Category Archives: European Travel

Italy – A Land of Many Surprises

Italy is a land of  surprises. It is a country where visitors often see only a fraction as they rush through Rome, Venice and Florence. Some probe deeper into Tuscany and Umbria and others stop for a while on a beach or at a ski resort. There are still many facets of this country completely unknown to the majority of foreign visitors. .

Much of Italy  is a land far away from the hustle and bustle of crowded cities, a country that offers the dramatic shapes of the Dolomites’ limestone towers and spires, the rolling beauty of the Etruscan hills and scenes evoking the Florentine painters. The options  do not stop there. Go south and discover the real Mediterranean wilderness, sometimes reminiscent of Anatolia, even central Asia. Hike along little known tracks near Etna and don’t miss the Gran Sasso to the north. Sardinia, to some people, summons up a sophisticated image of the Aga Khan’s beach resorts, but you can discover the desolate and magnificent hills of limestone just a few miles away from the sound of motor boats and intrusive music. And Sicily  is not just Mafia and Murder. It is also a detached fragment of the Apennines and has volcanic mountains, picturesque bays and headlands, numerous small islands and the famous flora of the Madonie mountains.

Italy needs more National Parks, but people are becoming increasingly aware that if bears and wolves, chamois and deer, vultures and eagles are going to survive, land must be made available for these creatures to live unmolested alongside the amazing diversity of plants, trees and flowers that cover Italy’s hills and valleys.

But looking at nature should not mean excluding the history of man. Walking through the countryside is a splendid way of discovering masterpieces quite different from the well-known urban wonders that tourists, as well as Italians, normally see. Etruscan cemeteries carved into volcanic rock. Byzantine churches hidden in the depths of wild limestone canyons, old trade routes crossing the Alps, hermitages and abbeys perched on top of the wildest ridges of the Apennines. Bronze age fortifications in Sardinia and traces of ancient populations everywhere – Salassi, Piceni, Sanniti, which most guidebooks hardly ever mention.

What walking, hiking and mountaineering are all about is participat­ing in the preservation of the outstanding beauty of Italy’s nature and wildlife. This doesn’t mean turning your holiday into a Save the Wolves campaign, nor are you even required to join one of the environmentalist groups, unless you actively wish to do so. But by avoiding the crowded beaches, the bustling traffic in the towns and even by dodging those huge steel edifices which seem so necessary to modern ski resorts, you are promoting and influencing the local administrations towards the right kind of tourism. Walking and exploring many of the protected areas is in itself an act of protection. All you have to bring with you is a pair of feet, curiosity, your eyes to have a good look around and you’ll end up finding more than you can imagine. Everything else will come by itself. To everyone, welcome to Italy!

Azores Archipelago in Portugal

The Azores archipelago consists of nine islands in the mid Atlantic, located just less than two hours flying time from Lisbon, on mainland Portugal. With a total area of 2335 square kilometres literally every one of these islands have the most fantastic fishing potential imaginable even though being the most underdeveloped potential in the modern fishing world.

azores 9 islands in the Atlantic
Photo (c) Chris Veers via flickr.com

The volcanic structure of the archipelago has created the high inland lakes, the extinct craters and those ominous looking volcanic cones that are now so verdantly green. The climate creates this luxurious undergrowth of vegetation and riot of wild flowers, tempered by the islands’ position on the latitude, and the regulating influence of the Gulfstream. The mean air temperature for the year is 17C, with a maximum of 21C, and a minimum of 14C.

The atmosphere, free from pollution, allows the amateur and professional photographer to snap away merrily. Tones are enhanced by the ever changing clouds, and the rays of the sun change Pico especially, from a bland silhouette to a plaster moulding of prehistoric times. Many of the high pressure weather systems start here, known as the Azores anticyclone belt. The wind, considering it has the entire north Atlantic to race over unhindered, is only some 12.2km per hour.

