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The Travel Lounge

Arts & Culture Podcasts

The Travel Lounge podcast is hosted by the travel expert Sarah Slattery and award-winning travel journalist & broadcaster Edward Finn. Ed & Sarah interview guests from across the travel and hospitality industry and bring you the latest tips and tricks to bring the joy back into travel again. Every week we bring you the latest happenings and deals from holidays at home to exciting places and destinations abroad. So... pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple and join us in our exclusive Travel Lounge........ We will call you when your flight is boarding..... Check out Ed's new PURE BELFAST series




The Travel Lounge podcast is hosted by the travel expert Sarah Slattery and award-winning travel journalist & broadcaster Edward Finn. Ed & Sarah interview guests from across the travel and hospitality industry and bring you the latest tips and tricks to bring the joy back into travel again. Every week we bring you the latest happenings and deals from holidays at home to exciting places and destinations abroad. So... pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple and join us in our exclusive Travel Lounge........ We will call you when your flight is boarding..... Check out Ed's new PURE BELFAST series




Pure Belfast - Writers and Chambers of Distinction

Paul McVeigh, born in Belfast, began his career as a playwright before moving to London where he wrote comedy shows, which were performed at the Edinburgh Festival and in London’s West End. He briefly returned to theatre in 2022, with ‘Big Man’ at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, which won an Irish Times Theatre Award. Paul's short stories have been published in literary journals and anthologies, read on BBC Radio 5 and commissioned by BBC Radio 4. The Good Son (2015) is his first novel and was shortlisted for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize. He received The McCrea Literary Award in 2015. Paul’s blog for writers gets over 40,000 hits a month and has had over 1 million visitors. His short story series "The Circus" aired recently on BBC Radio 4 and is available on BBC Sounds. Paul has taught creative writing and read his work, in Australia, Austria, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Switzerland and Turkey. In the UK he’s taught at the Barbican Centre, British Library, Hampsted Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, Waterstones Piccadilly and at universities in Brighton, London, Swansea and Wolverhampton. He judges international literary prizes including the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, the Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Prize, the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Royal Society of Literature’s V. S. Pritchard Award. He reviews for the TLS and The Irish Times. He has interviewed authors in print and on stage including five Booker Prize-winners. Paul co-founded the London Short Story Festival, of which, he was Director and Curator for 2014 & ’15. He is associate director at Word Factory, ‘the UK’s national organisation for excellence in the short story’ The Guardian. Paul’s blog for writers which posts on submission opportunities for journals and competitions has had over a 2 1/2 million visitors. He founded the Paul McVeigh Residency at The Harrison in 2023. Melanie Harrison describes herself as delightfully bonkers which is probably an essential quality to possess when you run a beautiful, bohemian, burlesque property of distinction on Belfast's rather salubrious Malone Rd. Visitors to the Chambers of Distinction get a very interesting and fun Irish experience — not only are the rooms dedicated to literary and historical figures of all hues who have a connection to Belfast, but the interiors are also eclectic, rich, vivid, wild colours abound, as do wild-animal prints and theatrical collages such as Fifi, hanging proudly in the drawing room bar. A standard hotel it is not. Melanie and her unique offering now proudly boast numerous awards and accolades and the repeat business is huge. People from Dublin and the south really discovered Belfast during Covid and the great value for money that it offers as a city - " People weren’t proud of this city for a long time. Now we are much more confident, We’ve a thriving music, theatre, food and art scene. Exciting things are happening and we’re part of it.” The Harrison Chambers of Distinction Instagram: @theharrisonbelfast Thanks to the Lyric Theatre Belfast for all their support in recording this podcast Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Pure Belfast - City of Music

