Seeking the winter sun


ASK JOAN:All your travel questions answered

Clearing US customs in Dublin

I read your piece about the advantage of flying out of Terminal Two and clearing US customs and immigration in Dublin. Not so. I have flown out twice this year and had to do it in the US both times. When we complained, we were given some excuse about Aer Lingus having to pay US customs personnel so it can only afford to pay for some flights. We were on a morning flight to Boston but they were only doing afternoon flights. Can you make further inquires and if this is the case, how can one find out before hand and book the flight that does customs and immigration here?

- RC, Dublin

I asked Aer Lingus about it and the answer is that the majority of flights from Dublin to the US clear customs and border patrol, however there are currently a small number of flights from Dublin that do not, due to a shortage of resources at the facility. Aer Lingus is working closely with them to try and find a solution.

You can see which flights do not clear CBP on the Aer Lingus website (, under Travel Information. The flights are EI109, which is the late afternoon flight to New York, and EI139, a summer seasonal service to Boston from March to September. You seemed to have picked EI139 each time. All flights via Shannon clear US Customs and Border Patrol. Aer Lingus and the other airlines pay for using this service in Dublin and Shannon.

A wedding in Florence

We have a family wedding in Florence next June. I am looking for any information and recommendations that you might have for accommodation. Our preference is for apartments in the centre of Florence. The wedding is in a castle overlooking the city and the coaches will be collecting us from the city centre (not sure of place names yet).

One apartment would need to be suitable for three young children and the rest would be for adults. I’m planning early as the invitations will be going out shortly and I want to get the family guests organised before the rush. I appreciate any advice you can give me.

– JW, Dublin

As you can imagine, Florence is a very popular city and has plenty of good quality accommodation to rent. There are dozens of agencies arranging rentals. There are also dozens and dozens of apartments being rented privately by owners. Some of the agencies on the official list from the Florence tourist office include,,, and These are the ones that have English language websites.

For rental direct from owners you can see a selection of apartments on, holidaylettings.comand Use the search selections to narrow your quest to specifically what you need. Read the reviews and get a feel for places and then contact the owners. There are quite a few very nice apartments in historic buildings.

You might also like to arrange some tours and outings while in the city and will find some great ideas on

Two nights in Dubrovnik

At the end

of a trip to Medjugorje at October mid-term, myself and my husband have two nights to spend in Dubrovnik. Could you recommend a nice hotel that is close to all the main tourist attractions and sites? Our budget is €100-€150 per night.

– OT, Monaghan

The Grand Villa Argentina Hotel is in a beautiful location near the gate to the Old Town of Dubrovnik, facing the island of Lokum. Rates are around €175 per night and it can be booked directly on

For a hotel with sea view balconies and a 10-minute bus trip to the old town, the Dubrovnik Palace on the peninsula of Lapad has won dozens of awards. Prices are from about €137 per night. You may get some better rates from, based in Dublin.

Winter holidays for one

Could you do a little part of your article on going abroad for month or so in the winter for single people, at medium prices? I am a very active 75-year-old widow. I paint, golf, walk and all the rest of it but I find the winters in the west of Ireland so dark and so wet. I would love to go somewhere mid- January to mid-February and come home then as the days lengthen in Ireland.

– MK, Galway

As you will be travelling on your own, staying in a hotel might be a better option than an apartment, as you would meet other people. Hotels are also good places to find information about things to do in the area.

There are a number of travel companies organising holidays over the winter for longer stays, predominantly in the south of Spain and in Portugal. In most cases the holidays include breakfast and dinner each day and usually some tours during the week. The longer you stay the more reasonable the price is.

You could contact the following agencies, jgt.ietel: 01-207 6555, travelbroker.ietel: 01-833 3921, rathgartravel.ietel: 01-490 9311. Last winter Steintravel.iehad a very good offer for holidays to Portugal for a month, you can contact them on tel: 1890-408 408 to see if they will be doing it again this winter. Fahy Travel Worldchoice in Galway can also advise on long-stay winter holidays, tel: 091-594 747.

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