Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Facts 2016 – Key Figures Infographic

On June 20th, 2017, Fáilte Ireland published its preliminary Tourism Facts 2016, a report which compiles research into tourism performance in Ireland in 2016 and condenses it into key facts and figures. We’ve identified the most significant statistics and collated them into an infographic, below –

 

Irish Tourism Facts 2016 (1)

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The 16 remaining original Victorian era pubs of Dublin

Millions of people flock to Dublin every year for a chance to see up close, just what makes a Dublin pub so special. For most, the older the better. There is no shortage of authentically traditional pubs in the city, but as the decades go by, the numbers drop. Some of the best pubs in Dublin were built in the Victorian era, which stretched from 1837 to 1901. Many of these remain to this day and retain the majority of their original fixtures and their Victorian characteristics.

In Kevin C. Kearns’ ‘Dublin pub life and lore’, he lists the remaining Victorian pubs still in operation today. Sincethe book was published, 2 have closed down, Conways on Parnell street and Regans on Tara street. Here we will go through the remaining pubs and just why they are worth preserving and why they are part of Dublin’s rich heritage and remain some of the best places to go for a pint.

Interesting to note is that most of these pubs have snugs, which are a rare sight in modern pubs.

The Palace bar, Fleet street

palace

The Palace bar is still richly celebrated as one of the most traditional bars in the city, drawing in tourists from the Temple Bar area looking for a more authentic experience. A pub where writers, journalists, artists, and others have congregated for decades. They still have a great tradition of supporting the GAA and traditional music. They have a lovely traditional snug and have moved with the times by offering a good selection of Irish craft beer.

Toners, Baggot street

toners

Toners has a reputation of having one of the best pints of Guinness in the city according to Rory Guinness, a descendant of Arthur. It still retains its character on the inside and they have tried to recreate it in their newer beer garden. The snug was in recent years voted best in the country.

Doheny and Nesbitt, Baggot street

doheny

A pub mostly associated with journalists and the local business crowd, Dohenys is still very much traditional. It’s a big rugby pub, and they also have traditional music from Sunday to Tuesday nights.

 

The Swan, Aungier street

One of our favourite pubs in the city. The fixtures remain the same, and they proudly boast of their status as a Victorian era heritage pub. You can still see signs behind the bar that advertise ‘Colour TV available here’ from when the bar started to modernise in terms of what they offer.

 

The Long Hall, Georges street

One of the quintessential Dublin pubs for those visiting and looking for a bit of tradition. Bruce Springsteen is known to drink here when he’s in town, and who could argue with his taste. The walls are decorated with muskets, antique clocks, and other period paraphernalia. A Dublin classic.

 

Slatterys, Capel street

Slatterys is listed in the book as being a Victorian era pub, but there have been some recent renovations. These were mostly of the upper floor, so it shouldn’t affect the pubs Victorian status. It is also one of the few remaining early houses in the city, opening early in the morning for those who work unsociable hours.

 

The Stag’s Head, Dame Lane

stags

The jewel in the crown of the Louis Fitzgerald pub group, and one of the most recognisable pub names in the city. There’s a large snug room behind the bar that is extremely cosy and retains a stained glass ceiling. If you see footage of the pub from the 60s and 70s you could barely tell the difference to today, bar the increase in taps on the counter.

 

Ryans, Parkgate street

ryansparkgate

Also known as Bongo Ryans, it has one of the most sought after snugs in the city. Like all Victorian pubs, it features large ornately carved wooden dividers that break up the bar.

 

The International Bar, Exchequer street

Best known as the home of stand up comedy in the city. The main bar is quite a small space, but it’s one of the most homely in the city.

Gaffneys, Fairview

The Hut, Phibsboro

Bowes, Fleet street

bowesfront

Bowes recently reopened their new snug after a bit of a refurb. Plans were underway to expand the bar into the neighbouring Doyles and ladbrokes, but the planning permission was turned down. this may well be a good thing for admirers of Bowes, as it will retain all the makes it good.

