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Irish holidays makers will be able to ditch the airports and set sail to Spain this summer thanks to a new route launched by Brittany Ferries.

The brand new ferry crossing will be the first to link Ireland with the popular holiday destination, and could potentially provide a tourism boost for both countries.

Passengers will sail from Cork to Santander in northern Spain, with a new ship being chartered to serve the route, as well as n additional weekly return-sailing from Cork to Roscoff, France.

According to The Irish Mirror, the ship, which will carry approximately 500 passengers as well as 195 cars, is said to offer a comfortable, no-frills service with a distinctly Spanish theme.

On board, passengers can expect to find a small shop, a café-bar and lounge areas as well as dining options that reflect the serviced regions.

The spacious cabins provide beds for up to four people, with a small number of per-friendly rooms also available.

The service is set to launch at the end of April, with two return sailings scheduled per week.

Brittany Ferries spokesman Hugh Bruton said: "This is a significant move for Brittany Ferries, offering haulage companies a direct route to Spain and passengers a far greater range of holiday options from Cork.

"As a destination so-called green Spain promises visitors a wealth of opportunities. It hosts sweeping sandy beaches, snow covered mountains just an hour from the port, fabulous food and offers visitors a welcome as warm as the Spanish will receive when they join us in Ireland.”

That's out summer holidays sorted anyway!

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Last Friday, we told you to get yourselves to one of three locations around Dublin city centre if you wanted a chance to win free flights with Aer Lingus.

If you missed out on the excitement which ensued, you're probably wondering what all this is about, so let's recap!

In an effort to rid the nation of the January Blues, the airline set up Sun Dials at Grand Canal Dock, O’Connell Street and South King Street.

The moment these Sun Dials started ringing, it was up to you to pick one up and answer the three questions posed by the Aer Lingus staff member on the other end.

If you answered all three correctly, you and a friend would be jetting off for a much-needed trip abroad.

It really was as simple as that, but if you don't believe us, just take a look at this!

 

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If the January Blues have well and truly set in, then there's no doubt that thoughts of sunnier climes have crept into your mind at least once over the past five days.

But considering the financial car crash that is most of our bank accounts right now, a holiday seems like little more than a pipe dream, right?

Keen to remedy this, the good folk at Aer Lingus have decided to give the public a chance to get their hands on free flights by setting up special Sun Dials at three locations across the capital city.

So, how does it work exactly?

The Sun Dial will ring at their spots on Grand Canal Dock, O’Connell Street and South King Street, and the first person to answer the call will be in with a chance with winning flights to Europe or North America.

But how exactly?

Well, the Aer Lingus Whisperer on the other end of the phone will provide the potential winner with three clues about a particular destination, and if guessed correctly, that person could well be packing their bags… and bringing a plus one!

But if you're not a Sun Dial winner, that doesn't mean a holiday abroad is out of your grasp!

The Aer Lingus January Seat Sale is live now with 3 million seats on sale including up to 50 per cent off European travel and flights to North America from just €209 each way. Sale fares are valid for travel from 01 April to 30 September 2018 and include taxes and charges.

Beach babes can dip their toes in the sand at popular European seaside destinations including Malaga, Alicante, Faro and Nice, while city slickers can soak up the atmosphere in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Milan, among many others.

Those interested in transatlantic travel can choose from New York, Newark, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Hartford, Boston, Washington, Chicago and Toronto, as well as recently added cities – Philadelphia, from March 2018, and Seattle, from May 2018.

 Sounds good to us!

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Every single one of us has a friend who appears to spend more time travelling than anything else.

Whether it's last-minute holidays to the Algarve, extended trips to south-east Asia or prolonged periods backpacking down under, this person has an acute case of wanderlust.

They're either in the middle of a trip or planning their next one, and that actually makes them very easy to buy for, because there is always some handy gadget or accessory which they'll appreciate on their next jaunt abroad.

Why not take your pick from these…

 

 

 

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With the Christmas season  just around the colour, and the days of sandals and sun cream all but a distant memory, it's high time we start planning those last minute winter getaways. 

Whether you've got a few days of annual leave still left to use, or you just fancy weekend break, there are plenty of gorgeous destinations across Europe just waitng to be explored. 

From the ice caves of Reykjavik to the beer gardens of Munich, here's our top five picks. 

1. Reykjavik, Iceland

Often described as a "small city with a big soul," the world's most northerly capital packs an impressive amount of culture into it's 103,000 square kilometres. 

It's breathtaking landscape and bustling city-centre create a uniquely satisfying atmosphere that keep tourists coming back year and year. 

