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January is really a month for the winter blues. Christmas is a hazy memory, you can't quite shake that cold that's been bothering you, and summer seems like an eternity away.

Why not escape for a weekend to see some of Europe's most incredible sights, and stay in the best Airbnb's you can find. Treat yo'self, gowan.

Luckily for you, we've curated a list of some of the continent's best apartment finds.

We've already booked our flights straight out of Dublin airport, ASAP….

leaving steve martin GIF

1. Zagreb, Croatia

This new stylish apartment is in the perfect location in the centre of the beautiful Zagreb, on Križanićeva street.

For a quiet and safe space which is still central, this is one of the best areas to stay in. Close to the main city square, central bus and train station, everything is easily within walking distance.

A modern, contemporary apartment with a monochromatic décor theme, yet still so comfortable, this apartment is perfect. It can host three guests, and has two beds and a bath. 

New stylish central apartment
Price: €37 per night

2. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is an incredible city to visit, the Old Town is stunning and has a huge amount of history, and most of the town is within walking distance.

It also is home to some of the best pub crawls in the world, just sayin'. This gorgeous boutique apartment has us DROOLING.

The spacious design, the window panels allowing light to stream in, we just need to stay here ASAP.

The boutique apartment is located in the Bohemian Zizkov district, packed with unreal cafés, bars, restaurants and bars with some amazing views of Prague.

3. Paris, France

We have found a sunny, cosy studio apartment LITERALLY just down the road from the Eiffel Tower. What more would you need?

The charming apartment is ideal for an escape to the Parisian life; it's both residential and family-oriented.

There are windows throughout the apartment to let in the French sun, and the location is absolutely perfect; the seventh district of Les Invalides

Just picture yourself having a coffee and croissant downstairs, looking out the window at the Parisian aesthetic. We can.

4. Berlin, Germany

A 'superhost' owns this GORGEOUS Berlin apartment, which can house four guests and his also an absolute bargain of an offer for what you're getting.

The apartment is a short walking distance away from some of Berlin's top spots, with restaurants, shops and bars surrounding the area.

The subway station is only a seven minute walk away, and the location is both safe and central. You'll be prancing around Alexanderplatz in no time…

Design apartment
Price: €34 per night

5. Barcelona, Spain

This spacious loft is on Airbnb Plus, and for a good reason.

The stunning studio apartment has an actual JETTED TUB. Be still my beating travel heart. The location is extremely central; with the city's main sights within walking distance.

The New York-style space has exposed brick walls, high ceilings of rustic Catalan wood and bold modern art.

Catch some rays on the balcony and make use of the space's incredible amenities.

Spacious loft
€70 per night

6. Rome, Italy

This 'superhost' certified apartment in the centre of one of Europe's most renowned cities is GOALS.

The apartment can house up to four guests, and is located on the first floor of a beautiful palatial residence just minutes from the Piazza Della Repubblica.

The studio home is freshly renovated, filled with light and more luxurious than our future. We LOVE.

7. Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This stunning Georgian apartment in Edinburgh's New Town is one of the best Airbnb's on the market.

The loft is a ground floor flat in the famous area, with absolutely every part of the city within walking distance. The apartment is spacious, has fantastic amenities such as a bath, and even an indoor fireplace for those cold January months.

The beautiful home as Wi-Fi, free parking down the road and houses two guests easily, with comfort being the essential promise. 

New Town apartment 
€54 per night

8. Vienna, Austria

This sunny apartment is extremely sought after, for it's dedication to space and light.

It can house four guests, and they can each experience the unique, warm decor of the apartment while being close to the most famous parts of Vienna.

The metro station at Ober-St. Veit is only a seven minute walk away, with the home featuring a spacious living room with a kitchen, one bedroom and a bathroom.

The terrace can be used in summer to soak in that European sun that we Irish can never seem to get.

Sunny apartment in Vienna
Price: €69 per night

9. Krakow, Poland

Poland is a great country to escape to, especially because of how affordable it is.

This chic loft apartment in central Krakow is only €18 PER NIGHT, we cannot believe how great it is.

Beautiful, modern studio for one or two people has air conditioning for the hot summer months, and is located on Bonerowska Street in Krakow city centre. 

The space is less than five minutes walking distance away from Krakow's main historical sights including main square, Wawel Castle, the Jewish Quarter and more.

Loft apartment
Price: €18 per night

10. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The hosts don't call it the 'stairway to heaven' for no reason. Amsterdam is one of Europe's most interesting cities, with a huge amount to do and some immensely picturesque locations to visit.

