Sometimes travel takes its toll

 

ASK JOAN:All your travel questions answered

Navigating new road system

We were in Portugal last month on holidays and discovered that tolls have been introduced on all the major roads since our last visit. It was very difficult to pay them – when leaving, we had to give money to an acquaintance to pay the final tolls, two days after our departure. We plan on going back later in the year. Can you please find out how we can deal with this next time? It was very stressful; no one seemed to know what to do. – LOK, Kilkenny

Portugal’s new toll system is experiencing major teething problems, and – as things are still in flux – it is hard to establish the facts.

For visitors, issues arise on roads where there are barrier-free toll cameras. The principal tourism route on the Algarve, the A22, is one of these. The cameras pick up the licence plates and transfer the payment information. However, this information is not made available for two days and tolls have to be paid within five days, meaning you must either avoid using the tolled roads for two days before you leave or risk a fine.

Car hire firms are currently transferring to a system of using electronic tags to record the toll fees, which will then be charged to the customer’s credit card. Some firms are charging an additional fee for the tag – from €1.50 per day to €15 for the rental period. The changeover is happening this month, so things may be a bit chaotic, and though major car hire firms will most likely have the tag installed on their vehicles, it is not guaranteed that all companies will.

If the car you rent does not have the tag, or if you are driving your own car, the other way to pay is in shops, petrol stations and post office CTT via “PayShop”. To make the payment you must have the licence number of the vehicle and there will be an administration fee added to the cost.

Honeymoon in Lake Garda

We are going on honeymoon from June 16th-23rd to Limone, Lake Garda and wonder if you could give us advice on things to do and see. We have never been to Italy before.

– RP, Roscommon

Limone is in the Brescia region of Lake Garda. This compact resort, which takes its name from the lemon groves which abound there, has some lovely restaurants and bars.

You can get a real sense of Italy’s largest lake by taking the ferry. The full day trip costs around €40. Get off at Sirmione for a walk around. Or take the ferry to Malcesine and take the trip on the cable car to Monte Baldo for some great views. Other places to see are Riva del Garda and Torbole.

From Lake Garda you can do a day trip to Verona, though the famous opera will not be on when you are there. Venice is a long day trip but is nice for honeymooners. There are also day trips to the Dolomites, and wine tours available. See visitgarda.com

Short and suite in Ireland

We are a family with two children, aged two years, and six months. We are looking to book a place to stay for a short holiday of about four to five days somewhere in Ireland, preferably within two to three hours’ drive of our home (Carlow). What we are looking for is an apartment or house, ideally attached to a hotel so we have the benefit of space

and yet have access to facilities. We can bring some equipment with us, but it would be a lot easier if the accommodation had cots, high chairs etc. It would be important to have access to a swimming pool – and an added bonus if there is a soft play area too.

– IK, Carlow

As you live inland it may be nice to go to a place by the sea where the two-year-old can enjoy paddling and playing in the sand. The Quality Hotel in Youghal is all about families and entertaining the children, with good facilities for parents too.

It has a good selection of apartments and self-catering houses, and you can book a travel cot and high chair. Prices depend on season and type of accommodation, but you can budget around €65-€100 per night, tel: 1850-885885, qualityhotelyoughal.com. There are also Quality Hotels in Clonakilty and Killarney.

In Cork the Fota Island Resort has good quality self-catering houses in a woodland setting. There is also a golf course and clubhouse. The hotel is lovely and spacious and there is a great spa which you might get to use. Prices during the summer are from €140-€190 per night, fotaisland.ie. The two-year-old would love the nearby Fota Wildlife Park where animals and birds roam the grounds and they have a little choo choo train, fotawildlife.ie.

Naturalretreats.iehave luxury self-catering homes on Adare Manor, Parknasilla and Castlemartyr resorts, from which you can access the hotel facilities. They supply baby equipment on request. Prices are from €150 up, depending on time of year and size of house.

Golden deal for over 50s

What is the name of the site for the over 50s for holidays in Spain where the longer you stay the less it costs?

– MS, Dublin

You may be thinking about the Spanish Government subsidised holidays that operated until last year. These holidays have ended but a number of Irish travel agents have stepped into the gap and are now providing similar holidays – not just to Spain, but also Portugal and Madeira.

For details contact, Rathgar Travel, tel: 01-4909311, John Galligan Travel, tel: 01-2076555, The Travel Broker, tel: 01-8333921 and Stein Travel, tel: 1890-408408.


Email queries, with your name and address, to jscales@irishtimes.com

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