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Athens Weekend Break, 27th September, 4 Nights, Flights & 4* Hotel, €284!

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A tale of two cities,  Athens combines the ancient Acropolis with a modern city, full of wonder at every corner.

You can’t help but marvel at the Acropolis. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, it is visible from all over the city. The pedestrianised area is almost like an open air museum yet the modern city below has trendy shops, top class restaurants and a true cosmopolitan feel. Winter time is a great time to visit as temperatures can be too hot in the Summer months, and you still have the stunning sea views 😍 If you fancy a stroll along the beach, there are plenty outside the city to choose from, just a short bus ride away.

Athens weekend break

I found a great deal staying in the highly rated Athens Tiare Hotel. This hotel is very highly rated on tripadvisor and is in a fantastic location. Fly from Dublin on the 27th of September and enjoy an Athens weekend break for four nights here for only €284 per person.

Click here to book flights: €115pp

Click here for more details: €169pp

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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Flights to Dubai & Royal Caribbean Cruise, €980!

Cruise Dubai

Cruise around the Emirates on Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas and enjoy a holiday of a lifetime for only €980! What a great way to beat the January blues!

 

Renovated in 2011 this impressive cruise ship boasts a state of the art fitness centre, swimming pools, a rock climbing wall, top class entertainment for adults and children and an outdoor movie screen if you fancy catching a movie! Renowned for its excellent choice of restaurants you can choose to dine in Royal Caribbean’s signature steak house, Chops Grille or try some Asian cuisine at Izumi. Of course if you want to dine without any additional cost, the main restaurant and buffet options are of exceptional quality.

The Travel Expert finds a great cruise deal to Dubai in January

Overnight in the amazing city of Dubai and understand why it is one of the world’s leading holiday destinations. See the world’s tallest building, shop till you drop in the world’s largest mall, try some indoor skiing or simply relax on one of it’s stunning beaches.

The Travel Expert finds a great cruise deal to Dubai in January

You will visit two cities in Oman, Muscat & Khasab. One of the Middle East’s oldest cities combined with miles of unspoilt beaches, Muscat is a feast for the senses. You will also get the opportunity to explore the ‘Norway of Arabia’, Khasab and its bustling harbour. Of course no cruise around the Emirates would be complete without a stop in it’s capital, Abu Dhabi.  Luxury hotels and modern theme parks contrast with busy bazaars. Take a trip to Ferrari world, explore dhow harbour or visit one of it’s many museums.

The Travel Expert finds a great cruise deal to Dubai in January

Fly direct from Dublin on the 17th of January and spend seven nights on board this luxury cruise ship for only €980 per person. Price includes flights and cruise on a full board basis.

 

Click here for more details:

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Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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DestinationsEurope

The Ten Best Movies To Showcase Italy

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Planning a holiday to Italy? Check out the ten best movies to showcase Italy, to get you in the mood!

Italy is a country that is brimming with culture and stunning places just waiting to be explored. Over the past one hundred or so years, we have been blessed with some truly brilliant movies which showcase its beauty perfectly. Take a look at my favourites and see if they whet your appetite.

Roman Holiday | Under The Tuscan Sun | Only You |

Eat Pray Love | A Room With A View | Life Is Beautiful | The Talented Mr Ripley

 Letters to Juliet | Quantum Of Solace |The Godfather

Roman Holiday

Although set in the 1950’s, Roman Holiday is one of the best movies to showcase the magic of Rome. You will follow the stunning Audrey Hepburn around Rome as she explores top sights including The Spanish Steps and The Mouth of Truth for the first time.

The Travel Expert finds a great deal to Rome

 

Under The Tuscan Sun

Diane Lane, recently divorced, renovates a run down Tuscan villa to help transform her life. A romance and journey of self discovery ensues and the Tuscan countryside is the ideal place to make this happen.