Welcome to a harmonious journey through the captivating soundscape of Belfast which is now officially recognised as a UNESCO City of Music. In this special episode of "Pure Belfast - Sound of Music," we embark on an auditory adventure that takes us through the storied musical history of this vibrant city, a place that has given birth to legendary artists like Van Morrison, Ruby Murray, and Snow Patrol. We have the distinct pleasure of hosting a trio of esteemed guests who will guide us through this melodious exploration. First, we sit down with Charlotte Dryden, the creative force behind the Oh Yeah Music Centre, a veritable hub for music enthusiasts in Belfast. Charlotte takes us on a journey through the centre's fascinating museum and their unique music tours that brings to life the city's musical heritage. Check out the Belfast City Music walking tour - Don't miss out on the best of Belfast's music scene! Book your spot on the Belfast Music Walking Tour for a leisurely, music-filled stroll through the city. Next, we are joined by Cameron Menzies, the visionary head of NI Opera, an institution that has earned acclaim far beyond the city's borders, with an Irish Times Award to its name for "Into the Woods". Cameron shares his insights into the dynamic world of opera and its connection to Belfast's musical landscape. Check out what's on at NI Opera And finally, we're graced with the presence of Dani Larkin, who will enchant us with her latest masterpiece, "Come Home to Me," from her album "Walking with Natives." Prepare to be serenaded by her mesmerising voice and lyrics that resonate deep within the soul. For details on Dani's shows and music visit - Dani Larkin This episode is a symphonic celebration of Belfast's thriving musical culture, a tribute to the artists who have shaped its identity, and a spotlight on the exciting talents pushing the boundaries of sound in this UNESCO City of Music. The Hills are alive ......... Thanks to the Lyric Theatre Belfast for their support in the recording of this podcast Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Pure Belfast - Titanic Distillers & Thompsons Dry Dock

Titanic Distillers Belfast - The pump house and neighbouring dry dock catered for White Star liners such as Olympic and Titanic more than 100 years ago, and it’s now the site of the city’s first working whiskey distillery in almost 90 years. The brainchild of Peter Lavery, Stephen Symington and Richard Irwin, Titanic Distillers at Thompson Dock opened to the public earlier this year. Almost £8m has been invested to convert the pump house into a distillery and visitor centre, where guests will be able to sample some of Titanic Distillers’ products. Visitors can also enjoy a guided tour of the exterior dry dock, which includes a 66-step descent to where the Titanic last rested on dry land. In this episode we chat to head distiller Damian Rafferty and owner Peter Lavery. Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Pure Belfast - Titanic Belfast & Titanic Hotel

Welcome to the Pure Belfast Podcast - In this week's episode I'm talking to Eimear Kearney, Head of Marketing and Communications at Titanic Belfast and Adrian McNally the General Manager of Titanic Hotel Belfast. Eimear tells me about about the new reimagined Titanic Experience which opened in March of this year after a £4.5 million refurbishment and now introduces 'The Pursuit of Dreams' as a new theme which uses immersive technology combined with the authentic Titanic Story in the newly refreshed spaces which are called Never Again; Ballard’s Quest; The Ship of Dreams and The Lasting Legacy. Adrian McNally has an illustrious career in hospitality and has worked all over the world in Shanghai, Denver, San Francisco, San Jose, Dallas, Kansas City, London, Dublin and Nairobi. He tells me today about the exciting journey of one of Belfast's most iconic hotels and why it has become part of the whole Titanic experience for visitors to stay here. Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Pure Belfast meets Niall Mc Kenna

Welcome to the Pure Belfast Podcast - In the first episode we are joined by award winning chef and restaurateur - Niall Mc Kenna. Belfast man Niall has been cooking since the age of 14 and in the course of his career spent 12 years training under the likes of Michelin starred Chefs Nico Ladenis, Gary Rhodes at The Greenhouse and City Rhodes and Marco Pierre White at The Canteen. He also worked in the prestigious Avenue Restaurant in Mayfair and at the Notting Hill Brasserie before returning to Belfast to set up his own restaurant in 2003. Niall has cooked for some serious celebrities and famous faces - Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Liam Neeson and Jamie Dornan to name but a few! His new restaurant, Waterman and his cooking school has been receiving rave reviews from food critics and the public alike... Niall himself was named a Tourism Hero by industry chiefs for his contribution to the hospitality sector and his ground-breaking Apprentice Programme. Niall has also starred in the BBC TV programme - Great British Menu - I was delighted to experience a first for me when I met up with Niall recently - cooking on a podcast... now that's just totally "Pure Belfast" Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


"Now That’s New Jersey"

