Friday, October 31, 2014

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: DESTINATION REPORT: The Samana Peninsula Of The Do...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: DESTINATION REPORT: The Samana Peninsula Of The Do...: Christopher Columbus landed in the Dominican Republic in 1492 and it became the site of the first European settlement in the Americas ...

Sydney Festival: Celebrate The City In Summer, January 2015

Sydney Festival: Celebrate the city in summer

SYDNEY, Australia - Sydney Festival is an annual summer arts festival celebrating Sydney in summer. Every January, the Festival enlivens and transforms Sydney with a spectacular program of theatre, dance, music, visual arts and film, spanning over a range free and ticketed events.
Sydney Festival 2015 comprises 179 events, a staggering 85 of which are free. With 495 performances across 25 indoor and outdoor venues, Sydney Festival 2015 features 974 artists from across 30 countries. With 18 world premieres, 11 Australian premieres and 22 Australian exclusives, summer in our beautiful city is not to be missed.
Headline artist James Thierree returns with Tabac Rouge, his largest and most extravagant work to date. Whilst European star of the screen Charlotte Rampling makes her Australian debut performance in The Night Dances.
A world premiere and new Australian theatre work by Kate Mulvany lovingly brings to life the iconic children's book Masquerade by Kit Williams. A magical tale that will enchant audiences aged nine to 90.
An Australian exclusive, Kiss & Cry is a sweeping cinematic romance with a twist, starring a duo of dexterous, dancing hands. A collaboration between prize-winning filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael and choreographer Michele Anne De May, this sensual, small-scale ballet must be seen to be believed.
Music takes centre stage at Sydney Festival in 2015 as Brazil's superstar Seu Jorge brings his signature mix of transformative pop and swinging tunes from Rio's colourful favelas to Australia for the first time.
The sounds of Africa bring the futuristic grooves of Nigerian synth pioneer and music legend William Onyeabor, to Sydney in Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor. The Australian exclusive performance will feature a star studded line-up featuring Gotye, Sinkane, Money Mark (Beastie Boys), Luke Jenner (The Rapture), Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip) and many more.
Sydneysiders know Sydney Festival is one of the most wonderful summer festivals in the world -- a claim underpinned by the city's lustre and charisma, making it an ideal showcase for the world's great artists.

