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5 years ago

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San Francisco – Biking The Bridge!

Biking the bridge

Forget Alcatraz, forget Fishermans Wharf!  In San Francisco – biking the bridge is the coolest thing to do!

 

Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. Getting the chance to cycle across it with my family was not only the best experience I had in San Francisco, but it is one of the best family experiences I have had on any holiday!

San Francisco - biking the Golden Gate bridge by The Travel Expert

We were staying at the Suites at Fishermans Wharf and on our first day we happened to stumble across Blazing Saddles – literally three minutes walk from our Hotel. I had heard about cycling across the bridge but I assumed the kids wouldn’t be able for it. Luckily the sales staff were good at their jobs and caught me curiously looking at the poster as we walked by. Within seconds they knew we were Irish and out came ‘Georgie’ from Blanchardstown to greet us! She not only assured us that the kids would be ok but let us try various styles of bikes until we found the right ones for us. We selected a tag-a-long bike for my husband and daughter Alex ( age 5 ), my son Luke ( age 8 ) was able to ride his own bike. There were also other options for younger kids with trailers or baby seats.  After a 3 minute video showing us the highlights, we were given maps and helmets and we were on our way.

Biking the golden gate bridge by The Travel Expert

The bike path is so easy to follow and it is almost impossible to get lost. The fact that you can’t possibly miss the Golden Gate bridge helps too! We decided to go for the option of cycling across the bridge into the pretty town of Sausalito and getting the ferry back. Although it is only an 8 mile ride, (from Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito) I would advise you to take the whole day. You will find yourself constantly stopping for selfies and although a three hour time is recommended, we took a lot longer! You will pass beautiful neighbourhoods where you will stop to admire the opulent houses, the luxury yachts on the marina, the beach, as well as the numerous photo ops of the bridge itself. There is even a picnic stop if you fancy a break.

San Francisco - biking the Golden Gate bridge by The Travel Expert

The cycle across the bridge is actually quite short and although busy with pedestrians, cyclists and of course cars – you never feel nervous. The cycle path is completely separate to the cars and you can stop as many times as you wish for photos or just to take in the view! Once you ‘make it’ across, take the downhill (steep) ride into Sausalito. It is a picture postcard town, complete with quaint shops and panoramic views across the bay. It also has some great restaurants so it the perfect place to enjoy a well deserved meal after your bike ride! We opted for Napa Valley Burger Company, a great organic burger house, ( they even pair their burgers with wines!) – there were clean plates all round.

San Francisco - biking the bridge by The Travel Expert

After a quick spot of souvenir shopping it was time to catch the ferry back to the wharf. Queues can be long in the Summer months so make sure you purchase your boat ticket as soon as you arrive in Sausalito – the evening ferries in particular can get booked up quickly. If you book with Blazing Saddles you can pre-purchase the ferry tickets, so no need to worry about having to cycle back up the steep hill – trust me you wont want to do that!

For me it was definitely a case of ‘the journey was the destination’ – the whole day was a fantastic experience and one that the whole family enjoyed. My kids felt very proud of their achievement, particularly across such a iconic landmark. My son, Luke, couldn’t wait to tell his friends in school that he did it, and I must say I was pretty proud too!

San Francisco - biking the Golden Gate bridge by The Travel Expert

If you are visiting San Francisco, make sure you put it on your to do list so you too can say you ‘biked the bridge’!

 

Like this post ? Why not pin it!

 

Sarah

 

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Top Ten Travel Tips For Long Flights

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Travelling long-haul for the first time? Arrive in style by following my top ten travel tips for long flights.

 

Sitting on the runway in Dublin airport waiting for our flight to take off, I couldn’t help but notice some nervous passengers in front of me. They asked the air hostess if they could get off the plane first, they only had ninety minutes before their connecting flight to Bangkok took off from Heathrow’s Terminal 5. I was in a similar situation but was quietly confident I would make it. That is until the captain announced that they had to circle for about fifteen minutes before landing. I found myself wishing I had booked the earlier flight….

