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Caribbean Getaway – Bocas Town, Isla Colon, Panama travel plan

The year round tropical climate, beaches, rainforests, and diverse ecosystem of the Bocas del Toro islands attract surfers, eco-tourists, and celebrities. Although the islands were not well known when Graham Greene visited in 1980, he soon adapted to the unhurried lifestyle of manana (tomorrow). Today, it is a popular vacation spot where the islands, untouched by hurricanes, offer tourists a wealth of natural beauty. Hundreds of species of birds and wildlife thrive in the jungle and rainforests, as well as a variety of marine life within the splendid coral formations of the sea.

The sun is, for the most part, shinning all day. There are rain showers (fewest in may), but they won’t interfere with the peace and fun you hope to get out of your vacation. I would advise to plan your next trip in May, when the rain showers are less frequent. The Caribbean is truly the best vacation idea whether you are looking for family holidays with your children or a romantic destination for your honeymoon. There will be plenty of activities for everyone: spa, surf, diving, jungle excursion, or simply swim and relax on the white sandy beaches. Our destination is Bocas Town on Isla Colon, the capital and main island in the Bocas del Toro group.

Day One:

Arrive in Bocas Town after a 1-hour flight and check into the small boutique Hotel Bocas del Toro where the rooms feature wood craftsmanship and nautical furnishings, modern amenities, and balcony views. Unpack and refresh with a tropical drink while watching the sunset over the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. Dinner tonight on the outdoor terrace of the hotel restaurant where regional and local specialties are featured; try the coconut bread, ceviche, and grilled seafood. Friendly service and very reasonable prices. Enjoy a drink and friendly atmosphere of the indoor and open air sports bar before returning to your room.
Rates – From $150-$175/dbl
Restaurant – All day dining, 6:30am-10pm. Prices – $6-$10.
Bar – Open 6:30am to 10pm (coffee in am, snacks, and meals), happy hour 5-7pm. Cocktails – Avg $3.

Day Two:

Wake up to a beautiful day and delicious, local organic coffee, Café Amigable Doa Mechi served in your room. Since everything is within walking distance in this small town, it’s only a short distance to the Red Frog Express water taxi. You’ll arrive at Bastimentos island in about 10 minutes and from here it’s a 15-minute walk to the small partially secluded Red Frog Beach. You’ll see rare sea turtles, monkeys, and red frogs on the way. Plan to spend a few hours snorkeling along the reef, swimming, sunbathing, or just snoozing in a hammock. If you get hungry, the Punta Lava beach bar and grill has sandwiches, snacks, and tropical drinks. For a full meal, it’s a 5-minute walk to KayuKos restaurant featuring a variety of appetizers, salads, and entrees.
Hours – 11am-10pm. Reasonable a la carte prices, or about $6.50 for the daily special.
Red Frog Express – $7 rd trip. Hours: 11am & 1pm.

Return to hotel and relax before going to the Barracuda restaurant on the town’s main street. Enjoy cocktails or beer and Italian cuisine on the terrace with a view of the sea.
Hours: 10am-10pm. Prices: Entrees – $10-$15, Cocktails – $4

Day Three:

Get an early start today with a big breakfast at Lili’s (recommended by Conde Nast) where the extensive menu includes all types of omelets, pancakes, French toast, eggs benedict, and huevos rancheros. Be sure and try Lili’s famous “Killin’ me Man” pepper sauce; buy some to take home.
Hours: 7am-10pm (Closed Sunday). Prices: $6-$10

Let’s go sailing! Join a Bocas tour for all-day island hopping and spinnaker sailing. Snorkeling at Mangrove Reef, Isla San Cristobal, and The Garden at Isla Solarte. Watch the dolphins in Dolphin Bay. Lunch onboard with drinks and music. Hours: 9:30am-4:30pm. Prices: $45/pp, includes lunch, snorkel gear, and fishing poles.

