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Everybody else has a page devoted to what they are passionate about. I love travel. My husband and I have been lucky enough to travel to some wonderful places, and we love to share our recommendations and suggestions. Last year on the Get Caught Reading at Sea cruise, we even got to give a talk on it. So I'd love to share some Dreyer's Travel Tips(especially for international travel), and then some of my favorite places to stay.

Countries:
        + Ireland
        + Scotland
        + England
        + Italy
        + Czech Republic
        + Prague
        + India

      

Okay, specific recommendations:

You'll notice they're all B&Bs, most in Ireland, and most away from the cities. Yeah, okay, it's our preference for travel. But whereever we go, we try and stay at small family run places. Not only does that provide a more personal atmosphere, it inspires unexpected benefits. Always ask the homeowner for local recommendations. They're more than happy to help. In fact, once in Ireland when I asked a lovely lady where the local music pub was, she called her husband in from blowing tree stumps so they could take me themselves.

Whereever you go, if you choose this way of travel, be flexible and respect the privacy of your hosts(kitchens must be invited into). And be prepared to be surprised and delighted. Anybody with great(reasonably priced) recommendations of their own, let me know. I'll try and include them: For other info on Ireland or England, I highly recommend their Tourist Boards. I have a few links on my site, but the net is a great place to shop for places to stay. If you have any questions, comments or recommendations, email me at eileendreyer@eileendreyer.com.

~IRELAND~

(by region) (phone prefix from US 011-353)

I'm prejudiced. Ireland is where God lives for me. I love the beauty of the country, the sound of the sea, the soft northern light, the skirling music and raucous sport, the history and the crac (you have to ask an Irishman about that). One of the most important things to know about going to Ireland, though, is that fully half of the experience of visiting is the people themselves. I've never met a kinder, more friendly, more hospitable people anywhere in the world. My husband swears that as children they were warned that if they failed to give directions the fairies would get them. It's why I always stay in B&Bs, and why I learned to stay in B&Bs everywhere I go. Not only does that provide a more personal atmosphere, it inspires unexpected benefits(also, because of the hot economy, a lot of hospitality workers in the cities are from Eastern Europe. Still nice, but it's not the local flavor).

Always ask the homeowner for local recommendations. They're more than happy to help. In fact, once in Ireland when I asked a lovely lady where the local music pub was, she called her husband in from blowing tree stumps so they could take me themselves. Just remember to respect their home and the privacy of your hosts(kitchens must be invited into). And be prepared to be surprised and delighted.

If you haven't been, get a book like Inside Ireland. Decide what you want to see and how you want to get there. And most importantly, remember that Irish roads aren't like ours(and it's more than driving on the wrong side of the street). The country may be the size of Illinois, but the average speed is about 35mph. And that's not counting the times you stop for photos, or a beer, or to ask directions (make a point of it. It's an experience all to itself)

DUBLIN

The Lombard Pub
1 Lombard Street / 44 Pearse St.
Dublin 2
+353 1 671 8033

  • A real find. This B&B is a well-run, comfortable , reasonably priced set of rooms over a pub in the very middle of Dublin. Everything is walkable. You sign in at the pub and the managers are in charge, but they're friendly and helpful and kind. They were wonderful when we ran afoul of the volcano last trip and had to keep changing reservations. I highly recommend it.

Sanctuary Cove
354 Clontarf Road Dublin
1-833-6761
(north, bayfront--easy access to Dublin)

Moat Lodge
Lucan, Dublin County
01-6241584 www.moatlodge.ie
(west of the city on bus lines, easy to get to and from.. Love little village with a great pub, Courtney's Highest recommendation)

Mrs. Griffin Aaron Court
133 Merrion Road
Ballsbridge, Dublin
1-260-2631
(a bit pricy, but worth it--near south of city)

Slievenamon
302 Clontarf Road, Dublin
018331025

   

WEST

Bruckless House

Bruckless, Donegal
074 9737071

  • A lovely Georgian mansion on the shores of Donegal Bay, full of antiques and charm, with a series of natural gardens that make you think the faeries have returned. And best of all, your hosts, Joan and Clive Evans, who treat you like friends and have a wealth of information about the house and its history.

