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Playlist - My Travel Videos

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

18. Ireland Itinerary

Well after many different scenarios and workings out, I've finally worked out the Ireland leg of my trip. I'll be flying from Paris to Dublin on the 17th (July) and getting the shuttle from the airport to Galway. I had initially planned on getting the shuttle bus to Dublin then going to Galway the next day for three nights and doing two day tours with the Galway Tour Company. I discovered the Dublin Tour Company which offers the same tours starting from Dublin and considered starting the tour from there (Dublin) because they make a stop on the way at Applegreen Athlone and thought it would be nice to see something of the area on the way, but when I looked it up I find it is just a petrol station - see photo below.

With this in mind plus the fact that it would be a very long day starting out at 7.00pm and I would need to be up earlier than that to get there by 6.45am, it really didn't seem worth it hence going straight to Galway from the airport.

Cork and Kilkenny?
I'd like to visit Cork to see Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone plus go to the Blarney Woollen Mills, but this would mean an overnight stop between Killarney and Dublin and I've been asking myself how important is it to stop there. Will I be disappointed if I don't and will I regret it? I'm not sure, from past experience, if you don't go to something you often have regrets and if you have gone to something you might think along the lines of, 'Had I known it was like that I wouldn't have wasted my time.'

Having seen a picture of Kilkenny, it is just the sort of place I'd love to stay but again, it means another overnight stop before Dublin. After leaving Killarney, I have the choice of one night Cork, one night Kilkenny, then three nights in Dublin. I will be doing a Glendalough day tour from Dublin, some companies include Avoca with Glendaglough, others include Kilkenny. I can also do a day tour from Dublin to Cork/Blarney/Rock of Cashel. This would be a very long day and it seems a bit silly in one way to go all the way to Cork when you have to change buses anyway at Cork on the way to Dublin. I really would like to see the Rock of Cashel and apart from the day trip from Dublin with Daytours IE, so far I haven't found any other tours that go there.

This is what I've settled on for my Dublin leg.

Thursday 17: Paris - Dublin - Galway
Friday 18 - Cliffs of Moher and the Burren tour
Saturday 19 - Connemara and Cong tour

Sunday 20 - Galway to Killarney
Monday 21 - Dingle Peninsula tour
Tuesday 22 - Gap of Dunloe tour

Wednesday 23 - Killarney to Dublin
Thursday 24 - walk around the city
Friday 25 - Glendalough and Kilkenny day tour
Saturday 26 - Rock of Cashel and Blarney Castle day tour?

Sunday 27 Dublin to London
Undecided whether to go by ferry and train or fly. I'm leaning towards the ferry/train option as I think this would be a different experience and I'd get to see a lot of scenery in England.

If I decide not to do the Rock of Cashel/Cork tour, I will probably leave Dublin a day earlier, but this is something I will decided a little later.

Killarney tours
Another change I made is in the choice of day tours. At first I was going to do just the Ring of Kerry and stay two nights, then decided I'd like to see the Dingle Peninsula as well which meant another night. Someone mentioned the Gap of Dunloe. I had a look at that tour and felt this is a tour I really would like as it included a ride in one of the jaunting cars which is one of the things I badly want to do while in Killarney so I've scrapped the Ring of Kerry and settled on Dingle and the Gap. Of course, if time and budget allowed I would stay four nights and do all three tours, but this really isn't an option. The hardest decision was choosing which two tours. I hope I've made the "right" decision. From the many travel posts I've read, it seem Dingle Peninsula is rated better than the Ring of Kerry. But like everything in life, what one person likes, someone else will like something different. With Dingle, that is around the beach, with the Ring and the Gap, both are around mountains and greenery and the Gap tour has a boat trip across three lakes which will be very scenic. I just hope the boat doesn't capsize as I can't swim!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

17. Paris Accomodation

I've been spending a lot of time looking for a hotel in Paris and they are pretty pricey. For someone who's used to going around SEA where you're paying around $30 for a nice room in a guesthouse or hotel, it's a bit of a shock looking for accommodation in Europe. Asian prices they aint! As I wrote in a previous post, it's either $30 to $40 a night for a dorm bed in a hostel, or you're looking at nearly a thousand dollars or more for a week in a hotel. A few nice budget hotels I found are booked out. I've decided after all, not to go for a place in the Marais area.

I did find a place in the 6th arrondissement in the Saint Germaine area, the
Pension - Résidence du Palais on Rue d'Assas, opposite the Luxembourg Gardens. The photos below are from their website. I thought the courtyard garden sounded and looked pretty and asked when I booked for a balcony overlooking the courtyard. I reasoned it would be more private sitting there than facing the street. Plus, it would be nice looking at a garden courtyard. This decision was based on their pictures.