Ideal for the sailing enthusiast, (the islands are used as provisioning points by trans-Atlantic sailors) and ideal, of course, for fishing. The weather changes very quickly. It can rain and blow in the morning, then be still with a clear blue sky in the evenings. The combination of these natural conditions allows a prolific growth of vegetation, which, as well as interesting native species that are elsewhere extinct, includes various exotic plants and trees from all over the world. Game is still abundant. Buzzards, that gave the islands their name, still visit the islands. Livestock breeding is now one of the mainstays of the islanders, which together with the agriculture, wines and other industries makes tourism a joy.

Unspoiled by pollution, and undamaged by the commercialism of the rest of Europe, these islands really are one of the few places left in the world where you can get away from it all. According to the recent census there is a resident population of 287,000. Many years ago the Nova Scotia whaling boats would stop in the Azores to take on men, as the locals were among the finest and most fearless whalers of the day, with a reputation for reliability that preceded them worldwide. Looking at the islands separately they all have something unique to commend them.

A Few Tips On Accessing Money Whilst Traveling Europe

This is a guest post from Tom of the website ActiveBackpacker.

Old Town, Nurembery, Germany

Whenever you head off overseas, it’s always important that you have a solid plan in place as to how you are going to be withdrawing cash from the ATM’s over there, and how you are going to access your money in general.

If you don’t, you will find that the fees and costs will add up faster than you can blink.

I’ve travelled and backpacked Europe extensively, so I can definitely help out and provide a few decent tips when it comes to withdrawing money without burning a hole in your budget.

The real problems with most bank cards or credit cards when you are withdrawing funds from an overseas country are that they will charge you all sorts of fees. These fees will generally include: Foreign currency conversion fees, cash advance fees AS WELL AS international transaction fees.

All of these fees will really add up, so the best trick is to simply find a product that will provide you at least 2 of those 3 fees for free.

I personally have a travel credit card which charges me none of those fees (the best solution- but I need to ensure I am always paying off my card), but not everyone has access to something like that.
So don’t just use your local bank card, I’m telling you right now there is a great chance the fees incurred by yourself will be simply ridiculous. Shop around, and find a card that is going to provide you with some major advantages for withdrawing funds in another country.

Don’t bother with traveler’s checks. They are antiquated and a waste of time – everywhere in Europe will have ATM’s with the Visa or MasterCard symbols (or look for the one that has MAESTRO or CIRRUS on it).

I also carry around two points of access to my money back home, so I’ll bring along a bank card as a back up to my travel credit card for example. I suggest you don’t store these in the same place as each other (for obvious reasons – in case you lose one!).

If you can ultimately get a card that is low on foreign conversion and cash advance fees, you are going to be way ahead of the pack. It also means you can withdraw LESS from the ATM (because you are not being charged ridiculous amounts for each withdrawal) thus reducing the risk of carrying and losing lots of cash whilst traveling.

Anyway it’s all a little bit common sense, but I hope this article has provided some valuable tips when it comes to how to go about accessing your money whilst traveling Europe.

 

Azores Islands

Clearly of volcanic origin, the Azores Islands formation is still the subject of hot debate among geologists. Were the islands once part of the African continent, or did they arise from submarine fissures through which the earth’s molten core spewed out boiling magma? The latter theory is dominant, though some botanists and others dispute it, as we shall see below. Anyway, it all happened some 30-40 million years ago.

The islands’ volcanic nature is still very evident today. Periodic eruptions occur from the remaining active volcanoes, most recently in Angra, but usually with advance warning and few casualties. The cones and craters of volcanoes provide a characteristic feature of Azores landscape, with lava rivers spilling their petrified streams down to the sea, and subterranean heat most dramatically felt in the Fire Mountains of Pico and now being utilized as geothermal power. But if this conjures up a picture of aridity and bleakness, nothing could be further from the truth.