Kehoes, South Anne street

Such is the popularity of Kehoes, it can be hard to get a seat in this well worn and well loved pub. When full, it can appear to be a bit of a mazey design, with creaking stairs taking you to areas you wouldn’t expect existed. The snug beside the bar to the left as you walk in is a fine place to meet with friends.

Finnegans, Dalkey

 

Cassidys, Camden street

Come in here on a Sunday after an All Ireland final and you’ll fear for the safety of the structure! It heaves with fans adoring both the victorious Dubs and this fine pub. Bill Clinton stopped in here for a pint in the 90s on a presidential visit.

 

The Norseman, East Essex street

When the book we are referencing from was published, this pub was known as The Norseman, it then became Farringtons, and it has now reverted back to The Norseman. A fine treat for visitors to Temple Bar to be able to have a pint in an original Victorian era pub.

There are a number of other pubs that have strong characteristics of the Victorian age, but are not clasically Victorian, including…

  • Mulligans Poolbeg street
  • Mulligans Stoneybatter
  • Hanlons North Circular road
  • Kavanaghs Aughrim street
  • The Gravediggers Glasnevin
  • McDaids Harry street
  • The Lord Edward Christchurch
  • The Portobello Rathmines
  • Slatterys Rathmines
  • The Brazen Head Bridge street
  • Searsons Baggot street
  • Sandyford House

 

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The Phoenix Park

Take A Hike

The Phoenix Park is an urban park in Dublin, Ireland, lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 11 km perimeter wall encloses 707 hectares (1,750 acres)it is also one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Park).

The park provides the public with a variety of walks and loops around this amazing green area. The park is home to a herd of wild fallow deer which can often be seen, especiallynear the Papal Cross (which was erected in 1979 for the visit of Pope John Paul II).

Along with the availability of a large green area to walk, run and cycle the park also contains:

  • Áras an Uachtaráin
  • Visitors Center
  • Dublin Zoo
  • Magazine Fort
  • Headquarters of the Garda Síochána
  • Official residence of the United States Ambassador to Ireland

Parking is available on Chesterfield Avenue and a number of other…

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The Getaway: An unlikely gourmet break in Glasgow

Can the home of the deep-fried Mars bar really be a gourmet getaway?

One plate answers that question. One yummy plate, served up on a wooden table in Ox & Finch (oxandfinch.com) in beard-bendingly hip Finnieston.

The dish is not deep-fried. Nor does it contain a crumb of chocolate, nougat or caramel. It’s a racion-style serving of slow-roasted pork belly with white onion puree, golden raisins and capers in a gorgeously simple pottery bowl. And it’s mouthwatering. As is the beetroot, orange, candied pecans and goat’s cheese that follows. And the sea-bream with shredded Thai salad.

Heck, even the chips rock. They’re fried twice, mollycoddled in truffle oil and salt, and served with garlic aioli. Bam! It’s a hipster heart attack, in a humble bowl.

Guilty Pleasure

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Ox & Finch, Glasgow

My question is answered. But it’s not just answered at Ox & Finch. Scotland is celebrating a Year of Food and Drink at the moment, a marketing wheeze aimed at tempting visitors into a second taste… and Glasgow’s right at its vanguard.

During my whistlestop tour of the city, I don’t see a single haggis supper (by choice, admittedly). Instead, I devour a 35-day-aged rib-eye – a cross of Angus and Limousin beef – in the sophisticated cellars of Alston Bar & Beef (alstonglasgow.co.uk). I take a tour of the bierhaus-style West Brewery (westbeer.com) before knocking back a crisp and malty lager named after Glasgow’s patron saint, Mungo. I even get a 101 in coffee roasting from master roaster John Gartly at Gordon Street Coffee (gordonst coffee.co.uk).

“If it’s not fresh,” he asks in a melodiously matter-of-fact lilt, “what’s the point?”

Hotel Intel

I’ve got one night in Glasgow, and I spend it at the Arthouse Hotel, a historical townhouse on Bath Street. Its 59 bedrooms combine contemporary styling with ace original features (check out the old lift, coiled up in the stairwell) and a cool central location.

