Shermanstravel Blog

Ireland

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Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and many others countries speak the English language. But sometimes talking with the locals there can feel as foreign to U.S. travelers as communicating with those in, say, Thailand. To help clear these up, here are a few words that our stateside readers are all familiar with — but that mean something completely different in other English-speaking places around the world.

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venice - st marks - san marco - anna fox - 620

Flight: booked. Hotel: reserved. Language podcasts: Completed. What else do you need to prepare before jetting off on vacation?

Most of us would probably never think that feeding pigeons in parts of Venice could get us fined as much as our plane tickets there cost. Likewise, while we always leave a substantial tip after dining at a restaurant in North America, the practice is a foreign concept to many international visitors. Needless to say, very diverse cultural customs abound around the world. Here are a few quirky ones that we love and think are useful to know for preventing cultural mishaps abroad.

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Skellig MichaelBarcelona has its Sagrada Familia. Sydney has its white-hooded Opera House. And other places? Well, they’ve got steps – lots and lots of them. As the examples illustrate below, epic staircases aren’t just a way to reach higher ground. They can be major attractions unto themselves. From the fabled Ha’iku Ladder in Hawaii, to Norway’s never-ending Flørli Steps, these jaw-dropping ascents aren’t for the faint of heart. But once you get to the top, we think you’ll agree the views more than make up for the effort. Read more

Ireland

As you spend the weekend figuring out just how you want to celebrate Lá Fhéile Pádraigor St Patrick’s Day as we know it here in the U.S., take a few minutes to get inspired by Ireland’s most impressive castle hotels. Ranging from intimate manor houses in beautiful County Clare to five-star abodes offering butler service, these former manors and family homes are a welcome change from the drunken parades and four-leaf clover hats usually associated with the holiday. Be sure to check our deals page for money-saving tips on getting to the Emerald Isle; or browse our full slideshow here.

santignacioBritish Airways has just launched its discounted “daytripper fares” for travelers flying from London to a handful of European cities. The catch? (Or, perhaps the benefit?) You have to return to London in the same day. Round-trip tickets, including all taxes and fees, will cost £79 (about $130) to Dublin and Geneva, £89 (about $149) for Edinburgh and Rome and £99 (about $165) for Vienna and Munich. You can only travel with carry-on luggage from London’s Heathrow airport, and only on Saturdays or Sundays.

These fares are tailor-made for travelers who want to cram in a second destination with their London trip — a fairly common strategy, especially considering how easy it is to get to Paris, Scotland, or other parts of England by rail. Flying expands your options even more.

Of course, taking into account check-in, transfers, and flight time, this doesn’t leave you much time to enjoy that second destination. But if you really have the urge to pop across the Channel (or Irish Sea) for a few hours, here are some suggestions for quick, interesting itineraries you can accomplish in a day.

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In a country where doctors once prescribed pints of Guinness to patients and whiskey translates “ the water of life,” a hopeless oenophile might feel out of place. Luckily, wine enthusiasts visiting the endlessly affordable Emerald Isle can still get their fix thanks to the growing number of both native and transplant Dubliners who, armed with love and enthusiasm, managed to fit in a few wine vaults among the rows of pubs in the city center.

Facebook/Olesya's Wine BarEly Wine Bar
Tucked into a Georgian townhouse off of St. Stephen’s Green, Ely’s dizzying wine list includes more than four hundred international selections as well as seasonal offers of reserve bottles. Ely’s food menu is just as strong and it is worth staying long enough to get to know both.  Check the website for upcoming events, including tastings paired with a special treat from the chef. Dublin 2

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Red Rocks
For most concertgoers, heading to a local venue is a chore accomplished for one reason: to see a band or artist. The venue itself almost never plays a role in one’s decision to purchase a ticket, but as travelers, we know that the occasional venue speaks just as loudly as the act that’s filling it. For music lovers, there are a handful of venues that are routinely placed on a higher pedestal, and for good reason, whether for their acoustics, scenery, or sheer ability to attract concert-goers to such remote locations as:  Read more

DublinWe’ve all been tempted by those incredibly affordable airfare deals to Ireland. But with most of them falling in the autumn and winter months, you might be wondering what to see and do once you get there – and how many sweaters and coats you’ll have to pack. Thankfully, Dubliners take to the streets through the winter months, bundling up for plenty of outdoor activities, including al fresco dining. Thankfully, eating outdoors in the Irish capital doesn’t have to result in frostbitten fingers and hypothermia – if you take a few cues from the locals. The following local favorites take care to keep their open-air spaces and their patrons warm, regardless of the season.

