Sent by Karen Byrne
Lucan, Dublin 17/05/2023
Based in Dublin
Specialising in luxury honeymoons, bucket list travels, cruises and long haul trips, creating a bespoke and personalised service for my clients. I am extremely fortunate that I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world. Even after 16 years of working in the travel industry, and having visited over 50 countries, I am still searching for new and exciting experiences. Two expedition cruises, one to the Galapagos and the other to the Arctic just blew me away, these are ideal trips for anyone looking to get off the beaten path., after all it isn't too often you get to spot polar bears in their natural habitat! Some of my top experiences include taking the iconic Rocky Mountaineer train through the Canadian Rockies, staying in an over-water villa in the Maldives, swimming with wild dolphins in New Zealand and spending a night under the stars onboard a yacht in Thailand. An African safari is also high up on my most memorable trips although I am recently back from Sri Lanka and I have to say that was just an incredible destination.
Being a personal Travel Counsellor allows me to use my passion for travel to create unique and amazing trips, whether this is a once in a life time dream, a luxury honeymoon, a family holiday, or cruise vacation that you will remember for years to come.
I appreciate that your time away is incredibly valuable, and I know that that with my extensive knowledge and great supplier relationships worldwide, I can ensure your holiday is truly special and unique. Working with Travel Counsellors allows me to offer the highest level of personalised service which I believe is an important part of getting you the perfect trip. My aim is to make planning your trip as enjoyable and stress free as possible, as well as giving you complete piece of mind - we are fully licensed and bonded, so your money is safe. During the pandemic I worked hard on behalf of all of my clients to ensure they were looked after and issued with full refunds or for those that preferred a new trip to look forward to.
It can be hard to find time to sit down and plan a holiday so I am available for a one to one service at a time and location convenient to you, including evenings and weekends, either in person, over the phone or even a zoom video call. If you are stuck for any inspiration or just want to talk through a few ideas about turning them into a reality I’d love to have a chat with you, please feel free to give me a call or drop me an email.
Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:
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.
23 May 2022
The Land of Smiles, where visitors are very often surprised by the ability of Thai people to smile through virtually every situation, and visiting Thailand coming out of the pandemic this couldn't be more evident. The Thai people are very welcoming and despite the difficult government procedures in place at the time of travelling, those working in hospitality on the ground made sure it was as hassle free as possible (since the time of visiting all these restrictions have now been lifted making it a super easy destination to experience once again). Like everyone after the past few years, some R&R was much needed and so we headed to the Banyan Tree resort located on Bang Thao Beach, which is one of the longest beaches on Phuket Island in Southern Thailand. Whilst Banyan Tree is a fabulous, top class 5* resort it still has a relaxed and friendly feel to it. All the villas have their own private pools, perfect for some privacy and time to relax, as well as a beautiful large pool set within stunning gardens filled with frangipani trees, banyan trees, birds singing and to top it off a swim up pool bar with happy hour. The restaurants here serve top quality food and drinks as well as one of the most amazing buffet breakfasts, complete with bubbles of course. The grounds are beautiful and complimentary bikes are available to explore the resort and surrounding areas which are set on a lagoon complex, so it is also possible to use the paddle boards for exploring. The resort is located on the island's west coast and is situated on a half-moon-shaped bay which stretches on for 8km of soft white sand. At Banyan Tree beach there are multiple beach bars & restaurants and a short walk further down the beach offers more local options making it a perfect location on one of the best beaches on the island. There are night markets at nearby Boat Avenue and it is really accessible for day trips around the rest of the island via private tour, catamaran, or motorcycle. After a very short and incredibly scenic plane journey over to Koh Samui on the East of Thailand we spent another 5 nights at Tongsai Bay, a resort that has been on my radar since I started in travel many years ago. It was the first five-star hotel on the island and has been owned by the same Thai family for 30 years incorporating luxury with a welcome family feeling. Hidden amongst 28 and a half acres of natural beauty and wrapped around a private bay, the hotel is renowned for its privacy and tranquillity. Our beautiful private pool villa here is one of the most stunning rooms I have ever stayed in, a beautiful private pool overlooking the ocean, a double daybed, outside bath tub and a huge living space, this is really one of those special hotels you will remember! The resort is set on its own stunning private beach and complimentary kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling mean you can explore the bays surrounding the resort easily. There are also two pools, the infinity pool is adults only too. There are two fantastic restaurants on site but a short 15 minute taxi ride will take you to Bophut, once a sleepy fishing village, retaining its charm with plenty of restaurants and upmarket beach bars for those wanting to venture out of the resort. The island is super easy to get around and there are plenty of excursions on offer here too. We got a flight up to Bangkok before embarking on a three hour drive out to Kanchanaburi to spend some time in the National Parks and see a different side to Thailand. The beautiful scenery and some fabulous local restaurants made for a very chilled few days in this area as well as visiting the River Kwai. Heading back to Bangkok for our final nights meant time to explore the city, a place where there is always something going on and new things to see & do. A special highlight was definitely my birthday spent on top of Banyan Tree hotel at their famous roof bar, Vertigo, simply spectacular - I would definitely recommend heading here for a cocktail at sunset even if you don't stay at the hotel. Thailand is definitely somewhere I would go back to again as there are always new places and islands to explore, but having been multiple times already I have plenty of ideas to make your trip one to remember, so get in touch to start planning!
