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Ireland, London & Paris in 16 days

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Hey y'all,

My wife and and have been really wanting to go to Europe for quite a while and next year is looking like its finally happening the last week of April and first week of May in 2014. We are excited about it and because of how expensive flights are and how difficult it is for us to get a couple of weeks off with work, we are planning on packing Ireland, London and Paris into 2 weeks. We have 17 days, 2 of which will e almost completely eaten up by flights and leaving us 15 real travel days. We have an open jaw flight into Dublin (from Arkansas) and back home via Paris. We plan on renting a car through Ireland as neither of us care for the bus route very much at all.

I was told it was a bit, uh, ambitious and robust so i tried to scale back a bit, but it's hard to cut things out. I know it looks like a sprint though Ireland and I don't think the full 2 weeks would be enough for all Ireland can offer, but we are short of travel funds and time and we are mid-20's and don't mind long days. I tried to estimate how much driving may be for each day. This is what we have tried to game plan for so far:

Day 1 (Arrival):

Explore Dublin
- Tour St Patrick's cathedral
- St Stephen's greens
- Grafton street shopping
- Tour Guinness storehouse
- Explore Temple bar market

Day 2: 2.5 hours of driving

Rent car and Drive towards Cork
- See Blarney Castle & Blarney Stone
- Explore Cork
- Stop at Rock of Cashel

Day 3: 3.5 hours of driving + time on Ring of Kerry

- Drive the Ring of Kerry to see views an countryside and take Skellig Michael tour
Stop at Killarney for the night

Day 4: 1.5 hours of driving

- Hike the Gap of Dunloe
- Explore Killarney
Stay the night at Limerick

Day 5: 2 hours of driving

Drive to Shannon - check into hotel
- Drive through the Burren to Doolin to see Doolin (music town & caves), Cliffs of Moher & O'Brien's tower
- Drive back to Shannon for Bunratty Palace Banquet

Day 6 (Departure):

Fly to London
Check in to hotel
Free day

Day 7:

Explore London
Big Ben & House of Parliament
Westminster Abbey
Buckingham Palace for changing of the guards

And whatever we can it in of -
St James Palace
Harrod's
Natural History Museum
Royal Albert Hall & Albert Memorial to
Kensington Gardens & Palace

Day 8:

Explore London
Piccadilly Circus for shopping
Oxford Street
British Museum
Covent Gardens
Royal Opera House

Day 9:

Explore London
Temple Bar & Temple Church
St Paul's Cathedral
Tower of London
Tower Bridge
Tate Modern & Global Theatre art galleries
London eye

Day 10 (Departure):

Free Morning
Take Eurostar to Paris
Free afternoon and night in Paris

Day 11:

Walk Champs-Élysées
Arc de Triomphe
Ile St Louis area
Musee d'Orsay - quick visit as we aren't huge art fans
Siene river cruise tour
Montmartre area
Basilique de Sacre Couer


Day 12:

The Louvre
Quays of Siene
Ile de la Cite
Notre dame
Eiffel Tower


Day 13:

Day trip to Versailles
Night in Paris
Opera de Paris at Palais Garnier


Day 14:

Day trip to Orleans (Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley) or Champagne region (Provins) or Burgundy region or
Giverny (Monet house and gardens) or Chartres or
Fontainebleau

Spend Night in Paris

Day 15:

Free day in Paris

Day 16 (Departure):

Fly home

I would love any tips and/or advice on this itinerary, including on the best way to fill any gaps or free days (they'll fill up quick, I'm sure) and if we should spend the full extra day hiking in Killarney (Day 4) or elsewhere through Ireland. Thats the 1st big request.

The second part is budgeting for this trip...which seems to be a nightmare. I've tried to research online quite a bit. I figured our open jaw flight flight cost at $1,000, a one way flight from Shannon to London via Aer Lingus around $70, and the Eurostar from London to Paris at $90, all per person of course. I rounded that up to $1,300 per person for any extras and for taxes, etc. Also, I saw rental car for the time in Ireland for around $400.

I also am guessing at lodging for Ireland averaging a little over $100/night. I know there cheaper B&B's and hostels but we both wanted nice enough rooms that when we head to bed at night we still feel like we are one vacation, in our room that feels like Ireland and not any plain 2 star hotel room that could be in some other part of the world. For centrally located, nice hotels in London and Paris, where we won't have a car, we thought a reasonable average might be $150 a night.

Here's where the big uncertainty steps in. My wife is a major foodie. Eating good food abroad is a top priority. Especially in Paris. We doubt have to have ties and white table clothes or bottles of the finest wine. But if we do say 4 dinner at "nice" restaurants during this trip, and want authentic Irish/British/French cuisine for a lower costs at our lunches and eat most breakfasts at the hotel, what should I expect to pay? An ambiguous question I know., but how expensive is food in big European cities? And how much do you have to be willing to spend to good the delicious, famous, "authentic" food in Europe? I get lost here... We don't have unlimited funds but we don't mind paying for quality food.

We would like a little extra money for shopping and also to spend for admissions to some of the attractions.

So where have I gone wrong? Anything look unreasonable? If anyone can throw some helpful and useful advice at a forum newbie with an obscenely long posts, sorry for that by the way, it would be greatly appreciated!

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