Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show Shownotes for MM DD 2010
Travel with Stephanie Abrams! - March 14, 2010 - Shownotes & Audio Archive

"Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Broadcasts Live from Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, County Donegal, Ireland; Failte Ireland West; Donegal Town; Donegal Bay; Donegal Golf Club; Insure My Trip; Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Greece.

Listen to the show in Windows Media Format:      hour1     hour2     hour3

Listen to the show in MP3 Format:     hour1     hour2     hour3

Hour 1

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Andrew Turner, General Manager, Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, County Donegal Ireland.
www.solislougheskecastle.ie

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams has taken the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show to Ireland, where she talks to Andrew Turner, General Manager of the Solis Lough Eske Castle luxury hotel in County Donegal, Ireland.

Andrew Turner
Ireland; Donegal; Solis Lough Eske Castle; Andrew Turner General Manager; Radio Broadcast.

Stephanie has just arrived in Ireland and feels like she's "stepped into a storybook." County Donegal, in the northwest corner of Ireland, reminds Stephanie of the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, except that it also has "beautiful ocean."

Donegal Street Sign.
Donegal Street Sign.

Solis Lough Eske Castle opened in December 2007 and had a great year in 2009, especially from the wedding standpoint, says Andrew Turner. The castle was just recognized by Weddings Online as the best wedding venue in Ireland. "It's really a fairy tale venue," Andrew explains. "From the minute they arrive at the estate on the lake, brides fall in love with it, so it's an easy sell." Solis Lough Eske sits on 44 acres of land and is reached by a 3 kilometer driveway that winds through the forest.

Solis Lough Eske Castle.
Solis Lough Eske Castle.

Solis Lough Eske wasn't always at its current 5-star level, Andrew says. Before it was redeveloped into the first 5-star hotel in County Donegal, the castle was a ruin. After just 15 months of construction, the castle opened as a luxury hotel.

Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel.
A beautiful suite in the original castle section of Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel.

Andrew recommends Solis Lough Eske Castle to visitors who want to see an untouched corner of Ireland that's different from the usual tourist route. "The biggest draw is County Donegal, which has so much to offer," he says. "There are beaches, hiking, biking, fishing, golfing, and other outdoor activities just minutes from the hotel." The hotel itself offers a spa and health and physical fitness facilities.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1481

For more information visit http://www.solislougheskecastle.ie


Link to this segment

Sinead McGowan, Marketing Manager, Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, County Donegal Ireland.
www.solislougheskecastle.ie

The "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show is broadcasting from County Donegal, Ireland, where Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams talks to Sinead McGowan, Sales Manager at Solis Lough Eske Castle.

Sinead McGowan Sales Manager.
Sinead McGowan Sales Manager.

What makes Solis Lough Eske Castle an idela place to get married? The castle is the main draw, Sinead explains, given its history and location on the lake. But the hotel has high standards of service, too. "We have a ballroom covered in white taffeta with floor-to-ceiling windows that can hold 300 people," Sinead says. She adds that both her brother and sister have booked the castle for their own weddings.

Lough Eske Castle.
Ireland; Donegal; Lough Eske Castle.

Stephanie remarks that there's a new rule in Ireland allowing people to get married in secular venues. Instead of having to book a church and a reception hall, couples can just have the ceremony and celebration at a place like Solis Lough Eske Castle.

Golf Donegal Ireland.
Golf Donegal Ireland.

What makes a wedding at Solis Lough Eske special and different? "Once couples come here, it doesn't leave much for me to do," says Sinead. "The castle just has that wow factor." She notes that the hotel is the only 5-star property in northwest Ireland. Stephanie observes that despite its 5-star rating, Solis Lough Eske is homey and unintimidating. "A lot of castles can come off as cold and austere, but Lough Eske is beautiful, warm, and welcoming," Stephanie says.

Donegal
Donegal.

