Ask Joan: EU visas, Île de Re and a honeymoon in Cuba
Your travel questions answered
My wife and I are currently resident in Dublin on a work permit. We are from India. We want to travel to Europe (France, Italy, Switzerland, London, etc) but we are not sure how to start and how and where to apply for visas. We want to travel to these places one at a time, i e after every country we want to come back to Dublin and then visit another country. TK, Dublin.
One of the great advantages of living in Ireland is frequent and easy access to many European cities at reasonable prices. Between Ryanair and Aer Lingus there are dozens of cities within comfortable range.
As Indian nationals, the best option for you would be to obtain a Schengen multiple entry visa. The Schengen visa area covers 25 countries in Europe, though not the UK.
You can apply for a Schengen visa to any of the countries you are intending to visit. I would suggest you pick a bigger country with an embassy here. Be prepared to provide documentation to qualify your stay in Ireland, financial situation and have travel and medical insurance for the two of you. Strong documentation will ensure that you get your visa.
For travelling to the UK you will have to apply separately, unless the visa you have to Ireland allows for travel to the UK. You may have had to obtain a UK visa for your journey to Ireland. Check with the British embassy in Dublin. There is a website indiansinireland.com that has a discussion area and you may find some help/suggestions here too.
We would like to bring our 14-year-old son to Île de Ré for two weeks in July. It will be our first trip without his older siblings so somewhere with a pool where he could meet other teens would be good. We would prefer an apartment or hotel; we are not too keen on camping but would if we have to. Our budget including flights is €3,000 at the very most. BM, Louth.
Île de Ré is a beautiful place, is very popular with the French and can be expensive. Ryanair flights to La Rochelle will cost in the region of €750 - €900, book midweek for better value. I think you can forget about a hotel for two weeks, there is very little availability and rates are from €2,000 upwards.
There are plenty of houses, villas and apartments to rent in Île de Ré, but July is high season and reflected in the prices. However, I have seen some places within your budget on homeaway.co.uk. Pierre and Vacances have a property in St Martin de Ré with pool and it would probably be ideal with your son as he would meet other children, check out dates on pv-holidays.com.
Otherwise your option is camping/mobile home rental, which again would probably suit your son as the sites have pools and there would be other teenagers around. See a list of all types of accommodation on tourisme-iledere.com. Factor in bike rental for your holidays as that is the most popular way to get around Île de Ré.
We are thinking of going on honeymoon in Cuba just after Christmas this year for 10 days; where would you recommend we stay? We were looking at Varadero as it looks like having amazing beaches but couldn’t face screaming children so a resort with an adults-only policy would be good. We also want to see Havana.
We were also looking at other Caribbean islands but the cost for both accommodation and food seems ridiculous – are there any hideaway places that aren’t at extortionate prices? AG, Dublin.
The Caribbean is very expensive for all islands and resorts particularly around Christmas and New Year. The best value I think is Thomson Holidays flying from London Gatwick and if you can have your honeymoon in the first week in January, the prices fall even further. A week in an all-inclusive adults-only resort will cost around €1,400 plus your London Gatwick flight. Thomson also has holidays to Barbados, Aruba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica, thomson.co.uk.