20 December 2021
The stunning scenery in Iceland makes for a fantastic break no matter what time of year. I ventured over in November to explore their winter activities, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. A big highlight of my trip was a Full Circle day tour. Our adventure began being picked up from the hotel in a monster super jeep, we headed out in style through Iceland’s stunning natural scenery; Gullfoss Waterfall, geysers and hot springs. Already travelling in ultra-comfort, the super-jeep also has the ‘something special factor’ and allows your journey to be taken off road to take in those hidden beauty spots. Driving out on top of the glacier with the winter sunshine gleaming off the ice was incredible and having access on to the glacier also meant we could take in the addition of a snowmobiling excursion. Driving our own snowmobiles up the glacier for an hour was exhilarating and the beautiful views were so rewarding, something I won’t forget and the ultimate icing on the cake for a truly amazing day out. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, this early morning whale watching excursion is for you. We set sail on our whale tour and after about half an hour sailing, we were fortunate enough to have sightings of three humpback whales and multiple white-beaked dolphins playing around our boat. Even more remarkably they stayed around our boat for about 45 minutes, I feel very privileged to have witnessed them in their natural habitat for such an extended period of-time, truly magical. It was a picture-perfect moment, set in front of the most incredible mountainous backdrop with snowy white peaks alongside the city scape of Reykjavik. I would recommend making sure you take some time out to relax in at least one thermal pool, both the Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon were fantastic and had different qualities but were equally stunning and offered some well needed time out from the hustle and bustle over the rest of the weekend. The Blue Lagoon lived up to its hype and I would highly recommend a visit to marvel in its gorgeous blue pools, I would personally recommend heading just before sunset for that extra special experience. Sky Lagoon, a new offering in Reykjavik, offers a slightly more ‘spa like’ visit, with its proximity to the city centre this may make this a more attractive option for some. The thermal infinity pool looking out over the mountains and ocean will instantly leave you feeling more relaxed, you can even enjoy a glass of bubbles from the bar should you be so inclined! The elusive Northern Lights did make an appearance although we only got a faint glimpse, but this is mother nature and I am more than happy to have an excuse to return to Iceland. A winter wonderland city with a small village feel amidst a wide range of restaurants and bars for every taste. Plenty of happy hours throughout the afternoon for those that have any time out from the activities to enjoy the local scene. A 4-night winter break is perfect for first time visitors, and I would highly recommend. Personally, I already know I will make a return visit at some stage to explore the Spring and Summer months!
24 April 2020
For those who have visited South Africa before you will know how amazingly hospitable it is. Offering great restaurants showcasing superb local food and wine, a wide variety of activity and adventure, as well as spectacular scenery, wildlife galore and a beautiful range of accommodation. For something a little different on your South Africa trip, you should consider taking time out to visit Kwazulu natal – ‘Place of the Zulu’. Although there is minimal jetlag heading to South Africa, I would recommend starting off at Ghost Mountain, a beautiful tranquil retreat surrounded by stunning scenery and sugar plantations where you can appreciate the true beauty of the area. They offer a unique water cruise that is available on the lake here, be sure to look out for those crocs and hippos. I know a safari is often high on the wish list and there are some fabulous ones to choose from in this area. Thanda Safari Lodge has beautifully laid out lodges and the views are just incredible. Some guests I spoke to mentioned that they had elephants drinking out of their private swimming pool only that morning, what an amazing memory to go home with! Rhino Ridge is another great property with simply breath-taking accommodation, think fire pits in the centre of the room, big soaking tubs by the floor to ceiling window to admire the view. Perched high up the mountainside, the public areas of the lounge, dining area and swimming pool all offer unbelievable views overlooking the bush landscape below. I always recommend having a couple of nights to not only enjoy the safari but to have time to relax and enjoy the amazing accommodation and all it has to offer. This is a time to really enjoy the most beautiful of landscapes, there is something truly special about being out in the remote wilderness and getting to reflect on the experiences of the day. If a family run, more rustic experience is more in keeping with what you are looking for Makakatana is the place to go up in the St Lucia Wetlands. With the most beautiful outdoor bathrooms and lovely viewing areas. This area of the country is well known for its boat safaris with the largest population of hippos. I would recommend staying up late and taking advantage of the opportunity to sit out by the pool and watch the hippos come in from the lakes to feed. One minute the water is flat and still and the next under the moonlight you can make out these giant animals appearing one by one until the lake is filled with what looks like giant rocks. It is a sight to behold and quite simply magical, I sat for hours just watching them and listening to them eat against the silence of the night. I would highly recommend combining this lodge with a more traditional land-based safari to get an all rounded wildlife experience whilst you are in this part of South Africa. National Park drives are quite different to private game reserves and each offer something unique which is something to bear in mind when planning your safari experience as this will have massive impact on your overall experience. I have been to a variety of safari lodges now and each time I have had a completely different experience. From herds of elephants with their babies near, seeing hippos both in and out of the water and rhinos almost within touching distance. I would always recommend trying either a variety of game lodges or a minimum of three nights in one place to make sure you can enjoy the diversity of wildlife and make the most of the unique opportunity to relax in the most beautiful surroundings. The Battlefields should also be on everyone’s list whilst in this area. The spectacular Fugitives’ Drift property, a 5000-acre Natural Heritage Site, overlooks both Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. They take you on awe-inspiring battlefield tours, leaving one with a deep and tangible insight into some of the most moving of South Africa’s battlefields. The guides are extremely passionate and knowledgeable, and their enthusiasm is infectious, you cannot help but be in awe of their re-counters of what happened, giving both sides of the stories. This whole area is steeped in so much history and I would recommend stopping by The Nelson Mandela capture sight. Whilst over in this part of South Africa staying in Durban would not complete without a visit to the Oyster Box, even if you don’t make a stay here, I would recommend popping in for afternoon tea or their famous Indian buffet. It has a beautiful beachfront location with views over the pool to the lighthouse on the edge of the Indian Ocean. A great way to wind up an amazing South African trip!