Celebrity Cruises Takes European Vacations To New Heights

On the heels of the successful launch of "Celebrity Explorations" – unique vacations that pair ocean cruises with rich destination experiences on land – is the introduction of European river-and-ocean cruise vacation packages. Unique to the cruise industry and only available on Celebrity Cruises, these one-of-a-kind Celebrity Explorations combine immersive Amras Cruises river journeys with guest-favorite modern luxury ocean sailings.
"Our guests want to continue seeing more of the world with Celebrity, and we are dedicated to providing them with the most destination-rich vacations," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "By introducing these river-and-ocean cruise packages, travelers can immerse themselves in Europe more so than ever before, with the ease of choosing a vacation package exclusively created by Celebrity."
The 11 new river-and-ocean cruise packages offer guests the opportunity to explore Europe far and wide by way of four well-known rivers – the Danube, Rhine, Rhone and Seine – and then by sea onboard a breathtaking Celebrity cruise around the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Russia, Turkey and other destinations.
Ranging from 16 to 24 nights, Celebrity Explorations' river-and-ocean cruise packages include:
Seven-night Amras Cruises river cruise, including gourmet dining; select beverages, featuring regional wine and beer; fully guided tours and excursions; Wi-Fi and more
Dedicated Celebrity Cruises Destination Concierge to ensure a seamless and personalized river cruise experience
Flights to a major European city near the ocean cruise port - Rome, Italy; London, England; Barcelona, Spain; Athens, Greece; or Istanbul, Turkey
One- to two-night luxury hotel accommodations before embarking on the ocean cruise
Convenient transfers from the airport to the hotel and the ocean cruise port
Celebrity Cruises Classic Beverage Package, including wine and spirits
Each river cruise perfectly complements the signature luxuries Celebrity is known for at sea, from beautifully designed accommodations and impeccable service to distinctive dining experiences created by a James Beard-featured chef.
The European river-and-ocean cruise vacation packages offer 11 different combinations of six river cruises and nine distinct ocean sailings, including:
Southern France Sonata with Greece & Turkey – A 16-night adventure that begins with a seven-night river cruise onboard Amadeus Symphony, through Southern France – including stops in Lyon, Viviers and Avignon – followed by two nights in Athens, Greece and seven nights visiting the gems of the Mediterranean aboard Celebrity Equinox
The 16-night journey departs Chalon-sur-Saone, France on July 2 and ends July 18, 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Danube Waltz with Spain & the Canary Islands – A twenty-night vacation to seven different countries starts aboard Amadeus Silver II for a river cruise visiting heritage sites of Budapest, Hungary; the Austrian shoreline and Wachau Valley; and historic German cities. Vacationers then fly to London, England for a two-night stay before meeting Celebrity Eclipse for an 11-night ocean cruise to the vibrant cities of Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal and the Canary Islands.
The 20-night journey departs Budapest, Hungary on Oct. 1 and ends Oct. 21, 2015, in Southampton, England.
Classical Rhine with Caribbean Transatlantic – Vacationers can enjoy some of the most breathtaking cities in Europe, including immersive visits in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Cologne, Germany; and Strasbourg, France. The river cruise adventure onboard Amadeus Silver is followed by an overnight stay in Rome, Italy and a modern luxury ocean cruise vacation across the Atlantic Ocean on Celebrity's newest ship, Celebrity Reflection, to St Kitts, St. Maarten and other idyllic islands of the Caribbean.
The 23-night journey departs Amsterdam on Oct. 15 and ends Nov. 7, 2015 in Miami, Fla.
Seine Symphony with Israel & the Mediterranean – Guests can experience the French countryside in a new way by sailing aboard Amadeus Diamond and docking for tours of châteaus, centuries-old cathedrals, plus the beaches of Normandy. Travelers then spend a night docked in Paris, France and fly into Istanbul, Turkey to embark on a 12-night cruise aboard Celebrity Constellation to the historic cities of Haifa and Ashdod, Israel; Valletta, Malta; and Naples and Rome, Italy.
The 20-night journey departs Paris on Oct. 15 and ends Nov. 4, 2015 in Rome, Italy.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A First-Timer’s Guide To Southern Australia

Even with a month to play with, seeing the many marvels of Oz would be almost impossible. Fear not, our bite-sized southern Australia itinerary is designed to give you a big taste of Down Under in just two weeks. Such is the size of Australia, trying to join up the countless highlights can be exhausting. We recommend focusing on one area and getting to know it really well – Southern Australia encapsulates the very best of the country.
1. Adelaide – city of cuisine and culture
Fly directly into Adelaide and within 15 minutes of leaving the airport you can be standing beneath Queen Victoria’s statue. The first settlers came here to create a utopia, with lots of greenery being one of their main priorities. Hence the race course, the parks, the botanic garden and cricket grounds.
2. Fleurieu Peninsula – seafood and surfer paradise
Board a vintage tram from Adelaide to Glenelg, just 20 minutes away. With a car, you can then head east to the Fleurieu Peninsula and string of beautiful beaches such as Moana, fantastic for surfing, whilst Willunga is perfect for seafood lovers. Dine at the hugely popular Star of Greece restaurant.
Port Willunga
3. Barossa Valley – vineyards & valleys
The Barossa Valley and its 400 vineyards are well-known, but you’ll also find Clare Valley not too far from Adelaide nestled into rolling farmlands and hills of eucalyptus.
Barossa Valley
4. Flinders Ranges – adventure in the Outback
At the heart of the Ranges is the breath-taking topography of Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre of mountains. Just five hours from Adelaide or you can fly by private charter if you like.
5. Kangaroo Island – wilderness & wildlife
Just a short hop form Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is one of the best places to see kola, emu, wallaby, kangaroo, possum, sea lions, seals and much more amazing birdlife, from ospreys to cockatoos. Many of these are extinct on the mainland.
6. Indian Pacific Railway – epic train ride
At the end of your two week holiday in Southern Australia, we recommend you ride the Indian Pacific railway to Sydney (two days and one night) through the Blue Mountains and mining town of Broken Hill.
7. Sydney – a city to suit everyone
This world-class city has handsome attractions from beaches to harbour boat trips, excellent restaurants, sea-plane journeys, evenings at the opera. In fact, if you wanted, you could spend an entire two weeks in Sydney and still have a wonderful holiday.
Sydney Harbour
Contributed by David Wickers, Director of Bridge & Wickers.
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Mussolini Air Raid Shelter Opens To Tourists

Contributed by Frances D'emilio

Benito Mussolini's first air raid shelter, created in old wine cellars, is seen during a visit for the press in Villa Torlonia in Rome, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. After the outbreak of World War II, the shelter was quickly constructed in 1940 in what had been the wine cellar of Torlonia noble family, who lived there before Mussolini took up residence during his Fascist rule. The city of Rome now owns the villa and opened the shelter to tourists with reservations starting from Oct. 31. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
ROME (AP) - A Roman villa's wine cellar, which was converted into an air raid shelter for Benito Mussolini and the Italian dictator's family, is opening its anti-gas, double steel doors to tourists.

