Want the gift of gab? Visit Blarney Castle in Ireland.

Does Daylight Savings Time still have you rubbing the sleep out of your eyes?  Well don’t fret!  That means spring is just around the corner (March 20th!), making it one season closer to that oh so sweet summer.  Do I hear vacation time? Yes please!  Do YOU know where you’re going yet?  I know where I want to be.  With St. Patrick’s Day coming up on Thursday, I can’t help but conjure up images of Irish hospitality, sweeping green landscapes, and medieval castles that come with a dose of luck and charm – that’s right, Ireland is calling my name.

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do in my lifetime is kiss the Blarney Stone.  More than 400,000 visitors go to Ireland a year for a chance to trek up Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone, one of the many destinations that Contiki visits on our Scotland & Ireland, Great Britain & Ireland, and Ireland regional trips.  Legend has it that kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle would grant you the “gift of eloquence” – the art of expression through words – because, let’s face it:  who wouldn’t want the ability to talk their way out of anything?

Don’t just take it from me – one of our very own took the trip to Ireland just this past year!  Here’s a snapshot of Jennifer C., Quality Assurance Specialist for Contiki, and her take on the smooching with a landmark:

“For all the germ-a-phobes who hate the idea of kissing a stone that has been kissed for centuries, look at it this way: the point of kissing the stone is to get the “gift of gab,” so if that many people have kissed it before you…you’ll know how to “gab” with anyone!  To get to Blarney Stone, I had to climb to the very top of the castle through a winding staircase, which took about 15 minutes.  Once I reached the top, I was instructed to lie down on my back, with my head and back hanging off the edge of the tall castle.  (Side note: this experience is not for those with a fear of heights!)  There is a bar to hold on to so you don’t feel like you’re about to fall off.  I was told to bend backwards since the stone is actually not right there – it’s on the outside of the castle, which requires some bending and twisting and turning on your part.  They don’t tell you this in the tour books, do they!  Fortunately, there is always a Blarney Castle worker there to look out for your safety and help guide you down (though in my case, the cute, frail, elderly Irishman didn’t necessarily make me feel like he’d be able to hold me if I fell!)  Anyway, think I kissed the right stone – there were so many and I was so nervous that I just kissed one and pulled myself back to safety.  I have a feeling others did the same!  Nonetheless, it was a remarkable view, seeing the outside of the castle while upside down and feeling the cool Irish breeze.  Seriously!  And to think of how many people have done the same thing before you…there’s no question I got the gift of gab =) Would I do this again?  Certainly!  Maybe this time I’ll know for sure that I kissed the right stone!”

Thinking about going to Ireland now?  Don’t forget to romance the stone and give it a big smooch when you’re there!  Happy travels!

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If you’re ready to book your trip to get whisked away to Ireland this summer, you can travel with a friend and take advantage of Contiki’s awesome $900 air promo deal, which ends tomorrow (Tuesday, March 15)!

Call us at 1-800-CONTIKI (266-8454) for details and additional savings!

Contiki Marketing Gets Their Asses Kicked

In a good way. Michelle, Caroline, and Andrea from the Contiki marketing team joined the ROXY Athletix College Tour at UCLA on Wednesday, 10/21. We checked out the scene and Roxy gear, did a yoga and cross-training class, and felt seriously sore afterwards. Thanks to the Roxy team – you ladies rocked our world and we had a blast!

Check out the Roxy Athletix site for more info on their new products, the workouts that almost made us pass out, and the college tour – plus enter to win a Contiki for 2 to Australia with VAustralia!

Roxy Athletix College Tour: UCLA

Contiki Trip Giveaway

Andrea, Contiki's Graphic Designer

Tips on Saving for a Contiki

BOOK IT SMART

  • There are some great airfare deals out there – do your research to find the best ones! Prices can vary throughout the week, so keep a watchful eye on the fares. Be flexible – departing/arriving Tuesday – Thursday can cut down the cost, and booking in advance will generally get you the most inexpensive tickets. Airlines are all about flash fares right now, so check out Twitter and sign up for e-newsletters to get their best offers.
  • Travel during what we in the biz call “shoulder” season. June – August is tourist central, as are holidays, which means flights are packed, the locals are out of town, lines are long, and old people are slow. Going in the spring or fall can often mean cheaper travel and fewer screaming children.
  • Duh – ask us! Check out Contiki.com for the latest deals, plus our Reservations team will do everything they can to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

STOP SPENDING AS MUCH

  • We know it sucks, but we’re trying to help you save some cash here! Here’s the worst of it – cut back on going out. Chances are you already grapple with rational decisions (with money…) when you’re hammered, like ordering another drink, purchasing an entire pizza, or getting lost in a cab, so try to save yourself some trouble.
  • Release your inner accountant (what, doesn’t everyone have one?). Create a weekly or monthly budget, and analyze what you’re spending and where the wiggle room is. Work out how much you think your trip will cost including spending money – pull out your pocket protector and calculator and find out how much you need to save per week.
  • Brown bag it… Bring your lunch to work or school. Not eating out can save tons, plus you’ll probably eat healthier to save those other tons too.
  • Nix the little luxuries. It doesn’t have to be drastic – even switching from lattes to regular coffee can save a boatload of money. Lose the weekly mani/pedis, buy generic instead of name brands, rent a movie instead of going to the theater, bring a flask out… get creative!
  • Every time you see something you want to buy – check yourself before you wreck yourself. Do you reeeeally need it, or do you just want it? Guitar Hero can wait until you get back from traveling.
  • Saving is hard work! Reward yourself with something when you hit a big milestone, like your first $1,000 – otherwise you’ll get bored and increase your chances of blowing it all.

CASH IN

  • See if you can finagle your vacation time around paid days off.
  • Milk your friends and family – your birthday, Christmas, graduation, or other holidays/events are awesome excuses to ask for cash instead of presents.
  • Don’t rack up credit card bills – pay them off! You can use them on your trip too.
  • Sell the crap you haven’t used in over a year on eBay.
  • Get a savings account going with a high percentage payback. You’ll earn more, plus they usually lock that stuff down so you can’t access it easily in your moments of weakness.
  • Try not to take out a loan – suck it up and save! If for some reason you don’t heed our advice and want to get a loan, ask your parents or loaded friend and swear that you’ll pay them back monthly. If they like you they probably won’t charge interest like a bank or knock out your kneecaps like the mob.