Korea, Israel and active Ireland


I am going to Seoul for two weeks in October. I will be accompanied in the first week by a friend but for the second week I will be on my own. I am interested in doing a tour or taking a trip that would be worthwhile and interesting for a 55-year-old. I enjoy watching people and observing life more that going to museums. Busan on the coast looks good and I wouldn’t mind visiting a Buddhist temple and maybe spending a night participating in meditation. – DL, Wicklow

There are a variety of trips you can take from Seoul to explore South Korea, see discoverkoreatour.com. They have a four-day tour visiting Busan among other places for €650 single, including accommodation in four- or five-star hotels, meals and entrance fees.

Temple visits are the perfect way to see what life is like in a Buddhist temple. You can book and see what to expect of a temple stay on visitkorea.or.kr, under the Accommodation tab. It costs around €30-€40 for a night in a temple.

Do any Irish companies organis
e trips to Jerusalem, for four to seven days? Or can you recommend a UK company? My sister and I usually plan our own trips. Is this a good idea given the political situation?
– ST, Wexford

The direct flights from Ireland to Israel – are arranged by Sadlier Travel – have finished for the season. They are the Israel experts in Ireland and can help you arrange a trip, 01-678 8854.

You and your sister could arrange the trip yourselves; you can check the current advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs on travel to Israel on dfa.ie. Fares to Tel Aviv go down in October. Fly Air France via Paris from around €400, airfrance.ie and Turkish Airlines flies via Istanbul from €470 return, thy.com. Outward flights are usually at night, arriving early in the morning.

Tel Aviv is the liveliest city in Israel and as it is a small country it is easy to take day trips from there. It has lots of good restaurants and night life, Jerusalem is quieter. You could divide your time between the two cities or include a Mediterranean resort stay in Netanya.

Find hotels on the usual accommodation booking sites like booking.com and hotels.com. Hotels are not cheap and most reasonable properties are over €120 per night, that’s where Sadlier Travel may be able to help most. They will have a good idea of reasonably priced accommodation. From England, there are a number of tour operators and you will find them listed on thinkisrael.com, the official website of the ministry of tourism.

My 29-year-old son is coming home from Australia for three weeks in October/November; he has been away for five years. He has a wedding to attend in Cork but will be free the rest of the time. I would love to do some family activities with himself and his girlfriend that would maybe showcase Ireland. We are all fit, so sporty things would be good and we can travel in any direction. He loves music and plays the guitar so music stuff would be good. – MMB, Dublin

First stop, why not see the city and all the changes over the past five years. There’s a free walking tour from City Hall every day at 11am and 1pm, just tip the guides. It’s a great introduction to Dublin and some history you may not know, newdublintours.com. Take a day tour to Wicklow or the Boyne Valley for great scenery near the city.

There are lots of festivals on around Hallowe’en. One of the biggest will be in this year’s city of culture, Derry,
cityofculture2013.com. Other festivals are on in Knocnagashel, Portlaoise, Kenmare and Galway.

Cork hosts the Jazz Festival that weekend too and Sligo Live is on for folk, roots and indie music. Ennis Trad Fest might be worth a visit, and if in Clare see the Cliffs of Moher or surf at Lahinch, see discoverireland.ie for a list.

The Western Greenway didn’t exist when your son went away and cycling the 40kms from Westport to Achill over a day or two could be fun, greenway.ie. Don’t forget Connemara, the scenery is stunning and a walk up Diamond Hill would give great views.

Other places to consider are Donegal, govisitdonegal.com, Kerry, Cork, our islands, discoverireland.ie/islands and the inland waterways, iwai.ie/rentals.

Send your travel queries to jscales@irishtimes.com