IRISH SPRING TOURS: PINTS and HIKES
12 DAYS IN IRELAND – THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME!
June 8 to June 20, 2019 or June 22 to July 4, 2019
Personal concierge services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • Eleven 3-Course Gourmet Dinners with Wine • Eleven Full Irish Breakfasts • Touring the Wild Atlantic Way • Comfortable Accommodation • Georgian Architecture • Traditional Music Sessions • Visits to Romantic Gardens • Scenic Hikes • Stone Circle • Ferry to Islands • Wine Tastings • Cliff Walks • Daily Pints at Traditional Pubs • A Castle or Two • Private Tour & Tasting at a Small Craft Brewery • Unspoiled Villages • Arts & Crafts Galleries • Fun Picnics • Irish Dancing • Beer Tastings • Atlantic Sea Kayaking • Visit to Jameson Distillery • One Michelin Star Dinner • Private Tour of a Medieval Walled Town • Visit to the heart of ‘Horse Country’ • Private Seaweed Tasting & Lecture • Welcome Reception • Small Groups • Cycling on the Waterford Greenway • Private Coach Transportation • Airport Pick up and Return in Ireland • Great Craic!
“Ireland – where the wit flows as freely as the drink.”
We’re repeating our hugely popular Pints & Hikes Tours for 2019. There is no better way to experience Ireland than to tromp about, and hang out in pubs. How else can you truly see the country, and meet the locals? Toss in delicious fresh food and lively music, and you’re in heaven.
Worry not that you’ll be scaling mountains or carrying ton-weight knapsacks. We believe that a little luxury is the perfect compliment to excesses of fresh air and Guinness. Luxury hiking might be stretching it, but you won’t be wanting for good meals and cozy beds. On this trip you’ll experience a huge range of terrain, from coastal to mountainous, to pastoral – and maybe a bog or two. Each of the four regions we’ll visit has a different landscape and feeling, which is part of Ireland’s appeal. Travel fifty miles and you’re in another world – with people speaking another strange version of English, and fiercely proud of their place, their songs and of course, their hurling team.
“We enjoyed roads less travelled, getting to know both the land and the people, and avoiding heavily tourist circuits. West Cork is a calm slice of heaven. Our travel companions were delightful, funny, and musically gifted. Billy and Kato are warm, genuine, multi-talented hosts who are always ready for fun and conversation. At the end of the trip it felt like we had been friends for years. If you are wondering if one of their trips is right for you…. YES, it will be!!!! Do it.” B. Murdoch, Waterloo
Kilkenny is our first stop on the itinerary – staying at our favourite city-centre, boutique hotel. After some free time at castles, churches, breweries, boutiques, we head into the country for a short hike around a country estate on the banks of the river Nore. Followed by the first of many visits to country pubs. Dinner on both nights in Kilkenny will be top notch, as will the night-caps at some local haunts.
Next we’re off to the coastal town of Dungarvan, with a few surprise stop-offs, and a riverside picnic lunch. Dungarvan is a soon-to-be-known hotbed of restaurants, pubs and the craic. However, we will tear you away for two spectacular hikes – one an easy cliff-top walk with stunning ocean views, the other on the wild Comeragh mountains – where my father worked as a forester. This will be followed by a leisurely bike ride along the coast (no cars). Okay, enough exercise – now we’re off to the pubs!
“We loved Ireland and once again you spoiled us thoroughly! Everything was so beautifully organized with superb attention to detail starting well before our trip. The accommodation was delightful, the wine and food delicious, the itinerary creative and beautifully paced with interests for all, and the other guests a pleasure to be with. Thank you for introducing us with such care and fun to the magic of Ireland!” The Simmons, Ottawa
Of course we will be heading to our beloved West Cork and the Wild Atlantic Way – for super-scenic walks around Mizen head, Sheeps head, and the laneways on Sherkin Island. The towns of Skibbereen, Schull and Bantry offer a glimpse of rural Irish life, along with a sprinkling of history, art, and delicious local foods. You’re sure to be smitten with the magical quality of this part of the country. And you’ll not go hungry, nor thirsty.
Horses, and in particular racehorses, are much loved in Ireland and where better to explore why than at the exciting new horse museum in Co. Tipperary, right next door to one of the richest stud farms in the world. Coincidently, it’s also next door to McCarthy’s bar – unchanged after 100 years. Lunch and a few pints later, you’ll be ready for a mini-hike around some walls – unchanged after 1000 years! All of this happens enroute to Birr – the fourth act of our tour.
