Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Home away from home: Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin

Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin features 392 classic guest rooms, equipped with an en-suite bathroom, hairdryer, tea/coffee making facilities, TV, air conditioning and WiFi internet access.
Addtionally, the hotel features the Dubliner Pub and Raglan's Restaurant, which offers a selection of seasonal favorites. The hotel itself is located whiting walking distance of Dublin's center, as well as a walk away from the city's coastline. You will be able to enjoy this last home away from home from Thursday, July 12th through Sunday, July 15th.

Travel Tip: What to pack?

For most people, packing is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it: "You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" Her advice: "Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle." Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents). Incantato also plans a farewell dinner for the tour groups, so bring something comfortable and dressy. Here are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, we allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on such as a bag pack or small duffel. Yes Ladies, you may have a small purse in addition, gents a camera case is fine too, but again, you will be the one carrying it all from the bus to the hotel and vice versa, so better test if you can move all your travel belongings without needing to make two trips or help from someone else. A sample packing list (just a suggestion!) 

  • Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert 
  • Umbrella 
  • An adapter plug/converter (if bringing electronic devices) 
  • Camera and batteries or charger with adapter 
  • At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or   dresses too 
  • a sweater or two 
  • Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans) 
  • Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes 
  • A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables) 
  • Choir music and attire 
  • Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes,     good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach. 
  • Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules: 
  • All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounzes. Bring enough contact lense solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip. If you forget anything there are plenty of shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.
  • carry emergency phone numbers in your wallet
  • and last but not least, but very important: your passport! It is always a good idea to make copies of your passport and leave one at home and carry the other one with you separately from the original. 

Travel Tip: Money matters

Dear Travelers, Money is a delicate subject. The best way to use your money is to have a debit card; this allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. The debit cards given by the bank has the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, however, Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. Most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water and a fee for restroom use (between 30 to 70 Euro cent). Last not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 20 Dollar per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses such as:
  • Most restaurants have menus outside so you can check their price range.
  • Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and better prices.
  • Bring your own water bottle. Most places have safe tap water to fill up with.
  • Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
  • Shop around for souvenirs; many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.

Last not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices.

Travel Tip: Electricity in Ireland

The electrical supply in Ireland is 230v 50hz. The plugs and sockets are different from the USA involving a three-pronged formation, the same as those used in the United Kingdom. If your appliances operate on a different current (such as those from North America) you will need a power converter and plug adapter.
A plug adaptor does not change the electricity supplied to the appliance, only allows it to be plugged into a different type of wall socket. If the appliance you are using supports dual voltage and dual frequency then a plate/tag will be located on the item stating "120/240v, 50/60Hz".
Most laptop computer and battery chargers are dual voltage, so all you will need to use them with a different supply is a plug adaptor.
Power converters step down the voltage from 240v to 120v, allowing equipment which is not dual voltage to operate at the voltage for which it was designed. Converters do not alter the frequency at which electicity is delivered and should be used a maximum of 1-2 hours at a time.
Converters can be purchased at travel stores, some discount stores, office supply stores, and electronics stores. Make sure that you select a converter that will accommodate the wattage of the appliances you wish to operate. Some laptop computers, electric razors and hair dryers have built-in power converters. However, an adapter plug will be required. Adapters and converters may be found at Walmart and Radio Shack etc.