Please assign a menu to the primary menu location under menu

4 years ago

Holidays in Ireland

10 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit the Causeway Coast Right Now!

causeway coast

Despite living close to Antrim, I only visited the Causeway Coast for the first time this year. We had rain for the first two days but that didn’t matter. In fact I think it made some of the images more dramatic! Here are 10 photos that will make you want to visit the Causeway Coast.

 

1. The Giants Causeway

I felt like I was at the edge of the world at the Giants Causeway. You will be surprised at how people step aside, so it is possible to get the perfect photo!

Causeway Coast

2. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is a must do when on the Causeway Coast. The turquoise sea and the stunning views are incredible, regardless of weather!

3. Dunluce Castle

This 14th century  Dunluce castle was the inspiration for the castle in C.S. Lewis tale of Narnia – need I say more?

Causeway Coast

4. A ‘wee’ Ulster Fry

Take the morning Ballycastle Food Tour and enjoy the perfect start with the perfect breakfast – ‘A Wee Ulster Fry’ – at the Bay Cafe, Ballycastle.

causeaway coast

5. Fair Head Drive

Just a few miles from Ballycastle – the Fair Head drive is perfect for a road trip. Steep hills, winding roads and perfect sea-views.

Causeway coast

6. Typical Irish Images.

This one was taken along the Fair Head drive but images like this are all over the Causeway Coast!

Causeway coast

7. Bushmills is here!

The Causeway coast is home to the town of Bushmills. Take the whiskey tour in the Old Bushmills Distillery, have lunch or overnight in the cosy Bushmills Inn and have a delicious dinner at Tartine Restaurant, in the Distillers Arms.

causeway coast

8. Aerial view of Ballycastle

Voted the best place to live in Northern Ireland for the past two years, this coastal town is the perfect base to enjoy the Causeway Coast. Enjoy the sandy beach, cliff walks and many great restaurants.

9. The Best Seafood Chowder you will ever taste!

After a mornings outdoor pursuits pop in to the Central Wine Bar, Ballycastle for some amazing seafood chowder!

causeway coast

10. The Dark Hedges

No visit would be complete to ‘Game of Thrones’ country without a visit to the Kings Road.

causeway coast

For visitors information visit  the Causeway Coast and Glens or DiscoverNorthernIreland.com

 

Like my pics? Follow me in Instagram to see more!

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 
DESTINATIONSLong HaulRest of the World

The Best Ways to See Australia

uluru-2058380_1280_opt

Cool cities, captivating coastlines, wonderful wildlife and heaps of adventure – Australia has it all. But what are the best ways to see Australia? That is a question I am often asked….

The Travel Expert in Australia

I don’t believe there is another country that is so diverse in culture, landscape or climate. You can ski in one part of the country or bake on a beach on another; enjoy a mojito with the ‘in’ crowd in Sydney or have some bush tucker with the Aborigines in the Red Centre. When you think it takes the same length of time to fly from Dublin to Dubai as it takes to fly from Melbourne (South) to Katherine (North) – that gives you an idea of how vast this country is. Deciding on the best ways to see Australia can be the tricky part. This is where Australian Sky come in.

the best ways to see Australia

Australian Sky are specialists in organising holidays to Australia. Whether you require a holiday to one of the trendy cities or a fully escorted tour, they can do it for you. Australian Sky work with all airlines so they are able to provide the best possible fares and routings. No need to worry about lengthy stopovers, they will get you there the most convenient way. I particularly like their selection of escorted and self-drive tours, you can choose to go on a fully escorted tour or add on an independent tour to your existing trip. Check out some of my favourites below:
 

 

Australian Icons Tour: 12 Nights, Internal Flights, Hotels & Luxury Coach, €2429 per person

the best ways to see Australia

Trying to see the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, the Great Ocean Road and Sydney on one trip, is a tough challenge! Australian Sky have managed to do it with their 12 night Australian Icons tour.

