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Luxury All Inclusive in the Geranios Suites & Spa Hotel, Fuerteventura, 1 week, €569!

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This deal to Fuerteventura offers the best of both worlds. Stay in a deluxe hotel, right on the beach and have all your meals and drinks included in the price!

 

The Geranios Suites & Spa is a luxury beach front hotel in an outstanding location, offering excellent service and a host of on site facilities. Situated only ten minutes from the airport, you can be relaxing by the sea with a cocktail, within an hour of landing! Feel spoilt with a spacious junior suite equipped with all mod cons, including a kitchenette with microwave. The pool area is stunning, although so is the beach, so the hardest decision you will have to make each day is where to sunbathe!

The Travel Expert's luxury all inclusive deal to Fuerteventura

If you are feeling energetic you can enjoy a game of tennis or squash, work out in their gym or try one of the many water sports available at the beach. Reward yourself with a trip to the spa afterwards and enjoy a massage, or simply relax in the sauna or whirlpool bath.

The Travel Expert's luxury all inclusive deal to Fuerteventura

Although meals and drinks are included in the price of your stay, if you fancy a change of scenery the resort of Caleta de Fuste is only five minutes walk away. Complete with plenty of bars, shops and restaurants – it’s lively – but without being rowdy!  You can also take a trip to some of the other resorts on the island, Correlejo or Jandia being the most popular, or take the ferry to nearby Lanzarote. Suffice to say there is plenty to do in Fuerteventura if you are up for it.

The Travel Expert's luxury all inclusive deal to Fuerteventura

The Hotel Geranios Suites and Spa have an early booking discount of €140, throughout the Summer months.  Prices including flights from Dublin or Shannon and a seven night stay on an all inclusive basis, start at €569 for selected dates in May. Travel in June from €689, July from €955, August from €765 and September from €535. Click on the link below to see the full range of dates and prices.

So go on, kick start yuur Summer, go luxury all inclusive in the Geranios Suites & Spa hotel – you deserve it!

 

Click here for more details:

 

 

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

 

Sarah

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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Cruise direct from Ireland in 2016

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I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, MS Black Watch while it was in Dublin Port in December. Fred. Olsen Cruise lines are offering six cruises direct from Ireland this year.

 

Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines to Cruise direct from Ireland in 2016

 

One of Great Britain’s most loved cruise lines, a fifth generation family business, Fred. Olsen have been cruising for over 50 years. You won’t find any rock climbing walls or robotic barmen on board. You will however, find a warm welcome, from friendly, personal staff.

Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines to Cruise direct from Ireland in 2016

 

The MS Black Watch carries 850 people so when you compare that with Harmony of the Seas that carries 5,500 guests, you can see why Fred. Olsen cruise lines appeal to those looking for a smaller, more intimate ships. The smaller vessels also enable them to reach ports that are inaccessible by bigger ships. You can cruise through the fjords in Norway, dock closer to the heart of St Petersburg and overall, tendering is rare. Disembarking is easier too, you will find you are ashore quickly without having to queue with thousands of fellow passengers.

Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines to Cruise direct from Ireland in 2016

 

The value on board is hard to beat, at €14 per day for all inclusive drinks, this must be one of the most inexpensive drinks packages at sea. There are ample cosy bars and restaurants which are loved by its guests, which incidentally the average age is 60 years. The ships although considered small are actually very spacious, with no shortage of quiet corners to relax and admire the views.

Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines to Cruise direct from Ireland in 2016

So where will Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines be cruising to in 2016?

Want to try a cruise but not sure if it is for you? The five night taster cruise around Ireland this year might just be what you have been looking for. And you don’t even need a passport!  This cruise departs from Belfast on the 31st of May with prices from €879 and includes an overnight in Dublin and a trip to the Giant’s Causeway!

The German canals, rivers and cities cruise is a popular choice. Over twelve days you will have plenty of time to discover the highlights including an overnight in Hamburg and a sail along the Alster Lake. This cruise departs 1st of August from Belfast with prices from €1,949 per person.

Alternatively, discover the Norwegian fjords on a nine night cruise which allows you get up close and personal on Fred. Olsen’s MS Boudicca. Depart from Belfast on the 23rd of July and sail along National Geographic’s top rated Natural World Herigage sites. With prices from €1479 you also get the opportunity to visit Skjolden at the end of the world’s longest fjord.

Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines to Cruise direct from Ireland in 2016

 

There are also transatlantic offerings. Enjoy a two week voyage to Canada’s east coast from Kilybegs on the 14th of May or 7th of September with prices from €2269. Or if you are feeling really adventurous discover Old England to New England on this thirty two day unique voyage. Visit six American states with overnight stays and have the opportunity to disembark in Ringaskiddy. This amazing adventure departs on the 16th of April from Southhampton with prices from €4099 and even includes two days in Bermuda!

Guggenheim museum, one of the top 25 things to do in New York

 

If you are looking for the latest innovation at sea, with water slides and ice skating rinks – then Fred. Olsen cruises are not for you. If however, you want  great value on an intimate ship, offering personal service and convenient cruising from Ireland, then look no further than the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.

 

Click here for more details or Visit your local ITAA Travel Agent.

 

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

 

Sarah

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New Routes from Irish Airports in 2016

Airport

Tired of the same old holiday destinations? Check out the new routes from Irish airports in 2016 and try something new this year!

 

Dublin Airport

We are finally seeing some new longhaul routes from Ireland, something that will be widely welcomed by Irish holidaymakers. Falcon / Thomson holidays will operate a dreamliner aircraft direct to Cancun (Mexico) and Montego Bay (Jamaica) while Air Canada Rouge will offer direct flights to Vancouver for the first time.  Aer Lingus have also introduced direct flights to more US destinations,  Newark, Los Angeles and the surprise choice, Hartford. Ethiopian Airlines are also flying direct to Los Angeles so there should be plenty of choice for people looking to get to the Sunshine State this year. Blue Air will be flying to Cluj (Romania), Ryanair will operate to the Spanish coastal city, Vigo and Aer Lingus will fly to Montpellier in France. There are also extra flights to Athens with Aegean Airlines and Ryanair, perhaps Athens will be on many peoples city break list this year? Aegean Airlines will also be offering online connections to the bucket list destinations of Santorini and Mykonos. And finally, Aer Lingus have added capacity to the popular holiday destinations of Pisa and Murcia, until now these were served by Ryanair only.

Mexico, one of the new routes from Ireland in 2016, by The Travel Expert
Mexico

Cork Airport

Cork airport has announced 400, 000 additional seats available for 2016 and the airport was recently named as one of Europe’s best airports. New routes for 2016 include Cardiff, London City, Leeds Bradford in the UK and Dusseldorf, Germany. Families will welcome direct flights to Nantes and La Rochelle in France and Menorca in Spain, which is operated by Stein Travel. Direct flights to Madrid with Iberia Express should suit people looking for a short city break and Norwegian Air is hoping to fly from Cork to Boston, however this is still subject to US approval. There is also talk of a Cork – New York service in the near future – so watch this space!

Menorca, one of the new routes from Irish Airports in 2016 by The Travel Expert
Menorca

Knock Airport ( Ireland West)

Falcon / Thomson Holidays are flying direct to Salou for 2016, something that has delighted families living in the West of Ireland. The flight will operate weekly from the end of June until the 16th of August. Knock airport will also offer new direct services to the popular cities of Edinburgh and Birmingham this year.

Salou, one of the new routes from Irish Airports in 2016 by The Travel Expert
Salou

Shannon airport

While there are no new routes from Shannon in 2016, extra capacity has been announced to many holiday destinations such as Malaga (Costa del Sol) and Faro (Portugal) as well as popular routes such as Heathrow and New York. 2015 was the third successive year of passenger growth at Shannon airport and this trend will surely continue in 2016.

 

So there you have it, no excuses for resting on your laurels this year – go somewhere new in 2016!

 

Sarah

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Enchanting Canyonlands of the USA, Luxury Escorted Tour, Incl Flights, €2350!

Famous sunrise at Mesa Arch

Marvel at the Grand Canyon, be inspired in Bryce Canyon and Instagram to your hearts content in Monument Valley! The enchanting canyonlands of the USA must be one of the most captivating parts of America.

