales of all inclusive holidays are up by 34pc. Leila McCabe nee Giglione, formerly Panorama, is joining Falcon Holidays as agency sales manager.
THE ITAA have received confirmation
of skillnets funding for 2013. It means that the extensive training programmes organised by the Association can be continued.
ENDA Corneille has left Aer Lingus after 26 years and has now set up his own company, EC Gen Consulting.
Over €200m of travel bookings in Ireland are tied up in a complex double bonding arrangement
Agents pay double bond for 38pc credit card sales
rish Travel Agents have been meeting with regulators this month to tackle a €200m hole in the industry - double bonding for travel agents. The issue of credit card bonding was on the agenda for a series of meetings between the Travel Agents Association and the Commission of Aviation regulation. CAR agreed to write to the credit card cmpanies pointing out that their money is covered under to the 82 bond at to dessit from demanding a separate bond. Credit card companies do not
recognise the bonding system and because 38pc of travel business is transacted through credit cards, it means that more than €200m worth of travel business is double bonded each year. This leads to extra stress on businesses, The Irish Travel Agents Association CEO Pat Dawson says, because cash is tied up in the bond unnecessarily, and because of the knock-on costs associated with the accountancy and software programmes. Before the most recent recruitment drive, which has led to some of Ireland’s biggest agencies rejoining the
ITAA, the reported turnover of ITAA members was the €1.1bn with an expected growth of 10pc in 2012. Credit card payments are also more likely to be honoured when an airline collapses. The Association is still pursing the issue the issue of IATA compensation. A year after the collapse of Malév, agents are no nearer getting compensation payments from IATA. Pat Dawson says “that this is in contrast with the speed with which IATA has moved against travel agents in the past.”
AIRLINES SET OUT GDS TERMS
ATA has stepped up its debate with the major distribution aggregators with the publication of an independent study identifying major trends that are transforming the travel distribution landscape. The Future of Airline Distribution – A Look Ahead to 2017 was conducted by Henry Harteveldt, co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group. “What airlines don’t want are distribution channels that present all airlines as equally substitutable commodities. Airlines want, and expect, their distribution partners to offer passengers helpful contextual information to make well-informed purchase de-
Consultant Henry Harteveldt and Tony Tyler of IATA
cisions, reducing the number of reservations made based primarily or exclusively on price.” Harteveldt said “airlines have morphed into retailers. true merchants of the skies. As merchants, airlines need systems that can help them not just distribute their flights, but merchandise their products and value across the channels that make sense, online and offline, direct and indirect, at sensible costs.”
According to the study: n Travel is the single largest e-commerce category, led by airline ticket sales. “In the US, it’s estimated that business and leisure travellers will spend $85.7bn online for airline in 2012.” n The typical travel shopper visits 22 websites in “multiple shopping sessions” before booking a trip but “travellers relying solely on third party websites would not receive all
the information needed to make a fully informed purchase decision.” n Passengers are more likely than the general population to own smartphones and tablet devices, with substantial growth expected due to these devices’ growing capabilities. Passengers show strong interest in using mobile devices to plan and book flights, illustrating their comfort with these devices. n By 2017, Harteveldt expects 50pc of online direct bookings will be made on mobile devices, with even more ancillary purchases made through mobile, given the devices’ portability and ease of use.
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POSTCARDS FROM THE TRAVEL SCENE
ookabed celebrated the new year with a launch to UK and NI agents and a new cross channel website,bookabed.co.uk. Former Funway Holidays International head of sales Darren Hall has been appointed as head of sales in England. Managing director Karl Tyrrell said it was always the intention to expand the bed bank across channel. "For the past twelve months we have
rittany Ferries celebrates 40 years in business this year, and the 35th year of its operation from Cork to Roscoff. Since it was set up by three farmers, led by the charismatic Alexis Gourvennec, on New Year’s Day 1973, when a freight ship, Kerisnel, with lorries loaded with artichokes and cauliflowers the company that has grown over the past 40 years to five routes between the UK and France, three routes between the
he 2013 Irish Travel Industry Awards will be presented on January 24th, but plans for the 2014 Irish Travel Industry Awards are already underway. The Mansion House is set to remain the venue with the pre-dinner drinks sponsored by Ons Stop Travel Shop, at a new venue. At a function for the sponsors in the Residence on Stephen’s Green, ITAA president Clare Dunne and
been redeveloping our online trade-only booking engine in readiness to launch to the UK trade. We are in the final stages of XML integration with all leading partners to maximise distribution reach." Bookabed is planning to expand into Australia and the US this year. Our picture shows Lee Osborne, Fiona Farrelly and Karl Tyrrell accepting their prize at the Irish Travel Industry awards last year.