Click here for more details:

 

 

Australian Sky’s Three Night Tours from €459

the best ways to see Australia

Many Irish visitors tend to spend time with relatives or friends but want to get out and explore some of the country on their own. Australian Sky’s three night tours are perfect for this. You can add on nights before or after the tours and having an experienced guide will allow you to learn so much more than if you travelled alone. Explore the Red Centre on their Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon tour from €899.  Enjoy three nights in Sydney with a tour to the Blue Mountains from €549; or snorkel in the world’s best coral reef for only €459 with their Cairns and Great Barrier Reef tour! These tours include accommodation, some meals and excursions with a luxury coach and tour guide throughout.

Click here for more details:

 

 

Australian Sky’s Self Drive Holidays from €389.

the best ways to see Australia

If you prefer to self drive, Australian Sky have that covered too. My favourite is their sixteen day Best of Queensland self drive. Visit Fraser Island, Harvey Bay, the stunning Whitsunday Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, Eurimbula and Undara National Parks, Daintree Rainforest, Mission Beach as well as some volcano and wildlife tours! They organise hotels on a B&B basis and car hire and you do the rest. Price for this sixteen day trip is only €1,469 per person ( flights excluded). Car hire is not too expensive, roads are generally good and Australia is the perfect place for a road trip!

Click here for more details:

So whether you want a luxury weekend in Sydney, a feast with the Aborigines at Ayers Rock or a fully escorted tour, Australian Sky can organise this for you. They will tailor make your holiday to Australia to suit your wishes.

Contact Australian Sky on 01 6649920 on or visit their website for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Australian Sky but all views, as always, are my own.

Sarah

CruisesTravelTravel News and Reviews

Introducing Royal Caribbean’s Newest Ship, Symphony of the Seas

RCI-THE-NEW-SOUND-OF-ADVENTURE

Records are meant to be broken I guess! Harmony of the Seas will no longer be the world’s largest cruise ship – that accolade will soon belong to Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Symphony of the Seas.

 

Royal Caribbean’s 26th ship in their fleet, Symphony of the Seas will launch in April 2018, with summer sailings around the Mediterranean from Barcelona. Typical itineraries will include stops in Palma, Rome, Naples and Provence. Winter 2018 will see her move to the Caribbean featuring exotic ports of call such as St Kitts & Nevis and the Cayman Islands.

Royal Caribbean's newest ship Symphony of the Seas

Facilities will be similar to her sister ship, Harmony of the Seas and will include seven neighbourhoods, robotic bartenders, an aquatheatre, top class shows, water slides and the Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea. It will carry a staggering 6,780 guests and over 2,000 crew. For more information on what to expect on Symphony of the Seas, read about my review of Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.

Introducing Royal Caribbean's Newest Ship, Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean continues to provide extraordinary cruise ships and holiday experiences. They visit 250 destinations in 77 countries across 6 continents, and have a cruise to suit everyone.  Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Symphony of the Seas is now available to book. For more details visit their website or your local travel agent.

 

Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.

 

Sarah

 The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 

DESTINATIONSEuropeFamily HolidaysFeatured

Top 10 Reasons to Visit PortAventura World

portaventura

I was really impressed when I visited PortAventura theme park last year. Together with FerrariLand and Caribe Water Park, it so much to offer. Here are my top 10 reasons to visit PortAventura World.


 

1. There are three parks in PortAventura.

One of the main reasons to visit PortAventura is it’s sheer size! With PortAventura Park, Caribe Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land, PortAventura World now has the largest number of theme parks in Europe. And 65 million visitors over 20 years – the numbers say it all…

rollercoasters - one of the reasons to visit portaventura

 

 

2. PortAventura Park has 6 different lands.

6 lands, with 41 attractions and 40 daily performances, there is a huge variety on offer to suit all ages groups. Highlights include the famous Shambhala & Dragon Khan roller coasters and Tutuki Splash, where wagons drop rapidly from the top of a volcano to a lake – not for the faint hearted!

great rides at portaventura

 