The shelter was quickly constructed in 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, in what had once been the wine cellar of a noble family who lived there before Mussolini took up residence during his Fascist rule.

Visitors at a preview Saturday saw the iron-rung ladder used for emergency exits and a rusting contraption to purify air in case of a gas attack. A label on the apparatus was dated November 1940 in Roman numerals, in keeping with Mussolini's style of evoking the ancient Roman empire's glory days as inspiration for his own rule.
The tours, which will run on weekends starting Oct. 31, will also take visitors to see a separate underground bunker that was later built for Mussolini directly under the villa.

Mussolini had the bunker made by encapsulating the 19th-century villa's underground kitchen area in reinforced concrete. Before that, the Mussolini family would have had to dash across the villa's sprawling lawn and gardens to reach the wine-cellar shelter in a separate structure if air raid sirens sounded.

Work began in 1942 to expand and fortify the bunker. Archaeologist Giuseppe Granata said Mussolini had lamented in writing that the updated bunker was running behind schedule and over cost. It is not known if the dictator ever used the bunker. By the time Allied bombings hit Rome, the dictator had been deposed and, under Nazi protection, was leading a puppet state in northern Italy. In 1945, partisans captured and executed him.

Today, Villa Torlonia is a pine-and-palm-studded park where Romans jog, stroll, play soccer or dine at an outdoor restaurant.

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: Travelore Tips: How To Protect Your Private Data W...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: Travelore Tips: How To Protect Your Private Data W...:   PrivateGiant’s Internet security, privacy tips keep travelers safe when they roam Travelers often worry about flight delays, bad we...

Ten Lesser-Known Haunted Places Of The World

With the sheer number of haunted destinations in the world, it doesn't seem fair that well-known creepy sites, like Bran Castle in Transylvania, get all the attention. So here are 10 obscure ghastly places that will curl your toes. You can even spend the night at some of them, if you dare.

Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg

Room 202 in the Fort Garry Hotel may or may not be your best option, depending on your inclinations. Image by Tony Hisgett/ CC-BY-2.0Room 202 in the Fort Garry Hotel may or may not be your best option, depending on your inclinations. Image by Tony HisgettCC-BY-2.0
Most of the unnatural occurrences at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg are focused in Room 202, where according to legend a woman hung herself in the closet many years ago, after hearing of her husband's death. There have been reports of blood dripping down the walls in the room and guests waking up to an apparition of a cloaked woman hovering at the foot of the bed. Guests of ghoulish inclination can ask to stay in room 202. Personal note: I spent a night there without incident, to my great consternation.

LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans

The infamous LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans. Image by Tom Bastin/ CC-BY-2.0The infamous LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans. Image by Tom BastinCC-BY-2.0
The LaLaurie Mansion ( of New Orleans, former home of socialite and now-famous sadist (from the television show American Horror Story: Coven) Madame Delphine LaLaurie, was the scene of horrifying torture in the 1830s. Phantoms of the slaves that died on the property have been reported, along with screams coming from the house. People in passing tour groups have even fainted or become nauseous. Actor Nicholas Cage owned the house for a while, though he experienced no unusual happenings while living there.

Ross Castle, Ireland

Ross Castle in Ireland by Rowan McLaughlin/ CC-BY-2.0Ross Castle in Ireland is now a B&B. Image by Rowan McLaughlinCC-BY-2.0
Among the many, many haunted castles in Ireland is the 16th-century Ross Castle, located in County Meath, now serving as a five-bedroom B&B. (Note: this is not the Ross Castle in Killarney.) Built by English Lord Richard Nugent, a famously cruel aristocrat, Ross Castle is said to be haunted by his daughter, Sabina. Having fallen in love with the son of an enemy Irish chieftain, Sabina eloped, but the lovers were caught in a storm as they rowed across Lake Sheelin and Sabina's husband died. She was so distraught that she was unwilling to eat or drink and soon died as well. It's said that both Sabina and the Lord are routinely sighted on the property. Guests also report hearing voices and doors shutting on their own, sometimes with a startling bang.