UK and Spain, plus one from France to Ireland. Brittany Ferries’ flagship, Pont Aven, at 41,700 tonnes, is almost twenty times the size of Kerisnel which had very little by way of creature comforts. Each of Pont Aven’s 650 cabins is airconditioned and has en-suite facilities. Some even have balconies. Picture shows the Brittany Ferries Irish manager Hugh Bruton and London based CEO David Longden carrying a celebratory cake.
CEO Pat Dawson told guests, including two new sponsors, of their ambitions. The Association has a new charity, Zest for Kids, chosen because of their association with Katie Taylor. Every year the ITAA sends €5,000 to the benevolent fund. ITAA President Clare Dunne (pictured) told the sponsors: “we will do every thing we can to help your business, increased business for you is increased business for us.”
redeveloped website, e-ticketing, and new holiday destinations in Iceland, Burma and Mexico are among the new year developments for Travel Department, formerly The Travel Department. Changes include a new logo, new website with a cleaner layout, improved search functions and landing pages, eCRM (online customer relations management) and updated social media
unway has launched an increased programme for 2013 with flights from Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry airports to 16 countries around Europe offering a choice over 50 resorts and 500 hotels to Irish holidaymakers, including new destination Corfu with flights from Dublin starting on June 9. Choices start from €349 for a 7 night holiday including flights, self catering accommodation, free 20kg baggage al-
he 20pc increase in air capacity to New York city (see page 62) is good news for John Donohue and his team at NYC & Company. Our picture shows a group of agents on a NYC & Company fam trip to New York. with the twin themes of shopping (They stayed at the Hilton Millennium, located right beside Century 21) and the Borough of Queens: Fiona Egan of Gogan Travel, Jolanta Myskow of BCD
channels, supported by an on and offline media campaign. The company also operates out of UK, Canada and the USA and has also just launched its new identity and website in the UK. Tim Williamson, CEO says the new website (www.traveldepartment.ie) is designed to ensure that online elements are in keeping with the philosophy of offering a friendly, personal service.
lowance, resort representative service and all taxes. Sunway also offers Worldwide, USA & Canada, Winter Sun, Lapland, Club Med, Sunsail, Neilson, Escorted Tours, Adventure Holidays, Cruise & River Cruise. Picture shows Sunway founder Jim Furlong, who co-founded the company in 1965, CEO Tanya Airey and Domingo Monteagudo from Princesa Yaiza Hotel in Lanzarote at the Sunway lunch for trade and media.
Travel, Gail Dalgarno of Carlson Wagonlit, Tracy McLoughlin of Tour America, Teresa Murphy of Delta Air Lines, John Donohue of NYC & Co, Sharon Boles of Travel Broker, Regina Curran of Tullys Travel, Sylvia Smith of Neenan Travel and Martina Gallagher of American Express. The trip included a Circle Line cruise and a look at value hotel options in Long Island City just across East River from midtown.