Cheap Kick

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An iconic student prank

Exchange rates aren’t exactly encouraging UK visits at the moment, but Glasgow’s free museums and galleries go a long way toward easing that particular pain.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum houses treasures as diverse as a Spitfire plane and Salvador Dalí’s Christ of St. John of the Cross (1951), for example. GoMA is Scotland’s most visited modern art gallery – although its main attraction is found outside, perched atop of the Duke of Wellington’s head. A traffic cone was first mounted here as a student prank, and has gone on to become an iconic image of Glasgow.

“The council’s tried to stop it,” the lady in the gift shop tells me. “They take it down, but it just keeps going back up. It’s the Glasgow sense of humour. Plus, it keeps the pigeons off.”

Glitches

Gourmet treats in Glasgow – who’da thunk it? I’m delighted to have my stereotypes dashed, though it’s still very easy to eat badly here (a little research will go a long way before a visit). Sterling will smash your euro, you just have to soak that one up. Like any city, Glasgow can have a hard edge after dark too… so choose your gin and whisky joints wisely.

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Glasgow skyline

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23 Places So Gorgeous And Breathtaking You’ll Go “Whattttt”

We asked the BuzzFeed Community for their favourite hidden spots in the UK. Here are the results.

1. Polperro, Cornwall

Polperro, Cornwall

“There’s a small beach area where many caves and small pools of water are located, good for those who love to explore. There’s only a certain time of day you can visit too as the tide goes up very quickly.” – sophieb483cbacae

2. The Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides

“This summer I’m doing a 10-day tour of the outer Hebrides in Scotland. Ten days of standing stones, fairy pools, and Viking settlements. HEAVEN! Or, should I say, VALHALLA!” – beckie

3. The Roseland Peninsula, Falmouth

The Roseland Peninsula, Falmouth

Tom Tolkein / Via thomastolkien.wordpress.com

“The Roseland Peninsula, on the other side of Carrick Roads from Falmouth. Taking the ferry across the harbour to St Mawes and then an even smaller ferry across to St Anthony, walking around the peninsula, exploring the little beaches and coves, then getting the ferries back, walking across Falmouth and chilling out on Gyllyngvase beach. Perfect way to spend a hot summer’s day.” – Tom McAteer, Facebook

4. Longleat, Wiltshire

Longleat, Wiltshire

“There’s a beautiful path through the forest to a hill overlooking the Longleat estate and safari in Wiltshire. The locals all call it Heaven’s Gate – you can see for miles and it’s especially glorious at sunset!” – zoeye2

(This photo is of Wiltshire, not specifically Longleat.)

5. Vindolanda, Hexham

Vindolanda, Hexham

“I recently visited Hadrian’s Wall and i would strongly recommend that to everyone. Vindolanda is amazing!!” – matthews4db7f00b2

6. The Durdle Door, Dorset

The Durdle Door, Dorset

“Beautiful.” – yolandaw415afa4e4

7. Kinver Rock Houses, Staffordshire

Kinver Rock Houses, Staffordshire

“They’re so unique and their history is fascinating. And the surrounding area is beautiful too!” – sofamiliar

8. St Abb’s Head, Berwickshire

St Abb’s Head, Berwickshire

“The area around St Abb’s Head in Berwickshire, southeast Scotland, is beautiful. There are steep cliffs, but if you walk far enough you can find a ruined castle out on a tiny island.” – anniem4f5db16fc

9. Dunster, Somerset

Dunster, Somerset

nicolem49c566b25

10. Sugar Loaf Mountain, Monmouthshire

Sugar Loaf Mountain, Monmouthshire

“You have to include Sugar Loaf Mountain in Monmouthshire, Wales. I took myself off to Wales a couple of weeks after my 30th birthday last year, staying in Cardiff for a solo holiday. I googled things to do nearby – next thing I know I’m on a train to Abergavenny on a mission!

