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Further Afield's Journal


Entry By: 
Joe F.

Just where is Mongolia? It’s a plateau of Central Asia between China and Russian Siberia. It occupies an area of about 1,560,000 square Kilometres and has a population of about 3 million people.

When we see the word Mongolia, and our minds immediately flash back to Outer Mongolia, imagining troops of horsemen, charging into battle, the ground thundering and shuddering as these warhorses plough the earth beneath their feet. The Mongol Empire was founded by Genghis Khan, who forged an empire by uniting nomadic tribes of the Asian steppes and creating a devastating cavalry. The Empire or the ‘Golden Horde’ as it was called survived for over a century but with rivalry within successive generations the empire began to crumble. The Manchu-led Qing Dynasty of Outer-Mongolia was formed. This territory of China was ruled from 1691 to 1911, until modern day Mongolia got its independence during the Xinhai Revolution. 

The Gobi Desert is the fifth largest Desert in the world and covers 30% of the land mass of Mongolia plus a similar size of China. The climate of Mongolia is very varied, with the mountain ranges of Altai, the Khangai and the Khentti and the desert determining the temperatures of the seasons. The average temperature in winter is from -10 to -30 and summer from +10 to +30 degrees centigrade. 

The numerous lakes and rivers have an abundance of fish from trout, perch, pike, salmon, roach. Birds to be found are plovers, lapwings, egrets, eagles, hawks, ducks, swans, etc. Wild animals, grey wolves, snow leopards, bears, wild horses, camels, foxes, deer, yaks and so many more.

Employment for such a vast country and a low volume of population is a major problem for parliamentarians to have employees for the many vacancies that need filling. The state has a vast wealth of minerals, coal, copper, gold and uranium, oil and textile production are the main industries. Being a landlocked country adds more expense to imports and exports of materials. China is its main trading country, a large number of migrants from other countries are employed in Mongolia, especially in the education, medical and engineering sectors.

Mongolian cultures, traditions, music, art, literature and history are deeply influenced by their nomadic existence. Their sporting identity of horse racing, wrestling and archery is intermingled with the traditional way of life of the Mongols, the farming community of herding animals. The festivals involved in the history and cultural heritage are beautiful to watch. Traditional clothing designs display ones standing within their communities. Tibetan Buddhism is the dominant religion. When couples are getting married, the ceremony begins in the morning with the groom’s family arriving at the bride’s home or the place where the event is taking place. Both families are involved in the ceremony and expenses. The bride leaves her home and goes to live in her husband’s home.

For international travellers and tourists who thrive on adventure and exploration, this is the jaw dropping attraction that will embellish your dream world. People are always anxious to hear of someone’s latest adventure. As such your trip to Mongolia will entitle you to an open invitation to many a party or an event. Retirees or individuals taking career breaks should have this destination implanted in their to-do list. The citizens of Mongolia are a hardworking race of people, graceful and sometimes austere individuals. In the family environment 2 or 4 children are the norm, nowadays when children mature they move to the cities, leaving the rural areas to the older generations, Ulaanbaatar the capital and largest city is the most attractive city for university, college and employment. The youngest son usually inherits the land and family home. 

For more information contact, Further Afield Travel and Tours.


Spain as a Tourist Destination

Entry By: 
Joe F.

Spain is one of the largest tourist attractions in the world. The number of visitors that have Spain as their first choice of destination is 84 million people per year. This number accounts for 12% of the country’s GDP. 2.25 million people are involved in the tourism sector. This number was at 2.6 prior to the pandemic but it’s recovering now. 


Spain and Portugal are the two countries of the Iberian peninsula, on the southern part of Europe, bordering Morocco, Andorra, France, Gibraltar and Portugal. They also border the Mediterranean Sea, the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean. Spain has a population of 48 million people and an area that covers 505,000 square kilometres with a coastline of 5,750 kilometres. The mountain ranges are mainly in the centre of the peninsula.