Iorras House
Ballincar, Rosses Point, Sligo
071-4494

  • A lovely, comfortable, friendly home that backs onto Sligo Bay.

Markree Castle
Collooney, Co Sligo

(If you want a treat. Pricey but well worth it. 17th century Castle with all modern conveniences, that's a home. Not a conference center.

Mrs. Breege Gavin
Lockavrea View Farmhouse
Maam, Co. Galway
92-48040
(beautiful Connemara valley, close to where the Quiet Man was filmed,within driving distance of the coast. So popular, film companies stay here)

Fallon's
Main St. Kinvara
Galway
091-638088

  • Comfy, family home in the charming village of Kinvara just south of Galway. Mrs. Fallon adopts everybody who visits her.

Mrs. Barron
Newpark House
Ennis, Co Clare
065-6821233
(a bit pricier, but check it out: http://www.celtic-vacances.co.uk/sh-cent/e7.htm)

 

Castlemurray House Hotel
St. Johns Point, Dunkineely
Co. Donegal, Ireland
74 9737022

  • This would be a lovely enough restaurant if the food were just great, which it is. But it also has one of the greatest views in Ireland.

Fiddler's Creek
Rockwood Parade
Sligo town
(great food and location)

Mitchell's Seafood Restaurant
Market Street, Clifden, Co. Galway

Burke's Pub
Clonbur, Co. Galway
(great place. A music town with a Great little gift shop. Mountain View)

IF YOU LOVE TRADITIONAL MUSIC, MY FAVORITE TOWNS FOR IT ARE DOOLIN IN CO. CLARE. ANY PUB WILL HAVE FABULOUS SESSIONS. OR DINGLE TOWN. ESPECIALLY AN DROICHAD BEAG or O'Flaherty's Check the scene at http://www.irishmusicbars.com/
SHANNONSIDE

(within short drive of Shannon Airport, Burren, great golf, if you're into that kind of thing)

Beechgrove Farmhouse
Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare
Breda Conheady
61-368140
(website through Irish Farmhouse Holidays)
(lovely small farm only 10 min. from Shannon above Limerick so you miss traffic. Lovely hospitality)

Clonunion House B&B
Mrs. Fitzgerald
Limerick Road , Adare, Limerick Co
61-396657
(website through Irish Farmhouse Holidays)
(Georgian beauty close to picturesque Adare village. Lovely hospitality)

Mrs. Nuala Duffy Shanagarry
Killarney Road, Newcastle
West Limerick
066-56254
(about thirty minutes from Shannon. I can't recommend this couple more highly for hospitality)

Abbey Tavern
Quin, Co. Clare
SOUTHWEST (The Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Killarney, Cork)

Gleann Fia Country House
Killarney, Co. Kerry
www.gleannfia.com
(in a too-touristy town, a lovely rest in beautiful gardens just far enough outside of town for quiet. Great center for touring.)

Gaby's Seafood
High Street
Killarney

Bricin
26 High Street
Killarney, Co. Kerry
www.bricin.com
(great 2nd story wine bar)

   
DINGLE PENINSULA


SLEA HEAD, DINGLE PENINSULA


HORSERACING ON DINGLE STRAND

 

 

 

(Do you get the idea I spend a lot of time out on Dingle? You're right. It's my favorite place)

Mrs. Eileen Hurley
Hurley's Farmhouse
Dingle Peninsula
66-64284
(another great hostess)

Slea Head Farmhouse
Slea Head, Dingle, Kerry Co.
66-9156391 www.sleaheadfarm.com
(Away from town, but the scenery is unparalleled. And the Firtears lovely()

O'Gorman's
(A bit of luxury)
Mrs Sile (Sheila) O'Gorman
Glaise Bheag, Ballydavid
Dingle Peninsula (co. Kerry)
66-55162
(another great view, 20 minutes from Dingle Town)

Mrs. Angela de Mordha
de Mordha Accomodation
Dunquin, Dingle Peninsula (Kerry)
66-9156276
ardaingeal@hotmail.com
(Mr. DeMordha runs the Blasket Center. A real Gaeltacht house)

Mrs. Alice Hannaffin
An Speice
Ballyferriter, Dingle Peninsula|
66-56254

O'Gorman's Cafe me Mara
(a great scenic restaurant)
(See B&B)

Wild Banks
Dingle, Dingle Peninsula
www.thewildbanks.com

The Old Pier
Ballydavid, Dingle Peninsula
(Very near the O'Gorman's: The owner is a real character.)