Above: Room at hotel
This is the photo shown for a single room - the strange thing with this photo is the information says single bed, yet clearly this is a double bed. According to the hotel information, the room size is 15 m² - the same as a double. Room Facilities, Balcony, View, Cable Channels, Flat-screen TV, Desk, Wardrobe/Closet, Shower, Hairdryer, Bathroom, Shared Toilet. All the toilets are in the hallway. That's nice - the telly is in the room but the toilet is outside!

Above: Dining room and breakfast
Doesn't this look lovely? Lovely furniture, fresh rolls/croissants and glasses of orange juice. Yet when reading the reviews, you only get a croissant/bread and coffee or tea, no juice. One has to wonder why the hotel shows breakfast as having orange juice if you don't get any. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm complaining, it's the principle of the thing. If it is shown as breakfast, then it should be part of breakfast. If for example, it was written breakfast includes bread or croissant and tea or coffee, then okay, fine. You know. Clever people who run this place, they don't actually say what breakfast consists of, they just show photos!

Above: Front of hotel and courtyard
The hotel is above/next to a cafe on the corner and the courtyard is somewhere behind. Based on these photos, I asked for a balcony overlooking the courtyard. However...I came across an independent photo of the courtyard and it looks nothing like this.

Guest photos
Above: Courtyard
This is the photo I found of the courtyard. As you can see, it bears little or no resemblance to the courtyard photos supplied by the hotel. Perhaps after all a balcony overlooking the street would be preferable. The view wouldn't be of a courtyard or greenery - you'd be seeing ugly hotel walls. You'd have to be actually standing on the balcony looking down. And still, it isn't a pretty sight is it?

Above: Stairs!
Another thing I learned today, according to one guest review, they had to climb two flights of stairs as the lift doesn't go all the way which wasn't advertised. I'm going to have to email them asking for a room on a floor which the lift does got to.

I used to make my reservation as don't have to pay until you arrive and they offer free cancellation. There were two prices, € 409.50 ($587) and € 455 ($652). The lower price is the non-refundable figure, so I chose the higher price. Better to pay a bit more in case you do cancel. I'm looking around on airbnb and have found a number of studios/apartments for similar prices. If I find something I really like then I'll go for one of them. The thing to remember about booking a place with airbnb, when you click on the "Book it" button, it doesn't mean you've got it - you have to wait for the owner to accept your booking. Another thing to know is they have three standardised cancellation policies. Strict, Moderate and Flexible. The host chooses which one.
Strict - For a 50% refund, cancellation must be made seven full days prior to listing's local check in time,
Moderate - For a full refund, cancellation must be made five full days prior to listing's local check in time and
Flexible - For a full refund, cancellation must be made a full 24 hours prior to listing's local check in time.
The Airbnb service fee is non-refundable. I will discuss this fully in a later post with information about Airbnb.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

16. Souvenirs from Paris or What to Bring Back

Shoes made/manufactured in France would be far cheaper than buying them here. Brands? Arche, Mephisto.

Is it true French perfume bought in France is a fraction of the cost of buying it at home?

Where to go fro Plus size clothing? Well like all good little computer literate girls of the 21st century, I went to Mr. Google. Typed in "plus size clothing in paris" and what was the first website that showed? Paris Plus Size Shopping for Women Size 10 Plus I did a double take - Size 10 Plus? Size 10 is big? It's a plus size? You gotta be kidding me, size 10 is tiny. Boobs the size of pinheads. Really! Whoever in their right mind thinks of Size 10 Plus? No no no no no - Plus sizes are 16 plus. Size 16 - 24/26 that's plus sizes.

So .. it was back for another search and the consensus seems to be [;us size clothes in France are big things made from yards and yards of fabric which make you look like the side of a house. The thing with plus sizing is not to have big, baggy, loose pieces, but normal clothes made for larger people. Something nice, something elegant, something flattering... something which is in fashion ...instead of which the French manufacturers haven't yet caught on that larger ladies want nice clothes, not something baggy and frumpy.

I have found a few brands
Elena Mirò
The website says, "Elena Mirò is one of the historic label of Miroglio Fashion, the clothing division of the Miroglio Group which was set up in 1985 to cater for the need to give a positive response in terms of style and taste to all the women with Mediterranean-style fuller figures."
Just how this equates with plus sizes, I don't know and won't know until I'm in Paris.

