Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Top 5 European Destinations this Summer

5. Portugal

Portugal has long been a popular tourist destination, and for good reason. With its warm climate and fantastic beaches, this is a country that has almost everything you could want for a holiday. There are numerous theme parks to choose from for family holidays, child friendly resorts and affordable living costs. Despite their challenging economic situation, Portugal remains one of the top European holiday destinations.

4. Croatia

Croatia is one of the most beautiful countries along the Eastern Mediterranean coastline. During summer the weather here is fantastic, just what you would expect from a country in this area. This has some of the most unique and awe-inspiring views in Europe.  Many of Croatia's coastal towns and cities have an intriguing history and still retain many remains of Roman and Venetian Times. 

3. Slovakia

Listed in the Lonely Planet top 10 for 2013, Slovakia is a country with a rapidly growing reputation in the tourism world and a personal favourite of mine. With beautiful cities such as Bratislava, Kosice and Trencin, along with terrain perfectly suited to Adventure activities like rafting or mountain climbing, there is much to do and see here. There is plenty to satisfy the historical enthusiasts too with countless medieval castles scattered throughout the country and plenty of World War 2 monuments also.

2. Ireland

I have often been critical of my own country recently and despite my recent expressions of doubt over "The Gathering", it does result in many festivals and activities to make Ireland one of the must see destinations this summer. If you are going to visit, you should definitely get outside Dublin and experience "real" Ireland, places like Cork, Killarney and Galway offer so much culturally. The west coast offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, the Burren and Ring of Kerry are a must see!


One of the Cultural and Historical Giants in Europe, Italy has so much to offer for a holiday. From ancient Roman ruins, to renaissance art and architecture, combine that with the warm Mediterranean climate and you are on to a winner. Cities like Rome, Florence and Venice could keep you occupied for days on end and the scenery of places like Tuscany will enthral you. Aside from this there is the food, which is recognised world-wide and enough of a reason on its own to come to Italy. For these reasons and more, Italy tops my list of European destinations to visit this summer.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

EU no longer fit for purpose

Usually I use this blog to write about my travel experiences, but I cannot ignore the blatant bullying of Cyprus that has gone on this last week. It seems the EU is intent on pushing the Cyprians into Russian control. I can't believe that the leaders in Brussels are really encouraging the Cyprian government to dip their hands into the pockets of their people, who have worked hard to build their savings, and take what is theirs. If a government starts doing this they are well on the way to communism, why would people bother saving if they know the politicians they have elected are just going to pluck those savings right from under their nose. There was a time when politicians believed in something, nowadays they are little more then petty thieves (I don't mean ALL of them of course, just in general).

Even more shocking is the fact that Ireland, who have begged and pleaded with the EU the be lenient with our bailout deal, is not standing up for their comrades, rather Enda Kenny is bending over to lick Angela Merkels boots yet again! Not only are our "esteemed" leaders sacrificing our own sovereignty, they are now putting that of other small nations up for sale!

The EU was set up with the idea that all are equal regardless of the size of the country, but it seems that the politicians have lied to us again (who saw THAT coming?). It's clear that now Germany is calling all the shots. Every country in Europe (aside from the British, fair play to them) seems to be bending over backwards to please them! It looks as if Merkel achieved what Hitler could not, and she didn't even need an army for it!

Friday, 22 March 2013

The most Beautiful place in Ireland

We don't often get the sunny weather we would like in this part of the world, so last Monday I took full advantage of the sunshine and went for a drive around the Ring of Kerry. It had been years since the last time I took that drive and I had forgotten how spectacular it is! Before getting back to Cahersiveen the road opens on to an absolutely stunning ocean view, the likes of which you wouldn't find anywhere else in the world.

I would never think that any place in Ireland, let alone my own back yard, has something to compete with the best tourist attractions in the world. but this drive is up there with anything I have seen so far. Is it any wonder there are endless coachloads of tourists on this particular route?

Many people refer to this as the most beautiful region in Ireland, and to be honest it's hard to argue! For more information on the Ring of Kerry, stops, hotels etc. Click here.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

St. Patricks Day

March 17th is upon us again, a day to celebrate all things Irish! It is a day when the whole world looks upon us hailing from the Emerald Isle with a bit more compassion and warmth, a day when each year the Taoiseach of our country has an open invitation to the oval office to meet with the President of the United States (an honour not afforded to any other country).

Today booze will flow freely and people all over the world shall drink to excess, forget their worries and dress up as every exaggerated Irish stereotype they can think of and nobody shall think any the worse of them because of it.

Also on this day each year our ministers and political leaders travel abroad to other countries to promote Ireland as a place for Tourism and to do Business. Each year to go with this political exodus people all over the country complain and moan about this "wasted money". But in all honesty this is money well spent. An article in the Irish Independent by Miriam Donohoe recently brought the same issue to light. As she says "St. Patricks day is a global phenomenon, the envy of the world, bringing with it a massive fund of goodwill towards our country". What many people fail to realise is that this is the perfect day to convince people of our positive attributes as a country. It's like trying to get a favour on your birthday, only the meanest of people would begrudge you.

So rather than complain, we should encourage our ministers and all politicians to get out and promote our country. Embrace the Green, Ireland is open for business again!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Ghosts of Krakow

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the City of Krakow in Poland. I was not expecting too much from the city but it turned out to be a fantastic experience. The archaeological museum in particular proved to be absolutely fascinating. They have some amazing exhibits of Egyptian finds, mummies etc. and a wealth of Archaeological wonders from the stone age right up to the Iron age in central Europe.

It would be easy to spend hours upon hours gazing at some of the Archaeological and Architectural wonders in the city, but what struck me most about Krakow was the Jewish Quarter. Walking past the Synagogues and shops owned by Jewish people, seeing the old apartments and houses burnt out. I felt the eyes of 65,000 ghosts on me as I wandered these streets.

For us in Ireland, we are so far removed from the horrors of the holocaust, it is not until we see places like this that it really hits home what happened between 1939 and 1945. The proximity to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp makes the horror even more potent. I thought we had it bad in Ireland with the British occupation, but my God did they have it worse in Central Europe during the Nazi era! I heard and read the stories during my Junior Cert History classes, families torn apart, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters murdered, raped and tortured for no good reason other than one man didn't like their race. Walking the streets where it happened plants clearly in your mind how truly tragic those times were.

Don't take this post as a negative towards this truly wonderful city, it is a must see in Europe! If you have the time and are anywhere near Poland, Krakow must be on your to-visit list. This city has so much to offer, it will not be a wasted journey.