Based in Ennis

Gearoid Mannion

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It's Nice To Meet You

I'm over 30 years working in Travel. My parents opened their Travel Agency the year I was born and I think travel has always been part of who I am!

I specialise in tailor-made, luxury & long haul holidays, but I will arrange whatever trips you have in mind. Your travels should be a memorable experience and I pride myself on my level of commitment to clients and the expertise I offer.

I also provide travel services for a number of corporate clients here in the Mid-West. In 2018, I was delighted to win the ‘Best Corporate Travel Counsellor‘ award in recognition of 'the exceptional quality of service and customer satisfaction provided' to my corporate clients.

I've travelled extensively throughout Europe (cities, sun & ski resorts), USA, Australia, South Africa, Dubai, Mexico, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Bolivia, Iceland, India and all over the Caribbean…......most recently I’ve been to Santorini and Kwazulu Natal !

Travel Counsellors are licensed and bonded here in Ireland by the Commission for Aviation Regulation and so your money is completely safe. As a professional Travel Counsellor, I’m available at a time that best suits your needs - 6 days a week. My commitment to all my clients begins long before they travel and continues after they’ve arrived home.

If you would prefer a face to face meeting, that can also be arranged and I’d be happy to meet you in the evenings or at weekends and together we can plan your special holiday.

Looking forward to hearing from you,


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My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.


22 September 2021

Ok, let’s just get it out there. Santorini is Stunning with a capital S. Why? Because of the views on the west coast - where the towns and villages are perched precipitously high on the rim of the volcano crater – are simply outstanding. These lovely towns overlook the island’s famous ‘Caldera’ which is the lagoon/sea far below occupying the space where the volcano-centre once simmered before a massive eruption thousands of years ago blew everything to pieces. What remained when the lava settled was an arc (on the right hand side) which is Santorini and a few smaller islands to the left which now form the outer perimeter of the Caldera. On the other (east) coast, the countryside slopes down to the sea and as the airport location suggests its very flat – the complete opposite to the high cliffs of the west coast caldera rim. Just south of the airport you’ll find two of the islands main beach resorts Kamari and Perissa and around here you’ll find good-value accommodation of various standard. But Santorini is not famed for its beaches, mostly they are of black volcanic sand – or pebbles. If you pay extra for a sea-view on the east coast, just remember its just sea-view, not Caldera view. There is the world of a difference in price and in views! Most of the premium accommodation is on the west coast, from Fira up to Oia, and all in between. Fira is the capital town and feels bigger than the other towns of Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. Below Fira is a harbour and the whole island gets busy when the Cruise ships' tenders arrive. In Fira town there are great views, good accommodation, plenty of restaurants, shops, lots of bars and a buzzing nightlife with a good selection of late night-clubs…….. you wont have to look far to find them! Immediately north of Fira – in reality they run into each other and you can easily walk along the cliffside path between the two - is Firostefani. This is where we stayed and I felt it was the ‘Goldilocks’ of the towns – it was JUST RIGHT in terms of size, restaurant offerings and life. All along here there are plenty restaurants, bars and shops. If you are pre-booking dinner anywhere along the west coast MAKE SURE you specify a table with a view. The best view tables are limited, so book in advance. The service and the food are very good. Everything was so fresh – locally caught seafood, warm breads, Greek yogurt, freshly made pasta, fig-syrup and sticky sweet desserts. There is always a nice buzz around the restaurants and bars. The local dishes are excellent - finished off with a small glass of Vinsanto (the local sweet/dessert wine). For your accommodation, pay extra for a Caldera-view room with a balcony. You won’t regret it. By day its stunning and in the evening, you get a front row sunset-view, drink of choice in your hand. All the better rooms give you complete privacy. Its Heaven. Note there are LOTS of steps particularly if your accommodation is on the Cliff-face – not to be underestimated! Oia (pronounced ‘ee-ya’) on the north-west tip is the next town after Imerovigli and the jewel in the crown of the island in terms of beauty and stunning views of the Caldera. In fact, it is from here that you get the truest sense and view of the original circular volcano rim. Quite simply it is stupendous. The town’s tiny narrow laneways twist along the edge with a spectacular new vista at every turn. There are some amazing shops to pick-up nice souvenirs, clothes, gift-packs of olive oil, honey, wine, ouzo and other local delicacies. There are art galleries, craft shops and upmarket jewellers. Some of these shops, bars and cafes are housed in charming old buildings and you’ll find the island’s characteristic tiny blue-domed chapels round every turn, as well as a few larger churches, all immaculately painted and maintained. At the highest point in Oia – the town centre – there’s a row of discreet entrances to top-end hotels. Painted brilliant white and attended by an impossibly beautiful receptionist (male or female), they offer the slightest glimpse of what – on the other side - must be the most amazing sea-view rooms imaginable with balconies, private pools, hotel-bars and winding stepped paths, all hidden from the gaze of the passing multitudes. And make no mistake, in high season and when there is a cruise ship or two in the bay, there will be large crowds funnelling along the narrow laneways of all the towns on the west coast from Fira up to Oia. At key locations you’ll find a little queue of amateur photographers waiting for their turn for that ‘money-shot’ of the blue-domes or setting-sun or turquoise water below. If you’re lucky you’ll get all three in one! I’m not knocking it – when you see the views, you’ll see why we were all happy quite to queue for a minute or two! By day, the tiny white buildings appear to cling impossibly to the tip of the ridge and spill slightly down over the edge. By night the lights create an amazing sight - like a million fireflies twinkling motionless on the ragged edge, high up in the darkness. And all the while there is silent movement far below in the caldera; ferries, pleasure-boats, cruise ships, trawlers, speedboats and sailing vessels. There are plenty excursions to tempt you away from your pool-side or your balcony. We opted for the Catamaran Cruise – with 12 other passengers and a crew of 4 – which departed from Vlichada Marina on the south coast at 3pm visiting two of the islands in the Caldera with snorkelling and drinks included. You have an open bar, snacks and a freshly prepared dinner with return to port at 8pm, so you get superb sunset views en route home. It was €150 per person - which is pricey - but the price includes all of the above & your minibus transfers from your hotel to & from the port. Overall it was a very memorable experience. The boat-staff were terrific. June to August is peak season for tourist numbers and for prices In Santorini. It also gets pretty hot, though there is usually a welcome breeze to cool you down. April/May and Sept/Oct are ideal – or whenever the direct flights are operating from Dublin. For decades we had to get to Santorini via Athens or Gatwick or Frankfurt – or by ferry from other Greek Islands. Now that there are direct flights it’s time for Santorini to shine. So what are you waiting for? Let’s do this. Call me now