1. Choose your flights wisely.

If you can, fly direct, particularly to the USA. You can go through immigration in Ireland before you leave which is such a massive bonus. Customs queues in the States can be up to two hours long which believe me seems like eternity after a long flight. You will also not have to worry about being delayed and missing connections, and of course obviously the journey time will be shorter. If you have to take two or more flights, check the overall journey time. You might save €100 by going with a particular airline but the flying time could be ten hours longer than the alternative. You will end up spending that and more in airports and purchasing snacks on board.

 The Travel Expert's top ten travel tips for long flights

 

2. Don’t buy separate tickets.

If you are not flying direct, make sure you purchase one ticket from your origin to your destination., i.e don’t purchase a Dublin – London ticket and a separate London – Bangkok ticket. By purchasing one ‘through’ ticket, the airline will be obliged to put you on the next available flight should you miss your connection.

 

3. Give yourself enough connecting time.

So this might sound obvious but sometimes minimum connecting times are just that – minimum. If your flight is delayed even 15 minutes, the terminal bus pulls off just as you arrive, and you have a 15 minutes wait for the next one, that could be the difference between getting your flight or not. And if you are like me and get there in time (just about) your luggage may not…

Top ten travel tips for long flights by The Travel Expert

 

4. Pick good seats!

Checkout seatguru.com which shows detailed seat maps for all aircrafts. If travelling with kids, it can be more practical to get two seats together, one in front of the other, rather than four across the middle of the plane. A window seat can be handy to rest your head against while sleeping, also you won’t be woken by people wanting to get past you to use the bathroom. Contrary to popular belief exit seats are not always the best seats, they can be drafty and right sometimes beside the toilets, so it can be difficult to sleep. You will see first hand reviews from customers on seatguru similar to what you see on tripadvisor – but for seats instead of accommodation.

The Travel Expert's top ten travel tips for long flights

 

5. Make use of the large baggage allowance.

When travelling long-haul, most airlines will allow you a 23 kg checked bag – use it. Try to avoid large, heavy cabin bags if you have connecting flights. You need as much space at your feet for a long flight and dragging cabin bags on to buses or trains when changing terminals, is not pleasant!

 

 

6. Check in online.

Where possible check in online for ALL legs of your journey. Most airlines will let you do this 24 hours before departure. This will save you queuing for boarding passes and valuable time.

 The Travel Expert's top ten travel tips for long flights

 

7. Think food, bring snacks and pre book meals.

If you don’t fancy the usual chicken korma or similar on your flight – bring plenty of snacks with you. If travelling with kids pre book kids meals in advance, vegetarian options can also be a good choice for adults. You can usually pre book meals in the ‘manage booking’ section of the airlines website.

 

8. Look after yourself.

Long flights can be tiring on your body and drying on your skin. Drink plenty of water and use good moisturisers, my personal favourites are Estée Lauder’s advanced night repair and their travel exclusive pack can easily be picked up at duty free before you fly. During the flight I like M.A.C.’s fix spray which can be sprayed over your make-up to hydrate your skin as you fly. It also comes in 30ml size for €10, so ideal for your hand bag. Make sure to buy a travel size hand cream and vaseline for your lips, trust me these are essential!

 

The Travel Expert's top ten tips for long flights

9. Bring supplies.

Phones, tablets, books, games – bring anything that you can think of to pass the time. Most planes have power sockets now so bring your charger with you so when you arrive at your destination, you can still use your phone. Think about how best you sleep, if you need aids like sleeping tablets, neck cushions, eye masks, ear plugs  – bring them. A Verbatim MEDIA SHARE is invaluable if travelling with kids. It creates it’s own wifi network so kids can watch movies on their tablets or phones anywhere, even on a plane.  It is also really compact so much easier to carry than a portable DVD player and lots of DVDs.

 

10. Join the airlines frequent flyer club.

Just because this is your first long-haul flight – it hopefully wont be your last. And those miles clock up very quickly!

 

Have you any to add to my list? I would love to hear from you, just comment in the box below 🙂

 

Safe travels.

 

Sarah

 

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In The Media

Easter Breaks, As Seen On TV3’s Sunday AM

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Still wondering what to do during the Easter holidays? Here are my my top picks for Easter breaks as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM.