Popular places to visit are, Costa Blanca, Costa Dorada, Majorca, Salou, Costa Del Sol, Benidorm and Ibiza. Europe awards a status of Blue Flags to beaches and resorts that attain a certain level of excellence, that is for cleanliness and purification of the water and the environment. Blue flags have been awarded to 680 Spanish resorts, the most to any country’s beaches in the Northern Hemisphere. With the length of the coastline the choice of beaches is overwhelming.


For sports fans and supporters of soccer clubs a visit to Barcelona or Valencia could be included in a trip. The Olympic Games were held in Barcelona in 1992, in the Catalonia area of Spain. The Olympic Stadium, was built in 1929 in the failed attempt at being awarded the Olympic Games of 1936. The games were held in Berlin instead. Barcelona soccer club used the stadium afterwards. Today the Nou Camp stadium is Barcelona’s soccer football ground, it has a capacity for almost 100,000 spectators. It is open as a visitor-attraction centre throughout the year, not on football match days of course. 


Cultural and business tourism is very popular in Spain. Madrid is the capital city of the country but it is also the world’s headquarters of the tourism industries, UNWTO which is the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Including Barcelona these two cities have an extensive market for commercial conferences, media, education, entertainment, fashion, science, technology, arts, sports, pharmaceutical, filmmaking and computer software. Museums, libraries, galleries abound and for the museum of the Americas, there are no others worldwide to compare with this one in Spain. From Arab, Byzantine, Hellenistic, Roman, Medieval or Renaissance periods there is an avalanche of artifacts to be seen in every museum and gallery in this country.


Religious holidays, Catholicism and Spain are interlinked. After the Vatican in Rome and Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela (the way of Saint James) in Galicia, is the third holiest place to visit in Europe. In Saville the processions of Holy Week, at Easter time are an outstanding celebration of colour and devotion. At Christmas the festival begins on the 22nd of December and continues until 6th of January. Christmas Eve is the special event for exchanging gifts, celebrating a meal with friends and families. Strolling through Christmas Markets in cities and towns with the beautiful aromas of spicy food, mulled wine and candles or looking at scenic Nativity cribs.


Festivals are a part of the pageantry of what makes Spain so attractive. Most of the festivals revolve around Labour Day holidays or Patron Saint’s days. Folklore embraces legends of local cultures, music, dance and costumes for old and young. The running of the bulls in Pamplona is world famous but there are many more areas throughout the country where similar events are held. 


Wine tasting and manufacturing gatherings:

With the exception of Italy, Spain is the largest wine-producing nation in the world. France and the USA follow on. The export of wine has been popular since early times, when monks in the monasteries and abbeys discovered the art of distillation and brewing. With famine and plague throughout Europe, water was not safe to drink but turning the water into alcohol was a better prevention rather than a cure. Speaking of Abbeys, the order of the Poor Clare’s was an order of nuns that were founded in the 13th century, in the 15th and 16th centuries the order attracted young widows and spinster noblewomen, each having a sizeable dowry with them when they entered the convent. A shortage of men due to Wars and the demand for sailors left a shortage of husbands. The convents of the Poor Clare’s were to become the richest in Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century during the construction of the Underground Railroad, in Madrid, the remains of some Mercedarian Monks were discovered at one particular location. Not knowing what to do with them the workers gently deposited the remains on the platforms and then covered them with plenty of mortar and thick commercial floor tiles. Be careful as you walk through the stations, ‘You’re being watched by some of these spirits’. 


Madrid and all the major cities and towns in Spain such as Granada, Santander, Bilbao, San San Sabastian and others all have wonderful museums, galleries, libraries, gardens, Cathedrals, churches, restaurants, town centres and squares, beautiful architecture, universities etc. The subway in Madrid is worth a visit to experience the engineering work that went into the design and creativity of the tiered lines on the different levels that’s a city below a city. 


The Canary Islands off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, are Spanish territory and a very popular destination for tourists. Known for the volcanic activity, it has one of the third largest volcanoes in the world measuring 3,700 meters from its base. The film starring Raquel Welch ‘One million years BC’ had some of the scenes filmed on the island of Lanzarote. The average number of tourists visiting here each year is about 3.5 million. The islands in the Mediterranean belonging to Spain are Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca. 