25 March 2019
I love being out on the water and so I knew one of the highlights of Vietnam for me would be going out to the UNESCO world heritage site, Halong Bay. I always prefer authentic experiences and it was important to me that we would take the less beaten path, so we took a boat for two nights also taking in Lan Ha Bay. Our 4* junk ship did not disappoint, complete luxury from the minute we stepped onboard. The suites were spacious and the floor to ceiling windows ensured endless spectacular views. The bathtub was equally impressive as it was set up facing over the balcony, so not to miss a second of the iconic limestone islands, secluded beaches and emerald green waters. We got to explore the main island of Cat Ba which gave us a local and authentic feel for living out on the island. Those that were brave enough even tried the local snake infused wine, granted it isn’t for everyone! Two things that stand out in my mind were kayaking up to private yellow sand beach, and sipping cocktails on the top deck enjoying the quietness and stunning beauty all around. A magical few days spent onboard we are transported back to the mainland, but I am so excited because we are now going on to Nimh Binh, which is known locally as the Halong Bay on land. This is an incredibly serene and tranquil area and the local guest houses make you feel right at home. The towering limestone karsts, picturesque rice paddy fields, and spectacular sunsets make this a great area to relax in. We used bikes to explore the surrounding countryside stopping off at local points of interest. Taking a row boat down the river through the cave formations was an experience, the local rowers can impressively row with both their arms and their feet, and the floating drink vendors make for interesting banter and photo opportunities. Taking a flight down to central Vietnam we spent a few days on the banks of the Perfume River, in the old Imperial Capital of Hue. We visited the walled enclosure within the citadel, wandering around you can just picture how the King of Vietnam would have spent his days. This has been heavily restored and preserved in recent years and is another of Vietnams impressive UNESCO heritage sites. Hue is also a great city for people watching with many of the local restaurants set up on the corners of buzzing streets with plenty of outdoor seating to watch the world go by. Continuing South we went on to Hoi An via the Hai Van pass, unfortunately for us the clouds were thick and low on our travel day so views were limited, but this is a really popular route and can be done by private transfer, or for those more daring on your own moped. Arriving in Hoi An we spent time between the beach and a beautiful historic district. The city is a blend of indigenous and foreign influences and the port and boats at the mouth of the river are still used for fishing and tourism. This is a very pretty city and is now known to many for its colourful lanterns lining the streets and restaurants for decoration, of course these are also compulsory holiday purchases. Our final night was spent up in the cloud forest, this is the only place in the world I can say I have checked into a hotel by cable car which was quite incredible. After ascending through the clouds, getting odd glimpses of the view’s way below (this cable car is one of the longest in the world) we are met with sunny skies. This is the home of the Golden Bridge, and you need luck on your side to get a clear view. Really this resort is like an Asian adventure resort (with themed characters) and quite a surreal experience, but it was great to end our two-week Vietnam adventure having a bit of a giggle. The people are incredibly friendly, there is a great variety of culture and scenic natural beauty, and the food is incredible, with some great regional specialities. I will definitely return to this amazing country in the near future.
16 January 2019
Travelling in style on the BA Dreamliner in Club Class I settle back to enjoy a glass of champagne and the amazing space of both the cabin and the seating - of course I must take advantage of both the three-course a la carte menu and the fully lie flat beds too, before landing into snowy Calgary. The gateway to the Rockies we don’t stay long but as we say, ‘we are here for a good time not a long time’ so we still manage to pack in breakfast at the zoo (not usually an advocate for zoos but this one has great conservation programmes and an amazing penguin exhibition) and the animals were loving the early snow fall. Rouge then hosted us for a fantastic tasting lunch, much of their produce is home grown in their garden and the staff have nothing but passion for the restaurant. The best laughs of the day to be found trying out our skills on the luge at the Olympic park Winsport. After an action-packed day we depart for Banff, best of all, it is still snowing, and this is causing a lot of excitement within the group. Banff is a fabulous little town, a great centralised high street with restaurants, bars and souvenir shops galore with the Rocky Mountains as the back drop. I have been here in the Summer and the Winter and I am always pleased to come back, it is such a lovely area to visit. A day trip around the lakes and mountains in this area has always been on my list to do and it didn’t disappoint. This is an absolute must do whilst in Banff, and what a spectacular month to visit, completely picture perfect with snowflakes falling. Travelling out of season has its advantages as we arrive at Lake Louise and are one of only several groups at this iconic spot. This means plenty of opportunity to take in the scenery and capture the perfect shot of the lake and all its magic. Emerald Lake has been one of my hidden gem recommendations for so long and I realise this is perhaps my most favourite lake along the Rockies. Whilst Lake Louise is a gorgeous turquoise blue (that no matter how hard you try can still never be captured fully through the camera lens) Emerald lake is as you would expect a crisp green. I feel so lucky as blue skies and bright sunshine means the lakes are like glass and the reflections are mirrored, just spectacular. The next day we board the Rocky Mountaineer for our two-day ‘First Passage to the West’ experience. We are lucky enough to be travelling in Gold Leaf service, which is the Ultimate in comfort in a dual level dome carriage. Departing Banff with snow on the ground, and dawn just breaking through, we sit back in our reclining leather chairs watching the sun rise through the dome windows. Meals are a relaxed and informal, yet 5* experience down below in the dining carriage. A simply fabulous a la carte menu for breakfast and lunch and the food is to die for. The carriage is beautifully laid out and, should you wish, a great opportunity to socialise with the other guests many of whom are very well travelled. You need not miss a second of the iconic scenery as the dining car also has huge panoramic windows, if only you could dine like this every day! Travelling in Gold Leaf there is also an outside vestibule for you to take in the fresh air and the ever-changing scenery. After leaving the snowy mountains behind, the more West we travel the more autumnal the colours become. Despite the initial chill this fast became another favourite part of the train for me, feeling the wind on your face, taking in the amazing scenery whilst feeling like you are the luckiest people in the world to experience this. The entire time you are onboard the staff prioritise you and your enjoyment for the trip and go above and beyond. It’s not always the case that weather is on your side but getting to experience snow, followed by blue skies and sun, for the entire journey has us all in great spirits. Two days later we are waved into Vancouver station by the local Rocky Mountaineer staff, I just love how welcoming the whole experience is from start to finish. With its incredible staff, amazing food, comfortable surroundings, interesting fellow guests and some of the best scenery going this is one trip that’s going to be hard to beat. Staying at The Fairmont waterfront in Vancouver perfectly ended what was ultimately for me one of my most favourite trips ever. A beautiful idyllic location perfectly situated on the water, in view of the seaplanes landing and taking off. The last day is spent exploring the city, from gorging valleys and big wood trees at Capilano suspension bridge, a foodie tour on Granville island and an amazing ‘Fly-over’ experience of Canada to end the day, and indeed the whole trip, on a high!