Head back to the hotel after a day of exploring the underwater wonderland of the sea. Reservations made for El Ultimo Refugio, where The Last Refuge sounds cool and inviting. Enjoy a passion fruit margarita or a Dark and Stormy rum cocktail before dinner. The unusual lighting, tropical plants, and local artwork provide a pleasant, intimate atmosphere. The menu, which changes daily, features an assortment of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Hours: Mon-Fri, 6pm-10pm. Closed Sat & Sun. Prices: Avg $20. Live music. (Some artwork is for sale.)

Day Four:

After breakfast at the hotel, you’re looking forward to visiting the cacao plantations and learning how chocolate is made. It’s about a 15-minute boat ride to Almirante on the mainland and another 15 minutes to the Oreba Chocolate tour at Rio Oeste Arriba. Tour guides are native Ngabe farmers who explain how organic cacao is grown, cultivated, and made into chocolate. The tour through the jungle and cacao trees ends with a demonstration on making chocolate by the Ngabe women and a traditional meal. You can contribute to the welfare of the community by purchasing some chocolate products at very reasonable prices.
Tour hours: 9:30am and 1pm. Prices: $25-$37 (2-person minimum)

Back in town, a cold Balboa beer sounds good with lunch at the Buena Vista. Choose from burgers, wraps, and salads or a meal of enchiladas, jambalaya, or steak and lobster.
Hours: 12Noon-9:30pm. Prices: Sandwiches, $6-$8; Meals, $10-$20. Tropical cocktails, $4-$9. Beer, $1.50.

The afternoon might be a good time to do some shopping for local crafts, art, and handiwork at reasonable prices. Visit Bri Bri’s for beautiful, traditional molas, carefully stitched, woven cotton fabrics with colorful, intricate designs that can be made into clothing or wall tapestries. Two well known shops for souvenirs are El Cacique and The Garrimar. You definitely should buy more coffee and chocolate to take home at Pachamama. Vendors in Simon Bolivar Park sell everything from food to arts & crafts.

As evening approaches, there’s a nice breeze on the balcony and a hint of rain in the air. Reservations for dinner tonight at Guari-Guari, highly recommended by other travelers for excellent international cuisine, service, and atmosphere. Located on the edge of town away from the tourist crowd, it’s definitely worth the $1 taxi to get there. With only 6 tables, Guari-Guari is cozy and romantic, a top-rated dining experience.
Hours: Open late (call the day before for reservations). Prices: Avg $25, 6 or 7-course meal.

Day Five:

Back to Lili’s this morning for more delicious food. The vacation is coming to an end, and a trip to the clear, calm waters of Starfish Beach is on the agenda. The local bus to Boca del Drago leaves from the main square, about $5 rd trip. Then it’s a 20-minute walk to the beach, or by boat for $1. Look for bright orange starfish in the sand; rent a kayak, floating lounge chair, or a water bike. Bring your camera and a picnic lunch if you like, or visit the open-air Yasinori restaurant for fresh seafood or Creole dishes. Order patacones, fried green plantains, for a side dish.
Hours: 8am-7pm. Prices: $5-$16.

Have dinner tonight at the popular Nine Degrees restaurant (Bocas Town is 9 degrees from the equator). Fresh produce and seafood are on display in the Tropical Market in front. Choose from the menu of fine cuisine such as lobster chicken crepes, yellow fin tuna tempura, or Caribbean vol au vent of lobster and octopus. With a wonderful view of Bocas Bay, outstanding service, and a wide selection of wine and cocktails, Nine Degrees offers patio dining in a casual atmosphere.
Dinner Hours: 6-10pm. Prices: $25-$35 (incl appetizer, entree, dessert, & beverage).

Day Six: Leaving Bocas del Toro after 5 days of Caribbean island pleasure.

Getting there: Daily flights from Panama City on Air Panama, or Avianca from San Jose, Costa Rica. Prices: From Panama City – $180/rd trip, From Costa Rica – $358

(Note: Travelers should bring plenty of sunscreen, along with sunglasses, a hat, and light clothing.)