Whether you're exploring the blue ice caves, gazing at the Northern Lights, or taking a dip in one of the island nation's natural hot springs, the Icelandic capital is bursting with attractions that simply won't be found in any other country. 

2. Zagreb, Croatia

When people think of Croatia, there are a few things that spring to mind (summer holidays, Game of Thrones etc. etc.), none of which have anything to do with winter holidays. 

However, that could all be about to change, because Zagreb's Christmas markets have been voted the Best in Europe for two years running. 

During the advent season, the city's streets come alive with colour, lights and music, with celebrations waiting around every corner. 

But don't be fooled by the country's mild summer climate. Temperatures in the Croatian capital can drop to as low as 1 degrees during the winter months. 

3. Munich, Germany

No winter gateway list would be complete without a visit to the home of traditional Christmas market – and while there are tonnes of German cities worth visiting this year, Munich offer visitors a unique, (and often less crowded) festive experience. 

Highlights include The Tollwood Winter Festival, which combines a traditional market atmosphere with a much more modern look into the German arts and crafts scene. 

With hundreds of Mediterranean-style street cafes, Mitteleuropa beer halls and must-see museums dotted around Germany's unofficial southern capital, visitors are never short of things to do. 

4. Krakow, Poland 

While Krakow remains a popular tourist destination all year round, it's fairytale streets and medieval market square really come alive in the winter months. 

Snow-covered horse carriages and glowing Christmas markets transform the city into one of Europe's most picturesque winter wonderlands. 

Sample the best of Polish cusine (think warm stews and fried potato cakes), or take in the rich history, before heading out to see what the city's nightlife has to offer. 

Just remember to wrap up warm. Temperatures often drop as low as -3 degrees in December, meaning you'll need to pack all the winter woollies you can get your hands on. 

5. Rovaniemi, Finland

Commonly known as the official home of Santa Clause himself, this small Finnish city offers the ultimate festive experience for Christmas lovers of all ages. 

Whether you're enjoying the Northern Lights over a cosy campfire or taking a stroll around the city's streets (which FYI, have been designed in the shape of a reindeer's head), this hub of northern culture is the perfect destination for those seeking a relaxing yet action-packed break. 

Oh, and did we mention they throw one hell of a New Year's Eve Party

 

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Bad news for anxious flyers – scientists have predicted that serious flight turbulence will increase threefold by 2050.

Researchers at the University of Reading believe climate change is to blame for the dramatic increase.

The group tested their theory by using supercomputer simulations and found that popular flight paths will be the worst affected with turbulence over the North Atlantic set to rise by 180 per cent, Europe 160 per cent and North America 110 per cent.

The type of turbulence researcher looked at (clear air turbulence) does not threaten to bring down planes – though it can cause injury to passengers and crew.

Professor Paul Williams, the study's lead researcher, said: “This problem is only going to worsen as the climate continues to change.

“Our study highlights the need to develop improved turbulence forecasts, which could reduce the risk of injuries to passengers and lower the cost of turbulence to airlines.”

What's more, the cost of flying is expected to increase as a result of climate change, with transatlantic flights expected to take longer due to changes in the temperature-controlled plane mechanisms.

So basically, get all your travelling out of the way now, because we are all probably going to be too poor and scared to do it in a few years.

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If your social media feed is to believed, glitter and wellies are the only things you need to call your Electric Picnic experience a success.

Unfortunately, as many festival newbies quickly learn, glitter is the last thing you care about when your phone is dead, your tent is leaking and your back is painfully sunburnt.

Sure, festivals are an incredible opportunity to get creative with your look as well as being the perfect chance to kick back with your mates for an entire weekend, but that doesn’t mean the practicalities of daily life stop applying.

From protecting your skin from sun damage to ensuring you remain connected to the outside world with a fully-charged phone, here are six festival essentials every die-hard music fan will be carrying this weekend.

1.  Antiseptic wipes

We hardly need to spell this one out, but unless you’ve encountered your own personal hell in a festival toilet, you may not fully appreciate the importance of a pack (or three) of antiseptic wipes.

From helping to make your chosen portaloo that little bit easier to use, to saving the day when the sinks outside are overrun with people, antiseptic wipes are your best friend. Forever and always.

2. Sunscreen

Whether or not the forecast looks good for the weekend ahead is beside the point. You’re going to be spending the vast majority of your time outdoors (rain or shine) and that means you need to protect your skin against any pesky sunrays that break through.