“The views were beautiful, and little did I know when I woke up that day that a couple of hours later I’d be up the top of a mountain, chatting to strangers and more importantly petting their dogs, so far removed from my normal London life!” – michaele44634e500

11. The Shell Grotto, Margate

The Shell Grotto, Margate

“It’s fascinating and gorgeous – and how the place came to be is still a mystery. Even reading the Wikipedia page makes it sound amazing.” – sophiab42cf32be2

12. Dean Village, Edinburgh

Dean Village, Edinburgh

pault32

13. Lerwick, Shetland

Lerwick, Shetland

“The Clickimin Loch is lovely at night when you look across to the Broch.” – kerrym4703fbb7f”

14. St David’s, Wales

St David's, Wales

“St David’s, the smallest city in the UK (pop. 1,841). The main attraction is the cathedral, which holds the relics of St David (unsurprisingly), Wales’ patron saint. The cathedral close is particularly beautiful, since it contains several ruined medieval buildings, including the bishop’s palace, as well as quite a few cows in the meadows by the river. Oh, the city is also in the middle of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only National Park designated primarily because of its coastline, which is truly spectacular.” – clickbaitmcclickface

15. Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

“Isle of Skye is pure magic… The Quirang is like walking in another world. You’ll never forget it.” – tacodingo2

16. Cragside House, Northumberland

Cragside House, Northumberland

“It was the first home in the world to take advantage of hydro power to generate electricity for the home, and it’s got vast grounds to explore. It’s kinda like if Willy Wonka and Frankenstein designed a stately home. Oh, and it’s beautiful.” – johntheone

17. Ladybower Reservoir, Derbyshire

Ladybower Reservoir, Derbyshire

“There’s a place in the Peak District, Ladybower Reservoir – it is a beautiful expanse of water. If you know the right way to go, it leads to Slippery Stones, a natural water swimming spot, and it’s super pretty in summer.” – Linkakq

18. Tollymore forest park, County Down

Tollymore forest park, County Down

dangerxdays

19. Inverie, Lochaber

Inverie, Lochaber

“The main village on the Knoydart peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. It isn’t connected to the main road network, so it is only accessible by ferry (or a 17-mile hike!). It’s incredibly beautiful, with wonderful views of the islands Rum, Eigg, and Muck and Sgurr Coire Choinnichean as an incredible mountain background.

“It’s also home to The Old Forge, which is the most remote pub in mainland Britain!” – hjj2

20. Millport, near Glasgow

Millport, near Glasgow

“It’s a beautiful tiny isle near Glasgow. You can rent bikes and cycle around the island in about 1–2 hours. Both cafés, one close to the ferry port and one in the ‘town’ part, are absolutely delicious. Biggest attraction? Crocodile Rock, for sure. It’s absolutely worth going to since it is such a magical and beautiful place to be.” – laram45f255215

21. Giant’s Causeway, Antrim

Giant's Causeway, Antrim

“Giants Causeway, County Antrim. Easily.” – annam4c7ab19bb

22. Beddgelert, Snowdonia

Beddgelert, Snowdonia

“Absolutely stunning.” – cerysedwards

23. Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk

Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk

“The vast beach and the colourful huts at Wells-Next-the-Sea, north Norfolk.” – danm49cb25d99”

Source: Ylenia and Buzzfeed

Top 10 Things to Do in Northern Ireland

Hit the road on the Causeway Coastal Route, get down with Belfast's best musicians, and soak up the otherworldly scenery featured in Game of Thrones.

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Northern Ireland blends centuries of history with an engaging modern vibe that shows time definitely hasn’t stood still. Mix in welcoming smiles and jaw-dropping vistas, and it all adds up to ten travel experiences that simply can’t be had anywhere else.

 

ROCK OUT IN BELFAST

Belfast boasts a proud musical history and the beat shows no signs of slowing down. Modern bands that more than do their elders justice are on tap nightly at clubs and pubs all across town. The Oh Yeah Music Centre’s Belfast Music Exhibition proudly showcases memories and memorabilia of artists from Van Morrison to Snow Patrol. Take to the streets for a guided bus tour of musical Belfast including Ulster Hall, where Led Zeppelin first performed “Stairway to Heaven,” and “Van the Man’s” childhood home. Then dance the night away with an array of talented local musicians that you may not know yet, but will never forget. Culture Northern Ireland has the skinny on performers and shows from folk, rock, and reggae to techno and classical recitals.