Stonehouse
Fahan, Ventry
Dingle Peninsula
66-8159970

RING OF KERRY

RING OF KERRY
Mrs. Moran
Moran's Farmhouse
Bunavalla, Caherdaniel
Ring of Kerry
66-75208
(Spectagular site overlooking Derrynane Bay, fabulous hostess)

Teacher's Restaurant

Caherdaniel Ring of Kerry
66-94-75025
SOUTHEAST

Butler Court
Patrick Street
Kilkenny

  • Adapted from the old stables of Kilkenny Castle, comfortable, clean, convenient, with wonderfully friendly hosts.
 

~SCOTLAND~

(Telephone access to Scotland and England 011-44)

We took two trips to Scotland. One that I call the Flying American Tour, or Clans, Castles and Cathedrals--everything but Edinburgh and Glasgow. It's another country I loved driving through. Wide roads, lots of space, amazing scenery. It's especially fun to walk into a pub and ask what the owner's favorite whiskey is.

You'll get everybody talking. And drink some great whiskey.

The second trip we took, we only went to Edinburgh. I found it much easier to take plane or train in and then rely on public transport. It's a very walkable city(although I swear it's all uphill), but your B&B, hotel or local information office has a handy 3-day pass on buses and trains, and entry to most of the major attractions. And when you go, make sure you go on the Mary King's Close tour. It really shows what the old town used to be like. And it's haunted. A little girl is down there, and tourists all bring her little stuffed toys.

(Telephone access to Scotland and England 011-44)

EDINBURGH

53 Frederick Street
(a real find! AN 1820 townhouse in New Town, decorated in period detail. Warning: rooms are on the fourth floor with no elevators. Well worth it, though)

ISLE OF SKYE

Mr. John Franchi
The Manse Innes Street
Plockton (at the bridge to Isle of Skye)
1599-544442

STERLING

Breadelbane House
Killen, Perthshire
(very near Sterling)
15-67820134

NEAR GRETNA GREENE

Craigadom
Castle Douglas, Scotland
(a wonderful, affordable country house)
1556-650233

 

Wok and Wine
57 Frederick Street
www.wokandwine.com

Daniel's
88 Commercial Street
Leith (a 15 minute bus ride to The Firth)
797-439-6889

 

 

~ENGLAND~

England is just too diverse to comment on in one place. I've been lucky enough to see a lot of it. The good news is that the train service is amazing. The bad news is that it is also expensive. There is also an excellent network of bus lines. Or you can drive everywhere but London. They actually charge tax for people to even drive through certain areas. But the public transport there is fabulous, and taxis great fun, and I think reasonable. Remember that when visiting, especially London, that August is the European vacation month, and everybody has come to see the same things you have(I was once caught in a Japanese tour at Westminster Abbey, and unable to even touch ground for twenty minutes). London is another city I highly recommend taking the double-decker bus tour. And don't miss those historical museums, like the Naval Museum. The Brits really know how to put a museum together.
MID-NORTH  

Mrs. Judy Smith
The Old Vicarage
Darley, N. Yorkshire
(near Harrogate)
01423 780526
www.darley33.freeserve.co.uk
(award-winning village and house garden in the exquisite Yorkshire dales)

Chris Bell
Manor House Farm
Uttoxeter, Derbyshire
018895904
(real Jacobean farmhouse complete with eccentrics!)

LEEDS
The Willows
Ivegate, Yeadon
1132501189

  • Historic farmhouse within five minutes of Leeds airport.

COTSWOLDS
Frampton Court

Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire
 (0) 1452 740267

  • Grade I historic manor in sleepy little village from the 1500s I swear is the British Brigadoon.

Elvington House B&B
Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire
01451 822026

  • Warm, comfortable family-run B&B within walking of Bourton-on-the-Water and the Slaughters.