“A simple “thank you” seems most inadequate after the wonderful days we spent with you and the other travelers. Loved the villages, gardens sites and pubs, the fun activities and the delightful company every step of the way. You showed us an Ireland that most visitors would miss, while setting a pace perfect for enjoyment and reflection. Excellent food, ample drink, lively conversation, gorgeous locations, consummate hosts. It couldn’t get any better.” Bill and Gerry Smyth
Birr, in the often overlooked central area of Ireland, is home to a very creative family who occupy the local castle, and all will be explained on our visit. The town has some of the best Georgian architecture outside of Dublin, and is the birth-place of interesting people – that you’ll hear about on our history walk. Birr is certainly off the tourist trail so you’ll be the only outsider in the pubs – be sure to work on your stories and songs.
Talking is the number one pastime in Ireland, and so be prepared to engage and be engaged. Expect a few surprises on these final nights in Ireland. As you try to make sense of this amazing and complex country and people. For sure you will probably have drunk too much, but with no regrets. A small price to pay for so much fun.
“If one is fortunate enough to sign on for one of Kato and Billy’s tours of Ireland, be prepared: for this is not a tour, it is a cultural immersion. Daily you will see and do and go places that are not on the “tourist trail”. You will enjoy beautiful food and really fine wines and your accommodations will be excellent. There will be scenery that nearly stops your heart.You will walk along a rugged cliff top peninsula which drops precipitously into crashing seas and never feel more alive. You may stop along the way into a small and dark pub. A fire will be lit, the Jameson’s will be poured and locals will sing the old songs. Perhaps someone will dance and there certainly will be laughter. Ireland will sing to your soul and free your heart. All I can say is go and soon. Let Kato and Billy show you the true Ireland.” Becky Pace, NY
ABOUT THIS IRELAND TOUR
“We promise that you will experience a mix or the best and the interesting, with lots of special, out-of-the-ordinary experiences – ones that capture the uniquely Irish way. And we believe that our planning, personal insight, and passion will give you a taste of the ‘real’ Ireland. Certainly we’ll visit some ‘sights’ but mainly we offer heartfelt times in Irish places, with Irish people. Everything is done to make your trip as memorable and as much fun as possible – with and without the Guinness!”
Note: While most of our hikes and walks will be easy, and not longer than a couple of hours, it is important that you be in good physical shape. This means that you don’t have to be a ‘seasoned hiker’, but someone who likes to walk for a few hours. Good walking shoes or light hiking boots are recommended for safety. ‘Daily hikes’ will be a few hours a day, sometimes very easy, sometimes slightly challenging, but never super difficult. We will also be cycling one day, and seaweed forging on double kayaks (very gently in well protected waters, tides permitting) on another. We hope you enjoy outdoor activities, all in moderation.
18-19 maximum participants
COST $4,295 per person double occupancy, including all taxes
Single supplement $1,050
OFFICIAL FLIGHTS TBC*
P.S. A visit to Dublin city would be an easy add-on at the end of this tour. If you are planning to do so, see our Dublin recommendations HERE!
Tour and host services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly
Eleven 3-Course Gourmet Dinners with Wine
Eleven Full Irish Breakfasts
Eleven Nights in Comfortable Accommodation, Ensuite
Traditional Music Sessions
Visits to Romantic Gardens
Scenic Hikes and Cliff Walks
Visit to a Stone Circle
Ferry to Sherkin Island
Wine and Beer Tastings
Entrance to a Castle or Two
Private Tour & Tasting at a Small Craft Brewery
Arts & Crafts Galleries
Atlantic Sea Kayaking
Visit to Jameson Distillery
Touring the Wild Atlantic Way
One Michelin Star Dinner
Private Tour of a Medieval Walled Town
Visit to the heart of ‘Horse Country’
Private Seaweed Tasting & Lecture
Cycling on the Waterford Greenway
Airport Pick up and Return, connected to the ‘official’ flights
…and carefully curated surprises!
Air travel and medical insurance
Pub lunches and drinks, and after dinner drinks
1. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with IRELAND 2019 in the subject headline. (Please do this even if you have, or think you have, done this before. Thank you.) Please mention THE DATES of the tour you are interested in, (June 8-20 or June 22-July 4).
2. Kato will email you back to confirm, and then send you a direct link to fill out a form with Ellison Travel and Tours.
3. To confirm your spot, you will need to complete this form, and send a cheque deposit of $500 per person. (We will email you full mailing details.)
• Your deposit will be deducted from your invoice but will not be refunded should you cancel. (See cancellation policy above.)
• Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.