Solis Lough Eske Castle has 95 bedrooms and is a popular place for events with UK visitors, Sinead says. Whether it's a corporate event or a family reunion, guests can come and take over the castle and grounds. It doesn't have to be a huge occasion, either. "We had one wedding booked for four people," Sinead recalls. "The Oak Room, in the original castle building, is available for 2-20 people." She also explains that Solis Lough Eske only hosts one wedding per day, "so there's not a wedding factory feel about it." The castle is currently booking events for 2014.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1484

For more information visit http://www.solislougheskecastle.ie/


Link to this segment

Patsy McNulty, Proprietor, Brae Holiday Cottages. Local Historian and local qualified guide in Donegal, Ireland.
http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/Ireland/holiday-house-County-Donegal/p50511.htm
http://www.donegalcottageholidays.com/friarybrae/index.htm

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show welcome Patsy McNulty, Proprietor of Friary Brae Holiday Cottages in County Donegal, Ireland.

Lough Eske Castle; Patsy McNulty Walking Guide.
Ireland; Donegal; Lough Eske Castle; Patsy McNulty Walking Guide.

The Friary Brae cottages are self-catering rentals, so they have kitchens, but guests bring their own food.

Patsy grew up near Donegal and, as a child, played in the ruins of what is now Solis Lough Eske Castle. The original castle dates from 1620, he says, and was rebuilt after 2 fires. It was a hotel from 1930 until 1939, when the second fire burned it to the ground. Patsy explains that the owners did not have enough money to repair the castle, so it lay in ruins until 2007. "They started with nothing but four walls [in 2007] and turned it into a fantastic building," he says. Stephanie agrees, saying that "you would never know it was anything but the palatial estate it is now."

Donegal
Donegal.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1482

For more information visit
http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/Ireland/holiday-house-County-Donegal/p50511.htm
http://www.donegalcottageholidays.com/friarybrae/index.htm


Link to this segment

Jim McIntyre, Tour Guide, Ireland.
www.tourguidesireland.ie
www.tourguidesireland.ie/JimMcIntyreTourGuide.htm

Click here to listen to Jim McIntyre, Tour Guide, Ireland and Lindsey Clarke, Angling & Development Fishery Officer, Northern Regional Fisheries Board, Ireland. interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.
Listen to this segment, commercial-free featuring: Irish Tour Guide Jim McIntyre.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show are on the line with Lindsey Clarke, Gillie and Member of the Northern Region Fisheries Board in Ireland.

Lindsey Clarke Angling Officer
Ireland; Donegal; Lough Eske Castle; Lindsey Clarke Angling Officer Northern Region Fisheries Board.

Lindsey urges visitors to County Donegal to explore Lough Eske, a "marvelous lake." He calls its fisheries a "well-kept secret," saying that Lough Eske was very famous in older angling books but seems to have been forgotten recently. Anglers can catch Atlantic salmon, sea trout, brown trout, and Arctic char in the Donegal waters.

Disabled Angling Sign.
Disabled Angling Sign.

Lindsey reassures Stephanie that fishing on Lough Eske is mostly fly fishing, so nobody has to bait the hook. Some anglers use spinners, he says, but most use flies. Fishing gear is available to visitors through Solis Lough Eske Castle or other hotels.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1483

For more information visit http://www.nrfb.ie


Lindsey Clarke, Angling & Development Fishery Officer, Northern Regional Fisheries Board, Ireland.
www.nrfb.ie
www.fishinginireland.info

Click here to listen to Jim McIntyre, Tour Guide, Ireland and Lindsey Clarke, Angling & Development Fishery Officer, Northern Regional Fisheries Board, Ireland. interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.
Listen to this segment, commercial-free featuring: Lindsey Clarke, Angling & Development Fishery Officer, Northern Regional Fisheries Board, Ireland.

Jim McIntyre, a tour guide in Ireland, gives Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show an overview of the sights in County Donegal.

