Dublin Tourist Attractions – The Ones You Might Have Missed

Visiting Ireland is the trip of a lifetime for many travelers. When in the country, Dublin is a must-see destination. No matter where you turn, there is plenty to do.

When perusing the city, you will probably want to visit attractions that get a lot of attention and of course stay in one of the many luxury hotels in Dublin. There are, however, plenty of hidden treasures in and around Dublin that you might miss if you don’t do your homework.

Notable Buildings

Aras An Uachtarain in Dublin

Aras An Uachtarain in Dublin

Dublin is packed full of beautiful and notable buildings. Some are renowned for the architecture, while others combine beauty with interesting activities. From a cultural standpoint, one of the most important Dublin buildings is the Aras An Uachtarain or President’s Palace. This popular attraction is located in Phoenix Park and offers a guided tour. If you want to get away from the city vibe and enjoy the lushness that Ireland is known for, Ardgillan Castle and Demesne is the place to stop. Not only can guests enjoy the amazing architecture, but the grounds are packed with amazing gardens.

Cultural Attractions

As a large city, Dublin has a wide variety of cultural attractions to offer visitors. While the Abbey Theatre is likely to catch your eye, fewer people enjoy the cultural possibilities offered by the Dublin Writer’s Museum. Celebrating Dublin’s rich literary heritage, 300 years of treasures rest within these walls; travel to 18 Parnell Square North to savor the atmosphere. If you find sports more interesting than books, you might make a stop at the GAA Museum in Croke Park. This venue pays homage to the sporting traditions of Ireland and is connected to the stadium, which is open for tours.

Croke Park in Dublin

Croke Park in Dublin

Fun Fairs and Festivals

While many Dublin hot spots are available to visitors regardless of their travel itinerary, some of the most interesting Irish attractions are limited-time events. To participate in the Mullagh Fair Day, for example, you have to be in the area on September 11. Whether your party includes the old or young, this one-day fair has a nostalgic flavor with something for everyone. The end of September is particularly packed with fairs and festivals; visitors can spend time at the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival, the Clare Island Singles Weekend or the New Ross Piano Festival, all of which are held simultaneously around the end of the month. Check your vacation dates to find other festivals that you might enjoy.

No matter where you travel around Dublin, there is plenty to see and do. However, if you want to enjoy the true flavor of this place, look beyond the standard vacation stops and find the hidden treasures. After all, some of the best memories are made when you take to the time to enjoy the attractions you might have missed and for those of you looking for real comfort on your visit here why not stay in one of the fine 5 star hotels in Dublin.

Photo credits: Croke Park

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A tale of two Refuges – on the Tour de Mont Blanc

The mist was swirling in as we reached Refuge Col de Balme, our first stop on the Tour de Mont Blanc trail, with the clouds blowing over the high passes as dusk was falling. Our way had been blocked by a herd of sharp horned cattle, their large bells clanging from the leather collars around their necks. We moved off the path into the brush to let them pass, not knowing if they might try to butt us out of the way. A little further on, the Refuge was in darkness, but a car was parked outside, so I skirted around and an elderly man eventually came to the window. When he asked what I wanted, I explained that I’d rung him to reserve a place and he came to open the front door, indicating where we should leave our rucksacks, inside the door.

Refuge Col de Balme on the Tour de Mont Blanc

Refuge Col de Balme on the Tour de Mont Blanc

The dining room was cosy from a metal stove in the middle of the floor and my hands began to thaw out. We appeared to be the only walkers there, and an elderly lady shuffled forward to serve us hot tea from the bar. For supper a simple meal of omlette jambon was proposed, with green salad, local cheese and bread, followed by a Tarte aux Myrtilles in a dry pastry case.  Shortly afterwards three other walkers arrived, two men, one with his teenage son, who had come up from Champex in the opposite direction to us. We compared notes, realising that we had both tried to ring the Refuge to book with little success – it seemed that the couple were not over anxious to take bookings. Madame showed us to the dortoirs upstairs, where the electric lights only extended as far as the stairwell and switched off automatically after a few minutes – thank goodness for the head torches.

Madame brought us three blankets for the night between the two of us – an extra one for my friend Julia as she had not been feeling well due to the altitude. I enquired in my most polite French whether it might be possible for me to also have an extra blanket? “Oh, c’est pas la peine” said Madame – no need, as the three men would be in the dortoir with us and we would all soon get warm. Eyeing the other empty rooms on the landing I wondered whether the Monsieurs might be in a separate room to us ladies, but my suggestion was dismissed – the other rooms were all shut for the end of the season.

Dining room at Refuge Col de Balme

Dining room at Refuge Col de Balme

The toilet just along the corridoor was pointed out to us, with a tap near the floor to fill a washing up bowel and act as a sink. We were just glad that we wouldn’t need to go outside into the freezing cold, to use the portaloo that was there for walkers coming to the cafe in the day. I went to bed fully clothed and lay awake for a few hours trying to get warm, draping my coat and spare fleece over me and wondering whether I might risk waking the other sleepers by get up and put on a second set of clothes. In the morning we discovered a second bathroom that Madame had failed to mention, and hurried down to breakfast of coffee and baguette with jam. Our rucksacks packed, we set off along the path that skirted the mountainside, pausing only to admire the view of Mont Blanc, it’s snow capped peaks framed by a blue sky.

Outside Refuge Col de Balme on the Tour de Mont Blanc

Outside Refuge Col de Balme on the Tour de Mont Blanc

Later that day, things were quite different as we arrived at Chalet Bon Abri, having crossed into Switzerland and made it by a combination of hitch hiking, bus and train to Champex Lac (that’s another story). Just down the track above the lake we spotted first the tipi in the flower filled garden and then a couple of campers playing table tennis on the table outside. This place was a well-run Swiss hostel in wooden chalet style but where everything was stylish and modern inside.