Sharon L Slayton

Travel Plan Idea – 5 Romantic Days in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

The year-round tropical climate of Jamaica attracts all types of travelers from celebrities and the very rich to college kids on spring break, families, honeymooners, and solo travelers. Made famous by the songs of Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley, and Lee Scratch Perry, as well as today’s favorite rock stars, Jamaica is an island of art, reggae music, and dance. Featured in the first James Bond movie, Dr No and the more recent Live & Let Die, the resort area of Ocho Rios is a popular vacation and cruise ship destination known for the natural beauty of waterfalls, white sand beaches, and lush tropical vegetation. This itinerary will appeal especially to couples for their wedding, anniversary, or for that rare opportunity to spend quality time together in an unforgettable romantic getaway.

Day One – Arrive Montego Bay Airport and take the shuttle bus to the Couples San Souci adults-only resort about 70 miles from the airport.

(Note: The new Ian Fleming International Airport named after the creator of James Bond and resident of Jamaica in the 50’s and 60’s serves private and charter aircraft only.)

Check into a luxurious suite equipped with colonial style furnishings and modern amenities, as well as an amazing view of mountains, gardens, and the Caribbean Sea from the private balcony/terrace. Experience the romantic ambiance of this fantastic 35-acre resort while strolling on the beach at sunset or wandering through the lovely gardens filled with exotic plants and sounds of tropical birds. Before dinner, indulge in an hour or two of personal pampering or couples massage in a private cabana at Charlie’s Spa. $50 & up.

Dine tonight at the Palazzina restaurant featuring a wide selection of delicious entrees, desserts, coffees and teas. Excellent service. Reservations required. Hours: Breakfast, 7:30 -10:30am, Lunch, 12:30-3pm, Dinner, 6:30pm. Closed Tues & Fri.

Relax with an after dinner drink at the Balloon Bar while enjoying piano music or mingling with other guests of the resort. Make it an early night before all day sightseeing tomorrow.
Resort Rates: $490/per couple a night (all inclusive). Special off-site excursions and numerous complimentary activities included. Packages & bonuses available.

Day Two – Exploring the Sights

After breakfast, begin with an excursion to Dunn’s River Falls, a unique national treasure of natural springs less than 5 miles from the hotel. Extending over 600′ wide and emptying into the Caribbean Sea, the 100′ high Falls are relatively easy to climb accompanied by a guide. Not into climbing, you can watch the others from balconies by the falls or from the beach below. Just a few minutes away is Dolphin’s Cove where you can spend several hours with various activities such as interacting with the fish, snorkeling or viewing the amazing marine line from a glass bottom kayak, meandering through the nature trails, watching the Shark Show, taking photos, and visiting the gift shop for local artwork, music, and island souvenirs. Enjoy the buffet lunch and a refreshing rum cocktail or the local Red Stripe beer. If you like spicy, pepper hot food, be sure and order the Jerk Chicken or Pork (spicy barbequed meat). Lunch: $12/pp.
General Admission: $45p/p. Prices vary for individual activities.

This afternoon there’s time for an educational, leisurely visit to the 18th century Prospect Plantation before returning to the hotel. Open air jitneys take Dolphin Cove tour groups to explore the 1,000 acres of this ecotourism site. From the highest point to the fields below, a variety of crops such as coffee, bananas, pineapple, and allspice thrive in the fertile soil. Signs on trees planted by famous visitors bear the names of prime ministers, statesmen, celebrities, and playwrights. Also of interest within the plantation is the Great House complex of more than 18,000 sq ft. Five different tours available, as well as horseback riding for $70p/p for 1 ½ hours.
Tours: Mon-Sat, 10:30, 2pm, 3:30pm. Prices: Adult – $27, 12 & Under – $15.

Returning to the hotel, unwind with something from the mini bar in your suite and relax on the ocean view terrace. Reflect upon what has been a most interesting day as the sun sets over the Caribbean Sea.

Dinner at the resort’s elegant Ristorante Casanova featuring gourmet French, Caribbean, and international cuisine. Outstanding service, delicious food, and premium brand beverages are all part of the romantic atmosphere in both indoor or outdoor dining at Casanova. Hours: 6:30-9:30pm. Closed Tues-Fri. Reservations required & Dress Code. Menu prices not listed, so my guess would be expensive.

