Greencastle-Magilligan ferry must be maintained

May 1, 2009

Providing a vital link between the tourism of Donegal and the Causeway Coast, the ferry operating between Magilligan and Greencastle must be maintained. 

Ferry

The current contract expires in June and until now there is no solution in place.  Limavady Council can’t afford to keep their side of the bargain going, nor should they since statistics show most passengers pass straight through the area and onto the Causeway.  Conor Murphy and his department won’t yet take responsibility for it, due to a legislation glitch which means it doesn’t technically come under their auspices, but action must be taken, most probably by Arlene Foster, Minister of Enterprise (including tourism). 

The Ferry saves a 49 mile journey for those who want to keep a Causeway coastal path, and without it the areas of rural Donegal and beautiful Downhill would likely be passed by by the unsuspecting tourist. 

The ludicrous security checks (which operate only on the NI side of the border) are said to cost between £80,000-£90,000 and should be scrapped immediately. 

The ferry service is economically viable, whether it makes a profit or not, as it ushers in hoardes of tourists to the Causeway area, and as such should be preserved as part of a bold strategy to attract tourists as well as Donegal residents looking to take advantage of the weak pound.

Sign the petition here to save the Greencastle – Magilligan ferry service.

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‘Escape from North Korea’, from National Geographic

March 26, 2009

Since last summer when I looked into the possibility of going on an organised tour to North Korea (there is no other way of travelling to/within the country), I have had kept an eye out for any news smuggled out of the country. As the world’s most inaccessible country, it appeals enormously.

National Geographic ran an article last week entitled ‘Escape from North Korea’ and whilst it’s long, it’s well worth a read, bringing up issues of sex trafficking, active love, gratitude and the effect of faith on people in need

Read it here


Ryanair – Good or Bad?

March 24, 2009

Spent this past hour booking flights for myself and my father to go to Belgium early June. As ever, using good old Ryanair because I am a slave to their ridiculously low prices. Having sacrificed taking any luggage, travel insurance and deciding to check in online rather than at the airport, I had my flights for a bargain 20 Euros a piece. However, without a VISA Electron card, I faced charges of another 20 euros (10 euros per passenger) for paying with a credit card (it’s the same price as with a debit card, but with the added security).

Ryanair is without doubt the cheapest airline on paper, providing you are willing to forgo your human rights for the length of time it takes to get to your destination. Overpriced snacks on board, as well as all the additional charges they try and lure you into before you can book your flight are only the start of it.

Charging for mobile phones is the latest thing, with threats in place to charge a quid if you want to use the toilet. Chief Executive Michael O’Leary is undoubtedly one of the most successful and despised businessmen in Europe, making £650m a year from all the extra charges. He’s not in a hurry to help either, as this quote illustrates

“We don’t fall all over ourselves if they… say my granny fell ill. What part of no refund don’t you understand? You are not getting a refund so fuck off”

The bottom line is they are cheap, and we are suckers for a bargain. If they work in our favour, great. But if there is a problem, don’t expect any help.

It comes down to that old adage – You get what you pay for. But frankly, I’ll take their cheap flights.  Gladly

Verdict: Good


Free Things No.2 – Couchsurfing

January 29, 2009
I was away last week in Spain visiting a friend, but I also made the most of my time away to do a bit of couchsurfing. It’s not some wacky water sport, but rather a means of experiencing and sharing hospitality and culture. I’ve been doing CouchSurfing for over two years. The first time I tried it was when I was off to Germany for the World Cup, and I used a similar project, Hospitality Club, to stay with some random Germans in the cities I was travelling in. Although my primary selfish aim was simply free accommodation, I was completely taken aback by the rich conversation I was drenched in, and the wonderful people that I was able to meet. I know that had I stayed in a hostel, I would have met all the usual tourists from everywhere except Germany, and gone to all the usual tourist places, so to be able to meet people who knew and loved their city and wanted to show off their side of it was a wonderful experience.

 Since then I have hosted 43 people in my home on the North Coast. I had a hitchhiker from Finland, an American couple and their 9 month old baby, a film crew from Canada, two Swedish girls, a French girl travelling with her Grandfather amongst others. I’ve met some wonderful people, and had some great times. I’ve also used it myself some more too. I’ve stayed with a young unicycling family in Liechtenstein, a Tube driver in London, and a Scrabble player in Ballycastle. Last October I took my Dad couchsurfing in Krakow, and last week I stayed with a wonderful man, Ivan, in his home in Cadiz while in Faro I slept in Bruno’s house (right) which is right beside the sea.
There’ll be the usual won’t you get raped/mugged/murdered questions that I’m used to, but the system is based on community trust provided through references and vouches.
I highly recommend it, as a means of meeting varied and fascinating people, and enjoying the richness of culture and diversity.