08 April 2018
I hadn’t really planned on climbing Mount Kinabalu when I first intended to go to Borneo, however all the tours I liked seemed to have it included so off I went. I am so glad I did, well maybe I had a few doubts as I was doing the climb, but the sense of achievement, the camaraderie along the way and the spectacular views made it all worthwhile. It’s only a two-day trek but it’s incredibly tough. Starting early on the first morning it’s a gruelling trek up literally thousands of steps. After only an hour or so the group has naturally split off in to smaller groups falling into a natural pace. Quite impressively the porters are whizzing by with giant barrels full of supplies to the rest-house of Laban Rata at around 3300 metres. We took occasional breaks to rest, take in the views, and watch the monkeys play but other than that is was heads down and try and get to Laban Rata, up in the clouds. Just shy of arriving there the heavens open and we are soaked through but delighted for the opportunity to rest and take shelter. Its’s time for food and a very early night, exhausted from the day behind and knowing we have to be up at 3am for another few hours steep climb to make the summit for sunrise. The summit of Mount Kinabalu stands at 4095 metres, offering incredibly impressive views. Everyone wants to be up there to see that sun come up and take some time to revel in the accomplishment, after all, not everyone makes it to very top. Unfortunately, what goes up must come down, so time to persevere and brave the trek back down the mountain. You would think this would be easier but, with weary legs, this was equally difficult. The only thing keeping us going was that we knew the following day we would be rewarded with a massage and a stay at the hot springs at the next town. A day to recover at the hot springs was just what we needed and after a relaxing day we moved on to Kinabatangan River Lodge, an area only accessible by boat, in search of macaques, proboscis monkeys and wild orangutans. Lovely to be guided around the mangroves and rivers especially as the sun set over the forest with the monkeys playing together in the trees and so beautiful to see wildlife in their natural environment. I have to say the sunsets and sunrises in Borneo are truly spectacular. One of the main reasons for wanting to come on this trip was a visit to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Sanctuary, and what a highlight it was. Although the sanctuary is relatively compact to get around to the public, there is plenty of protected land within the Forest Reserve for the orangutans to live freely and come and go as they please. Some of the more recently rehabilitated inhabitants are given milk and bananas to supplement their diet, and this is done to be repetitive and boring to them so that they are encouraged to find more variety by foraging for themselves. Across from the orangutan sanctuary there is also a Sun bear conservation, they are the smallest bears in the world, incredibly cute but sadly also very endangered, even more so than the Orangutan. This was only a small centre but great to be able to support such a worth course by paying a very small entrance fee. Turtle Island was next on the agenda and this was a fantastic opportunity to see the turtles laying their eggs on the beach. A lot of the time here was spent relaxing on the beach during the day and staying up until the early hours of the morning waiting on the turtles, as the only opportunity to see them laying their eggs is when they are good and ready. Over the evening we also watched staff from the hatchery releasing the baby turtles back into the wild, quite a sight. There were so many highlights on this trip so I decided to finish off my trip staying in a luxury resort for a few nights, enjoying the weather and the tranquillity, reflecting on an amazing few weeks away. I love adventure tours like this one and have lots of destinations to share with you, so if you fancy an adventure of your own please let me know so we can figure out the perfect trip for you.
01 March 2018
Having been to the areas of Cancun/Playa Del Carmen three times now I have managed to stay in a variety of hotels and undertake a range of activities, and I would still go back again! Where to start? There are some fabulous resorts here, great service, delicious food, white sand beaches and tropical weather, what’s not to love?! The all-inclusive resorts really do cater for everyone, and I find the standard in Mexico to be fantastic and great value. Hotels such as Secrets Maroma, offer the ultimate couples holiday, focusing on a luxury experience, perfect for those special occasions like a honeymoon or an anniversary. Dreams resorts are exceptionally popular for keeping both parents and kids happy making a great choice for that family holiday. Moon Palace offers a happy medium taking couples and families, and it would also be ideal for those looking for a large resort for a mixed group of people. I would recommend going all-inclusive as no matter which resort you choose there will be ample variety of restaurants and cuisines to choose from. I love it when you come away to a place like Mexico, all-inclusive really is all-inclusive, no additional charges for water or premium drinks, it just makes the trip so much more relaxing knowing that everything is taken care of. Really, you need never leave the resort, however, there are some fantastic day trips that I would recommend if you do manage to move from the sun lounger! For those wanting some culture, Chichen Itza has to be the top of everyone’s list! It’s a long day trip, and an early start but well worth going to see the impressive ruins of one of the largest Maya cities. After a couple of hours spent at the ruins many of the tours stop off at Il Kil, one of the most popular cenotes (like a lagoon in an opened-out cave) which is beautiful to visit and cool off. If you don’t fancy taking a full day out you could opt for a trip to Tulum ruins, a much smaller site than Chichen Itza, but an enjoyable, relaxing half day out. At the right time of year, a real highlight would be to embark on a Whale Shark trip, an incredible experience snorkelling with the largest fish in the sea! I would also recommend heading to Akumal to snorkel with the sea turtles which can be done pretty much year-round. If nothing else, I believe a holiday isn’t a holiday until you have been on a catamaran trip and there are some brilliant options out there. The last time I was in Mexico, we went out for a full day catamaran trip, snorkelling through the underwater museum which has over 480 statues. We then sailed on to Isla Mujeres, a Mexican island located off the coast of Cancun, before sailing back over to the mainland with free-flowing rum punch and some Caribbean music over the sound of the ocean, what could be better than this? If there are any party-goers out there that want to leave the hotels nightlife, Coco Bongos is a guaranteed fun night out with musical acts and acrobats galore. They really put on a truly unique production, think multiple Las Vegas shows mixed with a Mexican Fiesta/nightclub! For a relaxing beach break in the sunshine I can’t rate Mexico highly enough. If you are looking for a combination holiday Mexico is a great choice as it is possible to stay in the States before or after, cities like Miami or New York work especially well. If you would like any help at all planning a trip to this part of the world I would be delighted to help.
