By Charly SHELTON
The Leisure section of the Crescenta Valley Weekly is about to undergo a metamorphosis. Starting this week, it has been renamed as the Travel and Leisure section. What that means to the average reader is … more travel stories! This change is due, in part, to the popularity that our travel articles have received, both in print and online. And we want to give the readers what they want. So from now on, expect some more travel articles popping up in the new and improved Travel and Leisure section.
We’re starting off our rebranding with a preview of a new location – Ireland. I’ve been invited to come and experience some hotels, resorts, restaurants and attractions on the Emerald Isle and this will be the source of several stories coming to you over the next few weeks. Of course, there is Dublin’s most iconic attraction, Guinness Brewery, at St. James Gate.
Its storehouse tour is among the top things to do in the city, so we will be sure to include that in an upcoming article. But as cool as the big attractions are, like Guinness and Titanic Belfast and Grafton Street, I will be focusing on the smaller and more well hidden secrets of the best of Ireland. For example, I will be taking an archery lesson in an actual medieval castle over the Fields of Athenry and visiting hand-carved stone figures on a small island in the middle of a giant lake, which date back to the early Christian period.
For lodging, Ireland offers everything from hostels to lavish resorts, country houses to city center apartments and everything in between. I was invited to stay at several hotels and resorts, from the beautiful lakelands of Lough Erne Resort and Harvey’s Point Resort to the Georgian country estates of Carrygerry Country House and the lavish Victorian mansion of Slieve Donard hotel, and more.
And dining is no slouch either. Good Food Ireland, which is one of the tour companies helping with accommodations, was founded to bring together the two biggest industries in Ireland – agri-food and tourism. When the average person thinks of Irish food, it usually is some sort of boiled meat with boiled potatoes and cabbage. But the average person would be wrong. Good Food Ireland wants to show the world how much Irish cuisine has evolved since that idea of boiled everything was thought around the world and that it is one of the top foodie destinations in the world. As such, the restaurants I’ve been invited to tell you about are astounding.
The way Ireland hotels work is a bit different from American hotels. For us, a bed and breakfast is way more expensive than a hotel and, with a few exceptions, breakfast consists of a cereal station, watered down coffee, some pastries and, if you’re very lucky, a make-your-own waffle machine. If you go eat at the hotel restaurant for dinner, it’s food and it’s fine for a business meeting in the lobby, but it’s not as good as what you would find at a real restaurant. Ireland is the opposite. The hotel restaurant is a gourmet experience and in some cases may be half the reason that particular hotel is booked. Breakfast is more hearty and labor-intensive, not something that can be yourself while standing in the courtesy-use room next to the ice machine. These kinds of experiences are what I hope to bring back while encouraging our readers to travel more often.
After Ireland, future locations in the works to be explored for CVWeekly’s Travel and Leisure section include Hawaii, America’s west, Nepal, China, Alaska and more. Be sure to follow along on the adventure through social media: on Instagram, follow @Flynn42 and on Twitter, follow @CharlyIsAwesome for real time updates as I explore the many wonders Ireland has to offer. Retweet one of my Ireland Twitter posts or reshare one of my Instagram photos and tag me in it to enter our Ireland raffle. One lucky Twitterer and one lucky Instagrammer will win a cool little souvenir of Irish goods brought directly back from the island. The contest runs from Tuesday, March 21 through Friday, March 31, the duration of the trip. We will put the usernames in a hat for each separate share, and draw one winner from each social media platform, so be sure to share early and share often.