Golden Triangle Tour, India

25 October 2019

India was always on my bucket list and I guess it was only a matter of time before I visited. Its vast size dictates that one must take bite-sizes to start at least so we chose the North’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Flying from Shannon to Dehli via Heathrow our first stay was at the landmark Claridges Hotel, India’s first ever 5* hotel, built in 1952 and located in the planned New Delhi area. The hotel was in a good location and have great facilities and service. On our first full day we visited the massive Red Fort and mosque in the searing heat. We then walked through narrow winding streets of Old Delhi and took a rickety rickshaw ride through the ancient labyrinth market area of Chandni Chowk. Absolutely chaotic, but the history of the place is fascinating. The wholesale traders have been doing business here literally for centuries, supplying a vast range of spices, food stuff and a multitude of products far and wide, mostly operating from tiny shops in run-down markets. Many are extremely wealthy despite the drab and incredibly littered surroundings. We visited Raj Ghat where the great Mahatma Ghandi was cremated after his assassination in 1948 and where a simple memorial stands in his name - constantly adorned with fresh flowers and candles. An eternal flame burns at one end, symbolising the ever-lasting legacy of this truly inspiring man. The memorial is located within a vast garden area with visiting school groups from all over India and tourists from around the world. We visited the mausoleum complex of Humayun's Tomb - India’s 2nd Mughal Emperor. Humayun had travelled widely in Persia and Central Asia during his lifetime and many of the architectural principles he brought back from these journeys were incorporated into the building. Double domes, decorative inlaid marble and a vast garden with pools connected by channels, this edifice set the stage for the style that culminated in the majestic Taj Mahal over 100 years later. We finished the day at the Lutyens Area of New Delhi where the vast architectural wonder of the Presidents Palace sits on a hill overlooking Rajpath, Delhi’s ceremonial street leading down to India Gate – for all the world like the Arc de Triomphe! The next day, we departed Delhi and headed west on the long drive to the heritage rich Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. From here it was on to the rural town of Churu, which is home to a large number of lavish Havelis - Hindu merchant mansions from the late 1800's. Many of these have been abandoned and sadly crumbling. We stayed in the immaculately restored Hotel Malji Ka Kamara, a 1920's Haveli and one of the finest in the region. This imposing and beautiful building is a fantasy of slender pillars and exuberantly frescoed walls – a crazy mixture of architectural styles which feels older than its years. It was as unique a place as you could imagine staying. We were the only guests - yet had the full complement of staff - and our huge room was the best in the house, originally that of the merchant Prince owner. Our balcony was ginormous and Mrinal and her team made us feel so at home - nothing was too much trouble. Along with our passionate local guide Lal Singh Shekhawat we visited the local Golden Temple and were granted access to three privately owned Havelis. Here we also met local artists and crafts people and spent time in the bustling market. We had some incredibly memorable experiences - a jeep safari into the desert to watch the sun go down over a picnic, and an unforgettable candle-light dinner on our own balcony on our last night. It was one part of our journey and will live long in our memories. We travelled 200km south to Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan and India’s first planned city. It's known as 'The Pink City' - turns out it's really terracotta which is the Hindu colour for welcome. In the centre is the opulent City Palace, an impressive collection of palatial buildings, sprawling gardens and courtyards. The adjacent Hawa Mahal was built in the form of Krishna’s crown and the top three floors are just a single room thick. This iconic façade of Jaipur is the tallest building in the world built without a foundation. Its all about the curves baby! In Jaipur we stayed in Samode Haveli, a lavish stately mansion set within the historic city and complete with courtyards, swimming pool, gardens and beautifully ornate reception rooms. We visited the awe-inspiring Amer Fort and Palace in the hills on the outskirts of the walled city. This 16th century hillside fort and residence is well preserved, boasting grand pavilions and mirrored halls that open onto gardens and courtyards. The finale of our Indian Adventure - seeing Taj Mahal - was undoubtedly the highlight of the trip. We were there early, to watch the sun rise and it was an extraordinary experience. This iconic mausoleum was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. It took 22 years and 20,000 workers to build it, working 7 days a week. The pure white marble was quarried some 200 miles away and transported by a long train of elephants and camels. It was completed in the mid 1600's. Up to 70,000 people can visit on a busy day, mostly weekends and holidays. Its closed to the public on Fridays when its only accessible to Muslims to attend prayers in the adjacent mosque. So, schedule your visit for mid-week if possible. It's open sunrise to sunset (6am to 6.30pm) and from October to March is coolest. I recommend being there for sunrise! Agra Fort (Red Fort) is just 3km from Taj Mahal so you can take a rickshaw or a cab and easily go from one to the other. The fort comprises a cluster of sandstone and marble palaces all inside one massive fortress. Overshadowed by the beauty and fame of the nearby Taj Mahal - the Fort is still a must-see while in Agra. India is a culture apart. A truly fascinating place, steeped in a rich history dominated by its religions Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jainism and more. It appears over-crowded and untidy, yet its people are friendliest you will meet, and its ancient architecture is stunning to behold. One must visit at least once! If my adventures in India sound like something on your bucket list, why not give me a call. It’s never too early to start thinking of your next trip!