3. The Caribe Aquatic Park has 14 rides

Caribe Aquatic Park is another park that caters for all ages. Daredevils will love King Khajuna where you take on a free fall from 31 metres and reach speeds of 6 metres per second! Not your thing ? Why not stretch out on one of the water beds in the Caribbean style swimming pool.

caribe water park, one of the reasons to visit portaventura

 

4. Ferrari Land is home to the Vertical Accelerator

At 112 meters tall, it is Europe’s highest roller coaster.  You will experience the same sensation as in Formula 1 racing, and reach a speed of 180km per hour in 5 seconds – yikes!  You will also discover what it feels to ride a Ferrari in an F1 simulator, there are 8 simulators, two of which are suitable for children. For more information read my definitive guide to Ferrari Land.

ferrariland

 

5. There are many special events throughout the year in PortAventura.

If you still need reasons to visit PortAventura, you will love the special events that are on throughout the year. During the summer months there are White Nights where the park opens until the small hours of the morning. Cirque du Soleil will perform their amazing show from the 6th of July – 13th of August. Christmas time is a magical time to visit where the park is covered in coloured lights and lots of decorations.  Meet Santa Claus and enjoy Christmas shows, songs and parades.At Halloween the park is filled with spooky characters and there is a special scary parade at closing time.

reasons to visit portaventura

 

6. Little ones are well catered for too.

Sesame Street characters wander around the land of  Sésamoaventura where there are 11 rides especially catered for children from age 1.  Caribe Aquatic Park also has a separate children’s pool and water slides for small children.

reasons to visit port aventura

 

7  It’s not all rollercoasters and water slides.

Anyone for Golf? There are three golf courses and two of these designed by Greg Norman. PortAventura World also caters for conferences – who said you can’t have fun on a business trip! After a few days at the parks what better than a chill out at their beach club.  Choose from 8 swimming pools, including an infinity pool with sea views or take advantage of the direct access to the beach.

reasons to visit portaventura

 

8. The food is surprisingly good in PortAventura!

Usually when you visit a theme park you can right off healthy eating. In fact you can write off eating well at all. In Port Aventura there are plenty of good restaurants and they wont break the bank either. With different themed lands, come different themed restaurants. Try noodles in China, tacos in Mexico and Italian in Ferrari Land. Many restaurants even cater for food allergies and intolerances.

reasons to visit portaventura

 

9. There are plenty of places to stay in PortAventura.

There are five hotels within the resort, including the 5* Mansión de Lucy and spacious bungalows at the Gold River Hotel. If you stay in one of these hotels you have unlimited access to all the Port Aventura Parks. There are also a limited number of camper-van spaces available or you can choose some self catering options in the nearby resort of Salou.

reasons to visit portaventura

 

10. It is so easy to get to PortAventura!

Only 15 minutes from Reus, 1 hour from Barcelona and 2 hours from Girona. With numerous low cost flights daily – you really have no excuse not to go!

 

 

Like this post?  You might like these too:

My Review of PortAventura World

The Best Tickets To Buy For PortAventura

 

Like this post? Pin me!

reasons to visit port aventura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post, 10 reasons to visit PortAventura was sponsored by Port Aventura World but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

City BreaksDESTINATIONSEurope

Top Things to do in Iceland

Iceland

Chase the Northern Lights, swim in the Blue Lagoon and marvel at Gullfoss Waterfall – there are so many things to do in Iceland – here are my favourites.

 

Icelanders are so proud of their country, and so they should be. You get the feeling you are somewhere pure, with the cleanest air and the purest water, which you can drink straight from the tap. You can hike the glaciers, discover countless waterfalls, bathe in a geothermal lagoon – even their swimming pools are outdoor! Driving through the countryside you are constantly awestruck by the landscape. The Icelandic horses in wide open snowy fields, was just one of those awesome moments.

We travelled with direct from Dublin and after a pleasant two hours and fifteen minutes, we landed in Reykjavik. The view from the plane sparked excitement, with blue skies and snow capped mountains, the adventure was about to begin.