Howarth
(Bronte Country)


Down the road from Jervaux Abbey

~ITALY~

 

Italy is is bright, fascinating, musical, passionate, gentle, and, oh, Lord, is it friendly. There is just something about that Mediterranean light that makes you want to sit in one place with a cup of cappuccino in hand, watching the world go by. And the bells. Each town seems to have its own system, but there are so many churches that there seem to be bells ringing all the time, and it's glorious.

There is so much variety, you find you can't stop taking pictures. Learn a bit of Italian and you can have wonderful interactions with people everywhere.  If you love well-worn history, evocative music and people who talk more with their hands than their words(they really do say "Maaa-ma MI-a!" all the time), this will be like dropping into a soup of experience. And I haven't even talked about the food.

Organizing the Trip

  • General:   I used two travel agents, one in Italy,

    • Lionetti in Italy for train tickets and the south, and

    • Travel and Leisure Elite through American Express in the US helped us arrange tours.

  • Accommodations: I reserved the hotel rooms. I like that, and I find that even the best travel agents tend to go to their same default hotels. See my general travel notes on search engines.

  • Travel: How did we travel? Train. The Italian trains might not always be on time, but they are clean, comfortable and efficient. You can easily plan a schedule through the Trenitalia website.

    • Call an Italian travel agent like Lionetti to make the reservations. MUCH easier (US travel agents will charge exorbitant rates to do the same thing).

    • Reserve your tickets ahead of time. Saves a nasty argument for your seat.

  • A bit of advice:  There are no seats in a train station. So you don't need to get there really early. You'll find out your track 5 minutes before leaving. When it's announced, head for the You'll find out what track you'll be on  5 minutes before you leave. When they announce it, though, move fast. That train doesn't wait long.
 
MATERA  

Matera is one of the most unique places I've ever been. Mel Gibson filmed the Passion of the Christ there, because it really does look like that. After my second trip to Italy, I still say don't miss it. Matera is quaint, quiet, beautiful and walkable(although, like many places in Italy, you have to like stairs). It's still small enough that in the evening everyone dresses up, enjoys gelato and strolls the piazzas in the traditional passeggiata. The photo is of a religious procession I stumbled over.

  • When making reservations, remember that many hotels have been carved out of caves.
 

B&B Alle Malve
Giovanni Pugliesi
via B Buozzi 102
75100 Matera

  • down in the historic Sassi, easy access, beautifully updated, and Giovanni's whole family helps take care of you(and you hope his mother Giovanna does the baking)

Domus al Barisano
via Lombardi n 16
75100 Matera

  • down in the historic Sassi near the Duomo. Lovely old house beautifully updated. Steps are involved. Worth it. And the host's name is seriously Fabio.

Casino Ridola
Via Morelli, 13
39-0835318811

  • 18th C palazzo up on the hill over the old part of town. Stairs are involved. Worth it!

Le Baccanti
via Sant'Angelo

  • Elegant simplicity amazingly in a cave. Unmatched food and service. Reached from the bottom of the Sassi

Il Cantuccio
via del Beccherie 33
0835332090

  • Another lovely elegant restaurant, this one up by the Duomo, lovely food and service

Ristorante il Borghese
via Lucana, 198
0835 314 223

  • Comfortable, family-friendly place on the Piazza Lucana. Food is wonderful and reasonable, staff friendly.

 

 

PRAINO (Amalfi Coast)  

Amalfi Coast is spectacular. It is also straight up. I'm not kidding. Our hotel was 100 steps below the street). The town of Amalfi itself is fairly flat, but the tour buses live there, so it's packed. Positano is lovely, but it's expensive(and steeper than Praiano). We chose Praiano because it was between the two, reasonable and we could catch the coastal bus anywhere(first time I've done that. Embarrassed how easy it was). Great restaurants, family feeling, and sunsets to die for. But no parking. And you can easily get to Pompeii from here.

 
 

PRAIANO

Hotel le Sirene
via S. Nicola, 10

  • 100 steps down from the street, but call ahead and they will have someone help with bags. No frills, but none are needed. Each room has a balcony overlooking a spectacular view of the ocean and Positano, and there is a full bar downstairs so you can sip a drink and enjoy the view. Breakfast included.

