Critique my intinerary!!!

Old Feb 26th, 2003, 03:16 PM
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Critique my intinerary!!!

My girlfriend and I are going to Scotland and Ireland in July - 9 nights in Ireland and 5 in Scotland. I have a rough itinerary worked out, using Rick Steves and Frommers Driving Tours, and I also ordered Signpost guides for both countries since they are geared toward independant travellers driving around. My main concerns are not having the time to do what I planned because I underestimate driving/sightseeing times. My other concern is missing a "must-see" while scheduling a "dud". Please critique my itinerary:

Day 1: arrive in Dubling; sleep in Dublin
Day 2: Dublin; sleep in Dublin
Day 3: fly to Edinburgh; Stirling, Glencoe; sleep in Ft. William or Oban
Day 4: Road to the Isles, Isle of Skye; sleep in Portree
Day 5: Highlands, Wester Ross; sleep in Inverness
Day 6: Loch Ness, drive to Edinburgh; sleep in Edinburgh
Day 7: Edinburgh; sleep in Edinburgh
Day 8: fly to Dublin; Glendough, Kilkenny, Rock of Cashel; sleep in Waterford
Day 9: Waterford, Kinsale, (time permitting scenic route via Glengarrif or Killarny park); sleep in Dingle
Day 10: Dingle peninsula; sleep in Dingle
Day 11: Burren, Cliffs of Moher; sleep in either Aran or Galway (unless I can do 3-hr day trip to Aran)
Day 12: drive through Connemara; drive to Portrush in N. Ireland (possible dinner stop in Derry); sleep in Portrush
Day 13: Antrim Coast; sleep in Portrush
Day 14: Belfast; drive to Trim; sleep in Trim
Day 15: Newgrange in the morning; fly out of Dublin in afternoon

I know this is a very ambitions schedule, so I'm definitely looking for things to cut/add/change.

Thank you!!

Jason

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Old Feb 26th, 2003, 04:12 PM
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I should stress- I prefer landscape and scenic driving, castles, history, and getting "local". Less important are over-touristy sights, hiking/biking/walking. I love to go out of the way for a great photograph.
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Old Feb 26th, 2003, 06:33 PM
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I'm not able to speak to the Scotland portion or even all of the Ireland portion of your itinerary. All I can say though is 'phew!' I was tucked out just reading.

You sound like me when we start looking at a trip. I always start with the idea I may never make onto a plane again, so I should try to see as much as I can.

My advise though is to pare it down a bit. Don't just allow for enough time to get from points A to B to C. Allow enough time to enjoy A and B and maybe skip C. I'm almost tempted to suggest picking either Scotland and Ireland and save the other for another time, but perhaps you have the airfare booked already.

Anyway, on the days 8 through 12 portion:

Day 8: Toooo much! Seriously.
Glendalough is an fascinating place. It's essentially a ancient cemetary and ruins. It's peaceful and even has a mystical quality to it if you catch it at the right time. It's a place you may want to spend awhile. Not a place you run through in 30 minutes, except to say you have.
Kilkenney: At least I assume you'd see the castle. Guided tours only, lines in july I'm sure. Couple of hours at least and that's if you don't check out any of the artisans shops in town. Rock of Cashel is even more amazing and time consuming than Glendalough, and that's not factoring the town of Cahir just down the road.
If you give a miss to anything on Day 8, I'd make it Waterford town. We found the town a little disappointing. Kind of drab and not a lot of major sites unless you like seeing crystal made.

Anyway, not to hammer out each day here, but I'll suggest looking at honing on far fewer areas and really researching the bejeezus out of what you find interesting about a particular area. Then, stay a little longer and make the time worth your visit. Visit the "B" list next time around.
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Old Feb 26th, 2003, 06:52 PM
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Lots of ground, but it can be done. If you book hotels in advance, you will save time looking for a hotel. However, you will be committed to a fast pace. There is no easy answer. If you have a car, it's easier because you don't have to carry luggage very far.

Ask your girlfriend if she wants a fast paced vacation or a sit around and do nothing vacation or something in between.
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Old Feb 26th, 2003, 07:06 PM
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It is a good thing you like "scenic driving" beacsue that is what you'll have - LOTS of driving.