23 February 2018
I was so excited for this trip to Norway. I have been on expedition cruises before and knew this was going to offer a truly special experience, outstanding natural beauty, wildlife spotting and a chance to see the Northern Lights! We started the trip arriving in Bergen, a city surrounded by stunning mountains and fjords, for a one-night pre-cruise stay. Colourful wooden houses line the Old Wharf that make up Bryggen, which has been placed on the UNESCO world heritage site, and our first glimpse of it was at night whilst all lit up. The next day seeing it against the back drop of the mountains was equally as impressive and dotted up the mountains we could see the track for the Funicular railway. Much of the architecture in Bryggen is preserved and strolling through the alleyways and crooked buildings takes you back to the middle ages. We took the Funicular railway up to Flubonen, which was a pleasant ten minutes ride up the side of the mountain, to be met by amazing views at the top, looking over the city and the surrounding Fjordlands, despite the mist creeping in. Over our 24 hours in Bergen we also made it around several museums, the Aquarium, and a trip to the ice bar so by the time we went to board the ship I already felt like I had been away for several days! Our ship, MS Nordnorge, is one of the more modern ships (having just undergone a complete refurb in 2016) of the 15 Hurtigruten ships. The fleet are all very different and, as well as taking tourist passengers, the ships are also a vital part of the Norwegian community delivering supplies and acting as transportation for the locals. Our ship was very comfortable with a great sized Explorer lounge and excellent viewing areas for the passing scenery. With three restaurants, a bar, fitness room and jacuzzi, to name just a few of the facilities to make your journey an enjoyable one. A leisurely buffet was included with a vast variety of food focusing on local traditional dishes for dinner. The next morning, we were up early for a great breakfast followed by some super fresh air out on deck admiring the spectacular scenery sailing through the Fjordlands. It really is an absolutely stunning place to be, and the air really is incredibly fresh. We then stopped in Hjorundfjorden, where we were transferred from the ship to the zodiacs that ran us onto the mainland, before one of the locals took us on a bus tour of the area. One of the highlights was the town of Urke, with a population of around 53 people, that like to remain self-sufficient from the resources available to them. The little wooden houses are like something out of The Hobbit and fit into the surrounding countryside so perfectly. Quite amazing to see that people can live off the land here all within their own community amongst unspoilt scenery. Back on board we had time to have a dip in the jacuzzi before a fantastic à la carte dinner. Super excited again that we had the good fortune of clear skies, but alas no sign of those Northern Lights. I know that the fjords are impressive at any time of year, but personally I can’t wait to go back in Spring to see the incredible scenery during the bright, crisp days, and embark on another Winter journey to take on the Northern Lights. Typically, the more Northern towns offer a better chance of seeing this amazing phenomenon so, I will definitely be planning a longer voyage. I recommend everyone should take a cruise in this spectacular part of the world, if you would like to discuss Norwegian Coastal Voyages please give me a call.
01 February 2018
I am often asked ‘where do people usually go on honeymoon?’, but I believe that a honeymoon is built on the wanderlust of going to somewhere together and bringing together your personal interests to make the perfect trip for you. Honeymoons are all so different, there are no set rules, this is the time to go somewhere that’s incredible and memorable to you! For some, there is nothing better than the thoughts of lying on the idyllic beaches of the Maldives or the Caribbean, for others it may be an Alaskan cruise, or a city break to New York & Vegas. A honeymoon is a such a special trip and I absolutely love helping couples put together this once in a life time dream holiday. More often than not, my clients will want a combination holiday. There are so many amazing places that can be combined, for example Dubai is a perfect stop off for a couple of nights en route to many other countries such as Thailand, South Africa or the Indian Ocean. Similarly, New York is a great stop over on the way to Cancun, Florida or the West coast of the US. There are also trips that combine together to create a honeymoon with multiple experiences, such as a safari in Kenya followed by a beach break in Zanzibar, or a skiing trip to Canada followed by a beach trip to Hawaii or Mexico. If you have an idea of what you would like to do but are struggling to compromise on the perfect trip, it may be possible to combine your interests, all you need to do is ask and I will help in making your dream become a reality. Not in to lying in the sun beach holidays? No problem, how about a self-drive across Canada full of outdoor activities, wildlife and amazing scenery. Or an incredibly scenic Norwegian Fjords cruise? Maybe visit the cosmopolitan cities of Moscow & St Petersburg, taking a scenic train in between the two? Fancy your time spent as the next David Attenborough, how about the Galapagos? Or maybe even travel across the world to New Zealand! I have lots of fantastic trips I can recommend or if you have dream destinations in mind but want some guidance on maximising your time and budget, please contact me as I would love to help you create your perfect honeymoon. You may even be thinking ‘I haven’t got a clue where to start’ I recommend you give me a call. Talking through your interests will allow me to give you some ideas and suggestions on where may appeal, and from there I guarantee we will find you your ideal honeymoon!
01 February 2018
Arriving in Baltra was quite simply one of the most exciting feelings, almost like I had landed on another planet. The land is so barren and vast, a mixture of black volcanic rock, red dust and occasional cactus, with one solemn airport hangar in view. We were all buzzing with excitement and great anticipation of the trip that was to come, as this is typically a bucket list type destination. After arrival, we were transferred by zodiac boats (little rubber dingy style) out to our intimate, yet luxurious cruise ship, our home for the next 7 nights. For the first 3 days we felt like we were the only people living on earth, just vast ocean and islands with not another ship or human insight, just incredible. The Galapagos Islands are all about the expedition zodiac rides, as well as the landings to see the wildlife, fauna and flora. So many different experiences, we kayaked with the sea turtles, snorkelled with the sea lions (these are like big playful puppies, very inquisitive and friendly!), snorkelled with sharks, penguins, turtles and even the odd water iguana. On land, there are such vast varieties of bird species, including the infamous blue footed “Booby”, “Red Booby” and “Nazca Booby”, and it was the right time of year for seeing their chicks. Many other birds such as Galapagos Heron, waved Albatross, Frigate birds (the black birds that puff out a big red balloon from their chests), we even saw an owl! Half way through the week we made our first stop on an island inhabited by humans, quite surreal to realise people can live here, to visit a research centre for the giant Tortoises. You will come across ‘Lonesome George’ many a time while in Galapagos, he was a male Pinta Island Tortoise and the last known individual of the subspecies. Unable to find him a mate, in his last few years he was known as the rarest creature in the world, and George now serves as a poignant symbol for conservation efforts in the Galapagos islands. Visiting such a special and incredible place really does make you feel protective of our planet. Back on our ship, cocktail in hand, we saw something truly spectacular, Manta Ray’s jumping and flipping out of the water, several at a time. Many an hour was spent up on deck keeping watch over this amazing sight, whilst taking in the stunning surroundings, enjoying the eternal spring weather that is found here. All the islands are varied, some were covered in red sand, others were like something you would expect to see in Australia, pure white sand with turquoise water, some were just black volcanic rock, all having their own unique eco systems. Visiting the Galapagos has given me an insight into such a unique and different style of trip, certainly one I won’t ever forget and would highly recommend for those looking for a new experience, or those with a keen interest in getting off the beaten track focusing on an incredible variety of wildlife. Please contact me to plan your trip to Galapagos.