South African Adventure

06 December 2018

My South African Adventure began in Johannesburg. Our small group cycled around the sprawling Soweto Township in the company of local guide Marvin from Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers. What a place! We took in Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world which has been home to two Noble Peace Prize Winners - Nelson Mandela & Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Then off to the nearby ‘Orlando Towers’ for ‘The Big Drop’ – like a bungee jump but with a net instead of a bungee-cable.... not for the faint hearted. We flew south to Port Elizabeth on the coast and drove one hour to the luxurious 5* Long Lee Manor at Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Classy or what? We shared a memorable lunch overlooking the Edwardian style manor house, pool & gardens, then headed into the reserve on our afternoon game drive - one of those unforgettable experiences of a lifetime. Two open-top jeeps and our eagle-eyed rangers who could spot wildlife, where all we could see was trees and shrub! We encountered some of the ‘big five’; elephant, rhino and buffalo - and there were herds of zebra, groups of antelope, springbok, warthogs, Kudu and small family groups of the ever-graceful giraffe. We stumbled upon a sleeping male lion who woke and roared at us - but the wily leopard remained elusive throughout. Game drives are scheduled in the late afternoon and early morning when the animals are most active and it’s a fantastic experience as our excited group seemed to bond with repeated animal sightings. We rounded off a great evening in the bush with G&Ts at sunset and headed back to Long Lee with night falling. Later we enjoyed a superb dinner in the Manor house, naturally accompanied by fine South African red wine! After our morning game drive, we visited the other Shamwari guest lodges on the reserve and took afternoon tea! We visited the Julie Ward Center in the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary which draws attention to the plight of wild cats, confined in impoverished captive environments throughout the world. Next morning, we flew to Cape Town, a beautiful city crowned by magnificent Table Mountain National Park and we hit the ground running by visiting the bustling neighbourhood Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in the Woodstock area. Check it out on Saturday mornings. We followed it up with a walking tour of the colourful Bo Kaap neighbourhood, with its vividly painted low-roofed houses, many of them historic monuments, strung along narrow cobbled streets, it's one of the most photographed sections of the city. Initially a garrison for soldiers in the mid-18th century, this area of town was where freed slaves started to settle after emancipation in the 1830s. We took the cable car up on top of Table Mountain and soaked up the spectacular views. Then we drove towards Cape Point via the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive. The Cape Point Nature Reserve {also referred to as the Cape of Storms or the Cape of Good Hope} is the south-western tip of the African continent. The reserve is bound by the cold waters of the Atlantic to the west and the warm waters of False Bay to the east. The area offers great opportunities for sea kayaking and a close-up with the famous penguins of Boulders Beach near Simons Town. The highlight of the entire trip was a spectacular Helicopter ride over Cape Town & Table Mountain. Absolutely amazing. It costs about €95 per person but when the visibility is good it’s well worth it. South Africa is famous for its wine and a trip to the Cape Winelands is a great experience. There are numerous towns and villages to choose from, but my favourite was Franschhoek situated in a lovely valley. Most vineyards have visitor centres with shops and restaurants hosting wine-tastings in the morning and afternoon. We bought a few bottles and took lunch at Richard Branson’s estate at Mont Rochelle. As you do! The final leg of the trip took us South again to the seaside town of Hermanus, famous for its whale-watching. Our hotel, the 5* Marine was literally on the cliff path, overlooking breath-taking Walker Bay offering the finest land-based whale watching in the world. We were practically able to see the whales in the Bay from the comfort of our bedrooms! Whale season is only from mid-July to mid-November each year, with September the best time. I would definitely recommend South Africa for a holiday, particularly between September and March (their Spring, Summer, Autumn). It’s a country that offers huge diversity, stunning scenery and great value for money due to the strength of the Euro versus the Rand. They drive on the left; car hire is cheap, and the signs are all in English. Top Tip: Pre-book your tickets for Table Mountain and get there extra early, there’s always a queue. And hey, bring a camera!


