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Author Topic: Ireland  (Read 4722 times)
Bree
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« Topic Start: January 05, 2008, 01:17:48 pm »

Happy New Year to All, and a Splendid 2008  Grin

Hubby and I are planning a trip to Ireland this year, before we settle down to have a family.  I  bought Fodor's Ireland 2008 guide yesterday, but haven't read much beyond the first few pages.

 Has anyone on here been to Ireland?  Can you recommend some places we must see while there? I want to see some of the regular tourist traps (Book of Kells, various castles, Tara) but would also like to wander off the beaten path. 

Anything you can think of about traveling to Ireland would be helpful. Neither of us has been outside the USA, or travelled very much.  This will also be our first time flying.

And I have a strange question to ask (half jokingly). I have a very pronounced Southern accent.  Am I going to be asked to repeat things over and over for their amusement?  (It was a favorite pastime of my friends in college. Even though we were right outside Nashville, people here still think my accent is a bit strong) 
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« Reply #1: January 05, 2008, 05:36:01 pm »

I'm afraid all I know of Ireland comes from my father and my grandparents. I can only tell you that the Ring of Kerry's nice, and I'd suggest learning at least a little Irish before you go, especially going into a Gaeltacht region, naturally.
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« Reply #2: January 05, 2008, 07:18:00 pm »


Saxnot, please read our rules on quoting.  You're required to quote, even if it's only the tag (like at the top of my post) so we can trace messages back.

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Jessica A
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« Reply #3: January 05, 2008, 07:23:00 pm »

Happy New Year to All, and a Splendid 2008  Grin


brelan,

Thank you, Happy New Year Greeting to us, and etc.

Nope, but always had an interesting in Ireland even though I'm not of Irish descent.

Can't wait for further details this of course.
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« Reply #4: January 05, 2008, 09:43:03 pm »

Has anyone on here been to Ireland? 
*snip*
Anything you can think of about traveling to Ireland would be helpful.

I've been.  Amazing, beautiful, interesting place and the perfect destination for your first international trip.  As a general rule, the people are very warm and friendly and you'll have no trouble being understood (even with an accent!).  The standard guidebooks like Fodors are ok; I prefer ones like Lonely Planet and Rick Steves for slightly more off the beaten path advice. If you want a tourism book on Ireland that you'll keep forever, Eyewitness Travel Guide to Ireland is it... amazing photos, illustrations, nature, culture, politics, history, and practical advice.

Neither of us has been outside the USA, or travelled very much.  This will also be our first time flying.

The flight is going to probably be long and a bit uncomfortable, especially if you've never flown before.  Most flights are overnight, so you'll most likely end up sleeping in your seat (or trying to!). I highly recommend one of those silly looking U-shaped pillows that go around your neck for the flight.  Further flight advice: bring either really thick fuzzy socks or slippers to put on once you're in the air (much more comfortable than regular shoes when you're spending 8-10 hours in a pressurized cabin), dress in layers, and avoid the temptation to drink anything but water (very dry air, easy to get dehydrated and caffeine and alcohol in flight generally don't help with jet lag).

Can you recommend some places we must see while there? I want to see some of the regular tourist traps (Book of Kells, various castles, Tara) but would also like to wander off the beaten path. 

Ireland thrives on tourism, so there are probably more "tourist traps" than people.  However, even the tourist traps can be wonderful experiences and are generally much less annoying than American tourist traps like Disney and Vegas.   Against my better judgement, I went to Blarney Castle, which may possibly be the biggest tourist trap in the entire country.  The grounds were stunning (visited in May, everything was in bloom) and the place itself has an amazing energy and feel to it.  I ended up loving the place.

Must see recommendations depend largely on where you plan to stay and what your interests are (historical periods? nature? pubs? museums? literature? people watching? silly but fun tourist things? spiritual sights? off beat, strange and unusual?).  I spent time in Dublin and Cork/SW Ireland (Kinsale, Cobh, and environs), so I might be able to help you with those places.
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Bree
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« Reply #5: January 06, 2008, 08:51:03 am »


Must see recommendations depend largely on where you plan to stay and what your interests are (historical periods? nature? pubs? museums? literature? people watching? silly but fun tourist things? spiritual sights? off beat, strange and unusual?).  I spent time in Dublin and Cork/SW Ireland (Kinsale, Cobh, and environs), so I might be able to help you with those places.

Aisling~

I'm very interested in historical, nature, spiritual, and off beat/strange/unusual.  We obviously want to hit a pub or two, cause, hey, you can't go to Ireland and not go to a pub. That'd be like going to Memphis and not going to Graceland  Grin     

That really didn't narrow it down much for you did it? Sorry. When I go on vacation, I want to see everything.  And I've wanted to go to Ireland for as long as I can remember.  Drives my husband crazy.