The island of Daksa, Croatia

Despite its beauty, Daksa Island is said to be haunted. Image by Katie Hunt/ CC-BY-2.0Despite its beauty, Daksa Island is said to be haunted. Image by Katie HuntCC-BY-2.0
Despite being prime for-sale real estate just off the coast of Dubrovnik, the island of Daksa ( is so frightening that no one will buy it. The deserted island was the site of a massacre of 48 Nazi sympathizers, including the mayor, after Dubrovnik's liberation. The bodies were left unburied, decaying for decades and it’s said that moaning can be heard coming from the island, particularly on stormy nights. Anyone with a morbid streak can snap up Daksa for a mere £1.7 million.

Magnetic Hill, Orhei, Moldova

Just south of the city of Orhei in Moldova sits Magnetic Hill, a spooky site with an interactive element. Legend has it that the Nazis committed atrocities in the area and strange happenings have been occurring ever since. Magnetic Hill gets its name from the phenomenon that if you position your car just right across the road from the hill, and slip the car into neutral, the car will eerily advance despite an opposing incline. If you don't apply your brakes in time, you'll be pulled into traffic on the M2. (I tested this myself; check out the video on

The Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Pfister Hotel may look normal on the outside but it's reportedly quite haunted on the inside. Image by Paul Sableman/ CC-BY-2.0The Pfister Hotel may look normal on the outside but it's reportedly quite haunted on the inside. Image by Paul SablemanCC-BY-2.0
The landmark Pfister Hotel is said to be haunted by the ghost of its founder, Charles Pfister, who died in 1927. It's especially infamous among visiting baseball teams playing at Miller Park, leaving some players so creeped out that they will pay out of their own pockets to stay at another hotel. Staff and guests have reported Pfister's ghost standing on the hotel's grand staircase, strolling around the ballroom's Minstrel's Gallery and on the ninth floor. Guests have reported their radios and televisions spontaneously turning on, footsteps and knocking in their rooms, moved furniture and personal items, and flickering lights.

Hoia Baciu Forest, Romania

Vintage Cluj cemetery. Image by Juan Facundo Mora Soria/ E+/ Getty Images.Cemetery in Cluj-Napoca. Image by Juan Facundo Mora Soria/ E+/ Getty Images
Located near Cluj-NapocaTransylvania, locals call Hoia Baciu Forest ( the 'Bermuda Triangle' of Romania. Locals claim the area has been associated with evil for centuries, haunted by peasants that were murdered here, whose souls are trapped in the forest. People have gone missing, UFOs have been sighted, lights and unexplained electrical phenomena frequently occur and people say they feel they're being watched. Paranormal activity is centered in a barren circle on a plateau in the interior, where no plant life will grow.

Island of the Dolls, Mexico

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the Island of the Dolls is downright creepy. Image by Esparta Palma/CC-BY-2.0Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the Island of the Dolls is downright creepy. Image by Esparta Palma/CC-BY-2.0
Just south of Mexico City, the uninhabited Island of the Dolls ( has a sad history mixed with creepy phenomena. The legend is that a girl drowned in a canal surrounding the island and sometime later, dolls began to wash ashore on the island. Julian, the island's only inhabitant and caretaker for some 50 years, hung the dolls from the trees to please her spirit but was later found drowned in the same spot as the girl. The island is now a tourist attraction with people bringing dolls to hang in order to appease the spirits. The creepiness of the island no doubt adds to the hyperbole of reports claiming the dolls sometimes move their heads and arms, open their eyes, or whisper to each other.