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Only You

This romantic comedy staring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr is the perfect movie for anyone who is looking to see Italy’s highlights. Set in Rome, Venice and Tuscany this movie is an Italian lovers dream. The ride along the Amalfi coast and the hotel stay in Positano (Le Sirenuse) is a spectacular advertisement for this coastline.

Sorrento, 24th October holiday by The Travel Expert

 

Eat, Pray, Love

A divorced Julia Roberts takes a trip around the world to rediscover her true self. A three month start in Italy where she learns the language and some Italian cooking has inspired many people to copy her journey.

Pescheira de Garda Italy

 

 

A Room With A View

Florence is the setting for this romantic period drama. Helena Bonham-Carter is perfect as the impressionable,  young English lady. Florence and the Tuscan countryside combine to make this a worthy award winning movie.

Florence by The Travel Expert

Life Is Beautiful

This oscar-winning, foreign language film is about a Jewish book keeper in wartime Italy. Set in Arezzo, this Tuscan masterpiece sees Guido protecting his son from the horror of the holocaust by cleverly using his imagination.

The ten best movies set in Italy by The Travel Expert

The Talented Mr Ripley

This moody thriller is set all over Italy. It is one of the best movies to showcase various Italian cities with Venice,Rome, Palermo and Naples all featured. The scenes along the Amalfi coast are enough to tempt you to book a plane ticket!

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Letters to Juliet

Although most of the film was shot in Tuscany, Verona is home to Juliet’s balcony and where Amanda Seyfried finds a 50 year old love letter. Of course she has to trace its owner and hence the Italian journey begins.

The ten best movies set in Italy by The Travel Expert

 

Quantum of Solace

No one could forget the opening scene of Quantum of Solace. A car chase around Lake Garda followed by the dramatic Palio race in the Piazza del Campo, Siena. This race is held twice a year. Entrance is free but if you want to see the race properly, book a room at least a year in advance, over looking the square.

The ten best movies set in Italy by The Travel Expert

 

The Godfather

Part of the iconic Godfather is set in rural Sicily. Unlike my other choices, this doesn’t show Sicily at its best! There are no stand out sights and no glimpses of the cliff top town Taormina. However, somehow the countryside is fascinating. The movie is such a classic that it has been the reason for many visits to Sicily since it’s opening in 1972.

The ten best movies set in Italy by The Travel Expert

Sarah

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Marbella, 14th September, 1 week, Flights & Hotel, €366!

Marbella

Want the glitz and glamour of Marbella without the hefty price tag? Read on…

 

Marbella is one of Spain’s most glamorous resorts. Although known as the Spanish St Tropez, it has much more to offer than just fashion and ferraris. The pretty old town is full of cobbled stone streets, colourful window boxes and local art galleries. The beaches are superb, particularly along the golden mile, which stretches from Marbella into Puerto Banus.  There are plenty of dining options available. Choose local eateries serving Spanish cuisine at reasonable prices, fine dining in michelin star restaurants or celeb hang outs, such as the Marbella Club. Of course if you want to mingle with celebrities, ogle at the super yachts and shop in Chanel, then it’s probably best to pop into Puerto Banus, just 6 km from the old town of Marbella.

The-Travel-Expert-offer-on-Marbella as seen on TV3

I have chosen the popular San Cristobal hotel which is right in the heart of Marbella and is highly rated on tripadvisor. This hotel was awarded a certificate of excellence and many clients return to stay here each year. It does not have a swimming pool but is located beside the beach. If you fancy chilling out after a late night on the town, it has a sun terrace which offers free wifi! Fly from Dublin on the 14th of September and spend seven nights here for only €366 per person.

Click here to book:

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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4* in Vilamoura, Algarve, 14th September, 1 week €449!

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Early bird catches the worm…that is certainly true when it comes to this deal! Enjoy a 4 star week in Vilamoura, Algarve in September for only €399 per person including flights!