Little loft apartments near the canals and boats are such a dream come true, and this luxury apartment with warm, modern décor is perfect for a weekend away with someone special.

The private trendy studio is built in the attic of an authentic 1880 Amsterdam house, and is located in the cool neighbourhood near the food hall and outdoor markets. I wouldn't book this if stairs aren't suitable for you, however, it's a steep climb up.

Stairway to Heaven
Price: €80

You all deserve a holiday, and January is the perfect time to escape the winter blues and catch the travel bug.

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Looking for a weekend break with a bit of a difference?

Why not look beyond Berlin and Amsterdam, and try some of the alternative destinations Europe has to offer.

Here's our top picks:

1. Bonn – Germany

Located on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bonn effortlessly combines a nostalgic historical flair with a lively urban vibe.

With a huge selection of top-rated museums and a picturesque riverside setting, Bonn is the perfect city for a relaxing weekend away.

Oh, and it's also home to a number of cherry blossom tunnelled streets, which are every bit as magical as they sound. 

2. Riga – Latvia

While Latvia's capital may have held onto its classic Gothic aesthetic, it's flamboyant art, trendy bar scene and youthful population give this vibrant city a fresh and modern vibe. 

The streets of the pedestrian-only Old Town are steeped with culture and seeing as art nouveau architecture makes up roughly one-third of all the buildings in the city centre, it's the ideal destination for art lovers who aren't afraid to let their hair down. 

3. Vilnius – Lithuania

This charming and compact city is the perfect destination for anyone looking for incredible value for money.

Visitors can immerse themselves in a warming sense of historical awareness, or simply soak up the culture in the city's bustling cafe scene.

What's more, the cobbled streets boast some of the most Instagrammable graffiti eastern Europe has to offer.

 

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4. Girona – Spain

Located just over 100km North East of Barcelona, the so called “City of the Four River” serves as the capital of the Girona Province in Catalonia.

Its winding streets and old city walls offer the perfect base for travellers who wish the explore the surrounding areas, and with Ryanair offering Irish passenegers a direct flight from Dublin, it's be rude not to, really.

5. Sintra – Portugal

Often described as a Portuguese fairytale, this picturesque town is nestled among the pine-covered hill of the Serra de Sintra.

A popular destination for those looking to take a day trip away from Lisbon, this magical resort is famous for its hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace that boasts a whimsical design and spectacular views.

 

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6. Utrecht – The Netherlands

Often overlooked by tourists who instead flock to the neighbouring cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, this vibrant student centre offers all the charm of a mediaeval Dutch city – minus the stag parties.

Its canals are some of the prettiest in Europe and with world-class festivals, hip cafes and fascinating museums, it is truly The Netherland's hidden gem.

 

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This week, we got smacked with the grim reality that the average rent in Dublin is now €1,968 per month.

That's 10.9 percent higher than this time last year and a staggering 30 percent higher than the 2008 peak – so it's pretty depressing all around.

To make matters worse, the massive amounts of money we are forking out for accommodation is usually for sub-standard dwellings.

So we are gonna rub salt into the wound and show you what you can rent in Europe for the same price – and all the places featured are furnished. 

1. Neuilly-Sur-Seine, Paris, France

 Picture credit: Lodgis

You can rent a two-bedroom furnished apartment for €1,985 a month in the most expensive part of Paris.

To gauge how pricey this neighbourhood is, former president Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy were raised in the Parisian suburb.

You'll be living amongst some of the most famous French faces and living the Parisian dream.

2. Mitte, Berlin

This stunning two-bed penthouse in the heart of Berlin is serious home goals.

The spacious, modern home is a steal at  €1,700 a month and that INCLUDES bills.

All you have to do is brush up on some German and you're set – FYI, it has a foosball table and an electric keyboard. 

3. Prati, Rome, Italy

The land of carbs have some savage apartments for prices that would make you weep in comparison to our capital city.

This two-bedroom apartment is a walk away from the Vatican city and looks like a dream.

It's a cool €1850 a month and comes with some massive looking beds – and the best part is, it's mould free.

4. Buckingham Terrace, Edinburgh, UK. 

Picture credit: rightmove

After doing some quick maths, our €1,968 converts into a modest £1713.

Edinburgh is ripe with prime property for a bargain price and we could get a lot for our money.

For a breath-taking ground floor two bedroom flat, it was £1,595 per month.

5. Westminster, London

Picture credit: rightmove

We all know how outrageously expensive central London has been branded.

So I went on a hunt and found a furnished one bedroom apartment in the heart of the city.

