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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts in ‘Things to do in Europe’

From Shamrocks to Coffins.

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My lucky number has always been 4.

To me this seems completely logical and natural. Perhaps you can relate: you may have, like me, dedicated a significant portion of your childhood dirt digging to four-leaf clover hunting. You would probably still get excited if you found one of these bad boys (I actually never have… I am pretty sure that my dad fabricated one for me next to the sandbox after one of my pouty tirades… i.e. “Daaah-deeeee, I’m never gonna be lucky!”…not kidding).

Many people are drawn to 7. Not quite sure why? I’m sure there’s a historical reason for this? A mystic once told me that we live our lives in cycles of 7 years, after which we experience a “rebirth” of sorts. Hence the hormonal awkwardness of 14 and the sloppy drunkenness of 21. Can’t wait for the maternal yearnings of 28, the “holy crap, I’m old” of 35, and the mid life crisis of 42. Maybe the “luckiness” begins after 7 of these so-called cycles, with an early retirement to the Canary Islands at 49.

For whatever reason, people remain dedicated to their lucky digits. Some prefer the number 9. The more rebellious folk will sometimes go for the universally unlucky 13.

I, however, remain dedicated to 4. After all, it was just over 24 years ago, on the 14th day of November, that I first flailed and kicked my 4 stubby appendages into my mother’s arms to become the 4th member of a loving domestic unit of 4 (our family name also begins with the 4th letter of the alphabet, if you want to get super technical). I use this glorious digit in all guessing games, gambling ventures, and online usernames. Four has been good to me. continue reading

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Lucky Irish Getaways

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Feeling lucky this St. Patrick’s day?

Hungry for a bit of Irish culture?

Why not plan an adventurous getaway to the land of g’ luck and greenery?!

1. ‘Tis the season of abundance
Lucky you: we’re now approaching peak salmon fishing season! Embark on this 7 day, 6 night journey to the rivers of the gorgeous Shannon region to try your hand at salmon and trout fishing. You will stay at the charming, historic Millbank House, along the banks of the Mulcair River—one of the best places to reel ‘em in while immersing yourself in the lush, natural landscapes of the region. Your trip will include various salmon and trout fishing excursions, as well as a unique visit to the Castleconnell Salmon Fishery, where you can hone your current skills and experiment with new fishing techniques.

Minutes away from the shops, amenities, and outbound tours of Limerick, your lodgings in Shannon will be the perfect, peaceful travel base for a family with diverse interests. Be sure to double your luck at one of many nearby golf courses!

2. A lucky kiss!
For a bit of magic and mystery, you may want to embark on a trail to the famous Blarney stone near Cork. Bend over backwards and pucker up to the famed “Stone of Eloquence,” and you will, according to Blarney legend, never be at a loss for words. Explore the mystical, 600-year-old castle and lovely surrounding grounds—the perfect place to spend the afternoon with your family.

And if you make it on Sunday, March 22nd, you will get to partake in the Annual Easter Egg Hunt!

3. Sláinte (Cheers!)
Perhaps your heart lies in the most happy and humble place of all—the Irish pub. Why not experience Dublin’s most famous landmarks, on a three day sightseeing trip through beer and whiskey tasting paradise?

Explore the birthplace and brewing process of your favorite pint at the Guinness Storehouse; discover the step-by-step procedure of whiskey malting, milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling and maturing at the Old Jameson Distillery. Sip your way through the evening, and embark on a lively, downtown pub crawl!

Right now is the perfect (and lucky!) time to experience the nature, magic and welcoming vibrancy of the Emerald Isle.

G’Luck and Happy Planning!

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Ladies: now is your chance.

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One of my closest friends prays for a husband every night (let’s call her Lena…for her sake). You may laugh, but Lena is dead serious. Has been since the age of 18, when ‘the one’—her childhood confidant and first love—unexpectedly broke it off, hurling her into a long cycle of failed relationships with men from all walks of life and corners of the world. From Guadalajara to Melbourne, her spiritual quest for love has been an intercontinental roller coaster of false hopes and nightmare endings, yet she will not give up. Day in and day out, Lena dreams of the perfect engagement weekend: prince charming bursts through the doors of her fifth floor bedsit with an armful of roses and sweeps her off to Paris, diamond ring in back pocket and Seine cruise tickets in hand. And they live Happily Ever After, etc.