The first thing we noticed was that there was a duty free shop in arrivals. People had trolleys full of beer and wine – it was the strangest sight! Apparently most hotel rooms have a fridge in place of a mini bar. Hotels encourage people to bring alcohol with them to their rooms, as they understand that tourists find the cost of living expensive in Iceland. Needless to say we didn’t want to go against tradition so we bought a bottle of wine (€18) and a six pack of beer €10). Reykjavik is about a 40 minute drive from the airport, so I would advise you to pre book transfers as it is €25 one way or €39 return for the airport coach and this could make numerous stops before arriving at your hotel.

 

Nice view of #Iceland from @wowair 👌Just landed, snowing and sunny – just perfect #travel #travelblogger #wowair

A post shared by The Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

Where to stay in Iceland

We stayed at the Grand Hotel. Although 20 minutes walk to the centre of Reykjavik, I would highly recommend it. The rooms were modern and spacious, the staff extremely friendly and the buffet breakfast was excellent. The lounge bar has a great food menu and we ate there on two occasions. They have the usual fish and chips, burgers and pasta options and all are very reasonably priced – well, by Icelandic standards anyway!

They also have a happy hour from 5pm – 7pm each day where drinks are half price. This meant a meal for four with drinks was €100 – not the exorbitant prices we had been warned about before we left. In general, a pint of beer or glass of wine is €10 and a pizza, pasta, steak sandwich is about €20. Snacks are expensive though so I would recommend bringing some with you, especially if you are planning tours. It was €20 for a Panini at the Blue Lagoon….

things to do in Iceland

Things to do in Iceland – See the Northern Lights

Unfortunately our Northern Lights tour was cancelled on our first evening due to bad weather. We were in Iceland for four nights and tours were cancelled for three of them. The good news is that you can reschedule your tour for another night but if you are only staying a few days, you may find it difficult to get availability.

Luckily we had booked with an agent, Obeo Travel, who were excellent. With one phone call, they rearranged our tour for the following evening. Meanwhile there were many disappointed travellers who had come specifically to see the Northern Lights and were going to go home disappointed. I can’t stress how important it was to have someone at the end of the phone to call when tours were cancelled.

TOP TIP: Make sure you book the Northern Lights tour for the beginning of your holiday so you can rearrange if necessary.

Speaking of the Northern Lights… we saw them!! We were so lucky as there was only one night available for us. We took the coach tour and I would highly recommend it. Many opt for the boat tour but if you have rough seas, which is common in wintertime, it could get messy…

We ‘hunted’ the Northern Lights, even the driver didn’t know where we were going when we boarded the bus. There was a snow storm and visibility was poor so I must confess I was not very optimistic. After an hours drive, we arrived at what seemed like the middle of the country, although I have no idea where exactly we were. We parked along with two other coaches and off we went. We wandered far enough into the fields to get the best photo opportunity and waited patiently. The kids were happily building snowmen when all of a sudden they appeared. Initially they were quite faint but just as we thought the spectacle was over, out came the aurora borealis again. The second time they danced through the night sky. It was all a bit surreal, it was midnight and we were buzzing, I genuinely didn’t expect to see them. It was a great experience and another one ticked off the bucket list!

TOP TIP: Make sure you bring a tripod and a good camera capable of long exposures to get clear pictures.

Things to do in Iceland – The Blue Lagoon

A similar experience happened when we got to the Blue Lagoon. There were snow showers all morning so I was beginning to think the 40 minute drive from Reykjavik was going to be a waste of time. I remembered Ziggy’s advice ‘go inside have a cup of coffee and come back out again’. It was incredible, we arrived at the Blue Lagoon and the sun came out! We had a magical experience bathing in the roasting hot baths with snow all around us. The kids loved it too, and even bought a non alcoholic cocktail at the swim up bar!