Spain together with Portugal and Greece became members of the European Economic Community in 1986. The EEC as it was called back then, had been founded in 1957 by France, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, in the hope of achieving an end to European wars, especially between France and Germany. Britain, Ireland and Denmark were admitted in 1973. Bringing the total number to twelve states, if you look at the EU flag it has twelve stars on a blue background. Regardless of how many more countries join the EU this will remain its flag. The EEC became known as the European Union in 1993. Tariffs were lifted between member states and the freedom of movement was granted. Through the years, other countries joined, 10 countries joined in 2004 including some from the former eastern Soviet bloc. The total number of countries in the European Union now is 27. Britain voted to leave in 2016. 


Most of the countries within the EU, including Spain, use the Euro as a common currency. The use of the euro has made travel through Europe so much easier. No more changing money as you go from one country to the next. One knows the price of goods compared to one’s home country. There is an old saying attributed to Oscar Wilde ‘he knows the price of everything but the value of nothing’.


The employment industries in Spain are the Automotive sector, Commercial Banking, Finance, Medical technology, Chemical production, Shipbuilding, Textiles, Electronics, Computer Software, farming and wine making and tourism. 


The age of discovery in Spain.

From the early 1400s sailors were encouraged by the monarchies of different European countries to explore the world in search of new lands, products, materials and wealth. Portugal was one of the first nations to begin exploring. Spain followed very quickly and started to conquer and develop new territories for Spain. The Conquistadores, were explorers-soldiers who conquered much of South America, Herman Cortes claimed Mexico, Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru, Balboa got Panama, De Vaca reached Texas. 


Christopher Columbus was born in Italy but went to Spain at an early age, he was a worthy seaman. King Ferdinand II and Isabella I of Spain sponsored him to captain a ship to India via the Atlantic Ocean. There were three ships with a crew of 90 men in total. The trade routes around the cape of Good Hope off the African coast were too dangerous and the routes through the Danube and the Black Sea were no longer safe due to the fall of Constantinople. He believed that the earth was round so if he went west he’d get to India. Heading west however, there was a chunk of land that no one knew of.


Columbus arrived in the Bahamas, marking the first European to discover America in 1492, he returned with wealth in gold and silver, spices, plants, shrubs and trees. He was to make a further three trips before his death in Valladolid, Spain in 1508. Many areas are called after him, including Columbia in South America, British Columbia in Canada, towns, cities, schools and universities. In the 16th and 17th centuries Spain was the largest Empire in the world. 


For those travelling to Spain your suitcase can be lightweight. The temperature in the springtime from April to June are in the low 20 C in summertime July to September is usually around 30 C. The food is exceptional for the tastebuds, the wine is a titivation for the palate and after lunch it’s “siesta” time. Food is worth preparing and waiting for, to eat in a relaxed atmosphere and a time to digest in comfort.


For more information call or email Further Afield Travel and Tours.



Ireland in September

Entry By: 
Joe F.

Here’s a date for your calendar for this year, 15th September 2024, the Signature Tour of Ireland. A country that’s close to many people’s hearts, it’s a land of mystique, intrigue and pageantry. An island hanging on the edge of western Europe. 


A happy new year to you all from Further Afield Travel and Tours for 2024. The company has reached a milestone in business, celebrating its tenth anniversary. Many thanks to you all in helping us to achieve this accolade. Your support, commitment and promotion through the years is appreciated. The team are diligently working with confidence in booking more and more vacations each year.


