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Trip Report Ireland and Scotland : 2014 Trip Report

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We returned last week from a 16-day trip of Ireland and Scotland. Both countries had beckoned us for quite a while. Having done most of the other Western European countries on previous vacations, we decided to plunge into Ireland and Scotland this time. It was our first visit to either place, having only been to London a few times earlier. We are a couple from India in our mid-50’s, avid travelers of the independent variety, and vegetarians – which does limit our fooding choices somewhat.

Our research began many months earlier. Most posts on this forum seemed to recommend May as the ideal month to travel to both these destinations, so we selected May. We went through the Lonely Planet guidebooks on both regions, read many posts on this forum, and asked various questions, which were duly answered. I love the planning part of any vacation ! It is as much fun as the vacation itself.

Our broad itinerary was as follows :
Dublin : 1 night
Kilkenny : 1 night
Killarney : 3 nights
Galway : 2 nights
Glencoe : 2 nights
Portree : 3 nights
Callander : 1 night
Edinburgh : 2 nights

Here goes the Trip Report, to be posted in several installments.

Day 1: May 10th : Saturday :
We had a 2 am flight from Mumbai to Brussels, with an onward connection to Dublin. We arrived at Mumbai airport by 11pm, only to be told that our Jet Airways flight to Brussels was delayed by an hour. However, by the time they completed boarding and took off, it was late by 2.5 hours. We eventually reached Brussels at 9:15am (instead of 7:50am), after a restful sleep on the flight. By the time we could de-plane it was 9:45am, and our onward Aer Lingus flight was to depart at 10:05 am. We literally ran from one gate to another, and were lucky to be the last people to board the aircraft before they shut the doors.

Reached Dublin at 10:35am local time, and not surprisingly, our luggage did not show up on the belt. With such a tight connection, we were afraid that this might happen. When we went to the Aer Lingus service desk, they confirmed that our luggage had been left behind at Brussels, and would show up on the same flight next day, i.e. 24 hours later. This has happened to us before on an earlier vacation in Spain, and since then we always carry one set of clothes in our hand-baggage. There was not much to do but complete the paperwork, purchase a 1-day family bus pass, and board the Bus # 16 to our B&B at Shantalla Road. We reached there in 15 minutes by around noon, and found our Shantalla Lodge B&B without difficulty.

There was no one there, so we called up our hostess. She was across the road, get her hair styled. She ran across, showed us to our room, and ran back to complete her hair-work ! Felt strange to be treated as such. The room was a bit tiny, but otherwise everything seemed fine with the place. We showered, changed into the only set of clothes that we had, and boarded the Bus # 16 again, going into Dublin city. We alighted near the Temple Bar area, and went straight for lunch at Govinda’s restaurant on Aungier Street. I had a mixed platter of veg food, while my wife went for roasted potatoes with cheese. Good juices to go with the food. Decent meal in all.

It was a cold, windy and wet day. Most of our rain protective gear and warm clothes were in the missing suitcases, so we were not in the most comfortable situation. We ducked for cover in the Stephen Green Shopping Centre, to bide our time away from the rain. It was a lovely antique building, and we window-shopped around. When the rain stopped, we strolled down Grafton Street, poking into shops here and there. Very soon we were at the gates of Trinity College. They offer walking tours of the Trinity College, for a nominal charge which includes the entry to the Book of Kells, and a tour was starting soon. So we opted for the tour, which turned out to be delightful. It was extremely well conducted by a current student of the college, with witty remarks and good humour, and we were comprehensively taken around the beautiful campus, including to their Long Room library which houses the Book of Kells.

After being done with Trinity College, we took a taxi to nearby Abbey Street, where my wife insisted on visiting a Hare Krishna temple located there. That accomplished, we walked back towards the Temple Bar area, crossing over the river vide the Ha’Penny Bridge. Had lovely juices on the way in a Juice Bar.

At the Temple Bar area, we headed for the famed Stag Head pub. It was a bit early, but the crowds had started piling in. It was a loud pub, with fun-loving folks crammed inside. Had a round of Guiness beer. Then strolled out and enjoyed the music being belted out in the streets. Next into another pub for another round of Guiness. Finally, the jet-lag began to show on us, and we took the Bus # 16 back to our B&B, returning by 7pm. We were still feeling full due to the late lunch, so we decided to skip dinner, and crashed into bed by 8 pm.

We were not too enthused with Dublin. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe the disappointment of the missing luggage. It was not the best start to the holiday !

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