If you are thinking of visiting Ireland and over 66 then you might want to consider seeing Ireland by rail.
Because it will be free.
Anyone over 66 from the UK is entitled to apply for a Golden Trekker pass. This not only entitles you to 14 days free travel within Ireland but also gives discounted accommodation, attractions and restaurant reductions if two of you go. Even if you are single the rail travel is worthwhile having. Getting the Golden Trekker pass doesn’t cost you anything either but apply for it before you go. If you intend to travel in the north as well as in the Republic it looks as though you have to apply for two as each will only let you travel as far as the border. The pass is available for use from tomorrow and is valid up until the end of the year.
Although the Irish rail network radiates from Dublin, you won’t necessarily have to return to Dublin each time you want to go elsewhere. There is a line from Rosslare through Limerick which meets the line to Galway. Apart from that the main lines run to Sligo, Ballina, Westport, Galway, Tralee (for the Dingle peninsular) Cork , Waterford and Rosslare. To give you an idea of the savings, a five day Galway return is €48 and you can get a day return to Tralee for as little as €51 (otherwise it is €72). A train journey to Tralee takes about 4 hours so as a day trip you don’t get to see too much and, more often than not, you have to connect in Mallow for the train coming up from Cork. But usually it is only a ten-fifteen minute wait.
Cork is only 3 hours away from Dublin and with an hourly train service, easily done on a day return. You won’t see everything but as a taster for a return longer stay it’s ideal.
For more information www.discoverireland.com
Last Summer all those holiday destinations where they had the euro didn’t do quite as well as they expected. Because the pound was weak against it, we chose areas with different currencies that had not declined as much or where we felt we got better value for money. Turkey and Egypt spring to mind.
Ireland suffered despite a campaign last May/June to get us there. !5% fewer Brits went there last year, and since 50% of tourists to Ireland come from the UK, it is a vital market for them. Now that the pound has strengthened against the euro will we be more likely to visit Ireland again?
In March visitors by those living in the UK dropped by just over a fifth to just 212,000 visits. 40,000 fewer of us visited in just one month! Given that this will include visits made by people visiting friends and relatives, this could mask quite a drop. As the world pulls out of recession what could be the cause?
Is Ireland still seen as too expensive? Do Dublin city breaks no longer appeal? Does Ireland no longer appeal? Is it because fares by Ryanair, Aer Arann, British Airways and Aer Lingus are more expensive than previously? Is it due to a lack of or maybe less than effective advertising? The head of Tourism Ireland has said that it is due to the recession but aren’t people feeling more confident now? Are other countries fighting to persuade us to go there? Is the impact of Irish advertising being overtaken by that of other countries?
The numbers will look worse in April when the effects of airport closures due to the Icelandic volcanic eruption will be seen. So to still have a 20% decline before those effects are felt seems to warrant a lot of thinking. And the number of European travelers was down by about the same amount as well. Australians, Japanese, and South Africans visited in greater numbers, but then the numbers are small to start with. American visits were down just slightly. Ireland needs Britons to travel there. Have you considered going to Ireland this year and if not why? Now Tourism Ireland needs to find out and then remind us why it is such an attractive destination or it could be an uncomfortable year for tourism.
When the summer sun puts his hat on, few places are more fun than the British seaside. CD-Traveller has teamed up with DK Eyewitness Travel to give you the low-down on Britain’s best beaches
It was the British who invented the seaside resort, complete with changing rooms that could be wheeled into the water, concealing the lissom limbs of Victorian ladies from the public gaze. The expansion of the railways in the mid to late 19th century brought the masses to seaside towns, and by the 1930s, bank-holiday trains would be heaving with city-dwellers flocking to the beach. Indeed, for most of the 20th century, British families looked no further than their own seaside for their annual holiday – until the advent of cheap travel to the Mediterranean and then even more exotic destinations.
In the 21st century, the British are rediscovering the charms of their coast. Some resorts have reinvented themselves: Brighton has embraced the arts, while Newquay has become Britain’s pre-eminent surf resort. Others, such as Blackpool, remain fabulously brash. Piers, donkey rides and fish and chips are still seaside staples, and few sights are quintessentially British than a row of colourful beach huts. Childhood memories of rock pools and sand castles bring parents in search of these simple pleasures for their own children. It is nostalgia, as well as the beauty of the British coastline, that is drawing people back to the sea.
