Airport Parking


Parking has always been a hot topic at both Belfast Airports

There have been a number of value car parks that have been closed much to the annoyance of the savvy traveler and as a travel writer I am always on the look out for a cost effective, convenient and good service.

SkyParkSecure is one of the UKs leading airport parking providers, they compare prices of airport parking all over the UK with Official on Airport Parking or Offsite Parking options to choose from.

During the last 15 years SkyParkSecure has helped over 1.5 million people park there car saving them over £5 million in the process, as well as achieving a 96% customer rating. With SkyParkSecure you are only offered car parks that meet a very high standard of security and meet the official Park Mark seal of approval.

Independent Review

The independent review system quickly lets customers see other people’s experiences and with more than 1,500,000 there are plenty of reviews available to compare.
If a car park falls below a certain level SkyParkSecure will issue a warning, and if the reviews still don’t improve they won’t hesitate in removing the car park.

This is unique for an airport comparison website and ensures on the best car parks are listed. SkyParkSecure has direct relationships with more than 300 UK airport car parks, which means you should always find the car park that is most suited to your needs.

Given the relatively large distance between the International airport and Belfast itself you will be glad to know that they able to offer Belfast airport parking at incredibly low prices. A customer favourite is the conveniently located Belfast Cosmo which is situated literally across the road from the terminal. Whichever Belfast airport parking location you decide to book, you can be sure that with SkyParkSecure you’re guaranteed the lowest possible rate and impeccable customer service at all stages of the process.

 

SkyParkSecure have over 15 years of experience behind us and a consistent rating of ‘excellent’ on independent review sites Trustpilot and Reevoo..

 

Price Check Promise

The added bonus of booking your Belfast International Airport parking with SkyParkSecure is that you can also be sure that you will be paying the cheapest possible price. I used them a couple of weeks ago for a trip to Italy. The process was seamless I booked on line and when I arrived at the airport the system read my number plate and the barrier opened I parked my car and on my exit a few days later the barrier opened automatically and I was off.

Simple, effective and great value.

So check out www.skyparksecure.com

Titanic Belfast named “king of the world”!

Titanic Belfast CEO Tim Husbands MBE and Vice Chairman Conal Harvey celebrate as Titanic Belfast is named ‘King of the World’ at the World Travel Awards.

Titanic Belfast has been crowned ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ at the prestigious World Travel Awards in the Maldives.
Having already beaten the Colosseum, the Acropolis and the Eiffel Tower to become Europe’s official Leading Tourist Attraction, Titanic Belfast sailed its way to victory to become the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction, bringing the award back to UK after ten years.

With over 1 million votes cast from over 216 countries in the awards, known as the ‘Tourism Oscars’, Titanic Belfast was crowned as the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction. It beat off stiff competition from eight global finalists, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip, USA, Machu Picchu, Peru and Guinness Storehouse, Ireland. It is the first time an attraction from Northern Ireland has won this prestigious accolade.

Tim Husbands MBE, Titanic Belfast’s Chief Executive, said; “Over the past few years, we have continued to go from strength to strength but to be voted the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction by both the industry and the public for excellence in tourism and for our original product, is really the jewel in our crown. We are delighted that this award firmly shines a spotlight not only on RMS Titanic Belfast but Belfast and Northern Ireland, and celebrates our authentic insight and connection to RMS Titanic. The Titanic story captures hearts and minds throughout the world and at Titanic Belfast, this is no exception. Our interpretation of the story and ability to engage with visitors on many different levels has been fundamental in winning this award. Through this award, we hope to attract more tourists to Northern Ireland to discover it. A huge thank you to our staff and all our supporters that voted, locally and across the world, to help us reach this iconic goal of being the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.”
The public, industry partners, well-known personalities, politicians, sports stars and businesses provided their support to crown the landmark as ‘King of the World’ on par with previous winners including the Taj Mahal, Las Vegas Strip and the Pyramids of Egypt.
Described by The Guardian as “an inspiring testament to the Titanic and the city that built it”, more than three million people from around the world have already visited Titanic Belfast since opening in 2012. For more information, visit www.titanicbelfast.com.

About Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast is an iconic six-floor building featuring nine interpretive and interactive galleries that explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Titanic, as well as the City and people which made her. It is the World’s Largest Titanic exhibition.

The building houses temporary exhibits, a banqueting suite, education and community facilities, catering and retail space, and a basement car park. Visitors learn about the construction of RMS Titanic and the wide and rich story of Northern Ireland’s industrial and maritime heritage.

Supported by the Northern Ireland Executive, Titanic Belfast is a unique public/private partnership funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter Ltd. It is operated by Titanic Belfast Ltd and owned by the Titanic Foundation Ltd.

About Titanic Foundation
Titanic Foundation Limited (TFL) is a registered charity, set up to educate the public on Belfast’s industrial and maritime heritage, past, present and future. Titanic Foundation’s ambition is to create a dynamic maritime destination where preservation of heritage complements regeneration and where public realm, events and amenities attract, engage and connects everyone in Belfast to Titanic’s narrative – human endeavour, pride, inspiration and innovation.  To date TFL has delivered Titanic Belfast and is currently progressing the restoration of the former Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices and Headquarters Building as a heritage centre and boutique hotel. As part of Titanic Foundation’s remit to protect and promote the maritime and industrial heritage of Belfast it has taken on ownership of the SS Nomadic from April 2015.
Useful links:

  • Titanic Belfast: www.titanicbelfast.com
  • Belfast City Council: http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events/Event-36148.aspx
  • Visit Belfast: http://visit-belfast.com/
  • Titanic Quarter: http://www.titanic-quarter.com/news-events
  • Tourism Northern Ireland: http://www.tourismni.com/
  • Titanic Foundation Limited: http://www.titanic-foundation.org/

Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, located on the spot where the famous ship was designed and launched, has been named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction. To celebrate here are a few things you may not know about award-winning attraction:

  • With over 1 million votes cast from over 216 countries in the awards, known as the ‘Tourism Oscars’, Titanic Belfast was crowned as the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.
  • It beat off stiff competition from eight global finalists, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip, USA, Machu Picchu, Peru and Guinness Storehouse, Ireland.
  • It is the first time an attraction from Ireland, North or South, has won this prestigious accolade.
  • This was not the first round of the competition, Titanic Belfast had to triumph over the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, La Sagrada Familia, Spain, The Eiffel Tower, France, Acropolis, Athens, Buckingham Palace, England, Ribeira do Porto, Portugal, and The Roman Colosseum, Italy in its European heat, before getting to the world final.
  • In four and half years, it has welcomed 3 million visitors from over 145 countries.
  • It had its busiest day to date this August.
  • Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience.
  • It is located at the sport where the Titanic was designed and launched – it only took 62 seconds to launch Titanic from the Slipways on 21st May 1911! On the same day, the Olympic, and the tender ships, Nomadic and Traffic left Belfast, drawing over 100,000 spectators and journalists travelling from London and America.
  • It can hold over 3,547 visitors at any one time, the same number as the capacity of Titanic!
  • Since opening, it has welcomed Her Majesty The Queen, former US Secretary of State and Presidental candidate Hillary Clinton, TITANIC director James Cameron, the discovery of Titanic, Dr Robert Ballard, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and, as well as celebrities including Adele and Michael Bublé, to name a few.
  • The world-class exhibition, which has been described as ‘magnificent and dramatic’ by TITANIC movie director, James Cameron.
  • The building’s overall shape represents the bow of the ship and the hulls are the same height of Titanic from keel to Boat Deck!
  • From the sky, the building is the shape of a star, which represents the White Star Line connection.
  • The plaza surrounding the building is actually a map (one of the largest maps of the Northern Hemisphere at 10,000 m2) and follows the route of the Titanic from Belfast to South Hampton, Cobh towards its final resting place.
  • The wooden benches encircling the building and are spaced in Morse code sequence. Moving clockwise around the plaza they read “DE (this is) MGY MGY MGY (Titanic’s call sign) CQD CQD SOS SOS CQD” – the distress message that Titanic sent after hitting an iceberg.
  • Since opening, it has sold 338,000 postcards and over 20,000 Titanic snow globes!
  • It has also sold over 73,000 Americanos, 65,000 Cappucinos and 60,000 Lattes!

To delve deeper, visit the home of the story – Titanic Belfast. The World’s Leading Tourist Attraction is easily accessible. For more information, visit www.titanicbelfast.com.

LOOKING FOR A HOLIDAY DESTINATION WHERE YOUR POUND GOES FURTHER? THINK PESOS, PAMPAS AND PYRAMIDS

accounts-crystal-palaceLOOKING FOR A HOLIDAY DESTINATION WHERE YOUR POUND GOES FURTHER? THINK PESOS, PAMPAS AND PYRAMIDS

  • The Pound has weakened against 46 of the 50 most popular global currencies in 2016
  • But a trip to the Red Sea could still leave you in the black after sterling rocketed by 86% against the Egyptian Pound
  • Brits face being frozen out of Iceland after sterling plunged by nearly a third against the Icelandic Krona 

2016 has not been a vintage year for the Pound. New research by the travel money specialist No1 Currency has revealed that sterling fell against 46 of the 50 most common global currencies – meaning most foreign holidays cost more than they did a year ago.

GOOD NEWS

However, there is some good news for anyone hoping to escape the December chill – the beleaguered Pound does go further in a handful of destinations, and all of them offer the prospect of some winter sun.

Top of the Christmas getaway tree is Egypt, home to the Valley of the Kings and the pristine waters of the Red Sea. Egypt’s currency – also called the Pound – has had a terrible year, and Sterling is currently worth 86% more against the Egyptian Pound than it was last December.

For those inspired by Ed Balls’ gyrations on the Strictly dancefloor, a trip to the home of the tango – Buenos Aires – could be a bargain after the Pound rose by nearly a third (32%) against the Argentine Peso. Argentina’s capital is currently basking in average daytime temperatures of 24 degrees.

But at the other end of the scale, sterling’s dramatic fall is likely to send a chill down the spine of British holidaymakers. Iceland’s footballers humiliated England at Euro 2016, and its currency now threatens to freeze out Britons this winter. Sterling’s 30% fall against the Icelandic Krona means anyone travelling to the volcanic island to see the Northern Lights this Christmas will return with a much lighter wallet.

Table: Sterling’s performance against 50 popular global currencies over the past year

Country Currency How much £1 bought on 01.12.15 How much £1 bought on 01.12.16 % increase / decrease in exchange rate
Egypt Egyptian Pound 11.798

 

22.002

 

86.49%
Argentina Argentine Peso 14.609

 

19.215

 

31.53%
Venezuela Venezuelan Bolivar 9.568

 

12.368

 

29.26%
Mexico Mexican Peso 24.908

 

25.641

 

2.94%
Turkey Turkish Lira 4.359

 

4.238

 

-2.78%
Jamaica Jamaican Dollar 179.309

 

159.891

 

-10.83%
China Yuan 9.644

 

8.544

 

-11.41%
Sweden Swedish Krona 13.103

 

11.426

 

-12.798
Malaysia Malaysian Ringgit 6.367

 

5.538

 

-13.02%
Philippines Philippine Peso 71.071

 

61.715

 

-13.16%
Poland Polish Zloty 6.076

 

5.173

 

-14.86%
Sri Lanka Sri Lankan Rupee 215.644

 

183.512

 

-14.90%
India Indian Rupee 100.161

 

85.151

 

-14.99%
Nepal Nepalese Rupee 160.445

 

135.973

 

-15.25%
Costa Rica Costa Rican Colon 800.462

 

678.028

 

-15.295
Dominican Republic Dominican Peso 68.409

 

57.137

 

-16.48%
Singapore Singapore Dollar 2.120

 

1.767

 

-16.65%
Peru Peruvian Sol 5.089

 

4.235

 

-16.78%
Colombia Colombian Peso 4716.918 3905.835  

-17.20%

Canada Canadian Dollar 2.014

 

1.665

 

-17.33%
Morocco Moroccan Dirham 15.147

 

12.510

 

-17.41%
Eurozone Euro 1.4189

 

1.170

 

-17.54%
Czech Republic Czech Koruna 38.348

 

31.614

 

-17.56%
Hong Kong Hong Kong Dollar 11.681

 

9.618

 

-17.66%
Saint Lucia East Caribbean Dollar 4.068

 

3.348

 

-17.70%
UAE Emirati Dirham 5.534

 

4.554

 

-17.71%
Cuba Cuban Peso 39.930

 

32.859

 

-17.71%
US US Dollar 1.507

 

1.240

 

-17.72%
Barbados Bajan Dollar 3.014

 

2.480

 

-17.72%
Hungary Hungarian Forint 442.529

 

364.120

 

-17.72%
Denmark Danish Krone 10.585

 

8.702

 

-17.79%
Kenya Kenyan Shilling 154.010

 

126.202

 

-18.06%
Thailand Thai Baht 53.917

 

44.125

 

-18.16%
Bolivia Bolivian Boliviano 10.411

 

8.518

 

-18.18%
Israel Israeli Shekel 5.833

 

4.761

 

-18.38%
Norway Norwegian Krone 13.027

 

10.616

 

-18.51%
Croatia Croatian Kuna 10.831

 

8.815

 

-18.61%
Mauritius Mauritian Rupee 54.772

 

44.576

 

-18.62%
Cambodia Cambodian Riel 6094.504

 

4959.791

 

-18.62%
Botswana Botswana Pula 16.383

 

13.295

 

-18.85%
Switzerland Swiss Franc 1.551

 

1.257

 

-18.96%
Australia Australian Dollar 2.059

 

1.658

 

-19.48%
Russia Russian Ruble 100.317

 

80.298

 

-19.96%
Fiji Fijian Dollar 3.244

 

2.595

 

-20.01%
Chile Chilean Peso 1060.326

 

838.193

 

-20.95%
South Africa South African Rand 21.747

 

17.073

 

-21.49%

 

New Zealand New Zealand Dollar 2.256

 

1.751

 

-22.38%
Japan Japanese Yen 185.156

 

138.822

 

-25.02%
Brazil Brazilian Real 5.797

 

4.222

 

-27.17%
Iceland Icelandic Krona 199.440

 

139.93 -29.84%

Simon Phillips, Retail Director at No.1 Currency, comments: “Sterling began 2016 on a roll but has struggled badly since June’s EU referendum. Despite recovering a little in recent months, the Pound is still well down against many of the most popular foreign currencies.