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POSTCARDS FROM THE TRAVEL SCENE
f 2011 was the year that Etihad moved from seven to ten flights a week, 2012 was the week when double daily was confirmed on the arrivals board, despite the arrival of a competitor to the Middle East. Due to aircraft availability double daily will not be happening before 2016 which is a peculiarly long time away in international aviation but in the meantime we are likely to see significant ca-
reland’s largest outbound tour operator Falcon Holidays promised a surprise or two as they celebrate their 25th anniversary in Ireland The business was started in November 1988 by Freddy O’Neill and Gabrielle Malone as an offshoot of Falcon’s English operation, and is now owned by TUI Thomson. They launched the 2013 programme highlighting with a high profile TV cam-
AG had its best every year for revenue in Ireland in 2012, Simon Daly told a thank you dinner for the Trade in the Westbury Hotel in Dublin. BA brought agents from Belfast, Cork, Dublin and Limerick together to celebrate an exciting year of expansion. BA transfers through Heathrow airport continue to hit record numbers despite the arrival of serious competition on transfer routes form the Middle East
pacity increases on Dublin-Abu Dhabi. “It shows is that we are here for the long term,” Dave Walsh, the new Ireland manager for Etihad told his invited trade guests from all parts of the country at a function in Pichet restaurant in Dublin. The airline confirmed that the route is the 10th most profitable on its schedule. Etihad expects to carry its one millionth passenger on Dublin-Abu Dhabi route in the first half of next year.
paign featuring the Sensatori product in Sharm El Sheikh. For Irish holiday makers, a new charter service to Tenerife and the Gran Santa Ponsa Pirates Village, which is not available on any other bed banks, is proving popular. Our picture shows the Falcon Holidays team at Chapter One restaurant, January 10 2012, Niamh Kenny, Charlotte Brenner, Carol Ann O'Neill, Helen Caron and Leila McCabe nee Giglione.
airlines. Passenger numbers for the first 10 months of 2012 between Dublin and Heathrow are up 25,220 over 2011. Simon also confirmed that BA will operate eight flights daily out of Dublin airport during the summer of 2013, something that was not automatic because of the pressure on slots created by the terms of its takeover of BMI last year. “Dublin is the ideal use of many of slots with the quick turnover time.”
nited Airlines’ Yvonne Muldoon, the Doyle Collection hotel group, Destination DC’s Alicia Malone, and Bikethesites’ Catherine Pear manage to get some of Ireland’s finest (and flabbiest) travel writers and broadcasters pedalling through the Washington Mall. United’s service commenced in May and was profitable after the first month. It operates on a 757-200 with 16 flat bed business class seats and 45 economy
razoo’s triumph in the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Award at the Eircom Spider Awards 2012 is testimony to the zeal and determination of Cooraclare born brothers Joe and Pádraig Neylon. Unlike other flash sale sites, visitors to Trazoo just fill out a simple enquiry form with information of where they'd like to go, and Trazoo allows hotels and hostels to bid for that booking. Users log
room with a view, you might call it. One of the most exciting developments in the Irish travel scene has been the nurturing of motorcycle tourism and motorcycle rental on iconic road journeys such as Route 66 by Maynooth based tour operator Celtic Horizons. Motorcycle rental was introduced just 20 years ago in the USA. Biking is one of founder David Brazil’s passions. In particular charity
plus seats on the 169-seater aircraft. Pictured form left are Gerry Benson of Travelbiz, Brian Farrell of the Sunday World, Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra, Padraig McKiernan of the Sunday Independent, Yvonne Muldoon of United Airlines, Philip Nolan of the Mail on Sunday, Michael Flood of Irish Travel Trade News, Alicia Malone of Destination DC, and Fionn Davenport of Newstalk 106 FM, Andrew Lynch of the Evening Herald was also on the trip.
back in and can book and confirm whichever one suits the best. A Value Added section allows hotels and hostels to offer or promote additional services like airport collections, night-club entry or meals. These offers are only visible to Trazoo users and may not available anywhere else. The pictures from the awards shows Joe Neylon, presenter Des Bishop, Niamh O'Riordan and Pádraig Neylon.