 

I fell in love with this escorted tour from Insight Vacations. There are deserts, mountains, canyons and monuments at every turn. Many places are still considered sacred, adding a touch of magic when exploring the landscape. Surprisingly the most spectacular sights are quite close together which makes for short journeys each day, leaving you plenty of time to explore. This tour takes you from Scottsdale (Arizona) through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona and on to the Grand Canyon. This is when you will be delighted that you chose this escorted tour – as it allows you to spend the night inside the Grand Canyon National Park! Watch the sunset without the day trippers from Vegas, enjoy a private dinner, as you take in the views of the South Rim. 💛

USA Canyonlands Escorted Tour by The Travel Expert
Grand Canyon

From there visit the Navajo Indian Reservation, the Glen Canyon Dam, before taking a cruise on Lake Powell, where you will stay for the night. Once again you will be spoilt, as all rooms have lake views. Next stop is the famous Monument Valley, featured in many movies and one of the best places to test your photography skills! You can then choose to take a boat trip down the Colorado River before stopping in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Enjoy an overnight stay in a traditional lodge inside the National Park, with a celebration dinner included.

 USA Canyonlands Escorted Tour by The Travel Expert
Monument Valley, Utah

Enjoy the last of the amazing scenery in Zion National Park before arriving at the city of lights, Las Vegas. What a nice way to toast the end of an amazing trip – with a cocktail at the 5* Cosmopolitan hotel. To see the full itinerary click here. Of course you can also choose to extend your trip with extra nights in Vegas or an additional tour of California.

 USA Canyonlands Escorted Tour by The Travel Expert
Las Vegas Strip

With the Enchanting Canyonlands tour you will not only experience spectacular scenery, but you will also stay in top class hotels, and lodges located inside the National Parks. You will be treated to a ‘business class’ coach with extended leg room, on board restroom and free wifi. The expert tour director is like a ‘travelling concierge’ who caters for your every whim. If you want to spend time away from the group, the personal radio headset allows you to wander alone while listening to commentaries, so you wont miss anything! Hotel and restaurant tips, taxes and porterage are included. Let’s face it, this is a huge bonus in America! For more information on the amazing service that Insight Vacations provide, click here.

USA Canyonlands Escorted Tour by The Travel Expert
Bryce Canyon National Park Lodge

2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in America so this is the perfect time to visit! Fly from Dublin on the 18th of June and experience this trip of a lifetime for only €2350 including luxury hotels, taxes and transfers.

Insight Vacations have many premium tours on offer from Ireland.  Click here for more details.

 

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

 

Sarah

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La Napoule, South of France

La Napoule

It’s hard not to have a love affair with the South of France, the scenery, the food, the language – it’s all so romantic and classy at the same time. I found the perfect spot which combines the glitz and glamour of Cannes, with old village charm – La Napoule.

 

I had never actually heard of La Napoule before I booked it. I wanted to go back to the South of France but was looking for an a little French village, that offered a certain “je ne sais quois”? Don’t get me wrong, I love the bigger towns of Cannes and Nice, but with the busy build up to Christmas, La Napoule seemed like the perfect place to relax and unwind.

The Travel Expert visits La Napoule in the South of France
I chose the newly renovated Mimozas Resort. Owned by Irishman Ray Byrne (owner of Wineport Lodge) it offers everything you could possibly want for a family holiday. The apartments are spacious and superbly well equipped. Microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, hairdryer, DVD player are all supplied, as well as the all important free wifi! Although not all facilities were open in Winter, I took a tour of the complex with some of staff, who were very knowledgeable and informed, to see what will be on offer for Summer guests. The facilities on site are excellent and almost all included in the price of your stay. There is a mini club for kids with an animation program, plenty of sports facilities for both adults and children including various aerobics classes and zumba. There is also a wellness centre (extra charge) if you fancy unwinding after a long days sightseeing. The apartments offer views of the on site lake or of the adjacent golf course, and the hotel offers discounted rates to guests. A car is advisable, although if you don’t mind the short twenty minute walk to the centre of the village or are not planning to explore further along the coast, then you could probably do without one.