From theme parks to national parks, world-class museums to celebrity beach resorts, there are so many things to do in New Jersey - In this special podcast Ed and Sarah tell Classic Hits FM's, Trina Maher's why New Jersey is a fascinating state that is often overlooked, partly because of its more famous neighbour, New York. It’s the most densely populated state in the country, and its home to some of the world’s most famous tourist destinations. But what is New Jersey known for and what makes this state well worth a visit? WHAT IS NEW JERSEY KNOWN FOR? New Jersey is known for its beautiful beaches, casinos, entertaining boardwalks, and untouched nature. With its crucial role in American history and distinctive culture today, there is much to discover. New Jersey is also famous for its food. From diners to pizzerias to Italian restaurants, the Garden State has something to offer for everyone who loves good food. HISTORY, CULTURE, AND TRADITIONS NEW JERSEY IS KNOWN FOR The Garden State New Jersey is known by many nicknames, but perhaps the most popular is “The Garden State.” This moniker is fitting, as New Jersey is one of the most agriculturally diverse states in the country. From fruits and vegetables to flowers and trees, New Jersey grows it all. In fact, the state is responsible for over 50 million pounds of the country’s cranberry production, and the Hammonton area is sometimes known as the “Blueberry Capital of the World.” New Jersey is also known for its wine industry. There are more than 50 wineries in the state, producing everything from sparkling wines to fruit-based liqueurs. This is just a snapshot of the many things to do in New Jersey, you can find out more at or visit Sarah's Blog - Happy Travels Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


South Africa, The Rainbow Nation - Take a Dive into its Culture and Lifestyle

South Africa’s diverse melting pot of cultures has earned it the nickname the ‘Rainbow Nation’, a moniker that mirrors the country’s colourful local life. The beauty of South Africa is there are so many ways to dive into its culture – Ed and Sarah have both travelled extensively in SA and just love to chat about it... South Africa’s rich mix of cultures means its cities have a kaleidoscope of neighbourhoods to wander. Cape Town has the rainbow-hued houses of the Bo-Kaap and the trendy bars and cafés of Gardens, while in Johannesburg you can wander the artsy vibes of Maboneng or taste your way around the hip eateries of Braamfontein. In Soweto, make time for the history of Vilakazi Street – the only place in the world where two Nobel Prize winners (Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela) have lived. If you’re exploring Durban, reborn Station Drive Precinct now has a fashionable café culture, while the restored Victorian and Edwardian architecture of Morningside are home to buzzing restaurants and art galleries. It’s not just the capital that is home to pockets of unique culture, with small towns all over the country hiding a wealth of cultural experiences such as local crafts, food and ways of life. In the foothills of the Maluti Mountains on the western fringes of the Drakensberg, visiting the town of Clarens is like going back in time. Known as the ‘Jewel of the Free State’, the chocolate-box Dutch sandstone architecture feels as if it’s not been touched since the village was first built in 1912 and its quaint high street is a joy to wander in search of pottery, leatherwork and other curios. Similarly, Cradock is another place still keeping old traditions alive. Originally founded in 1813 for migratory farmers, cattle farmers still live and work at this town on the Great Fish River today. Wildlife lovers should head to Hermanus, known as one of the finest whale-watching hotspots on the planet. You can spot the likes of southern right whales from the shore. Head into the town to discover charming boutique shops and cafes where you can meet the locals and feast on fresh produce. Even with South Africa’s progressive outlook post-apartheid, there’s still plenty of room for traditional culture to thrive. Nowhere does it burn brighter than in KwaZulu-Natal, the spiritual homeland of the Zulu – South Africa’s largest ethnic group. A visit to a Zulu village in Zululand takes you straight to the heart of daily life, where you can unpick their fiercely proud customs and beliefs. Absorb details about their family structures and patriarchal responsibilities, understand why cattle are so highly prized by the Zulu and learn how their homes are made. You might even have the chance to meet a sangoma, a spiritual healer, who will shed light on their sacred lands and rites. For tonnes of info on this amazing country visit - Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Malaga, Picasso and The Caminito del Rey

