Celtic Connections 2020
Northern Explorer Tour 2020
Ireland & Scotland
October 8th – 18th
$2886 Land, $1089 Air*
Highlights Included in package price:
- Roundtrip transportation from Portland to Boston.
- 2 nights Galway, 2 Nights Donegal, 1 Night Ballycastle, 1 night Belfast, 1 night Glasgow and two nights Edinburgh
- 2 Group Dinners, other nights are free to allow you to explore and connect.
- Day trip to the Burren region and Cliffs of Moher.
- Visit Host city of 2020 European Capital of Culture
- Visit Spiddal, a charming village where many Mainers began their journey.
- Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey, and Cong
- Foxford Woolen Mill and WB Yeats Grave
- Explore one of the most pristine regions of Ireland in Donegal
- Walking tour on walls of Derry
- Visit The Giants Causeway and Antrim Coast
- Tour of Belfast, including Titanic Museum
- Exclusive Scotch Whiskey Tasting
- Glasgow City Tour
- Loch Lomand and the Scottish Highlands, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle
- St Andrews – the home of golf
- And many other priceless experiences
$1089 Air * Airfare estimate only
(Total air rate will be finalized Dec 1st)
I couldn’t have wished for a better group; exciting, informative, historical and full of good times. Evan and Seamus worked tirelessly to make everyday magically unique.
Having traveled with Evan and Seamus & the IAC many times, I’ve seen more than I could ever have imagined. They seek out especially interesting and gorgeous places and it’s so nice to chat with the local folk. Anyone who takes a trip with Evan is guaranteed a good time and Seamus is a very skilled driver/guide and teller of tales.
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Oct 8th : Depart Portland
Departure time and location TBC, but we will all travel together and head for Boston.
October 9th: Arrival in Ireland - Shannon to Galway
Arrive in Shannon and let the games begin! We’ll hit the ground running and begin our adventure. Traveling through Ennis we head to the Cliffs of Moher. Here we will take in all the fresh air we can as we look out over the spectacular Wild Atlantic Way. From there, we travel through the Burren and learn about the ecology of this unique region. The Burren is a very special landscape and my hope is to explore it slowly and purposely. After filling your lungs, we’ll move onto Galway, our home for the first two nights and host city to 2020 European city of culture. You may be jet-lagged, but that won’t stop you! Trust me.
Galway Bay Hotel, Galway
October 10th: Connemara Full day
A full day to explore the West, with many of Maine’s ancestors coming from this region, it promises to be a very special day. We start off traveling along the beautiful coast towards Spiddeal, and then it’s all you dreamed off… Stone walls, sheep… lots of sheep, rolling hills. I’ll encourage a good pair of walking shoes, because we are going to spend as much time as we can in the great outdoors. This is not your typical tour and Connemara National Park rewards the adventurous. Kylemore Abbey, Patrick Pearse’s cottage and Cong village are all places that reward the curious mind. In the evening we return to Galway just in time to go explore the shops, restaurants, pubs.. The evening is yours to do what you wish.
Accommodation: Galway Bay Hotel, Galway
October 11th: Galway to Donegal
The journey from Galway to Donegal, is a fascinating one and has many tales to tell. With a stop in the fantastic Museum of Country life, which gives a great idea of early rural life in the Ireland of yesteryear. Foxford is our next stop, to the Woolen mills and one of the best spots to learn about how important places like this where to the village at the time, we also get pick up a few gifts for yourself (and maybe your loved ones). Then we motor onto Sligo, not forgetting to pop in and tip your cap to one of the literary greats, Mr WB Yeats lies under the view of the mighty Ben Bulben. Donegal is our base for the next two nights and I think you’re going to like it!
Accommodation: Lough Eske Castle, Donegal
October 12th: Donegal
Oh, Donegal… One of Irelands true gems. This is truly one of the most visually stunning regions in the country, but don’t go telling everyone! It boasts cliffs that would make the Cliffs of Moher blush, a coastline that Kerry wishes it had, and then they’re the people, not only voted the sexiest accent, but just some of the most entertaining people you’ll meet! After you catch your breath at Slieve League Cliffs, we head further out the coast to Glencolmcille and then we get active again as I show you one of Irelands most stunning beaches. After that… Well, a pub, of course! And not just any pub. One of my personal favorites.