 

TAKE A PASSAGE ON THE TITANIC

Arguably the world’s most famous ship was born right here in the Belfast shipyards. (“She was fine when she left here,” some locals like to say.) Titanic Belfast is an engaging exhibition of reconstructions, special effects, and interactive features that help you experience the Titanic journey from the docks, to the decks, and even to the bottom of the Atlantic. Continue the adventure on a boat tour around Belfast harbor for a different perspective on Titanic history and the entire port of Belfast. During summer months, the city’s large breeding seal colony, often appear over the bow.

 

TOUR THE CAUSEWAY COAST

The Causeway Coastal Route is world-renowned. There’s a good reason—those who soak in this road’s dramatic seaside vistas and emerald glens can’t stop singing their praises. Stop at the ruined Dunluce Castle, perched on an ocean cliff so precipitous that the castle’s kitchens dropped into the sea one night in 1639. Test your head for heights by walking the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge above the waves from clifftop to island and back. And marvel at the Giant’s Causeway, a 50-60-million-year-old pile of basalt columns, stretching into the sea, that has inspired awe and legends in equal measure throughout the long centuries of Irish history. When the day is done wet your whistle at another famed attraction. Take a tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery, the oldest working distillery in Ireland, to get a behind the scenes look at small-batch whiskey production and sample a smooth dram for yourself.

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WALK THE WALLS OF LONDONDERRY (DERRY)

Northern Ireland’s second city is vibrant, modern urban center with one of Europe’s youngest populations. But its heart is cloaked in 17th-century stone, an enduring engineering marvel of the age. Nearly a mile of stone walls, built between 1613-1618, encircle inner Londonderry (Derry) and provide a pleasant stroll around one of Europe’s very finest surviving walled cities. The ramparts are studded with seven gates and one of the continent’s greatest collection of cannons including Roaring Meg—famed for the terrifying sound she unleashed during the 1689 Siege. (The city never fell.) Learn more about the city’s fascinating history at the Tower Museum. Displays here include items salvaged from La Trinidad Valencera, which was one of the biggest ships in the ill-fated 1588 Spanish Armada before it came to grief just offshore.

 

TOUR THE SEVEN KINGDOMS

The real world Westeros features landscapes every bit as striking and unforgettable as those seen in Game of Thrones—and you can enjoy them without fear of being beheaded. Visit spectacular sites from the show scattered around Northern Ireland on your own, or on specialized tours catering to fans of the Starks and Lannisters—some including choose-your-own costumes, bonfires, and feasts fit for a king. Visit the Winterfell film set at Castle Ward and try your hand at archery or meet the Direwolves Odin and Thor. Stroll the Dark Hedges, an avenue of 18th century beech trees more familiar to fans as the King’s Road. If you dare, head north of the Wall into the Haunted Forest itself with a visit to Tollymore Forest Park. Tourism Ireland has painstakingly mapped the Seven Kingdoms to help fans plan their own quasi-medieval fantasy trips.

 

TEE IT UP LIKE RORY

With four major championships and counting, Rory McIlroy has raised Northern Ireland’s game in the golf world. You might not be able to play like Rory, but at least you can enjoy a round on the same courses he loves. Northern Ireland is home to some of the world’s best links courses and you’re welcome to play them even if your game isn’t quite world class. Royal County Down is a private club, but visitors are welcome to play the Championship Links (if reserved well in advance) several days a week. Royal Portrush Golf Club, which will be home to the 148th Open in 2019, also welcomes advance reservations from members of other recognized golf clubs. Although these two institutions enjoy global fame, don’t overlook a local favorite and Rory’s home club. Holywood Golf Club offers even duffers a scenic round set in the hills just a few miles outside of Belfast.

 

TAKE A HIKE TO HARE’S GAP

Some of the most rugged and inspiring scenery in the Mourne Mountains is found on the hike through Hare’s Gap, a moderately taxing jaunt of about 2 miles each way. As you climb to the pass imagine the ice sheets that once helped shape this range, and glimpse the inspiration for Belfast-native C.S. Lewis’s land of Narnia. Spare a thought for the smugglers as well. The gap was once a gateway for smuggled spices, coffee and other goods that were carried here from the coast along the Brandy Pad route for distribution into the Trassey River valley below.