Il Pino
Via G. Capriglione 13

Aaaaaaaah. That's the best way I can put it. Sweet little, friendly, happy restaurant with lovely food and a spectacular view. The kind of place where the owners encourage you to stay. We did, even if we could no longer see anything in the dark.

I usually don't do this, but I did want to warn you about another restaurant. For some reason everybody in Praiano recommends the next restaurant. And while the food is good, it is certainly not worth it. I've never met a ruder, more disagreeable, less accommodating staff in my life. Avoid ila Brace

la Brace
via Gennaro Capriglione 146

 
ROME  

Rome has had such a bad rap over the years, that I went reluctantly. Again, embarrassed. Of course it's noisy. It's busy. It's a city. It's also lively, friendly, gorgeous, clean, accessible, and oh, the history! The art! The food! I loved it.

Recommendation: We used David and Rosanna Incorati, the hosts of our B&B in Rome, as private tour guides. I highly recommend them. The tour was personal, passionate, informative and fun. They made a remarkable city truly an experience of a lifetime(and you don't have to stay with them to use their services).

  • Vatican: I recommend a private tour. Otherwise the lines make Disneyworld look like the 6 Items or less lane. It will also help you decide exactly what you want to see in the Vatican Museum. Whatever else you do, though, do NOT miss the Sistene Chapel. It is a miracle.
 
 

Vatican Vista
Piazza del Risorgimento No. 36 int 16+ 06 39889323

  • This is a basic B&B. Nothing fancy. But very comfortable. We rented an entire apartment for 5. Lovely neighborhood, amazing hosts, really convenient. The view out the window is the Papal Palace. (I waved). The very best part is the hosts, David and Rosanna, who were not only thoughtful, funny, generous and hospitable, but great tour guides. Even if you don't stay there, get in touch for tours.

 

 
SIENA (Tuscany)  

We didn't spend much time in Florence this trip, because my family doesn't enjoy art. But when I come back(and I will), I've decided that I'll stay in Siena and train over every morning. Florence is glorious; it's grand. But Siena is quaint and friendly and small, a medieval walled city that oozes charm and geniality. Even better, after about 5 the swarms of tourists leave, and the city is yours.

But, wait! There's more! Tuscany really is that charming. If you can do it, get a tour of the hill towns, especially San Gimignano, which is priceless.

 
 

Albergo Bernini
via della Sapienza 15

  • Highly recommended for the amazing hospitality, the central location, and especially the freakin' amazing patio that has one of the spectacular views in the world. If you do nothing but sit on that deck with a bottle of wine and some cheese you bought down the street and watch the light change over the hills and buildings, it would be enough. The rooms are simple, clean and roomy. The only problem for us was Room 10, which had a terrible mold smell when we stayed there. I've been assured that the owners know about it and are dealing with it. I'll try and update when I get further info.

Osteria del Compaccio
Vicolo del Compaccio 2
0577 40212

  • Tucked in a backstreet below the Duomo, friendly, small, with good food. Reasonable price.
 
VENICE  

There are few places in the world that can't be mistaken for someplace else. Venice is one of those places. I have never been anywhere like it. The color, the light, the narrow, twisting streets, the wedding cake buildings and gleaming canals. And then, I took a vaporetto down the Grand Canal and thought, "I've seen this all before." and realized that I was thinking of a Canaletto paintin  from the 18th century. It really hasn't changed sine then.

Venice Note: Maps suck. Especially the locally produced ones. The big thing you need to know is that the two directions are toward the train station, or toward St. Marks. And the Ponte Vecchio is right in the middle.

 
 

Palazzo Cendon
Calle Cendon Cannaregio 534

  • My very favorite room in Italy. A 15th C palazzo right on the Cannereggio Canal, which is a quiet neighborhood  near the train station. Beautifully decorated, lovely staff, all the percs, and amazingly reasonable for Venice. It was our splurge for the trip. I recommend you spring for  a suite. They have balconies out over the water. I could have spent months sitting on the 15th C balcony sipping coffee and watching the boats bring supplies up the canal and the light change on the buildings.