The Travel Expert visits La Napoule in the South of France
Mimozas Resort

I loved the village of La Napoule, there are plenty of good restaurants and bars but it still retains lots of old world charm. You can pick up freshly baked baguettes in the local boulangerie and some amazing pastries at the patisserie. There is a castle on the waters edge that offers guided tours, but it is equally as impressive to walk around the coast and see it from the sandy beach. The port area has lots of modern restaurants over looking the marina. We had superb pizzas here in L’annexe and enjoyed stunning views without breaking the bank. We also ate in the more traditional Bellini restaurant. We enjoyed classic home cooked food in a cosy atmosphere. My husband, Cormac had the popular choice, the plat du jour – penne al salmone. It was full of flavour and a really generous portion, which was handy, as we all kept eating it! It was fantastic value at only €11.

The Travel Expert visits La Napoule in the South of France
Port of La Napoule

If you fancy a livelier scene you can take a trip to nearby Cannes, only a ten minute drive. A stroll along the Croisette just has to be done. Take the obligatory photo on the steps where the movie stars stand for the Cannes Film Festival. Ogle at the hundreds of designer shops, each one more expensive than the next! It’s ok to look though – right? There are however, plenty of reasonably priced shops behind the main Croisette if you have time to explore. Likewise there are plenty of restaurants to suit all budgets, from pizza places to Michelin star restaurants – Cannes caters for everyone. We ate in Au mal assis  and the food was excellent. The kids loved seeing the fresh fish on display and I had linguine with lobster which was superb. The total cost of €130 for four included a bottle of nice wine – not bad for a good seafood restaurant over looking the sea in Cannes!

The Travel Expert visits La Napoule in the South of France
Lobster & Linguine

If you have the time, Monaco is less than an hour away. You can take a city tour which will take in the Castle, Casino Square, the formula one track and the famous port, laden down with super yachts. We had lunch at the very trendy Beefbar which as the name denotes serves only beef! It has jam packed. As most places were quiet, we decided to see what all the fuss was about. There was a great choice of all things beef and while the steaks were great, the burgers were a little disappointing! They don’t do kids menus so my two kids both had adult burgers and at €20 for a burger I have to say I was a tad disappointed. They were nice but nothing special at all, certainly not the ‘gourmet burgers’ that were advertised on the menu.

The Travel Expert visits La Napoule in the South of France
My son admiring the supercars in Monaco

You should explore the stunning old town of Antibes (one of my favourite places) which is only 20 minutes drive away. There also plenty of other places to see, Nice, St Tropez, Cap Ferrat. Or why not pop into Italy for your lunch? San Remo on the Italian Riviera is only I hour 15 minutes away. Most of the above options are accessible by train from La Napoule station. When you have done enough sightseeing you can always take the kids to Marineland, that never disappoints! Incidentally Mimozas resort will offer discounts on most of the attractions along the coast.

The Travel Expert visits La Napoule in the South of France
The old town of Antibes

How to get there:

Aer Lingus and Ryanair fly to Nice five times each week in the Winter and daily in the Summer months. Transfer time is short to La Napoule, so you can be relaxing by the pool in less than 30 minutes. Mimozas resort offers studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments, so for more details and reservations click here.

Sarah

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October Mid Term Break, Royal Caribbean Cruise. 10 Nights, inc Flights €1169!

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Spend the October mid term break on Royal Caribbean’s newly refurbished Jewel of the Seas, for only €1169 per person.

Jewel of the Seas has just undergone a massive $30 million makeover and can now boast contemporary styling, smart technology and an even outdoor movie screen! It his bright and airy, with floor to ceiling windows, glass canopies and skylights, all ensuring a fantastic ocean views.  If you are feeling energetic, try the running track, rock climbing wall or fitness centre.  For those who want to relax, take some time out at the whirlpool, spa, or take in a show. If travelling with kids, the Adventure Ocean programme is sure to keep them happy. There are numerous restaurants on board including three new speciality restaurants and the popular Windjammer café.

Rhapsody of the Seas offer for the October Mid Term Break from The Travel Expert

And if all of this wasn’t enough, you will be visiting some of Europe’s most loved destinations! Cruise from Rome and visit Crete, Mykonos, Athens, Santorini, Ephesus, Sicily and Naples before finishing your cruise in Rome. Price of €1169 per person includes flights from Dublin on the 27th of October, a ten day cruise on a full board basis, baggage and transfers!

The only other advice I can give you is book your October mid term break Royal Caribbean cruise now, before the prices increase!

 

Click here for more details:

 

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

Interested in cruising? Check out my latest cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals here.

