Category Archives: Europe

Five Reasons Why September Is the Best Time To Go InterRailing

When you stop to think about it, Europe is actually pretty small. Look at a World Map and it becomes apparent that you can get from Dublin to Athens quicker than Perth to Sydney. It’s no surprise then that InterRailing has been, and will continue to be, one of the most diverse summer adventures you can have, and on a budget too!

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Renewing your Irish Passport Is About To Become A Lot Easier

The Irish Passport Office is possibly the most sinfully tedious and boring place to be. At some point in time, we’ve all realised that our passport is soon to expire and we’d have to set aside several hours of sitting on an uncomfortable chair, surrounded by people invading our personal space, while you wait to renew your passport. If you don’t you risk a summer holiday to Leixlip, instead of one to Koh Samui! No one wants that.

You can imagine our delight at the news that the Irish Passport Office is investing £18.6m into the passport applications service and soon you’ll be able to do ALL of it online! Huzzah!

According to our good friends over at The Irish Times, a tender has been released to seek a suitable provider of digitising one of Ireland’s most often criticised processes. Currently, all passport renewal or first-time applications must go through the post but having had to recently take on a significant amount of new staff, the Irish Passport Office has had enough and is calling in the tech guys.

The news is particularly welcome considering the massive surge in applications since Britain decided to self-sabotage it’s own economy  vote to leave the EU and those based in the UK with Irish connection (a lot of people) have sought to make steps to secure a valid EU passport in the future.

Boris

Initial timelines suggest that some form of online application to for renewals could be made available as early as Q1 of next year, with a full roll-out expected in 2019. Coming from a man who’s passport expires late next year, a hat tip to the honourable ladies and gents who are making this a reality. Now, if they could treat A&E injuries through a USB port, the days of waiting rooms would be all but over…

 

 

A Crazy Cheap, Six-Stop InterRail Route For Your Summer!

InterRailing season is in full swing with carriages upon carriages being packed out with excited students and graduates exploring the very best that Europe has to offer.

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Croatia Gets Europe’s First Zipline, 100m Above The Sea!

It’s common knowledge at this stage that one of our favourite destinations to visit in Europe is beautiful, sun-soaked Croatia. The beaches are stunning, the architecture (Game of Thrones fans, you know) is breathtaking and the people are so accommodating and friendly. In fact here’s 25 Pics that will convince you Croatia is actually heaven!

Now, Croatia has added yet another unmissable experience to it’s ever growing travel armoury with Europe’s First Zipline Over Water!

 

Crikvenici
The seaside town of Crikvenica opened the zip line on June 24th, 2016 (image via nathanmac87)

 

We’ve featured a similar zip line in Haiti recently that looks like the most fun you can possibly have in a seated position and now Croatia has followed suit by opening this one in Crikvenica, near the hugely popular coastal town of Rijeka. The 500m line offers stunning views of the Kačjak peninsula from 100 feet up and will reach approx 65km/h just like Croatia’s most popular zip line (for now) at the Centina River.

We cannot wait to have a go!

We’ve been taking more bookings this summer for Croatia than ever before so if you’re still on the lookout for the perfect summer getaway there’s our Croatian Island Hopper from only €609, cruise packages around the Adriatic starting from €715, Global InterRail Passes from €200 and much more!

Crazy for Croatia? Cool, get in touch with us info@usit.ie or on (01) 602 1906 and let’s get this adventure moving!

8 Incredible Experiences You Need To Have in Iceland

It’s fair to say that there hasn’t been this much talk about Iceland since causing travel chaos in 2010, thanks to Eyjafjallajökull (Eya-flatya-yerkutz, apparently!) throwing clouds of ash 30,000ft into the sky, affecting airspace in 20 countries!

Ash Cloud
We all remember the carnage caused by the Icelandic Ash Cloud in 2010

In 2016, between 8% of Iceland’s entire population migrating to Paris for their historic win over Austria at the weekend and ‘White Walkers‘ roaming Icelandic film sets in Game of Thrones all season, there’s plenty of talk about Europe’s most isolated nation. Iceland’s isolation is one of the reasons you’ll immediately find unimaginable hidden beauty and adventure, turning it into one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations this year.