Malaga is the third oldest city in Western Europe after Lisbon and Cadiz, and its historical centre is a pleasure to explore. The streets are covered in marble tiles and there are beautiful buildings around every corner, including the magnificent Cathedral of Malaga. In typical Spanish fashion, the streets are lined with tapas bars where locals gather to socialise – the city is bursting with energy.From beach days to city strolls, Malaga city has so much to offer, however, the region of Andalucia is packed with possibilities too. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites located here, as well as the beautiful cities of Seville and Cordoba. 2923 is the 50th anniversary of the death of Picasso, he lived here in Malaga until he was 12 and never returned. The Casa Natal where he was born and the Museo Picasso are really worth a visit. Picasso was influenced by the light and colours of Andalucia and so will you. There are many day trips from Malaga to choose from. Tours to Rhonda, the Alhambra in Grenada, as well as Tangier in Morocco are the most popular, but I urge you to visit one of Spain’s best kept secrets – the Caminito del Rey. The Caminito del Rey was on our bucket list for many years and we finally got to walk it recently. It was even more impressive than we imagined and is something that we highly recommend everyone to do when visiting Malaga or the Costa del Sol. The views are spectacular from beginning to end, with stunning gorges, canyons and cliffs around every corner. Thanks to Sarah for telling me about this wonderful place, the train from Malaga is so easy to arrange to El Chorro and from there a 15 min bus trip to the start of the walk. Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Lovin Lisbon

It’s possible to spend months in Lisbon and discover something new every day but if you only have a weekend, you can still walk away with a memorable impression of the city. In this Podcast, we explore Portugal’s capital in 48 hours. One of the must-do experiences in Lisbon is riding the bright yellow 28 tram. To enjoy it at its best, get up early to avoid the tourist and commuter crowds. These trams are operational antiques, carrying people up and down Lisbon’s hilly streets since the 1930s. Buy a weekend travel pass, catch the tram at Praça da Figueira and bounce between Lisbon’s coolest neighbourhoods. Passing more landmarks in one swoop than any other line, the 28 will take you past the Sé Cathedral (Lisbon’s oldest church) and the Estrela Basilica (a convent constructed on the orders of Portugal’s Queen Mary I). This ride takes only 40 minutes, so there is plenty of time left of your morning to explore. Please subscribe and leave a comment - Happy Travels - Ed & Sarah Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


The Maine Adventure - The Katahdin Frontier

Maine is home to many mountains and several state parks but there is only one mile-high Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, located in the glorious Baxter State Park. Located right “next door” is the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. We were joined on Travel Talk recently by Eric Goodwin the strategic Consultant for Katahdin Tourism. "These incredible places are right here in the Katahdin Region" Located in the east central portion of the state, known as The Maine Highlands, the Katahdin region boasts scenic vistas and abundant wildlife throughout north-ern Penobscot County’s hilly lake country, the rolling farm country of western Pe-nobscot, and southern Aroostook’s vast softwood flats. The area is home to incredi-ble wildlife; including our local celebrity the moose, as well as osprey, bald eagles, blue herons, beaver, black bear, white-tailed deer, fox and more. Visit in spring, summer and fall to enjoy miles of hiking trails—from casual walks to challenging hikes, kayaking and canoeing on pristine lakes, white water raft-ing with up to Class V rapids, world class fishing for trout, landlocked salmon and smallmouth bass, birding, nature photography, mountain biking and much more. Visit in winter to enjoy Katahdin’s spectacular snowmobiling, cross-country ski-ing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and dog sledding. Our backyard features groomed and scenic XC ski trails to accommodate beginners through experts. There are miles of back-country XC skiing and snowshoeing in and around Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument as well. Snowmobilers enjoy over 350 miles of groomed trails with welcoming lodges, food and gas to keep the fun going. You can even see the Northern lights in Katadhin For more information on this fantastic region visit - Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Taking Liberties