Actually the Scotland part is not too bad. My main suggestion is: if you take an early morning flight to Edinburgh you can be to Stirling Castle right at opening time (9:30 AM), vist the Castle and leave by 12:30 or 1PM, drive to Glen Coe (less than 100 miles) by about 3:30 PM, leave Glencoe by about 4:30 and drive to Mallaig for an evening ferry to Skye. The daylight lasts quite late so you won't have any trouble. You can be to you B&B on Skye long before dark. There is no reason to waste a night in Ft William and this gives you more time on Skye (stay 2 nights) which is wonderful.


I think the Ireland portion is too ambitious - look at a good map and realize you will be lucky to average 40 MPH (more likely 30 to 35 MPH in a lot of areas.) You might want to just tweak it a little to take this into account.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 01:11 PM
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Jason:

Well I tried to write a while back and my overly long reply was deleted, so I'll try again.

Yes you're trying to do to much. You have drastically underestimated sightseeing and drive times. On the Scotland half, you will be rushed, but the roads are quicker in Scotland than Ireland. I think day three will be very full and I agree not to stay in Ft William. I stayed in Onich and it was quite beautiful. I don't agree with the notion of going on to Skye, though I do agree with the idea that you would want more time there. I think Stirling Castle and Glencoe (and all sights in between) are plenty.

Ireland is a different issue. You are doing way too much. I did a similar trip in 18 days that you are doing in 8 and I felt rushed. My recommendation would be to cut the trip in half and either do the north or the south. Traveling in July, i would pick the north because it would be less crowded. I feel somehow compelled to comment on the days though, just to give you an idea of what you are facing.

Day 8 is too full. Though you could do it, you would merely be driving by and going all the way to Cashel and then back to Waterford is just not worth it.

Day 9 is impossible. That should be at least two days and 3-4 would be better. You should definitely take the road that goes through Glengarriff, Kenmare and Killarney Nat'l park, but that should be after spending the night in Kinsale. There is so much to see between Kinsale and Dingle.

Day 10 is fine, day 11 is trouble. Any of the Aran islands are a full day, and it's a long drive from Dingle to Doolin and you still have the boat trip. You could take the last boat and spend the night there (make your reservations now) but you would be adding to the already impossible day 12.

Day 12 can't be done. A trip through the Connemara is a full day and then you have a huge drive awaiting you. You probably couldn't get to Westport until at least mid afternoon and then you have a huge drive from there. Your day twelve would be a minimum of 4 for me.

I'll assume (perhaps erroneously) that you are stay at B&Bs. A few notes on them. The standard polite time to arrive is between 4-6 PM. It is sometimes OK to be a bit later, but rolling in at 10:00 PM is not a good idea. These are private homes and they don't have a staff to greet you. They will likely be at the pub by then.

Breakfast rarely starts before 7:30 AM and many places don't serve until 8:00 and sometimes later. Irish breakfasts are an event so you should not plan on leaving much before nine on most mornings. You will find that some B&B owners grumble about breakfast before 9:00.

Day 13 is good and day 14 is OK, but a long one. I wouldn't stop in Belfast though. You won't have any time to enjoy it.

Unless your plane is leaving very late in the afternoon, you probably won't have time for Newgrange. You should plan on arriving at the airport with 3 hours to spare to have time for rental return, check in and the popular VAT back schemes. By the way, you should get an excellent afternoon workout if you've purchased too many trinkets. The walk from the rental car return to the terminal is a nice climb.

This is probably not what you wanted to hear, because clearly you've put some time into it. I agree with Clifton that this should probably be two separate trips. If not, cut the Ireland part in half and you will probably still wish that you had more time.


Bill
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 01:59 PM
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Have to join the gang on this one!

You are doing WAY to much. Ireland will be one big blur by the time you are done.

Days 8, 9 & 10 jump out at me as being unrealistic.
First off - unless you are really set on seeing Waterford Crystal - drop Waterford - It is just out of your way. If your GF really wants to see it, then consider dropping Kinsale. You need to gain some time somewhere.

