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Alone on first trip....where are the best places to go and stay?

Alone on first trip....where are the best places to go and stay?

Old Feb 4th, 2005, 05:42 AM
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Alone on first trip....where are the best places to go and stay?

This is my first trip to Ireland, to Europe for that matter, and I'm going alone. I was curious if anyone could give me any suggestions for safer nicer places to stay for a single woman on her own and what places I should see that as a lone tourist I won't stand out. Where are the friendliest places? I would appreciate any help....I leave in 5 days and I don't even have my first nights stay booked. I'm doing a self drive...so I'm booking the rest as I go. I fly into Shannon at 4:30pm and I'm not sure if I want to do the whole Bunratty dinner thing or not. I've also been looking at some hotels in Ennis...Old Ground....Temple Gate....Queens....I've seen some opinions on this matter, but I'm still not sure what is right for me. I'm in my twenties, so I'm looking to see some really great sights, meet some wonderful people (why I'm traveling solo), and have a fabulous time. Thanks in advance for any advice. I have 8 days so I'm hoping to fit alot in.
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Old Feb 4th, 2005, 07:23 AM
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I'll help fellow solo traveler!
I'll bring this back up to the top of the list.
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Old Feb 4th, 2005, 09:17 AM
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Me too! Want to post a message of encouragement and best wishes for the trip. Don't know a thing about Ireland.

I've traveled solo quite a bit. Just make sure you have your tickets, passport, money and cards all well organized. Take a good paperback book to read in your down-time or restaurants eating alone. Pack light, although maybe less important since you'll have the car.
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Old Feb 4th, 2005, 01:17 PM
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Would only be too happy to help, but ...

First, we will need a little help from you. You arrive in Shannon at 4:30 PM? From where and how long will you have been without sleep? Are you flying back out of Shannon, or Dublin? Do you intend to go to Dublin at all?
What kind of great sights are you looking for? Are you looking to meet interesting charachters or are you seeking nightlife and romance?

Lots of advice here, just not sure which you are seeking.
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Old Feb 4th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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My well-traveled parents went to Ireland a few years ago and found the people to be the nicest they'd met anywhere. They also did a self-drive and booked only their first night (in a B&B). They made a practice of asking their hostess what sights they should see in the area and where they should go next. Each hostess was delighted to be asked and called a fellow hostess down the road a bit to book the next night for my parents. Because of this chain of friends, my parents had a wonderful time and were very well taken care of! In addition, they were advised of which 'tourist traps' to avoid and which local treasures to see. Have a lovely trip!!
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Old Feb 4th, 2005, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for all the wonderful responses everyone. Ital~I'm flying out of O'Hare on Weds the 9th at 11:30pm arrive in London and take a connecting flight to Shannon which gets in at 4:30. I'm hoping desperately to sleep on the plane. I fly out of Shannon on Fri Feb 18th. I'm looking for nightlife....but friendly nightlife. Not the meat market type. I want to meet some great people...of any age. I'm not sure if Dublin will be good for me with a car. Any suggestions?

Thanks for the messages of encouragement suze!!! And thanks for the advice of asking my proprieters ehku.
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Old Feb 5th, 2005, 02:24 AM
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If you're too 'wiped out' from the journey to get behind the wheel when you land, BusEireann has frequent service to Ennis and/or Limerick City from Shannon airport: 5-Euro to either one.

In February it will be getting dark early. You would probably be much more refreshed and relaxed if you wait until the next morning to pick up your rental car.

I prefer the Temple Gate hotel in Ennis although the Old Ground opened a new 80-room addition last year. The Queen's hotel is just too darn noisy.

