Prior to departure from the United States for Ireland, our preparatory plan included tips for airfare, luggage, and money. Planning and budgeting in advance has allowed my family to experience the land of 100,000 welcomes without sacrifice. Once in Ireland, we had a focused itinerary with pre-paid tours, meals, accommodations and built-in down time. Here are a few more tips from our trip to Ireland…
PREPPING Planning for our trip began eight months in advance by pouring over the internet, purchasing travel books, maps and questioning friends who had traveled to Ireland. We each decided upon a “must see” which, in turn, helped us plan an itinerary and determine transportation needs. We visited a travel agent once we knew what we wanted. We saved by purchasing tours online, giving us a focused itinerary at a discount. Of course our tours included tourist hot spots:
- County Antrim, Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones film locations;
- Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary;
- Dingle Peninsula, from County Kerry; and
- Cliffs of Moher and Inis Oírr (Inisheer) of Doolin, County Clare and the Aran Islands.
TRANSPORTATION We splurged on a taxi from the airport to our first hotel, to a 6:30 AM tour bus stop and to the airport for a 5:30 AM departure. But mostly we walked or used the local hop-on-off bus. As we left Dublin, we rented a van. Navigating out of the city was a white knuckle experience for our son-in-law. Opposite side steering wheel and street, roundabouts, passing on the left, very small roadways, cattle crossings, car parks with height restrictions (which meant finding on-street parking), a manual gear shift and Gaelic road signs took some getting used to. By mid-week he was a confident roundabout expert, questioning other driver’s qualifications. LOL.
FOOD It goes without saying that hotel restaurants are more pricey. Our hotel accommodations included complimentary full Irish breakfasts. We mostly ate in the pubs; sometimes skipping a meal because we weren’t hungry. Guinness pie, Irish stew, shepherd pie, seafood gumbo and brown bread can be quite filling. Plus, there is no cover to listen to the trad musicians! Once we even ordered breakfast bags “to-go” and a lunch picnic basket.
LAUNDRY We brought light-weight, easy to pack travel clothes (i.e. Eddie Bauer, Columbia, Under Armor) in a carry-on and a backpack each, planning to wash our clothes mid-trip. We washed our clothing in the hotel sink and bathtub, hanging them in the shower to dry overnight. Mostly dry by morning, some items took two days to completely dry. One daughter chose an outdoor coin-operated launderette which charged €8 per pound. Hotels charged €2-3 for t-shirts and €5-9 for jeans. The differences were time and money… save money, spend time or spend money, save time.
FÁILTE! Welcome! The Irish are a friendly, out going people ready with clever wit and conversation and opinion. We conversed and bantered easily in cosmopolitan Dublin, Belfast and Cork. On the western coast we had a little difficulty understanding the different dialects, idioms and county accents. Stíofán (SHTEE fawn), a truly friendly and happy Inis Oírr (Inisheer) bloke translated much of his island’s Gaelic for us, stating that the islanders only speak English for the tourists. Wherever we went, no one seemed to mind when asked them to repeat themselves. They’d respond with a friendly, “So, where are you from?” and the conversation would begin.
All in all, what an experience to share with my family! We are back in the United States, tired and happy. I can’t wait to share about some of our experiences. Stay tuned!
Travel Tips for Ireland , part 1
Hope you have a good week! — Joanne