Accommodation: Lough Eske Castle, Donegal
October 13th: Antrim Coastline
This morning we leave Donegal and travel across to Northern Ireland into one of the islands most fascinating cities. The walled city of Derry, has many stories to tell, and I’ve got the best guy in the business to tell the story. After, it’s onto the geographical wonder that is The Giants Causeway, a place with as many stories of myth and legend that would satisfy even the wildest of imaginations. Dunluce Castle has also inspired many a tale, and it will become easy to see why, perched out on a cliff edge this castle has to be one of the most perfect settings imaginable. We may have another trick or two up our sleeve also along the way. This evening we spend a night in the charming coastal town of Ballycastle, one of my personal favorite overnight stops in the region. One thing is for sure… you’ll sleep the sleeps of the giants tonight!
Accommodation : Marine Hotel, Ballycastle.
October 14th: Belfast
After an early morning walk along the beach at Ballycastle, we make our way down along the coast towards Belfast. Getting into Belfast in the early afternoon with plenty time to explore this city for yourself. Maybe visit the Titanic Museum or take a black cab taxi ride a hear from the very people that lived in the city at the times of the troubles. Crumlin Gaol has become a highly recommended stop in the city in recent years, and it’s well worth a visit. Keep a little energy for the evening though. Belfast has made a big name for itself in the culinary world and it’s well worth diving into this world for an evening. It’s thirsty work and the he pubs on a Saturday night won’t disappoint!
Accommodation: Titanic Hotel, Belfast
October 15th: Belfast - Glasgow
Our time in Ireland comes to an end and we make the short trip across the water, into bonnie Scotland. While the two destinations often get pooled together, Scotland and Ireland are more different that you might expect. While this is subtle at first, the gap quickly widens and you’ll be in awe at what Scotland has to offer, and it’s not just because the men in wear skirts.
The journey from Belfast to Cairnryan is a short 2+ hours and this gives us plenty time to take in the home of the famous Robert Burns, after we will experience an in-depth Scotch tasting before arriving into Scotland’s most charming city, a place that’s as true to itself as any I’ve seen. The locals are proud and wear their city with great pride. After a brief city tour, the rest of the evening will be yours to enjoy. I’d encourage you to go explore, meet the locals, try the Haggis, tell a tale or two and take in the wonder that is Scotland.
Accommodation: Marriott Hotel, Glasgow
October 16th: Loch Lomand, Edinburgh
Departing Glasgow, we venture into Loch Lomand, and The Trossachs National Park. Straddling both the Scottish Highlands and the Lowlands, this island-studded loch boasts the largest surface area of any of Scotland’s lakes. After we continue to Stirling Castle for a guided tour, perched above the city of Stirling on a chunk of volcanic rock, this mighty Scottish fortress has a dramatic story to tell, the castle also offers superb views over Stirling and Scotland’s green hills and valleys.
We head back towards Edinburgh, but the drive is anything but ordinary, as we pass Linlithgow Palace and the Kelpies monument, the largest equine sculptures in the world.
Edinburgh will soon be with our sights, we spend the next two nights in this majestic city.
Accommodation: Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh
October 17th: St Andrews
Today is built with a lot of flexibility in mind and the idea is to take it nice and slow, wander the narrow streets of Edinburgh, and explore Edinburgh castle at your own pace. For those of you that would like to explore St Andrews and visit the home of Golf, we have a course tour that will focus on 2/3 of the finest holes in golf. If golf isn’t your thing, you may prefer to visit The Scotish Fisheries Museum.
Haven’t had your fill of castles just yet?… Fear not, we could offer you another castle visit, St Andrews Castle offers a different visitor experience as it’s not as heavily restored yet remains a dominant structure looking out over the coast it once protected.
We return to Edinburgh with plenty time to enjoy a final group dinner.
Accommodation: Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh
October 18th: Departure Day
Group shuttle will be offered to Airport with plenty time to do a little last minute shopping or to dive into one last plate of Haggis to prepare for your onward journey.
Land – $2886.00 Land only per
Limited number of Single rooms available for
Insurance – $210 our person*
Total Land Package cost $3096.00 per person, based twin / double sharing.