If you go to Ennis and you see a Taxi driver at the Bus/Train station who looks like a Leprechaun or Barry Fitzgerald, that will be James Woods. Tell him Ned from Philadelphia sends his regards.
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Old Feb 5th, 2005, 03:17 AM
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You can read about the adventures of a young American woman who drove around Ireland if you put the words "crazy mina" in the search box above and look up the piece about the sheep surviving
 
Old Feb 5th, 2005, 03:48 AM
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Well you asked about safety and friendly people and you'll have no trouble whatsoever in those departments. Most of Ireland is small towns so you don't have to worry about the pickpocket type of crime that occurs in larger cities. I think the crime rate is quite low in Ireland. And the people are definitly friendly. Although I had heard stories of how incredibly outgoing everyone was and that they'd talk your ear off and want to know your life story, etc. Well for the most part we found the majority of people you come in contact with as a tourist are business people, and while firendly they are business like. Pubs are the place to go if you want to "meet" people. On the down side though, I seem to remember a slightly older crowd of people (and lots of families). There certainly are other 20-something tourists and natives around so you'll find them if you look.

In terms of being alone though I have a friend who went to Irelnad alone a couple years ago and loved it. I thought she was crazy at first since driving (especially in a country where you have to be a bit more alert when you drive since you won't be used to that side of the road) alone can be both lonely and stressful. But the one time she did break down there were lots of fiendly Irish folks to help her. So anyway, I would stick to relatively short distances so you aren't spending too much time in the car. Dingle, either the ring of Kerry or Beara Penninsula, inland a little to Cashel and Cahir. The area just north of Shannon with the Cliffs of Moher, etc. While distances in Ireland are not far, there are no real highways and you shouldn't plan on averaging more than 30 miles per hour.
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Old Feb 5th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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To elaborate on my earlier response: If you arrive from London at 4:30 PM you shouldn't have to go thru Passport Control or Customs but you will have to wait for your checked baggage, so it will be getting dark by the time you are ready to leave Shannon airport.

Buy an Eircom Phone Card (the one with an I/C chip on the card - that way you don't have to call 800-numbers). Be specific: one of the shops in the airport had the Eircom Phone Cards; the other didn't. When you firm your itinerary, make a list of Phone numbers for Hotels along your itinerary so you can call ahead for reservations. February is not peak tourist time, so you should have no problem finding vacancies. If you go to coastal County Clare, the ITB store in Lahinch had across the board reductions of 30% last February.

B&B's are no bargain. They quote you a price Per Person Sharing (PPS) with a substantial 'Single Supplement.' In some cases, where they don't quote a PPS price, Hotels may be a better deal for a person traveling 'solo.'

Many seasonal B&B's will be closed in February; so, in some cases, hotels may be your best bet.

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Old Feb 5th, 2005, 12:18 PM
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Hi beertapgirl,

You might get more replies if you repost this with Ireland in the topic. Something like:

Traveling alone to Ireland, 1st Trip, Need Help

Best of luck with your trip! I've never been, but it is on my list

-Jill
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Old Feb 5th, 2005, 12:50 PM
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Don't count on too much sleep enroute, unless you are one of the truely fortunate ones. As far as booking places goes, Feb shouldn't present any problems. Most of the larger towns will have Tourist Offices that will book AND recommend places for you, anywhere in the country for 2 or 3 Euro. Well worth it if you are looking for someplace close to your anticipated night's entertainment. You will want to be checked in between 4 and 5, as it gets dark quickly in Feb. Most of the Tourist Information Offices that I've been in employ a lot of 20-30 something locals, who should be perfect for telling you what places to visit at night, for good music, good food and good 'craick'(not what it sounds like!- it means a really good time). I wouldn't do Dublin on this trip. The car would be a liability and in any case the 5-6 hours to get there and the same in return would eat up a lot of your time. I would consider a train from Galway (with return) as the cheapest and least stressful way to go, although it will mean you won't see as much of the countryside as you would by driving. Dublin is also rather expensive and even in Feb, you might be hardpressed to find reasonably priced, close in accommodations on such short notice, unless you go there mid-week.
You asked for advice, so here goes:

Even if you get some sleep, I would drive no further than Galway (about an hour or hour and a half). I usually stay at the Jury's Inn there, next to the Wolfe Tone Bridge over the Corrib River and overlooking Galway Bay. Otherwise, I am strictly a B&B fan, but Galway and Dublin are Hotel kinda towns, to me. The Jury's have a parking garage next door and Quay Street begins there. Galway is a lively, young and energetic little City. Less than 100 yards from the garage entrance is the Quay Pub - they have a website - five bars, live music, and when we were there, I was by far the oldest person in the place (I was a VERY youthful 47 at the time). There are several other venues along the street and numerous others nearby. Eyre Square is within walking distance (but I don't know if I would walk that far in FEB). There is also a hostel on Quay Street if your taste and budget runs more in that direction.
You can drive out to Clifden, or northly (via the same N59) to Westport. Matt Malloy's is a famous pub in Westport that is well worth a visit, though it is apt to be quiet on a Tues in Feb.
You can drive down to the Cliffs of Moher and visit Doolin (Gus O'Connor's) and then drive down to Dingle, via the Tarbert / Killimer ferry over the Shannon and Connor Pass. Drive the Slea Head Drive for the scenery and the Gallarus Oratory and all the other archeological sites.
Drive down to Killarney and visit the Granary Restraunt and Bar or the numerous tourist bars with live music most nights. Have tea at the cottage at the townside entrance to the National Park (and Rhubarb pie, if they still have any). See Ross Castle and Muckross House or catch a tour of the Gap of Dunloe and the Lakes.
Drive to Kinsale in the morning and look for the Irish Red Deer and the scenery - views of the Lake, Torc Falls (if your willing to hike a little) and Ladies View, on the way to Kenmare.
From Kenmare, you can continue south to Glenngarriff, with a detour over Healey Pass into the Bearra, and/or on to Bantry, Skibberrean and along the coast to Glandore, Union Hall and Clonakilty (DeBarras for music) enroute to Kinsale - the Gormet capital of Ireland. Cork City can be a bit hectic, but it is 2005 European City Of Culture and there are supposed to be events DAILY. The also have the Lobby Bar for music and fun. Nearby is Blarney for the Stone AND the Woolen Mills.
Head north on the N8 to Cahir and Cashel for the castle and the Rock, then drive to Bunratty to spend your last night.
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Old Feb 5th, 2005, 09:16 PM
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Thanks so much for the wonderful advice Ned and Ital. I booked the Temple Gate for my first night. I figured I wouldn't want to drive far after my flight and upon your reminder of it being dark. I will probably stick to alot of hotels instead of B&B's not only for price, but because I figure I can also most likely get parking. It sounds silly, but it was one of the things I worried about the most. I didn't want to have to walk blocks to get to my accomodations.
Ned~ I have a GSM phone and I'll just use that over there. I know the prices are a little high, but I get a deal so....why not.
Ital~ thanks for the itinerary. I'm definitely going to incorporate some of that into my trip. I know I want to go to Kinsale and hit the Cork area as well as Galway and Dingle. I wish I could fit Northern Ireland in, but it's sooooo expensive. Oh well. So you suggest Bunratty then?? I wasn't sure if being alone would be a problem at the banquets they hold. Thanks again~4 days left!!!!
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 07:11 AM
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In the off season, many hotels run specials but generally, B&Bs in Ireland are not only cheaper, but much more personable. Each owner has their own character and style and we find that immensely appealing. Most also have parking for guests, but in the bigger towns and cities, hotels will generally be more centrally located. That's why we prefer the Jury's in Galway - an unremarkable hotel, but excellent location at a reasonable price.
You should do a B&B in Dingle, though. There are several right in town and the town will be fairly quiet in Feb. Ditto on Kinsale.
I like Bunratty, but have never done the Banquet. Durrty Nelly's, the Folk Park and Castle, shopping at the Woolen Mills and dinner at Kathleen's. Ned's a fan of Ennis, on which I can offer no advice as we've only just passed through there.
Just so you know, the friendlies place I've ever found in Ireland is in the village of Millstreet, in NW Co. Cork, near Killarney.
Not much there for tourists, just some of the nicest people on earth. They have a web-site www.millstreet.ie Don't know if there is anything there that would interest a young, single girl, but if I ever win the Lotto, that' the first place I'll by a home.