Jim McIntyre Tour Guide.
Ireland; Donegal; Lough Eske Castle; Jim McIntyre Tour Guide.

Jim brings guests to the coves and beaches of Donegal's Atlantic coast. There's beautiful scenery at Slieve League, which has the highest sea cliffs in Europe, and Glenveagh National Park, he says. Jim also encourages visitors to see the ancient monuments of County Sligo, of which there are nearly five thousand dating back to 4000 BC. He says that Giant's Causeway is very popular, too, and a UNESCO site.

Donegal Town.
Donegal Town.

Near Donegal itself, visitors can see a Franciscan monastery founded by the O'Donnell clan in the 15th century. In its long history, the monastery has been taken over by the army and had its roof blown off, says Jim.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1485

For more information visit http://www.tourguidesireland.ie/JimMcIntyreTourGuide.htm


Chef Darren Iddon, Executive Chef, Solis Lough Eske Castle.
www.solislougheskecastle.ie

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show get a taste of fine Irish dining with Darren Iddon, Executive Chef of the Solis Lough Eske Castle.

Chef Darren Iddon.
Ireland; Donegal; Lough Eske Castle; Chef Darren Iddon.

Stephanie remarks that until 10 or 15 years ago, food was very predictable in Ireland: shepherd's pie or batter-fried fish and mushy peas. "Gosh, how that's changed!" she exclaims. "Now it's a culinary delight." And of course, everyone dines well at Solis Lough Eske, she says.

Castle Donegal, Donegal Centre, County Donegal, Ireland.
Castle Donegal, Donegal Centre, County Donegal, Ireland.

Chef Darren's signature dish is probably his crab cake starter, one of the restaurant's best-selling items. Everything on the menu, he says, is locally sourced, especially the high-quality meat, and the seafood comes fresh from local ports like Killybegs and Inver Bay.

Irish Dining.
Irish Dining.

Darren explains that the restaurant recently changed to a grill concept. "With the economy, we found that guests didn't want fine dining every night," he says, adding that the grill idea has been very successful.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1486

For more information visit http://www.solislougheskecastle.ie/


Guests Include:

Andrew Turner, General Manager, Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, County Donegal Ireland.
www.solislougheskecastle.ie

Sinead McGowan, Marketing Manager, Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, County Donegal Ireland.
www.solislougheskecastle.ie

Patsy McNulty, Proprietor, Brae Holiday Cottages. Local Historian and local qualified guide in Donegal, Ireland.
http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/Ireland/holiday-house-County-Donegal/p50511.htm
http://www.donegalcottageholidays.com/friarybrae/index.htm

Jim McIntyre, Tour Guide, Ireland.
www.tourguidesireland.ie
www.tourguidesireland.ie/JimMcIntyreTourGuide.htm

Lindsey Clarke, Angling & Development Fishery Officer, Northern Regional Fisheries Board, Ireland.
www.nrfb.ie
www.fishinginireland.info

Chef Darren Iddon, Executive Chef, Solis Lough Eske Castle.
www.solislougheskecastle.ie

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Martina Kerr Bromley, Marketing and Product Development Manager, Failte Ireland North West, Ireland.
www.discoverireland.ie/northwest

Click here to listen to Martina Kerr Bromley, Marketing and Product Development Manager, Failte Ireland North West, Ireland.  www.discoverireland.ie/northwest interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.
Listen to this segment, commercial-free featuring: Martina Bromley from Failte Ireland North West.

Martina Bromley, Marketing Manager for Failte Ireland West, welcomes Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show to the west coast of Ireland.

Martina Bromley
Ireland; Donegal; Solis Lough Eske Castle; Martina Bromley Marketing Manager Tourism Ireland Northwest.