The island of Ireland is 32,000 sq miles in total, one fifth of which, Northern Ireland is governed by the United Kingdom. The combined population is almost 7 million people. The west coast has to most enchanting scenery. The coast has been shaped and gouged out by Atlantic storms that bombard the island, having crossed 3,000 miles of a turbulent ocean. The multitude of islands off the coast vary in size, Achill island off the Co. Mayo coast is the largest and is steeped in history. The Aran Islands in Galway Bay that struggles to preserve the native language, the Blasket Islands in Kerry, famous for its history of distinctive writers, Rathlin island off the coast of Northern Ireland and its association with Robert de Bruce King of Scotland. There are about 50 other islands that are inhabited, some with only a handful of people each having their own haunting stories and myths. There are others islands that are tiny, not much more than large rocks but they are still recorded in ordnance survey maps as part of Ireland for the purposes of exploration and the rights that may pertain to the findings of such research. Ireland’s international waters extend to a distance of 200 nautical miles. 


The Cliffs of Moher, Slieve League Cliffs, the mountain ranges of Cork, Kerry, Galway, Donegal along the west coast portray themselves as a barrier against the incessant attacks of the elements. The challenges offered to climbers, hill walkers or cyclists is in proportion to one’s ability.


The Signature tour begins in the south west of Ireland in Co. Kerry. You find yourself transported back to prehistoric times, to pagan mythology and a time when humanity was exuberantly linked to the classical elements of water, earth, air, fire and spirit. Hear the stories of fairy ring forts, the fairy trees that are the portal entrance to the underworld, mythical tales of sea creatures, banshees crossing through the peat bogs. Folklore, Leprechauns and Halloween.


As you travel around the countryside you will see the ancient ruins of Castles, Churches, Abbeys, Tower Houses, Monasteries, Manor houses and 18th and 19th century farm buildings. Agriculture lands with dairy cows, beef cattle, flocks of sheep and stud farms. Relish the beauty of fields of barley, wheat, oats and canola (used in the manufacture of cooking oil), these cereals maturing and ripening in their golden colours, their heads nodding in the breeze with the weight of grain, as if to say ‘welcome’ as you pass by. 


Looking back at the history of Ireland and the devastation that the failure of the potato crops that resulted in a Famine that lasted from 1845 to 1852. The population was in excess of 8 million at this time but the numbers of hunger related deaths and mass immigration resulted in the population falling by 50%. The census of 2023 was the first time in 170 years that the population is coming up to what it was back then. 


As you visit the towns and cities you will witness the modernization of the country, with up-market office blocks, apartments, shopping malls and hotels. Buildings that have now become a symbol of modernity in Ireland, housing companies that have their European headquarters here in Ireland. Companies like Intel, Apple, Pfizer, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, PayPal and more including Banking Services, Construction and Engineering works. 


Visiting Northern Ireland and the city of Belfast you are invited to enjoy an area of the island that is now experiencing peace and prosperity instead of warfare which had been an obstacle to growth and investments. Your visits will include the Giant’s Causeway, the Titanic visitors centre, Bushmills Distillery (the oldest licensed distillery in the world), the American Folk Park and the City Hall of Belfast.


Dublin is the capital city and by far the largest city in the country with a population of 1.5 million people. A thriving cosmopolitan city with four universities and many business colleges, and hospital training facilities, the largest commercial sea port in the country, with several passenger crossings each day to Britain. 


Employment in Ireland is stable. Tourism, Education, Computer manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, Technology, Engineering, Farming exports of dairy and beef products, Transportation with the amount of exports. Guinness is one of the largest breweries in the world and very popular as a tourist attraction. The unemployment figure in the Republic of Ireland for 2023 was 4.5% out of a workforce of 2.6 million people.

For a relatively small country, it packs a significant punch in the entertainment sector. Music and dance, film production and location, and a destination for many foreign companies to advertise their products or services. Cruise ships docking in the many ports around the country for 2023 numbered 150.


Some space is still available for that date in September. For further information email or call, Further Afield Travel and Tours or phone 1.844.564.1076







Entry By: 
Joe F.

Going back to our school days, we remember this title by Charles Dickens and the fictional novel based on the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror and all the other grotesque behaviour of the revolutionary forces and the military armies that fought to suppress the revolution. 