My suggestion: ( still a bit of a blur but a bit better than before)
Day 8 - Dub - Glenda - Kilkenny - Cashel sleep Cashel

Day 9 drive to Killarney ( or skip Killarney totally - ugh , cause I really like Killarney ) see Park , then drive to Dingle

Day 10 Dingle Penn.


Really - break down your days in depth. Driving takes a lot longer and is hard on the driver due to how much you need to concentrate.
35 mph is a good average. Figure 1 - 2 hours per attraction you stop at -- figure an hour or so for lunch. Figure you need / want to be at your B&B to check in by 4/5pm latest.
Then go back and realize this is vacation and not a marathon.

good luck.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 02:41 PM
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I want to thank everyone who replied so far. Your comments confirm my suspicions, and I am now considering dropping Scotland or Northern Ireland altoghether. With 3-5 extra days in Ireland, I think this itinerary is much more realistic.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 06:13 PM
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Possible revision:

Day 1: arrive in Dublin; sleep in Dublin
Day 2: Dublin; sleep in Dublin
Day 3: fly to Edinburgh; Stirling, Glencoe; sleep in Ft. William or Oban
Day 4: Road to the Isles, Isle of Skye; sleep in Portree
Day 5: Highlands, Wester Ross; sleep in Inverness
Day 6: Loch Ness, drive to Edinburgh; sleep in Edinburgh
Day 7: Edinburgh; sleep in Edinburgh
Day 8: fly to Dublin; Glendough, Kilkenny; sleep in Kilkenney
Day 9: Rock of Cashel, Cork, Kinsale; sleep in Kinsale
Day 10: Southwest coast, Beara, Kerry; sleep in Dingle
Day 11: Dingle peninsula; sleep in Dingle
Day 12: Burren, Doolin, Cliffs of Moher; sleep in either Doolin or Galway
Day 13: Aran Islands; sleep in Galway
Day 14: drive through Connemara; sleep in Galway
Day 15: Drive Galway to Dublin; fly out of Dublin in afternoon

Hopefully, this will slow down the pace and let me enjoy the experience more. I can get N. Ireland on the next go round!
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Old Feb 28th, 2003, 07:04 AM
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Jason:

You itinerary has jumped into the realm of doable! Just a word of warning (again). This is high tourist season. Things will be moving pretty slowly.

You've planned a couple of multiple nights, whichI like and the thought of being in Dingle for two would be good. It still seems like you will be flying through the SW on day 10. You couldn't possibly see Beara and the Ring of Kerry in one day or much of Killarney Nat'l Park. Also, as much as Debbie may like the town of Killarney (it gets mixed reviews), it will be a mad house in July. It's the one time that tour buses will out number sheep in Ireland and Killarney is Mecca for the tour bus set.

My suggestion would be this. Skip Beara (which makes me weep) or most of it and plan to end up somewhere on the Ring of Kerry. Sneem would be a decent choice. It will be light late so, after dinner, take a drive along the southern coast of the Ring. The tour buses will have unloaded for the night in Killarney and belched their contents into some lovely made for America touists pubs. The roads will be relatively quiet by that time and you could watch the sunset at countless locations along the coast. Then roll back to your B&B and get breakfast as early as you can. This way, you could be on the road to Killarney before the traffic gets heavy. Molls Gap is quite a beautiful drive, but a VERY popular one and the road is narrow and winding.

The other suggestion is that i would lean towards ending day 12 around Galway. The Salthill area is loaded with B&Bs and it is easy to get into town in the evening. It too, will be very crowded and my preference would be to find some pub a good distance from the city that is more of a local. But that is a taste issue. Galway is a very young town and if you like crowded pubs, it could be fun.

Still not sure what time your plane leaves, but the last day sounds risky. Michelin lists the driving time as 3 hours, so figure closer to four. If you plane leaves before 3:00 PM, I would chose somewhere closer to Dublin. In fact, I would chose closer to Dublin regardless.

Bill
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Old Feb 28th, 2003, 07:19 PM
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My flight out of Dublin is at 2:45pm. If I get to Dublin airport by noon, I should be ok I think, but just in case, any recommended overnight stops on the Galway-Dublin route?
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Old Mar 4th, 2003, 08:01 AM
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The area around Athlone would probably be nice, though I've never stayed there. It's a good halfway point.

Bill
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