FYI: Due to uncertain future currency rates, your invoice for this tour will permit a price increase of no more than 7%. Once your tour is paid in full, the price advertised is locked in, and no further price increase will be allowed.
Up to 6 months before departure, full refund less deposit.
91-179 days prior to departure – 50% refund less the deposit. However, should we can find someone to fill your spot, we’ll issue a full refund less your deposit.
90 days prior to departure – no refund. However, should we can find someone to fill your spot, we’ll issue a full refund less your deposit.
ABOUT OUR TRIPS
If you were ever hesitant about taking a ‘tour’ – rest assured that this is the most ‘NON-TOUR’ you could sign up for! Think instead of being on an ‘insider’ trip – going to interesting places, doing exciting things, and meeting locals – all orchestrated by a couple who know and love the region. Think also of the shared enjoyment and FUN that happens in a group – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it. There is some free time (mainly in the cities), but very little of the usual tourist sight-seeing.
We stay at smaller, non-chain hotels away from the tourist bustle. Lunch is included when we feel it is an integral part of the day’s itinerary, and most evenings we dine together at restaurants where we have arrange something special – for an experience not available to the general public. You can expect everything from gourmet to rustic – always with a generous amount of wine. And seating in small groups for an intimate experience. But we’re not opposed to a little rowdiness! We create the mood of a good dinner party where conversation and mood play off the food and wine for memorable times.
Instead of taking you to all the ‘guide book sights’ we like to show you something better, and less crowded. It is impossible to catch the ‘feeling’ of a place when you’re lost in a sea of fellow travellers. We spend hundreds of hours travelling in search of genuine and exciting experiences that are not in the ‘guides’. For sure we won’t let you miss the best main attractions, but most of our days are off the grid.
WHO SHOULD TRAVEL WITH US?
Those with a love of adventure and social interaction are obvious candidates. On the physical side, good walking ability and drinking stamina are not only essential, but mandatory. Meals are on the European clock– starting late and finishing late – celebrating time at the table. Basically we invite people who are interested in stepping outside their comfort zone and embracing a European experience. Filling the eyes, bellies and imagination with things unfamiliar. We welcome people who come hungry for activity and participation – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it – and FUN. While we are certain that you will enjoy our many activities, we do allow ‘free time’ for exploring self-interests. The more you know about our destinations before heading-out, the more fulfilling your trip will be. Do NOT come with us if you want a conventional ‘sightseeing’ tour with no participation on your part.
Finally a word on why we do not publish daily itineraries. One reason is we like to remain flexible and work around weather and local events. But more importantly, we believe that the best travel experiences are built around daily surprises – a trust between the host and the guests. Those who have travelled with us have said that they enjoyed the surprise element as it kept them ‘in the moment’. We ask that you greet us with enthusiasm, a trusting open mind, good health, and an empty wine glass (not for long!).
Can you imagine playing bocce on a windswept beach in Ireland with the wine cooling in a tidal pool? I can and did!! My tour of Ireland with Billy and Kato was a wonderful experience. I saw the beauty of Ireland, tasted wonderful foods and wines and met the very friendly locals in pubs. Both Kato and Billy are excellent hosts and engage you in activities that are unusual, informative and so well planned. I thoroughly enjoyed every day. Accommodations were always excellent. I prefer a small group, and Kato and Billy always ensure everyone is comfortable. We became a very cohesive and fun group. Certainly, a trip filled with lovely memories! You must go!M. Zuliani
“Thank you, both Billy and Kato, for our wonderful experience in Ireland. It wasn’t a tour, but a trip “home” to meet the locals of West Cork. My wife Diane and I have travelled on a number of tours with highly respected tour companies, but those trips do not compare to the experience of our trip with you to Ireland. It will always be fondly remembered as one of my favourites.”A. Madden, Brampton
“Thanks, Billy and Kato, for a truly wonderful trip. I’ve often dreamed of a vacation that would incorporate fabulous food, wine, culture, scenery and fantastic company – our Ireland excursion was all that and more. Outstanding!” E. Helps, Ariss
“Our trip was fabulous. Scenery, accommodations, company, food, drink and transport all first class. Kato and Billy sure know how to be unobtrusive and charming hosts, catering to the group’s needs and desires.” D. Suarez, St Catharines
“Our second trip with Billy and Kato and once again a fabulous vacation. Their in-depth knowledge of the area and close personal connections with the local population gave us an experience not accessible to the average tourist. Every day brought new and fun adventures with a small, eclectic group of travelers who were a delight to be with. Would we travel with Billy and Kato again? Yes, in a heartbeat. Highly recommended.” The Seybolds, Picton