"Other regions say they're the authentic Ireland, but Donegal is the real thing," says Martina. "Traditional culture, language, and music are all very much part of the Donegal region." Donegal's history goes back to Domhnaill, the O'Donnell clan's settlement in what is now Donegal Town. Today, visitors to the region can fish for salmon on Lough Eske, take walks along the lake or over the Bluestack Mountains, or just enjoy the Donegal air, which Martina insists will keep you young.

The Cliffs of Moher Sign.
The Cliffs of Moher Sign.

"Donegal is blessed with natural iconic attractions," she says, including Slieve League, just a short drive away. The sea cliffs at Slieve League, which Martina describes as a "hidden gem," are some of the highest in Europe. At over 600 meters high, they're more than twice the size of the Cliffs of Moher. Martina says the facilities at Slieve League are "wonderful and sustainable" instead of a big visitors' center; Stephanie notes that said facilities consist of a hand-painted sign warning visitors not to let the sheep out.

Mark Leslie and Stephanie Abrams
Pictured, Mark Leslie and Stephanie Abrams. Dublin Ireland the Yeats exhibit at the National Library designed by Mark Leslie's team who gives Stephanie Abrams a personal tour.

The Ben Bulben rock formation is in nearby Sligo. Those familiar with the poetry of W. B. Yeats can do a day of Yeats-themed travel along the county border, about a half-hour's drive from Solis Lough Eske Castle or Donegal Town. Visitors can see Glencar Waterfall, which inspired Yeats's poem "The Stolen Child," or, as the poet put it in "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," they can "arise and go now, and go to Innisfree."

Ireland County Sligo.
Ireland County Sligo.

There's plenty to see in Donegal Town, too. Martina notes that Lonely Planet named Donegal Town one of the most wonderful towns to experience in Ireland. She suggests a tour of Donegal Castle, built by the O'Donnell clan in the 15th century. "It's wonderful to walk through the castle doors and feel the history." Donegal Town also features the famous Magee's clothing shop and several bars with traditional music. "It's small and walkable, too," says Stephanie.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1487

For more information visit http://www.discoverireland.com/west


Link to this segment

Paul Keeney, Mayor of Donegal Town, County Donegal, Ireland.
www.donegaltown.ie

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show talk with Paul Keeney, Mayor of Donegal Town, and learn that Donegal is a happening place.

Paul Keeney Mayor Donegal Town.
Ireland; Donegal; Lough Eske Castle; Paul Keeney Mayor Donegal Town.

Donegal kicks off its 2010 events with Irish Week, March 14-24, 2010. It's a ten day celebration of Irish music, culture, and dance. The highlight is the St. Parick's Day parade on March 17.

From June 18-20, 2010, Donegal Town will run its 2nd annual Matchmaking Weekend. "Everyone of all ages can come up, and hopefully Cupid will strike," says Paul.

Donegal Castle.
Donegal Castle.

From July 1-4, Donegal hosts the Donegal Summer Festival. "It's four great days of entertainment and the highlight of the year," Paul says. "Folk band with attitude" Rac'n'Ruin kicks things off, followed by Smash Hits, a ‘90s cover band. Other musical guests include Delarentos, one of the biggest up-and-coming Irish bands and Republic of Loose, the biggest band in Ireland after U2, says Paul.

Bar Taps.
Bar Taps.

On Sunday, John, Shelly & the Creatures and The Saw Doctors (one of the best-loved groups in Ireland, according to Paul) will close out the festival. Other entertainment includes "bouncy castles for kids, food competitions, and even a duck floating contest on the river," he says.

Hannah's Hat Factory
Hannah's Hat Factory

The 2nd annual Donegal Beer Festival will take place September 17-19, 2010. Local bars and distributors will bring out various beers to sample, and visitors can enjoy music on the town's Diamond.

Irish Road Sign.
What on earth does this even mean?

Donegal Town will also celebrate Mardi Gras from October 23-31, 2010 with a carnival, lanterns, and live music. "There's just an electric atmosphere," says Paul.