01 February 2018
South Africa is one of my top recommendations everyone should visit. Starting with Cape Town, this city really does have it all; a cosmopolitan city scene, combined with beautiful beaches, abundance of local wildlife, wineries, amazing local landscapes, and for the most part fantastic weather to enjoy it all in. Even when the weather is cooler in the winter months there is plenty to keep you occupied and the local restaurants and bars are well geared up with heaters, blankets and log fires. A city known for having world renown cuisine, topped off by impeccable service, a huge selection of local wines and all at extremely reasonable prices, what’s not to love?! There is a great hop-on-off bus here that connects all the highlights of the city, including the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain and Camps Bay. I would also highly recommend a day trip out to Cape of Good Hope, stopping off at Boulders Beach (part of a marine protected area) to meet the African Penguins, which is truly unique. I would highly recommend the wine regions of Franschooek and Stellenbosch. Franschooek is a beautiful quaint village and there’s even a local tram to take you around the wineries. If you prefer somewhere livelier Stellenbosch is a much bigger town to visit. We opted to stay in Stellenbosch and found several wineries to spend our days sampling the local produce, true bliss. Driving along the garden route, you will really get a feel for the great outdoors, and the beauty of this scenic coastal drive. There are some gorgeous beaches, great walking trails and nature reserves. In the right season there is whale watching, and always plenty of fantastic restaurants to be found. For adrenaline junkies try zip lining, bungee jumping and shark diving. I cannot recommend the accommodation in South Africa highly enough, there is such an emphasis on providing exceptional standards, from boutique 3* guesthouses, to fabulous 5* lodgings. One of the most popular reasons to visit South Africa are the safari parks, these lodges make the perfect stop over for a few nights to explore the wonder of the Big 5. The lodges are a home away from home, with amazing touches to make any experience truly extraordinary. You will receive fantastic, warm hospitality and very experienced, knowledgeable game leaders to make the most out of your safari. Some of the highlights we encountered were lions, elephants (including babies!), zebras, rhinos, warthogs, and an abundance of bird life. All of this incredible nature and still time to stop off for a sundowner cocktail whilst looking over the spectacular scenery. As with many other parts of South Africa, our safari lodge did not disappoint with amazing cuisine. This was topped off by having the luxury to enjoy meals whilst keeping an eye over the watering hole for our wildlife friends. A truly spectacular experience and something I will remember for years and years to come. South Africa is a dream destination for couples and for an extra special trip like a honeymoon, or anniversary, it is possible to combine a stay at a luxury resort either Mauritius or the Seychelles, making it a once in a life time trip to remember.
01 August 2017
Prior to this trip I was a little oblivious to this whole world of wonder and just exactly what would make this trip so spectacular, after all there isn’t even a detailed itinerary to go with a trip attempting to circumnavigate around Svalbard! The very fact that there isn’t a set itinerary makes you realise how special going to the Arctic really is. Nothing is guaranteed, not the weather, nor the wildlife, or even the ice pack, so a true expedition cruise in every sense. During the summer months, this is the land of the midnight sun, 24-hour daylight must be seen to be believed and it is truly amazing. Landing at midnight into Longyearbyen to bright daylight set the tone of this trip to be one with a difference! Upon boarding the ship, there is of course a buzz of excitement, but also an air of nervousness, people are anxious as to whether they are going to be lucky enough to catch a sighting of at least one polar bear. The Arctic is wild and vast, polar bears roam the land with no fixed abode and the fear that we may not spot one is great. Sailing out of Longyearbyen, we say farewell to civilisation, taking in the stunning scenery. After a few hours, we get our first taste of riding out in the smaller zodiac boats (these typically hold about 10 people, like a high-speed dinghy) which means you can go out exploring on the sea, getting in closer to the fjords and the glaciers. Zipping around in these small vessels just surrounded by stunning scenery was incredible. We were exceptionally lucky, we were only on day two of our ten-day trip, when we spotted our first polar bear. This guy was taking a stroll on a pebbled beach opposite the beautiful area of Magdalene fjord. We got about an hour with this amazing creature taking it in turns to ‘circle robin’ a platoon of 8 zodiac ships about 100 metres back from the shore. During the third day, this is when we really sat back and took stock of exactly where we were, at the very top of the world, out on deck sailing and breaking through the pack edge (masses of floating ice). Silence, other than the crunching of ice below the ship, as we pushed our way through the pack ice, birds flying overhead, making a merry dance above us. We saw seals sitting on the ice, then several hours in we make the most amazing discovery, a polar bear on a kill (poor seal). There are no words that can describe just how amazing this really was. All passengers and crew out on deck in happy silence watching this incredible creature, we were there about 3 hours taking in this once in a lifetime opportunity, such a surreal experience. After several days of not setting foot on land (too many polar bear sightings made this impossible to land safely, not a bad complaint on a polar bear trip!) finally we got to anchor down at Kraemerpynten, the easternmost spit of land in Svalbard. Our expedition leaders were sent out first with their rifles to patrol the area, they then set up a tightly controlled safe zone for us, as we followed in the zodiacs some time later. Being able to say you have stood in the Arctic with just ice and sea for miles and miles is quite something else. Through the days that followed, the journey is adapted depending on the fog, and sea conditions, but we had plenty of opportunity for more wildlife spotting, walruses, many varieties of seals, Fin whales, as well as lots of birds such as Black Guillemots and Kittewakes. Coming back down the other side of Svalbard the pack ice begins to disappear and instead there is a mix of ice and land with much more lush vegetation. Over the sailing we saw plenty more walruses ashore, reindeer, several arctic foxes and quite a rarity, puffins. Amongst all the natural wonders of this trip there was plenty of good food and entertainment on board, including live music and informative lectures on our surroundings. We had an incredible BBQ out on deck one evening sitting out amongst the glaciers. I even completed the Polar Plunge (and yes it was cold although not as bad as you may think!) By the time it came to disembark, we had seen fourteen polar bears, so by all standards a very successful trip, we really couldn’t have asked for more as at least seven of these sightings were in close proximity. The pictures I have help to paint the scene, but they really don’t do the Arctic, and my memories of such a special trip, justice. Call me to arrange your special trip.
