The Irish Times – Saturday, January 7, 2012San Sebastian on the itinerary for a couple visiting northern Spain
GO ADVICE: Your travel questions answered by
We are a group of 10 college students who want to go island hopping in Greece for two to three weeks after our finals in June. We will stay in hostels, but we would also like to charter a boat for a few days. Can you please advise on the best way to organise the trip, a rough estimate on costs, and some of the islands not to miss. A healthy mix of nightlife and chill out spots would be good. Also, do you expect there might be any problems with holidaying in Greece given the country current economic difficulties? – JK, Dublin
The problems Greece has been experiencing have not affected tourism hugely, apart from increases in prices. Petrol is more expensive, and alcohol is not as cheap as it used to be. The one thing that would scupper your plans would be general strikes, which would affect transport. Take out travel insurance to cover that.
There will be packages to Greece during the summer to the islands of Crete, Corfu and Zante with Falconholidays.ie and Thomascook.ie. Prices for two weeks will be in the range of €700-€800pps. Tour operators sell seats on charter flights for around €300. Aer Lingus will have flights to Athens from Dublin, and prices in June will be up to €300 return, including a bag. From Athens you can make your way to the islands by taking ferries. See schedules and prices on aferry.com and ferries.gr.
Accommodation in hostels will cost around €10 per night. The fun islands in Greece are Mykonos, Ios, Kos, Crete, Paros, Santorini, Skiathos and lots more. If you base yourself in the Cyclades group of islands you can visit Mykonos, Paros, Ios, and Santorini.
Bareboat chartering is quite easy to arrange, and you would be looking at around €3,000-€4,000 per week in June for a Janneau or Beneteau 45-foot yacht. See sailgreece.net. You might be able to bargain for a charter when you are there.
Walking in northern Spain
We are in our fifties, fairly fit, enjoy walking and are considering going to northern Spain next May. We are also keen to explore the Basque area. Have you any suggestions regarding towns/locations to stay in, and possible walking areas. – KD, Down
The Basque country is a vast region straddling the western Pyrenees and the Atlantic coast from Biarritz to Bilbao. While public transport by rail and bus is good, you will probably need a car to explore it.
Getting to northern Spain in May will be relatively easy, with a choice of flights from Dublin to Bilbao with Aer Lingus and to Biarritz with Ryanair.
The main cities of the Basque region are Bilbao, Vitoria-Gastiez, Donostia-San Sebastian, Pamplona and Bayonne. San Sebastian has the Atlantic beaches. Bilbao is home to the Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum. Pamplona is famous for the bull run Festival of St Fermin. Vitoria-Gaztiez is a city for gourmands and Bayonne is home to the Museé Basque.
One of the routes of The Way of St James, El Camino del Norte, passes through the Basque country and you could do some walking along the route.
Landscapes of the Basque Country , by Peter Cooper, published by Sunflowers Books (sunflowerbooks.co.uk) has walking and car touring routes for the region and would be ideal for planning your trip.
There is also a website formed by some of the major cities of the Basque region, basquecountry-tourism.com, where you will find information about accommodation, routes and events.
Big family rental home wanted
My sister and her adult family want to rent a house during July in Kerry, Waterford or Dublin, preferably near the sea. They are eight adults and two children and would like a five-bedroom with at least two bathrooms. Are there large houses available or would apartments be a better rate? – SOH, Louth
The cost of renting houses or apartments would be similar, but with a house you will get more space, with outdoor areas for the children and barbecues. During high season most rentals are from Saturday to Saturday. I have found a few suitable properties from different rental sites.
In Kerry, Seaview House on the Dingle Peninsula is a modern five-bedroom property with sea and mountain views. It is five minutes by car from Dingle and close to Ventry Beach. Summer rental rates are €1,500 per week. see holiday-rentals.co.uk/p909774.
In Rush, close to Dublin, this luxury house has an outdoor heated swimming pool, all en-suite bedrooms and is right on the beach. It even has a bar with beer taps. summer rentals rates are around €2,450 per week. See holidayhomesdirect.ie/12388.
In Dublin, Brookman Townhouses has nice properties in Donnybrook Manor, ideal for getting out and about in the city. You would have to rent two properties for your family and prices are between €980 and €1,150 per week in July. See brookman.ie.
The Gold Coast Resort in Waterford is not only a hotel but also has self-catering cottages and villas to rent, mostly two- and three-bedroom houses. You can use the hotel leisure facilities and there is also golf available. Prices are around €700 per week in July. See goldcoastgolfresort.com.
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