The year concludes with Donegal Town's Christmas lights on November 28, 2010.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1480

For more information visit http://www.donegaltown.ie


Link to this segment

Patsy Kelly, Skipper, Donegal Waterbus, County Donegal, Ireland
www.donegalbaywaterbus.com

Skipper Patsy Kelly takes Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show on the Donegal Waterbus.

Patsy Kelly Donegal Waterbus Skipper.
Ireland; Donegal; Lough Eske Castle; Patsy Kelly Donegal Waterbus Skipper.

The Donegal Waterbus is a non-profit company founded in 1997. All earnings, which total about 60,000 euros annually, are reinvested in the community or given to charity. Recently the company raised over 7,000 euros for Haiti.

Donegal Bay Water Bus Tour.
Donegal Bay Water Bus Tour.

Donegal Waterbuses depart year-round from the sheltered harbor in Donegal Town and cruise on the inner bay. "We don't really go out to the Atlantic because bad weather comes up quickly on Ireland's west coast," Patsy explains. "Besides, the animals are in the inner bay."

Donegal Bay Water Bus Tour.
Donegal Bay Water Bus Tour.

Donegal Bay and its islands have a rich history dating from the Flight of the Earls in 1607, when 4 major Irish clans left Ireland for Spain. The O'Boyle clan took over the property of the O'Donnell clan, which settled Donegal Town and built its monastery. The O'Boyles disappeared, however, after the arrival of the British army, led by Cromwell, in the 1640s.

Donegal Bay Water Bus Tour.
Donegal Bay Water Bus Tour.

Passengers today on the Donegal Waterbus can see an island fortified by the O'Boyles, where they retreated during the two battles with Cromwell. Stephanie also enjoyed going past the "darling seals" and had a "lovely time" on the waterbus.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1488

For more information visit http://www.donegalbaywaterbus.com


Larry Walsh, 2010 Captain, Donegal Golf Club.
www.donegalgolfclub.ie

Larry Walsh, 2010 Captain of the Donegal Golf Club, talks to Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show about the links course.

Larry Walsh Captain Donegal Golf Club.
Ireland; Donegal; Lough Eske Castle; Larry Walsh Captain Donegal Golf Club.

The position of captain is honorary and a volunteer post, Larry explains. "It's kind of like being mayor of the golf club, but it rotates on a yearly basis."

Designed by Eddie Hackett, the Donegal Golf Club is one of many links courses in Ireland. Almost 1/3 of the world's links courses are in Ireland, and most of those are in Donegal, Larry says. In 2009, the club's 8th hole was voted one of the best links holes in Ireland. It runs right along the Atlantic coast, with the green right against the beach, he says.

Golf Donegal Ireland
Golf Donegal Ireland

But Larry assures listeners that the club can accommodate all classes of golf and all ranges of handicaps, tees, and players. "We're very sympathetic and really enjoy having everybody come and play," he says. The course is only 8 miles from Solis Lough Eske Castle and is laid out on a peninsula, so that golfers have the place to themselves, Larry adds.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=#

For more information visit http://www.donegalgolfclub.ie


Jim Grace, President & CEO, Insure My Trip.
www.insuremytrip.com

Click here to listen to Jim Grace, President & CEO, InsureMyTrip.com. www.insureMyTrip.com interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.
Listen to this segment, commercial-free featuring: Jim Grace from InsureMyTrip.com. Visit the Travelers411 InsureMyTrip Directory Listing.

Jim Grace, President and CEO of Insure My Trip, visits the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show to tell Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams how cruise passengers can protect themselves and their investment. Insure My Trip is a clearinghouse of information and buying services for over 20 different insurance companies, with a focus on cruising.

Insure My Trip Headquarts.
Insure My Trip Headquarts.

Jim points to two recent incidents on cruise ships where travel insurance would have come in handy. First, the earthquake in Chile disrupted travel to and from the cruise port of Valparaiso. This meant that the majority of the 1400 passengers could not get to the ship and ended up missing their cruise. "Even the cruise line said that people without travel insurance were really out of luck," Jim warns.