groups such as Crumlin and Temple Street Hospitals have participated in group travel motorcycle holidays in partnership with Eagle Rider Tours. Here Tryphavana Cross from Las Vegas tourism is pictured speaking at the launch of the 2013 Celtic Horizons and Eagle Rider programme at Thunder Road restaurant in Temple Bar, including an eight day “Las Vegas National Parks” self-drive itinerary
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FEBRUARY 2013 PAgE 76
ways, Joanne Boyd of Simon Daly of British Air ria Brian Thompson of Ibe American Airlines and , de tra the ction for at the British Airways fun tel Ho ury Westb
Jimmy Lennox of World Travel Centre and Joh n Cassidy of Cassidy tra vel at the Etihad Christ mas function
d nway, Helena Kilduff an Jeanette Taylor from Su ay nw Skytours at the Su Ciara Masterson from ch travel trade lun
Donna Kenny of Classic Resorts presents Anne Do nnelly of Kellers with her priz e at the Worldchoice cru ise and long haul workshop, with Garry Zancarano on left
ve Travel Department, Da Brendan Breen of the b Clu of lman Burke Walsh of Etihad and Co mas function rist Ch d ha Eti Travel at the
Cormac Walsh of Joe Wa lsh Tours, Murat Balan di of Turkish Airlines and John Cassidy of Cassi dy Travel at the Star Allian ce Christmas function
Out and about with the Travel Trade
Marian Benton of Map Travel with Tanya Airey and Deirdre Sweeny of Sunway at the British Lisa Whelan of CWT and Tony Collins of Topflight Airways function for the tra de at the Etihad Christmas function in Pichet
Claire Farmer, Sarah Jane Walsh, Martin Penrose and Catherine Murray on the Topflight worldwide fam trip to the Maldives
Kelly from Sunway at Mary Denton and Anita nt eve Sunway travel trade
Margaret Shannon from Emirates accepts the Charlotte Brenner and Dave O'Connor at teh award from Ian Talbot, CEO, Chambers Ireland Falcon Hlolidays media fuc ntion in Belfast. and Ruairi Kavanagh, Editor, InBusiness Magazine
Philip Airey and Richard Cullen at the Sunway travel trade lunch in Peploeâ€™s
Valerie Metcalfe of FCM and Des Abbott of Des Abbott Travel at the Etihad Christmas function in Pichet restaurant
Erica Archer and Suzanne Furlong at the Sunway travel trade event
isO, Stormont Tourism Min Alan Clarke, NITB CE m fro n ssa Martin McCro ter Arlene Foster and NITB showcase n the at rs Tou Derry City . Dublinâ€™s Mansion House
Volker Lorenz of Amad eus and Sharon Jorda n of One Stop Travel Shop at the Irish Travel Award s Launch
am Aldren of British Air Karen Keogh and Grah the at M FC m fro nn ways with Rhona McCa n for the trade British Airways functio
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FEBRUARY 2013 PAgE 77
, Rider, Ciara Corcoran Eric Severson of eagle ltic Ce of zil Bra vid Da Tryphavana Cross and under Road promotion Th ’s ltic Ce at ns rizo Ho
Jean Quigley of the ITA A and Sinead O’Reilly of Travelport at the launch of the Irish Travel Industry awards.
ay an Fulton at the Sunw Darach Culligan and Bri e’s plo Pe in ch de lun pre-Christmas travel tra
Tom Donoghue of Stran d Travel and Michael Caslin of 747 Travel at the Etihad Christmas function in Pichet restau rant
Out and about with the Travel Trade
David Hyeems of Trailfinders, Mary McKenna of Christine Scully, Donna Holohan, Denis e Quinn Tour America and Colman Burke of Club Travel and Ann Mullins on the Topflight world wid e fam trip to the Maldives. at the British Airways function for the trade
her nning Travel receives Colette Desmond of Ma rry Ga h wit C Helen Caron of Falcon and Dave Walsh of Etihad lly of MS prize from Rebecca Ke launch of the Irish Travel Industry awards. ice cho rld Wo of o ran Zanca
John Spollen of John Cassidy Travel and Clare Dunne, President o fthe ITAA, at the British Airways function for the trade
Jimmy Lennox, Yvonne Lennox of World Travel Centre and Alan Neenan of Breakaway at the British Airways function for the trade
of Jim Furlong and Tanya Airey at the Sunway GI and Karen Maloney Jackie Herssans of SH Pichet travel trade lunch in Peploe’s December 5 2012 in n ctio fun s ma rist Ch d ha Eti the at d Etiha restaurant
Sally Lee, Geraldine Ha yes, Carol Glynn and Tara Hynes of British Air ways at the British Airways function for the tra de,
John Grehan amd Chris Merriman at the Topfliight Christmas function.