We stayed there for hours and only that we had planned to drive to Gullfoss Waterfall afterwards, we would have stayed even longer! Although you book an allotted time, once you are there you can stay in as long as you like. Like everything in Iceland, it is extremely well organised. I have a dedicated blog post for tips on visiting the Blue Lagoon, which is one of the top things to do in Iceland, check that out before you visit.

Things to do in Iceland – The Golden Circle Tour

While we had two magical experiences, unfortunately the weather (the worst snow storms since 1932) hampered the rest of our visit. Rough seas, sick tummies and no whales meant our whale watching trip was a disaster. We drove the Golden Circle but only heard Gullfoss waterfall – seeing it was impossible. We did manage to get to see the famous Strokkur Geysir, which duly erupted for us, in fact it does so every few minutes, so regardless of weather, you are guaranteed to see it!

“If the weather is bad, Icelanders go inside, have a cup of coffee and come back out again”. Just one of the memorable quotes from Ziggy our driver!

things to do in Iceland

 

Things to do in Iceland – Reykjavik

We ventured into Reykjavik one evening and ate in a lovely Italian restaurant, Italia. Pizzas and pastas were great and not ridiculously expensive either. We had a quick roam around the city which I instantly liked, but unfortunately time was against us. One noticeable difference I found compared to other capital cities was the lack of honky tonk disco bars. As the majority of people are visiting Iceland to see the sights, the scenery and the culture, there is not the typical tacky tourist trails on show. The city had an authentic vibe to it and I wished I could have explored it some more. We did have time for a quick walk around it’s famous church and then a pit stop for home made ice cream in Eldur & Is – honestly it was the best ice cream I have ever had!

things to do in Iceland

Icelanders have coped with a devastating financial crisis, numerous volcanic eruptions and a colossal influx of tourists. Tourism is now their number one industry and there is virtually no unemployment. Icelanders appear to adapt well to any change in circumstance and their happy, positive attitude is palpable. There were lots of coaches hunting the Northern Lights and touring the Golden Circle, yet I have seen longer queues to get into the NEXT sale. Considering Iceland’s tiny population of only 330,000 people, it is extraordinary how everything runs so smoothly.

There is something remarkable about Iceland and it is definitely a country I want to go back to. There are so many things to do in Iceland. I want to do a glacier hike, go husky sledding and see Gullfoss Waterfall (again) with a rainbow over it next time! I also want to visit in the summer time when you have 24 hours daylight, a unique experience I am sure.

Iceland I will definitely be back…

 

Like this post? Pin me!

top things to do in iceland

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery
 
 
 
 
 
Uncategorized

How Long Does It Take To Get A Passport?

passport_opt

How long does it take to get a passport? A question I am asked constantly lately. It seems the backlog that the Passport Office is experiencing, is affecting many of you.

 

The main issue is the perception, that the widely used Passport Express, guarantees a 2 week turnaround time – this is not always the case!  Before you apply for your passport, read the current turnaround times. The Passport Office aim to have applications processed via Passport Express in 15 working days, but that depends on the time of year. Currently, new, lost or damaged passports have an average of 23 working days turnaround time. I need to stress ‘WORKING DAYS‘ – with St Patrick’s weekend and Easter approaching, that is currently 6 weeks! I contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs Press Office and they duly replied to many of your queries below. So here are your passport queries – answered!

how long does it take to get a passport

 

1. Can I get an emergency passport within three days of my travel date?

There is a Rapid Renewal service available by appointment at the Passport Service, Mount Street, Dublin for applicants travelling within 3 days.

The service is for adults and children renewing their passports.  In the case of children’s passports, both parents must be present when submitting the application.  As passports have to be turned around very quickly, the number of appointments are limited. Certain Terms and Conditions apply before booking an appointment on https://www. passportappointments.ie/. It should be noted that this service is not available to people who have already put an application in the system via Passport Express. Therefore it is very important that the correct application channel is chosen depending on the intended date of travel.

 

2. If appointments can only be made from 3 -10 working days before travel what do I do if I am travelling after that, as the estimated time for new passports is currently 23 working days?