13 April 2018

Boston had been on my ‘to-do’ list for many years and I eventually visited for a long weekend in mid-September. A beautiful time, it felt like late-summer with clear blue skies, mild temperatures - and not too crowded with those pesky tourists! The great thing about Boston is that the historic city core is perfectly compact, enclosed as it is to the north and east by Charles River and the sea, so the main sights are literally within walking distance of each other. Even the trip in from Logan airport is just a short spin. Like many cities, you’ll pay more for a central hotel, but for convenience it’s worth it. No need for taxis, just walk everywhere, comfortable shoes please ladies! Boston has been referred to as the ‘cradle of American history’. The Pilgrim Fathers landed near here way back in 1620 and established one of the first colonies in North America. Headstones right in the city centre date from the mid-late 1600’s and many of Boston’s historical sights are closely associated with the start of the American Revolution, including the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773. There’s so much more to see and the best way to do it all is to take ‘The Freedom Trail’, a two-mile walking tour starting at beautiful Boston Common, taking you to all the key locations. It’s an easy stroll, interrupted by coffee or lunch obviously! To see more, buy a ‘Go Boston’ card which includes the famous Boston Duck Tour, a WW11 amphibious vehicle which goes from land into the river for part of the journey. It’s a really great way to see the city - our duck boat captain was hilarious and full of information about Boston. I even got to drive the thing!! T’was great quack. These and other tours all depart from the harbour area which is a great place to hang out, have lunch, visit the Aquarium, enjoy the street entertainment and a spot of people-watching. The food in Boston is amazing, particularly the seafood. Near the harbour you’ll find Boston Public Market, Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market where there’s an eye-watering array of stalls - one more delicious in its offerings than the next. Nearby at James Hook & Co you can enjoy his famous 'Lobstah Roll' and New England 'Clam Chowdah' …...all fresh outta the 'lobstah' pots! Just beyond the Waterfront you’ll find beautiful old buildings and great restaurants in the buzzing Italian quarter in the North End. I recommend Strega’s Italian on Hannover Street – you’ll need to pre-book. Another great spot is Union Oyster House (estb. 1826), America’s oldest restaurant, housed in a building dating back to pre-Revolutionary days. From the harbour area you can take a 45 mins Harbour Cruise visiting historic Charlestown Navy Yard & Museum, Bunker Hill Monument, the site of the Boston Tea Party, and the Old North Church. If you have more time you can take a ferry to Provincetown Cape Cod and maybe travel onwards to the islands of Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard. But why leave Boston? Whatever you choose, getting out on the sea in beautiful weather is a great way to get a different vantage of this beautiful city. Elsewhere in the city centre you’ll find Friendship Arch in Chinatown, upmarket Beacon Hill, TV’s Cheers Bar, Fenway Park (baseball) and big-brand stores on up-market Newbury Street in the more modern Back Bay area of the city. Nearby is charming old Charles Street with historic and colourful shopfronts, independently owned businesses, antique stores, bakeries, vintage clothing and more. In South Boston check out the famous old ‘South Street Diner’, open 24/7, great food, pure Boston. Take time to stroll the lovely 'Rose Kennedy Greenway', Boston's newest public park which meanders downtown from the Waterfront. In 2007, after 15 long years of ‘the Big Dig’ it replaced the ugly old elevated Interstate93 which had slashed through the heart of the city for 50 years. The Greenway stretches for a mile & a half like a narrow ribbon of mini-parks hosting a variety of attractions, events, and art exhibits. Meanwhile across the Charles River you can visit Cambridge and world famous 'Hahvard' University - established nearly 400 years ago its the oldest institution of higher education in the United States; “.......making people smahta since 1636....” #BostonForAllSeasons