21 September 2017
Maldives has been on my list of places to visit for as long as I can remember, the white sand beaches and the idyllic crystal-clear waters, with incredible marine life, topped off by staying in an overwater bungalow, paradise! There are only several places in the world where it is possible to stay in an over-water villa, and my Maldives trip certainly lived up to my expectations! After landing in Male, the capital, we were whisked off in a private vehicle to the seaplane departure lounge. We were offered food, drinks, even a shoulder massage, whilst we waited on our seaplane transfer, to make the process even more impressive and luxurious, they check in you in to the hotel from here before you have even left the mainland. Our seaplane was ready in less than 30 minutes (I didn’t even have time to try out the complimentary massage!) and off we go. A first for me, the sea plane transfer was exciting and offered spectacular views over the Maldivian atolls, more than just a necessary means of transport out to the islands, this was an experience all-in itself. Forty minutes later we arrive at the resort, are met with welcome drinks and as we walk from the jetty the water is so clear, we can see the friendly baby sharks below perfectly. We are shown straight to our water villa. All I can say is I would happily live in one of these for the rest of my life, super spectacular! With all modern amenities, a huge comfy bed, a beautiful outdoor bathroom (yet still completely private), a fabulous rain shower, and a massive outdoor deck with day beds and sun loungers. Best of all, the private steps leading straight down from our villa into the lagoon. Honestly, I don’t know where the time went during our stay. Our days consisted of eating three fantastic meals a day, taking our time over leisurely breakfasts and enjoying the free-flowing wine and cocktails over lunch. The staff, especially in the restaurants, were just incredible, so friendly and they went out of their way to cater for our every need. A real hi-light for me was being able to snorkel straight from the beach over the house reef. I have snorkelled in many places all over the world but this was spectacular to see sharks, turtles, copious amounts of fish, all straight from the beach with barely another person in sight. I was so lucky that two days running I found a group of eagle rays gliding gracefully through the water. There was no one else around to disturb them and I got to swim side by side with them for about half an hour each day before they disappeared. Quite an incredible experience, my only disappointment was that I did not have a camera to capture it. Quite often when snorkelling things happen so quick that it isn’t possible to get great underwater snaps, but I felt so at ease and had so much time with these incredible creatures that I would have had a good chance at a ‘once in a lifetime’ shot. This of course means that I will have to return! Keen divers will find Maldives an absolute dream, and those wanting to learn to dive are well catered for, again because the house reef was so spectacular, you could learn in confidence in the shallows around the island. The hotel put on some fantastic activities whilst we were there. St Patricks day was spent knee deep in crystal clear water surrounded by baby sharks and fish, whilst waiters and sommeliers guided us through a wine and cheese tasting. Another treat for us was cocktail making classes on the beach one afternoon. A DJ was on each evening, and there was also a beach side shack bar for those wanting something a little quieter. The week went so quickly that in hindsight I would have liked extra time there to spend more time enjoying the amazing water villa. All the hotels are going to offer something slightly different to each other, larger resorts appealing to those wary about being bored on a tropical island or families, the smaller ones offering a more intimate atmosphere perfect for couples and honeymooners wanting more relaxation, but no matter which resort I can promise you the views and the setting will never disappoint. The sunrises and sunsets were stunning, being based on an island means getting to take advantage of the 360 degree view-points. Pure luxury. Please contact me to find out which Maldivian resort is perfect for you.
01 August 2017
Thailand is one of my favourite holiday destinations. It has so much going for it, great weather, idyllic beaches, amazing people, delicious food, a variety of shopping - including plenty of markets, diverse wildlife, plenty of culture, fantastic spas, and nightlife should you want it! My latest trip saw us stopping off in Bangkok for a few nights; a real love it or hate it city. Personally, I love it. A vibrant, buzzing city, full of interesting people, bursts of colours and plenty to keep you occupied. We opted to take a local Tuk Tuk (an experience for anyone who hasn’t tried one!), an inexpensive and fast way to get around the city and we stopped off at the Grand Palace to take in some culture. We also allowed time for shopping at one of the many huge shopping malls and made the most out of sampling the local cuisine. A must whilst in Bangkok is to ensure you visit one of the many amazing roof top bars, taking in the spectacular views over the city. After taking a short internal flight down to Khao Lak we spent a few days relaxing at a fabulous beach resort. The days here varied between pool time, taking advantage of the amazing spa offers, trying the local restaurants and taking in a beer or two at the local night markets watching the world go by. Moving on from here overland we went on to an Elephant resort for several days to experience lodgings in a truly spectacular setting amongst the jungle and dramatic limestone cliffs. Here we got to experience jungle treks, kayaking, snorkelling and of course we spent some time with the elephants in a conservation environment. After a few days in this remote resort we got a boat over to Phi Phi Island to enjoy a little more down time. Mostly we had amazing sunshine but we got to witness an incredible lightning storm which was a good excuse to take cover and take in some more local cuisine. The last leg of our trip was something I was really looking forward to, a 3-night trip where we lived onboard a catamaran sailing around some of the loveliest most picturesque islands in Thailand. We met our skipper in Phi Phi at lunch time and not long after we set sail. Our first stop was Maya beach, where the film ‘The Beach’ was filmed, and as a result is extremely busy with tourists, so we didn’t spend too long here and decided to go back to relax on board for the rest of the day. When we reached the next island, it was much more remote and we decided to moor up for the night in one of the bays, with no one else in sight. This made it possible to get a clear view of the night sky, including some shooting stars. The skipper showed us the natural phenomenon of phosphorescence which are plankton that shine and glimmer in the water when disturbed. As beautiful as this was from the surface getting in to the water with a snorkel and swimming through the plankton for your very own underwater light show was the icing on the cake. In the morning, we woke up to our own private beach, taking out the sea kayaks to watch the monkeys playing. I am not a morning person but waking at 6am and being part of this before any other tourists arrived was something very special. We sampled a floating restaurant one night, which turned into an experience when we all had to huddle in the kitchen after an unexpected storm blew in, luckily a little rain never hurt anyone! We ended the trip with a few nights back on dry land in a lovely resort – just what we needed before the return journey and back to reality! Call me to chat about your wish list for Thailand.
