The Emerald Isle With Stephanie – Part 3

The scenery in Ireland is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The past few days have consisted of scenic drives of the west coast. On the way from Limerick to Killarney, we start off with the Dingle Peninsula. This is the most stunning 46 km drive, and I highly recommend it if you are in the area. The coastline is unbelievable, with many spots to pull off for photo opportunities. You’ll want to give yourself up to 2 hours to complete the circle, especially if you want to take a lot of photos.

Dingle

Dingle Peninsula

The Ring of Kerry is the most well-known costal drive, and is longer than the Dingle Peninsula at 179 km in total. With stops for photos and snacks, this route will likely take you 4 or 5 hours from Killarney. If you can’t get enough of the jagged Irish coast, with crashing waves and green cliffs, be sure to take in both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula.

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Blarney Castle

On our final days, as we make our way back up to Dublin before ending our journey, one of my favorite stops was Blarney Castle. The current castle dates back to 1446, though there are parts of the structure that date back to 1210. The Blarney Stone is located at the top of the castle, and you have the opportunity to hang upside down to kiss it. I opted not to, since it was wet and rainy. Since its still off season in Ireland, there were not a lot of crowds at the castle, which allowed me to get some fabulous photos inside and of the grounds. Some of the staircases are quiet narrow and steep, and often wet, so be sure to wear suitable shoes and go slowly.

The last day of the tour brought us back into Dublin, via the small town of Avoca. The Avoca Mill, which is Ireland’s oldest weaving mill, has been around since 1723. Though they haven’t been in production continuously since then, they are fully functioning today. The small staff of 18 produces beautiful hand and machine woven wool clothes, blankets and more. There is a shop on site of course, so you can treat yourself to a fabulous woolen piece for our chilly Saskatchewan winters.

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Avoca Mill

To finish everything off, Cosmos offers an optional excursion to Taylors Three Rock for a fun night of Irish Cabaret. You’ll be treated to a great 3 course meal, drinks, traditional Irish dance and folk singers. The hosts are fabulous, and have a great sense of humor. The venue is small and intimate, with every seat offering a good view of the stage. It’s a fabulous way to end the tour, with lots of laughs and good cheer.

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Irish Cabaret

It’s hard to believe my time in Ireland has come to an end. It feels like I have done so much, in such a small amount of time. I’ve made a complete circle of the island, and put on a lot of miles. I can’t wait until my adventures bring me back here again!

 

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The Emerald Isle With Stephanie – Part 2

I’m so glad this tour has included Northern Ireland.  Giant’s Causeway, and the whole northern coast, is not something to be missed. The stunningly beautiful landscape was formed from several volcanic eruptions, ranging from roughly 58 to 61 million years ago.  During your visit, there is an audio guide to go along with your walk, which tells you about the folklore of the giant Fionn MacCool and how he created the causeway. There are thousands of natural columns, and 3 different trails to hike. The views are spectacular, and the folklore makes it that much more interesting.

Gians Causway

Giant’s Causeway

After our visit, we make our way back into Ireland to Sligo via Derry and Donegal, both towns of which we get a quick stop for a bite to eat or cup of coffee, and a bit of time to walk the streets. There is a pub on every corner, and even more in between. You’ll never be far from a pint!

The next day is another full of stops and sights. Galway is the first pit stop mid-morning, giving us time for a snack and cup of coffee. Since its Sunday, most of the shops are still closed in the morning, so we don’t have much of an opportunity for shopping. The city is popular for tourists in the summer, as there are lots of festivals. There is also a great historical district with a pedestrian only area full of shops, restaurants and pubs. I’ll have to make a point of coming back here in the summer to experience the city to its fullest.

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Cliffs of Moher

The highlight of this leg of the journey is the Cliffs of Moher. Located about 90 minutes from Galway, the cliffs are a sight to behold! I heed a warning first; it is extremely windy here, and the weather changes on a dime (much like Saskatchewan). Within 30 minutes there was sun, wind, rain and snow. Dress in layers, and make sure everything is secure; ball caps will definitely be gone with the wind. Once you get past the hurricane force wind (at least it seemed so), the views are spectacular.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

The cliffs are nearly 700 feet high, and have the beautiful ocean crashing along the bottom. If the wind hits just right, it will carry the mist all the way up the cliffs. You’ll end up with fabulous photos, and scenery that is second to none.