 

Easter holidays are particularly long this year with schools closing for almost three weeks. Many families are taking the opportunity to travel long-haul, either to relatives living abroad or to bucket list family holiday destinations, like Florida. The good news is that because the break is so long there is no peak date for short-haul holidays. Some are travelling over Patrick’s Day and coming home for Easter and therefore the peak Easter week isn’t sold out like previous years. So if you are thinking of a last minute get away, there is still availability and the prices might surprise you . Check out my top pics below.

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Algarve 27th March, 7 Nights €369 per person; 2adults & 2children €1438

If you are looking for a good value break at Easter, it is hard to beat the Algarve. Prices flying on Easter Sunday are low and you can get a week in a popular family run hotel near Albuferia, for €369 per person. The Aguamarinha hotel gets great reviews on tripadvisor and was awarded a certificate of excellence. If you are afraid you wont get the weather, temperatures last year were as high as 27 degrees at that time and average temperatures over the past few years are about 19 degrees. If you want to bring the kids the 4* Paraiso in Albufeira are a good choice, price for 2 adults and 2 children is €1438 including flights. If you can take an extra days holiday and stay for 8 nights, the price is much lower, 2 sharing is €282 and 2 adults & 2 children is €1085 , both departing on the 27th of April and returning Monday the 4th of April.

Click here for Aguamarinha Hotel, 2 sharing €369

Click here for Paraiso Apartments, 2 adults & 2 children €1438

The Travel Expert's top picks for Easter breaks

 

Lanzarote 26th March, 7 Nights €519, 2 adults & 2children €1716

If you want to be guaranteed the weather then the Canary Islands are probably your best bet. Topflight still have availability to Lanzarote, flying out on Easter Saturday. A week in a two bedroomed apartment in Puerto del Carmen is €1716, based on 2 adults and 2 children, or €519 based on 2 sharing. This includes Aer Lingus flights, baggage and transfers too. Topflight also have deals to Lake Garda and the ski slopes if you fancy something a little different.

Click here for more details:

The Travel Expert's top picks for Easter breaks

 

Rome 30th March 2 night city break €384

There are some cheap flights to Rome if you can travel midweek during the Easter holidays. Clickandgo.com are offering a two night stay from the 30th of March from €384 per person including Aer Lingus flights and breakfast each day. The flight departs from Dublin early in the morning and returns late in the evening so you have three full days there.

Click here for more details:

The Travel Experts top picks for Easter breaks

 

Uniworld River Cruises – Various Cruises 20th, 27th March, 7 nights 50% off.

Uniworld are the ultimate in river cruising. They offer 5* deluxe boutique cruises that include excursions, all meals, drinks (even champagne) in lavish surroundings. The attention to detail, fine dining and authentic holiday experiences are some of the reasons that Uniworld have won best luxury cruise line for the past seven years. They are offering 50% off many of their cruises during Easter holidays. My personal favourite is the Bordeaux, Vineyards & Chateaux cruise which was €3293 and is now €1730 on the 27th of March for seven nights, you can read more about it here.

Click here for more details:

Top picks for Easter breaks by the Travel Expert

 

For the latest Easter offers from Ireland’s leading travel agents click here.  Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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Zootropolis – The ‘Zootopian’ holiday destination!

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Imagine a holiday destination where predators and prey walk side by side, where anything is possible, where you follow your dreams and they DO come true – that’s Zootropolis, the latest feel good movie from Disney!

 

The movie brings you through a large city of four boroughs were both predator and prey live in harmony. It is one of those places where there is something for everyone, complete with a transportation system to die for! You can sunbathe, snowboard, gamble and even trek through the rainforest. Now if only I could find such a place and sell it – now there’s a thought! A word of warning though! Please be on the lookout for isolated incidents of crime. The police departments are investigating some ‘violent’ crime on ‘prey’ victims in some areas. Investigations are ongoing…

This is where little Judy Hopps (aka a bunny rabbit voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) fits in. She always wanted to be a police officer and decides to take the high speed train to the big city where ‘anyone can be anything’ – Zootropolis, to fulfil her dream. Discounted by the chief of police, a buffalo (Idris Elba) and her colleagues, she is reduced to traffic duty on her first day. Determined to prove everyone wrong she sets out to solve the case of the missing mammals. Judy meets Nick, the sly fox (Jason Bateman) who eventually agrees to help her, after some clever hustling on her own part.