Azores Photo: impletora via flickr.com

The total area of the archipelago is 2,923 square miles, the largest island being Sao Miguel and the smallest Corvo. Generally speaking, which is tricky when you’re dealing with nine such different islands, the five westernmost islands are mountainous and green, while Flores and Corvo in the east have lesser peaks and share more in common with North Africa. The highest mountain in the Azores, indeed in all of Portugal, is Mount Pico in Pico Island, the summit often snow-covered in winter. The islands all tend to have steep coastal cliffs in the north, the south coast’s generally being more level, most of the best beaches are in the southern parts. The volcanic origins are everywhere to be seen. In the profusion of cones, in the calderas or craters, great saucers with mountainous walls, such as Terceira’s Las Caliadas and Santa Maria’s Caldera de Bandama, in the malpaises, literally ‘badlands’, where grey or reddish lava streams have solidified such as the 125 sq metre volcanic desert around Flore’s Montanas del Fuego.

Where is the Aletsch Glacier?

The Aletsch Glacier flows down the valley from its beginning high in a pass between two massive mountains, the Jungfrau and the Monch. Located in south-central Switzerland, it measures some 15 miles (25 kilometers) in length and encompasses about 50 square miles (130 square kilometers), making it both the longest and the largest glacier in the Alps.

Aletsch Glacier Photo: David Abet via flickr.com

Glaciers are often thought of as rivers of ice—rivers that are made of snow that has compacted under pressure. Like ordinary rivers, they have their sources, tributaries, and outlets. In the case of the Aletsch, three ice streams—the Great Aletsch Firn (fern is the name used for compacted snow), the Jungfrau Firn, and the Ewigschneefeld (“Eternal Snow Field”) —come together in the region called the Concordia Platz. From this point the great glacier moves south toward the Rhone Valley, flowing at an average rate of 500 to 650 feet (150 to 200 meters) per year.

Along the way small tributary glaciers feed into the main glacier. However, most of the tributary glaciers are melting back and have become disconnected from the main glacier, so that ice from them no longer reaches the Aletsch.

On its left bank the Aletsch Glacier forms a wall, damming up the waters of a small tributary valley and creating a lake called the Marjelensee. In the past the lake sometimes drained unexpectedly into channels beneath the ice, but now the drainage has been controlled to avoid flooding.

The last big ice advance occurred in the 17th century, but today there is not enough snow to compensate for loss by melting. Since 1892 the terminal snout of the Aletsch has receded more than 3,300 feet (1,000 meters), and the glacier now occupies only about half of its former basin. Traces of irrigation canals, which were dug into the old valley floor and then buried by the ice during the late Middle Ages, have now become visible again. Along the sides of the glacier a line of boulders and rocky debris (lateral moraines) shows the former extent of the ice.

But even at its present size, the Aletsch Glacier stores a tremendous amount of water. In fact the Massa River, which is a tributary of the Rhone, consists entirely of meltwater from the Aletsch. Though in winter the stream almost runs dry, its torrential summer flow supplies a seasonally operated hydroelectric station.

At one time difficult to reach, the Aletsch region now attracts many visitors, who can take a tram up the side of the Jungfrau to the highest point in Europe that is reachable by rail. Also, several cable cars run up from the Rhone Valley to vantage points above the glacier itself.

The glacier provides exceptional terrain for skiers, even in spring, and the Aletschhom (the highest peak in its basin) offers a challenge to the most experienced mountain climbers. In addition, there is a nature reserve (the Aletschwald), as well as two resorts at Belalp and Riederalp, which provide accommodations for visitors interested in glacier excursions. The beautiful scenery and the pure air are clearly reasons enough for visiting Switzerland’s Aletsch Glacier for an adventure.

Belfast City Centre

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and the second largest city in all of Ireland. Belfast’s city centre is made primarily of Donegall Square and Belfast City Hall. The city’s main bus routes meet here, and this is where residents of Belfast can be seen enjoying a sunny day. City Hall is the masterpiece of the city, and is often the starting point of city exploration by visitors to Belfast.

Belfast City Hall, photo: a11sus via flickr.com

Traveling north from the center of Donegall Square will take a visitor to Donegall Place, which is a broad and very busy shopping street, and will lead eventually to the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast and the Arts School. The east boundary of the city centre is the River Lagan, and the southern is the area of the Donegall Pass.

City Hall is a stunning masterpiece of architecture, created in 1906. Guided tours are offered daily. The grounds include a memorial to the victims of the Titanic sinking and a statue in honor of Queen Victoria.