The property is £1712 a month, so I just stayed in budget but there's a big difference between London and Dublin.

6. East 58th Street, Manhattan, New York

Picture credit: streeteasy

And for the craic, I had a nosey at some places in Manhattan, which is famous for its high rent. 

I found a lovely studio apartment which was $2,100 a month (€1861). 

Is the place tiny with a massive price tag? – Yes, but it's a lot better than the majority of studios you can find in Dublin city.

You can live in the big apple for less than in Dublin…let that just sink in.

If you're thinking of relocating, at least renting in these cities will be a little bit easier than Dublin.

It's fair to say our rental market is a mess.

 

Feature Image credit: discoverdublin/Instagram/Alinaborak28

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St John of God Research Study Day are currently presenting findings from their studies, which show a rapid increase of people presenting with gender dysphoria.

Today is the 28th Annual St John of God Research Study day, and features researchers and academics from the medical field displaying the results of their analysis.

Consultant Endocrinologist at St. Columcille's Hospital Loughlinstown, Professor Donal O'Shea, has stated from his own exploration in the field that 210 people presented with the condition last year, increasing from 10 in 2007.

This represents a 2100% increase over the entire decade. Dr. Paul Moran, Consultant Psychiatrist at St John of God Community Services, has joined Professor O’Shea to discuss the imperative needs of transgender people.

This vital talk comes just ahead of the launch of the National Gender Service, which hopes to make a difference in the difficulties which numerous members of the transgender community face daily.

According to Professor O’Shea:

“We see the most positive outcomes for patients experiencing gender dysphoria when a holistic and better paced transition journey is taken, with family support. I have observed patients who transitioned hastily, ultimately regretting the decision after irreversible treatment has taken place."

"The new national gender service has been established to address the rising prevalence of gender dysphoria and to ensure that those individuals who require this service receive the best possible holistic care."

St John of God Research Foundation Study are aiming to further examine the theme of 'an evidence based path to service provision; as well as interim results on the gap in mental health care for teenagers and young adults.

Another disturbing fact raised today stated that 50% of the general population who are experiencing mental illness are not being referred for child and adolescent mental health services after the age of 18.

The adult mental health services could intervene at this crucial time in the lives of those experiencing mental illness such as suicidal ideation, eating disorders, depression and ADHD.

The St John of God Research Foundation is presently being funded by the European Commission, and the landmark MILESTONE study is being conducted across 8 European counties, Ireland included.

Professor Fiona McNicholas, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at St John of God Hospitaller Services and Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin is leading the Irish research on the MILESTONE study. She stated that:

“Mental health disorders are established early in childhood and for many persist into adulthood. The interim results of the MILESTONE study highlight that by not transitioning adolescents with established mental illness to an appropriate mental health service, we are leaving vulnerable teenagers without the support and medical care required."

"Without treatment, progress and recovery is hampered. Many will present only at times of crisis to emergency services, such as following suicide attempts or self-harm."

"They are prevented from receiving appropriate treatment that would help them live healthier lives, instead the huge percentage of young people not transitioning are more likely to be marginalised and experience homelessness, drug abuse and unemployment.”

Ireland's failure to effectively transition it's youth is not unusual for Europe. Broad European findings of the MILESTONE study which are being presented by Dr Helena Toumainen, from the University of Warwick supports this argument. 

Vanessa Lacey from the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) will be speaking today regarding loss from a transgender family's perspective.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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For more information. please visit the St. John of God website.

Other support services include the national LGBT helpline, BeLonGTo, and advice for parents and a guide for terminology.

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Who doesn't love a mini-break?

While we all look forward to our week or two away in the summer, a spontaneous weekend break can help that everyday slog a little bit easier. 

230,000 Irish guests have booked European breaks outside of Ireland in the months leading up to Christmas – so where are we choosing to galavant off to on these wonderful breaks?

Airbnb have revealed the top ten places and you might be surprised.  

Number one onn the list is the fabulously chic city of Naples.

Famed for the hustle-bustle of its narrow streets, Roman ruins and Neapolitan dishes and is set to welcome 159% more Irish guest arrivals between now and the middle of December compared to last year.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Coming in second is Rovaniemi in Lapland, who will see 120% Irish guest arrival growth this winter.

