Sunday, September 24, 2017

Another Travel Tip When Doing a Rental

Before agreeing to a rental, it merits asking whether the house/condo will have the manuals for the appliances and such or, if not, a tip sheet that covers such things. Otherwise, for example, while you have a very fancy modern oven/stove, you might find that you've set the "lock" on the stove-top or oven and have no clue how to unlock it. Yes, The Google should have the answer but doing such a search is not the kind of time you might prefer spending when there's a fantastic ocean walk and view out there. 

How to Travel in Ireland: Lavishly But Affordability

[From the NYT]

Go to Ireland, live lavishly but don’t spend a lot. A dream? It doesn’t have to be, said Siobhan Byrne Learat, the founder of Adams & Butler, a Dublin-based company selling luxury Ireland trips. “Ireland, in general, is an affordable destination,” she said. “And with some insider knowledge, you can stretch your money further and have a fabulous upscale vacation here.”
Below, Ms. Learat’s tips on a luxury-for-less trip to Ireland:
TIME YOUR TRIP RIGHT Avoid visiting in July and August, when it’s peak tourist season in Ireland and hotel prices are highest. Instead, Ms. Learat said, go any other time of the year, when costs dip significantly (temperatures in Ireland tend to be mild year-round). Ashford Castle, set in an 800-year-old castle in County Mayo, is one of the most upscale hotels in the world and has nightly summer rates starting at 600 euros, or $714. In March, however, rates begin at €315. Many high-end hotels also offer attractively priced off-season packages with inclusions such as meals.
HIRE A DRIVER-GUIDE Ireland is known for its private drivers who double as guides. They are skilled at getting around the country and also know the local history and attractions. They can accompany you throughout your trip and cost around €800 a day. While this price may seem high, keep in mind that you won’t have to pay to rent a car or book separate tours and also don’t have the hassle of trying to navigate around the countryside. “Driver-guides are well worth the money because you get so much out of them,” Ms. Learat said. You can find a driver-guide through Adams & Butler, your travel agent at home or through your hotel’s concierge.
KNOW WHERE THE DEALS ARE Did you know that the hotel staff in Ireland often give free room upgrades upon arrival for guests who simply ask for one? “Irish hotel staff are especially obliging and will put you in a higher category of room if they can,” Ms. Learat said. Also, some of Ireland’s top-quality golf courses offer discounts up to 30 percent for players willing to playing at dawn or dusk or have promotions such as play three rounds but pay for two. Another tip: Ireland is famous for its castles that have turned into luxury hotels. Many of these properties command high nightly rates, but the ones in less touristy areas such as Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa, in County Roscommon, which has picturesque lakes and villages, can cost as much as 50 percent less per night, compared with castle hotels in more frequented parts of Ireland.
DINE AT PUBS For excellent and affordable meals, look no further than a pub (get a recommendation for one from your hotel’s concierge or a local). “People often think of pubs as places to drink, but in Ireland, they’re where you go to enjoy delicious food and listen to traditional Irish music,” Ms. Learat said. The cuisine at pubs includes fresh oysters, locally caught fish, a variety of steak and lamb dishes using meat from local grass-fed lambs and cows, and in-house baked soda bread.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Travel Tip re Internet Availability

Virtually any place you go will have, or at least say it has, internet (wi-fi)  access. Still, especially when you're going to a remote exotic locale such as the Oregon coast, and you're renting a condo or house, it's a good idea to ask if the modem and router are in the unit and accessible. Otherwise, you might find that your unit accesses the internet through the modem/router in the condo next door, which is owned by someone else and to which you might not have ready access. In that event, if re-booting the modem or router is needed to re-connect you to the internet, you could be SOL, which is the one thing you don't want to be especially if you're on vacation and looking to have a stress-free time, and you don't want to not be able to watch Breaking Bad on Netflix, and you have to communicate with the guy painting your house while your gone and cellphone service in the condo itself is problematic. In all events, just make sure you've got an endless, spectacular hard-packed-sand beach to walk on and good restaurants to chow down at. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rockaway Beach Oregon: Preliminary Overview and Tips

We sent our Travel Advisory Team (TAT) to see what a stay might be like at Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast in mid-September. We rented a beachfront condo for them and paid all their expenses. Here is a recap of the first interim report they sent back:

1. The beach/ocean is absolutely spectacular, both in terms of sight (the water and sky change constantly) and sound (the crashing wave sound never stops). Even if you hit a spot of chilly and rainy weather, you should find breaks in the weather allowing for 3-7 mile walks on hard packed sand. Bring some warm weather-proof clothes.

2. Many places are walkable to town. Some might involved up to a 5- minute drive. There are no shortage of beachfronrt condos, houses, and "resort" units.

3. Even though you are smack dab on the beach with nothing in front of you except small dunes and some rocks, take care when getting onto and off the beach. If you use the wooden staircase at the Tradwinds Resort, the owner will track you down like a dog and scold you that that staircase is for guests only. If you stop by next door at the Rockaway Beach Resort, and ask the owner to "join" the "resort" during your stay so that you might use that staircase, he will give you the guffaw laugh and tell you he has a "no look, no tell" policy and that you are welcome to use the staircase. Swapping life stories (mostly listening to his and complimenting him on his and his kids' accomplishments), and a couple of tips on signage for the staircase, will seal the deal.

4. While Rockaway Beach does not have the colors one loves in Kauai, and it's a different beauty that many find as if not more spectacular, and it doesn't have the 84 degree constant temperature, here's a key point: While one can get to Rockaway Beach at far less cost and shorter time than getting to Kauai,, more important, one can stay in as nice or nicer house/condo, with as good or better beachfront view, and stay for 3+ weeks for the same amount it would cost to stay 1 week in Kauai. Note, however, one can go to Kauai anytime and find the same great weather, while the Oregon Coast season is much shorter. That said, while the Oregon Coast "fills up" between Memorial Day and Labor Day, going shortly before Memorial Day or after Labor Day will enable you to find great bargains, lack of crowds, and totally fine weather.

5. Our TAT loves Rockaway Beach, particularly because of how small the town is (with nothing here for tourists to see, so just move along) and how relatively few units there are for people to stay in. So, far, it's found some fabulous places to eat, and being able to walk to them is a huge plus. That said, there are scores of beachfront towns, some larger and more touristry (TAT did visit Cannon Beach a few years ago, and found it way too touristry and crowded, although that was during tourist summer season), and we have no clue what beaches anyone might like more or less. That said, if walking on the beach is your thing, and saving money is a plus: The Oregon Coast beats Kauai and California in a landslide (cf. what used to be a highway through Big Sur).

Here are the views from TAT's condo, although the photos understate how much better the views are in person from the condo:

View to the south from a balcony. (Miles of smooth beach.)

Breaking Bad Season 3

Although two episodes were not up to blue snuff (it's like the writers decided to take some time off and have nothing happen, and let you ease back off the edge of your chair), Season 3 is terrific and begs you to watch more. Most timely, Season 3 explains in terms anyone can understand what money laundering is and how it works, which apparently is a matter confusing even to some smart people who you would expect to understand it better. Breaking Bad's intro to money laundering should prove invaluable when Mueller starts issuing money laundering accusations and indictments, which he suredly will. And none too soon to save the country.