Also, would you recommend going as part of a group or by ourselves?  We're leaning towards going alone and renting a car so we can take detours as they strike our fancy.  We both like photography, so we will be taking tons of pictures.
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« Reply #6: January 06, 2008, 10:41:45 am »

Also, would you recommend going as part of a group or by ourselves?  We're leaning towards going alone and renting a car so we can take detours as they strike our fancy.  We both like photography, so we will be taking tons of pictures.

As someone who has traveled a lot, though not to Ireland I am afraid, I always recommend traveling by yourselves. And since you said in a recent post that you are interested in the 'off beat' then I would doubly recommend this. Groups are all fair and well, but it is when traveling by yourselves that you find the wonderful little gems of places that you would never have been taken to by a tour group.
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Jessica A
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« Reply #7: January 06, 2008, 11:44:17 am »

As someone who has traveled a lot, though not to Ireland I am afraid, I always recommend traveling by yourselves. And since you said in a recent post that you are interested in the 'off beat' then I would doubly recommend this. Groups are all fair and well, but it is when traveling by yourselves that you find the wonderful little gems of places that you would never have been taken to by a tour group.

brelan,

On the fence to Fae's response on this.  One hand its good to travel with a group because you make friends as well.  On another hand its good to travel by yourselves because you aren't attach to a group or its schedule. 

Think thats it for now.
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« Reply #8: January 06, 2008, 12:16:59 pm »

brelan,

On the fence to Fae's response on this.  One hand its good to travel with a group because you make friends as well.  On another hand its good to travel by yourselves because you aren't attach to a group or its schedule. 

Think thats it for now.

I tend to find that when traveling alone or in a pair I pick up at least as many friends as if I were traveling in a group and those friends are not limited by who happens to be in my group. Indeed, I often find that I end up traveling with others, who I pick up along the way and then we split and I end up traveling with a different group of people. But then again, I almost always do low cost/backpacking style trips and the hostel/etc. culture is very helpful in this friend making process.
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Aisling
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« Reply #9: January 06, 2008, 01:52:40 pm »

I'm very interested in historical, nature, spiritual, and off beat/strange/unusual. 
*snip*
That really didn't narrow it down much for you did it? Sorry. When I go on vacation, I want to see everything

 Cheesy You sound exactly like I did when I was planning my trip.  A word of caution, be very selective in your "must-dos" and be very flexible in your plans.  For a week's trip I'd pick two or three must-sees and then keep your schedule open to opportunities that may present themselves.  Otherwise, you're liable to wear yourself out within a couple days of arrival. 

I'll limit my recommendations to Dublin and environs for now.

First stop:
Dublin's Tourism office if you need maps, info, advice or to book tours (also cute, kitchy shopping!)

Historic:
General overview - the National Museum of Ireland
Neolithic - Newgrange and the Brú na Bóinne complex (near Dublin, easy to get tour bus to there via Tourism office)
Medieval Monastic History - Of course, the Book of Kells at Trinity College.  Head down to Glendalough to see monastic ruins, classic round-tower, and just a lovely place (in heart of Wicklow Mountains).  Easiest to take a day tour, most of which will take you on a brief Dublin tour first, visit Avoca Handweavers, visit Glendalough, and then take you through the beautiful mountain scenery on the return (usually while playing Enya). 
1916 Uprising - GPO that was the headquarters for rebels; also Kilmainham jail

Nature:
Parks - St. Stephen's Green, lovely landscaping, great place for people watching & making new friends
Wicklow Mountains - interesting and beautiful (see above regarding Glendalough)

Spiritual Places:
Ancient - See Newgrange above
More Recent- St Patrick's Church is interesting historically and architecturally (also, if you're a fan of literature, Johnathan Swift is buried here).

Off-beat/strange/Unusual (didn't get to either of these, but heard raves):
Viking Splash tours- Campy, silly, but they look highly entertaining.
St. Michan's Church - There be mummies in Dublin. Smiley It doesn't get much more unusual than this.

Food/Drink:
Irish Food - Gallagher's Boxty House in Temple Bar neighborhood
Pub - The Stag's Head Dame St; as authentic urban Irish pub as it gets.

Also, would you recommend going as part of a group or by ourselves? 

Seconding Kasmira's comments. I highly recommend going solo as far as getting there, accommodations, etc.  Packages that basically herd you from hotel to destination to next hotel give you very little opportunity to meet people or to experience things less ordinary.  However, half-day and day long group tours that can be booked through the tourism office can be your friend (leaves the driving to someone else, covers a lot of ground, and lets you meet other travellers). 

We're leaning towards going alone and renting a car so we can take detours as they strike our fancy. 