Boggo Road Gaol Museum, Brisbane

The Boggo Road Gaol in Brisbane offers bi-weekly ghost tours. Image by darkday/ CC-BY-2.0The Boggo Road Gaol in Brisbane offers bi-weekly ghost tours. Image by darkdayCC-BY-2.0
The Boggo Road Gaol ( penitentiary was notorious for its poor living conditions and the scene of roughly 100 deaths, including 42 hangings. Queensland's last execution was Ernest Austin and is allegedly the main source of the prison's hauntings. Austin's ghost was known to harass both prisoners and guards, the latter of whom would do anything to avoid working the night shift, including bribing each other with tobacco. The prison closed in 1989 and reopened as a museum in 1992. Ghost tours are led on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

Aokigahara, Japan

The Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mt. Fuji. Image by Ippei Naoi/ Moment/ Getty Images.The Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mt. Fuji. Image by Ippei Naoi/ Moment/ Getty Images
Also known as the 'Suicide Forest', Aokigahara ( is first-rate spookiness at the base of Mt. Fuji. Its moniker comes from its history as a place people come to kill themselves: it's said about 100 people commit suicide here each year. Signs in both Japanese and English are posted in the forest urging people to seek help, including 'Please consult with the police before you decide to die'. Unsurprisingly, people believe that the forest is haunted, both by the people who have committed suicide and, according to legend, elders who were left here to starve to death during times of famine.
Contributed by Leif Pettersen ( a travel writer, humorist and silver medallist at the 2014 International Jugglers' Association championships (  He’s visited 52 countries (so far) and tweets at @leifpettersen.
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Monday, October 27, 2014