02 August 2017
Having lived in Canada in my early twenties for a year, I have a real fondness for the country, the people, the landscapes and the outdoor activities. Whether it be hiking and kayaking through the Rockies during the summer, or skiing one if its magnificent peaks in the winter (I highly recommend Whistler and Mount Tremblant for winter sports). My most recent visit saw me flying in to Vancouver at the end of June and the sun was shining! A very laidback city with lots of open space, park areas, access to Vancouver Island, and of course a gateway for embarking on an Alaskan cruise. Time permitting meant only a short stay in Vancouver for a couple of nights before hiring a car and driving several hours inland. I decided to stay in Kelowna which forms part of the Okanagan Valley, known for its wineries and fruit orchards. At this time of year, the lakes are starting to warm up and there are plenty of spots to stop at a lakeside beach and take a dip. Going on from here involved a 7-hour drive through the Canadian Rockies. The journey winds through the mountain range and is relaxed and easy to navigate, however there is also an iconic rail journey on board the Rocky Mountaineer for those wanting to completely switch off, it goes a little more off the beaten track where cars are not permitted. No visit to this part of Canada would be complete without at least stopping by one of its most iconic landmarks, Lake Louise. A stunning, turquoise, glacier-fed lake surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks, with an impressive chateau overlooking it. Whilst absolutely beautiful it is also now very developed and a tourist hotspot so we also stopped at Lake Moraine, which is equally as impressive, but without the crowds. Our last stop in the Canadian Rockies was Banff, which is a lovely small-town set in the centre of the picturesque Banff National Park, surrounded by mountains and parkland, cohabited by wildlife such as Elk and Bear. It is a hub for outdoor activities, with a good choice of local restaurants, boutique shops and chateau style lodgings. As if that wasn’t enough I was fortunate that my trip coincided with Canada Day on the 1st July; Canadians are very patriotic and almost anywhere you are on this day there will be some event to become involved in. In Banff during Canada Day, the main road is closed off and a parade takes centre stage along the main high street for locals and tourists alike. The whole day was spent mixing with new friends, enjoying the weather, taking in the stunning surroundings, whilst enjoying good food and a glass or two of wine. The day was capped off with an impressive firework display, amazing against the complete darkness of the night, far away from the city lights. Having enjoyed the festivities, it was time to head on to Calgary. Typically, I wouldn’t usually wish to stay here as it is a very business orientated city however, for 10 days every July, Calgary is host to the Calgary Stampede, the world’s richest Tournament style rodeo! A must for anyone visiting Canada at this time of year, and a real insight in to this North American culture. No matter what your age or interests, the Stampede has something for everyone. The whole city is transformed, restaurants are set up rodeo style complete with costumed staff and bales of hay providing additional seating and ambience, bars all have some form of live entertainment going on. Police on horseback are out on parade, the shops are full of rodeo attire, such as cowboy boots and hats, while everyone is taking part in the spirit of the festival. All of this before you have even made it to the Stampede itself! The Calgary Stampede is set up at a massive showground, the main tournaments are shown at the arena and millions of dollars’ worth of prize money is up for grabs for those competing in a variety of shows such as ladies barrel race, steer racing and bull riding so as you can imagine the standard is high. It is worth watching at least one of the main stage events (the chuck wagon racing was a big hit), but if that isn’t your thing there are plenty of live music venues, pop up bars, fairground rides, and food stalls to peruse. An absolute highlight of the trip and a fantastic way to the end this magical holiday.
Lucan, Dublin 17/05/2023
London, UK 28/04/2023
Killarney, Kerry 21/04/2023
Dunboyne, Meath 21/04/2023
Lucan, Dublin 18/01/2023
Swords, Dublin 02/09/2022
Clonaslee, Laois 23/08/2022
Clontarf, Dublin 01/03/2022
Longwood, Meath 22/02/2022
Tallaght, Dublin 10/02/2022
Michigan, USA 14/11/2021
Oregon, USA 14/11/2021
Naas, Kildare 01/11/2021
Connecticut, USA 25/10/2021
Longford, Ireland 09/06/2021
Dublin, Ireland 07/06/2021
Lucan, Dublin 06/02/2020
Bailieborough, Cavan 30/01/2020
Tubbercurry, Sligo 28/01/2020
Stafford. UK 13/01/2020
Cabinteely, Dublin 17/12/2019
Ballybrittas, Meath 17/12/2019
Beaumont, Dublin 9 30/10/2019
Mullingar, West Meath 30/10/2019
Manchester, UK 15/10/2019
Dublin 2 20/06/2019
Blackrock, Dublin 13/05/2019
Blackrock, Dublin 04/06/2018
Clonskeagh, Dublin 02/06/2018