12 April 2017

I’ve just had a fantastic trip to Dubai. It’s been 18 years since I was there last and boy has the place changed beyond recognition! But what hasn’t changed is the heat. Beautifully warm, high 20’s from November to April inclusive, but unbearably hot & humid June to September inclusive, so choose your month carefully. It’s also pretty expensive! The best place to stay is the Dubai Marina area and our hotel (the 5* Grosvenor House) was right in the middle of it. Twin towers, 45 floors each, great rooms, fantastic service and just minutes to Jumeriah beach. The hotel courtesy coach shuttles guests 10mins to the beach at its partner hotel Le Royal Meridien Resort & Spa, another fantastic property with the best Beach Club I’ve seen. Acres of gardens, 3 pools, bars & restaurants, recliners & cabanas, waiter service and the beautiful azure blue waters of the Arabian Sea all at your disposal. The nearby beachfront promenade is called “The Walk Dubai” with a huge array of luxury shops, restaurants and cafes, with free night-time entertainment outdoors – we stumbled upon a ‘Red Bull Style’ event featuring world champion skaters, roller-bladers and BMX-ers which we watched from bean-bags provided for everyone on the beach. This whole area is very family-friendly, with lots of kids running around the paved areas and restaurants seemed very welcoming of children up until quite late in the evening. Remember tho’ alcohol is not available in all restaurants, so should you want to enjoy your glass of vino with dinner, make sure to ask before you take your table. The Dubai Marina area has so much to offer, with over 7km of wide paved walking areas packed with superb restaurants overlooking the yachts on the marina. By day there are lots of excursions to choose from and by night you can enjoy a dinner-cruise. We opted for a 90 min rib-tour which took us through the marina, out around the giant Palm Island and over to the stunning Burj Al Arab Hotel, with a guided tour of the Royal Palaces along the way. It was a really great way to enjoy a different vantage of Dubai. By night on the Marina we visited Pier 7 – well worth checking out. It’s a tall circular building with 7 floors, each one with a different themed bar and/or restaurant, some with in-house DJs. Thursday & Friday nights are big nights for Pier 7. Great night-life, young crowd, good vibe. Brunch is very popular on Fridays and Saturdays in Dubai and lots of restaurants & bars have great deals on offer. You pay-in around noon and you can eat and drink all you like into the late afternoon. Some have live music or DJs. We brunched at Zero Gravity Bar (beside Sky Dive Dubai) - fantastic. A visit to Dubai wouldn’t really be complete without taking in the Burj Khalifa Tower – the tallest building in the world. The Khalifa tower is particularly spectacular by night. Soaring high at 555 meters to the top - you can also access the world’s highest outdoor observation deck. Atmosphere Restaurant is located on level 122 should you wish to book a pretty expensive meal with an admittedly good view. Burj Khalifa Tower is located immediately adjacent to the Dubai Mall. Yes, you guessed it; the biggest mall in the world. At 12 million square feet, its area is equivalent to 200 soccer pitches. With over 1,200 retail stores, 200 food outlets, not to mention the Olympic size Dubai Ice Rink, the Dubai Aquarium, an Underwater Zoo, a 22-screen Cineplex and the Emirates Flights Simulator. There are endless possibilities for families. We visited the Dubai Aquarium close to midnight and it was still packed with families! Several of the mall’s restaurants have outdoor areas that face a 30-acre man-made lake, complete with computerised fountain jets that shoot water high into the air, all accompanied by music and synchronized laser shows. For an amazing view of these famous Dubai fountains, as well as the Burj Khalifa Tower, get an outside table at one of the restaurants at the Souk Al Bahar which overlook the fountains. The 10 mins fountain shows begin at 6pm and run every 30 minutes, with a different ‘performance’ each time. We took a walking tour of ‘old Dubai’ city centre which brought us though the spice souk and gold souk - well worth a visit. The tour also includes stops at the Dubai Museum, the Royal Palace and an ‘Abra’ (traditional old boat) trip across Dubai Creek. The guide was great, a mine of information and local knowledge. We also visited the wonderful Souk Madinat Jumeirah which combines traditional Middle Eastern shopping culture of stands, carts & stalls with a mix of boutique brands. It’s also home to over 20 restaurants offering cuisine from all over the globe. Most of the Souk restaurants, bars and cafés have great views of the Arabian architecture, waterways and the iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel. On our last night, we dined at the Buddha Bar. It simply has to be seen to be believed. A three-story high gold buddha sits happily overlooking his diners who enjoy a three-story window view of the Dubai Marina. Dazzling Dubai has so much to see and do. The variety is endless and they are continuing to build more and more incredible attractions, hotels and infrastructure mega-projects. It definitely deserves another visit – and I don’t think I’ll be waiting another 18 years!

ICELAND - “Land of FIRE & ICE”.