For a more leisurely loop try the circular ridge trail around the top of Divis and the Black Mountain just outside Belfast. The moderate trail takes around three hours, and, on a clear day, it delivers incredible views of Scotland and the Isle of Man.

 

EXPLORE THE FERMANAGH UNDERGROUND

Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is a celebrated UNESCO site that shows off 895 million years of Earth’s history both above ground and below. Today the landscape surrounding Cuilcagh Mountain is an appealing one of uplands, lakes and forests. But over the eons it has seen mountains rise and fall, deserts, and even tropical oceans. You can read these ancient stories in the enduring rock, thanks to surprises like the coral fossils found on the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain. Below the surface an entirely different world awaits. Vast caverns, running rivers, waterfalls, and fascinating geological features are on display in Marble Arch Caves, one of the finest European caves open to the public. From March to October, take a 75-minute tour through this subterranean wonderland by boarding an underground boat ride that leads to a mile-long guided walk through and out of the cave.

 

EXILE YOURSELF ON RATHLIN ISLAND

Robert the Bruce is said to have been exiled on Northern Ireland’s northernmost speck of land in 1306. Once you visit Rathlin Island you’ll be tempted to linger voluntarily. So get away from it all. Take the local ferry from Ballycastle, which takes 25 to 45 minutes. Some 150 friendly locals call the island home, and their quaint port village soon gives way to quiet country best explored by walking or by bicycle, which can be rented on the island. Stunning vistas blend land, sea and sky. Many interesting birds call the island home, at least seasonally, including a colony of puffins. The experts at the RSPB seabird center are a terrific help to experts and would-be birders alike. Whether you stay a few hours or a few days, don’t forget to take in the view from the unique “upside-down” lighthouse before you head back to the mainland.

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LIVE THE LAKE LIFE IN COUNTY FERMANAGH

County Fermanagh may be landlocked, but the way to its heart is by water. Lough Erne, actually two connected lakes, is dotted with intriguing islands to explore. Devenish Island’s monastic site dates to the 6th century and its famed round tower was built in the 12th century. Curious ancient figures are found on White Island and on Boa Island where the two-faced Janus figure was carved by Celts circa 400 to 800 AD.

The local waters provide plenty of live action as well. The Erne system is famed for fine fishing of two distinct flavors; brown trout on Lower Lough Erne and pike on the Upper Lough. The lake’s scenic shorelines are home to a number of National Trust castle and great house properties. Celebrated inns, hotels, and restaurants serve up the culinary delights that are increasingly earning rave reviews in Fermanagh and across Northern Ireland.

The lake is friendly to paddlers with plenty of canoe and kayak rentals and a designated trail complete with camping. Non-paddlers can hop on a day cruise, or hire a boat and chart a course wherever they wish. If the lough only whets your appetite for more, consider moving on to the Shannon Erne Waterway. Thirty-nine miles of scenic canal, river and lake connect the lough with Ireland’s famed River Shannon—and hundreds more miles of adventure.

 

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Is this the most beautiful walk in Ireland?

One of the joys of an Irish summer is the 17 hours of light every day and how easy it is to get around this relatively small island. One taxi and two trains later I went from an office worker in Dublin city to following the Kerry Camino in the footsteps of Saint Brendan the Navigator.

Over two days we took on the challenge of walking from Tralee to Dingle (39 km / 22.4 miles) taking in some of the most wonderful countryside and sights.

The Kerry Camino route, from Tralee to Dingle, is believed to have been taken by pilgrims and monks on their way to St. James Church, in Dingle, and onward further afield to Santiago, Spain.

It’s also the route followed by St. Brendan, one of Ireland’s most famous saints, in 512AD. According to the text “The Voyage of St. Brendan” it was this traveling preacher who first reached the shores of America.

Not only is this area steeped in history it’s also one of “the most beautiful places on earth,” officially, according to National Geographic. For a personal added bonus the sun shone upon us for our whole trip. Absolutely magic.