Al Leon d'Oro
Via Canonici, 3\
041 432777

  • Don't miss this gem. Small, out of the way, literally a mom and pop restaurant. Mom cooks and pop mans the front. Amazing food, really good prices.
 

~CZECH REPUBLIC~

 
My husband travels to Prague on business and has been begging me to join him. I finally did, and have to say I'm really glad I did. This is an amazing city. It's the only major European city to not be bombed during World War II, which means the historic center is intact. And this represents more than a thousand years of history. I recommend you stay down in the historic area. We stayed in the Male Strana, beneath the castle, and the area is quaint, packed in great little pubs and restaurants, and steeped in history. If you like stained glass, don't miss St. Vitus Cathedral. If you like classical music, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a historic palace or church that isn't playing something each night. My only caveat is to familiarize yourself with the language before going, especially if you want to use trains or subways while you're there. It's very intimidating for a westerner, but after about a day, I felt much more comfortable about it. And most Czechs are fluent enough in English to communicate. Also, if you try out at least the basics, Please, thank you, etc. the locals are delighted, and will even help you with pronunciation(it became a game with me). Just don't expect a whole lot of green veggies at the restaurants.  
PRAGUE
 
Hotel Appia Residence
Sporkova 3
(Right in the middle of the historic area, a 14th century convent beautifully restored. Arranges taxi from airport)

There are tons of reasonably priced pubs and cafes. Prague specializes in the coffee house. for something special:

David's Restaurant
Trziste 21/611
Tucked away in a back street near Appia. Cozy, great food.

Mlynec Restaurant
Novotneho Lavka 9
Old Town, Prague 1
(one of several restaurants with a view to Charles Bridge. Great view and food)

 

~INDIA~

We got to stay in India for almost three weeks. I'm not going to kid you. For the first 4 days, all I could think was "I'm so glad I came. Now I'll never have to come back." I've traveled extensively, as you can tell. I thought I was prepared for the sensory overload. I was not.  I began my trip in Delhi and felt battered by the people and the noise and the dirt. But right about the end of that fourth day, I began to see past that to see the beauty. Within two more days I was fascinated. Within 10 I was in love. I truly can't wait to go back.

Every cliche about India is true. It is a land of contrasts. In Delhi the  animals fed off the trash in the streets(although in Calcutta, they are using trash to fuel). Being at the edge of the desert, it is a very dusty city. And the noise! If I heard one more horn honk, I thought I'd explode. But there is so much beauty, such diversity. I always thought the Irish people the nicest in the world. I now know better. The Indians are, hands down.

Yes, there is extreme poverty. There are children beggars you must not even make eye contact with.(every local will tell you that you will do more good by donating to Mother Theresa). But there is color and sound and an amazing joy that seems to permeate everything. I think of walking down the bazaars, where gold and scarlet flower necklaces swing in the breeze, and women in iridescent yellow, green and magenta saris crouch by the road with a blanket of fresh fruit: mangos and tomatoes and bananas. In a nearby shop a salesman lifts a length of peacock georgette in the air so it wafts into a woman's hands. Aromas of coffees and spices and flowers vie with exhaust and cow dung. The  ancient buildings glow in the sunlight, their designs so intricate you can't believe them possible. The air is thick with shouting as men sit cross-legged negotiating, music from the local Sikh temple, the call to faith from the Mosque. India truly is a sensual banquet.

Again, Rick and I arranged a self tour. I reserved the hotel rooms using Trip Advisor(if you take a guided tour, you will usually stay only in chains). Then I used the brilliant people at Travel & Leisure Elite(a travel subsidiary of American Express) to arrange drivers, guides and interior transportation. I can't recommend them enough.

I can only speak to two specific areas: THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE and CALCUTTA, as they were the only areas we had time for.

THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur)

DELHI: Many historic sites. Otherwise, not my favorite place.

AGRA: Gateway to the Taj Mahal.
Only stay in Agra long enough to see the Taj, preferably at sunset.

