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Sounds of Silence

Can you imagine the feeling of being in the middle of the desert with the huge Ayers Rock as a background, listening to the sounds of a didgeridoo as you dine on a delicious meal. As darkness overcomes the desert plain, you will marvel at the canopy of stars that are so bright here in the desert, they almost light the landscape, this is a dining experience you will never forget. You will be greeted with champagne and canapés and can relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery and the magnificent way in which Uluru changes color in the setting sun.
Your journey begins on a lone sand dune. A path takes you to an uninterrupted, three hundred and sixty degree view of this vast landscape. In front of you is the fabled Uluru; behind you are the domes of Kata Tjuta and, possibly the most spectacular sunset you have ever seen. Here you enjoy sparkling wine and a selection of delectable canapés.As the sun sets, you feast on a BBQ buffet of authentic Australian delicacies complimented by Australian wines. Attention then turns to some of the world’s best stargazing, as our startalker takes you on a tour of the spectacular southern night sky. As you wind down after dinner, you are offered a choice of tea, coffee or port.”

This is a once in a lifetime experience that you will be talking about long after returning from your Australian Vacation. We at Celtic Tours, highly recommend attending the Sounds of Silence dinner so much that we have included it in the package price of many of our Australian Escorted Tours.

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island: a place of pristine beauty, amazing wildlife, rich history and gastronomic adventures. When visiting Australia, Kangaroo Island is well worth a visit. Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island after Tasmania and Melville’s Island and is 70 miles southwest of Adelaide at the entrance of Gulf St. Vincent. Kangaroo Island is a touring choice on a number of Celtic Tours South Pacific Vacations including our new 16 Day DownUnder Explorer.

Kangaroo Island was once a part of mainland Australia, but was separated by a rise in sea level over 9,000 years ago. Stone tools found suggest that Aboriginal people occupied Kangaroo Island at least 11,000 years ago, but disappeared in 200 BC.

Kangaroo Island, with its lush, fertile lands, produces some of Australia’s finest gourmet foods. Gastronomic adventurers will be amazed for the likes of freshly caught King George Whiting, sheep’s cheese, marron, an exciting range of varietal wines and a unique variety of honey. In fact, Kangaroo Island is famous for its honey and for being the oldest bee sanctuary in the world. Ligurian honey bees were brought here from Italy. The bees flourished and are the only surviving Ligurian honey bees after disease killed all Ligurian honey bees in Italy.

Native bushland, pristine beaches, dense forest, soaring cliffs and towering sand dunes make up some of the intense natural beauty of Kangaroo Island. The wildlife on Kangaroo Island will astound you: sea lions basking on white beaches, koalas dozing in lofty eucalypts, pelicans soaring over shimmering lagoons.

If all that is not enough, take in the rich history, the thriving arts community or tour its spectacular lighthouses. It is not hard to see why Kangaroo Island is one of South Australia’s most popular tourist attractions, with over 140,000 visitors each year.

Visit Kangaroo Island with Celtic Tours. We offer options visits on a number of our South Pacific Vacations, including our new 16 Day DownUnder Explorer escorted motorcoach tour.

Win an Irish Vacation!

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Enter to win a 6-night B&B stay with a Hertz Car Rental!

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway and his bet to colleagues that he could write a complete story in just 6 words, this contest challenges you to tell a tale about your favorite Celtic Tours World Vacations destination in just six words. Click here for more details

Free Things to do in Ireland

Everybody loves FREE! And Ireland has plenty of it. Here is a short list of some of the free attractions and activities in Ireland.

Museums & Galleries: All Ireland’s National Museums are free of charge! Visit the Natural History, the Archaeology and History and the Decorative Arts and History Museums in Dublin and learn all about the country’s colorful past. Many Art Galleries are free too – try the National Gallery or Ireland’s Museum of Modern Art. http://www.museum.ie

St. George’s Market: One of Belfast’s oldest attractions, there has been a Friday market on the St. George’s site since 1604. Home to some of the finest fresh produce, this charming Victorian building attracts visitors from near and far to sample the delights of Friday and Saturday markets. Sample the produce, relax with a coffee and a newspaper against a backdrop of live jazz or flamenco music. This market is a real Saturday treat and a great outing for all the family.