Before retiring for the night, you’ll appreciate the alone together time at Couples Sans Souci, where the cares and worries of everyday life have been left behind.

Day 3 – More to See

You could easily spend the entire day at the resort; it has so much to offer – maybe golf or tennis, swimming, sunbathing, lounging at the beach, a yoga class, or just daydreaming in a hammock doing little or nothing. Yet, there is more to see in Ocho Rios and only a couple days left on this itinerary. Early morning breakfast buffet at the Palazzina and on to Coyaba Gardens 4 miles from the resort. (Taxis average $5 for 10 miles.)

You’ll delight in the beauty of Coyaba water gardens amid old Spanish architecture and giant banyan trees, as well as a natural aquarium of tropical fish. Coyaba Gardens feature a panoramic view of Ocho Rios Bay and Lookout Point at Mahoe Falls nearby in addition to a Museum of Island History and early Arawak culture. The gift shop offers Jamaican arts and crafts, rums, and coffees.
Hours: Daily, 8am-5pm. Admission: Adults – $10, 12 & under – $5. Special events and weddings can be arranged here.

Next on a list of popular tourist attractions is Margaritaville, a name made famous by Jimmy Buffet’s song, and now an island tradition since 2002. Located at the Island Village shopping complex by the cruise ship docks, the restaurant has 3 bars, pools, and a trading post. The restaurant is full most of the day, but nighttime brings in the party people. Have a Margarita and a special Cheeseburger in Paradise before the entertainment and fun begins. Dance to reggae/disco music and stay as late as you like. Expect lots of noise and crowds at a typical Jimmy Buffet hangout. Hours: 8am-11pm, Bar – till 4:30am.

Day 4 – At the Beach

After a big night at Margaritaville, sleep in, have a late breakfast, gather your beach supplies and taxi to James Bond Beach, 10 miles from town. The beach is located next to the Goldeneye Estate, formerly owned by Fleming and Marley and currently locally owned. Spend the afternoon sunbathing and swimming in the clear blue waters of James Bond Beach. You’ll find this beautiful, small beach uncrowded and quiet, although the area is frequently used for international music concerts. A few hours in the sun and water and it’s time to check out the Moonraker restaurant onsite before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Entrance fee: $3.

Day 5 – Shopping Spree

Be ready to spend some money while shopping today in Ocho Rios and ignore those persistent street vendors you’ll encounter. There are several shopping malls and a number of specialty stores including Island Plaza for the best in Jamaican art, Casa de Oro for fine jewelry and perfumes, and Hemp Haven’s huge inventory of any and everything made of hemp. Take a break from shopping at the Coffee Café for a sandwich, espresso, or a meal. Gift shop of coffee memorabilia and packages of Jamaican coffee.
Prices: Sandwiches – $5.50, Espresso – $3, Main courses – $10-$28.
Hours: 8:30am-8 or 10pm.

Since your romantic getaway is almost over, why not end it with a moonlit dinner on the beach at the Bella Vista. Typical Jamaican cuisine, casual attire, reasonable prices.

Day 6 – Leaving Ocho Rios you’ll remember it as a place the locals call Irie, – a simply beautiful tropical paradise.

Sharon L Slayton

(Note: June – Jazz Festival. August – Seafood Festival)

Travel Plan Idea – Going Solo to Anguilla

Hurricane season is winding out and winter is just around the corner in many parts of the world. Why not head down to the Caribbean for a fun-filled vacation in beautiful Anguilla, a favorite vacation spot for celebrities and anyone who loves the sun, sand, and sea. Expect daily temperatures between 78-82 with an occasional early morning shower.

Day 1 – Leaving San Juan, Puerto Rico at 1:25pm on Cape Air, a small aircraft, but perfect for the short flight of one hour, 20 minutes nonstop. Average ticket price – $159 and up. (Ticket prices vary widely and are subject to change, but packages are always available.) Take a waiting taxi at the airport to the Arawak Beach Inn in the East End for real Caribbean atmosphere and check into the ocean front room overlooking the island from the balcony. For the solo traveler, there’s an appropriately named package, Me, Myself, and I. For $539, four days, three nights, you’ll get a full breakfast and two free dinners. Also included is your choice of a 2-day car rental, or a private boat excursion and picnic lunch to Scrub Island, where the beach is yours for as long as you like.
(Note: Other rates are $99/per night thru 21 Dec.)

