I'm doing a solo trip to Ireland this year. From June 15 to July 2. Most of my itinerary is decided, with flight and lodgings booked.
I'm a low-budget traveller and usually sleep in hostels (or very cheap hotels) and travel by bus. I know Ireland should be done by car, but I don't have a driver's license. And I certainly can't afford to hire a private driver. I thought (for about ten minutes) about going on an organized multi-day tour, but those feel too restricted and touristy. I only want to do that for a place where I can't speak the language (like my Italy trip 2006).
The last two years I travelled around in Scotland, for two weeks each summer. In 2007 it was Glasgow - Stirling - Inverness - Kirkwall - Lerwick - Aberdeen - Edinburgh - Glasgow. That was a very good trip, I thought. In 2009 it was the Hebrides. That was a bit too slow and boring. Pretty nature views, sure, but doing walks in the rain isn't fun. Lochmaddy on a rainy Sunday, with only a guide-book to reread was the most boring thing I've had to endure on a trip.
I booked the flight, to and from Dublin, with Ryanair. Originally it was supposed to be a two week trip, then they cancelled the flight I booked and I had to change and fly from another airport. Irritating. There was actually about a week, from when I got the email about the cancelled flight, to when I got the money back, where I thought about not going to Ireland at all. But I'd already booked some daytrips and lodgings and I knew I would really regret not going.
So with the new flights I suddenly had a few extra days, because it was either that or losing a few days. Originally, Belfast was not part of the itinerary.
Current itinerary is:
June 15 Arrival Dublin, afternoon
June 16 Half-Day Tour: North Coast & Malahide Castle (Dublin Bus) booked and paid
June 17 Daytrip to Kilkenny ???
June 18 Daytrip Newgrange & Boyne Valley ???
June 19 Bus Dublin - Cork, with possible short stops (a couple of hours) to look at
Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle.
June 20 Cork and Blarney Castle
June 21 Bus from Cork to Killarney
June 22 Killarney (National Park?)
June 23 Daytrip Ring of Kerry (Deros Tours) booked, not paid
June 24 Bus Killarney - Galway, with possible short stop in Limerick
June 25 Daytrip Cliffs of Moher & Burren (Galway Tour Co) booked and paid
June 26 Bus Galway - Belfast
June 27 Daytrip Giant’s Causeway (Allen Tours)
June 28 Belfast
June 29 Belfast?
June 30 Bus Belfast - Dublin
July 1 Half-Day Tour: South Coast Tour (Dublin Bus) booked and paid
July 2 Flight leaves at 17.55 (need to be at airport ca 16.00 I think)
That's 4 nights in Dublin, 2 nights in Cork, 3 nights in Killarney, 2 nights in Galway, 4 nighs in Belfast and finally another 2 nights in Dublin.
What I need to know is:
1. Would it be worth it to get a tourist travel pass for the bus? I'm thinking of getting an Open Road Pass for four days (out of eight) and use it on June 17, 19, 21 and 24. Then an Irish Rover Bus Only pass for 3 days (out of eight) and use it on June 26 and 30 and maybe for a daytrip on June 29. The reason for using two different passes is that the website says the first one can't be used for across the border trips.
2. Do I have to buy the tourist travel passes before I get to Ireland, or can I go to the bus station in Dublin and buy them directly there? The website says I can buy through the Internet and collect in Ireland, but that isn't quite the same thing as actually buying it in Ireland.
3. Do I need to book a seat on the bus if I have a tourist travel pass? That's part of what I want to avoid by using a pass. I want to be able to spontaneously stay an extra hour somewhere and take a later bus. Or leave early if I'm bored.
4. The hostel in Belfast wants to keep my ID until check-out. Uhhh. Why? I'm supposed to pay on arrival, so it can't be that they're worried I'll run off without paying. Will there be anyone at the reception to give it back to me if I leave really early, like before six in the morning? Or would I have to stay until a more normal time, like eight or nine?
5. Will there be Internet Cafes or have most places gone over to WiFi or whatever? I really don't feel like carrying around a laptop. Although that could have solved my boredom problem on my last trip.
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