Driving in Ireland can be tricky.  Key things to keep in mind: driving on the left, very curvy narrow roads,  roundabouts (traffic circles), manual transmissions, gas at $6+/gallon (that's in US currency), parking nightmares in towns,  average speeds of 40 mph cross country, and the highest traffic accident rates in Europe.  On the positive side: you can go as far off the beaten path as you want and renting a car there doesn't take much more than a credit card and a valid US driver's license.  Warning: A rental car is actually going to be a hindrance in Dublin itself (or in any larger city).  Your best bet may be to rely on public transport around and getting out of Dublin and then, if you're still inclined to rent a car, do it in a much smaller city or town. 

I was travelling solo and didn't rent a car, because it was actually less expensive for me to use public transport.  Relying strictly on public forms of transport, day tours, and my own two feet, I was able to see so much that I found myself having to pick and choose activities.  Made "base-camp" in Cork for a few days and then in Dublin for a couple more, but even staying in urban areas, I was still able to see very beautiful countryside along the way. Pictures here are not the best, as camera was trying to die as slow and painful death. 

In short, I'm strongly recommending that you not rent a car on your first international trip.  At least wait until you've had the pleasure of riding in a cab in Dublin and seeing what the traffic is like firsthand before making your decision. What sounds good in theory may be very stressful and annoying in practice.  Wink
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phoukamare
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« Reply #10: January 06, 2008, 02:06:12 pm »


I second what Aisling has said. I haven't been to Ireland since 1989, but check and see if the rail/bus pass is still offered. I got it for $135 (of course price may have changed) US. I got it here in the US and it was good for 21 days of public travel in Ireland. It's like a Eurorail pass.

The other thing I remember is that EVERYTHING was more expensive than I thought. Check the exchange rates. Back then one Irish pound was $1.55 US.

If you stay in Dublin, I recommend The Phoenix House B&B. It's near Phoenix Park and a lovely place. Overall, I loved staying at B&B's. A little less expensive than Hotels. Oh, one thing: B&B usually aren't 'en suite'. Which means that the bathroom is down the hall and you share.

A bathroom is for bathing usually...if you want a toilet, ask for one or a WC or Loo. I don't know if it's changed over the years, but when I was there, I switched to tea in the morning instead of coffee because the coffee was instant and yucky.

Phouka
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Kasmira
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« Reply #11: January 06, 2008, 02:22:01 pm »


Oh yes, I definitely second the public transport instead of a car suggestion. Not least because driving in Ireland as an American driver will be 'interesting' to say the least, but also because public transport is simply less expensive and more convenient than driving. It gets you into the center of cities without the hassle of traffic jams and as a bonus you meet interesting people and learn about great places to go from those you sit next to on the bus/train. European public transport is a world apart from what I have found in the USA since moving here.
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« Reply #12: January 06, 2008, 03:31:32 pm »

European public transport is a world apart from what I have found in the USA since moving here.

This is an excellent point.  Europe isn't as car/road trip oriented as the States and public transportation there is overall very good, convenient, and relatively inexpensive.  It can also be faster than car travel.  Example, taking the train from Dublin to Cork with stops between takes under 3 hours.  Driving takes about an hour longer, assuming you know how to get there and there are no stops on the way.  Another advantage is that gives you down time that you don't get while driving... and down-time while travelling is a very good thing. 

Another point that I meant to mention is that driving trips in foreign countries can be very taxing on relationships.  It's a practicality that a lot of people overlook.  Travel is stressful... you're often tired, trying to adjust to a different culture, excited about the adventure, and prone to overdoing it.  Rental cars add a new dimension of stress, because you're often learning the rules and etiquette of the road in a trial by fire method- grappling with strange street signs, different traffic patterns, directions that aren't always helpful, and unusual obstacles (sheep on country roads are pretty much standard operating procedure). 

For everyone but the most patient among us, these stresses can cause friction with our fellow travelers. Unlike other modes of transportation where you can get up and move around, you're stuck in your seat if things get tense when travelling by car. Some people handle it well and others... well, I defer at this point to the movie National Lampoon's European Vacation - the scene in which they're stuck in the traffic circle in London.  Grin
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« Reply #13: January 06, 2008, 10:10:30 pm »



Thank you.  I hadn't really considered the "stress to relationships" angle.  He makes me nervous now; I'm pretty sure murder, or at least screaming, would ensue should we sideswipe a hapless sheep in the Irish countryside.  Public transportation didn't really enter my mind, because we don't really have much of it here.

**makes notes in journal: "What Not To Do in Ireland"**
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« Reply #14: January 06, 2008, 10:16:34 pm »


Thank you very much for the suggestions.  I'm going to save them to my soon-to-be-created "Ireland" file.

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