01 November 2016

That’s what the ads say, but there’s a lot more to Iceland than fire & ice. I travelled there for 4 days and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It’s just over two hours flying time from Dublin, with five flights a week, plus occasional charters, Iceland is certainly accessible. Most Icelanders speak excellent English and are very friendly if somewhat quirky! Their Viking heritage has moulded a proud and confident nation and there is a feeling of optimism and prosperity, particularly in the capital. Iceland sits on the meeting point of two of the world’s tectonic plates. Their constant movement results in active volcanos including the un-pronounceable Eyjafjallajökull which gave us that famous Ash-Cloud in 2010 which caused havoc with aviation worldwide. Its immediate and more ominous neighbour Katla is actually overdue an eruption, but so far nobody seems too put-out about it. Reykjavik in the south-west is the capital city and its greater area is home to the vast majority of Iceland’s relatively small 230,000 population. It’s a vibrant city with plenty sights to see by day and no shortage of shops, bars, restaurants and night-clubs. Icelanders like to party! The international airport is 40 miles further west at Keflavik. Interestingly, the world-famous Blue Lagoon is right by the airport so, Iceland Tip Number One: Visit the Blue Lagoon on the day of arrival or departure at Keflavik. The hot bathing pools are an invigorating and unique experience. The lagoon was formed in 1976 following the opening of a natural Geothermal Power Plant. Incredibly, the bathing waters and silica mud which come directly from the power plant have soothing and healing powers, particularly for psoriasis and other conditions. This has spawned a Blue Lagoon Spa & Skin Care industry, with beautifully packaged pots of mud selling for silly money (and main courses in its posh Lava Restaurant coming in at €50 a pop). Yes, Iceland is expensive. But with a little planning you don’t have to spend too much. Next on your ‘must-see’ list is the full-day ‘Golden Circle Tour’, starting in Reykjavik this takes in some of Iceland’s highlights, including Thingvellir National Park, the huge Gulfoss Waterfall and the Valley of Geysers one of which erupts every seven minutes! During the day, you will encounter stunning scenery, mountains, lakes and barren landscape mostly devoid of trees and power lines. Other excursions offer Glacier walks, Rugged Jeep Safaris, more waterfalls, Horse-riding and lots more depending on the time of year you visit. In Autumn, you have the best chance of seeing the famous Northern Lights, the Aroura Borealis, tho’ this dependent on ‘atmospheric conditions’ - cloud-cover basically. And you need to get out of Reykjavik to see the lights. Anytime of the year you will be well rewarded by a visit to amazing Iceland. And by the way, that volcano is pronounced ‘Aya-Fiyatla-Yokult’ - and you heard about Kalta here first!

Cruising on Quantum!

19 February 2017

I was really lucky to be invited to travel on the inaugural sailing of Royal Caribbean’s amazing ship - ‘Quantum of the Seas’. We flew direct from Dublin to Southampton and had a short transfer to the cruise port. Check-in was quite the spectacle; hundreds of people seamlessly checked through by friendly staff with iPads and once we boarded, our luggage awaited us in our superb balcony stateroom. On the desk in our room were our ‘WOW Bands’ which are bracelets with a microchip which serves as your stateroom key and ‘Seapass’ card. Having the balcony is a real bonus – it’s your own private outside space where you can enjoy amazing views as you arrive and depart at each port of call - or just chill out while at sea! Quantum of the Seas is a fantastic ship. But it's not just big-ticket items or the new concepts that make it so special. Royal Caribbean really thought about the small touches which are evident everywhere, from the staterooms to the bars and the relaxation areas. On arrival, food was foremost on my agenda so I took myself off to Chops Grill for an amazing steak dinner and I was set for the day! Without a doubt, for me, one of the best things about going on holiday is the opportunity to indulge in lots of delicious meals and discovering brand new foods along the way. On Quantum of the Seas, there are 18 different dining venues to choose from, including the hugely popular Jamie’s Italian – you usually need advance reservations…which of course we didn’t have! There are so many novel activities to choose from on board and I was really looking forward to the ‘North Star’ – which promises to ‘elevate you both physically and emotionally’. It’s a jewel-shaped capsule and once you step inside you gently ascend over 300 feet above sea level, where you can enjoy breath-taking views of the ocean and the ship, with a 360-degree view of the world - a big wow! Back on terra-firma I headed for the ‘SeaPlex’ a bright and futuristic space that transforms from sports and games by day, to music and dancing by night. I was offered a spin on the first ever bumper cars at sea, which I declined - my head still spinning from the North Star! Another first on-board ‘Quantum’ is the “RipCord by iFly” a skydiving simulator which allows guests experience first-hand the sheer thrill and exhilaration of actually flying. Onwards to the ‘FlowRider’ a surf simulator where you can hang-loose and make like you’re right there with the best surfers on Bondi Beach. There are lessons available for total beginners, or you can just surf away like a pro, or body-board and enjoy the thrills and spills of the water rushing past you on all sides. After a snooze, we booked tickets for ‘The Roboshow’. Six super-hi-tech screens moving gracefully alongside live dancers. It has to be seen to be believed. Each over seven feet high, the screens twist and spin with astonishing agility, and even dance with the live performers. From interactive dancing robots, to West-End calibre shows, (‘Mamma Mia’ was showing) there’s bundles of ground-breaking technology to take entertainment as you know it, to a whole new level! …Check out the Bionic Bar. A massive, 100% robotic arm which mixes cocktails for you, which you order on an iPad …obviously! Next morning, after a delicious breakfast - time for more exploring. For families and kids of all ages looking for fun in the sun, the newly reimagined ‘H20 Zone’ is super. Splash around with Alex the Lion in the first ever wave pool at sea. And when it's time to unwind, the action doesn't have to stop. Enjoy animated hits in the 3D THEATRE or kick-back with special DreamWorks programming in your own stateroom. Older children and teenagers have the option of the X-Box lounge and award-winning Teens Clubs (12-14yrs & 15-17yrs) and Kids Clubs for the younger ones. As the trip was ‘work-related’, we were taken on a guided tour of the various cabin/stateroom types available on board, including a two-story Loft Suite with double-height windows allowing for the most breath-taking, expansive views of the seas. It has its own dining area, a dedicated concierge, plus more space and more pampering to make you feel right at home… it even comes with its own private whirlpool….now you’re talking my kind of room! That evening we headed for the ‘Royal Esplanade’ - lots of the action at night takes place here. It’s Royal Caribbean's name for Quantum's two-deck promenade, featuring most of the ship's alternative restaurants, shops and bars. Adjacent to the Esplanade is ‘The Via’, a small area that has funky cone-shaped pods for seating, watercolour art and a contemporary vibe. ‘Quantum of the Seas’ and its sister-ship ‘Ovation of the Seas’ are truly amazing ships and if you are considering a cruise holiday I would definitely recommend them – who can resist amazing food, beautiful surroundings and an endless array of fun activities. Oh and by the way, did I mention waking up in a different beautiful destination each and every day? Yeah Baby.