7 Of The Best Quirky Things To Do In Dublin

Am I proud to be Irish? The answer is that I most definitely am. As a nation we’re known to be one of the friendliest in the world, and most of us have a great sense of humor. We also love to embrace characters and experiences that are a bit different and quirky. I recently read a wonderful post by a Brazilian man on what Ireland means to him. He captures it perfectly when he says. “The beauty of Ireland is above all its people with their culture and traditions.”
If you want to experience my hometown, Dublin, Ireland, in ways that celebrate its people, culture, and traditions, then here are some of the best quirky things to do in Dublin. The list is not in any particular order, nor is it meant to be definitive – I've aimed to give you a small selection of some of the top quirky things to do, that will enrich your time in Dublin. There’s quite a few more, so keep an eye out for a follow up article.
The first listing holds a special place in my heart, as I feel it really captures the essence of us Irish. But not only that – it’s located in Dalkey, which is a beautiful spot, that has attracted its fair share of household names to buy property there – Bono, Neil Jordan and Chris De Burgh to name a few…
Biddy’s Cottage, Dalkey
Experience the heart and soul of the Irish and Ireland. Get ready to be captivated, enthralled and charmed in the beautiful setting of the enchanting Biddy’s Cottage in Dalkey, overlooking the sea. Although Biddy doesn't compare herself to any “seanachaí” – which is an Irish traditional storyteller, the mood of her cottage transports you back to the feeling of the days when seanchaithe were an everyday part of our culture.
Coliemore Harbour with Dalkey Island in the background
Storytelling in our culture is considered an art. The seanchaithe make use of a selection of different storytelling conventions. The content and tone of the stories are widely varied, with repertoires which span from the humorous to the deeply tragic. In Biddy’s case, she and her family have had more than their fair share of personal tragedy, which no doubt gives her the compassion and immense depth of feeling that she has. Her storytelling is warm and often hilariously witty.
Biddy McLauglin
In a newspaper interview, Biddy said: “I've had cowboys from Texas come in, hen nights, farmers, businessmen, walkers, you name it,” Biddy tells me. “It’s become a magical place,” she smiles. On top of this Biddy also offers bespoke corporate evenings in her cottage.
The Irish storytelling tradition has mostly been passed down from generation to generation. In Biddy’s case she shares her raw passion for the past, with her Dad. Biddy’s Dad, Owenie ‘Owens’ Mc Laughlin, is a hardy Donegal man who has endless tales of rural life in the olden days. It was her Dad who restored her cottage, and no doubt his own creative energy has helped shape this perfect setting. Her Dad has helped weave the web, where the threads of her life, her stories and her art are eternally enmeshed.
As Biddy says: “Life is synonymous with stories.” She’ll invite you into her character-filled cottage with a warm welcome, as if you’re an old friend. Then Biddy will transport you to another era, with her magical storytelling as you sit around her fire, as she gently rocks on her rocking chair. Her manner is compassionate and infectious. Apart from her storytelling being a wonderfully authentic way to immerse yourself in Irish culture, you’ll see her naive Irish paintings. Both her storytelling and her art are the soul of life, happiness and healing.
Biddy will serve you homemade oatcakes and tea, in her authentic cottage which is a heavenly spot – a den of good energy and creativity. She feels that she got through breast cancer with good energy. Although she doesn’t remember, apparently she even had everyone laughing in the chemotherapy ward with her storytelling.
I would highly recommend going to Biddy’s Cottage as early on in your trip as possible. It will definitely give you a real flavour of Irish culture, not from a plastic touristic perspective, but filled with Irish heart and soul. When you arrive to Biddy’s Cottage, you’ll enter her door as a tourist, but when you leave, you’ll feel like you’re leaving a friend.
Brighid “Biddy” McLaughlin is an ex-journalist for one of Ireland’s top newspapers. She is a wonderful storyteller, writer, chef, painter and sculptor. But above all Biddy is an inspirational Irish woman. As she said on a radio interview: “The threads of life can be snapped into happiness eventually, not immediately …”
Bella A Go Go
Enter Dublin’s Queen of Burlesque, Miss Bella A Go Go. Don’t think sleazy, think sultry, beautiful and sexy, with a large dose of wacky and quirky thrown in. Miss Bella, who is also a belly dancer and cabaret legend, has been thrilling audiences for many years now. She’s worked with rock bands, both in Ireland and abroad, with big cabaret shows, and produces her own unique, highly entertaining cabaret shows.
Bella’s hugely successful show – the Mexican Day of the Dead cabaret show – includes her skeleton ballet and celebrates those who have died in a wonderful, positive, fun way. Don’t let the macabre title put you off!
If you can make it to Dublin for the Halloween weekend 2014, you can see her performing in The Liquor Rooms, along with other madcap artists, on the 31st of October. Then the next day, 1st November, you can find Miss Bella at the Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Extravaganza, at The Sugar Club. Below is Miss Bella’s Facebook link, and the websites for the two different clubs. Keep an eye out on her page to see when you can see her performing in Dublin.
Of course a trip to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without learning about our fabulous leprechauns! Take the word museum out of the title of this venue, because in reality it’s more of a storytelling experience about leprechauns and other Irish magical myths.. Of course there’s a museum element to it, but not in the traditional sense.
National Leprachaun Museum, Dublin
There are a number of rooms, each with their own story. The guides are really entertaining, and the daytime tour is fun for both children and adults. Let your inner child out to enjoy the leprechauns, fairies and myths. If you’re someone who likes to take life very seriously, it’s probably not the place for you.
On Friday and Saturday nights, there’s an adults only interactive show, with a darker side to it. Be warned, when you get there a member of the cast will dress you up in a costume – this is part of the interactive experience. Then it’s off to the town of Cnoc Dubh (Knock Duff) to help the town’s residents find out why their crops are failing and people are disappearing….What, or who, is responsible?
Vintage Cocktail Club, Temple Bar
The Vintage Cocktail Club in Temple Bar is possibly one of the best places in the world for its classy atmosphere and old cocktails. The cocktails are phenomenal, the speakeasy vibe atmosphere fantastic, and you feel like you’ve just stepped back in time. It’s best to make a reservation, as this exclusive set up has designated sitting times. Part of its charm is the fact that you need to ring the bell to get in, on the door that simply has VCC on it. This is the place to go if you want to enjoy fantastic food and cocktails, in an atmosphere reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties.
Temple Bar Dublin at night
Go to a GAA match or Experience Gaelic Games
If you’re a sports fan, check out the GAA website for fixtures that coincide with your trip to Dublin. Both Gaelic football and hurling are unique, exciting games to watch. However if you fancy getting a little bit more hands-on, then go along to Experience Gaelic Games. This is a fun way to experience and learn about the pride, the sports and their history.
GAA Gaelic Games Offaly and Westmeath play in the Leinster football championship, Croke Park, Dublin
Even if you’re a seasoned traveller, this is an experience that should outshine many that you’ve had before. A wonderful way to have plenty of Irish craic, Experience Gaelic Games is really popular with hen and stag parties, as well as other types of groups, corporate included.
On their website, you can see how the astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield, got on with his hurling experience.
Gay Bingo at The George
You don’t have to be gay to enjoy Gay Bingo at The George. Running since 1997, on Sunday night, the hostess with the mostess, Shirley Temple Bar, will give you an unforgettable experience. Vanity Fair said: “You haven’t played bingo unless you’ve played with Shirley Temple Bar.” The Irish newspaper, the Sunday Independent, describes the night as: “An amalgam of pub panto, drag show and beginner’s gambling!”
Gay Bingo at The George is unlike anything else you’ll experience in Dublin, or anywhere else in the world. It’s lots of fun, with great drag acts and plenty of good prizes to be won. If you do decide to go along, don’t expect a new club with new decor – this is not the case. The George, and its Sunday night bingo with Shirley Temple Bar, is somewhat of an institution in Dublin.
Science Gallery, Trinity
“It may have ‘science’ in the title, but each exhibition at the gallery proves it to be the most creative, innovative and artistic venue in Ireland.” – Shane Hegarty, Irish Times, April 2011
Located in the beautiful Trinity College Dublin, is the fantastic concept of the Science Gallery, where art and science collide. Don’t expect a huge venue, or anything similar to something you’ve visited before. This is a world first, where exhibitions change regularly, and you’re encouraged to have your say.
From vampire content, to examining burst bubbles, and from questioning which pills we take to debating about the science and future of desire and love – the Science Gallery is not to be missed. Each show is amazing, and the gallery is run by super creative, dedicated people who source quirky, enlivening exhibitions.
With the help of a partnership with Google Ireland, the Science Gallery is now an International success story, which has been cloned in other cities around the world. In September 2014 its partnership with Google Ireland won the award of best large sponsorship, at the Allianz Business to Arts Awards.
Set up in 2008, admission to the exhibitions is free, and some of the events also have free admission. Before visiting do check their website, as opening hours change depending on the exhibition.
Have you had a quirky fun experience in Dublin? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about it.
Contributed by Jackie de Burca, Co-owner of Catalonia Valencia.
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Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: From Michelin Star To Vegetarian And Vegan, There’...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: From Michelin Star To Vegetarian And Vegan, There’...: The downstairs restaurant area of Ubiquitous Chip, Glasgow Scotland’s natural larder is at the heart of Scottish culture with fanta...

