Spirited Ireland & Cool Copenhagen

Sep 12, 2016 Avatar Hilton Smith Hilton Smith

August in Europe is a magical time when Europeans themselves go on holiday. More relaxed, more smiles and an easy-going mood predominate. The weather is usually at its peak as well, which contributes to the scene. This year was no exception. Despite recent events, Europeans were going about their business and enjoying it.

My long haul flights were all on United Global First, which is being phased out in favor of their new Polaris Business Class debuting December 1. Global First on United is all about space. The food and service is slightly different than Business First. It is the more spacious seating that sets Global First apart.

My adventure began in the heart of Northern Ireland, Belfast. Yes, “The Troubles” as they call it left this area off the tourist map for many years. That was long ago.

Now a vibrant, friendly and welcoming destination, no trip to the Ireland is complete without a visit to Northern Ireland. The scenic landscapes, the amazing Titanic Experience Museum, The Giant’s Causeway, the interesting tour of Old Bushmills Whisky Distillery and authentic coastal towns are all reasons to be here. The rewards for coming here are compelling.

A two hour train ride and a switch in currency from the Pound to the Euro brings you to always bustling Dublin, the capital of The Republic of Ireland.

Lots of music, pubs and history surround you. Of course, Temple Bar is a big attraction, but St. Stephen’s Green, various museums and a wide range of dining add to the experience.

I was comfortable at the centrally located Fitzwilliam Hotel where major renovations commence later this year.

A well worth excursion is to nearby Malahide Castle, which dates back to the 1600’s, as well as a slow trip back along the coastal route with its many small and working fishing villages. This is the time to satisfy your seafood cravings with the freshest available fare.

My next stop was about a two-hour flight to Scandinavia to Copenhagen, Denmark and a few days of relaxed enjoyment, which continues my next blog post. The Danes are committed to a carbon neutral city by 2025 and they are showing the efforts now.

There are two bicycles for every resident and new cars are taxed at about 180%. There are miles of true bike lanes completely separated from auto traffic and bike parking is abundant. Visitors can easily participate with bike rentals. There are a series of walking streets that make the city easy to navigate.

I stayed at the very central and historic Scandic Palace Hotel, comfortable but with air conditioning struggling to keep up with the high August temperatures. The location between the famous Tivoli Gardens and seaside Nyhavn makes it the best attribute of the hotel.

Despite the arrival of the typical high end stores, Copenhagen still has typical Danish design treasures. Where else can a mundane vegetable peeler or a juice strainer be turned into a work of art. Salt and pepper shakers can become a practical but distinctive souvenir or your trip.

There is nothing like hot sunny weather to bring out the Danes, and I doubled down by a visit to famous Tivoli Gardens. Yes, it is nothing like its contemporaries. Nevertheless, it is useful to see where Walt Disney himself hatched the idea for his own theme parks. Even at Tivoli, conservation is key.

Plastic cups have a 5 Krona deposit with drink purchase. When the cup is empty, simply deposit the cup in well located machines in the park for an instant refund.

The final stop on this diverse holiday was, and my next blog post is, always compelling Switzerland.