Tonight’s activities – Have dinner at the Inn’s Café where the menu includes everything from burgers and pizza to full course meals of fresh seafood, baby back ribs, and two side orders. Avg price – $18. You’ll probably want to listen to the reggae music you’ll hear at the Inn or in most other places on the Island. Visit the Arawak Boutique and find some cool things to wear, suntan lotion, and other gifts and items typical of the Caribbean.

Day 2 – Out and About

After breakfast, time to explore Anguilla and the best way to do so if you’re traveling solo is to rent a bike or scooter, as rental cars are much more expensive. Bikes rent for $10/day and scooters for $27/day (weekly rates available). The terrain is mountainous in some areas, but there are loads of bike trails and the island is only 16 miles long, 3 miles wide. Of course, you can pay about $40 for a 2-hour guided tour by taxi, but seeing the island with no set itinerary sounds like much more fun.

On the way check out the views from Crocus Hill at 213′ above sea level, stop in the Old Valley part of town to see some lovely old buildings such as Warden’s Place, Rose Cottage, and the Wallblake House, the only plantation house that remains, and Ebenezer’s Methodist Church. Call ahead to arrange a visit at the Heritage Collection Museum, located across from East End Pond, where Colville Petty the curator will impress you with his vast collection of artifacts, books, and photographs, as well as his remarkable knowledge of Anguilla history.
Hours: 10am-5pm, Mon-Sat. Admission: $5

After spending most of the day exploring the island, a good choice for an early meal is the Palm Grove/Nat’s restaurant for lobster, crayfish, or chicken. Nat’s hot sauce is delicious – consider having a rum punch with your meal. Relax in the casual atmosphere and cool sea breezes from Savannah Bay.
Hours: 11am-4pm, 7 days a week. Reasonable prices.

Return to the Arawak Inn, have a cold drink in the bar, and off to bed.

Day 3 – The beaches are waiting, all 33 of them, but take advantage of the private boat excursion offered by the Arawak. Had enough of the tropical sun, then head back to the Inn and Island Harbor, a small, quaint fishing village where travelers like to relax at the Pelican Bar. Picnic tables and umbrellas are set up in the sand in front of the rustic bar where you can order tropical drinks and food. Patrick the owner and Brian are happy to prepare anything posted on their chalkboard from fresh fish to burgers, chicken, and ribs from the BBQ -.Try the Johnny cake, a fried cornmeal type biscuit well known in the South and the Caribbean. For the best in local cuisine and casual, friendly atmosphere, the Pelican Bar is a perfect choice.
Hours: Daily except Thursday, 10:30am to closing. Prices: $6-$10 main orders, beer $2, cocktails $5.

Day 4 – Day Tripping

After breakfast, catch the ferry from Blowing Point Cove to nearby St Maartin, a 20-minute ride for $15 and a $5 departure tax. No reservations needed; bring your passport. Ferries leave every 45 minutes, 7am-7pm, no vehicles permitted. Do some shopping at this duty free port, popular with travelers worldwide. You’ll find great buys in diamond jewelry and guavaberry liqueur to music, furniture, leather goods, and handicrafts. Recommended shops include Boolchand’s, Caribbean Gems, and Plantation Furniture and Antiques.

Return in the afternoon in time to splurge on fine dining at the upscale 5-star Da’ Vida on Crocus Bay, where the atmosphere, the food, and the service are delightful. Owned and managed by David and Vida, his sister, the restaurant is a huge place covering 17,000 sq ft on the family owned land and beach. With live music, luxurious interior, and valet parking, this is no doubt one of Anguilla’s finest. Relax in the bar/lounge before dinner, which is perfectly prepared and served by courteous, friendly waiters.
From appetizers to entrees of seafood, veal, lamb, and beef, the food is outstanding. Dinner hours – 6pm-9:30pm. For a less expensive meal, you can order tapas in the bar/lounge from 4pm-9pm. If you prefer some activity before eating, you can rent a kayak here and paddle to Little Bay nearby. Gift shop onsite.
Dinner Prices: Expensive, but worth it. Avg entrees from $30-$45.

