Springtime is giving us a preview of the weather to come here in the Pacific Northwest, and my thoughts naturally turn to golf. And when my thoughts turn to golf, they invariably wander off to dream of golfing in Ireland.
Ireland offers some of the most magnificent and challenging golf experiences to be had. Indeed, with the hundreds of courses to be found throughout the country, there is an interesting and unique golf experience for just about any level of play. One can find courses providing expansive and breathtaking views of the sea or travel inland to play courses that seem to have been created from magic, such are the stunning colors and vistas of the Inland.
For the true aficionado, a golfing tour of Ireland can only be described as heaven. With the numbers of golf course and accommodations available, there are literally thousands of combinations that can be made to make your tour unique. A quick search online brings more than 1 million opportunities to find the plan that works best for you, your skill, and your budget. There are a number of firms who will shape a tour specific to your desired itinerary. Of course, if you have the time and inclination, designing your own tour and making the arrangements is another option.
The organized tours generally consist of a 6 or 7 day stay and opportunity to play 4 or 5 different courses. You are transported by coach or car, and all tee times and accommodations are taken care of (including a full Irish breakfast each day). Double occupancy rates are adjusted if your traveling companion would rather be visiting castles while you play. There are also options for you to drive the tour on your own, making your own arrangements for a rental car.
If your budget permits, you may want to look at the several opportunities to stay at a castle hotel and golf resort. There are also many manor accommodations at or near golf resorts and the more traditional hotel golf resorts. Naturally, your choice will depend somewhat on your budget.
For us, Germany dependably has been a storied land that must be experienced. My better half and I have needed to go there for quite a while, however all way of diversions made us set it aside for a considerable length of time. We have experienced numerous American military families who have appreciated voyages through obligation in Germany, and never one that had a terrible affair. Or maybe, couples disclosed to us how they missed it so much and that they enthusiastically plotted an arrival trip. It was the kind offer of a companion, who had lived in Germany for a long time that moved us to arrange and take a ten day trip.
We needed to see southern Germany, and wanted to have a solitary flight from the terrain U.S. keeping in mind the end goal to maintain a strategic distance from a long delay in another European nation. Delta Airlines offered non-stop flights between Atlanta, Georgia and Stuttgart, DE, which we gobbled up. We had our international IDs and we chose two charge cards (an essential and a reinforcement) for each of us to use in German bank ATMs to get our Euros. Our companion exhorted us to get our first Euros at a Stuttgart air terminal ATM as opposed to through a cash trade of our U.S. money, keeping in mind the end goal to overlook exorbitant exchange expenses. I had an International Drivers License that I acquired from a vehicle affiliation. I got data that I expected to buy extra risk protection with the rental auto unless the charge card that I used to pay for the auto offered such protection at my European goals (they didn’t). I particularly acquired protection for my driving in Germany and Austria, and I discovered that I should likewise purchase a vignette (a sticker to be set within the windshield, left of the driver’s position) to enter Austria. The vignette must be purchased at a rest stop benefit station (real expressway rest stops have benefit stations and an eatery) before entering Austria. I discovered that Switzerland is the main other European nation that requires a vignette to enter.
The flight was an early morning one from Stansted, so I opted to travel up the night before and stay at the Radisson Blu hotel which you can walk via a covered walkway from the main terminal building. It was a bit more expensive that the other hotels in the area but none of the others were walking distance from the hotel, so it worked out to be approximately the same when you took into account the price of busses or taxis from other hotels to the airport. The Radisson Blu is a four star hotel and the facilities and hotel itself were of a high standard, another bonus was they served breakfast (in room) from 2am which worked well for me as I had a full English breakfast at 4.30am, what a bargain and great service. Once I got to Lanzarote getting through the airport was quicker than I thought but there was a slight delay with the transfer. I had booked a shared transfer through HolidayTaxi.com which was quite cheap and had no problems at all with them apart from the 30 minutes I waited before they left.
I opted to stay in the quiet area of Puerto Calero. This small town is known for its quiet and calmer feeling, which is why I chose it. Situated on the outskirts of Puerto del Carmen, it is part of the Yaiza municipality which also covers the Playa Blanca. There are two main hotels in Puerto Calero, Hotel Costa Calero (4 Star) and the Hesperia (5 Star) and like any town there are also several self-catering apartments for rent. I stayed at the four starred Hotel Costa Calero and my experience here was fantastic, the hotel was spacious, well-kept and clean, staff were always friendly and helpful and the facilities were first class.