Dortoir at Chalet Bon Abri in Champex

Dortoir at Chalet Bon Abri in Champex

Madame showed us where to leave our boots downstairs and pointed us to the neatly stacked pairs of plastic clogs that we could borrow to wear indoors. Upstairs, our dorm room had three bunks but luckily we had the room to ourselves and the red checked quilts and orange sheets looked invitingly cosy. Just down the corridor their was a spotless new shower room with piping hot water, although as dinner was being served promptly at 7pm, we went down straight away.

Chalet Bon Abri at Champex

Chalet Bon Abri at Champex

 

An aperitif of white wine with cheesy waifer biscuits would not have been out of place in a smart restaurant, and we enjoyed the home made carrot soup, followed by chicken in a wine sauce, while examining the route we had just come on the topographic map on the wall. The map was ideal to help us plan our route for next year when we hope to walk a further leg of the Tour de Mont Blanc from Champex Lac to Courmayeur. Is it better to be high in the mountains with basic facilities, or down in the valley with a little more comfort? Let’s just say that we’re planning to start our walk from Chalet Bon Abri next year, and I can’t wait!

Dining room at Chalet Bon Abri

Dining room at Chalet Bon Abri

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More tales from the Tour de Mont Blanc

My guest post at Roaming tales about last year’s walk – Hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc
My second year on the Tour de Mont Blanc – video diary 2011
My Tour de Mont Blanc diary Day 2 – Col de Balme to Champex

Resources for those walking the Tour de Mont Blanc

On the first night of our walk we stayed at Refuge Col de Balme (Tel 04 50 54 02 33) and the cost was around €40 per person with dinner and breakfast in a 6 bed dorm room. On our second night we stayed at Gite Bon Abri at Champex-de’en-Haut, which we highly recommend, with private rooms and dorm rooms. The cost was around CHFR 76 per person with dinner and breakfast in a 6 bed dorm room and the Gite may be booked in advance by e-mail.

For outdoor clothing I used Ellis Brigham who have a wide range of waterproof jackets, trousers and other walking gear you might need for a trek on the mountains.

We used the Cicerone Tour of Mont Blanc guide by Kev Reynolds – we found it to be an excellent guide for both the clockwise and anti-clockwise route with detailed route guide, maps, accommodation information and points of interest along the route.

At the start and end of our walk, we stayed at the modern, stylish, budget boutique Hotel Slalom that is perfectly placed in Les Houches for summer walking opposite the start of the anti-clockwise TMB route. Double rooms in the summer season €86-99 plus €10 breakfast. Check for the best hotel prices in Switzerland and book here.

We booked our transfer from Geneva airport to Les Houches through Chamexpress and found them to run an extremely efficient airport to hotel service – cost was €28 + tax per person each way.

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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My daughter’s elephant safari in Chitwan, Nepal

August 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Leisure, Nature, Nepal, World

My 16 year old daughter recently returned from a school trip during which the group of teenagers did some treking in Nepal, spent time on a community project at a local school in the mountains and finally visited the Chitwan region where the group went crocodile spotting by canoe and got close to a rhino and her baby on an elephant safari. Here’s Sophie-Anne’s story…

To end our journey in Nepal we headed down near the Indian border to the Chitwan region. Chitwan is very tourist friendly, and as we personally discovered, there are lot of nice hotels there to cater for the tourist demand. The first settlers in the region were the Tarau people and within the village we were welcomed to look inside their traditional mud huts with straw roofs.

Canoe trip in Chitwan, Nepal

Canoe trip in Chitwan, Nepal

Like all cultures, the Tarau have traditions such as dancing or their distinctive tattoos and have managed to preserve this successfully. In Chitwan there is lots on offer to do, and we managed to fit in quite enough to exhaust any teenager, child or adult! We started our day in the canoe on the river, spotting crocodiles amongst other wildlife. It is exactly how I imagine Pocahontus’  (from the Disney film) daily life feeling like!

Elephants in the river in Chitwan,  Nepal

Elephants in the river in Chitwan, Nepal

After we had battled with the canoe in the quest to get out without falling in (trickier than you’d imagine) we began to trek through the jungle. Unfortunately our familiar friend the rain cloud had appeared and what was supposedly jungle felt more like a swamp.

Elephant safari in Chitwan, Nepal

Elephant safari in Chitwan, Nepal

Finally we emerged sodden out of the jungle to find ourseleves now at an elephant breeding ground. I suppose you can imagine how excited a group of girl teenagers were at the sight of baby elephant, but in our defence they are very very very cute. There was also a visitors centre filled with lots of interesting information about the elephants working lives, how they were trained and so on.

Elephant safari in Chitwan, Nepal

Elephant safari in Chitwan, Nepal

There was also a visitors center filled with lots of interesting information about the elephants working lifes, how they were trained and so on. After lunch, we finally got to ride the elephants! Four people were allocated to each elephant and we sat in a basket type area on the elephant’s back. During the safari we saw a rhino and her baby, deer and lots of other interesting creatures.

Rhino with baby in Chitwan, Nepal

Rhino with baby in Chitwan, Nepal

I hate to admit it but I must confess despite it being an amazing choice of travel for the Nepalese it is not the smoothest. It is almost like being swayed side to side very slowly whilst trying to dodge branches up ahead!

 Read about Sophie-Anne’s other adventures

My daughter’s teenage trek in Nepal
My daughter’s community project in the mountains of Nepal

You may also enjoy

Elephant encounters in Chiang-Mai in Thailand
Exploring the ‘Abode of Snow’ in the Indian Himalayas
My Indian Sponsor Child

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This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

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