There are also appointments available for those travelling after 10 days.

 

3. I keep getting an error message when trying to make an appointment online.

There are no technical difficulties with the appointment system.

 

4. Which countries need your passport to be valid for 6 months after return date?

A passport is valid until the day it expires.  However, some countries require a minimum of six month left on the passport, from the date the traveller returns. Travellers should check with the relevant Embassy or travel agency.

My comments: As a general rule, most EU countries only require a passport in date and most Asian countries, require it to be valid for 6 months. Other countries that I know that have the ‘6 month rule’ are Russia, Cuba, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Maldives, USA, Canada and Turkey.  – NOTE:  This is NOT a definitive list and can change at anytime.

how long does it take to get a passport

 

5. Which countries do you NOT need a passport for?

Passports are not required for travel within the Common Travel Area (CTA); however, some carriers require a passport.  Travellers should check with their carrier directly.

My comments: Currently, Ryanair require a passport for travel to the UK, Aer Lingus will accept these forms of identification

 

 

6. What are the best methods to contact the passport office, other than the tracking system:

 

a)      If you have already sent in your passport and the tracking date hasn’t changed.

The Passport Service phone lines are open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 4.30pm. Applicants can also contact the passport service by twitter and via our website. The Passport Service is currently focusing staff resources and operational capacity on the task of processing applications. The best method to get information on the applications is to use the new ‘on-line’ tracking which tracks the progress of the application and also provides an estimated date of delivery of the passport.

b)      If you want to get an emergency passport but can’t manage to do it online.

As Terms and Conditions must be read and accepted, there is no alternative but for the applicant to use the online appointments system to reserve an appointment. Appointments for the Rapid Renewal Service become available online at lunchtime the previous day.

c)       If you have a general query

Applicants are advised to check the Passport Service website www.dfa.ie/passport for general queries on passports.

My comments: I have found contacting the Passport Office via twitter to be sucessful although I would like to see a general email address with a guaranteed response time.

how long does it take to get a passport

 

Have you any other tips that will help with the application process?

 

The Passport Service updates the average turnaround times for applications, on the website, www.dfa.ie/passport, weekly. The current average turnaround time for renewals submitted through Passport Express is 16 working days, while first time applicants and those with lost/stolen passports is taking longer, due to extra security checks.

The Passport Service aims to process renewals in 15 working days (three weeks), but this timeframe may extend, depending on volumes. If the travel date is more than three weeks (15 working days) away, then the Passport Express service operated by An Post is the most convenient and secure method of applying. Every effort is being made to turnaround these applications as quickly as possible, and additional resources have been deployed to respond to this increase.

Passport holders can avail of the passport reminder service to get an email alert 3 months before their passport is due to expire https://www.eforms.gov.ie/en/ reminder/passport/

However, applicants are advised to:

·         Make sure your passport and your family’s passports are in date before you book any holidays.

·         Apply early, at least six weeks before you are travelling – that way you will not be disappointed.

·         Use Passport Express if you are travelling in three weeks or more (15 working days). Otherwise make an appointment to submit their application at the public counters at the Passport Offices in Dublin or Cork.

My comments: There are numerous messages telling people to use the Passport Express service if your travel date is more than 15 working days, but currently this turnaround time is inaccurate.  I would like to reiterate what I said in my opening paragraph – read the estimated turnaround times before applying.

 

Note that this post was published on the 16th of March 2017 so answers are applicable at this time but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

Uncategorized

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive, Flights, Hotels & Car Hire, €1519!

canadian-rockies-1834849_1280_opt

Always wanted to try a Canadian Rockies fly drive? This is the year to do it! Canada is celebrating its 150th Birthday so entrance is free to all the National Parks, the favourable exchange rate with Euro makes it excellent value for money and Lonely Planet has voted Canada as the number 1 country to visit in 2017!