Gráinne Nolan, Cassidy Travel Blanchardstown . Gráinne is pictured be ing presented with her prize of a Shopping Tri p for 2 to Manchester by Rory Creagh, Agency Sales, Celtic Horizion Tours
lliTravel and Darach Cu Paddy Baird of Killester Air Travel at the British gan of Darach Culligan de ways function for the tra
Tom Kiernan of Ask Su san and Aidan Coghlan of World Travel Centre at the Etihad Christmas function in Pichet restau rant
the n and Pat Dawson at Des Abbott, Alan Benso de tra the n for British Airways functio
Page 078 window seat r 11/01/2013 15:38 Page 1
FEBRUARY 2013 PAGE 78
Tapas in the old town of Palma is a must. Right: Soller bay
Busman’s holiday: Helen Caron
Every month we ask a leading travel professional to write about their personal holiday experience. This month: Helen Caron, Ireland Manager of Falcon Holidays, who celebrate their 25th anniversary in Ireland this year.
here is something very special about Majorca that draws me back time and time again! Arriving in Palma, I never fail to be mesmerised by the stunning Gothic cathedral that dominates the bay more than any of the mega cruise ships that call on a daily basis. And I’m not alone in loving the Island, Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas, Claudia Schiffer and Boris Becker can all be seen here on a regular basis. On my last visit, we dined on tapas in one of the many great restaurants in Palma’s old town. The dulcet tones of
the woman at the next table were hugely familiar to us, we thought we recognised her face but it was only when her companion asked, When will I see you again? that we realised we were sitting next to the ‘legendary’ Three Degrees Sheila
Fergusson! The time before that, the Spanish footballer Javi Martinez sat at the next table – now he is easy on the eye but it took my football mad Mother to point him out to her daughters! I got married in Majorca! The stunning Villa Italia in Port d’Andraxtx has amazing views of the harbour, sea and the Tramuntana mountains. My ceremony was carefully planned on the terrace as the sunset, so you can imagine how gutted I was to wake up on the big day to one of the worst storms Majorca had experienced in years. The rain lashed down all day and no amount of Cava could dull the reality that there was no plan B! But, the Island has never let me down! The rain stopped, the sun came out and we had just enough time for the Anglican vicar of Palma to pronounce us husband and wife! Every time I go back to Majorca I dis-
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
his year more airlines are going out of their way to try to sell us more comfortable
seats. The reason is clear. Fares are down and fuel prices are up, so anything extra they can squeeze out of us is good news. Business class prices have plunged since the recessions hit corporate budgets. Premium economy is the way to go for trans-Atlantic airlines, selling a few inches more legroom for a hundred euro.
That sounds great, if you know what you are getting. But the problem with premium economy and even business class, is it means different things to different airlines. Sometimes it means different things on the same airline, on a different aircraft. Aer Lingus are up front on their Malaga flight. They will charge extra for premier class legroom when they use their trans-Atlantic A330 on the route, without premier class service.
With some of the older craft business class does not even have seat back video, whereas it is the norm in economy class in more modern craft. With a convergence towards three broad types of economy class fare, is there a case that an agency, such as IATA, should work towards some level of standardisation of types, or at least naming conventions, to reduce public and customer confusion?
cover something new but I have some favourite haunts… Tapas in the old town of Palma is a must, as is people watching in the chic Puerto Portals, Sunday lunch in Cala Conills and cocktails in the amazing Abaco bar…ignore the price and enjoy the experience! The Soller railway which takes you from Palma through the mountains and tunnels of the Serra de Tramuntana to the charming town of Soller is a great trip, as is a visit to Valdemossa where Chopin lived and worked. Writing about Majorca today on a cold, wet January morning brings back some great memories. I can see blue skies, warm sunshine and feel the great welcome of the Majorcan people I feel the need of a quick fix and that’s another thing that is great about the Island, it’s perfect for a weekend getaway as well as your main summer holiday!
IN YOUR NEXT TRAVEL EXTRA: Available to Travel Agents or online Feb 11 2013
AWARDS ISSUE Who won what in the 2012 travel Industry awards SPRING TRENDS
page 079-080 11/01/2013 14:11 Page 1
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