St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast: Explore the treasures of this Irish-roman-style cathedral. Mounted on top of the cathedral is the new, modern spire, ‘Spire of Hope’, rising 100 metres above the city. http://www.belfastcathedral.org



The Causeway Coastal Route and the Giant’s Causeway (Co. Antrim): The Giant’s Causeway, the source of legends of gigantic proportions, is a 50 to 60 million year old landmark of Ireland’s natural and mystical beauty. Located in County Antrim, the causeway was named the fourth greatest natural wonder of the United Kingdom and is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. Entry is free (although there is a fee for nearby parking). http://www.causewaycoastandglens.com

Downpatrick Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Tomb: This 19th century gothic cathedral was constructed on a sacred site. Its cemetery contains the tomb of St. Patrick. http://www.visitdownpatrick.com

Connemara National Park, Co. Galway: the park covers 2,957 hectares of magnificent landscape. The Interpretation Centre presents expositions on the fauna and flora, and a film. Visitors can make use of the hiking trails and picnic areas. http://www.connemaranationalpark.ie

Hunt Museum, Co. Limerick: Entry is free every Sunday between 14:00 to 17:00. One of the most beautiful private collections of art and antiques in the world, ranging from Neolithic to modern times, and includes a range of works by Renoir, Picasso and Yeats. http://www.huntmuseum.com

Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo: The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation. http://www.croagh-patrick.com

Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry: one of the most popular parks in Ireland, its history-rich scenery will leave you speechless. Walk amongst its 10.236 hectares to see its Torc Waterfall. http://www.killarneynationalpark.ie

Muckross Friary & Gardens, Co. Kerry: This Franciscan Friary was founded in the 15th century and is in a remarkable state of preservation. The cloister and its associated buildings are complete and an old yew tree stands in the centre.

Kilmacurragh Arboretum in Co. Wicklow: Around the ruins of a fine Queen Anne style house lie 52 acres of wild Robinsonian gardens began in 1715 and further expanded with the advice of the Directors of the Botanic Gardens in Dublin during the 19th century. Rare trees and shrubs abound for you to explore. Admission is free.

With so much to do and see in Ireland, it can be hard to choose. Let the travel experts at Celtic Tours help you. Visit our website to learn about our Irish Vacations!

Discover the Lost Gardens of Heligan

As if straight from the pages of a fairytale, the Lost Gardens of Heligan lay in literal slumber for almost 75 years. A motto etched into the limestone walls in barely legible pencil still reads “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber”.

The gardens were originally created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family over a period from the mid-18th century to the 20th century and still form part of the Tremayne family Heligan estate. The gardens were neglected after the first world war, after the childless death of Jack Tremayne.

The Heligan estate came under the ownership of a trust to the benefit of several members of the extended Tremayne family. One of these, John Willis, lived in the area and was responsible for introducing record producer Tim Smit to the gardens. He and a group of fellow enthusiasts decided to restore the garden to its former glory, and eventually leased them from the Tremayne family. Discovered amongst brambles and ivy, the enthusiasts restored the gardens to their present day glory. Heligan offers 200 acres of Victorian Productive Gardens, romantic Pleasure Grounds, lush sub-tropical Jungle and more to explore.

The Jungle sits in a steep-sided valley, creating a microclimate at least five degrees warmer than the Northern Gardens. Here the exotic palette of plants brought back from across the world, both by the intrepid Victorian Plant Hunters and more recent collectors, flourish before your eyes.

The Giant’s Head, Mudmaid and Grey Lady wait to be discovered along Woodland Walk. This sheltered path comes to life as these woodland sculptures reveal themselves, emerging silently from the beautiful natural landscape.

Throughout the gardens and estate, which are actively managed to encourage wildlife populations, you may observe many fascinating creatures, from birds, insects and amphibians to moths, bats and even the famous barn owls.

Discover the Lost Gardens of Heligan on your Celtic Tours Corners of Cornwall tour of England.