The day finishes up in Limerick, where there is an optional excursion available to Bunratty Castle for a night of medieval feasts and entertainment. I’ve opted to just stay at the hotel tonight, and enjoy dinner at a nearby pub. It was a pretty long day already, and I’m definitely ready for bed. Tomorrow brings another day filled with small towns and majestic scenery.

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The Emerald Isle With Stephanie – Part 1

Céad Míle Fáilte…..one hundred thousand welcomes! I’ve been in Ireland for a few days now, and feel right at home. Though it’s a familiar land, there is still a foreign uniqueness to it. The first thing you need to remember driving is opposite of home, which means looking right instead of left before crossing the street. Luckily many of the streets have a reminder right on the street at each of the crosswalks; I’m guessing one too many tourists stepped out into traffic at the wrong time.

GuinnessIn the few days I’ve been here, I feel like I’ve already done so much. The Guinness Storehouse is a great place to start, since Guinness has been a part of Dublin’s history since 1759. You’ll start with a self-guided tour through their history, and finish off with a pint of the good stuff at the Gravity Bar with 360 degree views of the city. Jameson.jpgFor the whiskey aficionados, a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery is not to be missed. The 40-minute guided tour will bring you through their family history, the highs and lows of the business, and of course includes a taste of the world renowned whiskey at the end. The best way to get around to all the sights is with a hop on-hop off bus pass. The 2 lines hit all the major sights, plus include some bonuses such as complimentary pints, and food discounts.

Another highlight has been Malahide Castle, located about 40 minutes from Dublin city center. This castle was owned by the Talbot family for more than 800 years, and they have occupied the land since the 12th century.

Malahide Castle

After the castle tour, I set off to start a 9 day tour with Cosmos Vacations that encompasses the island. The group has 41 people, and seems to be a good mix of ages. We’ve headed up to Belfast in Northern Ireland, where we’ve just wrapped up a city sightseeing tour and a trip to the Titanic Experience Belfast, which is located at the original construction sight of the ship. This is the world’s largest permanent Titanic exhibit, and I highly recommend a visit if you are a fan of the history.

Tomorrow we head up to Giant’s Causeway on our way back into Ireland, where we will end up in Sligo for the night. I still have a full week here ahead of me, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the country has in store.

 

Casie Goes To Italy – Part 3

As wonderful as the hiking was we decided to take a break and explore Capri. Our group took a private boat to the island of Capri. It was a nice change looking at the islands from a new perspective instead of from above. We went through the Tunnel of Love, into town, visited the Blue Grotto and enjoyed the views of other little islands around.

Exploring the town was neat. We took a chairlift up to the top for a view overlooking the island (also easier than hiking). Capri is a more “high class” island when it comes to shopping so we didn’t do too much. Once again we had lunch with a breathtaking view.

After leaving Capri we ventured through more of the islands. Taking us to the Blue Grotto! It was one of my favourite parts of the trip but it was very short. They took us in little boats and do a quick tour (maybe 5 minutes). The cost for us was 14EUR per person.

Travel Tip: when they take you into the Blue Grotto they will ask if you want to go swimming then charge you more after you’re out so be careful.

 

Overall I can’t say enough good things about my experience with G Adventures and Local Living in the Amalfi Coast.  Italy is a breathtaking country and I’m so happy I was able to experience it this way.   I just want to say Thank you to G Adventures for the unforgettable week.

If Italy is on your bucket list, give me a shout at 306-955-1449 or casie@uniglobevacation.com.  I would LOVE to help you to plan your dream trip and share with you all of my insider tips and tricks.

Casie Goes to Italy – Part 2

I made it to the Amalfi Coast. It’s breathtaking! I’m not much for big cities so I was happy for a nice change. If you enjoy hiking this is the place for you. We’ve done three so far and they’ve all been challenging but worth every second especially the view at the top. My favorite hike was The Walk of the Gods. We started from the small town of Bomerano and ended in Positano. We explored Positano and had lunch with a beautiful view.

Another hike we did was Valle dei Mulini. On the way up we saw the view of Amalfi, old mills, waterfalls and more. At the top we were rewarded with a peaceful surrounding of trees and the most beautiful waterfall.

The most challenging hike we did was from Amalfi to Ravello. The elevation gain is 2858ft. There were lots and lots of steps upward on a paved pathway. At the time I was wondering why I agreed to this but once I was at the top I felt so accomplished.

As challenging as they are, I would prefer doing hikes rather than taking transfers to the destinations. The smells of fresh flowers and lemons mixed with the views along the way are irreplaceable. Plus picture taking is much easier when you’re standing still verse in a moving vehicle.