A plethora of books, plays, films, musical shows, and school dramas have appeared over the years on the subject of the French Revolution.

Within the last generation these cities have seemed to become much nearer, not only commercially but proximity related. There was a time when going to France was only by boat or ship, then airplanes were taking us there in a few hours, depending on where you flew from, getting connections from wherever. 

The first mention of a tunnel between England and France was in 1802 when a French engineer muted the idea. Towards the end of the 20th century talks had reached an agreement about building this tunnel. The Channel Tunnel began construction in 1988 and the railway line was operating in 1994. We can now travel from London to Paris or vice versa in 2 hours and 15 minutes, departing and arriving at the city centres of each city. The world of invention has by extension made the world a smaller place. 

The Channel Tunnel was the largest project to have been completed in world construction history, a railway line 32 miles (51 kilometres) from Folkestone on the English coast to Calais in France. It’s not one but three tunnels, one going each direction and a service tunnel in between, that’s close to one hundred miles (155 kilometres) in construction.

The project to build the undersea leg began in 1986. Problems appeared from the beginning particularly with safety issues. Financial Investors and stakeholders were concerned, the difficulties were addressed and eventually in 1994 the tunnel began operating. There are 500 undersea train trips a day, at speeds of up to 100 miles (160 kilometres) per hour going through the tunnel. For passengers and freight this has dramatically shortened the travel time between London and Paris. In 2018 the number of passengers that travelled through the Tunnel was 19 million between Britain and France. An extended rail service now runs to Brussels.

Some of the engineering works that went into this ‘Wonder of the World’ such as the ‘Laser-guided tunnel-boring machines’, can be studied as a University thesis in itself.

Let’s go back in history and take a look at London, England. The Roman Empire had achieved in possessing most of Central Europe as we know it today. They invaded England in the 1st century. Sailing up the River Thames they established a settlement which they named Londinium the Latin name for the Roman City, surrounding the area with fortified walls and other medieval boundaries. The city expanded and after all these years the Roman influence can still be seen in England and Wales. The Romans never got to Scotland. The Roman Empire fell in the 5th century and so the Legions were called back to Rome. Most of England’s citizens returned to their old Pagan traditions and beliefs.

Various invaders left their mark on England over the centuries. William the Conqueror ‘The Duke of Normandy’ appointed himself King in 1066 after ’The Battle of Hastings’ and England has been a monarchy ever since. 

Today London is the capital of England, a city with a population of 9 million people covering a huge land mass. London’s influence on the world has been greatly acknowledged. Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens, Politicians and Discoverers have had their names recorded in the annals of history.

London is the commercial hub of Great Britain. Through the ages an Empire was created, explorers left her shores conquering lands and discovering places, examples Australia and islands in the Pacific. With this expansion, citizens from these countries have the right to travel to Britain and London in particular, their right being by way of the Commonwealth. Looking at the wars worldwide that Britain were involved in, the loss of lives resulted in a massive decline in the population, and so people from abroad were needed to populate the country. Today a diverse range of people from different ethnic and social backgrounds make up the demographics and the characteristics of the country. By extension their influence has a remarkable impact, be it in medicine, science, engineering, education, religion, construction and agriculture.

Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire, in England Roman Britain was overseen by a hierarchy of bishops and priests. The status quo of beliefs continued as was in Britain up to the Middle Ages, these dates are in question depending on what you read, events such as the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Christopher Columbus discovering America in 1492 or the Protestant Reformation 1517 are sometimes used. The history of London is interwoven in the expansion of the nation. The seat of power both secular and religious, the Palace of Westminster is seat of parliament, Canterbury Cathedral is the symbolic seat as the worldwide leader of the Anglican Communion who is the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop crowns the Kings and Queens of England, the Cathedral is the burial place of royals, and the Archbishop is next in line to princes in order of importance in England, and Buckingham Palace in London is the home of the Royal Family of England in London.

