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Fresh Eire Blog

Vermouth: A Taste Of Spain

Vermouth: A Taste Of Spain
 
The classic vermouth is now the aperitif par excellence.  A tradition that has made a powerful come-back as the multi-dimensional phenomena of 'the aperitif', vermouth culture has been reborn!
 
'Vermouth time' is a social and gastranomic pleasure and in the Empordà region (where we spend our final two days on our Costa Brava tour) there are countless ways to enjoy it!  It's also exceptionally good savoured peacefully alone, with a good book; and super delicious after a bike ride.  
 
Fancy a vermouth?  With olives, ice, soda, in a cocktail... and, of course, along with some tapas, cockles, 'patatas bravas'.
 
 
"Once upon a time, most diseases would be healed with teas and homemade drinks, natural remedies passed on from generation to generation that would revive a weak spirit.  The origins of vermouth as a healing drink stem from the time of Hippocrates.  Refined over the years, it was adopted as an aperitif, as we know it, in Turin during the XVIII century.  Finding its second - or third - home in Catalonia, it also became very popular in northern France.  To prepare it, we need a base of wine and a careful selections of medicinal herbs, especially wormwood, which provides its characteristic bitter taste.  Fruits, spices and other natural ingredients will soften and sweeten it.
 
These days the classic drink has been reinvented and renewed to match the gastronomic specialities of our country, delighting the most demanding of palates and capturing the spirit of new generations.  Bars, restaurants and terraces have become the new ambassadors of the 'vermouth moment' - relaxing in good company with tasty tapas.  Cheers to vermouth!"
 
Ester Bachs, Author of 'Vermouth Guide' (planeta)

Wexford Garden Trail

Wexford Garden Trail
 
Welcome to the Wexford Garden Trail, located in what is traditionally known as the Sunny South East.  The largest of the province of Leinster's 12 counties and bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and to the east by the Irish Sea.  The River Barrow forms its western boundary; the Blackstairs Mountains form part of the boundary to the north, as do the southern edges of the Wicklow Mountains.  Only an hour's drive from Dublin, it is also home to the busy port of Rosslare.
 
The gardens reflect both the history and the diversity of the county and its landscape.  Some of the gardens were originally laid out in the 18th and 19th century while others were begun just 10 years ago.  The larger public gardens provide an ideal outing for all of the family, the smaller private gardens will give you not only an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon, they will also introduce you to the large range of plants which can grow in this temperate  region.  The trail includes Specialist Nurseries for the more unusual plants and, spread through the county, award winning Garden Centres who will provide for all your garden needs.
 
The owners of all of the garden locations on the trail will be happy to welcome and assist you with any information you require to enjoy your visit to Co. Wexford.
 
 
Ballinkeele Garden
Mature trees and rhododendron form the backdrop for the woodland walk around the lake and through the parkland.  There are two walled gardens which are gradually being brought back to use.  One is planted with roses, shrubs and perennials and the other is a productive garden with old apple and plum trees as well as vegetables.
 
Ballymore Schoolhouse Garden
A two acre site with a large Oriental Temple Garden including a traditional teahouse, stone bridge, traditional stone lanterns and a Moon Gate.  Other features include the spectacular Laburnum walk complete with a Zen waterhouse, which runs through it, a decorative Potager, a Mirror garden and the peaceful Dell Garden.
 
Colclough Walled Garden
The walled garden was built by the Colclough Family in the early Nineteenth Century.  Restoration work began in July 2010 and the original layout of the garden has been reinstated as it was in 1838.  The main features of this 2.5 acres stone/brick lined walled garden include curved corners, two intra mural structures on the dividing brick wall which splits the garden in two sections, east and west.  It is a work in progress.
colclough garden
Glenavon Japanese Garden
This one acre garden, created over ten years, on the challenging clay Macemore soil, depicts the four seasons and is centred round a beautifully recreated Japanese pavilion.  Stone lanterns, statues and other features accentuate this theme and a Liquidambar walks flanks one of the perimeters.  There is also a craft shop.
 
John F. Kennedy Arboretum
John F. Kennedy Arboretum is dedicated to the memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the United States of America until his assassination on 22nd November 1963.  It consists of 622 acres including 4500 types of trees and shrubs, 200 forest plots, rhododendrons and dwarf conifers.  They offer exhibitions, guided tours, signposted walks, lake, cafe & miniature railway (seasonal) and also a playground and picnic area.
 
Johnstown Castle
Johnstown Castle was built by the Esmonde family who came to Co. Wexford in 1169.  It was then acquired by the Grogan family who developed the castle, grounds, lakes and estate to what we have today.  The walled gardens and hothouses, covering 4 acres, were originally laid out between 1844-1851 and retain their early design today.  Pathways throughout the grounds meander through the woodland garden and around the lakes.  The sunken garden is now a picnic area located close to the car park.
 