Day 5 – Last day – What did you miss?

A swim encounter with the dolphins might be fun, but $84 seems pricey for only 15 minutes. If you visit in November, the Tranquility Jazz and Golf Festival is a popular event. Daily all day & evening, usually three days, but couldn’t find exact schedule for 2012. Golf: $150/round. Concerts at the Cuisinart Resort: $50
Bring your camera and wander down to the beaches and coves for some incredible views. Spend a few hours in a local café, listen to the island music, and just people watch. Do whatever you like for the vacation is ending all too quickly.

Day 6 – Saying goodbye to friends on Anguilla; leaving for San Juan at 3:05pm on Cape Air, arriving 4:25pm.

Sharon L Slayton

Traveling Alone – Travel Plan Idea to Dublin, Ireland

Day 1 – Arrive at Dublin airport and take the bus from Terminal 1 to the updated Generator Hostel, opened in 2011 and awarded a Certificate of Excellence in 2012 by Trip Advisor. Buses and trams are also available from the ferry port and the two main train stations, Heuston and Connolly. Bus – $7.70, Taxi – $25.

Check in before 2pm to a private room comfortably equipped with your own bathroom, clothes locker, and fresh bed linen and towels. Spend time in the afternoon familiarizing yourself with the Hostel’s facilities, including a laundry, 24-hour wi-fi access, a casual lounge open 24 hours to hang out with friends, and a travel shop stocking all the travel essentials you forgot and souvenirs. The Generator bar is where all the action is. You might want to have a pint of Guinness and go back later this evening for more party time entertainment. It is a lively action filled place to socialize and enjoy some of the many fun-filled events such as nightly pool competitions with a small $2.50 entry fee, DJ music, or a big screen sporting event. Hours: from 3pm, Mon-Fri, 12Noon, Sat & Sun.
Private Room Rate: $77

First evening in Dublin – Centrally located in Smithfield Square, the Generator is near several popular restaurants. Across from your hostel is the Bel Cibo Italian restaurant offering delicious pizzas, antipasto, calamari, pastas, steak, burgers, and desserts. Quality food, entrees from $12 to $19.
Hours: Mon-Thu, 10am-10pm, Fri & Sat, 10am-10.30pm, Sun, 11am-10pm.
Head on back to the Generator after dinner to relax or maybe check out what’s happening in the bar.

Day 2 – Sightseeing (Bus and tram service is readily available for visiting sites beyond walking distance from the Generator.)

After a quick breakfast at the Hostel, be sure and pick up the Generator Voucher book which offers discounts and vouchers to many of the main attractions in Dublin.
Your first stop near the Generator might be the Old Jameson Distillery where you’ll learn how this famous Irish whiskey is carefully produced from malting and mashing to fermenting and distilling. Although born in Scotland in 1740, John Jameson is legendary in Ireland for creating the finest triple distilled Irish whiskey in the land. Enjoy a guided tour through the distillery, have a Jameson Irish whiskey at JJ’s bar, and stay for lunch at the Third Still restaurant. Choose from the a-la-carte menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches – $6-$9. Main courses include seafood platters, lamb kebabs, and Irish chili beef – $15. Hours: 9am-4pm.
Distillery Open 9am-6pm. Tour prices: Adults – $16. Tours can be reserved online
Gift shop onsite.

Tonight you might want to visit the Cobblestone pub, one of Ireland’s finest, with a rustic Irish atmosphere, a wide selection of beers, and free traditional music sessions in the front bar. Special musician gigs in the back bar feature bluegrass, country, pop, and folk. Cobblestone Hours: Mon-Thu, 10am-11:30pm, Fri & Sat, 10am-12:30pm, Sun, 10am-11pm.