Saint Anne’s Cathedral, stunning and beautiful, is located on Royal Avenue, the main shopping street which also hosts City Hall. This piece of history is grandiose and lovely, and sits at the center of the Cathedral Quarter, which is slowly being redesigned to become Belfast’s cultural district.

Belfast Exposed is the only dedicated photography gallery in all of Northern Ireland, and displays a fine exhibition of artwork at all times provided by local photographers, hosted in a refurbished warehouse building. It also allows local photographers to use its dark room and processing facilities. It has an art library for the public and exhibitions are usually free to enjoy.

Many pubs, bars, B&B Belfast and shops are located in the city center, allowing guests to have places to pick up souvenirs and enjoy the area. Food and drink are offered as well as unique shopping opportunities. The city center also includes part of the River Lagan for visitors and residents to enjoy its natural beauty.

The Belfast Central Library, also located in the city center, houses an extensive Irish book selection, and newspapers and historical archives can be found here. It is a wonderful source of historical research and information about the city of Belfast and surrounding area. Because of the many historical events that have taken place in Belfast, many visitors find the library to be a source of fascination. These features and many others make the city center of Belfast known as the heart of the city.

Cruising the Adriatic Sea: Little Known Corner of the Mediterranean

Cruising the Adriatic Sea may just be the best kept secret in the cruise industry. Its not that people don’t regularly cruise there its just that very few cruise lines promote cruising the Adriatic since technically its considered to be part of the Mediterranean Sea and with the popularity of Mediterranean cruises it pays from them to promote it that way. The secret however lies in finding cruises with the major lines that promote the Adriatic itinerary because the savings can be big.

Peaceful Adriatic – Great Cruising photo: tomkellyphoto via flickr.com

The luxury lines also offer Adriatic cruises because their smaller ships are able to enter some of the smaller ports which allows them to offer more unique cruises than the larger ships can. Those make great cruises if you want to go the all inclusive cruise route but if you are looking to save some money check out the 7 night Adriatic cruises this summer offered by Royal Caribbean on the Jewel of the Seas. For less than $800 you can get a balcony on a great ship visiting ports such as Venice, Koper, Ravenna, Bari and Dubrovnik.

Adriatic cruises are a great way to visit countries such as Slovenia and Croatia that you normally wouldn’t think about cruising to. All of the ports on this itinerary are also good walking cities so even if you don’t take excursions you should have plenty of sites to see without spending any additional money.  With that being said you may want to splurge a little in some places like Bari, Italy and Koper, Slovenia. Both cities offer excellent chances to see beautiful sites within a couple hours of the city.

In Bari, Italy you could choose to take a trip to see the cave dwellings of Matera which are considered a World Heritage Site or you could head to Alberobello to see the fairytale like Trulli Huts. Koper may be your best chance however to get out of the city to see the amazing coastal town of Piran, visit caves in Postojna or check out the picturesque Lake Bled. No matter what you choose to do, at under $800 a person, an Adriatic cruise makes a great trip.

The Cotswolds – Typically English

Located in the south west of England, the Cotswolds are what most people imagine when they think olde England. The area consists of low, rolling hills, or ‘wolds’ and picturesque towns and villages made from the local honey colored limestone. The Cotswolds are home to larger towns such as Bath, with its Roman remains and mineral water spa; and Cheltenham, home to one of the UK’s most important security services. However, there are also plenty of smaller places that beckon tourisrs, such as Stow-on-the-Wold, known for its shops, restaurants and tea rooms.

Coltswold Cottage Photo: Maia C via flickr.com

The Cotswolds are so typically English and it is this that is part of their appeal to overseas visitors. The best way to explore the countryside and small towns andd villages is by driving, although you should be careful of the narrow, winding roads and the occasional sheep on the road.