My customer stories

Sent by Paul Brock

I have no hesitation in recommending my long time travel consultant Gearoid Mannion. He has consistently provided me with a top class travel advisory service.

Sent by Vicki Wood

Helpful, supportive, always friendly & quick to reply to my queries. I feel I can really trust his advice & recommendations.

Sent by Lorraine Walsh

Brilliant customer service as always, and presentation box was absolutely beautiful! Thank you

Sent by Alison Lalli

Gearoid has decades of experience. He has seen and heard it all so gives great advice and service. Gearoid does what he says he will do and in the most prompt fashion, not losing a moment or dropping a ball. He is charming, thoughtful and warm, a real gentleman to work with. I highly recommend him.

Sent by Siobhan Ni Chonarain

I have had a consistently positive experience throughout all of my interactions with Gearoid Mannion Travel Counsellor; efficient, client focused, responsive and in addition to operating an excellent ‘digital platform’ maintaining a personal connectivity demonstrating ‘ commitment to the customer’

Sent by Billy O'Connell

I found the service so user-friendly. Gearoid was always available and when my plan changed he could accommodate me. Obviously its great to have him for complex travel arrangements, but even for journeys I just couldn't get around to arranging Gearoid is always available. I have already recommended him to my friends. I am coming up to retirement so I can imagine Gearoid and I will have many more contacts in the future!

Sent by Frank McEnery

I have been dealing with Gearoid for the last 30 years and I have always found Gearoid to be very helpful and I wouldn't book with anyone else!

Sent by Judie Austin

I would not consider using anyone else for my Travel plans. We always have wonderful service with Gearoid.

Sent by Peter Lynch

I do a lot of travelling from all directions. From Perth to North Bay Canada, to South Africa and Chile. It is vital not to have to be worried about connections, flights, or anything that distracts, and Gearoid and his team have been 100% reliable for me over the last 5 years. Keep it up!

Sent by Suzanne Dowdall

We have just booked flights over Christmas to Asia with Gearoid, a wonderful experience with a lot of personal attention paid to my mom and I. I would highly recommend booking with him!

Sent by Kate Deegan

Fantastic service, super efficient and a pleasure to deal with!

Sent by Patrick Donnellan

We've been booking our travel with Gearoid for over 20 years and it gives us great peace of mind knowing we can pick up the phone and chat to him anytime before, during and after our booking. We had another fantastic tailor-made adventure and are already looking forward to planning our next one with him!

Sent by Marguerite O'Brien

We have just returned from a wonderful holiday which couldn’t have happened without Gearoid. He had very short notice and an ever changing itinerary but nothing was too much to ask and we are so very grateful. We will highly recommend Gearoid as a superb Travel Counsellor and look forward to availing of this service again very soon.

Sent by Helen Flynn

Gearoid has always been so helpful and informative in sourcing an excellent holiday experience for me and my family and I always highly recommend him to my friends

Sent by Olive Casey

Gearoid was wonderful to deal with and he had such patience with all our changes.

Sent by Claire Burke

It’s a pleasure to deal with Gearoid. He makes booking a holiday so easy!

Sent by Patricia O'Brein

Friendly, knowledgeable, professional and super responsive!

Sent by Mary Cahill

Excellent service provided by Gearoid, very professional and makes travelling so easy - well done!

Sent by Sean Lally

10/10,. An excellent, easy to use service provided by Gearoid. It takes the stress out of travelling long haul.

Sent by Carmel Kavanagh

My experience was a pleasure from beginning to end. Gearoid understood exactly what I was looking for and has booked us an amazing cruise on the Mediterranean. We can’t wait and are confident that Gearoid will be available for us along the way.