“As a result, more holidaymakers are considering destinations further afield – where their Pounds will go further – and being increasingly savvy in the way they buy their foreign currency.

“While the exchange rate is an important factor when choosing a holiday, it is not the only one; and a little forward planning can ensure you get the best possible deal when changing your sterling.

“Never leave it to the last minute, as exchanging money at the airport could leave you with up to a third less foreign currency than if you had pre-ordered online.”

Beguiling Bergamo

 

visit-bergamo

 

grace-hedgleyBy Grace Hedgley

ryanair-aircraft-(2)Bergamo, the birthplace of Donizetti and home of Lorenzo Lotto, is a stunning little city in the Lombardy region of Italy; it lies about 40 km northeast of Milan and 30 km from the lakes Como and Iseo. To the north of the city are the foothills of the Bergamo Alps.
With a population of around 120,000, Bergamo is the fourth-largest city in region.

Bergamo is well connected to several cities in Europe and the Mediterranean through Il Caravaggio International Airport, the third-busiest airport in Italy with 10.5 million passengers in 2015, and the highly impressive A4 Motorway that crosses the axis between Milan, Verona, and Venice.

img_2533

Citta Alta

Ryanair’s new flight from Belfast international airport gives you the opportunity to explore this wonderful part of Italy.
Flights leave on a Wednesday and Saturday. www.ryanair.com. I checked the Ryanair site (end Nov) and found return flights in middle January for an amazing £40-00.

 

Getting to the City

Getting to the city from the airport is really simple and very cheap. The Airport bus, is No 1 and it runs from outside Bergamo airport to Bergamo train station situated in Piazza Marconi.
It then proceeds to the lower town, then onto the Funicular station and then up to the upper town ‘Città Alta’. The 20 minute journey is great value at €1.20 approx. Tickets are available at the airport.

Local specialties

img_2542

Polenta e Osei

Local specialties to try include casonsei; fresh pasta filled with salami, roast meat, garlic, parsley and Grana cheese and served with melted butter, pancetta and sage. For those with a sweeter tooth try the Polenta e Osei, a sweet polenta cake with a chocolate bird on top. Local wines, polenta, pasta and cheese what’s not to love?

The two cities

Bergamo is divided into two parts; the lower city, Citta Bassa, and the upper city, Citta Alta. They are connected by a delightful funicular railway, which affords spectacular views as you ascend to the heights of Citta Alta.

img_2573At the top Caffe della Funicolare is a fine little café with a terrace where you can get a birds eye view of the city below.

 

Explore the medieval streets of Citta Alta.

The main street leads to Piazza Vecchia, the beautiful heart of the city, has one of Italy’s most ancient libraries along with the 52 meter-high tower, which can be climbed using the many steps or if you prefer there is a lift.
Citta Alta has a host of places to visit so be sure to look out for the treasures in Piazza Duomo, while the Museums in Piazza della Cittadella will give you a great overview of this city’s history, science and art treasures.

After visiting the Venetian walls, the main squares of Piazza Vecchia and Piazza Duomo with its Basilica, Baptistery and Cathedral, you will be ready for lunch.

This is a very important meal in Italy, as locals tend to spend the whole afternoon eating and chatting. One place I can recommend for traditional food is Da Mimmo (www.ristorantemimmo.com) this wonderful space has been a restaurant for nearly 60 years and it provides fine, locally sourced, traditional food at very reasonable prices. Excellent service, like most places I found in Bergamo, it was discreet but friendly. There are two connected dining rooms beautifully decorated, spacious and airy. You can read all about the history of Da Mimmo and it’s owners, it’s obvious they put their heart and soul into what they do.

www_hotelsanmarco_com_en_where-we-are-map-center-bergamo-hotel_htm

Dining room of the Hotel San Marco

My first night in Bergamo I stayed at the Hotel Excelsior San Marco. In an excellent location facing an elegant square in the lower town, the hotel is a few steps away from the funicular that goes to the historical Upper Town inside the Medieval Walls.
With a twin room from €90-00 per night it is superbly located and well priced for a city hotel. www.hotelsanmarco.com

 

img_281615181240_1139040892859510_4889737000275915676_nFor dinner I chose to eat at Mille Storie e Sapori.

Italian food with a twist in a warm and friendly setting with excellent local wines. Buzzing contemporary atmosphere  for a truly authentic Italian meal.

 

Province of Bergamo

I was in Bergamo for only a short while as I had some exploring to do in the region. My first trip took me to Sarnico this charming town lies on the edge of lake Iseo and is full of little winding streets and local shopping opportunities.

cocca-hotel-in-predore

4 star Cocca Hotel in Predore,

 

During the summer months this beautiful town turns into a hub for visitors to the lake and surrounding countryside.
I then checked into the 4 star Cocca Hotel in Predore, a few km from Sarnico.

Set on the shores of Lake Iseo, it offers relaxation and comfort in a sophisticated environment with a superb Royal Thai Spa. See www.coccahotel.com.

Predore has wonderful views of the lake and Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Europe. While the locally made Riva launches may be out of your price range, you can still take the ferry to explore Lake Iseo.

Ski Country
lizzola_%e2%80%a2_%e2%80%a2_visit_bergamoThe beauty of the ski resorts in Bergamo province is that nearly all are no more than an hour by car from Bergamo. Indeed local school children go skiing as part of their PE programmes from the age of three!

The Bergamask Mountains, which climb directly from the Po valley and reach altitudes of up to three thousand metres, offer summer and winter holiday opportunities.

The 130 downhill pistes are almost all concentrated in the two main valleys that cross the great mountain barrier – Val Brembana and Val Seriana.

The pistes offer almost 400 kilometres of snow; 45 are rated easy, 64 are intermediate, and expert skiers have 21 more difficult slopes on which to test their skills.

There are approximately 70 ski lifts, and everywhere there are quality facilities and services together with cross-country ski trails, toboggan and sled runs, ice-skating rinks and extremely modern snow parks. In fact everything you need for a holiday of sport and fun.

The Ski season opens on the 8th December 2016.