Touring Ideas

There are also several castles in the area. One option is to stay at Berkeley Castle, which was built originally to keep the Welsh out of England. It is just one of a line of castles stretching along the Wales and England border. Blenheim Palace is well known as the place where Sir Winston Churchill was born; and Broughton Castle near Banbury is considered one of the the most beautiful in England

If you are arriving by air in the UK, the Cotswolds are easy to reach from Heathrow and are just a short drive along the M4. Not far from the area is the large city of Bristol, with its many hotels and restaurants and offers a more lively pace.

Although there are many places in the Cotswolds worth visiting, some places should not be missed, including Bath, Malmesbury, Stow and Cheltenham, for their feeling of Englishness. Cardiff airport is actually closer to the area than Heathrow and one strategy is to fly into Cardiff and hire a car to explore. A visit to Cardiff will also give you a chance to visit the country of Wales for a different perspective.

Myrtos Attractions – What to in Crete?

Myrtos is a small seaside village, located not far from Ierapatra, on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean. It offers a leisurely pace of life and the chance to relax and get away from it all for a few days or weeks, all in pleasant and picturesque surroundings.

What to do in Myrtos?

One of the best things about Myrtos is its beautiful and unspoiled beaches. The town’s beaches suit all tastes and range from quiet and peaceful to lively and frenetic, with all the usual diversions and water sports.

The beaches consist mostly of the distinctive ash grey sand found on the island, which contrasts with the inviting turquoise water. Regardless of which beach you choose, banana and orange trees form a natural backdrop.

 

The Blue Cretean Sea: photo: Jeroen_HD via flickr.com

 

Although Myrtos offers several options for accommodation, there is also camping in nearby Tertsa village. The road from Myrtos to Tertsa is worth taking for the scenery alone, with groves of tamarisk trees growing alongside the road.

A popular day trip from Myrtos is to Lerapatra and the South Dikti Mountains, which takes you through some of the most spectacular natural scenery on the island. One of the highlights of this area is the Agios Antonios church, considered to be an architectural masterpiece. Despite the visiting tourists, it still manages to retain a sense of peace and quiet. Another man-made site that is worth a visit is the remains of the Minoan settlement in nearby Pirgos.

But one of the best things about a visit to Myrtos is simply the chance to relax over a drink in one of the village cafes, some of which seem little changed in centuries. Whether you visit for the scenery, the beaches, the relaxed pace of life or for the surrounding historical sites, the village of Myrtos and the nearby area has something for everybody.

Static Caravans for Holidaying Anglers

There are many types of holiday accommodation available to hire in the UK for a summer escapade, but static caravans are the most popular holiday rental for many people. Having a low budget doesn’t mean you can never go out on a holiday, hiring caravan holidays might just be the right answer for your tight budget problem. Perhaps you have never thought of taking a caravan holiday; well let’s look into some reasons why caravan holidays are so great and why you might like to consider one. The caravan holidays aren’t just famous in the United Kingdom because it is the cheapest form of accommodation but it is also known as the most comfortable type of accommodation. Aside from that, the caravans’ furnishings are of excellent quality.

Static Caravans, Wales Photo: pixelhut via flickr.com

For the promising skilled angler, a static caravan holiday can be very pleasant and also practical as there is often adequate room to lay up a number of fishing tackle with the rod still made up. The caravan brings about an enormous space to store an adequate amount of fishing rod under the caravan itself and there are quite a few lockable storage outdoor available where the rest of your fishing tackle can be stored neatly and safely.

Being situated near fishing lakes that opens from dusk until dawn without acquiring additional expenses, the caravan holidays make none-the-less one of the best reason why anglers shouldn’t have second thoughts of acquiring one. Moreover, the availability of group license in some static caravan holiday parks makes an angler’s life more convenient for they don’t even have to purchase your own fishing license. This is ideal if you don’t think that you will be fishing at any other time of the year because you can cut the cost of buying your own license.

Another popular choice for anglers is hiring static caravan in the Lake District. As the name implies, the Lake District comprises of multiple lakes which make it ideal for a fishing escapade. Most of the caravans are situated just a few paces from the lake, making it very accessible and comfortable for anglers.

