More Travel Tips for Ireland

Prior to departure from the United States for Ireland, our preparatory plan included tips for airfare, luggage, and moneyPlanning 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:

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Giant’s Causeway (& my reckless kids)

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.

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road_sign

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. 

washing clothes

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. 

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Friendly Stíofán of Inis Orr

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

 

Travel Tips for Ireland

Ourselves, daughters, son-in-law and grandson are off to Ireland, the Land of 100,000 Welcomes! We’re celebrating life, family and our 37th anniversary; just to name a few. We did our homework on budgeting and travel tips…

AIRFARE  I truly despise flying international “economy” – but we are a party of seven ($$$). Since Ireland is not as far a distance from the United States east coast as some destinations, it was bearable. We saved quite a bit with airfare purchased with Wednesday departures.

LUGGAGE  We are traveling light.  Our daughters were slightly taken aback upon learning that we’d be traveling light with one carry-on and a backpack, each. No hairdryer? (Audible gasp). 😄This allowed us a quick Customs Check as we were able to skip the sleepy wait at baggage claim, avoid long taxi lines and (with Day 3 now upon us), happy that we’re not lugging around suitcases. We’ll need to visit a laundromat at the half point.

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MONEY  Before leaving home we made sure our credit and ATM cards would work abroad and purchased €300 before departing (for airport snacks and taxi). This way we’re not carrying around a large sum. We will pay as we go, avoiding bringing too much unusable pounds or euros back home.

Another budget-wise decision was to eat in the pubs. Oye! Out to bust the “Picky American” moniker we are willing to give everything (even black pudding) a try. 😬LOL.

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seafood chowder

SITE-SEEING Taxis are an expensive way to site-see. Dublin has a guided  “hop on off” bus tour for €19 that is well worth the cost. We are getting an awesome experience by walking the local streets and slipping into small shops, bakeries and pubs. The locals are so friendly!

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Saint Patrick’s

My hope is to timely journal our travels throughout Ireland via this blog throughout images and video. On my mobile. We’ll see. 😉

More Travel Tips for Ireland, part 2

Have a good week! – – Joanne 

 

Crabtree Falls and the Brew Ridge Parkway

A much needed sojourn to the Blue Ridge Mountains was in order. Three days with no real plans – no internet and no mobiles – but pack extra quilts and plenty of wine and cheese. 🙂 A last Winter hurrah. 

Day 1: Arriving in the afternoon, we puttered around the cabin located next to the rumbling Tye River. Dinner was a steaming pot of chili and cornbread washed down with 3-Buck Chuck wine and Coors beer while settling in with a Harry Potter DVD marathon.

Tye River. © 2016 AccuWeather.

Tye River. © 2016 AccuWeather.

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Maritime Forest Bald Cypress Trail

George, Phoebe Darling and I hiked the Bald Cypress Trail in First Landing State Park during the quiet wee hours of a recent Saturday morning.

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This trail lies inside an old maritime forest full of bald cypress swamps, lagoons, rare plants and wildlife. The Smithsonian Marine Station defines maritime forests as “narrow bands of forest that develop almost exclusively on stabilized back dunes of barrier islands, inland of primary dunes and scrub.” Maritime forests occur along the Atlantic coast of the United States.

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She Sells Seashells

As far back as I can remember my extended family (mother’s side) spent summers visiting North Carolina’s barrier islands. Carefree days running barefoot, rolling down sand dunes, poking sticks into sand fiddler holes, peddle-pushers and sun-bleached hair.

CRabbing Cousins, (c)1970

Crabbing Cousins, (c)1970

A few of us met up a week ago, jump-starting another summer. 🙂  It was lovely: sleeping in, dining alfresco, jacket weather, beachcombing, quiet.  Alas, requisite “progress” has invaded. Yet, there is still a salty beauty: seagulls screaming, waves crashing, relentless sun, hot sand, shady porches. Give me a sun-faded cedar-shingled vintage cottage every day.

Nags Head, NC

Kill Devil HIlls

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Crabtree Falls Under March Snow

Isn’t spring great? We just returned from a trip to northern Virginia to visit Old Lucketts Store. Yep, THAT Lucketts you’ve seen in Country Living, Flea Market Decor and Southern Living magazines. But, I wanted to share a few end-of-March photos from our recent stay in a tiny log cabin – which was precipitated by my sister’s desire for sunrise photographs of Crabtree Falls located in the George Washington National Forest, just after a snowfall. 

CRabtree Falls is somewhere up there!

Crabtree Falls is up there somewhere!

Crabtree Falls is considered the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. We made the vertical climb in the summer heat, with multiple breaks to catch our breath about two years ago.

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