The languages (on the website) offered are Italian, English, French, Spanish and Russian. If you select English, the website takes you to stores in the UK, so I had to choose French to see the names and addresses of their French shops. I selected Paris for the location.
ELENA MIRÒ (White Collection in Boutique) - 14 AV.VICTOR HUGO; Tél 0145007762
ELENA MIRÒ (White Collection in Boutique) - 16 RUE ST ROCH ANGLE RUE ST. HONOR. Tél: 0142600390
LOLK S.A.R.L. - 4 RUE DE MARIGNAN. Tél: 0147203100

After a bit more searching, I have been able to ascertain the size range is 12 - 28 or European sizing 42 - 58. AS I said earlier, I don't class size 12, 14 and 16 as plus sizes. The clothing is expensive - $225 for a long sleeved t-shirt.

Anyway, back to brand names -
Marina Rinaldi
Un Jour Ailleurs
Jean Marc Philippe

Another list for similar will be coming shortly.

Friday, 11 October 2013

15. Accommodation in Paris

Well so far I don't seem to be much further advanced in working out my itinerary than I was the last time I did one. (I have the "bones" of where I'll be, but the actual details are still up in the air.) One of the reasons for this is the cost - it's much more expensive than Asia or China and when you're used to accommodation for $30 or less for a room in a guesthouse or small hotel, you're up for $300 for ten nights.

Paris will be the most expensive, not only because it is an expensive city, but most of the hostels I've looked at don't seem to be that good. They're either in dodgey areas and/or have no lift, bad reviews and a long way from the city centre which means instead of being able to walk everywhere, or nearly everywhere, I'll have to take public transport every day and this I would prefer not to do.

Do you know something? I had visions a long time ago of staying in a little apartment somewhere in Montmartre with a little balcony, sitting on it watching the world below while drinking coffee or wine. But Montmartre it seems is a bit of a risky place or so I've been told as it's very near Pigalle, the "red light" district. Someone I know, said she stayed at the Regent Hostel and, in her words, " The biggest problem was the area, in that I didn't feel terribly safe at night which was a shame. There were literally hundreds of north African men standing around in gangs in front of every cafe, on every corner and by all the benches." She also said although they didn't cause her direct problems, it was intimidating even just walking from the metro to the hostel.

Now, I could be wrong, if anyone reading this blog disagrees, please feel free to leave a comment and give your views.

Le Marais
A French chap I know when I asked him where to stay in Paris, said "Le Marais or the Bastille" When I said a friend who had been to Paris this year said the best place to stay was either in the 5th or 6th arrondissement, he told me they are too touristy.

When I mentioned this to my friend, she said she didn't feel safe there, she thought it was dodgy and full of people she didn't like the look of.

Latin Quarter
This is the area where Vee stayed - she said it was the safest part of Paris. From the many hours I've spent, eyes glued to the computer screen, there is a shortage of budget places to stay.

Now this would be a great area in which to stay. Alas, there is a an ever greater shortage of budget accommodation here. I guess this is where the well-heel stay.

If I am to go with a hostel, it looks like either the furthest part of the Latin Quarter or up around Montmartre.
If however, I don't go for a hostel, then it'll be an apartment. From what I've seen on airbnb, there are some apartments for the same price as a small hotel. And if I'm very lucky, I might be able to snag one in the Saint Germaine area. There were only one or two, but who knows, I could be lucky. It all comes down to this -
Do I spend around 220 - 280 euros, about AUD$330 for a dorm bed in a hostel, or do I stay in an apartment/hotel and pay twice the money - $660?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

14. Flights Are Booked

Well the return flight Australia to London has been booked. The flights were a present so I suppose I shouldn't complain about the choice of airline - but China Southern?! Having flown with them last year Hanoi to Xi'an I did not want to fly with them again. They cancelled the flight, put me on an early morning flight, then had me waiting eight hours in Guangzhou for the connecting flight, and asked was that alright. Well no, it wasn't alright - put me on the earlier flight so I only have to hang around the airport for three and a half hours please. Then they changed it again - this time they had me flying out of Hanoi on the 7th June, then getting the connecting flight on the 6th June. It's like What! Are you serious? After yet more emails, finally, finally they fixed it, but not after a lot of messing around. And - you can't select your seat - you have to have one they pick. That's a real pain. I always like to arrive at the airport early, and it was lucky I do because when I checked my bag in, the person at the counter gave me a ticket with a seat number that I hadn't chosen, and didn't like so I asked very nicely and very politely would they be able to give me an seat and one that was closer to the front. NO aisle seats, they were gone. Fortunately there was one a little closer to the front of the plane. On short flight durations of two hours or so, it may not be so important if you can't get a good seat, but if you're on a long haul flight sitting in the same ruddy seat for 12 hours it will not be a happy experience if you have a rotten seat. Me? I always choose an aisle seat, I feel claustrophobic otherwise. And I loathe being down the back, I feel closed in.