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Do you live near… well…  just about any major city in the U.S.? Have you always wanted to go to Ireland? Well now is the time to book a flight. Major airlines like Delta, United, Aer Lingus, and more have slashed round-trip airfare to Dublin to the lowest prices we’ve seen all year. Our deals experts found flights from 18 American gateways below $670 — and one as low as $361!

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Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp, BelgiumBetween 1873 and 1935 the Red Star Line shipping company transported more than two million European migrants from Antwerp, Belgium to new lives in the “New World” of the United States and Canada. The shipping line’s former warehouses, which stood empty and decaying (and slated to be turned into apartments) since the line ceased operations, will reopen as a museum on September 28th.  Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the architectural firm behind the renovation and preservation of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and Grand Central Terminal, were responsible for the warehouses’ restoration.

The museum will likely draw many American visitors who will be able to research their ancestry and see the very place, in a warehouse at the port of Antwerp, where their ancestors embarked on these life-changing journeys. Also of interest will be the stories of the famous passengers who left Europe on the Red Star Line, such as Irving Berlin, whose family loaned his transposing piano to the museum, and Albert Einstein who, as he fled Nazi persecution, wrote a letter on Red Star Line stationery announcing his resignation from the Prussian Academy of Sciences — also on loan to the museum.

The museum’s slogan is “People on the Move,” drawing attention to the fact that “migration is a universal phenomenon” and links the experience of the Red Star Line’s passengers with that of contemporary migrants. Interactive exhibits will attempt to simulate the experience of immigration, including a visit to, first, a Warsaw travel agency and finally an intake center in New York City or Philadelphia.

Here are some other migration museums around the world where you can trace your heritage…

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Ireland, Cliffs of Moher

You may be thinking that it would be foolish to approach Ireland outside of the summer months, but while it does start getting chilly and wet around this time of year, there are a few reasons to consider a fall trip to the Emerald Isle — and why we consider this time of year Ireland’s Sweet Spot.

For starters, Ireland’s festival calendar is full of interesting events: from the Cork Folk Festival (October 10th to 13th); to the Wexford Fringe Festival (October 18th to November 3rd ) and Opera Festival (October 23rd  to November 3rd), and the Dublin Marathon on October 28th. And then there’s the final few months of events to celebrate The Gathering 2013, too.

If that’s not quite enough to convince you to hop across the pond, how about some great deals that will make a visit to Ireland very affordable? And, remember the Dollar-Euro exchange rate is quite favorable now, too. Read more

5 Fall Travel Deals

August 7th, 2013 by

Fall Travel DealsFall is a great time to take a trip: In many destinations, you’ll find lower rates and smaller crowds than in summer, making for a relaxing and easy-on-the-wallet travel experience. Our deals expert, Lisa Hubner, rounded up some of the best deals for fall travel to Europe, the U.S., and the Caribbean: Read more

Castles You Can Sleep InUnlike the baby Prince George of Cambridge, most of us are not born into royalty. That’s not to say we can’t fake it, though. With many former European royal residences being turned into hotels, we can at least sleep like a future king.

Here are just a few you can choose from. Read more

Up-and-Coming Cruise PortsEvery cruise vacationer has a favorite port of call. For some it’s posh St. Bart’s in the Eastern Caribbean or St. Tropez in the Western Mediterranean. Others value the culture of Barcelona or the Nordic history of Copenhagen. These destinations are common port calls for most major cruise ships, but there a handful of emerging ports around the globe that are getting the attention of both cruise lines and travelers looking for something a little different. Check out these five lesser-known, but up-and-coming ports… Read more

TV Tourism DestinationsYou watch your favorite television show to unwind after a long day at work or to enjoy some entertainment without leaving your couch. But some people are so inspired by what’s happening on-screen that they’re motivated to travel to the place depicted in their shows. Yes, TV tourism is a real thing, and destinations like Nashville and Northern Ireland reap the benefits when shows are based or filmed there. Here are some notable TV-centric destinations where visitors are flocking this year. Read more

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