A review of Zootropolis by the travel expert.

A clever movie ensues as Judy and Nick meet all sorts of interesting characters. With help from the hilarious sloths (my kids favourite), the naked elephants and the rodent Godfather, they attempt to solve the case and explore the lands of Zootropolis along the way….

Little Rodentia:

First off you definitely will not be staying here. Little Rodentia is a only twenty one inches tall and located in Savanna Central Park, a gated community to avoid large mammals mistakenly entering the area. The district is based on Greenwich Village, New York,with a wealth of restaurants and shops (especially cheese shops!!). It’s also home to a terrific transportation system modelled on tubes normally reserved for hamster cages!

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Tundra Town:

Tundra Town is a district for polar mammals in the city of Zootropolis. A district conceived with those who enjoy a colder climate and is twinned with Moscow. A great place for the adventure skier or snowboarder to visit. Once again, prey and predator live together in harmony here so you need not worry about the large population of polar bears.

Zootropolis-Greetings-Tundra-02

 

Sahara Square:

If you are a bit of nightowl, this district is the one for you! Sahara Square was built for animals who live in the desert, with strong influence from both Monte Carlo and Las Vegas. Sahara Square would very much remind visitors of Dubai – literally coming alive at night with bustling clubs and casinos.

Zootropolis-Greetings-Sahara-02

 

The Rainforest District:

And finally, the Rainforest District. A place for those seeking adventure and also spa treatments! The climate is humid and can be particularly wet during the rainy season, but beautiful nevertheless. The lush vegetation and scenery will keep you coming back for more but if you are looking for the elusive tan, perhaps best stick to Sahara Square!

Zootropolis-Greetings-Rainforest-03

 

Getting to visit Zootropolis before others was a treat that I really enjoyed, so many thanks to my friends at Disney, from my family and I! You too can visit Zootropolis from March 18th where the good people at Disney make dreams come true. To this day, my kids are still singing the theme tune, Shakira’s ‘Try everything’ – if only they came back from holidays feeling the same way….

 

Sarah

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Al Fresco Holidays Feature Five New Parks for 2016

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Looking to travel some where new this year?  Al Fresco Holidays feature five new parks for 2016 in France, Italy and Croatia.

 

Forget about drafty mobile homes with no shower pressure! Al Fresco holidays offer spacious modern mobile homes complete with air conditioning, private decking and my personal favourite – power showers! They also offer a wide range of parks to suit all tastes, sixty-eight to be precise, across five countries, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia and Holland. You can choose large and lively, small and friendly, or even authentic parks if you want to live like the locals! Kids are extremely well looked after with kids clubs and entertainment generally available. You will also find that many offer water slides, kids discos and numerous sports facilities.  Their new parks for 2016 include a 5* Yelloh! village in France, an Italian park close to Venice and a stunning beach park in the island of Pag, Croatia. Check them out below and let me know your favourite 🙂

Crystal Al Fresco Holidays feature 5 new parks for 2016

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Yelloh! Village au Lac de Biscarrosse, Aquitaine, France

Enjoy five star comforts at this Yelloh! camping village. Ideally situated on Lake Biscarrosse, you can choose the lake, the nearby sandy beach or the on-site aquatic park to cool down.  On land kids will enjoy the kids clubs and entertainment programme, while adults can treat themselves to a spa treatment in the wellness centre or a wine tour near in nearby Bordeaux.

Crystal Al Fresco Holidays feature 5 new parks for 2016

 

Des Menhirs, Brittany, France.

This lively park offers fun for all the family. With kids clubs available from infants to age 12 and a wide choice of sports for teens, this is suitable for kids of all ages. There are sports tournaments, waterslides in the pool and even pony rides available, if non stop action is what you seek, then look no further. Des Menhirs is also situated close to Carnac plage which has a wide choice of  bars, restaurants and shops as well as numerous water sports on the beach. Take a trip to nearby Auray and visit the evening market, or explore the Brittany countryside.