In some ways, because it’s so cheap and easy to telephone long distance, it’s taken some of the adventure out of traveling abroad, especially on long trips or backpacking tours of the world. One of the attractions was to be cut of from the rest of the world, but now everyone is traveling around with mobile phones in their luggage and is expected to call home from time to time just to check in.
When I’m overseas I simply carry a mobile that allows me to change the SIM card inside the phone. These can be purchased locally and often give you immediate access to the networks. It always a good idea to compare tariff and rates before buying, so it’s important to know what you will be using your phone for, i.e. local calls or communication abroad. When I was in the UK last, I bought a phone card called Asia Direct, or something like that. It cost just £10 and I was chatting to various countries in South East Asia every day for a week and still I had credit to spare when I left England. It was absolutely incredible value for money.
Though it’s now considered cheap to telephone long distance, it is still necessary to be mindful that some companies still charge extortionate rates for the service. Mainly hotels. In fact they probably make as much money on overseas calls as they do renting rooms! If you need to use hotel phones for any reason, make sure you check out the call charges in advance or you could be in for a nasty surprise on checkout!
I’ve listed below a few of the more popular ways to telephone long distance:
Mobile direct calling: Many special deals around these days, but check first. Also international Phone cards where you punch the details into your cell phone and dial a special number prior to connecting.
With the ever expanding lending market catering to almost every kind of loan, it is now possible to get financial assistance for almost every conceivable thing that the human mind can think of. And, that includes holidays. So, if you have been postponing some very deserving R&R plans, then you can now take advantage of the present situation.
It is up to you what kind of loan plan you prefer to take. Ask the financial advisers of the bank or lending society to find out the best personal loans deal for yourself. You may even apply online and compare the different APR rates provided by different companies. Most sites also offer a budget calculator that you can use to calculate how much the loan is going to cost you. That way you have a clear idea about how much money you will have to pay at the end of each month to the lender.
Now, that you know where the money is going to come from, lets focus on how to make your trip comfortable but economical at the same time. Money flows like water in most overseas trip. But, the following tips might just help you stretch your cash for an extra mile.
Shop around for good deals
Look at this as a warm-up run. Hunting for good bargains is a knack that everyone should master. Go online and search extensively for good deals on air fares and hotels. Check out offers from consolidators, travel agents and web sites for more ideas. Even if you are going for a package tour, hunt out cheap bargains. If your trip is more flexible, then you can book directly with the airlines or hotels.
Many of you will know that I am originally from Austria, but that I have been living in Toronto for more than 20 years. I left Austria early on, by myself, at the young age of 20 and found a permanent home in Canada’s largest, most multicultural city. I always realized that I originally came from a beautiful country, but somehow the big wide world was calling me and settling in Canada’s most cosmopolitan urban centre has been a great decision.
In the early years I used to go back home every year when my father and grandmother were still alive. My mother had already passed away more than 20 years ago. But from 1995 onwards, after the death of my father and grandmother, I paid very few visits to Austria and thinking of my home country often brought back sad memories of people that had passed away. So for almost 9 years I did not travel back home at all until in 2004 I decided to go back for my 20th high school reunion which in itself was an interesting experience.
Now, almost three years later, there was a big reason to go back to my home town: my brother Ewald’s 50th birthday. This big round birthday of my only sibling was an event I simply couldn’t miss. And in addition, I made the decision to discover my part of Austria through the eyes of a travel writer and really take advantage of the sights and activities that my home town and its surrounding regions have to offer.
So this Thursday I boarded an Air Transat plane to fly from Toronto to Vienna and one hour into it I realized that we also were making a stop in Montreal which added about two hours on to the trip. As an astute traveller, I always try to save money on travel, and Air Transat was about $500 less expensive than going with Air Canada or Austrian Airlines. But I also realized that Air Transat planes are packed in very tightly and there is very little space between seat rows. As a matter of act, when the lady in front of me tilted back her seat rest I almost thought she was going to knock my teeth out.