The most well-known ski resort is Foppolo in Valle Brembana. It is surrounded by other ski resorts all located in the upper valley: Carona, San Simone, Piazzatorre, Valtorta Piani di Bobbio, Oltre il Colle Zambla.

The top resort in Valle Seriana is Monte Pora, which has developed over the last few decades; then Lizzola, in a setting of rugged peaks, Spiazzi di Gromo and the Presolana Pass, a “historic” Lombardy ski resort, where at the beginning of the last century people started skiing down the hills watched by bemused mountain inhabitants.

hotel_milano_presolana_-_exclusive_hotel_collection

Hotel Milano Presolana

If you are considering a holiday to the region then look no further than: wwwPresolanaholidays.com, where great offers include short breaks, with ski passes, accommodation and return transfers to Bergamo Airport.

When in the area I stayed at the 4 star Hotel Milano in Castione della Presolana, located in the heart of the Bergamask Dolomites, this stunning mountain resort offers the opportunity to chill out, relax and enjoy good food in the most beautiful surroundings.

 

 

Agriturismo

agriturismo-ferdy_offerte_vacanza-famiglia1

Agriturismo Ferdy in Lenna

The Bergamo region is not just about skiing and cities, there is a very big movement in the travel industry and that is towards Agriturismo.
A fine example of this is the unique Agriturismo Ferdy in Lenna.
Their farm philosophy is based on the breeding of traditional animals, which have always lived in the region. They also provide wonderful eco friendly accommodation to a very high standard, prices from as little as €60 per night. Agriturismo Ferdy offers its guests many activities including cheese making, horse riding, working with animals, exploring on foot and cycling trails. If that all seems like too much hard work then you might want to consider their wellness centre where they only use Agriturismo Ferdy products such as essential oils, all produced in Val d’Inferno. See www.agriturismoferdy.com/

 

Also worth visiting:

img_2682

The medieval village of Clusone

The medieval village of Clusone is beautifully situated. The frescos in the Disciplini Oratory date back to the Middle Age, while the complex astronomical clock is still working in its original state. It has astonished visitors for four hundred years!

Cornello dei Tasso is a fascinating village once the home town of the Tasso Family who established a private mail company which monopolised all postal services in Europe from the 14th century.

They say that San Pellegrino is “the gem of the Brembana Valley”, The art nouveau palaces, the Casino, the historical spa with the thermal baths, the San Pellegrino mineral water, renowned all over the world and there’s so much more to discover when you get there.

Why not treat yourself ?
A choice of packages can be tailor made for you by QC Terme San Pellegrino to celebrate your hen or stag night, birthday, anniversary or any special moment. www.qctermesanpellegrino.it

san_pellegrino__thermal_baths_and_art_nouveau_style_%e2%80%a2_%e2%80%a2_visit_bergamo

 

 

SHARPEN YOUR SKILLS ON A CULINARY LEARNING JOURNEY IN NORTHERN IRELAND

manor-house-country-hotelNorthern Ireland’s beef, lamb, game, seafood, dairy produce, fruit and vegetables are among the best in the world, and the region is gaining renown for the reputation of its local producers.  With award-winning contemporary city restaurants in Belfast and Derry~Londonderry, enticing sea-front restaurants along the Causeway Coastal Route, snug seafood bars at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, luxury hotels to dine in in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands, and hearty pub grub in beautiful rural spots – we have it all!
Not only can you experience Northern Ireland’s tantalising good food at one of our award-wining eateries but you can also learn how to make equally delicious dishes at home by participating in a course at one of Northern Ireland’s cookery schools.

Rachel Quigg, Destination & PR Officer, Tourism Northern Ireland is encouraging people to learn something new this month:

“No ‘foodie’ should leave our shores without exercising their culinary skills and using our local produce at one of Northern Ireland’s cookery schools. Spread across the region the cookery schools all have their individual specialities from seafood caught metres away from where it will be prepared to classes in traditional home baking.

This month is ‘Legacy & Learn to’ in the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink and we encourage everyone to stay somewhere beautiful, learn something new and eat something amazing,” added Rachel.

PLACES TO VISIT

belle-isle-estate

Belle Isle Cookery School

Belle Isle Cookery School

Belle Isle School of Cookery, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen

The ultimate destination for food lovers. Discover the delights of creating modern cuisine in a foodie’s paradise. You will be introduced to some of Ireland’s most innovative and exciting ideas, in a relaxed atmosphere, with expert tuition from head tutor Joe Kelly and his team, using top-quality seasonal Irish produce. Their hands-on courses and demonstrations will ensure that you leave with the confidence to cook with style and flair in your own home.

Situated on the northern tip of Upper Lough Erne, Belle Isle is a 470-acre estate spread over eight picturesque islands. Inhabited since the 12th century, the estate offers a wide range of attractive self-catering accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. The Hamilton Wing sleeps 16 over 8 bedrooms which can be booked individually or in its entity to include the Abercorn Wing.

Mourne Seafood Cookery School, Kilkeel, Co. Down

Kilkeel is the “Seafood Capital of the Mountains of Mourne”. Whichever way you travel to Kilkeel you will enjoy stunning scenery “where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea”.

mourne-seafood-cookery-school

Mourne Seafood Cookery School

The Mourne Seafood Cookery School is an award winning state of the art cookery school located in the Nautilus Centre, with panoramic views of Kilkeel harbour. You will find the freshest fish and seafood in the home of Northern Ireland’s largest fishing fleet. For those seafood lovers this is an ideal way to learn more about what to look for when buying, handling and cooking seafood. It is aimed to be a fun, relaxed, learning experience. An exciting range of new cookery classes has been added to whet your appetite. Our renowned chefs will be on hand to give their expertise and answer any questions you may have.

The cookery school tries to source as much of the ingredients from local producers such as: dry cured bacon from Cunningham Butchers, Mourne Oyster Stout brewed at the Whitewater Brewery, seafood supplied by Mourne Seafoods etc.

Extend your trip by staying at the luxurious Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, Newcastle or the Kilmorey Arms Hotel in Kilkeel.
http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/Mourne-Seafood-Cookery-School-Kilkeel-Newry-P16475

 

james-street-south-cookeryJames Street South Cookery School, Belfast

The cookery school at James Street South opened its doors in 2011. Situated on the top floor of the newly renovated building also housing the Bar + Grill and private dining facilities, the Cookery School offers a purpose built interactive space. Whether it’s a private group booking, or one of the scheduled events they are certain they can offer something to entice. From effortless entertaining, to knife skills, or even sushi and cocktails, the aim is that you enjoy yourself, learn some new skills and leave filled with confidence in the kitchen.