Airfare – Boston- Shannon, Edinburgh-Boston (exact fare TBD estimations $1089.00)
*Insurance : $210.00 per person is included – If not being purchased, proof of alternate insurance is require
GROUP DELUXE GROUP TRAVEL PROTECTION PLAN
Trip Cancellation – Trip Cost*
Trip Interruption -150% of Trip Cost
Travel Delay (6 hours) $750 ($150/day)
Missed Connection (3 hours) – $500
Baggage/Personal Effects – $1,500
Baggage Delay (24 hours) – $400
Non-Medical Emergency Evacuation – $150,000
Accident & Sickness Medical Expense – $50,000
Emergency Medical Evacuation, Medical Repatriation & Return of Remains – $250,000
Non-Insurance Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services – Included
Every tour is different and many questions come up along the way. Here is a solid starting point, but feel free to reach out if you have any other questions or concerns.
When is Airfare and Insurance due?
Air will be secured by mid January, all travelers will be advised via email once deposit is due. At this point we will also take payments for insurance. If you plan on traveling outside the groups departure dates, please let me know.
When will final payment be due?
The final date to make payments is 1st July 2020, of course, you can make payments at any time between now and then. Once air deposits have been received, you will be issued with receipts showing all payments made to date, insurance information, and details on the final payment. I accept checks, and Visa, Mastercard, and Amex.
Will we be getting together before the trip?
Absolutely. I would imagine once we get Winter behind us we will pick a night and location that works. We will dive back into the itinerary and break down each day in detail, we will discuss hotels and amenities, and I will share some insights and offer packing tips, and most importantly, we will all get to meet each other and share a couple of social ones🍻
What are the cancellation terms?
In addition to the airline penalties imposed and a processing fee of $300 per person, the following land penalties apply to all cancellations:
A) More than 60 days prior to the start of your trip, you will only be charged your deposit (plus any insurance premium paid)
B) Between 59 and 30 days, you will be charged 50% of the trip cost (plus any insurance premium paid)
C) Less than 30 days before the start of your trip or on or after the commencement of the trip, you must pay the full trip price (plus any insurance premium paid.)
Are we flying together? Where do we meet?
Yes, we will travel from a predetermined location on the 8th and travel to Boston Logan, we will all check-in together. After that, we board in our own time. The next time you meet as a group will be in the baggage reclaim in Shannon.
The same is true for returning, you will travel back to Maine together. You’ll meet in the baggage claim and wait for confirmation that the coach is in position before leaving the terminal.
(There may be a select few that will not be joining us as they are extending their trip)
What should we budget for days to day stuff? Drinks, snacks, dinner etc?
Breakfast is included, lunch will often be a quick stop along the way and likely be a sandwich, lunches are not included. Allow for €/£6-8 for lunch per day.
Dinners are also not included (with two exceptions BTD), and on average I’d allow for €/£12 -15, some nights you might want to splurge a little though.
Alcohol is a different story and you know best, but just FYI, prices are somewhat similar to US prices.
What's the weather going to be like?
The simple answer is… it will be a mixed bag. October is one of wetter months, so being prepared is a big part of it. But it’s usually just quick showers and the weather systems tend to move through quickly. Temperatures are usually in the mid 50’s, so not too cold. But it might feel colder depending on where the wind is coming from. The key to comfort is layers!
Whats the best way to travel with Euros / Pound Sterling
Ireland and the UK are quickly becoming cashless, and credit cards are accepted in most places. Visa and Mastercard being the main players (Amex and Discover are rarely accepted). I would plan on getting to an ATM after arrival and carrying some cash on you. After that, use your credit cards that have zero international fees.
Be sure to advise your banks and card companies prior to departure. Every trip someone gets locked out of their account.
I have no idea what to pack? Whats the baggage allowance ?
While you are given an allowance of one carry on and one check-in bag, don’t feel a need to pack the bag full, you’ll pick up random things along the way, and that can make for some tough hotel check-ins/outs. We will spend more time on this very topic later.
Typically two pairs of shoes (one pair of good walking shoes with some ankle support). A light raincoat and warm jacket, a fleece, couple pairs of pants, I might even suggest gloves and a hat (just in case). I will also suggest odd things like an extension cord to charge your electronics and your own water bottle!
If heard that US hair dryers, curling irons don't workin Ireland, True or false?
Pure true. Leave them at home. The different voltage will fry your device and likely blow a fuse. Hotels provide these in the rooms.
It is ok for camera charges, phone charges, tablets and laptops, as they have inbuilt Volga converters.