Kilmokea Gardens
These peaceful spiritual gardens of seven acres are beautifully laid out around an attractive Georgian house overlooking the river Barrow.  Topiary, lawns, herbaceous and mixed plantings combine with architectural features and ornaments to provide an echanting series of enclosures.  A water garden extends into woodland planted with rare and tender trees and shrubs.  The organic fruit and vegetable garden has been opened to the public in 2017.
 
Kilmurry Nursery & Garden
Beautiful herbaceous perennial garden developed over the last ten years on 1.5 acres and includes large orchard and vegetable area in an informal setting.  This garden, planted for colour and scent, provides inspiration and ideas for planting combinations.  Attached to an award winning nursery where a huge selection of plants is available.
 
Lucy's House & Garden
This two acre garden is in two parts, the original area is now the vegetable gardens but includes some wonderful trees, over the past 20 years, the additional field has been transformed into a large lawned area, long borders of trees, shrubs and herbaceous and individually themed island beds and features, incorporating a wide selection of planting styles.
 
Marlfield House & Garden
Surrounding a beautiful regency period house, the garden and grounds extend to 36 acres.  Woodlands form the back drop to meandering paths through an extensive kitchen garden of herbs, vegetables and fruits.  Long borders of shrubs and herbaceous perennials flank a yew hedge and lead to the lawns and formal gardens.  The lake and wildfowl reserve from a completely separate garden to the front of the hotel and the island, reached by a wooden bridge, has beautiful specimen shrubs and trees.
 
Monksgrange Garden & Norman Gallery
Supplanting the original 18th century garden, the current layout was completed in the 1920's.  A folly castle built in 1822 adds an air of history to its surrounding garden.  This garden contains wonderful specimen trees and shrubs, and a collection of azaleas and rhododendrons.  Peaceful paths meander along a natural stream where ponds, small waterfalls and sculptures create interest and calmth.
 
Newtownbarry House, Gallery and Garden
Parts of the garden which date back to the 18th and 19th century have been recently restored; the Sunken garden approximately two acres, is a colourful walled garden which includes a formal oval pool, a fountain and a series of borders filled with shrubs and herbaceous perennials, enclosed by lines of dwarf hedges.  Mature trees, a rose garden and a lake complete the picture.
 
The Bay Garden
This two acre garden surrounding an 18th century farmhouse has been developed over 20 years from a neglected orchard and field creating an array of different areas.  From the main lawn, with its serpentine mixed borders, one is led to the Cottage & White Gardens, the Rose Garden, Hot & Funereal borders, Pond Garden, Barn Garden, Woodland & Bog garden and finally the Vegetable Garden.
the bay garden
Tombrick Gardens
The garden has been developed since 1989 from a green field site.  A wide variety of trees now shelter this 1.5 acre plot which includes an orchard, a woodland are and borders of herbaceous perennials, roses and shrubs combining to create a tapestry of colour.  Water from a nearby stream has been used to create a number of ponds around which are areas for ornamental poultry to wander freely.
 
Woodville House Gardens
A Victorian walled garden, 1.2 acres in size with conservatories, vegetable garden, fruit trees, herbaceous borders and lawn.  A striking feature of the garden is the original box hedging proudly maintained by the present owner.  The garden is also extensively planted with several varieties of apple, pear and cherry.  The water garden is tranquil haven of shade and water-loving plants.
woodville31.dib

Nijmegen - Bike Tour: Attractions, Hotels and Restaurants

Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands and carries a lot of culture within its walls and historic buildings. It is also the place of birth to local legends and myths, Mariken van Nieumeghen being the most renowned. Nijmegen's city centre, with its wide selection of high-quality shops, from modern shopping centres to cosy little boutiques, is popular with visitors. Nijmegen has the highest concentration of outdoor cafés in the Netherlands, and the many terraces offer great people-watching opportunities. For some pre trip sightseeing in Nijmegen, our Fresh Eire Adventures intern, and proud Dutchie, Mark Zwerus shares with you the best attractions, hotels and restaurants for you to enjoy.

Attractions

Museum het Valkhof

An extensive collection of Roman art and implements plus ancient and modern art reflecting the rich history of Nijmegen are on exhibition in Museum het Valkhof. Not only does the museum display a large and important collection of Roman archaeology, and a special collection of modern art, it also exhibits an ancient art reflecting the rich history of Nijmegen.

Africa Museum

The Africa Museum offers you an appealing combination: an indoor museum featuring a substantial collection of the African art and cultures. The museum also has an outdoor area which is highly educational on the culture of living in an African tribe.

Dogon woonerf

MuZIEum

This somewhat quirky museum lets you see through the eyes of a blind person or someone with limited visibilty. The tour guide literally guides you through all sorts of daily situations like walking through a living room. Furthermore, you can create your own message in braille and learn how to read it.

Hotels

Hotel MANNA

Hotel MANNA is one of the best around.  This centrally located four star hotel offers large rooms furnished with contemporary interiors.  It boasts an excellent buzzy restaurant which is as popular for lunch as it is for dinner.