Stay in the nearby Europa or Jury’s Hotel in Belfast, located a short walk from the cookery school and bustling city centre.

http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/James-Street-South-Cookery-School-Belfast-P25984

 

Belfast Cookery School, Belfast

16741_cathedral_quarterThe Mourne Seafood Bars in Belfast and Dundrum are known the length and breadth of the country and beyond for providing fresh, local, no nonsense, and affordable seafood. It was from this ethos and passion for food that the Belfast Cookery School was born. An award winning, fully purposed cookery school based in the heart of Belfast’s city centre in close proximity to a wide range of pubs, clubs and hotels, convenient to public transportation routes and on-street parking. All their Chefs are carefully chosen and are considered experts in their chosen cuisine.  They have a wide variety of classes to accommodate all tastes and skill levels; so if you consider yourself a culinary genius or are donning on an apron for the first time you’re in good hands.

http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/Belfast-Cookery-School-Belfast-P23415

 

orchard-acre-farmOrchard Acre Farm, Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh

About ten minutes from Enniskillen this small holding is run by Hugh, Teresa and family since 1989. They are both from a proud tradition of farming; together they have created Fermanagh’s only eco-tourism farm. The focal point on the small farm is the award-winning eco-barn. It is surrounded by the kitchen garden, creating private relaxed place, that is bathed in daylight and is a multi-functional and a fully wheel chair accessible building. They run a programme of farmhouse and modern cookery classes, Irish craft courses and foodie events. They offer bespoke events and activities for individuals, families, community groups,

 

 

Find out more about the Year of Food and Drink 2016 celebrations: https://www.discovernorthernireland.com/yearoffoodanddrink2016/

NH Collection Open Two New Hotels In Barcelona and Madrid

rc_nh_collection-gran-hotel-calderon_275_medNH Collection, the NH Hotel Group brand for the upper-upscale segment

The NH Collection brand represents a new class of amazing hotels, with an elegant and subtle style.
This is a category of hotels within the upper-upscale segment, located in unique and emblematic buildings, both historic and contemporary, in the best locations in the main capitals of the world.

All NH Collection properties have been designed to give even the most demanding customers an extraordinary experience, based on the senses, which will go far beyond what they expect from their stay. These hotels have been carefully designed for guests who wish to get the most out of their stay, with excellent levels of comfort and the best facilities, as well as a wide and bespoke range of products and services.

About NH Hotel Group

NH Hotel Group (www.nhhotelgroup.com) is a consolidated multinational operator and one of the world’s leading urban hotel groups. The Company operates close to 400 hotels with almost 60,000 rooms in 30 countries across Europe, America, Africa and Asia, including top city destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bogota, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, Munich, New York, Rome and Vienna.

 NH Hotel Group’s most exclusive brand, NH Collection, continues to expand its presence in major cities around the world with the opening of two unique five-star hotels in the two most important cities in Spain: NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón, in Barcelona, and NH Collection Suecia, in Madrid.

With the addition of these new properties, NH Hotel Group consolidates the presence of its upper-upscale brand in Spain, where it has 22 of the 67 NH Collection hotels that the company operates throughout the world.
Another 8 properties will be added globally between 2016 and 2018, across Mexico, Chile, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Spain.

As is usual for the brand, both hotels are located in landmark buildings in the city centre, and combine careful attention to detail, exceptional services, unique spaces, the latest technologies and an excellent gastronomic offering. These two launches are another demonstration of the Group continuing to invest in and develop distinctive, high quality accommodation in major cities around the world.

The opening ceremonies were led by public representatives of both cities: the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, opened NH Collection Suecia, and the Counselor of Business and Knowledge of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Jordi Baiget, did so for NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón.



rsp_nh_calderon_215_med-2f_nh_calderon_190_medsp_nh_calderon_019_med-1NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón

Located on the Rambla de Catalunya, the central and vibrant promenade that crosses the heart of Barcelona, NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón has been transformed into one of the city’s most iconic five star hotels, becoming the flagship for the brand and the company in Catalonia.

After thorough refurbishment, the hotel’s interior design pays tribute to avant-garde Barcelona without forfeiting innovation and new technologies, epitomised by a 56 m2 LED video wall in the lobby, which is unique in the city. To its 255 rooms (163 Superior, 63 Premium, and 14 Junior Suites) the hotel has added 10 rooms for events and meetings, with a total of 700 m2 and capacity for 350 people, together with a spectacular terrace with pool and solarium, and magnificent views over the city, which make it perfect for outdoor events.

The gastronomic offering brings together chef Andrea Tumbarello (4 Repsol Suns) and the Don Giovanni Restaurant, which offers the best of Italian cuisine along with creations based on seasonal produce that combine exotic ingredients and classic dishes.

rp_nh_collection-suecia_002_med rc_nh_collection-suecia_046_med rt_nh_collection-suecia_037_med-1 b_nh_collection-suecia_039_med-1NH Collection Suecia

The historic Hotel Suecia, that played host to figures like Ernesto Che Guevara and Ernest Hemingway, who lived there for long periods, has been reborn, after complete renovation, as a five star NH Collection hotel, the third for the brand in Madrid. With 123 rooms (76 Superior, 33 Premium and 11 Junior Suites), the company has chosen Scandinavian inspired stylish and cosy décor for this hotel, from interior designers Lázaro Rosa-Violán and Mercedes Isasa.

Together they have achieved a pleasant feeling of warmth in all its spaces by using fine woods for walls, floors and furnishings, and by playing with natural and artificial light.

The location of NH Collection Suecia is one step away from the main tourist attractions of Spain’s capital, and particularly what is known as the “Art Walk”, a route along which there are more than a dozen world-class museums and art galleries, including the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum of Contemporary Art.

NH’s commitment to high quality cuisine and culinary trends is expressed in the Casa Suecia restaurant, the new gastronomic offering that the Catalan Lluis Canadell has brought to Madrid. Traditional Mediterranean dishes with an international nod are perfect for matching with signature cocktails in the speakeasy accessed through the restaurant toilets, harking back to the days of Prohibition.

Madrid and Barcelona from above

v_nh_collection-suecia_011_medBoth NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón and NH Collection Suecia have magnificent terraces from which guests can enjoy the best views of Madrid and Barcelona. The five-star Madrid hotel boasts one of the most striking terraces in the capital with 150 square metres of floor space and an elevated private area of 40 metres. NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón’s terrace is also unique in Barcelona, offering a spectacular 360° view of the city, with a pool and solarium.

All rooms in both hotels are at the Company’s usual standard, featuring NH’s well-known Brilliant Basics, including mattresses designed exclusively for the chain, showers with rain effect, Nespresso coffee machines and tea machines, 46’’ LED TVs, high-speed Wi-Fi and easy accessibility, among other exclusive features that seek to ensure an memorable experience.

-ENDS-

48 Hours in Galway City

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Galway’s Latin Quarter

Galway City is a thriving, bohemian, cultural city on the western coast of Ireland.

Along with being a popular seaside destination with beautiful beaches and long winding promenade, it also has a buzzing cosmopolitan city centre.

 

The city is a joy to explore with its labyrinthine cobbled streets, colourful shop facades and busy café/ bar culture.
The city is also well known for its many festivals throughout the year with huge crowds gathering for the annual Galway Arts Festival, Races and numerous other events.