The official home of Santa is the perfect destination for those likely to be in search of an authentic winter wonderland experience in the arctic circle – we can already hear the sleigh bells ringing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Other European cities steeped in culture, such as Bath, UK (97%), Carcassonne, France (94%) and Vienna, Austria (81%) have seen a surge in popularity amongst Irish guests, compared to the same time last year.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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So, the official top 10 trending European destinations on Airbnb for Irish travellers are:

Naples, Italy (159% guest arrival growth)

Rovaniemi, Finland (120%)

Bath, England, UK (97%)

Carcassonne, France (94%)

Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, UK (82%)

Derry, Northern Ireland, UK (82%)

Vienna, Austria (81%)

Liverpool, England, UK (77%)

London, England, UK (71%)

Antibes, France (64%)

What places take your fancy from the list?

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If you're headed to the airport, you may want to look away now.

Ryanair pilots in Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are staging a 24-hour strike over pay and conditions.

The industrial action taken by the five European countries has been described as the largest walkout for the airline.

Consequently, around 15 percent of Ryanair's flight schedule has experienced disruptions. 

Ryanair said they were forced to cancel 250 flights to and from Germany, on Friday, August 10.

However, there is good news for those flying in and out of the Netherlands.

The low-cost airline said their schedule for August 10 will operate as normal. 

In a morning tweet update, the airline stated that 2,000 flights will take off and will carry almost 400,000 passengers today.

AFP is reporting that a total of around 400 flights have been cancelled throughout Europe.

This means an estimated 55,000 passengers will be impacted, according to the news agency.

Understandably, passengers who are bearing the brunt of the cancellations have expressed their grievances on Twitter.

One user wrote: "Hi Ryanair my flight from Rome Ciampino to London Stansted has been cancelled. There's no information and no staff to be seen at the airport. I'm stuck at the gate. Some information (food and compensation) would be great!"

Another Twitter account posted a video of a number of people awaiting delayed luggage in the early hours of the morning.

The user tweeted "Can you explain [to] all of us (people from seven different flights) why, after a two hour plus delay, we have been waiting for another hour and a half for our luggage? At 2 am? Are you serious?" 

Ryanair have been attempting to manage pilot strikes throughout Europe since early July.

The airline has requested striking unions to "continue negotiations."

We hope if you're flying with Ryanair, you get to go on your holibobs.

A good cocktail and some sunshine will soon make you forget your travel stress.

If you're one of the unlucky ones – enjoy your wine, angry tweets and a good cry. 

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So, if like many of us, your expectation of dating was left skewed after a few too many Meg Ryan rom-coms, you'll know just how different romance can be on this side of the pond.

Think less Carey and Big and a little more Gavin and Stacey.

According to a recent study conducted by dred.com, dating practices between the two cultures actually differ quite a bit – like the fact that an American man is five per cent more likely to pick up the bill than his European counterpart.

Here's a breakdown of some of the most interesting results:

Feeling frisky?

When it came to getting down and dirty on the first date, 76 per cent of both American and European men said they would sleep with someone if the chemistry was right, while only 42 per cent of European and 37 per cent of American women agreed.

Bad first dates

According to the survey, six per cent of European men and two per cent of European and American women have snuck away from a bad first bad without even saying goodbye.

On the other side, 40 per cent of European men said they would stay and give it a chance, while only 31 per cent of American fellows said the same.

Location, location, location

All groups agreed that the best place for a first date was either a restaurant or coffee shop.

However, a high percentage of European men (35 per cent) said that dinner at one another's home was the perfect first date activity (???).

Deal breakers

Both sexes cited bad breath or poor personal hygiene as an instant mood killer.

72 per cent of men also said they would not ask for a second date if the other person treated the waitress or bar staff poorly.

Going dutch?

Interestingly, European women are twice as likely as American women to suggest splitting the bill, while both men and women from the USA believe that the man should pick up the check.

 

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While we may have an aging population, the Republic of Ireland’s birth rate is quite literally off the charts.

This is according to new statistics released this week by Eurostat, which reveal that Ireland had the highest birth rate of any member of the European Union last year.

Close-up of Hands Holding Baby Feet

The new figures show that Ireland recorded 63,900 live births in 2016, which equates to 13.5 per every 1,000 inhabitants.

To put those figures into context, the average birth rate among European Union member states came in at 10 births per every 1,000 inhabitants – so we were head and shoulders above the average last year.

We also recorded the lowest death rates of 2016, sharing the position with our EU neighbour, Cyprus.

Overall, Ireland’s population is said to have increased by more than 50,000 last year, while a whopping 5.1 million babies were born throughout the European Union.

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So, it's no secret that we Irish like the odd drink or two, but how much alcohol are we actually consuming compared to our European counterparts?

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) collaborated with colleagues from more than 40 European countries, and have finally come up with a clear answer.

As part of the  European Social Survey, a large study conducted every two years in around 30 European countries, researchers asked almost 2000 participant's questions based on their health, lifestyle and drinking habits.