Opt for P20 with its unique composition of extremely photostable UVA and UVB filters,which are very slowly degraded by the sun. The ingredients in P20 adhere to the skin and remain on it, and the combination of these two factors makes P20 Sunscreen last for up to 10 hours

And remember, the average adult needs to apply 30-40mls of product during each application to ensure sufficient coverage and effective protection, so make sure that goes in your rucksack.

3. Portable charger

Anyone who has spent even a moment praying their battery will last long enough to locate their friends by the main stage will attest that a portable charger is an absolute must-have at any festival.

Yes, it costs a few quid, but when you’ve splashed out on a festival ticket, the last thing you want is to hand over more cash to charge your phone or spend hours queuing to charge your phone thereby missing the act you paid to see.

Divide the cost between a few pals, and check one worry off your list for the coming weekend.

4.  Duct tape

Whether it’s for a hole in your tent or a leak in your welly, you will not regret packing a roll of duct tape.

You never know when you’ll use it, but trust us, there will come a point at some stage over the weekend, when you actually will need it.

12 years on and She gave up when I needed her most. #BodyandSoul #Mud #ducttape #FuturisticStylings

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5. Binliners

Like duct tape, you may question why you need it when you’re already spent money on a quality tent, hardy wellies and expensive rain jacket, but trust us on this one.

Whether it’s simply for using to collect rubbish around your tent or as a makeshift rainjacket when you lose your own, a roll of binliners weighs next to nothing, but will always, always, always come in handy.

6. Folding chair

After you’ve spent one festival sitting in the lotus position for three days straight, you’ll soon realise that a folding chair is one of the most important things on your ‘To Pack’ list.

The floor of the tent is all well and good for a few hours, and sprawled on the grass definitely works for a while, but there will come a point in the weekend when you’d step over your own mother just to get five minutes on your neighbour’s folding chair.

 

 

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There are few better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than a spontaneous cross-country day trip, and with so many fantastic destinations dotted around this little island of ours, there's no reason to ever be stuck for something to do on your day off. 

Ireland is bursting with pockets of cultural, scenery and heritage just begging to be explored, and seeing as most of them will only cost you the price of petrol money or bus fare, it'd be rude not to, really. 

Here's our top five picks:

1. Glencar Waterfall

Situated near the Leitrim-Sligo border, Ireland's most beautiful waterfall flows from a height of 50ft and once served as inspiration for the William Butler Yeats poem, The Stolen Child.

The relaxed atmosphere offers the perfect escape from urban life and is a popular day trip destination for families, couples and friends alike.

There are picnic and café facilities available on site, as well as ample parking and tranquillity for days.

2. Lough Derg

Easily accessible from all corners of the country, the Lakelands Lough Derg are absolutely bursting with scenery and heritage just waiting to be discovered.

Located between the counties of Clare, Tipperary and Galway, the lake offers a huge variety of water activities including stand up paddling, sailing, cruising canoeing and fishing.

And for those of you who don't fancy getting wet, there are plenty of scenic walking routes to explore and local food to be sampled.

 

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3. Kinnagoe Bay – Donegal

One of Ireland's most beautiful 'hidden' beaches, this small stretch of golden sand is completely enclosed by a sloping hillside, making it the perfect spot for some serious rest and relaxation… well once you get down the hill, of course.

There are a handful of parking spaces available, however, if you're not lucky enough to nab one of these, you'll need to continue your journey on foot.

The steep descent does require some hard work, and you'll probably fall more than once, but hey, it'll all be worth it when you get a glimpse of that breathtaking ocean view.

 

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4. Cobh – Cork

Popular among tourists and local alike, Cork's colourful waterfront town is one of the most charming Ireland has to offer.

Visitors can grab a bite at one of the many bars and restaurants, or soak up the history at the Titanic experience.

Or, if you fancy, you can even hire your very own self drive boat and take it for a spin around the world's second largest natural harbour.

 

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5. The Japanese Gardens – Kildare

Created between the years of 1906 – 1910, the world famous Japanese Gardens were laid out by Japanese gardeber Tass Eida and his son Minoru.

Designed to symbolise the 'Life of Man', the gardens offer vistors a uniquely peaceful experience as they stroll through the seamless fusion of Eastern and Western cultures.

Oh, and if you fancy a bit of retail therapy to go along with all the soul searching, Kildare Village is just a 4 minute drive away – just saying.

 

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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 medieval 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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We can all admit that we fell in love with mermaids when we first watched Ariel swimming around with Sebastian under the sea.

The Little Mermaid inspired many Halloween and fancy dress costumes, but since then, a mermaid has taken on a new iridescent lease of life.