T.S Eliot wrote the book ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ about Thomas Beckett who was Archbishop of Canterbury in 1170, Henry II argued with Beckett over tax policy, church control of land and the legal rights of the clergy. With his demand ‘Can anyone rid me of this wretched Priest?’ he had his question answered and Beckett was murdered in the Cathedral. Pope Alexander III canonized him to Sainthood where he is venerated by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

Comparing the cities of Paris and London, due to their stance in history and as capitals of conflict and survival is interesting.

Paris the city of love and lovers, of dreams, of art, of fashion and of beauty. All of the aforementioned qualities of the city are used in advertising Paris or a product that one is promoting. World fashion shows, trade displays, tourism events, sports, films and entertainment, if one can get this item exhibited in Paris then they have achieved their dream. 

Paris or London, there’s the choice. Both built on a river. Older cities where you can study the architecture, museums, galleries, churches and cathedrals, there is a myriad of places to go and visit. Markets and restaurants, bars and cafes. The narrow streets of yesteryear, hotels and houses perched on cliff edges, stone paved roads and walkways. These routes that open up to where you can find yourself facing St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Tower of London, the beautiful river Thames, where you can watch University students rowing their boats in preparation for some University or college challenge. The same scene can have you in Paris, a more Romantic setting, walking along the river Seine, where resting in coffee bars, attract you to people watch as couples stroll arm in arm, see the boats bobbing on the water, or the shadow of Notre Dame swallowing up that scenic promenade, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe. Trees enveloping you along the river, to sit in the shade and wonder if the spirits of days gone by are with you. 

Hotels in both cities have each got a charm that compliments your desires, should it be a pre theatre show, a concert or whatever. Choose your hotel from the heart of the city of London the Corinthia, the Sofitel, the Trafalgar or Sonder The Voyage, there’s one for every taste.
In Paris tempt yourself to, The Peninsula Paris, the Grand du Palais Royal, The Dorchester, the Shangri-La Paris. 

What are the reasons to travel? 
Well it takes us out of our comfort zones and inspires us to see, taste and experience new adventures. It constantly challenges us to explore new surroundings, engage with different cultures and people. 



Entry By: 
Joe F.

The Douro River rises in the Sierra da Urbion in northern Spain. It flows west through Spain then meanders south creating the border between Spain and Portugal before flowing west again and entering the Atlantic Ocean at Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. The Douro translate as the 'river of gold'. When cruising on the river in the twilight of the evening, the sun's reflection on the water explains why this is so called. 




The Douro River valley is the birthplace of Port Wine, that’s now internationally recognized. The Rabelo boats that can be seen on the river are a flat bottom boat that were historically used to ferry barrels of Port Wine to the city of Porto. 

Portugal has a microclimate with hot summers and cold winters, the slate rich soil creates an ideal agricultural environment for the cultivation of grapes. The geographical contours of the country is a kaleidoscope of colour, mountains ranging in scale from 2,350 to 900 meters gives this shadow of protection to the region. Springtime has the vineyards coming to life then the grapes are appearing green and dark, as they ripen. Watch the protection nets hanging from the rows of vines. Decks of vineyards on the slopes give that tiered effect to help drainage and prevent landslides. For a country its size, Portuguese wine is very popular in the world ranking of wines. 

The Douro river has undergone extensive development and changes throughout the 20th century. With the steep gradients and rocky terrain, dams and locks have governed the flow of water. Hydroelectric power stations have been built, you experience the thrill of going through the deepest Lock in Europe. Built in the 1960s it was the first dam on the Douro; the rise of the water is 35 metres, the dam is 85 meters long and 12 metres wide. A number of power stations have been built, while reducing the need for fossil fuels somewhat, these dams have a restriction on the flooding that the valley’s were prone too this in turn has given farmers a steadier income. 

Travelling on the cruise ships that traverse the Douro, we get to see Portugal from that beautiful perspective of the water. No seasickness, (for anyone prone to it), docked beside the towns and cities that we visit. Meeting the local people, tasting their produce, packing and unpacking once. The safety and knowledge of being only a phone call away should one need medical attention.

Written By Joe Fahy