You Have to walk !

Galway walking tours

Galway walking tours

For me there is only one way to walk in Galway and that is with probably one of the best tour guides I have ever been with, Brian Nolan from www.Galwaywalks.com.
Brian is a mind of information, his head is jam packed with knowledge and a master of knowledge.

He knows everyone and everyone one who is anybody in Galway knows him. He can open doors you never though could be opened and on top of that he is a brilliant guide too.

My tour took me to the Spanish Arch called ‘The Claddagh’ where the River Corrib meets Galway Bay.

Galway later became a walled town in the year 1232 after the territory was captured by the Anglo Normans lead by Richard De Burgo.

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The Amazing Brian Nolan

We walked along by the town walls, some sections of which can be seen today near the Spanish Arch.

Brian explained to us Galway’s strategic coastal location as a natural harbour and how successful the people were who traded with both Portugal and Spain.

A trip to the Claddagh cottage really sets the scene for Galway, a small peat fire and that beautiful smell that hugs Galway like a blanket, oh if only they could bottle it. After the

Claddagh cottage we were off  to salthill where we watched the brave people who were swimming every day in the sea down at the famous diving boards and the kick wall.

Take the Promenade and Kick the Wall

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Salthill Promenade

The Kick Wall is a tradition where you kick the wall on completing Ireland’s longest promenade.
Across the road from the Kick wall plate is a tranquil and serene garden called the circle of life.
The Circle of Life national organ donor commemorative garden is located in the beautifully sited seafront Quincentennial Park in Salthill overlooking Galway Bay.

the garden reflects the spirit of giving, the enduring legacy which defines the lives of organ donors.

It is a special place of thanksgiving and commemoration, and through its mix of imagery, symbolism and sentiment, engenders feelings of positive transformation, healing and hope.

The garden was developed by Strange Boat Donor Foundation in partnership with Galway City Council and was formally opened on May 6th, 2014.

Please take the time to img_5261visit this very special place.

After my walk through theCircle of Life Garden I was off to the infamous O’Connors Bar in Salthill. With over £1,000,000 worth or antiques this amazing place is worth a visit. Check out ww.oconnorsbar.com. Note it only open in the evening.

If the over 150 pubs in Galway can’t satisfy you, you can call into the Galway City Museum or the National Aquarium which will fill a wet afternoon.

On any day the Glaway buskers will be out in force and they will serenade you as you tread the cobbled streets hopefully of to McDonaghs fish and chip shop http://www.mcdonaghs.net/

McDonaghs have been feeding Galway for years and as they own a fish shop it seemed insane not to open a fish and chip shop in the town too. They have and its amazing.

Eating in Galway is a delight.

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PAPA RICH Street Food

Galway is blessed with some of the beast eating-houses in Ireland. Everywhere I ate was great. Blakes Bar is definitely worth a visit. The décor is beautiful and service is great and so is the food. It is however a little overpriced.

But for me and they win my “do not miss” award is the newly opened PAPA RICH street food Bar located in Daly’s Place.

You must not miss this food it is simply amazing. Malaysian street food, wonderful tastes of the orient served quickly beautifully and delicious. If you do nothing at all in Galway you must visit here.

Asian food at its best.

 

Walking

After this fine eating you will need somewhere to walk so you can head off to the beautiful Kylemore Abbey or Ashford Castle.

And it was indeed Ashford Castle that I called into for a spot of lunch. The magnificent five star Ashford Castle is set in 350 acres, on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib.
Dating back to 1228, the castle now enters a new chapter in its history, as part of The Red

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Prince of Wales Bar in Ashford Castle

Carnation Hotel Collection. With 82 spectacular rooms, suites and the Hideaway Cottage, a wealth of activities and plenty of thoughtful touches, guests will enjoy acclaimed Irish hospitality on a grand scale. The castle has recently had a multi million pound facelift and when you spend any amount of time here its not hard to understand why it has some of the accolades listed below:

  1. 1 BEST RESORT HOTEL IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
By Travel + Leisure ‘World’s Best’ Awards 2016
  2. 5 IN THE TOP RESORTS IN EUROPE 
By Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2016
  • IRELAND’S BEST HOTEL SPA
By World Spa Awards 2016

IRELAND’S BEST FIVE STAR HOTEL
By Keelings Gold Medal Awards 2016 read some of its

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Nightlife

img_5253Galway is traditional music, its everywhere and there is so much to choose from. There are also late clubs for the younger ones or simply soaking up the craic in the city streets. The Latin Quarter is the place to be at night and just walk down the street to hear which pubs have music. Most will have something going on.

Galway is an amazing city and one to which I shall return.

 

“King of Cool” of the London pub scene, is set to bring his success home.

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King of Cool, Dezzi McCausland

Dungannon man Dezzi McCausland is expanding his London empire at McQueen bar in Shoreditch by opening a chic new outdoor space.

Dubbed the “Club King” and “King of Cool” Dezzi has been extremely successful and has a string of amazing clubs in London, including the celeb-haunt Kingly Club in Soho which he has now sold and his latest venture McQueen Bar in Shoreditch.

This 39-year-old King of Cool says he is also keen to expand his empire to Belfast.

Now this is good news for travel and tourism in Ireland. Dezzi moved to London when he was 19 and took over the running of The Kingly club in Soho at only 24 yrs of age, which was no mean feat for a young lad from Dungannon.

Just across the road from his award winning bar and restaurant, McQueen Outdoor aims to cater for cocktail goers and champagne sippers alike, just in time for the summer.

Dezzi says this latest venture is already attracting well known clients, “Shoreditch is a fashionable area of London and outdoor spaces are also in demand, so expanding McQueen to cater for this trend was a no brainer.

“We’ve only just opened and already we’ve had events hosted by Gary Lineker and for the legendary film director Ridley Scott.

The McQueen bar in Shoreditch was actually used for some key scenes in the 2013 movie starring Brad Pitt ‘The Counsellor’.

“With McQueen Outdoor we want to cater for those who enjoy drinking and dining alfresco but without skimping on quality or service and that’s what I think we’ve achieved.”

mcqueen-shotThe terrace is on the site of an old carpark and the exposed brick echoes that of the original McQueen bar, which won a gong at this year’s prestigious London Club & Bar Awards, being described as a ‘fresh yet timeless concept’.

Keeping it local, work by Belfast based graffiti artist, Visual Waste , dons the walls with portraits and quotes from the screen legend Steve McQueen.

This contrasts with white quilted leather sofas, black chesterfield walls and a plush bar area to give the outdoor space an industrial chic vibe.

Best friends from the age of 5 with the man behind Belfast’s very own Muddlers Club, Gareth McCaughey, Mr McCausland wants to bring the authentic appeal of Belfast’s food scene to London, “I visit home regularly and I am continually impressed with how much the capital is changing and I am now keen to expand into Belfast.