Arran, Southern Scotland
Pebbly coves and sandy beaches ring the rugged shores of Scotland’s most accessible island, and Broddick, its biggest village, has great pubs and fish-and-chip shops. www.visitarran.net
Largs, Southern Scotland
For years, this great sweep of beach has been Glasgow’s summer getaway. Much more sophisticated now than in its heyday, it boasts a shiny new marina. www.largsonline.co.uk
Kinsale, Southern Ireland
Set on a superb natural harbour not far from Cork, Kinsale boasts great restaurants, charming hotels and old fashioned pubs, as well as pretty beaches nearby. www.kinsale.ie
Llandudno, North Wales
This legendary Welsh resort’s North Shore beach has a Victorian pier, while the sandy West Shore is the place to be for fabulous sea views and sunsets. www.llandudno.com
Blackpool, Northwest England
With its trams, sing along pubs and roller coasters, Blackpool is the epitome of the seaside resort. Despite attempts to go upscale, it’s still gloriously tacky.
Morecambe Bay, Northwest England
This resort is renowned for its abundant birdlife, fabulous sunsets and fast-moving tides, which can rush in at the speed of “a good horse.” www.morecambebay.org.uk
Scarborough, Northeast England
Sweeping North Sea views, sandy bays, dramatic cliffs and some of the freshest seafood in England are among the charms of this Yorkshire resort. www.scarborough.co.uk
Bridlington, Northeast England
This town is home to a seaside museum and the John Bull World of Rock, celebrating the confectionery that is synonymous with seaside fun. www.bridlington.net
Filey, Northeast England
Known since Victorian times for its bracing sea air, Filey is a fishing harbour with beaches overlooked by the chalk cliffs of Bempton and Flamborough Head. www.filey.co.uk
Southwold, Eastern England
A swathe of sea-smoothed pebbles, a long line of brightly painted beach huts, a brewery and great fresh crab make this quirky Suffolk seaside village irresistible. www.visitsouthwold.co.uk
Brighton, Southeast England
The Prince Regent (later King George IV), made this city fashionable in the early 19th century. A hub of the arts, its still where London goes for a week-end by sea.
Margate, Southeast England
A favourite with Londoners for years, this bucket and spade resort on the Kent coast now has the Turner Centre – a gallery named after the famous English artist. www.visitthanet.co.uk
Weston Super Mare, Southwest England
This resort has been famous for its donkey rides and arcades for almost a century. An observation wheel adds to its appeal. www.weston-super-mare.com
Newquay, Southwest England
England’s answer to Bondi Beach has become the southwest’s party town par excellence, loved by surfers, yachties and gap-year party animals.
St Ives, Southwest England
Gorgeous beaches and a heritage bequeathed by some of the 20th century’s best British artists are the hallmarks of this Cornish fishing village. www.stives-cornwall.co.uk
Torquay, Southwest England
Palm trees line the esplanade and subtropical blooms adorn the gardens of stylish Art Deco hotels in genteel Torquay. Don’t miss the town’s superb Devon cream teas. www.torquay.com
For more suggestions on some spectacular places to visit in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, check out Where To Go When: Great Britain & Ireland, Foreword by Julia Bradbury (DK Eyewitness Travel, £19.99).
If you’re thinking of coming along to Kensington, Olympia for this show at any time over the next two days, then many parts of the UK will be showing off local food and drink.
On the One North East stand they will have Pan Haggerty Pies, Durham Brewery Beers, and Northumberland Bog Myrtle Gin. Competing against the Irish and Scottish whiskeys will be Coquet Black Rory Whisky. And still discussing whiskey, there will be a few distilleries on the Visit Scotland stand with samples for you to try like Glengoyne. Staying with the alcoholic theme, the Discover Gosport & The Royal Navy Submarine Museum stand may still have rum to sample although I think the Navy no longer has a rum ration! And the Wye Valley Brewery will be on the Visit Herefordshire stand as well On the Hastings and 1066 Country stand they will have some samples from the loyal Carr Taylor wines and smoked fish to try. Sussex by the Sea will have some cream teas and Kent has apple juice. From the largest vineyard in southern England, Denbies, will be experts to talk about wine followed by a tasting. There will also be a tasting of Surrey’s only handmade cheese, the Norbury Blue.
Away from food there will be a number of prizes and offers available like Royal Ascot where you can win tickets to the races. On a quieter note, gardeners from the Windsor Great Park will be talking about what to find in the gardens and Eoghan O’Mara Walsh will be talking about Ireland’s heritage.