Iceland Fans
Up to 10% of Iceland’s population are estimated to be in France ahead of their clash with England

Here’s eight incredible experiences that will convince you your next destination should be here…

1. Bask In The Endless Midnight Sunsets

Ireland might be relatively blessed with summer sunsets but Iceland is a completely different animal altogether. During the summer months, particularly in June, the sun never dips far below the horizon due to how far North Iceland is. What results is known as the Midnight Sun, where the darkness is chased away for weeks on end. It may be a little more difficult to sleep but with views like this, you won’t want to…

2. Bathe in the Blue Lagoon

Probably the most well known tourist attraction in Iceland is this beautiful and tranquil geothermal spa, less than an hour away from the capital, Reykjavik. This body of milky blue seawater has a year round temperature of between 37 – 40 degrees and the naturally occurring silica, sulphur and other minerals have incredible rejuvenation properties for your skin, muscles etc. It’s also one of the only places in the world where you can tell your friends you swam from one continent to another as it’s situated on the fault line between two tectonic plates – if you’re the bragging type!

Iceland
Probably Iceland’s most well known tourist atttraction

3. Explore a Volcano, From The Inside!

This, this is truly an experience you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. The dormant Thrihnukagigur (don’t even bother trying) volcano hasn’t erupted in over 4,000 years and it’s magma chamber, often referred to as the beating heart of a volcano has dried up allowing people to actually descend the 120 feet INTO the belly of this dormant beast. You will feel like Jules Verne wrote ‘Journey To The Centre of Earth’ about this descent and it’s an experience you will remember for the rest of your life!

4. Snorkel Between Two Tectonic Plates

The Silfra Fissure is a 100 metre deep crack between the North American and Eurasian plates and is widely known as having the clearest water anywhere on Earth! It’s one of the most unique diving spots in the world, right up there with the Great Barrier Reef or the Red Sea.

The reason the water is so sensationally clear is due to the cold year round temperature (don’t worry, the thermal dive suits are nice and warm!) of 2 – 4 degrees and the unique naturally occurring filtration process from the Langjökull glacier which passes water through porous lava underground and slowly leaking into ‘The Big Crack’. It’s a very special experience.

5. Watch the Most Beautiful Northern Lights You Could Imagine

We couldn’t talk about visiting Iceland without mentioning the Aurora Borealis. If you’re lucky enough to have seen the Northern Lights before you be telling anyone who’ll listen to put it on your Bucket List. In Iceland, the spectacular show is even more vibrant. Such is the isolation and lack of light pollution across the Icelandic landscape, you get views like this…

Iceland NL
This is what happens when the Northern Lights meet a Solar Eclipse and a volcanic eruption!

6. Explore Other-Worldly Ice Caves Across Iceland

So we’ve already proven that Iceland is the land of fire, now it’s time to explore the ice! Most of these ice caves have been carved out of the glaciers by flowing rivers that have since dried up, creating these astounding underground tunnels that glow the most brilliant shades of blue.

Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull is possibly the best place to go exploring the ice caves with tours available all year round.

7. Whale Watching off the Coast of Reykjavik

There are very few capital cities that can boast 23 different species of whale that visit it’s coastline all year round but Reykjavik is one of them. Minky and Humpback Whales are common visitors and you’d have to be unbelievably unlucky not to see one. If you’re luck is in however you could expect to see Killer Whales, the second largest whale in the world, the Fin Whale and even the biggest creature in the history of the planet – The Blue Whale.

May to September is generally the best time to go Whale Watching but tours run year round and are one of the best ways to spend a day in Iceland.

8. Take on Iceland’s Golden Circle

The best way to explore the remainder of Iceland’s unmissable locations (as if there wasn’t enough here already!) is to travel around the 300km ‘Golden Circle’ outside Reykjavik. The Golden Circle takes in pretty much every kind of terrain on the volcanic island including, Geysir, a huge hot spring so spectacular that it’s name has since been adopted to describe the phenomenon itself and Europe’a answer to Niagara Falls – Gullfoss.

It’s only when you learn about all these incredible places that Icelanders call home you realise how football mad they must be to all pack up and head to EURO 2016! I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll follow them back to their place!

USIT offer Icelandic tour packages starting from €476 and an all-in break to Reykjavik from €1089. Get in touch for a quote at info@usit.ie or on (01) 602 1906.