Top 10 Reasons To Visit Singapore In 2015

Peering over the rooftop pool deck of Marina Bay Sands, shopping up a storm on Haji Lane, or ogling at the supertrees in Gardens by the Bay, it’s almost impossible to imagine Singapore was little more than a fishing village just over a century ago. On the eve of its golden jubilee, there’s no better time to discover the delights of the Lion City.
Fireworks on National Day, Singapore. Image by Singapore Tourist BoardNational Day fireworks, Singapore. Image by Singapore Tourist Board

The big party

In 2015, Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence. The National Day Parade on 9 August will be bigger than ever, but the party will actually last all year. Starting with the countdown to 2015, key calendar highlights include the opening of the National Gallery Singapore (, the launch of the Jubilee Walk walking trail covering historic locations in the civic district and the Marina Bay area, and existing annual events like Chingay and the Singapore International Festival of the Arts, which will be held in the spirit of Singapore’s golden jubilee.
Hainanese chicken rice, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, Singapore. Image by Sarah ReidHainanese chicken rice, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, Singapore. Image by Sarah Reid

The fabulous food

Flavours from Malaysia, China, Indonesia, India and beyond collide to create the delicious hybrid cuisine Singapore has become famous for. And while the queues for Tian Tian chicken rice at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre show no signs of dwindling, there are some impressive new players on Singapore’s food scene. In recent years weekend brunch – served everywhere from Australian-style cafes (try Common Man Coffee in Robertson Quay) to the city's top hotels (think gourmet buffets and free-flow champagne) – has become a religion, and celebrity restaurants are huge: Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street kitchen will be the eighth celebrity eatery for Marina Bay Sands when it opens in 2015.

The fancy new gallery

Singapore’s lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum and Gillman Barracks, a colonial army base transformed into a contemporary arts space, are barely three years old between them, but Singapore will get its biggest and best art space yet in 2015. Housed in two of Singapore’s most iconic national monuments – City Hall and the former Supreme Court building – the National Gallery Singapore will showcase the region’s largest collection of South­east Asian and Singa­porean art. With a ten-day festival dedicated to it's mid-2015 opening, it’ll be an occasion indeed.
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Image by Sarah ReidGardens by the Bay, Singapore. Image by Sarah Reid