Athens Greece.
Athens Greece.

Cruise passengers can buy insurance from the cruise line. Jim explains that this insurance usually covers only the cruise. Most travelers, however, have several other pieces: air travel to and from the port or hotel rooms on either end. Jim encourages travelers to buy 3rd party insurance that will cover all segments of their trip, not just the cruise. They are incurring travel expenses greater than the cost of the cruise alone, and need to protect the entire investment.

Mykonos Ferry.
Mykonos Ferry.

Cruise ship policies also typically reimburse passengers with vouchers for future travel, not cash. If the cruise line goes out of business, passengers are left with worthless pieces of paper and can't collect their vacation. This is another reason why Jim recommends 3rd party insurance.

Mykonos.
Mykonos.

Another incident occurred in the Mediterranean, where a 26-foot wave hit a cruise ship and killed 2 people. The danger here is not in being swamped by a wave (Jim says that cruise ships are 99% safe) but in missing your cruise because the ship needs unexpected repairs. "If you were on board or planning to pick up the ship in the next port, your trip would be interrupted while the ship was offline," Jim explains.

Greek Cruising.
Greek Cruising.

Travel insurance can protect passengers from financial losses in case of ship damage or mechanical problems. Again, Jim encourages travelers to buy insurance for the whole trip, not just the cruise. Policies should cover the extra expense of having to wait for a ship or return home early, especially since one-way tickets can be more costly than the original round-trip tickets purchased.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1490

Travelers411 Directory Listing:
Visit the Travelers411 InsureMyTrip Directory Listing where you will find dozens of on-topic advice for travelers including information and buying tips for your travel insurance needs.

For more information visit http://www.insuremytrip.com


Guests Include:

Martina Kerr Bromley, Marketing and Product Development Manager, Failte Ireland North West, Ireland.
www.discoverireland.ie/northwest

Paul Keeney, Mayor of Donegal Town, County Donegal, Ireland.
www.donegaltown.ie

Patsy Kelly, Skipper, Donegal Waterbus, County Donegal, Ireland
www.donegalbaywaterbus.com

Larry Walsh, 2010 Captain, Donegal Golf Club.
www.donegalgolfclub.ie

Jim Grace, President & CEO, Insure My Trip.
www.insuremytrip.com

Hour 3

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos, Minister of Culture & Tourism for Greece.
www.visitgreece.gr
www.greektourism.com
www.gnto.gr

The "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams welcome Pavlos Geroulanos, Greece's newly-appointed Minister of Culture and Tourism.

Pavlos Geroulanos, Minister of Culture and Tourism with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams
Pavlos Geroulanos, Minister of Culture and Tourism with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams at the sabrams.com (Travelers411) booth at the 2010 New York Times Travel Show.

Pavlos mentions that he is also the minister of sports and public television for Greece, so he has a lot to do. "You must have enormous vision," Stephanie says, wishing him success. She also invites Pavlos to her home in the Berkshires, since he's an alumnus of nearby Williams College, for a real Greek salad.

Mykonos Downtown.
Mykonos Downtown.

Pavlos mentions that Greek cuisine has been getting lots of attention lately because of the health benefits of eating lots of olive oil and yogurt. Many Greek companies have started exporting these products. "The cuisine has come a long ways in the U.S.," Pavlos says, adding that there are now "plenty of Greek restaurants in New York City that serve wonderful food."

Mykonos from the water.
Mykonos from the water.

Stephanie points out that Mexican restaurants have been a boon for Mexican tourism. Once people experience the food and music at a Mexican restaurant, they feel more comfortable actually traveling to Mexico. She hopes the popularity of Greek food will also boost Greek tourism.

San Marco Hotel, Greece.
San Marco Hotel, Greece.