Sarah

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In The Media

As Seen On TV3 – 10th January 2016

The-Travel-Expert-As-Seen-on-TV3

Planning a holiday in 2016? As seen on TV3 SundayAM , check out my best reasons to book early, top tips to get the best deals and where I think the hot spots will be this year.

 

Best Reasons To Book Early:

Generally speaking it pays to book early, particularly if you are looking for something specific or if travelling during school holidays. If you have a large family and need a two or three bedroom apartment or have to take particular holidays in work you should book now.  Most airlines including Aer Lingus and Ryanair have Summer sales and prices normally increase closer to departure. Many hotel websites are offering early booking savings of up to 20% if booked before the 31st of January. Tour Operators Falcon Holidays and Sunway are offering great early booking deals, including free child places and low booking deposits.

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Booking early makes budgeting a little easier too. Most travel agents will let you pay a deposit now and pay your holiday in instalments. It also gives you something nice to look forward to as you look out through your office window at the rain! If you over indulged over Christmas, ClickandGo.com are offering €1 deposits on all European holidays booked ten weeks in advance.

Lanzarote Family holiday by The Travel Expert

 

Tips To Find The Best Deals:

Rather than spending hours searching hundreds of different websites, there are a few sites that are worth checking out. The Irish Travel Agents Association and Worldchoice combine special offers from Ireland’s leading travel agents on their websites.  I also combine a list of the best travel deals from around the web every Tuesday and publish it here.

 

ITAA3

 

When comparing package holidays with holidays you design yourself make sure you include baggage charges, airport transfers and local taxes. Most tour operator’s packages will have no hidden extras so make sure the ‘deal’ you think you have is really as good as it seems. Comparison websites such as Trivago or Tripadvisor  will search numerous websites for the same property and you may find significant savings. Check the distance from the airport too. Particularly in places like Barcelona, which according to Ryanair, has three airports! But Girona and Reus are miles from Barcelona. You may think you are getting a great deal and find out you have to pay hundreds of euro for an airport transfer.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews cruising

 

When booking a flight make sure you check both one way and return airfares. With Aer Lingus and Ryanair for instance, you may find it is cheaper to fly out with one airline and home with another. This can also be useful for good flight times, one airline may have better times on the outward journey and another on the return. The lowcostholidays website will combine all airlines so you can automatically find the best airfares and quite often the lowest priced journey will be with two different carriers. If travelling with kids, Ryanair allow you to select half price bags even if adults are only taking hand luggage. With Aer Lingus you need to book an adult bag in order to get a child’s case for half price.

The Travel Expert's Top Ten Travel Hacks

 

Top Holiday destinations In 2016.

Easter will be big this year. Children have almost three weeks off school with Easter and Patricks day falling together, so get in early before prices rocket! I checked various options and prices are already quite high. The best family option I found is a week in Salou for €925 based on 2 adults and 2 children in the 4* Sanguli Resort. For more details read by blog here.

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I think campsites in Salou and Lake Garda will be particularly popular this year. Many will change from France because of the European championships and the Paris attacks. The ISIS effect also means that people will tend to stick to Spain, Portugal & Italy rather than North African destinations. This will be a European trend so the likelihood is that accommodation in these countries will be priced higher and more scarce than in previous years. This will be particularly problematic if looking for a last minute deal.

The Travel Expert on TV3 10th January 2016

 

There are direct flights to Mexico and Jamaica from June so they should be particularly popular with couples. With prices starting at €1589 for a 4* hotel on an all inclusive basis, including flights, transfers and baggage for two weeks, they are good value for long haul holidays direct from Dublin. You can pay a small booking deposit too, which is always appreciated! Check out Falconholidays.ie for more details.

Fuerteventura by The Travel Expert

 

Ryanair and Aegean airlines have introduced flights to Athens so this could be the big city break destination for 2016 . There are also onward connections with Aegean airlines to Santorini and Mykonos, which are bucket list destinations for many people.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert offers a travel deal to Santorini in 2016

 

For families looking for a relaxing family holiday Menorca could be the destination of choice this year. This is an ideal family destination. There are direct flights and package deals from Dublin with Sunway and new for 2016 is a direct flight from Cork with Stein Travel.

