Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Flight cookies - not very yummy

My heart was beating fast, my sweaty palms held my credit card and I was about to explode with excitement as I finally got around to booking my flights to Egypt.


But then, wait.

That's not the price - €30 jump in a matter of minutes. 
But I checked the price last week and twice today – just be sure.

This is not God smiting me for my indecisiveness, this is for being too frugal, too careful. This punishment is for checking the flights costs, times, etc too many times.

I just want to board a plane.
(c) fifiheavey
My techie friends tell me that of course the more I search a certain flight on a particular date and time, the more demand it creates – putting the price up. 
That is fair enough, but:

“Some booking sites save your previous flight searches to figure out how badly you really want that flight – the more you search it , the more they increase the price.”- How cheeky.
The same sites can also increase prices after the date you have searched for to pressure you into thinking the price will increase if you wait to buy.

Outraged and a little sad that I had not just purchased the flight a week ago, I asked for help. 
The only tips I got were:
(A) Be more decisive – a personal weakness.
(B) Clear browser cookies each time you search a flight – making the sites think it is your first look every time.

Aeroplane cookie ...

To do this using Google chrome:
1- click the wrench icon on the tool bar
2- Select settings
4- In the privacy section, click content settings
5- In the cookies section – open the cookies and other data dialog
6- Remove all.

I did this and hurriedly checked the price again – no change. 
So maybe leave it a few days?
The flight is for October 1 – any advice on whether I should put off till later or just cave and buy now??

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Guinness: Pure Genius

  Guinness is disgusting - There I said it.

Guinness Storehouse, St James Gate, Dublin
(c) fifiheavey
I feel sorry for poor souls who think they have to drink a whole pint in order to really experience Ireland.
You don't have to – we understand. It is an acquired taste.
You wouldn't eat a whole jar of Vegemite to get the Australia experience so don't do it here - if you must order a glass!

Saying that I love Guinness, I love the two tone colour, the complicated skill of pouring the perfect pint, the symbolism, the creative ads and the name brand. So when my my friend returned home from OZ on hols and suggested we visit the Guinness Storehouse, I jumped at the chance.

Indoor waterfall, Guinness Storehouse
(C) fifiheavey
Seven story's high and surrounded in a glass atrium shape in the form in a pint of Guinness, the storehouse is a superb look at what goes into the legendary stout. Stepping over the precious 9,000 year old lease signed by Arthur Guinness (the genius behind the black stuff) you start on your journey through the main ingredients of water, barley, hops and yeast. The indoor waterfall gives a lovely background for photos as well as a surreal visual display.

An interactive digital man takes you through the process of mixing the ingredients, roasting, boiling and settling the liquid – and all the rigorous tests that the Guinness undertakes before it hits the road in the barrel.
Learning the trade, Guinness Storehouse
(c) fifiheavey
As a past bar maid in Ireland, I can let you in on a secret the reason why Guinness tastes so good in Irish bars is of course that we know how to pour it, but also because more people drink it here the pipes are cleaned religiously. In other countries the Guinness may not be as popular and so will not need the same amount of cleaning and maintenance.

One of the best exhibits in the storehouse for me was the adverts. You can go all the way back to the very first Guinness ad and keep watching as the creative brand makes a name for itself all over the world using wacky ideas.

There is a new drinking responsible quiz and tips and a new find your Guinness roots part as well as a short film on the amount of events Guinness sponsor around the world.

Views from the Gravity Bar, Guinness Storehouse
(c) fifiheavey
If you have never had a proper pint of Guinness or are intrigued by the pouring process I recommend you enter the Guinness Academy and learn how to expertly pour your own pint (you get a keep sake cert too to show your friends back home). As I obviously know how to pour, we moved up to the Gravity Bar for some stunning views of Dublin's Fair City. We got our complimentary pints and after using them as photo props we passed them on to those more grateful for the "distinctive" taste.

Good things come to those who wait!
(C) fifiheavey

Tip: Buy your ticket on line – it is a little bit cheaper (€14.50 compared to €16) and prepare to leave with a Guinness moustache!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

All countries great and small

The 2012 Olympics are on. London is shining. Hard working athletes are taking centre stage.
Medals are being won and lost, countries around the world are celebrating and commiserating.

But despite the 24/7 coverage of all things Olympic, my attention has been seized by all the countries taking part. 205 to be exact. 
205 countries have contributed 10,000 athletes to compete in over 300 events.
The symbol from The Hunger Games

The opening ceremony,  felt  a bit like the Hunger Games, or indeed something Victorian, something in a twisted fairytale or novel. A sort of war without weapons, battles without deaths. 
But still a contest between countries, nations - Democratic states, Republics, Dictatorships and Communist identities.

During the opening ceremony I looked on with awe as countries, nations carried their flags with honour – and many of them were unknown to me.
Arbua, Benin, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kiribati, Lesotho, Micronesia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Tuvalu were some of the countries that did not spark with me. 
I couldn't place them on a map, I didn't have a handy fact to hand nor could I spell or pronounce them.

So while my partner stares and ooh and aahs at the nightly commentating from the London Olympics I am researching these 'new' countries, looking at histories, stats and checking out the price of flights!

So here are a few handy facts about those less well known countries – have these at the ready when the Olympic chat dies down or if your hairdresser asks you 'Any holidays this year':

Aruba - Aruba is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands just north of Venezuela.

Benin- Officially the Republic of Benin, West Africa and the birthplace of Voodoo

Burkina Faso - Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, it is one of the safest countries in West Africa.

Djibouti – One of the smallest African countries - you can snorkel with whale sharks there!

Eitrea National Flag
Eritrea - One of the most secretive countries in Africa, the capital boasts the most shining collection of colonial architectural wonders in in Africa.

Kiribati - Located in the Pacific ocean,  it was the scene of a number of the bloodiest battles fought in World War II.

Lesotho- It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 meters in elevation, skiing is a big draw here.

Micronesia – Found in the Pacific Ocean close to the Philippines, it is a group of islands Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap.

Saint Kitts and Nevis – Also known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, it is a federal two-island state in the West Indies.

Tuvalu – Sitting midway between New Zealand and Australia with a population of just 10,554, it is the fourth smallest country in the world.

The island of Tuvalu