The Liberties has become Dublin's hottest hood. The Hyatt Centric is a great place to stay here and I really enjoyed their wonderful hospitality. In this special podcast on the Liberties, I first chatted with the hotel's MD, Declan Curtis, I met Dean William Morton and Freda Doyle from St.Patrick's Cathedral. We called in to see Amy Ryan from Marsh's Library and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of whiskey tasting and sightseeing at the award winning Pearse Lyons distillery with Bernard and Grant. The Liberties truly is the beating heart of Dublin. I had a terrific few days being a tourist in my own city and staying at the Hyatt Centric Hotel, part of the Hodson Hotel Group. Declan Curtis the MD at the Hyatt told me the very interesting story about building the Hotel. Don't miss their special Mad hatter's Afternoon Tea. I had a wonderful visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral meeting Freda Doyle and Dean William Morton. At Marsh's Library, Amy Ryan tells me about the incredible history of this still working library. Marsh's Library. Perfectly preserved library of the early Enlightenment in central Dublin. Opened in 1707 and still welcoming visitors, tourists and scholars. We had a wonderful visit and whiskey tasting to Pearse Lyons Distillery with Bernard Birmingham and Grant. Pearse Lyons Distillery is Dublin’s only independently, family-owned distillery. Located in the former St. James Church in the heart of Dublin’s Liberties, the award-winning distillery produces Pearse Irish Whiskey. During the late 18th and 19th century, The Liberties was dominated by great brewing and distilling families, most notably the Guinness family, who from 1759 built and developed the world’s largest brewery at St James’s Gate. Renowned distillers Powers, Jameson, Millar and Roe were all located here, creating a Victorian cityscape of chimneystacks, mills, malthouses and bustling streets. The area even had its own harbour linking it to the Grand Canal, and a mini-railway through the St James’s Gate brewery to the River Liffey quays. However this industrial wealth and prowess went hand in hand with dire poverty and often horrendous living conditions. The 19th century Liberties had notorious slums which in turn spurred a number of enlightening housing developments by the Earl of Meath and the Guinness and Power families in the latter years of the century. The now-charming enclaves about Gray Street and John Dillon Street were originally examples of modern new homes built for the working class by the Dublin Artisan Dwelling Company, while the Iveagh Trust Buildings on Patrick Street remain beautiful examples of the first ‘flats’ built for Dubliners. The ancient ‘liberties’ were finally abolished and subsumed into the city in the 1840s, however the name ‘The Liberties’ remained and became primarily to mean the old Earl of Meath’s Liberty. While the fortunes of the area declined in the 20th century, Thomas Street and Meath Street remained the quintessential heart of Auld Dublin, renowned in song and story. The area has produced its fair share of storytellers, master musicians, street characters and thespians. Today, it retains its distinctive character and curious detachment from the life of the wider city. It’s a place to discover and enjoy: a place of evocative place names, engaging architecture, vibrant street life and strong community spirit. Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Wild Florida is in The Travel Lounge

It's no secret that I'm just wild about Florida so today on the Travel Lounge, I’m delighted to be speaking with the co-founder of Wild Florida, Sam Haught and Director of Sales, PJ Brown, who are here to tell us all about their amazing Wildlife and Safari Park which is an absolute ‘must do’ when you visit Orlando and Florida. This "hidden secret" is a terrific day out and a great way to explore the natural reserves and beautiful wildlife that this area has to offer AND all within minutes of well known theme parks. When it comes to Orlando airboat rides "Wild Florida is simply the best" so the guys tell me. Just a short drive from the Orlando and Disney area, they offer beautiful airboat day tours, relaxing sunset tours and exciting night tours which are a great favourite with guests of all ages. This is Natural Florida at its best! They guarantee that you won’t see any development or homes on your airboat ride, just you and nature! I was lucky enough to have experience Wild Florida’s airboat rides myself a couple of year’s ago and I was captivated by the incredible sense of freedom you experience as you watch the sunset over this beautiful and natural reserve, it was incredible to be immersed in nature just a few miles from the hustle, bustle and lights of the big theme parks. Since my visit they have added an amazing drive through safari and walk through gator park with unique experiences like feeding the giraffes and meeting some laid back sloths. So some real ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences to try out. For more information check out the website - There's also a cool video to watch - For more ideas on where to stay when planning your holiday check out nearby Kissimmee in the Orlando area, there are some great villa options as well as hotels and resorts which are perfect when planning a trip with family and friends. Best Place to Stay | Experience Kissimmee Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Marcos Toscani