European Nude Beach Guide – Top Places to ‘be seen’

According to Forbes magazine, some of the most gorgeous nude beaches are found in Europe. Europe has long embraced the practice of bathing nude on the beach. Travelers come from all over the world to experience the freedom that Europe offers its visitors. This nude beach guide will help travelers find some of the most coveted and beautiful destinations in the world.

Plage de Tahiti located in Saint Tropez, France
This French Riviera beach caters to the cosmopolitan jet setters that are free of inhibitions. Plage de Tahiti is located at the Northernmost section of Pampelonne beach. This beautiful pristine beach is designed for any beach enthusiast that wants to sunbath nude, go topless or wear a G-string bikini. Beach enthusiasts and nudists may get their all over tan without concern of indecent exposure.

Celebrities for decades have visited this beach for a “freeing” experience. Brigette Bardot and Ursula Andress were some of the first celebrities to grace the beaches with their risqué attire. Now, celebrities of all types visit the beach and nearly everyone is tolerant of the behavior. The beach is located near the Cote d’Azur town where dining and shopping may accompany a nude beach excursion.

The rich and famous typically arrive to the beach by yacht or by helicopter. If you are not wealthy, you will find it difficult to compete with the glamour of a celebrity’s grand arrival. People of all types enjoy the beach and tourists enjoy mingling with the beautiful people of this famous European destination.

Paradise Beach in Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos, Greece caters to the wealthy and cosmopolitan from all over the world. Numerous celebrities find this beach relaxing and ideal for partying. Nudity is more than acceptable on this Paradise Beach. Over half of the bathers on Paradise Beach are topless and 30% are completely nude. Sun bathers of all ages enjoy bathing nude: From teenagers to those approaching their twilight years. After 4PM, the older crowd disperses, and the beach transforms into a massive party.

While bathing in the nude, visitors will be surrounded by the breathtaking views complete with mountainous landscapes, clear blue waters and golden sand beaches. The villages are truly picturesque and identified by the characteristic blue doors found all over the Greek island.

Beach goers may retreat after the long day at the beach and experience a romantic dinner in any one of the nearby restaurants. Those who want to continue to bask in the glamour that Mykonos offers may select a nightclub, restaurant or tavern that caters to the party atmosphere. Beach goers may reach this remarkable island beach location by plane or by ferry.

Nude beach, Ibiza, Spain Photo: candid via flickr.com

Playa d’en Bossa in Ibiza, Spain
Playa d’en Bossa is one of the longest and most gorgeous beaches in Ibiza. Ibiza is the third largest member of the Balearic Islands. The beach embraces nudity and hedonism. In fact, the Spanish Naturist Federation released a document outlining the rights of nudists in Spain. Guests from Barcelona, Palma de Majorca and Valencia may reach the beach by ferry.

Guests who enjoy libations and partying will feel comforted knowing there are plenty of bars and cafes near the beach. The location is just a few kilometers from the capital. Nightlife is accessible and in abundance near this location. This beach is considered more relaxed and caters to a tame crowd that enjoys good clean fun. Its neighboring beach in San Antonio caters to a crowd that desires true debauchery and raves.

Beach goers that enjoy partying will find a near 24 hour night club that only closes its doors for only four hours per day. Some of the top DJs play at some of the finest clubs and beach bars that this Spanish location has to offer. The famous Bora Bora Beach bar should be on everyone’s list to visit while on a nude beach excursion.

Summary
Each of the beaches featured in our nude beach guide made Forbes Top Ten Best Nude Beaches in the World. While these are not the only nude beaches in Europe, these beaches are recognized for their beauty and acceptance of the practice. If you are planning a trip to Europe, consider visiting one of these nude beaches for an experience of a lifetime.

Independent Travel: Ballyvaughan to Cork

First we went to the Barren Experience Centre – audio visual show at €5/person which was a good introduction to the neolithic stone tombs of the area and the limestone karst geology that made them possible. A few wild flowers were out and it was remote and beautiful in the area. Then we drove over the Cliffs of Mohar – here’s a hint if it costs €4 to park but the site is free – its well on the tourist circuit!

