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England, Scotland, Ireland, and France... Where do I start?! (three weeks)

England, Scotland, Ireland, and France... Where do I start?! (three weeks)

Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 10:27 AM
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I hope they make time for the ferry. It could be a relaxing break from one place after another. Those who say "don't do it" fail to realize many of us enjoy not flying and seeing where we're going, as much as getting "there". They'll likely remember it more than most of the destinations, for better or worse.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 10:38 AM
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Yes, I came to this forum for assistance and suggestions not to be made fun of for not knowing the best way to do things I only meant London as to visit London for a day or two and leave from there.. But sounds like that's not the best idea. I'm liking the sounds of fly into Ireland, drive around (is it possible to do some north and south in ten days?) fly to Scotland .. Tour around, fly to paris and back to canada
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 10:59 AM
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I think you need to understand that more than one trip needs to be made. A trip to Europe is no longer a "once in a lifetime" event, and lots of people make a trip to Europe every year or every other year (and yes, sometimes less often than that but still as regularly as possibile). Don't try to stuff everything into the same trip.

For this particular plan, I would say yes to "England and Scotland" or "England and Ireland" but no more than that in just 3 weeks.

As for driving in the British Isles, I'm sure you must know that it is "the wrong side of the road." Are you ready to face this additional stress on a first trip?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 11:16 AM
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"I came to this forum for assistance and suggestions not to be made fun of for not knowing the best way to do things"

I agree with your there Stacy. There are some people who are prepared to dismiss your ideas and make you feel small. Ignore them.

"I'm liking the sounds of fly into Ireland, drive around (is it possible to do some north and south in ten days?)"

Yes of course it is. Especially if you fly into say Shannon and leave from Dublin or Belfast. Travelling across a country like this lets you see the countryside - much more than you will if you base yourself in a big city. There's some lovely countryside and plenty of things to do on the way. Coming into Shannon you could spend a couple of nights in Kerry. Then head to Galway for another couple of nights. Then head up through Sligo and/or Donegal (1 night) and head for Northern Ireland, going round the coast. Stop 1 or 2 nights around the Portrush area for the Giant's Causeway, Carrick a Rede Bridge and then continue round the coast through the Antrim Glens to Belfast or continue a bit further to Dublin if you decide to fly from there. And that hasn't used up all your ten days.

If Dublin, give yourself time to visit Newgrange, one of the most amazing neolithic sites in Ireland.
http://www.newgrange.com/
This will mean an overnight as you need to be at the Visitor Centre early as there is a limited number of tickets and they soon sell out.

Check out distances and times on one of the planners listed below. You will find they are all reasonable.

There are plenty of websites to help you plan routes and give you estimates of how log it will take. Remember to add time for breaks/sightseeing etc to these times. There's google maps.
Via Michelin
http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/web/Routes
AA route planner
http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/index.jsp
There's not much to choose between them, but you'll find different people prefer different ones. Have a play on each and see which you like best.

If you haven't already bought a guide book, it might make sense to do so. DK Eyewitness guides are the best as they have lots of pictures and ideas of places to visit and reasonable maps. They are quite cheap bought through Amazon. Have a look at Ireland, Scotland and England. They will help you decide which areas you want to concentrate on. With a bit of careful planning at this stage, you will be surprised what you can achieve in the time allowed. You have started planning early so have plenty of time to get it right.

By the way, ignore Big Russ's comment about the ferry taking all day. The Belfast to Stranraer ferry takes 2hr 15minutes. It might even work out as quick as flying when you allow for check in times.... If you didn't want to drive from Stranraer, there is always the train to Glasgow, another experience.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 11:24 AM
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Kerouac I have drove a scooter in Indonesia on the left hand side of the road! ☺️ And it would be my sister driving anyways. She can drive a grain semi and a combine, not too worried about her skills!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 02:05 PM
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ESW Thank you for the wonderful advice!!! And I had no idea planners like that existed. You have been truly helpful
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 03:18 PM
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@stacy123,

In your OP you said "We are most interested in the countryside and smaller communities where we can get a real feel for the culture! I'm envisioning cozy B&B's for our stay".

Most responses seem to have lost sight of those requirements and, perhaps, you have too.

If you are really wanting to see countryside and smaller communities (an aspiration I would heartily applaud) advice to spend X days in a capital city, though well intentioned, is not helpful. Apart from the fact that capital (and other tourist centred) cities are usually busy, expensive, stressful and over-populated with, well, tourists visiting them, you won't achieve your stated objective. Neither will you achieve that objective by going round the well-worn trails such as (in England for example) Stonehenge, Bath, The Cotswolds and Stratford.

It would help if you could give an indication of your interests. Scenery? Architecture? History? Whatever?

After that you do need to do some serious research. The usual guide books may be of limited use as they often tend to concentrate on the tourist honeypots so you will need to dig around a bit to find what you want. I'll give another English example. Say you're interested in architecture and fancy seeing York Minster. Now it is a magnificent building and York has a lot to offer but it is also Tourist Central. Yet not far from York you will find Beverley Minster, Ripon Cathedral and Selby Abbey, all excellent buildings, all relatively free of visitors and the first two in pleasant country towns.

You refer to cosy B&Bs. Very nice, but a few caveats. You say you "want a relaxing (but busy) trip". B&Bs may be relaxing but if they don't serve breakfast at the time you want you may find you're wasting time in the mornings. Booking may be a hassle too, as might finding them if they're tucked away in the back of beyond.