Today, I’m joined by Tik Tok sensation and luxury hotel expert Marcos Toscani. Marcos is a content creator and founder of @expertoenhoteles. Hailing from Argentina, he focuses exclusively on luxury hotels worldwide. Marcos has been named the Meliá TikTok Luxury Expert, the company's first ambassador on TikTok, after also being named "Visit Mexico's" first luxury tourism ambassador in 2020. His podcast "Hotel Expert" became the most popular podcast about hotels in Spanish only weeks after its launch. Marcos Toscani and Meliá Hotels International With almost 400,000 followers on TikTok, Meliá has launched the new channel with a strategic focus on its luxury products. Hotels such as Gran Meliá Iguazu (Argentina), Paradisus Grand Cana (Dominican Republic) and ME Cabo (Mexico) are among the first hotels chosen by Marcos. “As a Hotel Expert, my goal has always been to experience and show first-hand the best luxury hotels in the world, and I’m very excited to start this partnership with Meliá, where I have already started to choose their most amazing hotels, suites and experiences. TikTok is the top emerging platform and is seeing surprising growth, and I’m really happy to be able to bring my point of view to a hotel chain that I admire and that is always one step ahead, this time in my new role as Meliá TikTok Luxury Expert” said Marcos Toscani, Expert in Hotels. Tik Tok TikTok is a mobile app that started in China and now offers millions of users around the world the chance to share videos. It currently has more than a billion users in 150 countries around the world in 75 languages. Before even opening its own channel on TikTok, Meliá already had more than 12 million views. Meliá London Kensington In the heart of fashionable Kensington, this refurbished, 4-star boutique hotel offers Victorian elegance with modern comforts. Gloucester Road Tube Station and London’s museums are just a few minutes’ walk away. Kensington Palace, Hyde Park and Knightsbridge are all just 0.5 miles’ walking distance from Meliá London Kensington Member of Meliá Collection. London tour buses also depart from the hotel's entrance to all of the major attractions. Beautifully appointed, air-conditioned rooms have satellite TV and luxurious, exclusive Dream Beds, custom-designed for the hotel. Guests at the Meliá London Kensington can reach Westminster and the South Bank with just a 10-minute tube ride from Gloucester Road Station. The SW7 restaurant and bar has a sleek, minimalist design with food inspired by traditional British dishes mixed with Mediterranean flavours. I had a terrific stay here, the staff couldn't do enough for me and it felt like a home from home. I loved the welcome bubbles for guests on arrival and the breakfast was delicious. I flew with Aer Lingus to Heathrow and a quick tube ride on the Piccadilly line had me into Gloucester Road station which was all of two minutes walk to the hotel. A big thanks to Giorgia and all the team for a wonderful stay. Click here for Meliá offers Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Ed & Sarah's Stress Free Travel Special - Airport, Baggage & Top Travel Tips

This week we are bringing our listeners some great tips and advice on ways to save time, money and to enjoy stress free travel. How to breeze through airports, avoid baggage problems, save time on queues, save €€€ on airfares and tours.... and much more. These are little secrets of the trade that we have picked up over our many years of travelling. Happy Travels Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Lanzarote - A Unique Island

Lanzarote is unlike anywhere else on earth, with its beautiful climate, jaw-dropping scenery and dramatic volcanic history. Three hundred years ago, the island suffered the longest and most brutal volcanic eruption the planet has ever seen - it was a raging cauldron for six years - and yet today Lanzarote is a holiday paradise. On this week's Ambassadors to Spain series we meet Geraldine Mc Fadden who has lived here for over 14 years. Geraldine tells us about some of her favourite places on Lanzarote like the beautiful fishing village of El Golfo and she reveals the best way to get the most from your holiday on this truly special island. The number one destination for the Irish, Lanzarote has become a go to destination these days with its balmy eternal spring climate, amazing value and award winning wineries. For more information visit or - Geraldine is the General Manager at the Aqua Suites Hotel - - The tourist board has produced a wonderful video to discover the island - Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Gran Canaria - Island of a Thousand Sunsets.....