 

With average temperatures of 28 degrees and some of the best beaches in Europe, the Algarve ticks all boxes. Try the chic resort of Vilamoura which offers 5 top class golf courses, lots of modern hotels, as well as some of the best shopping on the Algarve. The marina is a great place to people watch. Dine in one of the many great restaurants which offer stunning views of the luxury yachts moored here.

The Travel Expert's summer holiday deal to Vilamoura, Algarve for 2016

I found a great deal flying from Dublin on the 14th of September. Spend seven nights in the popular Pinhal da Marina apartments for only €449 per person. Highly rated on tripadvisor and awarded a certificate of excellence, this is a great choice to enjoy some glitz and glamour, without the hefty price tag!

 

Click here to book flights: €134pp

Click here to book hotel: €630

Click here to book a choice of transfers:

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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DestinationsEuropeFeaturedSki Holidays

Top Ten Ski Resorts For Families

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Thinking of going on a family ski holiday? Check out my top ten ski resorts for families from Crystal Ski and make sure you get it right!

 

It is so refreshing to see families getting together over dinner without iPads or ear phones in sight. To hear children chatting about what they accomplished that day and to see the pride in which they relay their stories. The fresh air, the exercise, the overall feeling that you are doing something good, makes skiing a great family holiday experience.

There are some things to watch out for though. You might not have happy kids at dinner time if your chalet is miles from the ski slopes, with no ski bus in sight! Likewise you don’t want to end up carrying two sets of skis and boots all the way home!

The Travel Expert's guide to the top 10 ski resorts for families

For this post, I got some advice from the ski specialists Crystal holidays who are the experts in family ski holidays. They also offer excellent childcare facilities in many of their hotels. Check out their family guide to the mountain which offers advice on childcare, ski school, what to wear, where to stay and lots more!

 

Niederau, Austria

Home to the excellent 1st Wildschönau Ski School and Crystal Holidays Pepi Penguin Nursery childcare, Niederau is one of Europe’s top family resorts. There are plenty of wide nursery slopes and easy to use lifts. For any advanced skiers, your lift pass covers a further 145km in Alpbach. There are toboggan runs and horse-drawn sleigh rides and the nearby Wave Water Adventure World has plenty of slides for all the family.

Transfer time 1 hour 30 minutes from Innsbruck.

 

Chamrousse, France

Chamrousse is an ideal choice for a first time ski holiday. With numerous self catering apartments built between the trees, not only is the setting perfect, but it offers great value too. There are plenty of slopes for beginners but advanced skiers can ski into Criox de Chamrousse, the highest point of the resort, for some black runs. There is a snow park, perfect for teenagers who have mastered the skills and a kids park for the younger ones. There are also lots of cross country skiing runs and best of all – your lift pass is free in this resort for 2016!

Transfer time 1 hour 30 minutes from Chambery.

The Travel Expert's guide to the top 10 ski resorts for families

Tignes, France.

Tignes offers a huge variety of accommodation to suit all tastes. Choose the family hotel Diva which houses the Crystal childcare team or the many chalets situated in the heart of the resort. It also offers slopes for all levels, with lots of nursery slopes and even off-piste skiing for any dare devils! It is part of the Espace Killy ski area, which gives access to glaciers in Tignes and Val d’Isère, but offers much better value than staying in the upmarket Val d’Isére. The resort is purpose built so lacks the winter wonderland feel, but offers world class ski facilities and non ski activities, such swimming pools and ice skating rinks.

Transfer time 2 hours 30 minutes from Chambery.

 

Avoriaz, France

Avoriaz offers great facilities for a family ski holiday. Also purpose built so not quite the picture postcard, but good snow conditions are almost guaranteed. Kids will love the Aquariaz indoor water park. The natural snowpark with jumps in the trees, is great for any teenagers who are at an advanced level. It is car free so very easy to walk around and the streets are full of snow, so doorstep skiing is common with most accommodation. There are even horse-drawn sleighs if you want to get around the resort without walking!

Transfer time 2 hours from Geneva.

