Shermanstravel Blog

Ireland

Message Bottle QuebecLast October, nine-year-old Oisín Millea found a green two-liter soda bottle on the beach near his home in East Passage, in County Waterford, Ireland. Inside was a note from two 12-year-old girls from Quebec, who had tossed the bottle into the St. Lawrence River while on vacation in a beautiful town called Grande-Vallée on Quebec’s Gaspe coastline.

Various media outlets from around the world jumped on the story, which continues today when Millea and his family kick off a 12-day vacation in Québec courtesy of Tourisme Québec to commemorate the unlikely find, which Millea calls his “treasure.”

Highlights of the trip to Quebec, Montreal, and Grand Vallee, the coastal town where the bottle started its journey, include a visit to the Irish Memorial park on Grosse Ile, an overnight stay in a yurt, and whale watching in the St. Lawrence at Saguenay Fjord. Read more

The Best Places to Try Brown BoozeDo you know the difference between whiskey, bourbon, scotch, and rye? It can be confusing, especially since all bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbons, and all scotch is whiskey, but not all whiskey is scotch. (Think of it like bubbly. All champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne.) Here’s your go-to guide on brown booze and where the best distilleries are around the world. Read more

Hands-On Classes Around the WorldTravelers seeking cultural connections might want to roll up their sleeves on an upcoming trip. In big cities and small towns, a variety of hands-on classes are linking curious visitors with local experts. Whether you want to learn about cheesemaking or butchery, there are many opportunities to get your hands dirty and meet locals at the same time.

Many of these classes are focused around food, a pleasure that connects us no matter where we call home. Not only do the following classes teach us something new and provide the framework to connect with locals, but they are also delicious. With every class there is the reward of tasting what you made and feasting with new friends. Here are four of my favorite ways to get your hands dirty around the globe. Read more

Hangover Cures Around the WorldNo matter where we call home, we share one thing in common: gathering around the table to break bread and crack open a bottle or two. Sometimes when the conversation and local liquor get flowing, the result is a big old headache the following morning.

Approaches to alleviating the hangover vary by destination. Some are healthy, some are indulgent, and some are plain crazy – while others turn to a cheeky afternoon drink as the ultimate cure. Here are five hangover cures from around the globe. Read more

Getting married is for the birds. At least that’s the case (quite literally) at Ireland’s historic five-star Ashford Castle (one of our Top 10 Castle Hotels), thanks to their new owl-assisted Proposal Package. Engage the assistance of Dingle, Ashford’s resident owl, for your unforgettable engagement, all set on the site of a 13th-century castle surrounded by some 350 lush Emerald Isle acres, marked by a backdrop of woodlands, mountains, and a lake and river. Sign up for the Proposal Package, and Dingle will swoop in on your beloved with an engagement ring tied to a string around his neck for a proposal that will have your soon-to-be-betrothed soaring herself (or himself). Read more

It’s hard to talk about golf without mentioning Ireland, but resorts in Spain and South Africa are luxury gems sure to give the Emerald Isle a run for its money.

The K Club; County Kildare, Ireland

The countryside, five-star Kildare Hotel and Golf Club (K Club for short) is a quick 40-minute drive from Dublin. The two Arnold Palmer-designed courses, the Palmer Ryder Cup Golf Course at The K Club and the Smurfit Course, are considered two of Ireland’s finest championship golf courses. The K Club’s Palmer Course played host to the 2006 Ryder Cup and 11 European Opens and is regularly ranked as one of Ireland’s top three Parkland courses.

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Couples looking for an active and luxurious getaway should take a look at our snapshot of golf resorts that are as serious about spas and gastronomy as they are about the great game itself.  These three domestic beauties are close to hearth and home – in the California wine country, on the rugged coast of Oregon, and on the shores of Wisconsin.

Golfers, like the U.S. settlers, hit the East first, then went west. But skip over the well-known courses in southern Florida and the California desert. Some of the finest and best golf resorts today are now in Wisconsin, Oregon, and the foothills of California. These blazing hot American resorts rival anything Europe has to offer.

Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits; Kohler, Wisconsin:

This Midwestern gem is ranked among the top golf resorts and courses in the U.S. None other than the legendary Pete Dye designed its four championship golf courses.

Blackwolf Run opened in 1988 with two courses, Meadow Valleys and The River, which are among the most challenging courses in North America. Both courses just reopened the greens after an extensive, two-year renovation.

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InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso SpaIf you have a thing for H2O – you love to be near it, in it, over it, or under it – here’s a sampling of some of the unique water-centric features of a variety of resort and cruise ship spas in the U.S. and around the globe. All are located on or near the ocean as well, so it’s water, water everywhere!

Deep Ocean Spa, Bora Bora: If you are planning a romantic getaway or honeymoon, consider the exotic South Pacific island of Bora Bora, where The Deep Ocean Spa at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (shown above at left) is a water-lovers’ fantasy come true. Features include overwater treatment rooms with glass panels in the floor so you can spy on fish as your back is massaged, and an al fresco hydrotherapy circuit filled with mineral-rich sea water pumped from 3,000 feet below the Pacific. Rooms from $670, treatments from $108.