“It’s hard somewhere the size of London to find something different but I’ve been inspired by the Belfast charm and wanted to mix it with the swag of London’s Shoreditch to produce, hopefully, another area we can win awards in.”

The cocktail bar menu is varied and the well-stocked champagne bar shows there’s something for all price ranges to attract city slickers and celebrities alike.

There’s also a grill with everything from chicken wings to cheeseboards and not forgetting olives to accompany your perfect serve from the bar.

The next few months will also see Dezzi and his team open the new ‘Restaurant @ McQueen’s’ and the launch of an American-style pool room ‘The Cooler’ in early 2017.

Commenting on McQueens Barbara McQueen said  ‘Steve would have really dug this place’  and visit London said ‘A lesson in cool’

 

HEAD OVER HEELS IN ST. LUCIA

This week we have a new writer on the team.
Adam Jacot de Boinod worked on the first series of QI, the BBC programme compared by Stephen Fry.
He is the author of The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World, published by Penguin Books.
Adam has kindly offered to supply some of his experiences of some beautiful and excotic destinations and this is his first offering for us.

 

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Two Pitons, Copyright “Saint Lucia Tourist Board”

 

St Lucia is steeped in history after it was fought over and colonised by the English and the French. These days America adds her custom to this heady mix of influences. Aboriginal traits also persist with the Arawak tradition of carving out the bark of a gommier tree to use as a canoe dating as far back as 200AD.

 

St. Lucians are a sociable lot descending on each other as neighbours over the Christmas period, They even repaint their house as an act of hospitality. Interiors are typically white while the exterior tend to be brightly coloured.

 

I decided to work my way up the island by road and by boat.

More than anywhere St. Lucia is best visited by being on the move. The thing to do is to change hotels every few days. For all its beauty and fecundity, the island can be quite restrictive especially if you want to stretch a leg as the beaches are small and the hillsides are steep.
Each cove (which the French called anse) is a hideaway and hotels vie to offer the most romantic setting.
St. Lucia wins the award for ‘Honeymoon island of the Caribbean’ year after year.

 

 

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Courtesy of Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort

I descended steeply down from hills still stricken with their trees deracinated from the storm. Starting from the international airport in the south I reached the Viceroy Sugar Beach (www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/sugarbeach). This American hotel has surely secured the choice location of the island.

It’s between the famous twin peaks of Gros and Petit Piton These upright, precipitous mountains reach over two thousand feet in height and are the consequence of an historic earthquake balancing its neighbouring sea with equal depth. They gave me a sense of being grounded with their majestic presence dwarfing all below. I needed to see them panoramically. From the sea as well as the land. At different angles they alternate between one being a pyramid and the other a multi-faceted shape.

 

At the hotel the Guyanese imported white sand works perfectly and the ‘New English’ style of the villas’ all-white interiors reinforced a sense of light, purity and space. Off to the Tet Nature Trail for a delightful wander amongst all the wonder of such a fertile island. Providence has given her pineapples, mangos, papaya, bananas, guava and plums to name a few. Sometimes they’re even growing all side by side. It’s so amazing to see all these fruits as real vegetation rather than wrapped produce. For me almonds, coffee and chocolate are the most exciting of all.

 

Onwards and upwards I went past two quaint looking fishing villages. At one, called Canaries, I watched chickens crossing the street and local laundry being transported on ladies’ heads and then washed in the stream in which the children splashed, sprayed and swam.

 

The next village along is Anse La Raye. Across the island there are specific weekly fixtures. On Friday there is a ‘Fish Friday’ evening where cooked versions of the fresh catch is offered up from the stalls specially set up along the main street beside the seafront at Anse la Reye. You can then follow it up with a ‘Jump Up’ street party in Gros Islet and then, the next day, there is ‘Fish Saturday’ in Dennery.

 

Onto Capella Marigot Bay (www.capellahotels.com/saintlucia)

This hotel’s location couldn’t be more idyllic as it overlooks its marina. Here I got a strong sense of the nautical character of St. Lucia as I looked around at premier yachts berthed from all over the world. The bay is known as ‘hurricane hole’ from its position on the west side of the island. It’s surrounded by mountains and experiences minimal tidal changes.
Yachties tinker with their equipment and there’s a serenity in this secluded and secure haven.

Copyright St James’s Morgan Bay

Copyright St James’s Morgan Bay

A serenity reflected in the philosophy of the hotel.

 

As I moved up the island the vegetation changes and the sand gets whiter. Next came St. James’s Morgan Bay (www.morganbayresort.com).
The rooms have double balconies and it is beautifully set within the sound of lapping waves and has views of the sea offering stunning sunsets.

It’s for those preferring organised entertainment. There’s a spoiling range of six restaurants and always somewhere open to eat.
Le Jardin is for the fine diners while the Bamboo has fabulous seafood salads.  Marigot Bay kindly lent me a sailing catamaran and off I went after one lesson. How liberating! And with their rescue service how reassuring!

 

 

garden-room-cap-maisonNext and on past Castries the capital and onto Cap Maison (www.capmaison.com). This classy boutique villa resort has a Mediterranean feel. Spanish meets Moroccan. Walking beneath crenellated roofs, past trickling fountains, under vaulted brick corridors and through inner courtyards with birds twittering, I half expected to be responding to peeling church bells. It is located on the northernmost tip in Cap Estate, a highly exclusive area.

 

I took a trip to Pigeon Island. It is like a miniature version of the Pitons with her two humped hills. It was joined up to the mainland in the 1960s by a causeway that is now a picturesque tree-lined avenue. It’s the best spot for snorkeling and is great for hiking as I climbed up the proudly kept nature reserve to its natural look out point.

 

I returned back down the Atlantic coast to the accompaniment of the brightest rainbow I had ever witnessed. A magnificent send off to such a colourful island. The calm after the Matthew storm!

 

ST LUCIA FACT BOX

the-holiday-placeAdam travelled courtesy of The Holiday Place. The Holiday Place is offering holidays to St Lucia from from £719 per person, saving up to £500 per person.
Including flights and accommodation on a bed & breakfast basis.
To book call 020 7644 1770 or visit http://holidayplace.co.uk/holiday/caribbean-and-costa-rica/st-lucia
The Holiday Place has been creating award-winning experiences for over 30 years’. Their holidays range from luxurious to adventurous and cater for all budgets and requirements.
Adam is grateful also to Gatwick Express (www.gatwickexpress.com) and St Lucia Tourist Board (www.saintluciauk.org)

 

Cognac: The Liquor of the Gods

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The town of Cognac and the capital of cognac production, has great historical significance with the Chateau des Valois (now the property of Maison Otard) being the birthplace of King François I. So visitors to Cognac can enjoy both a touch of history alongside a cognac journey when they visit, experiencing either the Kings Way (with a trail through the tiny streets of the old town) or the Belle Epoque route (highlighting the 19th century urban development).
En route, visitors will encounter the Charente River, the gardens of the town hall, the museums, the Récollet Convent and the François I Square.
Cognac was an important trading port for salt and local wine distribution long before the discovery of the double distillation process that produced the famous drink however it is now synonymous with the eponymous spirit of course.