With every beauty brand creating mermaid makeup brushed and every high street store creating mermaid-style accessories, it's safe to say the mermaid trend is staying put. 

 

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With pretty hues of pink and purple, we all go wild for anything with 'mermaid' in front of it now; mermaid lattes, mermaid shimmer, and even mermaid toast.

You'd think we had enough of it by now, right?

Well, not so, because we are currently freaking out about this mermaid cafe in Thailand.

The Mermaid Island Cafe is a dreamy dessert shop in Pathum Thani, and is embellished with mermaid scales on its walls, and even The Little Mermaid characters.

Oh, and they also give you a mermaid tail to wear while dining in the restaurant – casual.

And it's not only the decor that is inspired by the magical sea creatures; the menu is also kitted out with mermaid cupcakes, cheese cakes, waffles, smoothies and coffee.

BRB, getting our mermaid tail on.

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Dublin Airport look set to introduce new 'e-gates' in an effort to enhance security and speed up immigration queues.

The electronic border control gates will allow passengers travelling on biometric passports and Irish passport cards to pass through security by scanning their document and having their photo taken.

According to reports, the twenty new gates (10 in Terminal One and 10 in Terminal Two), will be up and running by the end of 2017.

A small number of e-gates were previously in operation on a trail basis in Terminal One, however, these were removed in May of this year over a reported maintenance row.

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan today confirmed the signing of a contract for the supply and installation of the new gates.

Welcoming the move, Minister Flanagan said, “Following a very thorough pilot programme and competitive tender, I believe that we’ve found a solution that matches our goals and requirements. We look forward to working with Vision-Box, through the award of this framework agreement.”

The introduction of e-Gates will greatly enhance our immigration controls, including our border security, while at the same time providing an improved passenger experience through self-service and speedier passage through the immigration process.”   

Dublin airport immigration services processed a record 13.8 million arriving passengers in 2016 and it is hoped the introduction of an electronic system will dramatically cut waiting times.

If successful, the new gates will be rolled out to other ports of entry.

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Music festivals are truly hallmarks of an excellent summer. 

While the likes of Forbidden Fruit, Longitude and Electric Picnic are beyond epic, sometimes our sense of adventure takes us further a field to quench our musical thirst. 

There has been a huge trend in Ireland for young people to book flights abroad to attend international music festivals. While many of the basic tips remain the same, there are a few extra essentials to consider when going abroad for a camping extravaganza.

Whether it's Lollapalooza, Creamfields or Mad Cool, here are a few things you may not have considered.

European Health insurance

Sorry to be a party pooper, but it's really important to get yourself some cover when going abroad.

After all, accidents happen when you least expect them.

Try applying for a European Health Insurance Card just in case you fall ill or hurt yourself while raving in a field over yonder.

The European Health Insurance Card allows the holder to access health care services when travelling to or on holiday in another EU or EEA country.

You can also download the free EHIC App to help you contact health services in the country you are visiting for quick assistance.

Phone insurance

We're all partial to losing things from time to time, but it's so much easier when abroad, and especially easy at a festival. 

Even if you never lose things, being away from a normal routine with only temporary places for things, your precious gadgets could easily go astray. 

If you've been meaning to get insurance ever since you bought that new iPhone, before heading abroad is the time to do it. 

Bear in mind that some insurance companies insist that you be signed up to them for a full month before providing cover, so make sure you have this one ticked off the list in advance. 

The Cloud

In accordance with the above tip, make sure your Cloud storage is up to date before heading abroad. 

One of the worst things about losing a phone while on a trip is all of the amazing memories you lose in your Camera Roll (well, that and the expensive inconvenience of repurchasing a phone) so make sure you have extra Cloud Storage to preserve your precious memories. 

Weather packing 

It can be easy to think 'ah, it will never rain while I'm away' when heading to a festival in a country with a reputation for hot summers. 

Don't be fooled by the forecast, always pack for every extreme of weather possible. 

Even if you just bring one rain poncho to go over your denim shorts and crop top, you'll be damn grateful if you end up needing it. Even if it doesn't rain, you can use it to sit on.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, a rain poncho and one cardigan in case it gets cold at night, and you should be sorted. 

Image result for rain gif funny

Tent distinction

If you're heading to an international festival for the first time, you might not be ready for the sheer scale of the events. 

Acres of tents covering unfamiliar terrain may leave you scratching your head when you return to the campsites, and getting lost in a sea of tents in never fun. 

Something as simple as draping an Irish flag across the side of your tent, or arranging your tents in a circle if you are wih multiple freinds, can make finding your way back to bed much easier. 

 

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