Crystal Al Fresco Holidays feature 5 new parks for 2016

 

Domaine des Naiades, Cotes d’Azur, France

Enjoy the glamour of St Tropez without the expensive price tag. Situated in the South of France, this park is close to the stunning marina of Port-Grimaud and the larger towns of  Antibes and Cannes. It boasts a picture postcard setting with views of St. Tropez and comes complete with a Olympic sized swimming pool. It also has water slides, sports facilities, a cinema and an open air stage offering dance shows and karaoke.

Crystal Al Fresco Holidays feature 5 new parks for 2016

 

Portofelice, Venetian Riviera, Italy.

Portofelice is situated right on the beach of Eraclea Mare and is a modern park complete with water slides, entertainment and kids clubs. It also has the added bonus of being only 25 miles from Venice. If the kids are looking for some more adventure, Lido di Jesolo is close by which has the popular Aqualandia waterpark.

Crystal Al Fresco Holidays feature 5 new parks for 2016

 

Camping Simuni, Dalamatian Coast, Island of Pag, Croatia.

Situated on the island of Pag, you have no less than seven beaches on your doorstep. You can try scuba diving, surfing or simply chill out in one of the beach bars and take in the view. There are also excellent facilities on site, including kids clubs, entertainment and even a bouncy castle for the younger ones.

Crystal Al Fresco Holidays feature 5 new parks for 2016

 

Still not sure which one to choose, talk to the experts on 01-4331056 or visit  alfresco-holidays.ie

 

Sarah

 

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Holiday deal to Majorca, 7th September, Flights & Hotel, 1 week, €449!

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I found an amazing holiday deal to Majorca, in the beautiful resort of Cala D’or. Enjoy a seven night stay in September including flights for €449!

 

Majorca has always been a favourite holiday destination of mine. There is something to suit all ages here, from the young and lively resorts of Santa Ponsa and Magaluf to the Northern resorts of Puerto Pollensa and Soller. I particularly like Cala D’or, situated on the east coast of Majorca, it offers the best of both worlds. There is plenty of lively bars and restaurants without ever being rowdy, and there is a stunning marina but without the corresponding price tags. You will also find a wide choice of picture perfect cove beaches along the coastline.

Majorca by The Travel Expert

I found a great deal in the Cala Gran Resort. Here you can stay in an apartment but with full use of the hotel facilities. It is situated beside the beach and only minutes from the town centre. Facilities in the hotel include four swimming pools, three bars, restaurant, gym, entertainment and many sports activities. Fly from Dublin on the 7th of September and enjoy a seven night stay for only €474. Save a further €50 by entering code LCHJ50 at the checkout 🙂

Click here for more details:

 

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

 

Sarah

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Family Holiday in the Algarve, 2nd July, 2ad & 2ch, 1 week, €1870!

Family Holiday

Get the Summer holidays off to a flying start and take a family holiday in the Algarve!

 

Spend time on some of Europe’s best beaches, explore the old towns or enjoy the cosmopolitan marinas – the Algarve ticks all boxes. Take the kids to one of the many waterparks or explore the fantastic Zoomarine, complete with animal shows and a splash park. There are many resorts to choose from, I have chosen one of the biggest towns on the Algarve Portimao.

Portimao is a wonderful combination of old and new. You will find everything from trendy high street stores to local souvenir shops. The old quarter is full of character and houses some excellent restaurants serving typical Portuguese cuisine. At the waterfront, the marina is full of luxury yachts and modern eateries.

A family holiday in the Algarve by The Travel Expert

The spacious Presidente apartments are primely located, over looking the beach between Portimao and Praia da Rocha. The They offer the best of both worlds, quietly located, but within easy reach of restaurants bars and nightlife of the neighbouring resorts. These basic apartments receive excellent reviews on tripadvisor and people love the warm friendly service they received from the owners. The large balconies over looking the sea and the idyllic location were also mentioned.

A family holiday in the Algarve by The Travel Expert

Fly from Dublin on the 2nd of July and enjoy seven nights here for only €1870 based on 2 adults and 2 children. Price includes flights, accommodation, transfers and 20kg checked baggage per person. If you need any more convincing, a deposit of €100 will secure your booking, so book your family holiday in the Algarve now 🙂

 

Click here for more details:

 

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

 

Sarah

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