Day 1

Our first port of call was Tralee, the county town of Kerry, and a lively spot with bars, cafes, shops, and restaurants lining the streets. We stayed at the Grand Hotel and enjoyed a really delicious meal in the bar (mussels served with brown bread and plaice served with a seafood bisque).

What’s great about walking 39 kilometers (22.4 miles) in two days is that you have free rein to eat whatever you desire and sleep like the dead. What could be better?

Day 2

The next morning we were driven to the small village of Camp to start our walk. We were instructed by our driver to stick to our walking notes and keep our eyes peeled for the clear signs along the trail. Of course, we managed to get lost almost immediately, but after getting ourselves back on track the walk went without a hitch.

The walk from Camp to Annascaul is 17 km (10.2 miles) and takes you through the wonderfully lush and empty valleys below the Caherconree Mountain.

What was breathtaking was that during our four-hour walk (we were very pleased with that time, by the way) we saw only two other people. We were surrounded by the rolling hills, exposed rocks, with quick glimpses of the sea in the distance, and thankfully the blissful sun.

We had lunch at Inch Beach, the longest beach in Ireland and a favorite among water sports fanatics. Even in though the winds are almost too strong to stand on the beach there were kite surfers and brave swimmers heading out into the break.

Far more sensibly we took refuge in Sam’s Cafe for coffee and cake.

We arrived in Annascaul, the birthplace and home of the much admired Antarctic survivor and hero Tom Crean. Our first stop, almost the centerpiece of the town, was the South Pole Inn, the bar that Crean opened after he retired from the British Navy in 1920.

The walls of the pub are filled with the most amazing photos of hardy Polar heroes that really put your last 17-kilometer walk into perspective. The heroes’ bar is a lively spot with great food (we tried the fish and chips and braised lamb and mash), their own lager named after the man himself, and live music.

That evening we also ventured to Hannafin’s bar to sip wine, play board games and listen to the chat around the bar. The bar run by John (a retired teacher, turned farmer, and bar owner) played Bowie and the atmosphere was perfect for folks bewildered by too much fresh air and walking.

By the end our one-day stay in Annascaul we were already calling Noel and Moira, our hosts who run the Annascaul Bed & Breakfast, our Fear and Bean an Tí (Man and Woman of the House). They made us feel instantly at home and most importantly provided a hearty Irish breakfast the next day.

Day 3

Feeling like pros after one day of walking we set out from Annascaul and headed towards Dingle, a 22 kilometer (14 miles) walk.

Our first stop was definitely the most memorable stop of our trip. The natural storm beach next to Minard Castle is such a beautiful spot it borders on being surreal. Sitting on the black boulders of the storm beach next to the remains of a 16th-century castle we looked out at the Dingle Bay and the Iveragh Peninsula stretching into the distance.

Did I mention it was still sunny? Truly, there’s nowhere in the world better than being in Ireland in the sun.

Onward we headed to Conor’s Pass and this is where the walk got a little more difficult. However, the payoff was the amazing views. The route took us up through farmland, over streams and on through gorgeous sparsely inhabited roads dotted with beautiful houses.

The road into Dingle did seem to go on for an eternity and when the village eventually appeared it was like an oasis. Dingle is just like a postcard. Having seen so many photos of the beautifully colored houses and shopfronts and the harbor and the fishing boats going out to sea, the town felt almost familiar.

After checking in at the Lantern B & B we headed to the wonderful Dick Macks, a beautiful, family-owned traditional pub built around the remnants of the old family shoe shop.

For dinner, we went to the Out of the Blue for what was definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in some time. We tried the gambas al aglio, monkfish with gambas, followed by a hot dark chocolate brownie. Truly delicious.

Day 4

A little achy we checked out and wandered the beautiful boutiques that have becomes synonymous with villages like Dingle, selling Irish-made products like pottery, jewelry, and clothes. We then popped into the neatly designed and strangely urban Bean in Dingle for a serious cuppa Joe and on to the now famous Murphy’s Ice Cream where I tried their sea-salt ice cream before we jumped on the bus to get the train back to Dublin.

