Hong Kong

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The first decision when heading to Hong Kong is whether you are staying on the island or main land.  We opt for main land, because the hotel rooms are generally slightly bigger and slightly cheaper.  We decided on Butterfly on Pratt due to its easy location, it is on the main land.

First thing to know when  you arrive, is transport.  At the airport head to the information booth and get an Octopus card.  There are ordinary ones which you top up as normal and there are tourist Octopus cards, which include one or two airport line trips and two or three days of travel.  The card its self can be exchanged for 100 dollar deposit on leaving.  We opt for the three day tourist card and it is well worth the money.  The transport system is great, easy to use and very well organised.

We arrive late on our first day and head into Kowloon on the airport train, then make the terrible mistake of thinking that we would be able to walk the short distance from the station rather than try to navigate further trains. Don’t do this.  It is not a good idea!  Eventually we admit defeat and follow the signs to the transfer bus.  This is a free service that runs frequently all days of the week to the big hotels…much better idea.

imag3856-1.jpgWe spend our first morning an a free walking tour (our fav!) of Hong Kong Island.  This is a great tour with lots of interesting information about politics and the current situation in Hong Kong.  I definitely recommend this as a great starting point for your trip.

This same group offer a “jump the cue tour” for the Victoria Peak Tram.  We take advantage of this, and again I would recommend this, simply because it cut about an hour standing in the sun in a line.  The Tram is great, really is something to experience.  We then spend almost two hours walking around Victoria Peak enjoying the views, the countryside and the wildlife.  There are amazing birds of prey and wild pigs rootling around.  This is not what you would expect from Hong Kong…its cool and calm and blissful.

So ends our first foray into Hong Kong.  Bring on the rest of the trip!

More information on the Free Walking Tours

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Elf’s afternoon in Dublin

It has already been a week since our adventure to Ireland began. I cannot begin to describe what a wonderful place Ireland is. So friendly and so lush.

We start in Dublin with our solitary half a day to explore before we head off to the country side. So where to start? With a free walking tour of course. Everyone that knows us, knows we love a free walking tour. Just to explain a little about the idea…it’s not free. You can find this idea all of the world, sometimes run by independent companies or individuals and sometimes a company charges a marketing fee to the freelance tour guide. In all cases it is a pay what you think situation. If you think the tour is great, you pay up more, if it’s okay, maybe a bit less if you hate it…perhaps you slide off half way though.

So we joined up with a free walking tour and explored the city. We head through the streets, stopping to listen to lots of history and stories. The TempleIMAG3551 Bar area is interesting in that it is named after a sand bar that used to run through the area and the Temple family who helped to develop the area. It is now a theatrical and nightlife centre of Dublin.

Another highlight is the Dublin Castle where there has been a building since 1200s! The Record Tower is the only surviving part of the medieval castle and is at the heart of the story of Red Hugh which is well worth looking into if you don’t know it already.

The Gardens behind the Castle are a beautiful kept secret and I recommend having a look. It is peaceful and surprising to find.

Next we head to Trinity College where apparently you can sit your exams with your sword by your side.

We finish up in the early evening and wander back towards our hotel, stopping of course for a Guinness on the way. For dinner we find a pub close to us that is very popular and we share a table so that we can eat some of the best stew I have ever had!

And that’s all the time we have for Dublin this trip as the next morning we are up early and in the car to head off to Co. Meath.