Day 3 – A full day – so much more to see

Dublin Castle on the south side of the River Liffey is an interesting attraction on the way to the Christchurch Cathedral. Established in 1204, visitors can explore the conference center, the Garda and the Revenue Museums, the Chester Beatty Library of manuscripts and art, and the Chapel Royal on the grounds – free admission. Gift shop and cafes onsite. Guided tours: $6.
Hours:
Chapel Royal – Mon-Sat, 10am-4:45. Sun, 12Noon-4:45.
Garda Museum – in the Castle tower, last one remaining from medieval times in Dublin. Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm. Open 2nd and 4th weekends each month.
Revenue Museum – in the Crypt of the Chapel, collection of taxes, smuggling operations, and stamp duties.

While you’re in the area, have lunch at the highly-rated Queen of Tarts across from the Castle. This quaint, cozy establishment features a delightful menu of tasty sandwiches, tarts, scones, salads, and desserts. Prices: From $8 to $10, desserts $5.
Hours: Mon-Fri, 7:30am-6pm.

After lunch, take a stroll down Nassau to Kildare Street, explore the National Museum, and continue your journey to St Stephen’s Green. This beautiful city park, made famous in James Joyce’s Ulysses, reflects Ireland’s past through statues and displays of flowers. Tour guide – Jun-Aug, $7.

No doubt you’ve worked up an appetite and Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street is a popular place, with four floors, beautiful stained glass windows, and exotic Oriental and Egyptian decor. Over one million customers come here each year including the renowned James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Sinead O’Connor, and numerous other literary and artistic visitors. Bewley’s can accommodate 400 people, the largest in capacity and space in Ireland. The menu has a wide selection of appetizers, salads, pizzas, pastas, salmon, desserts, and excellent specialty teas and espresso. Cocktails, beer, and wine also available.
Menu Prices: $11-$17. A special 3-course meal can be ordered every evening at 6pm, $19.
Hours: Mon-Wed, 8am-10pm, Thu-Sat, 8am-11pm, Sun, 4pm-10pm. Reservations.

(If you happen to go on the last Monday of the month, there’s free music beginning at 8pm by the Lazy Band in the Café Theatre upstairs.)

Day 4 – Bring the camera

Re-visit the Queen of Tarts for breakfast and go on to Phoenix Park, established in 1662, to see the fabulous residences of the Irish President, the U.S. Ambassador, and many others. You can get some great photos of the wildlife that live in the park, stop at the Visitor Center for an audio-visual presentation, and explore the exhibits. Have lunch in the outdoor courtyard of the Victorian Tea café.
Hours: 24/7, year round. Free admission.

One of the highlights of any trip to Dublin would be a visit to the Guinness Brewery/Storehouse. Explore all seven floors to learn the history of Guinness from its beginning at St James Gate to worldwide recognition. Begin your journey from the bottom of the Atrium, which forms the largest pint glass in the world, an awesome experience. Be sure and check out all the merchandise in the store while you’re here. On the 4th floor, learn how to pour the perfect pint, enjoy the specialty foods prepared with Guinness, and relax at the Gravity Bar at the top while enjoying the full panoramic view. This will undoubtedly be a great way to end the day and return to the Hostel for the evening.
Hours: 9:30am-5pm. Adults: $19.00. Tours available.

Day 5 – Shopping pleasures

This will be a leisurely day, shopping, and following no set schedule. Recommended are Cleo for Irish tweeds, Monaghan’s for cashmere, the Kilkenny shop, the Doll Store, and Past Times. There are, of course, several outdoor markets. Look through your Generator Voucher book for more ideas. There’s always the hop-on, hop-off bus, where you can see some of the things you missed, easy and convenient. The commentary is entertaining and great fun, with about 24 attractions along the way. Suggest the Green Bus route. 2-day ticket – $23.

Last night in Dublin – Join a few friends in the Generator Bar, then off to bed.

Day 6 – Saying goodbye to Dublin. Leaving on the ferry at 14:30, arriving Holyhead in the UK at 16:30 (Liverpool is about two hours away), $50 one-way.