Manna

Prikkels

Prikkels is a 2/3 star hotel located above the restaurant Prikkels. The hotel offers 5 rooms with a different theme in each room so you can book one you are comfortable with. The exterior is traditionally Dutch and is typical of the historic city centre. Be warned: there are steep stairs to climb.

Sanadome Hotel

The Sanadome is a four star hotel that boasts a wellness spa and is located just outside the city centre.  The rooms are decorated in a contemporary style.  Most rooms feature a balcony that overlooks the front driveway with the small fountain and the parkland in the background.

Restaurants

De Nieuwe Winkel

De Nieuwe Winkel is an organic and unique restaurant due to its originality in recipes and presentation. The restaurant is located in the historic city centre and adds a modern interior to this recipe to make it a fine establishment. Service here is particularly good.

De Firma

Located very close to the river Waal, De Firma is a very atmospheric restaurant which prefers to use ingredients they make or grow themselves. The dishes make this restaurant stand out because of enticing presentation, a lot of diversity in flavour and generous portions. Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, reviewed this restaurant on Tripadvisor:

Some serious thought went into the decor of this business; full of stylish period pieces, with more than a nod to Holland's design heritage, the bar and restaurant offers tapas style dining with some very original twists. A limited wine list with some excellent bottles. Service is fun and friendly. A great vegetarian and pescatarian selection choice.
de firma restaurant 40954

Portugal - Bike tour: The Douro Valley

We are currently working with the Portugese Tourism Commission and will be offering a new tour in Portugal in 2018/19.  Stand by for more information. 
 
Portugal - Bike tour: The Douro Valley
 
It was, in 1756, the first demarcated and regulated wine region in the world.  The wild slopes of the valley transformed themselves, through the work of generations, in terraces to plant the vines that produce the famous Port, excellent DOC Douro wine, sparkling wine and Muscat. 

This impressive landscape was considered World Heritage by the UNESCO in 2001, as a living evolving cultural landscape - the Douro Valley.  In the Valley of the river Douro and its tributaries, the harmonious interaction between Man and Nature coexists with another, possibly more natural or derelict - the one of the National Parks of Douro International, of Alvão or, yet even further, the Geopark of Arouca.

The River Douro flows from the Spanish border to the east of Porto and, depending on the time of the year, its slopes may be decorated with Almond or Cherry blossom trees.
 
Here are some of our recommendations for a visit to the Douro Valley.
 douro valley
Visit the Douro Museum in Régua or the Casa de Mateus Foundation in Vila Real and the many quintas that produce Port Wine and Douro Wine thanks to the microclimate in the Valley.  If you are coming in Harvest Labour season, you can witness the grapes being picked or explore the Douro International Natural Park (85000 ha) and the Alvão Natural Park (7220 ha).  Located in the Upper Douro, Vila Nova de Foz Cõa saw its name cross borders due to the discovery of its Paleolithic open air Rock Art.  These rocks are estimated to be over 20000 years old.  As World Heritage, this form of prehistoric art got much fame and currently is one of the reasons tourists visit.  The art covers an area of 17km.

The Rock Art of Côa Valley and the Archeological Park, Douro International Natural Park and the Alvão Natural Park, the Douro Valley, The Douro Museum, the Côa Museum, Monuments, the harvest, gastronomy and wine, the Douro cruises, the Casa de Mateus Foundation, the Monastery of Salzedas and the Shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remédio are all worth further exploration if you have the time.

For those of you interested in exploring the rich gastronomic culture of the region, you could do worse by trying the traditional recipes accompanied by the highly respected Wines in quintas or in the excellent local restaurants.
 
 

Dublin Airport, VIP And Business Services

Dublin Airport, VIP And Business Services
 
If you are travelling from or to Dublin Airport you avail of the extra VIP treatment on offer. This gives you the option to relax while waiting for your flight. The staff takes care of you and your luggage. It gives you access to exclusive VIP features such as private suites, private check-in and luggage handling, private security screening area, chauffeur service to your aircraft, luxury shower room to refresh yourself before or after your flight, personal shopping service and complimentary refreshments such as a massage.
DAA business services
When flying from Dublin Airport
Your Fresh Eire Adventures representative will say farewell and pass you into the charge of a VIP representative. They will then check you in and take care of your luggage, passport and boarding pass, and escort you to your private suite. Here, you can enjoy complimentary refreshments to make sure that you arrive revitalized and fresh. When it is time to depart, the staff member will come to pick you up and will guide you through private security. A chauffeur service will drive you to your aircraft in a limousine.
 
When flying to Dublin Airport
Your flight will be tracked to make sure that you will be greeted by a staff member when you arrive. Once there, you will be assisted with passing through the Immigration and Customs services. Afterwards, you can relax and make use of the complimentary refreshments and the luxury shower room. In the meantime, someone from the VIP staff will collect your luggage and coordinate its transfer with your Fresh Eire Adventures representative.
Please contact vip@daa.ie for further information and bookings or call +353 1 814 4895.