Enjoy your trip. Be reasonably prudent and you should have the time of your life. Check back to let us know how it went.
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 09:34 AM
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Italian chauffer beat me to it, but I agree that staying in hotels is going to 'get in the way a bit' of your aim to meet people...B&B's in Ireland are such a much more direct connection with people...and has also been said already here, the Irish are among the friendliest, nicest there are. So with the poss exception of your city stays, I'd try to do mostly B&B. It's now quite a few years ago, but we had one of our spectacular travel experiences at an Irish B&B (no longer around) that was just magical. Kind of like a Clue-game-come-to-life (no mystery/murders, thank goodness - but just incomparable characters, along with great kindness, hospitality and food).
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 04:34 PM
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The Jurys in Galway can be researched through www.jurysdoyle.com

Current rates are at 61 euro per night
Parking is extra (but discounted). Looks like weekend of the 12th Feb they are booked up.

General trip advice:

Only credit card that is useable to waive insurance on car rental is Mastercard (Gold or Plantinum). You should call Mastercard to verify, first. NO ONE covers flat tires.
Traveler's checks are more trouble than they are worth - they are in US dollars so you must cash them at banks and convert them to Euros with a transaction fee and a bad exchange rate.
Upon your arrival in Shannon, use the ATM to withdraw money in Euros, you generally receive the best exchange rate. Every decent sized town in Ireland has ATM (sometimes inside the Cenra stores), although, notably, Doolin does not have any ATM's. Use your credit card for purchases whenever possible, but make sure you are billed in euros, so that you get the best exchange rate.
Verify if you are to bring the car back full of petrol for a refund of the tank price you prepay - otherwise you will be giving them 1/4 to 1/2 tank of expensive gasoline for free.
If you are taking a digital camera, take a few shots of the rental car at pick up, especially if there are any dings or dents, AS WELL as notifying the company. Not trying to scare you, but you did say this was your first trip abroad AND you will be arriving at dusk, tired. Car rental is the hardest part. Have fun.
Bob
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Old Feb 7th, 2005, 04:30 PM
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As mentioned by an earlier poster, do check out this report from 2 years ago. It is the best trip report I've read and happens to be written by a solo female traveler in Ireland. Here is the link:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34373959
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Old Feb 8th, 2005, 02:23 AM
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tuckerdc writes: "... I agree that staying in hotels is going to 'get in the way a bit' of your aim to meet people...B&B's in Ireland are such a much more direct connection with people...and has also been said already here, the Irish are among the friendliest, nicest there are. "

Also the most nosey! Keep in mind that B&B operators run a business for profit. Your relationship with your B&B Operator is a Client - Service Provider one. You're a paying guest. We have never received a Christmas Card from a B&B Operator but I have received them from Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis and Crocket's on the Quay in Ballina, County Mayo.

" ... It's now quite a few years ago, but we had one of our spectacular travel experiences at an Irish B&B (no longer around) that was just magical. Kind of like a Clue-game-come-to-life (no mystery/murders, thank goodness - but just incomparable characters, along with great kindness, hospitality and food)."

One of my worst B&B experiences was in Drom Caoin, a B&B in Belmullet, County Mayo. The proprietors were not at all friendly ... not what I had come to expect in Ireland.

Speaking of mystery/murders: about twice a year, the Temple Gate Hotel has a 'murder mystery' weekend: like an Agatha Christie novel. A Whodunit in which all the guests are involved.

BTW
If you are rested, take a stroll down to Cruise's Restaurant & Pub on Abbey Street (10-minute walk from the Temple Gate): Traditional Irish music every night starting at 10:00 PM.

The Irish Tourist Bureau in Ennis is in the old Convent building directly across 'the Square' from Temple Gate 'Square' entry
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