 

Canada is the world’s 2nd largest country, so holiday options are endless, but despite the great cities, its Canada’s majestic landscape that captivates visitors.  Surrounded by the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans and an interior full of jaw dropping lakes and rivers, Canada is a land of natural wonder. You will want to hike, cycle, go kayaking or even camp, Canada will bring out the nature lover in you.

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive

I have chosen a Canadian Rockies fly drive, an iconic trip with a lifetime of memories to be made, but is surprisingly still excellent value. With wide, well-signposted roads and English speaking natives, this is a fantastic way to explore the Canadian countryside. You will fly to Calgary and have a quick overnight in a hotel before setting off on your magical adventure through the Rockies. Your first stop is the famous Banff National Park. Visit Lake Louise, one of the world’s most spectacular lakes. It’s dramatic setting, a glacial lake with thick forests and snowy mountains – this is the Rockies perfect picture postcard. Explore the incredible countryside and relax in their hot springs before enjoying a meal in the resort town of Banff. It’s boutique shops and trendy restaurants are welcome alternative to the countryside.

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive

Drive one of the world’s most spectacular road trips, along the Icefields Parkway before arriving in Jasper. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the picturesque town of Jasper is worth a stop on its own and the National Park is the largest in the Rockies. The contrast of tranquil lakes, rugged mountains and massive glaciers will captivate you. It’s the perfect place for a hike, you may spot the local deer or maybe even some bears! If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you could try some white water rafting or kayaking. Check out the Jasper SkyTram for breathtaking views from the top of the mountains.

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive

You will also have the opportunity to see Mt Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies on your way to Canada’s largest ski resort, Sun Peaks, where you will overnight. Drive the Kamloops wine trail before arriving in the vibrant city of Vancouver. Overnight here once again, go whale watching or enjoy a full day exploring the city before getting your return flight home.

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive

The price for this 8 day Canadian Rockies fly drive is €1,519 including flights, taxes, hotels and car hire. This is based on travel in September but if you call the dedicated sales team in Sunway they will be able to quote you for alternative dates. You can also add on extra nights in Vancouver, add on a few days on the luxury Rocky Mountaineer, even add on an Alaskan cruise – the options are endless. Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. Why not join the party?

 

Click here for more details or call the dedicated sales team on 01-2311889

 

This post was sponsored by Sunway Holidays but all views as always are my own.

 

Travel News and Reviews

Travel Republic Announce 2017 Hotel Awards

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 11_opt (1)

Travel Republic are one of Europe’s largest online travel agents with a staggering two million customers annually. They have recently published their Hotel Awards for 2017. What I love about them is that they are chosen by their own customers 👌

 

From a pool of over 300,000 hotels and apartments, 653 received an award. Awards are only given if a property receives a minimum customer score rating of 7.5, from a minimum number of reviews. Don’t worry I’m not going to list all 653! You can spot them easily on the Travel Republic website though, which is really handy when you are searching for a hotel. The hotel with the highest customer score in each region receives one of their prestigious ‘Best In Destination’ awards. There are only twenty of these given so I decided to have a look and share my favourites.

Cordial Mogan Playa – Best in the Canaries

Superbly located in the picturesque town of Mogan, it’s not surprising the Cordial Mogan Playa is an award winner.  It offers excellent facilities and service and is only minutes from the beach. One of Gran Canaria’s best kept secrets, if you haven’t visited yet – you must!

F.A.N Apartments – Best in Greece

One of Stalis’ best apartments, the three star Fan apartments are better than many four star hotels in Crete. Ideally located close to the beach, with friendly staff and well kept gardens, they are a little slice of Greek heaven.

Travel Republic

Salles Hotel Marina Portals – Best in the Balearics

I’m often asked about a nice resort in Majorca that’s close to Palma city, well this is it. Ideal for a short break or a sun holiday, this hotel ticks all boxes. You no longer need a long airport transfer to find a delightful resort in Majorca – check this one out.