TAJ MAHAL:  Okay, I admit it. The only reason I went to the Taj was because my husband had gone once without me and I never let him forget it.  I mean, can't you close your eyes and see the Taj Mahal? Well, let me tell you. No you can't. I have rarely been flummoxed in my travels. The Taj flummoxed me.  It really is beyond description, a gleaming wedding cake that seems to float in the air. And up close, intricately carved with inlaid gems and stone. It really, really is all that, and you'll regret missing it. The only warning I'll give is that it's a lot more crowded than you can see in that picture with Princess Diana.

JAIPUR: A pink fantasy of a city. Beautiful architecture, wonderful history, and it's the world capitol for cutting of colored gemstones. Don't miss an exhibition. We stayed in a little gem of a local hotel that is an old haveli, or Hindu home, and ate a sumptuous dinner off of gold plates at the Rambagh Palace, once the home of the Maharajas of Jaipur. And make sure to make time for the Amber Fort, about 20 miles outside of the city. If you get there early enough, you can ride an elephant up to the ramparts (even more cool than it sounds).

RANTHAMBHORE TIGER SANCTUARY: Just south of Jaipur. A small sanctuary that still has the greatest number of tiger sightings in the area. You can't stay within the sanctuary, but I highly recommend the hotel we found, just outside. A family home turned hotel with extra rooms in tents that resemble 4 star accommodations. There is just nothing like coming back from a hard day hunting tigers to sit around a campfire by the pond(where the crocodile lives), and having young men in white jackets hand you a gin and tonic before dinner. Civilization at its finest.

DELHI:
Hotel Vasant Continental
Basant Lok, Pratik Market
New Delhi, Delhi, India
011 26148800

AGRA:
ITC Mughal Agra
Taj Ganj, Agra 282001

JAIPUR:
#1 Savista Retreat
About ten miles outside Jaipur and reached via a road that will make you question your choice. Have faith. The pictures on the web site don't do it justice, and the hosts are fascinating as well as truly hospitable. We stayed here for a couple of days just to rest.

#2 Umaid Bhawan Hotel
D-1-2A Behind Collectorate, Banipark
Jaipur, Rajasthan 302016, India 0141 2316184
www.umaidbhawan.com

A heritage hotel with character. An old haveli, or Hindu home that is all color and whimsy. A great base for touring Jaipur.

RANTHAMBHORE TIGER SANCTUARY:
Khem Villas, VPO Sherpur Khiljipur, Dist. Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan,

Telephones: 094140 30262, 07462 252099, 07462 252219
E-mail: khemvillas@anokhi.com
Khem Villas call themselves a luxury jungle resort. It is truly exotic, between a historic house and camp tents that are more luxurious than most hotel rooms, a pond with a crocodile, evening drinks served by waiters in white coats.

 

 

CALCUTTA

My favorite place in the country. A beautiful melding of Indian and British architecture at its finest. 
No animals in the streets here, but the medians are lined with small Hindu temples to their 2 million and 2 gods. Lush tropical foliage and gleaming white buildings, a great swath of green that is a horse racing track, and the ever-present brown flow of the Hooghly River, which is a tributary of the great Mother Ganges. If you are interested in history, ask your guide to show you the British Cemetery from the earliest days of the Raj. It was filled in 1820, and is eerie and beautiful and evocative today.

If you're hesitant about traveling to a new place, a tour is a great way to get an overview and learn where you want to return. If you are in a tour group, consider getting a bit away once or twice to see people you normally wouldn't on the bus. In general, in big cities I've found that the on-off bus tours are great for getting a lay of the land, especially the double-deckers, if you enjoy architecture. Even if we've been to a city before, we often take them just to enjoy an overview.

Anybody with great (reasonably priced) recommendations of their own, let me know. I'll try and include them: For other info on Ireland or England, I highly recommend their Tourist Boards. I have a few links on my site, but the net is a great place to shop for places to stay. If you have any questions, comments or recommendations, email me at eileendreyer@eileendreyer.com.

TAJ BENGAL: 
Taj Bengal Hotel
Belvedere Rd, Alipore
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
033 22232574

 

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Be sure to check out my US Travel page for my thoughts and recommendations on US travel.

And let me know about your own travels. eileendreyer@eileendreyer.com

BON VOYAGE!!

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