Time out and winter sun
ASK JOAN: Grown-up gap: I am looking for advice for a grown-up “gap month”. I work freelance in the arts and my contract is due to end in February.
I would love to take a fortnight or a month away and do something different. I am on a budget and was thinking of short-term intensive courses that lead to a useful fall-back job skill, the type that are often aimed at gap year students such as yoga, cookery, fitness or volunteering. Any suggestions welcome. – TB, Dublin
Using time off to volunteer or to learn new skills is a great idea. The National Trust in the UK has working holidays where volunteers help with various activities.
Holidays are usually at a base camp with simple communal accommodation and shared domestic tasks.See nationaltrust.org.uk.
Off the west coast of Ireland is the Clare Island Yoga Retreat and organic farm. During the year they need helpers to assist with the running of the centre. See yogaretreats.ie.
In Spain you could consider being a volunteer at Vaughan Town, where in return for speaking English with students, you get bed and board. See volunteers.grupovaughan.com.
Athens in the spring
We would like to visit Athens in the spring, but cannot find flights between Dublin and Athens. We want to visit Athens on a city break basis, but there seems to be nothing available from this country. – ÉÓL, Dublin
The Aer Lingus service to Athens returns on May 2, with flights on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. At the moment flights cost about €230 return. There are flights every day from London Gatwick with easyjet.comand from Heathrow with British Airways and Aegean/Olympic Airways.You may find that booking with a travel agent you can combine flights and a hotel for a better price. Companies such as ebookers.ieand lastminute.comshould be able to do price of about €400pps for flights and four nights accommodation. They can also book flights to Athens via other countries, before May 2nd. The website aerlinguspackages.comalso has city breaks, from May 2nd.
In desperate need of some sunshine before the year is out, we booked flights to Lanzarote in December. We would love your advice on budget accommodation options. We are a family of four, my husband and I and a two-year-old and three-and-a-half- year-old. – AC, Limerick
Lanzarote is a holiday island geared to mass tourism. Small, budget hotels with childcare or babysitting facilities do not really exist there.
There are a few small places, but they are very quiet and not necessarily on the coast, for example the Finca de Las Salinas is beautiful and somewhere you would probably love, if you were travelling without children. The island of Graciosa off the north coast is also a gem of tranquility for laidback adults. You might consider the Fariones Apartments in Puerto del Carmen, part of the Fariones Hotel complex. The hotel has a small beach, children’s heated outdoor pool, playground, restaurants and babysitting service. That week in December it will cost around €740 with breakfast.
You will find private rentals on Lanzarote on rentalia.com. Prices are reasonable, with properties from around €250-€450 per week.
You will find two-star self-catering apartments for less than €300 for the week in Costa Teguise. This is a quieter area of Lanzarote. See a selection of properties on booking.com.
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