There is a local saying, all cognac is brandy but not all brandies are cognac. 
Cognac, termed “the liquor of the gods” by Victor Hugo, owes its character to the warm, humid climate in this part of Western France. Otard, Camus, Hennessy, Martell, Rémy- Martin, Meukow and Courvoisier can all be found here and each offers guided tours of their cellars and vineyards.
The vineyards of Cognac constitute the 2nd largest area of production in France after Bordeaux and cover an area of 80,000 hectares.
It would be heresy to leave Cognac without a visit to a cellar for a tasting!
94aaf0dd-7efc-44c5-9177-e14ff6353f4dTours of Martell, the oldest Cognac House – Launched in 1715, Martell celebrated its 300th anniversary last year with various new experiences for the public including a celebration of the art and  history of the brand. This theme is continued in 2016 with an exceptional opportunity to delve into the company archives as well as have a tasting of the exclusive tercentenary cognac.

Alternatively, there’s the Martell Discovery Tour where visitors walk around their historic cellars followed by a tasting of Martell VSOP or the gourmet version, the Martell Prestige Tour with a Cordon Bleu tasting included.

 

New tours at Hennessy – In May 2016, Hennessy opened a new series of tours that are unique in Cognac.
Following in the footsteps of eight generations of the Hennessy family and the Fillioux family of Master Blenders, visitors are immersed in
an elegant, creative universe designed in stylish contemporary colours. Based on the stages of the cognac production process, this new journey plays with the senses, creating surprises and evoking emotions.

Visitors go behind the scenes and learn all the secrets of this multi-faceted and firmly contemporary brand.  All tours start with a solar-powered boat trip on the River Charente to understand its significance to the growth of the brand before returning to the Hennessy warehouse.

 

  • The Signature tour includes the complete circuit of the Maison Hennessy followed by a tasting of the VS and VSOP varieties
  • The X.O.Symbole tour adds a particular emphasis on the 1870 creation of XO, its different aromas and ways of tasting
  • The Exception tour offers the basic circuit followed by a visit to the Paradise warehouse where the eau-de-vie that is used in certain varieties is aged.
  • 262232d9-a7ea-4a72-b9f1-766693fe2648The tasting at the termination of the tour includes XO and Paradise cognacs accompanied by savouries created by David Fransoret himself, Chef of the Château de Bagnolet and owner of Maison Hennessy
  • Lastly there is the Hennessy à la carte programme that includes a vineyard trip, visit of the Peu Distillery, coopers (barrel makers) and a tasting designed to better understand the process of ageing and the art of assembling an eau-de-vie.

 

 

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Where to rest your head|

Le François Premier  enjoys a great location in the centre of town and is housed in a Napoleon III building.  Completely renovated in 2012, Le Francois Premier has just 21 rooms and 4 suites, decorated with a contemp:rary feel inspired by the local colours of Cognac. Rooms start at €165 for a double, subject to change.
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Le Ligaro in Jarnac is so named after the owners youngest three children – Liam (LI), Gabrielle (GA) and Rose Anna (RO).  Located within an historic building, the rooms are renowned for their comfortable beds, restful interiors and luxurious touches. Rates, which are subject to change, start at around €139 per room per night rising to €169 for the unique Tower Room. Round in shape, this unique accommodation is built in a stone tower that is part of the old town walls of Jarnac and enjoys a garden view with a private entrance.
0faf25ca-6b13-4f83-b5f3-fd99756f1f2bQuais des Pontis is located on the site of a former factory on the banks of the Charente. Offering a variety of accommodation options from gorgeously appointed Romany-styled caravans (€89), to a romantic cabin on the river (€95) to a suite in a gite (€120) there’s something here to suit every taste (rates subject to change).
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Where to dine:
  • Le restaurant du Château in Jarnac is the gastronomic hub of Le Ligaro hotel, just a few steps away. Flavoursome and delicious unpretentious food is served in convivial surroundings under the toque of young chef, Ludovic Merle who comes from a family of restaurateurs.

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  • La Ribaudière in Bourg-Charente near to Cognac on the banks of the Charente is a stunning contemporary-styled Michelin starred restaurant, run by chef Thierry Verrat with his son Julien. Chef Verrat sees himself as an ambassador through his recipes of the very best produce that the area and indeed France has to offer.
  • Conserverie Fleuriet in Rouillac is based in a restored house and gardens where Françoise has dedicated her life to her passion for gardening and cooking resulting in delicious vinegars, preserves and soups with copious useful recipes to boot. Try her vinegar with a baseline of Pineau des Charentes.
  • La Cognathèque in Cognac has a tasting workshop which lasts about two and a half hours where you can learn about the history of cognac, how it is made, the grape varietes etc. The shop had the largest selection of cognacs in the world (400 cognacs and 50 Pineaux des Charentes).
  • L’Epicerie de la Ribaudière in Bourg-Charente is conveniently situated opposite Thierry Verrat’s restaurant and sells a selection of local produce sourced by the chef.
    Time to shop:
    u=27ec26b9f83e4568087043d80&id=60217118fe&e=2521129983″ target=”_blank” class=””>Conserverie Fleuriet in Rouillac is based in a restored house and gardens where Françoise has dedicated her life to her passion for gardening and cooking resulting in delicious vinegars, preserves and soups with copious useful recipes to boot. Try her vinegar with a baseline of Pineau des Charentes.
  • La Cognathèque in Cognac has a tasting workshop which lasts about two and a half hours where you can learn about the history of cognac, how it is made, the grape varietes etc. The shop had the largest selection of cognacs in the world (400 cognacs and 50 Pineaux des Charentes). 
  • L’Epicerie de la Ribaudière in Bourg-Charente is conveniently situated opposite Thierry Verrat’s restaurant and sells a selection of local produce sourced by the chef.

 

How to Spend Your time 

The Musee des Arts du Cognac’ is the perfect place to understand the world of cognac with its history and humble beginnings through its development to one of the world’s most recognised alcoholic beverages.

The Espace Découverte en Pays du Cognac Country  is a very useful stopping point for visitors wishing to have an interactive look at the area and its attractions before actually physically visiting them. Emphasis is placed on the River Charente and its role in the development of the cognac business.

Visiting a cognac house:  Most houses have tours such as Hennessy, Martell, Otard, Courvoisier, Rémy Martin and Meukow…Camus even allows visitors to learn how to make cognac in a special workshop.

Photo-credits: Francoise Roch / Destination Poitou-Charentes / Martinelli  / Sue Lowry / Region_ALPC / Julia Hasse / Stéphane CHARBEAU / Christophe Mariot / Quais des Pontis / Le restaurant du Château / Conserverie Fleuriet / Saison d’ Or & Co