The new green spaces

It's difficult to name another world city that boasts as many eco-attractions as Singapore. Building on its portfolio of iconic parklands such as the Botanic Gardens and the sleepy jungles of Pulau Ubin, the city-state has given birth to several new awe-inspiring green spaces in recent years, from Gardens by the Bay (don't miss the light show at 7.45pm and 8.45pm every evening) to the Southern Ridges, the Green Corridor to Singapore Zoo's new River Safari. It doesn’t stop there, either: tots will be able to play on one-of-a-kind giant slides at Admiralty Park when it reopens in 2015 following its redevelopment. Two other new green spaces at Jurong Lake and East Coast will reopen in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Ku de Ta, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Image by Sarah ReidKu de Ta, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Image by Sarah Reid

The drinking scene

Singapore’s drinking scene has literally reached new heights. There’s now no better place to admire the expanding city skyline than from rooftop bars like Ku de Ta ( or Altitude before kicking on at one of the hot new ‘secret’ bars in the Chinatown/CBD area (try 28 HongKong St or Operation Dagger at 7 Ann Siang Hill). Daytime drinking, too, has been revamped, with dozens of hip coffeeshops (check out The Dispensary at 69 Tiong Bahru Road) now sitting side-by-side with traditional kopitiams across the city, and new operations opening almost weekly.

The new hip 'hoods

Singapore’s residential neighbourhoods offer a fascinating diversion from the CBD’s blockbuster sights. Just beyond Chinatown, retro-fabulous 1930s housing estate Tiong Bahru is peppered with enough boutiques (Nana & Bird have two stores here) to keep you busy well beyond brunch at one of the many cool cafes in the area (Whisk, at 58 Seng Poh Road, is one of the newest additions to the neighbourhood). Once patronised soley for its fantastic laksa restaurants, Katong, too, is emerging as a hispter playground thanks to the opening of slick new restro-bars like Immigrants and The Trenchard Arms. Everton Park is also having something of a moment, with some people already calling it the 'new Tiong Bahru'.
Shopping on Haji Lane, Singapore. Image by Sarah ReidShopping on Haji Lane, Singapore. Image by Sarah Reid

The shopping

It still lags behind its Asia Pacific counterparts in affordability, but in terms of choice, Singapore is still a shopper's paradise. Once confined to the malls of Orchard Road, the city's shopping scene has exploded and diversified – Haji Lane and Tiong Bahru have emerged as hip boutique shopping enclaves, and the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands complex now houses one of the world’s largest collections of designer boutiques under one roof. Flea markets have taken off, too – from MAAD Pyjamas (Market of Artists and Designers) on the first Friday of every month to the city's weekly Sunday Artists Market. Visit for city-wide listings.

The sport

Home to the world’s only Formula 1 night race (, Singapore is one of the world’s greatest Grand Prix hosts. And the city-state is beginning to attract more big fish in the sport world. A giant spaceship-like complex on the site of the former National Stadium, the brand new Singapore Sports Hub (named the world’s best new sports building at the 2014 World Architecture Festival) will play host to the 2015 ASEAN Games amongst a slew of other international sporting events in the New Year, from tennis to football, rugby to diving. With facilities like this, it’s no surprise there’s talk of a Summer Olympics bid on the horizon.
Sofitel So Singapore. Image by Accor HotelsSofitel So Singapore. Image by Accor Hotels

The hot new hotels

It's all about cutting edge interior design in Singapore's hotel scene at the moment – from the French-opulence-meets-Singapore-glitz Sofitel So Singapore (Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld designed its 'Lion's Seal' logo) in the CBD to savvy business traveller favourite Wangz (Tiong Bahru). Designed by world-renowned Jaya International Design, The Patina Capitol Singapore (Colonial District) is primed to be the city's hottest hotel opening of 2015 and, kicked off by the 2014 opening of the Shangri-La’s little sister, Hotel Jen Orchardgateway (Orchard Road), affordability, too, is having a moment.

The airport

With free city tours on offer to layover passengers at Changi Airport (head to the registration desk in Terminal 2), you don’t even have to stay overnight to get a taste of Singapore. Transiting through the world's most awarded airport will get even better in 2015, with more than 70 new perfume and cosmetics brands on offer in Terminal 3 from the end of January, and $40 Changi Dollar Vouchers available to Singapore Airlines passengers until 31 March (visit for more information). Two new terminals, a third runway, and a mix-use biodome – complete with a cascading waterfall – are just a taste of what’s to come to Changi in the next few years.
Contributed by Lonely Planet Destination Editor Sarah Reid, one of Singapore's biggest fans. Follow her tweets at @sarahtrvls. Sarah travelled to Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourist Board ( and Singapore Airlines ( Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies for positive coverage.
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