This is the first time that Greece's ministries of culture and tourism have been combined. "This works wonders in the American market," says Pavlos, "because there are lots of Americans who have studied ancient Greek culture or have Greek roots. They want to come and visit the cities where the people they've studied actually lived and worked."

Greek Flag.
Greek Flag.

One place where visitors can combine culture and tourism is the theatre. Pavlos calls the performances at the Epidaurus Theater "one of Greece's best-kept secrets." It's a huge theater (it seats up to 12,000) and is famous for its great acoustics. It's said that if a coin is dropped on stage, you'll hear it in the last row (which Stephanie verified on her last visit). Pavlos explains that theater has always been an important part of Greek culture and education, whether it's a performance of ancient drama or a modern play.

Delos Tours Archeology Excursion.
Delos Tours Archeology Excursion.

The Athens Festival, held in June or July, features all kinds of performers, both from Greece and around Europe. The best way to experience the festival, says Pavlos, is to take the longest pedestrian walk in Europe, from the New Acropolis Museum to the University of Plato. The walk takes you past the Acropolis, Athens' famous Plaka, and the world's first university.

A light Greek snack.
A light Greek snack.

If you'd rather not walk, you can take Athens' new subway system, which is decorated with findings from its excavation. At every stop, says Pavlos, you'll see an interesting collection of pottery, and at the central station, there's even an old graveyard. You can also glimpse the history of Athens at the New Acropolis Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art. Both museums feature glass floors, revealing parts of the ancient city. "As modern architecture allows us, we're bringing history out into the open," says Pavlos.

Delicious Greek Salad!
Delicious Greek Salad!

If you'd rather run, Greece will celebrate the 2,500-year anniversary of the Battle of Marathon in October 2010. After the Greeks won, one soldier ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver the news: the world's first "marathon." In 2010, Greece will host a commemorative marathon race on the traditional route. Pavlos reassures listeners that there will also be 5-kilometer, 10-kilometer, and children's races.

Greek Ruins.
Greek Ruins.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams relates her favorite memory of Greece to Pavlos Geroulanos, Greece's Minister of Culture and Tourism. "I have chills just remembering the Good Friday procession," Stephanie says. Hundreds of thousands of people walked through the streets of Athens holding lit candles. At the end of the procession, they leave the candles on top of the wrought-iron fences in the area around the Plaka. "There are burning candles lining all the streets," Stephanie explains.

Greek Archeology.
Greek Archeology.

Pavlos agrees, saying that the Good Friday procession is especially lovely to follow through smaller neighborhoods or villages, where you'll see people with candles on their balconies. If visitors stay after Good Friday, they can feast on roasted lamb and other traditional Easter treats. "We have a whole range of festivals, though," he adds. "If you watch for them, you can experience some really lovely things."

Greek Excavation.
Greek Excavation.

Perhaps the only thing Greece lacks is the Elgin Marbles, which were taken from Greece and are displayed at the British Museum. Pavlos advocates for their return, saying that Greece considers the marbles part of a coherent architectural structure, so they should be displayed at the original site. What's more, the new Acropolis Museum was designed to show all the pieces together. Despite the missing pieces, the museum has already welcomed 2 million visitors in 6 months of operation.

Greek Columns.
Greek Columns.

For a great view of the Acropolis, both Pavlos and Stephanie recommend taking the cable car to the top of Likavitos, Athens' other hill. Or if you're lucky enough to visit during a full moon, Pavlos says, they keep the Acropolis open to visitors.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1479

For more information visit http://www.visitgreece.gr


Guests Include:

Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos, Minister of Culture & Tourism for Greece.
www.visitgreece.gr
www.greektourism.com
www.gnto.gr

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There is nothing new about parliamentary assemblies in Ireland. The Normans, who began to settle in Ireland in 1169, were the first to give Ireland a centralised administration. Ireland's legal system and courts of law are, in large measure ...

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