As a very different alternative you might want to consider chains like Travelodge or Premier Inn. Soulless in terms of rooms and often location, but they offer consistent standards (albeit lower than what you may be used to in similar places in Canada), are clean, safe, often cheap and easy to book (and cancel if you avoid the cheapest rates offered) and easy to find. Early breakfasts and all-day meals are usually available on site but check. One drawback is that whilst there are planty of them you won't find them in remote areas.

Where will you be flying from in Canada?

A final comment about driving. No matter how experienced you or your sister may be heed the advice about not driving while jet-lagged.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 03:58 PM
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@wasleys thank you for the detailed response! I would say we are most interested in the scenery. For Ireland, we are both huge game of thrones buffs and would love to see the locations where it's filmed. Other than that, we invision driving the country side and scenery like in the movie p.s. I love you. (I believe it the Wicklow region?). I know that sounds cheesey but it's truly our goal. Beautiful scenery, lots of photo ops (we're both avid photographers). For Scotland, the fairy pools and giant's causeway. Also, I'm quite interested in skellig Michael for part of our Ireland tour. Has anyone done this? I read about it on an adventure blog. Lastly, a few days I paris where we are scouting out some studios on vrbo. My sister has been to paris before, so we have a few ideas of things we would like to do there. Mostly involving espresso, wine, cheese.. (You get the picture). Maybe a French cooking class?! We are both huge Julia child's fans!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 04:16 PM
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Game of thrones UK filming is in Northern Ireland (which is where the Giant's Causway is as well) so now Belfast DOES come into it.

The Fairy Pools in Scotland are on the Isle of Skye -- so now you are talking very VERY rural bits so you'll have to devote a fair amount of time in north and west Scotland.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 04:32 PM
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@janisj YES, northern ireland will be important! and Belfast would work then I suppose. Sorry, I did know Giant's Causeway was in Ireland. oops.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 04:33 PM
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it's all coming together, thanks to all of you!!!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 04:53 PM
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Anyone ever use the "eyewitness travel" travel guide? I found one for 7.99 at costco today for Scotland. Came with a map too. Not sure if it will be useful or not, thought it may help!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 05:48 PM
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Eyewitness Travel guides are highly regarded, so yes, it will be useful. You should consider buying them for the other places you plan to visit. I just bough one for our upcoming trip to Croatia. Doing research can only help.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 05:55 PM
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Awesome! I intend to buy one for Ireland as well. They only had a handful of different countries available at costco. Seemed pretty cheap to me!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 06:40 PM
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You can find them online at Amazon, or in your local bookstore.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2014, 07:22 PM
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IMO, Ihaving a good map of where you want to travel is absolutely essential in planning any itinerary.
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Old Jul 24th, 2014, 02:36 AM
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Definitely buy the Eyewitness guides and start from there.

Another useful resource for Scotland once you get into the more detailed planning is this website:
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/
I use this for all my planning for Scottish holidays. Click on the map of the area you are interested in. Then follow the links from the more detailed map to the text pages with lots of photos and descriptions of the diferent places. Be careful not to go into ovderload as there are hundreds of them!

They aslo have suggested driving tours highklighted here:
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...urs/index.html
Depending on where you want to be, there may be some useful suggestions her too.

If you are talking about Northern Ireland and the North west of Scotland, then Flybe have flights from Belfast to Inverness. This may be the quickest way to get between the two places. From Inverness hire a car and drive along Loch Ness (the unclassified road on the south side is more scenic than the A82, although this means you do miss Urquhart Castle) and head for Skye. It makes sense to spend a few nights here exploring Skye. In fact you could make this your base for Scotland.

There's information about the walk to Fairy Pools here:
http://www.isleofskye.com/skye-guide...ks/fairy-pools. I've not been to them but they sound marvellous.

If getting into this remote area you will need a decent map rather than a road atlas (or GPS). Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps at a scale of 1:50,000 (1cm to 1km) are the best. For the Fairy Pools which are in Glenbrittle you will need the South Skye and Cuillins map which is number 32. You can buy maps when you arrive, otherwise they can be bought on the web from Ordnance Survey.
www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop‎

If you are planning to spend any time in the North of Skye (which would make sense) you will need map 23 as well. The drive around the Trotternish Peninsula north of Portree is super. If interested. I can give you details.

Do you feel this is begining to come together now?
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Old Jul 24th, 2014, 02:45 AM
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I've been looking at the driving tours map on Undiscovered Scotland, from the link I've given you. Depending on how long you decide to spend on Skye, you could either explore to the north up to Applecross and Gairloch (fantastic scenery and fairly remote with not a lot of visitors) or head south to the Fort Willaim area (busier and more tourists) which would get you into Ardnamurchan as a day tour (pretty remote and good scenery) or Glen Coe(redolent with history but again on the tourist map) and Oban.

I would second the advice to miss out on London and fly direct to Paris from Scotland. Save England for another trip.
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Old Jul 24th, 2014, 07:11 AM
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<<I did know Giant's Causeway was in Ireland>>

Northern Ireland. It's a distinction with a lot of difference in that part of the world. And bring something for saving your different funny money for when you can use it again - Ireland and France are on Euros, N Ireland and Scotland are on pounds. You'll be going in and out of the Eurozone on the trip (Ireland - N Ireland - Scotland - Paris).

Use credit cards as much as possible and do NOT ever accept the "Dynamic Currency Conversion" to pay in your native cash.
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Old Jul 24th, 2014, 08:52 AM
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When you get nearer to the holiday come back and ask us about the different Pound Sterling notes you can get and what minor problems you might bump into with them.
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