Scotland Whisky Regions

Scotland is divided into six whisky-producing regions; Speyside, Lowlands, Highlands, Campbeltown, Islands and Islay. Although each whisky is unique, the malts produced in each region have some common characteristics which separate them from whiskies from other regions. These differences are the result of several factors as for example the use of different raw materials, climate variations and different production techniques.
 

Islay

Islay is a small island west of the Scottish mainland and is the home of many well-known malt whiskies. Although a few milder versions exits, Islay whisky in general is smoky, peaty and salty and has quite a bit of tang and tar thrown into the mix. The island once had 23 distilleries operating at the same time but the number of active distilleries is now down to eight. Islay is a centre of “whisky tourism”, and hosts a “Festival of Malt and Music” known as Fèis Ìle each year at the end of May, with events and tastings celebrating the cultural heritage of the island. The whiskies of the distilleries along the southeastern coast of the island, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg, have a smoky character derived from peat, considered a central characteristic of the Islay malts, and ascribed both to the water from which the whisky is made and to the peating levels of the barley.

Lowlands

As the name suggests, the Lowlands is a flat region without mountains. It is also the southernmost part of Scotland. Whisky from the Lowlands is single malt whisky traditionally triple distilled giving it a smooth and slightly fiery taste. It is also very light in salt, peat and smoke as opposed to many other whiskies. Any Lowland whisky is a fine aperitif.

Speyside

Speyside boasting the highest concentration of distilleries in Scotland, is the undisputed center for whisky in Scotland. Speyside is geographically part of the Highlands but is considered a separate region because of its size and the different characteristics of Speyside whisky as opposed to other Highland whisky. The region has received its name from the river Spey which cuts through the area. Many of the distilleries use water straight from the river Spey in their production process. The malt is considered to be refined, sweet and elegant. If you wish to introduce a friend to the world of whisky, a Speyside is a good choice with its rich flavour, complexity and relatively mild character.

Highlands

The Highlands is the largest of the whisky producing regions in Scotland. The whisky is often powerful, has a rich flavor and is quite smoky although slightly less so than whisky from the Islands. Compared to the Lowlands, Highland whiskies often taste very different from each other. This is partly due to the size of the region which allows for greater differences in the microclimate, but variations in raw materials and productions techniques also play an important part. The word ‘glen’ is commonly used in the name of both Highland and Speyside distilleries and means ‘valley’.

Campbeltown

The region Campbeltown was once a flourishing whisky region and the city of Campbeltown was considered to be the whisky capital of Scotland. In 1886 there were no less than 21 distilleries in and surrounding the city. Today only three distilleries remain. Campbeltown is still referred to as a separate whisky producing region, but today the reason is mostly historical.

Islands

It is not uncommon for this region to be confused with Islay but Islands is in fact a separate production region which consists of the islands Mull, Orkney, Jura, Arran, Shetlands and Skye. It is a source of constant debate whether Orkney belongs to the Islands or in fact should be counted as part of the Highlands region. Whisky from the Islands may be described as a milder version of Islay whisky and is often appreciated by those who have enjoyed whisky for a few years. The well-known whisky Talisker is produced on the beautiful Island of Skye. The Blackwood Distillery is the most recent addition to Scotland’s family of distilleries and is currently being built on one of the Shetland Islands.

Learn more about Scotch Whisky on your Celtic Tours Whisky Tour of Scotland

CHINA THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: EXPLORING CULTURE & EXPLODING MYTHS AT V&A TONIGHT (via FREE ART LONDON LIST)

CHINA THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: EXPLORING CULTURE & EXPLODING MYTHS AT V&A TONIGHT V&A Lates: China Through The Looking Glass Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL Friday 28 January 2011, 6-10pm Free Tonight at the V&A, explore and explode the myths and stereotypes of Chinese culture. Focusing on fashion, film and contemporary art, tonight's event promises to be an evening of installations, performances and live music, which celebrate China Through the Looking Glass. Chinese Women Drinking Tea, about … Read More

via FREE ART LONDON LIST

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