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Ireland hotelsSummer is the perfect time to visit the green shores of Eire, and with our newly updated Ireland Travel Guide you’ll have all the latest on what to see and do while you’re there. We’ve got some exciting additions to our hotel guide, from a bustling Dublin hotel near the city center to a wooded resort next to a wildlife park in the east of the country.

  • For a dose of Irish culture in Dublin, the Burlington Hotel offers an in-house cabaret showcasing traditional Irish music, song, and dance, with a four-course dinner for about $80/person.
  • Fota Island Resort, set on 780 acres of peaceful woodland on Fota Island in County Cork, has three golf courses, a hydrotherapy spa, and golf and fitness camps.
  • At the Parknasilla Resort & Spa, you can bed down in the luxurious Princess Grace suite, where Grace Kelly once stayed with her family.

Get the skinny on all the recommended castle hotels, resorts, and B&Bs in our Ireland Hotel Guide.

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights to Ireland. For general trip-planning information, see our Ireland Travel Guide.

Aerial view of Ashford Castle in IrelandIreland may just be top o’ mind this week as everything gets tinted green – from beer and mashed potatoes to Chicago’s river and New York City’s Fifth Avenue. If so, now is a great time to book a luxurious romantic getaway to the Emerald Isle, as some of my favorite castles and hotels are offering fabulous spring specials. Here’s what’s available:

Ashford Castle: This stunning 13th-century castle once owned by the Guinness family (shown above at left) is as grand and romantic as it gets. Located on 350 acres beside Lough Corrib in County Mayo, about 26 miles northwest of Galway, Ashford Castle features 83 individually designed rooms and suites decorated with antiques (the best, called Staterooms, have four-poster beds and fireplaces). The George V fine-dining venue has period décor, including Waterford chandeliers, while the more intimate Connaught Room is known for its intricate wood carvings and French cuisine. Stay two nights at Ashford Castle, for a total of $545, including full Irish breakfast, and get a third night free at Ashford or at nearby Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate, through April 30, 2011.

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Limerick, IrelandCome celebrate everyone’s favorite Irish holiday in the motherland, by getting three nights in a Limerick hotel for $364 (total). The Mustard Seed Hotel at Echo Lodge is offering a rare Three for Two St. Patrick’s Day Special. Pay for two nights between March 9 and 17 and stay the third night for free. Located less than an hour from Shannon airport, County Limerick offers a quaint Irish village setting, beautiful scenery, and a lively pub-centric nightlife. This hotel started out as a restaurant, and once it became a destination dining spot, expanded into the elegant Mustard Seed Hotel.

THE VALUE: For two adults, you’ll pay a total of $364 for three nights ($122 per night!). Plus, you’ll get a free daily Irish breakfast.

THE CATCH: You must stay two nights between March 9 – 17 to get the third night free. The $364 price is calculated from a total package cost of 260 EUR, and exchange rates may fluctuate.

THE DETAILS: This deal is available through March 20, 2011. Book online at the Mustard Seed’s website.

WE’VE GOT MORE: For general trip-planning information, see our Ireland Travel Guide.

Book a flight to the Emerald Isle with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

Clontarf Castle, DublinAlso known as the “Emerald Isle,” Ireland is most lush in the spring. Unfortunately, airlines take advantage of this peak travel season to hike their fares to well over $600. However, in a fluke airfare price drop, Aer Lingus is offering round-trip flights from just $398 (not including taxes). Book by March 3 and fly from New York City to Dublin or Shannon April 2 through 9 in order to get the best price. Fares are also available out of Chicago and Boston for travel April 13 through May 14 starting from just $19 extra.

THE VALUE: Springtime fares to Ireland rarely clock in under $600. Plus – a recent development in the airline business – Aer Lingus is one of the only carriers that still allows one checked bag free of charge!

THE CATCH: Be sure to budget for up to an extra $125 in fees and taxes.

THE DETAILS: Visit www.aerlingus.com to book by March 3.

WE’VE GOT MORE: Visit our Europe Hotel Deals page to find a place to bed down during your stay, and then check out our Ireland Travel Guide for more trip-planning tips and information.

At the coastal Lodge at Doonbeg in western County Clare, Ireland, guests can play a round on a Greg Norman-designed links course, enjoy Irish-inspired treatments at the White Horses Spa, and participate in tastings with a whiskey sommelier. Uniquely, they can also plumb their family’s lineage. Prior to arrival, a guest can submit an online form and the hotel’s resident genealogist will research the person’s family tree, finding any Irish roots. Depending on what Doonbeg digs up, once in Ireland, guests may plan an excursion to an ancestral village or even meet a long-lost relative.

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, airfare, packages, and more travel deals.

With salty breezes blowing across the links and green hills unfurling in the distance, the Emerald Isle is an unforgettable place to tee off. Best of all, Ireland’s top golf resorts cater to seasoned pros and spa-bound revelers alike. Check out these listings for every budget with packages from less than $400 to more than $700.

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Even with newfangled GPS gadgetry out there in increasing numbers, a good, old-fashioned map remains a staple for any self-respecting adventure traveler.

To that end, the National Geographic Society, the gold-standard source for maps for nearly a century, recently announced plans to expand its AdventureMaps line. The expansion will bring travelers a slew of new options for finding their way in increasingly popular adventure destinations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Thailand. Countries and cities in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Europe are also on deck for a total of 60 new destinations by the end of 2012, and 30 more by summer of next year.

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