The Travel Expert's guide to the top Ski resorts for families

Alpe D’Huez, France

One of the sunniest and largest ski areas in France, Alpe d’Huez offers skiing to suit every level. It is home to the longest ski run in the world, the Sarenne, and has lots of beginners slopes very close to the resort centre. Choose to relax in the outdoor swimming pool, or try your luck at the bowling alley or ice skating rink.

Transfer time 2 hours and 15 minutes from Chambery.

 

Alpbach, Austria

When you think of Winter wonderlands, Alpbach springs to mind. It is one of Austria’s prettiest villages and with plenty of nursery slopes to keep the little ones happy. The ‘Ski Jewel’ from Alpbach to Niederau offers 145 km of piste for advanced skiers too. There is also an indoor swimming pool and outdoor ice rinks if you fancy a break from skiing.

Transfer time 1 hour 30 minutes from Innsbruck.

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Claviere, Italy

This quiet Italian village is located right on the border with France. This family resort is renowned for quiet slopes its short lift queues. It is connected to the Milky Way’s 400km of runs so perfect for advanced skiers too. There is also an ice rink and plenty of outdoor activities such as sledging and bum boarding.

Transfer time 1 hour 45 minutes from Turin.

 

Saas Fee, Switzerland

A high resort, snow is almost guaranteed in Saas Fee. There are lots of long ski runs with a dedicated family area close to the village where slopes are very quiet. The village is car free with plenty of good aprés ski bars to choose from. Kids will love the ice skating rink, swimming pool, dog sledding  and the numerous taboggan runs. Every week there resort hold a flaming torch light walk and Swiss fondue night, a perfect way to round of a family day on the mountain.

Transfer time 3 hours from Geneva.

The Travel Expert's guide to the top 10 ski resorts for families

Seefeld, Austria

Seefeld hosted the Winter Olympics twice and recently the Youth Olympics so the skiing facilities are hard to beat. There is a separate area for beginners and intermediates as well as a large network for cross country skiing. There is an ice skating rink, a casino and plenty of restaurants and bars in the pedestrianised centre of the village. It also offers excellent floodlit night skiing with heated seats in their weatherproof chairlifts!  It is also very close to Innsbruck if you fancy a day out sightseeing or even shopping.

Transfer time 45 minutes from Innsbruck.

 

Bardonecchia, Italy

Bardonecchia in Italy is located in a sunny valley, right on the French border. Kids will love the ice rink and sports centre and there are over 80 shops here if you fancy taking a day off skiing. Slopes are generally quiet with short lift queues. It is perfect for beginners and intermediates but your lift pass gives you access to Montgenévre in France if you fancy going a little further afield.

Transfer time 2 hours 15 minutes from Turin.

The Travel Expert's guide to the top 10 ski resorts for families

Tempted?  Visit Crystalski.ie

 

Sarah

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Best Travel DealsIn The Media

As Seen on TV3’s Sunday Am – 8th Nov 2015

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Here are my top picks for pre Christmas breaks as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM.

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Christmas Market Breaks

The winter price war between Aer Lingus and Ryanair means there is still great value in Christmas market breaks. The Irish Travel Agents Association has many advertised in their offers section, with packages to cities such as Prague, Krakow, Berlin for less than €200 with flights and hotel.

The Travel Expert offers a Copenhagen Christmas market break

I particularly like the Copenhagen Christmas market, it offers something different to the eastern European markets. Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks and is situated right in the heart of the city. It is filled with over 500,000 fairy lights and decorated to look like a winter wonderland. There are light shows, concerts, fantastic restaurants and over 60 market stalls. You can take a spin on a rollercoaster or sip some mulled wine, while catching a top class concert. The market itself is the destination. Its also a great place to bring children, with lots of amusement rides for all ages and you can even combine it with a visit to Santa, who is on site! Note that the Tivoli Gardens market is open until the 2nd of January (most of the others are closed by Christmas Eve), so it is a ideal place for a post Christmas break too. ClickandGo are offering a great deal to Copenhagen in December, with Aer Lingus flights and two nights in a 4* Hotel for only €219. For more details click here.