Menorca, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert

 

Cruising is getting more and more popular and prices seem to be getting better each year. MSC Cruises are offering Mediterranean cruise package deals from €1095 in the summer months, including flights and free drinks pacakges. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are offering buy one get one half price plus free drinks packages. The all inclusive package holiday concept seems to have transferred to cruises now!

 

Wherever you decide to go in 2016 – book now, sit back, relax and just wait for the sunshine ☀

 

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

 

Sarah

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Ferrari World, going Italian in Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World (12)

If you have the slightest interest in cars, or indeed a ‘petrolhead‘, and you happen to find yourself in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World must be your first stop!

 

I had a recent whistle-stop visit to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where the very latest in life excesses is on full view to the world. The tallest, fastest, biggest, most expensive of everything is to be seen here. When it comes to cars, if you want to see the fastest and most beautiful cars, a visit to Ferrari World on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is a must. The first thing that struck me, in the five minute cab ride from our hotel to the theme park, was the enormity of the structure I was travelling to.

ferrari-world-abu-dhabi-2015

The building was a sleek as it was large, with the crested metal dome rising out of the dry sand. The architecture reminded me a little of Terminal 2 at Dublin airport, but red, and obviously a much grander scale. As the taxi pulls up, all I can see is Ferrari red, and the ‘prancing horse’ insignia is everywhere. Excitement grew. I was like a boy in a toyshop, or a closet petrolhead that was about to have the chance to get up close and personal with some very exotic supercars from the famous Italian stable. This is what Ferrari World is all about.

Beaten by the heat, I quickly made my way inside to the comfort of the air-conditioned building. I made my way to the ticket desk, collected my tickets and was directed towards the entrance gate. That’s when the drooling started!

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Walking across the sleek entrance corridor, I was greeted by Ferrari engines, on ‘thrones’ in the centre of the walkway, set amid the Ferrari red of the walls and glass structure. At the end of the corridor I entered a cavernous building, filled with the iconic Ferrari cars. Some are elevated on plinths, some just close enough to touch. Obviously the expensive ones are elevated to protect the paintwork from hot sticky handprints. They were all there, from the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (the highest price car ever bought at auction, a snip at $38 million dollars, so I’m thinking this one was a replica), all the way up to the Formula One cars used by the Ferrari F1 Team.

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Two highlights for me were the opportunity to ‘drive’ a Ferrari 458 in a simulator. Complete with the full body of the car and racing interior, I sat into bucket seats, with the windscreen fully wrapped around a High Definition screen. I got the count down via digital traffic lights and on green, I ‘drove’ around the Abu Dhabi race track for a number of laps.

The car shunted and wobbled under the power of the engine and I needed to be careful not to run off the track – something I did not manage very often. The car pitched and rolled as I entered corners, and I was thrown back into my seat as I navigated and accelerated down the straight.

Whilst this is an experience in driving, it is a virtual reality ride. That said, my heart was racing after the ride, and I noticed that the perspiration had built up on my brow from the adrenaline. That’s how realistic it was.

There is also an opportunity to do the same thing in a replica of a Ferrari F1 car – I’d tried it too but as I sat into the cockpit of the F1 car, I had to sink further and further down. To be honest, I cried off before the ride started and opted for the regular car. I really found the F1 cockpit particularly claustrophobic and it made me feel really uncomfortable. Also gave me a new found respect for F1 drivers too!

You can also drive a REAL Ferrari California around an outside track for twenty five kilometres. No really, you can!

Driving a Ferrari has been on my bucket list for a while, and now I was finally going to get to do it….or so I thought. I rocked up with my six hundred dirhams (about €150). But when I was asked for my driving licence, I realised I had left it in Ireland – it wasn’t much good to me there. My dream was dashed.

After a short but compulsory visit to the (very overpriced) gift shop, it was time to go. We had arrived in the early evening and spent three hours at Ferrari World. Arriving late in the afternoon, you run the risk of not being able to ride the fastest rollercoaster in the world, the Formula Rosso – admittedly that didn’t really bother me…

Here’s why…

Suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Ferrari World. If you are in Dubai or Abu Dhabi make it your business to pay a visit, especially if you are a petrol head like me.

Cormac

(Husband of The Travel Expert) 🙂

 

DestinationsLong HaulRest of the World

A Flying Visit To Dubai And Abu Dhabi

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Fifteen thousand kilometers later and four days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Should have stayed longer!