China Southern has the worst website I have ever encountered. Their website really is the pits. Under "Online Services" they have Seat Reservation and says after booking go to Seat Reservation and choose your seat.

Yeah right. You try doing this - put in your flight details, name and mobile only to have a message in red say "Wrong mobile number" Eh? Excuse me, how can that be the wrong mobile? It's not! It's the correct mobile.

After contacting the China Southern office in Melbourne, I am told you can only make a seat reservation if you are in China - you need a Chinese mobile number. You can only do online checkin if you are in China and have a Chinese mobile. Being in a seat not of your choosing on a short flight is one thing but being stuck in it for 12 hours or 8 hours would be terrible.

How dumb is that? I don't know of any other airline that is so ridiculous in it's stupidity - we have people world wide booking international flights and they can't even select a bloody seat? That is just so pathetic. The airline need to get with it and move themselves into the 21st century - stop discriminating against anyone who is not a Chinese national, treat all passenger the same. If they want to attract overseas customers, you need to treat them with respect and not like a bunch of second class citizens.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

13. Itinerary 3rd draft


Cliffs of Moher and The Burren - €25
Connemara and Cong ........... - €25 (Both with Galway Tour Company)

Ring of Kerry - €18.70
Dingle Peninsula - €20.00
Special offer both tours €37.75
Gap of Dunloe - €27.00 (Wild Kerry Tours)

Glendalough/Kilkenny €30 (Daytours IE)
Cork/Blarney - €55 (Daytours IE)

Medieval Kilkenny and Wicklow €28 (€25) (
Cork/Blarney - €55 (Senior €50) (



Cheaper to book through An Óige, then Hi.
3 nights 6 bed mixed dorm, €60 - $86
4 nights 80 - $115
Sleepzone from €19.99 - $30.23

3 nights, 51.00 EUR - $73 (approx)$24.23 per night
4 nights 68.00 EUR - $98


50.00 Galway 2
37.75 Killarney 2
30.00 Dublin 1
137.75 euro - $198.00
055.00 euro Dublin 2
182.75 euro - $263.00

Galway 3 nights 60 euro - $86.00
Killarney 3 nts 51 euro - $76.00
Dublin 4 nights 72 euro - $104.00 8 bed female YHA

Hostels $260
Tours $263
Total - $523
Buses - 090
Shuttle 22
Total - $655

125 euro - $180 includes 2 nights accommodation
90 euro - $130 without accommodation (8o euro - $115)

Thur 17 Arrive Dublin. Bus to Galway 15 euro
Fri 18 Connemara Tour 20 euro
Sat 19 Cliffs of Moher 20 euro
Three nights hostel 60 euro
Sub total - 115 euro

Sun 20 Bus to Killarney 26 euro
Mon 21 Ring of Kerry Tour 18.70 euro
Tue 22 Gap of Dunloe Tour 27.00 euro
Three nights hostel 51.00 euro
Sub total - 121.70 euro

Wed 23 Train to Dublin 24.99 euro
Killarney to Dublin Heuston
dep 09:36 arr 12:55 or dep 11:36 arr 14:55

Thur 24 Glendalough/Kilkenny Tour 30 euro
Fri 25 Dublin walking tour
Taylor's Irish Night 6.30pm 59 euro (Paddywagon tours)

Sat 26 Depart
Three nights hostel 75 euro? approx

Total: 425.69 euro - $610.94

Monday, 7 October 2013

12. Things to do in Dublin - Pubs

The Greenhouse  for steaks

The Bull & Castle, O'Neill's (Suffolk St), L. Mulligan Grocer and The Black Sheep for Irish beer.  Dark Arts is a decent porter.

Chester Beatty Library has a Lebanese café Day trip to Glendalough. Howth or Dalkey for seafood.
The Greenhouse and Dax (Fine Dining)
Gastro-pubs: Chop House, 37 Dawson Street and Waterloo Bar & Grill.
The Exchequer and O'Neil's on Suffolk Street.
Pig's Ear and Camden Kitchen - Both serve traditional Irish food with a modern twist

House of Ireland, Magee and Kilkenny Design for wool and tweed clothing. 3fe, Fallon & Byrne, Tamp & Stitch and Brother Hubbard, Badger and Dodo for coffee/snacks.
 Cheap, good quality Italian food in San Lorenzo's.