 

Christmas Shopping Breaks To New York

Another holiday that has made a huge come back this year is the Christmas shopping break in New York. Despite the exchange rate there are still plenty of bargains to be found.

A Christmas shopping weekend in New York by The Travel Expert

 Century 21 department store (an American version of TK Maxx) is open from 730am so its an ideal place to start. Inevitably with the time difference you will find you are wide awake at 6 am the day after you arrive. Its also easier to find bargains when the store is neat and tidy – don’t try to go in the evening time, its like a jumble sale! Most of us love Macys and Bloomingdales and there are plenty of bargains to be found coming up to Christmas. My personal favourite is the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. They have all the top designer clothes for a fraction of the price you would pay at home. It is also a really nice place to shop, like a massive Kildare village. Of course if you don’t want to venture outside of Manhattan you can always pick up the latest designer bag or jewellery on Canal Street for $20! For more details on shopping in New York, read my blog here.  The Christmas tree at Rockefeller centre is illuminated on the 2nd of December so I chose a package on the 4th of December. The price for flights and hotel for three nights is €695 per person, click here for more details.

 

Lapland

I went on a two night trip last year with my husband and two children and loved it. It was by far the best family holiday I have had, and one that I will never forget. It is not just about meeting the ‘real’ Santa, the whole experience is magical. The excitement starts from the minute you arrive at the airport to check in, the sign reads The North Pole, the excitement never goes away. There is entertainment on the short three hour flight and when you arrive at your log cabin in the snow, its like a winter wonderland. The trip included snowmobiling, husky & reindeer rides and a visit Santa’s post office and village. I would say to anyone to beg, borrow or steal to go, the memories will last a lifetime for you, and your children. For more information on my trip, read my blog here.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert offers an over night trip to Lapland

Sunway have the largest number of flights with 8 operating between Dublin and Cork. The two night trips are full and there is very limited availability on the 1 night trips. Likewise Cantebury Travel’s two and three night trips are also full. The good news is that Falcon Holidays still have availability left on their day trips. Prices are from €639 for adults and €579 for children and there is availability on the 5th, 12th and 18th of December. I would recommend anyone who is planning for next year to book well in advance. Use it as a savings club perhaps, pay a small deposit and pay in monthly instalments.

Like what you see, click here to see my best travel deals:

 

Sarah
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Travel

Copenhagen Christmas Markets, 26th Dec, Flights & 4 Star Hotel, €299!

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Open since 1843, Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. In December it is like walking into a Christmas winter wonderland. Try a Copenhagen Christmas markets break this year and experience the magic!

 

Over one million people descend on Tivoli at Christmas time, to experience one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. It is lit up with 500,000 fairy lights and has Christmas decorations at every corner.  It is now open from mid November to the 3rd of January, just to cope with demand. It stays open later than other Christmas markets too, making it the perfect choice for a post Christmas break. There are, as always in Tivoli, numerous theme park rides, but at Christmas time there are added light shows, market stalls, and top class concerts. It is no doubt one of the best places to soak up the Christmas atmosphere.

Copenhagen Christmas markets by The Travel Expert

Of course Copenhagen offers so much more than Tivoli Gardens. Explore the trendy streets of Nyhavn where the multicoloured houses will offer you iconic photographs. Enjoy some of the excellent cuisine that Copenhagen is renowned for and shop along the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe. For more information on Copenhagen, read my blog here.

Copenhagen one of the best places to visit after Christmas by The Travel Expert

I chose the 4* Grand Hotel in Copenhagen. It receives great reviews on tripadvisor, is situated in the heart of the city and also offers complimentary breakfast! Fly with Aer Lingus on the 26th of December and spend two nights here for only €299 per person.

 

Click here for more details:

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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