 

Travel tip: if you have bad knees or ankles and can’t do stairs the hikes in this area may be difficult for you and are not highly recommended as there are many steps.

 

We are staying at a local farm which is a super neat experience. Its ran by a family which makes you feel very welcomed! They have done a couple food demonstrations for us. One being lasagna and the other was Tiramisu. It’s crazy how much work they put into making fresh pasta. All the food they have cooked us has been wonderful!

Casie Goes To Italy – Part 1

Hey guys! I just landed in Naples, the birthplace of pizza. The first thing I did after checking into my hotel of course was to go eat pizza! It was amazing – thin crust and so cheesy. There are pizza places everywhere! I’m in heaven.

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The next day we walked around touring Naples in the old and new part. It’s amazing the difference in the communities; they’re divided by one street which is called Spaccanapoli which means “Naples splitter”. Old Naples is more touristy with local shops for souvenirs. You see cornicello everywhere which look like red peppers. It’s said that if you give one to someone it will bring them good luck.

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There is also Naples Underground to visit. They offer self or guided tours. Unfortunately we were too impatient to wait for the next guided tour so we did it on our own. I would definitely recommend doing a guided tour. We didn’t get all the history facts. New Naples is more designer name shops. They have a couple tables with souvenirs but not as many. I personally liked old Naples better because it gave more of a local vibe. In both neighborhoods the street food smells amazing! Treats everywhere!  You definitely will not starve in Naples.

Where do pepperonis go on a holiday?
The leaning tower of ‘pizza of course.

Until next time!

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To see more of Casie’s European trip along with vacation photos from our other amazing agents, check out our Instagram @UniglobeYXE
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What To Do When Things Go Wrong – Correna’s Blog

For today’s blog I am going to tell you what not to do, based my experience today. So today is the end of my trip to the U.K. and as I packed up I decided to move my passport folder from the pocket of my carry-on to my travel purse for safe keeping. I received this travel purse from my sister this Christmas as I had bought her one before her trip to Greece. It is an anti theft purse with all kinds of security added features. Well, the purse is only as smart as the user as I found out today.

I had put my most important item on my body as I can’t travel anywhere without it. I had everything all ready to go with all the hooks and clasps done up and then I had to get my Oyster Card out of my bag and must have forgotten to redo a clasp. We boarded the tube from Sloan Station and to make a change at Victoria to Piccadilly square. The tube was packed and I never felt anyone move the zipper at all. We arrived at Piccadilly all proud of our selves as we made it and then BAM – I went to pull out my passport folder to pull out my rail ticket and I just about puked right there and then! Passport folder gone!!!!! We checked all my bags and it was nowhere to be found. There were police officers standing nearby so our little group of three headed over to let them know that my passport folder had been stolen. Now, I got a little upset at this point as they told me there wasn’t a lot that could be done as I didn’t witness the theft happen. By this time I was just about in tears. How was I going to get home? How would I get a new passport issued? Could I make it on my own to Trafalgar Square beings upset and alone? Well suck it up princess and get this looked after!  I called the hotel that we had just left and had them check everywhere but they found nothing. I spoke to our group leader who made arrangements for me to stay tonight at the Draycott, I will get back to them later. So I left Piccadilly Station to get back on that damn tube and my Oyster Card had cancelled for some reason. Now I start to cry and the ladies in the tube station were great. They let me through and radioed ahead to let them know at my stop to let me through there too. When I arrive at Canada House, the Canadian Embassy, they already knew I was on my way 🙂 they had tissues for me and told me that everything happens for a reason. I got inside with my passport photos which took me five different photo places before I found one that does Canadian passport sizes. I left Canada House around 5pm with a temporary passport in hand. This all started around 914am. You want to talk about a long stressful day!

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Canada House

Now, onto the Draycott Hotel, they met me at the door, made sure I was alright, showed me to another beautiful room and then served me champagne. They have been outstanding and now if I have anyone traveling to London, be prepared to be sent to the Draycott lol.  Seriously it’s amazing, check it out here http://www.draycotthotel.com/  Also, thank you so much to Jamie and Heather who helped keep me sane and got be booked on a flight home for tomorrow morning. I can’t imagine why people would not use a travel agent! How would you be able to get this all done within a few hours and be on a plane home within 22 hours. I also contacted Manulife as soon as I knew what was going to happen and my agent there was very helpful. This is just another reason why to buy travel insurance. You may think nothing is going to happen but believe me it can!