Ask Joan: Where to get moving in Europe

Overland to Todi, horse riding holidays and pilates programmes

Todi, Santa Maria della Consolazione - Umbria, Italy

Todi, Santa Maria della Consolazione - Umbria, Italy

 

My husband and I plan to attend a family wedding in Todi, Italy, in May. We would like to travel from Ireland by ferry and then by rail through France and Switzerland, and see some of the countryside. Are there travel companies that specialise in organising this type of holiday?

We would like to make it as stress- and hassle-free as possible. We live in Northern Ireland and it might help to know if we would be better to use a UK company or an Irish one. The main priority is to avoid airports. We would also prefer to avoid Eurostar, if possible. – JD,Belfast

In Dublin, Railshop.ie, tel: 01-8828679, can make bookings for all European rail services. There will be a ferry from Dublin to Cherbourg on Saturdays during May with Irish Ferries, irishferries.com. That would save going to Rosslare to catch the ferry, and also avoid Eurostar. Statravel.co.uk can help with rail tickets from the UK.

If travelling from Belfast via England the ferry companies have a sail rail inclusive fare to London. Stena’s booking line is 0844-576-2762.

Eurostar is a quick and easy way to get to Europe, but there are plenty of ferries to France. You can check the routings and times on aferry.co.uk. For rail travel within the UK book online with thetrainline.com.

We are two horse-riding fanatics and we would love to go on a dressage/classical horse riding holiday. We can both ride, but from a dressage point of view we would be considered novice. We are both free in late April or early May. We can go anywhere in Europe. – DM, Limerick

The Irish company that specialises in horse-riding holidays, Zaras Planet, has exactly what you are looking for. There are two possibilities for your dates, a week in Andalusia or in Tuscany. The trip to Spain would involve travelling through Malaga or Seville to the lovely town of Carmona.

Six days are devoted to classical horse-riding and dressage, with the price from €1,480pps including four-star hotel accommodation, meals and outings. There are optional excursions to the Andalusian School of Equitation; flights are extra. In Tuscany, the riding school is located at Il Paretaio, about 30 minutes from Florence and two hours from Pisa. The course will include lessons in classical and dressage and riding in the Tuscan countryside. Accommodation is in a villa with a swimming pool. Most meals are included in the price, from €1,195pps. Contact Zaras Planet on 01-4407477 and zarasplanet.com.

I am a single lady in my late 50s and have been encouraged, because of a weak back, to join a Pilates class. I would like to combine this with a sun holiday, preferably in Europe, anytime from June to end August. – CM, Dublin

There are a number of companies that combine Pilates, yoga and meditation in sunny destinations. Azulfit is based in Fuerteventura and a week-long course with vegetarian meals will cost from €735. See azulfit.com.

In Lanzarote the Princesa Yaiza (princesayaiza.com) resort has fitness activities including Pilates. Here you can combine a relaxing resort type holiday with your Pilates programme. Holidays to the Princess Yaiza can be booked through topflight.ie and sunway.ie. Prices for a week with flights will be around €1,400-€1,600.

Send your queries to jscales@irishtimes.com

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