Dubai with all its excess is worth a visit, with the tallest building, fastest cars, largest mall, best hotel (supposedly 7*), widest this and biggest that, its a place that does not know what to do with its money. Lots of Irish have visited as part of a short stopover on their way to Australia. Some have made Dubai their home, enticed by tax free earnings and high salaries. Me? I just went with a mate for a few days pre-Christmas R & R.

Leaving early on a Friday morning and flying with Ethiad direct from Dublin to Abu Dhabi, we had opted to stay in Dubai. We thought it was a short ‘hop’ from one city to the other but not so. We landed about fifteen minutes late and between baggage collection (should have only brought carry on!!!!) and the very long delays and queuing at passport control, we missed our Ethiad luxury coach transfer to Dubai by forty five minutes. When I made enquiries as to when the next coach was going and if our tickets were still valid, I got a response with mixed fortunes.

“Yes Sir, of course you can use your tickets for the next coach.”
“Great, and what time is the next coach at?”
“Midnight Sir!”

It was 10.15pm!

Being the intrepid travellers that we are, we opted for a taxi and to engage the services of one of the thousand taxi drivers in arrivals vying for our custom. Settling on a particularly friendly Indian chap, we headed for the car park. After a white knuckle one hour ride of 100 kilometres in our newly found friends Toyota Corolla, we arrived at the JA Ocean Hotel, The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence. Being a a back seat driver not to mention a nervous passenger, I was happy to get there, I can tell you.

Tired and relieved to have arrived, we checked in and made our way to our room were we dumped our bags. With new found energy after our seven and half hour flight, airport wranglings and high speed commute, we made our way out to get our first sampling of downtown Dubai. It was like a Friday night in any cosmopolitan city. Lots of lads driving flash cars, lots of ladies flashing lots of flesh (except for those in their burkas, of course!), the heat was pleasant and we did a little people watching whilst enjoying food at a local pizza restaurant. No beer though, no beer at all! We even spotted a few Emirati lads on what appeared to be a stag night, but all they seemed to do was drive their very expensive Mercedes four-by-four up and down the same road, hanging out of the vehicle windows whilst blaring Arabic music. No beer though, no beer at all! After eating, travel tiredness and time difference got the better of us and we retired for the evening,  leaving the locals and tourists to sample the Dubai delights.

As breakfast was not included in our hotel stay, the next morning we went looking for coffee, strong Arabic coffee. We ended up in Starbucks! But with WiFi and armed with a map, we planned our route for the day. Dubai is more spread out than we imagined. We purchased a daily pass ticket for the Dubai Metro and stepped on and off the Red and Green line all day long. One of the highlights that I had planned to do/see was the Burj Khalifa, currently the worlds tallest building as I am a bit of a geek for architecture, so that was our first stop. It did not disappoint from the outside, so we decided to see about booking tickets to the viewing platform(s). As we queued, we noticed that you could book tickets online. That’s probably a great idea if you want to fork out 500 Dirhams (€125) each to go up to the top viewing platform to look out over the city. Being the shrewd and thrifty chaps that we are, we skulked away out of the queue and opted to go around to the ground entrance and pop in for a drink.

Unfortunately for us, I had shorts on and one glance from the four uniformed security guards told us our fate. In the most pleasant and polite way, we were denied entry to the tallest building in the world and all because of a pair of shorts…

So three things from this little ditty. Book your (expensive) tickets online before you go, opt for a ‘prime hour’ because you will see nothing at night obviously except for traffic trails. Also, if you fancy popping into the big Burj Khalifa for a jar and bragging rights, don’t wear shorts.

Next stop, The Dubai Mall because its the biggest in the world and the Mall of the Emirates because its got a full indoor ski resort, sealed behind thick glass with sub zero temperatures. Those Emirati think of everything! Suffice to say, these two shopping malls have everything in abundance and are a marvel to the commercialism of Dubai. Being blokes, we saw what we wanted and we left – empty handed I might add. That’s right, not one single purchase in either place. If I had been with The Travel Expert, I am pretty sure I would have left with a lighter wallet and a heavier credit card balance.

Cormac (Husband of The Travel Expert)

For some more about our adventures in Dubai, click HERE. Its all about our visit to Ferrari World.

 

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