In this week's Ambassadors for Spain series we meet Eoin Flynn in Gran Canaria. Here is an island full of surprises with its volcanic landscape, lush pine forests, secret rocky coves and swathes of sand dunes. Year round good weather, historic towns, a calendar of unusual festivals and superlative cuisine and wines. Eoin Flynn moved to Gran Canaria 10 years ago. An Irish International Mountain runner and an english teacher, he reveals the locals insider track on this beautiful Island. Vitamin Sea There’s more to Gran Canaria than just great value food and drink and lots of Vitamin Sea and sun. Eoin takes on a trip to a land of lunar vistas high above the clouds. He tells us how to discover the real food and culture of this stunning place. Eoin is also a well known commentator in the media for the best trail running races in the world and specially the famous "Transgrancanaria" over 160 kilometres long - the next one is due to happen on March 4th 2022 - Eoin also tells us about the famous festival which takes place here every September in the local villages with full traditional Canarian dress. There's even a strawberry festival and an avocado festival. Eoin also tells us about the traditional festival of Our Lady of Rosario de Agüimes This festival, which takes place in the town of Agüimes in Gran Canaria, attracts a multitude of visitors each year, as it brings one of the oldest Canary Island traditions back to life. This is the “traída del agua y el gofio”, a lively, joyful event that re-enacts the old custom of taking corn, barley, or wheat to the mill to be ground into gofio, a kind of flour that’s used in many different ways and is still an essential part of Canary Island cuisine today. On this day, people head for the mills, and along the way gofio is distributed and there’s music and dancing. Afterwards it’s back to the town, and water is sprinkled down on everyone from the balconies of the houses. Camino de Gran Canaria? Did you know that Gran Canaria even has a part of the Camino de Santiago! Check out the Yes indeed - 23 hours and 66 kilometres make up the Camino de Santiago in Gran Canaria. A good part of this route was already traveled by the ancient canaries in communications from the south to the north of the island, and later, it was used as a livestock route for cattle, pilgrims and "romeras". For lots of info on Gran Canaria - check out and Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Tenerife, an insider guide to the Island of Eternal Spring

This week in our Ambassadors for Spain series we chat to Fiona McAndrew who has lived in Tenerife for over 34 years. Fiona has worked in Tourism for many years in Tenerife and she tells us what a wonderful place Tenerife is and specially how friendly the people are there. Tenerife is famous for its beaches of course, ( 72 listed on the tourist board website at least) on which to stretch out, switch off and get that gorgeous shade of bronze. Tenerife however is a multi-faceted island and everywhere you look there are man-made and natural attractions to be had, from stargazing in Europe’s clearest skies to conquering the planet’s third-largest volcano, and from splashing around in the world’s most popular water park, to getting within touching distance of dolphins in the wild. You can’t get to the very top of Tenerife’s omnipresent volcano, Teide, without a prearranged pass, but you can get to within 600 ft by cable car. The views are spectacular, but it’s the sheer sense of scale that will really take your breath away. What you see above ground is only the tip of what is one of the three largest volcanoes on the planet. Tenerife really has everything and of course is a golf lovers paradise. I recently stayed in the Green Garden Resort and just loved it. Fiona tells us her top tips for her favourite beaches and places to visit. We spoke to Fiona last July and of course travel has fully opened up since then and travel to Tenerife is back with a bang. For full details visit and for Fiona's hotel recommendations visit Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Castile and Leon - The Heart and Soul of Spain

We continue our Ambassadors for Spain series this week with Colm Mullen chatting to us from what some refer to as the "Soul of Spain" Castile and León is a treasure trove of historic sites and impressive landscapes. This is one of the destinations which offers the greatest diversity of natural landscapes in Europe, as well as spectacular monuments, a varied and abundant gastronomy… all this guarantees that this region in the interior of Spain is bound to delight you. It has a whole host of places which are well worth visiting, including towns like Avila, Salamanca and Segovia (all three World Heritage Cities) and unique attractions such as Burgos Cathedral and the Atapuerca archaeological site, which contains traces of the first settlers in Europe. The famous Way of Saint James also runs through the Castile-León region, and is one of the world's most important pilgrim routes. Literally dotted with hundreds of mediaeval castles and fortresses. This region is a real witnesses to the area's rich historic and sometimes turbulent past. With its tiny villages, wide open spaces, changing landscapes, and it's historic cities and stunning cathedrals, this is an area for anyone wanting to explore the real Spain. Colm lives in the beautiful city of Valladolid. It’s known for medieval religious sites like the Spanish Gothic San Pablo Church, with a history dating from the 1400s. Nearby is the Royal Palace, home of Spanish kings in the early 1600s. The National Sculpture Museum occupies a majestic Gothic building. The Christopher Columbus Museum chronicles the life of the Italian explorer, who died in Valladolid in 1506. This was the capital of Spain for a number of years. Castille y Leon is 15% larger than the whole island of Ireland. Colm also spoke to me about the Irish connection with Red Hugh O' Donnell and Philip III - After Kinsale, the Earl of Tyrconnell, Hugh O’Donnell (1571-1602), resolved to come to Valladolid in the hope of persuading King Philip III to send more aid. With him came Redmond Burke, Captain Hugh Mus Mustian, and Flaithri (Florence Conroy), a father of the Franciscan order and O'Donnell's confessor. After eight months waiting in vain until everything should be ready for his return to Ireland with the army which had been promised him, he died in the King’s castle at Simancas, allegedly poisoned by an English agent, more possibly of bubonic plague. His body was conveyed to the King's palace at Valladolid in a four-wheeled hearse, surrounded by countless numbers of the King's state officers, Council, and guards, with luminous torches and bright flambeaux of beautiful wax-light burning on each side of him. He was afterwards interred in the monastery of St. Francis. The Monastery of St Francis and its tombs were destroyed in the 19th century. In 1991, a plaque was erected at Simancas Castle in commemoration of ‘Red’ Hugh O'Donnell; in 2002, the O’Donnell clan erected a commemorative plaque in a side street of the Valladolid Main Square, next to a ceramic representation of the facade of the monastery. The city of León is one of the most elegant in Spain's region of Castilla y León, filled with grand historic buildings, contemporary museums and even a design by Antoni Gaudí. Here you also have Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Burgos and La Granja. Colm has a wealth of knowledge about this truly unique region and it was a pleasure to have him as our guest this week. For more information on the area please check out Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Live in Benidorm... Work from Paradise....