Cliffs of Mhoar, Western Ireland Photo: Martin O'Connell via flickr

Frankly I’ve seen better cliffs – notably in South Australia and Victoria – these were nice enough and the weather was fine – but I wouldn’t put them on your must see list unless you have never seen the water meet the land before (head up to Northern Ireland for the Giant’s Causeway for something much more interesting).

Driving south back to Cork – we stopped off to see the ruined Abby at Ennis. Trying to get around Limerick in the middle of the afternoon involved about 40 minutes in traffic jams on the ring road – I’d avoid it like the plague at anytime when it was supposed to be busy – like rush hour! That said the good thing about Ireland is that it really is a very compact place and you can see a lot with your own vehicle.

I can’t help much with rental rates- we borrowed a little yellow van from relatives and paid for the extra drivers on the insurance. The van was small – had limited visibility out the back and only 2 seats up front – but it was just fine. You don’t need a big vehicle – a sub compact would be just fine – and an advantage on some of the B-roads off the beaten track. This entire trip got more and more touristy as we headed north – so if you want to get off the beaten track get out of Dublin and the “big sights” close to it and head to Cork and the south.

Independent Travel: Galway to Ballyvaughan via Corcomroe

Weather a lot drier and warmer today. We drove the loop around Corcomoroe. Stopped at Kylenoc (sp?) house €10 to see the grounds and the house – hardly worth it. But they did have a nice gift shop – I bought a jade dolphin to add to the collection – and they tried to charge my credit card in US$ – hmm excuse me what country is this again – I’m surprised its even legal – but its definitely a rort – always make sure your card is charged in the currency of the country you happen to be in!

The barren Burren, Limestone Country - Ireland

We had a pub lunch in Clifden – actually the first time we’ve bought lunch. Quite a few more tourists in this part of Ireland – far more than we saw down south. We had to drive back around Galway to get the the Burren – remote and wild limestone country – covered in simple Neolithic tombs – its the history of the place that gets me. The standard B&B in town was charging €60/2 – though we are managing to stay under budget at around €140/2 per day.

Independent Travel:Dingle – Galloway

The weather turned nasty so our attempt at long distance walking ended in failure. Its interesting compared to the UK Ireland is really not set up for walking. The concept of common ways doesn’t exist in Irish law and tracks seem very poorly marked – you really need to have the detailed topo maps – which of course we haven’t got. I think we need to save our walking dreams for England – in the summer, a hot summer.

The sure do know how to make these old stone building waterproof though – the tenth century Gallarow Oratory was still very watertight!

Connor Pass Dingle: Photo Cristina de Fontao via flickr

Change of plans with this rubbish weather and we are off to Galloway. The Connor Pass was – of course -covered in cloud – but was spectacular anyways as the sun broke through as we got over to the other side. We took a vehicle ferry over the Shannon river for about €15.  Got a nice B&B in Salthill in Galloway for €65/2.

We like the town centre of Galloway which had lots of pubs and a nice pedestrian area and waterfront.

Independent Travel: Kilkarney to Dingle

In the morning the weather wasn’t so bad so we went to see the grounds of Muckross House in town. Walked to the bottom of the Torc Waterfall which was about 4km return – and on the return it started raining again. Still cold with snow on the hills. Didn’t go into the house – not sure on the cost – but expensive I should think. Also skipped the pony traps.

Muckross House, Kilkarney, Ireland Photo: What's the Rush via Flickr

Drove to Dingle via Inch Anaeul on the South Coast. At Dingle bro had paid for a very nice fancy B&B – had all mod cons such as TV, ens suite , fantastic views, window seat, tea and coffee in the room and even a phone! Luxury at  E87/2. Walked into Dingle town for a cheap meal. Basically anything under E10/main is cheap – and the best place to find it is in the country pubs – which aren’t bad so long as you aren’t bored with Shepard’s Pie, Scampi, Fish & chips. You’d be out of luck as a vegetarian or other odd religion though! Had a spectacular hail storm and found a tiny local pub which at one time had been a shoe repair shop – in one 1/2 and a pub complete with snugs which sat maybe a dozen people in the other half. Ki