You may still be smirking at the notion of nightly candlelit séances and wistful chants for a Hollywood happy ending, but Lena’s prayers are not far from the concerns of many late twenty- and thirty-something working professionals with maternal ambitions and not-so-responsive male companions. Yes, this is 2008, and there are ‘no rules’, per se, in an era of Las Vegas whims and three-way ‘unions’, but, for women like Lena, tradition is king. He has to do the legwork; she has to sit pretty. Ladies, if that’s your mindset, then maybe the occasional offering to your deity of choice isn’t such a bad idea…

Okay, so maybe St. Valentine (or rather Cupid, Venus and, more importantly, Tiffany’s) let you down this year. And like Lena, your wilting roses are now staring you in the face—along with your barren ring finger. With no foreseeable milestone events on the calendar until your November birthday, you begin to panic. But let’s be honest, you can only casually escort your man past the ‘first kiss’ landmark so many times before he will begin to catch on.

My advice to Lena (and to all of you with similar, yet perhaps less overt, matrimonial aspirations): channel your energies towards patron St. Patrick. Not only is his holiday about good luck, but also, according to folkloric legend, it was this innovative bloke who first declared an official calendar date for female marriage proposals back in the fifth century. This once bizarre concept has since evolved into a leap year tradition, making this February 29th your big chance to make a move. continue reading

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Mallorca: fun for the family, room for adventure!

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The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Mallorca has been a popular destination for sun-seeking British and German families for over a half century. And for good reason; this stunning slice of Mediterranean heaven has just about everything. From its mountainous landscapes and vast stretches of white sandy coastline to its charming beachside villages, kid-friendly theme parks and historical architectural landmarks, Mallorca boasts some of the most wide-ranging sights and activities for travellers of all ages. Beyond the island’s broad range of package tours and family resorts, there is still much room for uncharted adventure. It remains one of the most convenient, accessible and diverse seaside destinations in Europe.

Many seasonal travelers have already discovered the quaint ambiance of Cala D’Or, a pristine, white-washed sand castle village and convenient hub for some of the island’s most family-oriented excursions. After a few days of beaming sun, sand and relaxation at one of several beaches, your family can easily seek a bit of shade by heading a few kilometres north to the famous Caves of Drach. Descend into the cavernous passages filled with jutting, natural limestone formations until you encounter a well-orchestrated presentation of glimmering lights and classical music—a truly enchanting sight, set against one of the largest underground lakes in the world. Captivating moments like these will make your family’s travel experience truly unforgettable.

Most visitors are immediately drawn to the vibrant, historical European city of Palma, with its diverse shopping options, quaint alleyways and internationally reputable array of restaurants and evening entertainment. Climb the famous 12th century Bellver Castle for stunning views of the city from 137 metres above; delight in the vibrant street performances in Plaza Mayor, and take a cool afternoon swim at the city’s accessible public beach. And the fun doesn’t end at dusk! Be sure to take full advantage of Palma’s family-friendly nightlife; just 10 kilometres beyond the bustling city centre amidst the gorgeous Mallorcan countryside is the famous 17th century Son Amar estate, now home of the most dazzling entertainment show on the island. You will be immediately swept up in an entrancing, laser-lit extravaganza of song, dance, music and comedy.

For the more independent, adventure-seeking traveller, Mallorca’s beautiful and varied terrain can be easily navigated by car. You could begin your journey with a delicious ensaimada from Pons Bakery in the authentic southernmost village of Colonia San Jordí. Meander up the southeast coast and stop for a stroll on one of the island’s many hidden cove beaches—perhaps Cala Llombards or Cala Santanyí. Veer west through the agricultural estates and hillside villages, and breathe in the fresh, countryside air until you reach the island’s central market town of Inca, home of a range of handcrafted leather merchandise and the perfect place to grab a souvenir for mum.

Continue north until you reach perhaps the most picturesque and beautiful part of the island—the Tramontana mountains. The tiered villages of Valldemossa and Soller boast quaint cafés and marvelous views of both the countryside and the sea. Confident drivers can brave the steep, winding mountain roads, which, linking the tiny towns together, allow for the most fantastic of views, including, if you are lucky, the perfect Mediterranean sunset.

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Unique Food and Wine Tasting Experiences in Paris

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For food lovers, no better place to start than Paris, of course. The city is so rich with culinary delights, that any list of “top picks” would be far from complete. But a few unique and unknown experiences do exist for those who want to experience something truly authentic and special.

Cuisine, a key aspect of French culture, is deeply interlinked with French society. The Ecole Polytechnique is France’s most selective and top-ranked educational institution, offering an equally prestigious dining experience to the public. It is possible to take a tour of the Orsay Museum, combined with a gourmet meal at the university’s Maison des Polytechniciens.

Or, if you are looking for something even more intimate and educational, you can take a private cooking class , led by a Countess in her private mansion in the charming Montmarte area.

Perhaps you are a wine lover? I recommend taking this small group wine tasting tour through central Paris. An expert guide will take you to a few specialised wine bars, or bistrots, allowing you to taste some of the finest wines produced on country.

Here is another small group wine tasting itinerary in the Latin district (rue Mouffetard).

Paris is also well-connected to the unique, delectable experiences of neighbouring cities and regions. Try any of these:

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