Rather unsurprisingly, the Irish were found to drink the most overall, while Portugal and Britain topped the list when it came to binge-drinking. 

Terje Andreas Eikemo, professor of sociology at NTNU, explained how these findings will help identify the measures that need to be taken in order to curb alcohol consumption. 

"In the past, we could say that drinking alcohol and smoking affect people's health, for example. Now we can go farther back in the causal chain, and identify where measures should be taken." 

The study also confirmed a link between social status and excessive alcohol consumption.

"Overall alcohol consumption is highest in the upper social strata, but binge drinking is most common in the lower social strata,'' he explains.

What's more, European men were found to have consumed almost twice as many units of alcohol as women, with women in Israel and Central and Eastern Europe found to drink the least.

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If ever there was a day to pack up and jet off (even if only for a mini-break) today is that day. 

And while circumstances may decree that we simply hibernate until February, if you come across a forgotten few pennies in a Christmas card – that cash could go very far indeed.

Yup, SHEmazing! has now trawled through the Ryanair sale for a bargain… coming up with these gems for your consideration.

 

1) Cork to Malaga

Leave: Sunday, January 22

Return: Wednesday, January 25

Cost: €63

Note: It's currently 18C and sunny in the south of Spain.

 

A photo posted by Rafa Sequeira (@rafasequeira) on

2) Dublin to Brussels 

Leave: Monday, January 23

Return: Monday, January 30

Cost: €20

Note: The River Jazz Festival will be taking place at the time.

 

A photo posted by Cibeli Maciel (@cibelimaciel) on

3) Shannon to Berlin

Leave: Monday, January 23

Return: Friday, January 27

Cost: €51

Note: Berlin is still a gorgeous winter wonderland right now.

4) Dublin to Cologne

Leave: Saturday, January 21

Return: Wednesday, January 25

Cost: €46

Note: The local Kölsch beer is best sampled on home-soil.

5) Cork to Liverpool 

Leave: Sunday, January 22

Return: Wednesday, January 25

Cost: €26

Note: The Tate Liverpool is holding a free Tracey Emin exhibition at the time. 

 

A photo posted by Tate Liverpool (@tateliverpool) on

6) Dublin to Paris

Leave: Wednesday, January 25

Return: Wednesday, February 1

Cost: €37

Note: A notorious pricey city, Paris is a lot more affordable at this time of year. 

 

A photo posted by Futuradria Viaggi (@futuradria) on

7) Dublin to Amsterdam 

Leave: Tuesday, January 24

Return: Wednesday, February 1

Cost: €42

Note: Tulip season is kicking off – so visit the world's only floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt.

 

A photo posted by Francesca (@fra.ric) on

8) Kerry to Frankfurt 

Leave: Monday, January 30

Return: Friday, February 3

Cost: €34.50

Note: So much more than a commercial hub, Frankfurt's foodie scene is amazing. Try Vevay.

 

A photo posted by Katarina⛈ (@vvsions) on

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Booking a break this Christmas?  Then you’ve come to the right place.

In the run-up to Black Friday, Ryanair has launched a HUGE Cyber Week sale, selling 250,000 flights to a variety of European hotspots for just €9.99 one way.

From today until Cyber Monday (November 28), Ireland’s favourite budget airline will be offering tickets to cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt and Warsaw for less than a tenner.

Those looking for a quick trip to the UK can also avail of the deal with flights to London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bristol and others all coming in at – you guessed it – just €10.

Too broke to cure your wanderlust?  Not anymore!

Feat image: Ryanair

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If you’ve ever witnessed a bad breakup, you’ll know that the weeks following a split can be a tad self-indulgent and always require the assistance of Ben & Jerry.

But as weeks turn into months, something incredible happens.

New dresses are bought, hair gets did, and slowly but surely the breakupee begins to show the breakuper exactly what they’re missing.

Well, that’s kind of the situation with Britain and Europe right now, as in the aftermath of Brexit the EU could be about to offer its young citizens one very big advantage over their British counterparts.

MEP’s have proposed giving EU citizens free InterRail tickets for their 18th birthdays in a bid to reignite enthusiasm for Europe.

But since Britain has voted itself out of the union, its teenagers will not be receiving the coveted passes which allow people under 26 to travel across the continent by train.

While it’s still very early days, the FreeInterrail campaign has been greeted with much enthusiasm by European parliament members and, of course, by the teens who could benefit from the initiative.

Did we mention we love Europe?

Feat image: gapyear.com

GIFs: giphy.com

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