Continental Hotel Budapest – Best in Hungary

This four star superior hotel is a modern hotel, centrally located, with a host of facilities –  including a wellness center with an indoor and outdoor pool. It’s an ideal choice for a weekend in Budapest – just check out that lobby!

travel republic

Hotel Unic Prague – Best in Czech Republic

This Design hotel is situated in the heart of Prague, it is excellent value for a modern stylish hotel and should definitely be on your list if planning a city break.

As you can see, the best five star hotel won’t always win the prize.  These awards are all based on Travel Republic’s customer’s reviews, so the best value, atmosphere and location are all factors. These are the very things that help us decide what hotels to choose when booking holidays, not necessarily the star rating.  To see the full list click here, I hope they will help you with your travel plans 😎

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 

EuropeTravel Tips

Top Tips for Visiting the Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s top attractions and a wonder of the world! Here are my top tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon.

 

We visited during the winter time and the combination of snowy mountains and the roasting hot lagoon made for a magical visit. The water is approximately 38° Celsius / 100°Farenheit so it feels like a really hot bath. It is suitable for children too (over 2). I brought my two kids and they loved it. The deepest point is only 1.6 meters so you never feel out of your depth. It is a fantastic experience and a ‘must do’ if visiting Iceland. There are a few things you should know however, so check out my top tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon before you visit.

1. You have to pre book.

Don’t expect to arrive at the Blue Lagoon without a prior booking, you are unlikely to find a time slot available. You can pre book online or with your local travel agent. The lagoon opens from 8 am till 10pm (midnight during the summer) so you can choose to catch the sunrise, sunset or the hottest time of the day. Once you choose your time, you can stay as long as you like in the lagoon. Most people tend to spend 3 – 4 hours.

blue lagoon Iceland

2. Prices are dynamic.

Prices vary depending on how long in advance you book, the time of day you visit and which option you choose. The standard entry is approximately  €47 per person but there are packages for over €200 depending on the level you require. We opted for the standard plus which includes a towel but you can bring your own too. This includes a silica mud mask which you can get from the mud mask bar inside the lagoon. Children from 2 – 13 are free. Visit Blue Lagoon.com for more details.

Like this shot 👌#bluelagooniceland #bluelagoon #visiticeland #bestoficeland

A post shared by The Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

2.  Consider going straight from the airport.

The Blue Lagoon is located beside the airport so depending on flight times it might be a good idea to book your tour when you arrive. This will save you  money on transfers and save you time going back and forth to the airport. It is also ideal if you are arriving into Iceland early in the morning, as many hotels don’t allow you check in until 2pm.

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland The Travel Expert.ie

3.  Don’t wear any jewellery.

White gold and silver reacts with the sulphur in the water so better be safe than sorry. Don’t wear any jewellery. Lockers are provided free of charge with standard entry, and are very secure with keyless entry.

There are lots of little coves in the #bluelagoon so it looks like I had the place to myself! #bluelagooniceland #iceland

A post shared by The Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

4. Don’t get Blue Lagoon hair!

No matter how good you are at keeping it tied up, it will eventually get splashed, so you might as well go for it and dunk down! However, the high levels of silica in the lagoon reacts badly with your hair, so make sure you follow these steps.  Use the conditioner provided, cover your hair completely and don’t rinse it out before entering. Bring a clarifying shampoo with you and wash it thoroughly when you get out. They have powerful hair dryers on site so once you follow these steps your hair should be ok. You may need to use the clarifying shampoo a few times to ensure all the silica is removed from your hair completely.

5.  Buy a waterproof cover for your phone

You can take pictures with your phone but be prepared to get splashed so a waterproof cover is a life saver. You can of course use a Go Pro or other waterproof camera but I find the Aquavault waterproof phone case invaluable for any water activities. You can even post selfies from the lagoon using the WiFi – you may be there a while! There is no visibility underwater so underwater cameras, or goggles for that matter,  are not necessary.

 

So there you have it, my top tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon, the only other thing to say is – enjoy!

 

Sarah

 

Pin It on Pinterest