New England, new experience

New England, new experience
Downtown Boston, including the Skydeck observatory and the Hancock tower. Picture credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Cork's new transatlantic flights are proving to be a hit with Corkonians and Americans alike. Kevin O'Neill looks at the new route and what Cork's holidaymakers might find if they head to New England.

THOUSANDS of people have already travelled between Cork and Providence as the new transatlantic flights enjoy a successful take-off.

The historic new flights have been in operation for almost a fortnight, with three flights per week departing Cork to bring passengers to TF Green Airport in Providence.

Just minutes from the centre of Providence and approximately 90 minutes from downtown Boston, the airport has been hailed as 'ideally located' for eager travellers looking to explore the picturesque New England area on the north-east coast of the United States.

Most of the first flights from Cork were sold out, including the packed inaugural flight, which took off on July 1.

And, crucially for tourism operators in Cork city and county, the favour is being returned, as many inbound flights are at or near capacity too.

It is a further boost for hotel and tourism operators on Leeside, who are seeing an even further spike in business as the holiday season ramps up.

Hundreds of American tourists are landing in Cork each week, taking advantage of the region's gateway to both the Ancient East and Wild Atlantic Way.

And, for their part, operators Norwegian Airlines are pushing the new routes stateside.

Boston's South Station, the largest transport hub in Massachusetts, is just one of a number of major areas decked out in Norwegian branding, advertising new routes from Providence to Shannon, Dublin, Edinburgh and, of course, Cork.

Officials at Cork Airport have welcomed the strong start, which has contributed to the further growing passenger numbers at the facility.

Last year saw passenger numbers soar by a whopping 8%, with more than 2.2 million passengers passing through the airport.

While airport officials have kept quiet with predictions this year, they have indicated that the addition of new routes to the US and Europe will lead to an even further increase.

Kevin Cullinane, head of communications at Cork Airport, said that there has been a very positive start for the new connection.

"There has been a really strong start to the new transatlantic route service from Cork, with thousands of seats already sold on both sides of the Atlantic," he said.

"This heralds fantastic news for local tourism as we can look forward to a busy summer of holidaymakers flying in from the US, as well as people flying out to explore New England for the first time."

Mr Cullinane added that there is still time for Corkonians to get good deals on the new transatlantic routes, despite the early rush to snap up bargain seats.

"There is still plenty of great value available right through to the end of the year, with fares as low as €220 return, so there is really no better time to plan an affordable trip across the Atlantic direct from Cork for the first time."

It is no surprise to see the New England area proving a hit with Corkonians, though.

Providence is ideally placed at the heart of the picturesque region, which includes tourist hotspots like Nantucket, Cape Cod and Newport, while Providence itself has been hailed as one of the US' most exciting up-and-coming cities.

Martha's Vinyard, Salem and Plymouth County are just some of the other areas calling out for Cork's holidaymakers, offering everything from wine and beer tours to seafood, golf, whale watching and many of the world's best universities.

However, for many Cork people looking stateside, it was the promise of Boston that caught the eye.

And, while there was some minor disappointment that the flights ended up landing in Providence and not Logan International, Boston remains very easily accessible.

Less than 90 minutes from TF Green on public transport, the city ticks the boxes for history buffs, foodies and more.

Vast green areas dominate the city centre, including half a dozen major college campuses, a number of public gardens, the famous Boston Common and the riverside esplanade.

The latter, which makes up part of a 29km route along the Charles River, is hugely popular with locals, in particular cyclists and joggers.

On July 4, it is home to what is reported to be America's biggest celebration of independence, with more than 500,000 people cramming in to the area to catch the fireworks celebration and live music from the Boston Pops Orchestra.

It adds up, though. The history of the United States really is the history of Boston: Paul Revere, Bunker Hill, Sam Adams, the tea party - it all started here and the signs are everywhere.

On the 4th, the streets are literally lined with red, white and blue confetti, with every man, woman and child carrying a flag of some shape or size.

In terms of food and drink, Boston has something for everyone.

A word of warning, though - it is not cheap. It is no more expensive than Chicago, New York or San Francisco, but don't expect too much change after dinner.

The city has one of the biggest Italian communities outside Italy in its North End, which is dominated by pasta, pastry and pizza places, while coffee shops dot the streets.

If you can see past Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, there is plenty to discover.

Elsewhere, seafood dominates the menu, with New England favourites like lobster, chowder, crab and oysters on offer everywhere.

This includes some of the US' favourite restaurants, including the Atlantic Fish Company and the Union Oyster House, which was a favourite of John F Kennedy and has hosted the likes of Barrack Obama in recent months.

Local brews like Sam Adams and Harpoon accompany every meal.

In terms of tourist attractions, there is more than enough to keep even the most ardent tourist occupied.

The sky deck is as good a start as anywhere: an eagle-eye view of the city from some 750 feet, you can see right into the west of Massachusetts on a clear day.

Pick out the picturesque Beacon Hill, Back Bay and Boston Common from above before checking them out on foot.

Fenway Park, too, is worth a visit. The home of the Boston Red Sox, it is America's oldest ballpark and unique in every sense: shape, size and heritage.

If nothing else, it is worth a look just to hear all about the Curse of the Bambino and the end of an 80+ year hoodoo just over a decade ago, which saw the Red Sox finally win the World Series.

Top it off with the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walk through Boston's history, including the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill and the State House.

As for travel, the city is very walkable. Even the most distant tourist attractions are barely an hour apart, though the public transport network is very reliable for the longer trips.

Uber is very prominent, too, with most journeys coming in under $10 as the city is so compact.

If you want to base yourself centrally, check out the Back Bay, a meandering neighbourhood of bars, restaurants and retail, with dozens of hotels to choose from.

It isn't hard to see why there has been such a flurry of interest from those on Leeside.

See www.massholiday.ie

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