 

Enormous 3km Art Installation Allows Visitors To Explore Lake Iseo, Italy

Ok, so it’s not quite ‘walking on water’ but it’s about as close to it as you can get in Italy for the next 16 days…

Lake Iseo 2
An expected half a million people are expected to visit in the 16 days!

The Floating Piers are a spectacular 3 kilometre gangway across Lake Iseo from the small Italian village of Sulanzo to the small island of Monte Isola in the province of Brescia, northern Italy. Created by artist, Christo, the gangway is made up of 200,000 cubes of high density polyethylene and from an engineering point of view is quite an ambitious feat to achieve! Without any guardrails, just a 53 feet wide fabric covering the cubes, the installation looks like it actually breathes. Check it out…

At first, the installation might appear as a very cool, albeit ultimately useless endeavour however practical uses of this kind of engineering innovation start to become apparent. What about access to safety in areas of severe flooding? What about something like this proposal to create a ‘Bubble Bridge’ walkway on the Hudson to relieve New York’s subway congestion? Wouldn’t that be pretty awesome?!

Whatever your thoughts may be on the future of walkways like this one thing is clear, we would love to take a serene 3km stroll around Lake Iseo this June.

Did you know USIT offer packages throughout Italy all year round? You can check them out here or enquire at info@usit.ie

Original article posted by Gizmodo on 20th June

 

25 Tips For The Ultimate EURO 2016 Trip For Irish Fans

Heading off to the Euros in France this weekend? With only 2 days left until the big kick off in Paris on Friday night, your master plan for negotiating your way through France is probably the real deal by now (if not, maybe get on that!) and all that’s left is are the smaller details. That’s where we come in with 25 sacred tips that’ll maximise the craic and minimise the stress of making your way through Paris, Bordeaux, Lille and all the other games we’ll play on the way to the Final (Extra Tip: optimism is key)…

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Weird Travel: World’s Longest Pizza Made To Stretch 1.8km in Naples

Shut up and take all of our money! The birthplace of the pizza, Naples has wrestled back the crown of making the World’s Longest Pizza after unveiling over a mile of doughy, tasty goodness!

Stretching 1.8km long the ‘meal’ required a total of 6 hours 11 minutes cooking, one motorized stove, 250 chefs, 2,000kg of flour, 1,600kg of tomato sauce, 2,000kg of mozzarella cheese, 200 litres of olive oil and 30kg of basil! This could also be the first pizza that doubles up as a workout…if you run alongside it! No eating it dough (sorry). If there is a road to heaven, it possibly looks like this…

This is making us all want two things, one is obvious, the other is getting ourselves to Italy pronto!

Oh and in case you were wondering the entire thing was donated to shelters across Naples to feed the homeless. Everyone’s a winner, because pizza.

World’s Biggest Cruise Ship Sets Sail

We think even Poseidon would struggle to get his head around the size of it…

After a 10,000,000 hour build, undertaken by 2,500 workers the Royal Caribbean’s new flagship vessel, Harmony Of The Seas has set sail on it’s first trial run. Set to officially become the World’s Biggest Ever Passenger Ship when it welcomes it’s first 6,000 passengers from Southampton to Barcelona in a couple of months, some of the numbers behind the ship boggle the mind…

For starters the total cost of the ship is £770m and end to end it’s 125 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower is high. What results is a vessel that weighs 120,000 tonnes, has an incredible 18 decks, 2,300 staff, 7 differently themed ‘neighbourhoods’, 23 swimming pools and 2,747 cabins.

Harmony

Fancy a tour? Royal Caribbean have been allowing prospective passengers to examine the inside of this monster for the last 6 months and have even put together this ‘one-minute’ Guided Tour to make you realise just how big the ship is.

Packages aboard the Harmony of The Seas are now available starting from €1479, taking in the likes of Barcelona, Rome and Naples.

River Boat Tours Are On The Rise, But Why?

If you’re a bit of a nomad holidaymaker then chances are you’ve spent at least one of your breaks on a Cruise ship, whether on The Med, The Caribbean or the Indian Ocean. Cruise holidays are absolutely great for setting sail, unwinding & escaping from the stress of work. However, if you’re the type that wants a more immersive travel experience and are worried that days upon days travelling the ocean will cause you to get a bit fruity and befriend a volleyball, then maybe a River Tour is the adventure for you in 2016?

Continue reading River Boat Tours Are On The Rise, But Why?