Sent by Anastasia Moroney

I found the service excellent, wonderful to have a human at the end of the line when trying to do business and I'm very impressed with the caring attitude of Gearoid. Thank you. 10/10 .

Sent by Paul Hardigan

I would have no hesitation in recommending Gearoid to anybody. The whole process, from start to finish was a pleasure. Easy to engage with and everything was well explained with thorough documentation. I will definetly use Gearoid Mannion,Travel Counsellor again!

Sent by Emma McGann

Gearoid was super to deal with, I sent a quick email detailing my wish list and in less than 30 minutes I had decided and paid the deposit, He understood my needs and made his recommendations to suit in relation to flight times etc. His knowledge is exceptional and as he has many years in the business. I knew I could trust his recommendations. I would use Gearoid again and would definitely recommend him to others!

Sent by Susan Crawford

Gearoid has taken the stress, hassle and expense out of attempting to plan/travel and return from all of our travel plans. Equally he is a super support if you’re travelling with someone with autism. We’d be lost without him (pardon the pun)!

Sent by John O'Farreell

Gearoid could not be more helpful in finding the perfect location for our family holiday and all within our budget. I would highly recommend him!

Sent by Marie Slattery

10/10. Gearoid is just superb and works all hours to get everything just right. I would absolutely highly reccommend him!

Sent by Rhys Phillips

Gearoid was excellent to deal with. He planned our honeymoon and I couldn't recommend him enough. Made our lives stress free and we could just go and enjoy ourselves. He's a world full of knowledge and will defo guide you in the right direction.

Sent by Josephine O' Donnell

I give full marks, it was so easy, everything was done for us. We have a party of 11 traveling and the cheapest we could get by far was with Gearoid Mannion. We will all be sitting side by side. Best service EVER. 10/10

Sent by Bridget Tubridy

Gearoid went above and beyond helping and advising me on travel options and arrangements on a recent trip to South Carolina, Las Vegas and New York. Nothing was too much trouble. He is so helpful, knowledgeable and friendly! Thanks!

Sent by Valerie Vaughan

Gearoid, a few words of thanks for assisting me with my surprise trip to Lapland for my 9 yr old son. From the out set I felt confident that this important, once in a life time adventure was in good hands. You had so much knowledge of the destination and a real understanding of what would be important to making this trip as memorable as possible for us. All the info you have provided has added to the excitement of our upcoming trip and I feel so assured that I will be kept updated of anything should it arise. The fact that you facilitated suitable insurance including multiple options for our needs was just so helpful. Having such a personalised service is truely wonderful and thank you so much.

Sent by Helen Flynn

Great service as always provided by Gearoid on booking and planning my recent trip. Due to the recent difficulties with Ryanair, it was a consolation to know that Gearoid was available should any problems arise while I was on holiday. I would highly recommend booking any trip through Gearoid's business. I will certainly be using his services in the future.

Sent by Robert Saunders

Booking through Gearoid was an absolute joy. He listened carefully to what we expected from our holiday last year and he nailed each one of our requests to perfection. He removed all stress from the preparation and always remained in touch. He is very approachable. We have again booked our holiday for this year with Gearoid and are confident of another perfect holiday.

Sent by Aoife Flynn

I recently booked a trip to Colorado. I have to admit this service is second to none. After trailing the internet for cheap flights I found that it was difficult to work out the cheapest fares along with the shortest travel times. A friend recommended Gearoid to me and I emailed him. Within hours I had an itinerary and flights were even cheaper than anything I could find online. Even when I needed to make amendments to my itinerary Gearoid was really efficient and without delay he was able to give me exactly what I asked for. Additionally he helped me with the visa process enabling me to apply without any hassle. He even made follow up phone calls to me to ensure I was on the right track. I have recommended this service to many people since and in the future I intend to use Gearoid for any of my ventures abroad. Without doubt the best travel agent I have ever used.

Sent by Hannelore Corris

I really enjoyed booking my holiday with you Gearoid. You are quick to reply, your emails are very personable and you answer your phone when I ring (thank God you are not part of a call centre!). I hope that your business will be successful for a long time.

Sent by Margaret Burke

Gearoid, thank you very much for recommending the perfect destination for our holiday. Your service was second to none and your helpfulness and patience with us was much appreciated. The Hotel Las Palmeras was in the heart of everything and we had blue skies and good restaurants every day. I would have no problem getting you to book for us again. 10 out of 10 for everything!

Sent by Maeve Mulcahy

Gearoid went above and beyond when Bernard and I got married in the Caribbean. He organised everything for us and took all the stress away. I would highly recommend Gearoid to organise your honeymoon.

Sent by Monica O'Shea

Gearoid, I just wanted to thank you for the amazing honeymoon you organised for us. From the time we left Dublin until we returned we were treated so well. The hotel you recommended was outstanding - we could not fault one thing. Your local contacts were brilliant and they went ‘above & beyond’ to make all our day trips extra special - they were so helpful anytime we had a question. We will never be able to put into words how grateful we are for all you have done. We look forward to planning our next trip with you!