In the third episode of Ambassadors for Spain we are delighted to chat with Ian Byrne, originally from Monkstown Co. Dublin. The manager of two Irish bars in Benidorm, The Tavern and The Church, Ian is well known locally as a Stand Up Comedian and also manages a property agency and was previously an english teacher in Valencia. In this episode Ian tells us why he loves living in Benidorm and what it has to offer. Once a quiet fishing village, Benidorm has been transformed by mass tourism over recent years and today the "NEW" Benidorm has launched itself as a new Hub for Digital Nomads. “Live in Benidorm; work from Paradise” is the motto of the new campaign. The new campaign seeks to rebrand the city from its usual sun, sea and sand image to one which is best suited as the headquarters for people working remotely. Did you know that Benidorm is also known as BeniYork in Spain? The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a trend which was already gaining considerable ground in recent years. We are talking about the practice of remote working or working from any spot in the world armed with a laptop and a wi-fi connection. People who have made it possible to have their work bound to them rather than vice versa are known as digital nomads. Ian tells us about some great value apartments to rent in the area at pretty incredible rates. Benidorm has experienced The Good, The Bad and The Ugly but today is firmly on the way to attracting a whole new swathe of new travellers keen to experience the "New" look Benidorm - A Big thanks to Ian Byrne, the Jerry Seinfeld of Benidorm for being our very entertaining ambassador on this podcast... For all things Spain visit - - You can now visit Spain without any PCR test with the EU Digital Covid Certificate. For info on Benidorm please visit - Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -


Ambassadors for Spain - Magical Hidden Murcia with Brendan Dwyer

Our second guest on The Ambassadors for Spain series is Irish Expat Brendan Dwyer who lives in Murcia and works as GM in the 5 star award winning La Finca Resort in Alicante, Spain. Brendan has worked for over 20 years in some of the most iconic hotels and brands including Vice President Global of Sales EMEA for Hyatt Hotels. Brendan really captures the essence of Murcia in this week's podcast and he shares his top tips and the insiders guide to discovering this wonderful region. Murcia is known as the garden of Europe, producing first-rate fresh produce all year round. It's a cooking enthusiast's dream, as every good cook knows, you just can't go wrong with top-quality ingredients. Murcia has some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain - with the placid, welcoming waters of Mar Menor, a lagoon cut off from the Mediterranean by the lido-style sandbank of La Manga, hugging the rugged cliffs and coves of Calblanque, with its secluded beaches. You can happily lose yourself in the meandering streets of wonderful historic towns like Cartagena and Lorca. The glories of Murcia city grow on you as pedestrian-only, shop-lined lanes lead into one enticing café-lined square after another, each with its own architectural gems, whether it's the imposing 15th-century cathedral or the impressively ornate Church of San Juan de Dios. #VisitSpain #RegiónDeMurcia @murciaturistica Pure Belfast is brought to you by our sponsors -