To entertain you, the cast of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will be recreating parts of the show. I was surprised by the show thinking I wouldn’t like it at all but it is wonderfully done. There will be music from a highland piper as well as dancing and, not to be outdone, there will be a mixture of Irish traditional and modern music.
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Lawrence Bate, director of Tourism Ireland in Great Britain and an active traveler, chats to CD-Traveller about the Emerald Isle, his love of South Korea and loyalty to Lonely Planet
What do you like to do on holiday?
As much as possible! I’m not one for just sitting on a beach so I’ll go running, cycling, canoeing – basically anything active so I prefer holidays in the mountains as opposed to flying somewhere and flopping on a beach. Being active means that I can also eat plenty when I’m on holiday – I love trying whatever the local specialty is. The other great thing about going away is being able to spend quality time with my wife and two boys (aged 9 and 13) although I probably drive them mad!
Where did you last go?
I went to Mexico with my family for three weeks last summer. We flew to Mexico City and then got a bus to Morelia (declared a world heritage city in 1991) where we picked up a hire car and did a circuit that included hiking up a volcano in the hail, marveling at archaeological sites and chilling out on some fantastic beaches. With the concerns about swine flu a lot of people had stayed away from Mexico, so we hardly heard another English voice while we there. Although we spent 21 days in Mexico, we really only saw a small part of the country.
Do you know where you’re going next year?
We’re off skiing over Easter and plan to go to Northern Ireland in the May half term. I’ve been to Northern Ireland on business many times but it’ll be great to show the family the sights and sounds of Belfast and Londonderry as well as the amazing drive round the coast between the two cities, taking in places like the Giant’s Causeway and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I’m also hoping we’ll get time to go walking in the Sperrins as it’s very different to the walking we’ve done before in Britain. We’ve got nothing booked for the summer but Montenegro is top of the list – for a small country it seems to have an enormous variety of landscapes and activities.
Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite?
It’s really tough to single out one place in particular as so many have special memories. My wife and I went on honeymoon to South Korea and Japan and we have also lived in Turkey and Chile where we took the opportunity to travel around as much as we could. Since returning to England we’ve been to many great places – the West Coast of Ireland, northern Spain, Estonia, Iceland, and Mexico – each of them wonderful in different ways. However, if I had to pick just one, I guess it would be South Korea.
Why was it your favourite?
The scenery in South Korea’s interior is amazing with incredible temples in places only accessible by going over bridges spanning deep ravines. Also, the people were unbelievably friendly – we were even invited by a group of Buddhist nuns to have lunch with them.
Which destination do you wish to travel but haven’t been?
There are so many places I’ve still not been to. I’ve heard great things about Canada, especially the West Coast and the Rockies. We’ve got friends who live in the Yukon and some of their stories and pictures are amazing. I’ also fancy going to India as it would be such a different cultural experience.
In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
There are three standouts in Ireland that often get overlooked by visitors. First up, I’d recommend signing up for one of the many walking tours in Belfast – it’s a city with a fascinating history and the guides are well informed and have that special Belfast wit to boot. Secondly, head for the beach at Crookhaven in County Cork – almost as far south-west as you can go is a wide expanse of golden sand and you can sit under clear blue skies (we had great weather when we were down there) and gaze out over the Atlantic Ocean. Finally, check out the cave at Doolin in County Clare –it contains the longest stalactite in the northern hemisphere and is just awesome.
How do you plan your holiday?
I’m a guidebook fanatic, especially Lonely Planet. I’ll get a bunch out of the library and thumb through them trying to imagine what a holiday in the particular place would be like, then once I’m pretty sure I’ll buy the relevant guide and plan things to do on the holiday. I use a combination of Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor recommendations to get ideas for accommodation and they’ve never let me down!
Where do you see tourism in your country in 10 years time?
It’s difficult to predict as the world is changing so fast. I believe that people will increasingly want more authentic and enriching experiences and Ireland is well positioned to take advantage of that trend. For British visitors, in particular, Ireland is so close and yet so different to Britain – while there are obvious similarities like the language, the culture is very distinctive and of course, the warmth and friendliness of people in Ireland means that visitors can get so much more out of holiday there.
How often do you go away?
As often as possible! Ideally two or three times a year with a few camping weekends closer to home. My travel plans, like most peoples, very much depend on budget as well as time.
Thanks Lawrence! To find out where other industry experts holiday, don’t forget to keep clicking back.