Regrettably, I come from the Ryanair generation and while growing up at every opportunity I was on a plane to Europe instead of enjoying our own gorgeous island. This trip has given me a stern lesson…get out and see what’s in store in Ireland.

Only one word describes it…Magic.

For more information on the various tours and vacations available like this visit Camino Ways here.

 

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Why traveling to London is cheaper than you think

If you’ve never been to London — or if it’s been a while since your last visit — now’s the time to go. The dollar is strong, airfare is cheap and, because it’s winter, the city isn’t filled with tourists.

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“Airfares are down as a result of lower fuel prices, uncertainty surrounding Brexit and increased competition from a new generation of low-cost carriers across the Atlantic,” said Gary Leff, who writes the popular travel blog View From the Wing. “Combined with a strong dollar and more choices with accommodations like Airbnb, leisure travel to London is more accessible than it’s been in years.”

Ed Pizzarello, founder of the travel blog Pizza in Motion, recalls that the first time he and his wife visited London, the pound was trading at almost $2. But now it’s “at a rate I haven’t seen in my adult lifetime,” he said. “When you combine that with all the low-cost carriers driving down the price of airline tickets, London is close enough for a weekend trip or much longer.”

And don’t let the winter chill keep you away. “I enjoy visiting in the winter especially, as there’s a certain charm and coziness to London that not all cities can manage in gloomy weather,” said Tiffany Funk, who helps run the travel consulting company PointsPros and writes for the popular blog One Mile at A Time.

British Airways just announced a round-trip flight to London, with five nights in a hotel, beginning at $689 per person from several American cities in February.

“It’s now possible to snag a ticket from the U.S. to London for under $500, so it’s more accessible than ever before,” said One Mile at A Time’s founder, Ben Schlappig. And the devalued pound “takes some of the sting out of pricey hotels and restaurants,” Funk said, adding that “many of the best attractions and museums in London are free to begin with.”

(…)

Of course, there are lots of hotels in London in the middle and lower ranges, too. (…).

And once you’re there, there’s no place in the world like London for cultural and historical sightseeing.

In Central London, the Houses of Parliament tour costs about $23 if you book ahead of time, and you can walk around inside the iconic building and see the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The town of Windsor in Berkshire County is just a short train ride away. Windsor Castle is a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II. When she’s there, the Royal Standard flag flies over the castle. When she’s away, the British flag flies.

The castle houses Queen Mary’s Doll House, which was designed by a leading architect and built for the queen by some of the top furniture makers and craftsmen in the 1920s. It has working lights and plumbing.

Windsor Castle caught fire in 1992, but it has been completely restored, and it shines.

Also in the countryside is Hampton Court Palace, the royal residence for King Henry VIII. Built in the 1500s, it’s worth seeing for serious history buffs.

No tour of London is complete without a visit to London’s famous Tower, which was founded by William the Conqueror in 1066 and offers a great overview of British history. The crown jewels are displayed here, and it’s a perfect spot for selfies in front of Tower Bridge.

There also are many world-famous museums, including the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, the Courtauld Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The least known of them, Courtauld Gallery, has many famous paintings, including works by Van Gogh, Renoir and Modigliani.

The Victoria and Albert Museum — “the V&A” — is massive and takes days to explore, much like the Met in New York and the Louvre in Paris. It’s a bit overwhelming, but you can get a quick overview in a few hours. It’s also free.

And you can’t leave London without seeing one of its newest tourist attractions … the London Eye. Sure, it’s a little touristy and crowded, but who cares? The views are incredible.

Splurge for an express pass ($49/adult) to cut down on the wait time, and jump onto a moving “pod” that is mostly see-through. Each pod has about 10-15 other people on it. Don’t worry about pushing to the front, because there are views from all sides. You can see Parliament and Big Ben, The Thames, Buckingham Palace, the Shard and pretty much all of central London.

As for the food … London is quickly shedding its reputation for being a foodie desert. The city’s culinary scene has come a long way in the past decade.

Want proof? Visit Massimo Restaurant, known for its impeccable service and homemade pasta, near Trafalgar Square. It’s a glamorous scene.

 

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