Sharon L Slayton

See also:

Movie Tourism – County Cork, Ireland
Ireland true or false FAQ
Peter King on Ireland B&B

Travel plan – 6 Days in Jerusalem

With approximately 3.5 million tourists each year, Jerusalem is a hot destination for all types of travelers. The expansive city is inviting to everyone including backpackers, families, adventurous seniors, and more. Jerusalem is brimming with historic landmarks, religious sites, and other more modern amenities which can keep tourists busy for days, if not weeks. For a traveler looking to get the most from their trip to Jerusalem, it is essential to start with an itinerary. Here is a six day itinerary which hits all the must-see destinations in and around Jerusalem.

Day 1: Arrival

For most travelers, the trip into Jerusalem is a long. Therefore, the first day in the city is best spent resting up, settling into accommodation, and possibly visit a local café for a delicious and authentic dinner of fresh baked bread, delicious salads, hummus, eggplant dishes, meat main courses, and more.

Day 2: Religious Sites

Many travelers in Jerusalem are there for the religious sites, but even for visitors without a particular inclination towards one religion or another will enjoy seeing the historical religious sites which Jerusalem is so well-known for. In just one day, travelers can visit Christian, Islamic, and Jewish landmarks.

The first stops on the day’s itinerary should be Christian churches such as the Coptic (Egyptian) church, the Armenian Church of Gregory the Illuminator, and Temple Mount where legend has it the Holy Grail was discovered. Travelers will learn about the legends and true history surrounding each place, as well as hidden secrets such as the picture screens inside the churches, the meaning of the different colors and architecture, and the multiple churches’ claims to holding the secrets of Jesus’s teachings.

There will still be time during the day to also visit some key Sufi Islamic sites. Sufism is known as the mystical area of Islamism, and this sect has many devoted followers. Jerusalem is known as the last stop of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad before he ascended. The Islamic sites that will be visited on tour include the first mosque built of Jerusalem, the Sufi center, and the dome rock which offers an impressive view as well as historical context.

The next section of the tour will focus on Jewish sites including the Jewish quarter, temple vessels, Kavalistic Yshiva, and more. Travelers will learn about the secrets of the architecture of Jewish sanctuaries, the meaning of the Star of David, and much more. The last stop of the day should be Mount Zion.

Day 3: Hiking Jerusalem

The third day in Jerusalem is the perfect day for a moderate level hike outside and around the city. The hike meanders along Wadi, the city’s aqueduct, and springs that provide fresh water to thirsty visitors. If the weather is good and the group is up for it, the hike can also go by a monastery that is over 1500 years old and a sight that most will not soon forget.

Day 4: Hike to the Dead Sea

For travelers with a good level of fitness, day four of the Jerusalem itinerary should be spent on a hike in the south of Israel. During this hike, visitors will discover the Moab Mountains, the Judean Desert, and the famous Snake Path. Travelers will be surprised to find a nature reserve so close to the city of Jerusalem, known as Ein Gedi. Waterfalls, plants, and wildlife are in abundance.

The big payoff of the hike is at the Dead Sea where hikers can float in the therapeutic waters and unwind from all their physical exertion. On the hike back travelers can take in views of Mount Olive before arriving gin Jerusalem in the mid to early afternoon.

Day 5: Hike to the Dead Sea II

By now, travelers feet may be a bit weary but their souls will not be, therefore day five is best spent on an additional day hike which takes them through the other side of the route to the Dead Sea. On this route, hikers will follow the David Stream, visit the Dry Canyon, come down into the “Lover’s Cave”, and relax and rejuvenate in a popular stream. There will also be a stop at an early Jewish synagogue.

Day 6: Bethlehem

No trip to Jerusalem is complete without a stop at Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and one of the most well-known historical sites in the world. Visitors will also learn about the Franciscan Grotto or the Lady Mary, walk through the same fields where the wise men saw the star so many years ago, and enjoy a scenic drive back to Jerusalem which includes a view of not just the city but Mount of Olives as well.

Roy Keisari

See also – Feeling safe in Israel.