Ireland Interrupted

Old Sep 2nd, 2022, 04:07 AM
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Ireland Interrupted

The plan: meet two other couples who had been in country for a week in Galway, move on to Dublin. On Sunday, after the U of Nebraska/Northwestern football game that one of the other couples was attending, fly to Scotland for a second week with just one of the couples. The reality: my husband has a scratchy throat for a couple of days and is tired, chalks it up to flying and jet lag. Tests positive the morning we're moving from Galway to Dublin; we book him into a hotel to isolate. After the CDC 5-day period we fly home. My symptoms start immediately and I'm so glad we came home when we had the window. So this trip report will only include our Ireland experiences despite the excellent advice I got on this forum for Scotland. But before I move on, some thoughts on travel in the COVID era. We were fully vacced and double boosted and no underlying health conditions. We had not contracted COVID up till now and I've flown three other times (within the US) since 2020. We are careful, but not crazy careful. In most situations (bus to airport, flight, train to Galway, etc.) we were virtually the only people wearing masks. And don't get me going on the 14,000 college football fans packed into the pubs in Temple Bar! But we were the ones who got it. Thankfully none of our travel partners got it and we are recovering fine. We took a risk and lost but I'm already planning another trip for 2023!

Now on to the good stuff! I preface this saying that one of the couples we traveled with had been to Ireland several times and were excited to show us their favorites. So I can't take credit for the wonderful tours, etc. we experienced but I'm happy to pass them on.

Transportation Notes: As I said, we flew into DUB from Boston. An interesting note is that flights to Ireland fly out of Terminal A rather the E, the international terminal at Logan. We didn't know that and waited in the Delta check in line in E and were told we had to take the long sky bridge across to A. On the way home we found out that this is because Americans clear customs in Ireland before boarding our flights, and we didn't have to go through customs in Boston when we landed. Because of the American college football game the previous day, DUB was packed and lines were long for each step of the process - check in, security, customs. Thankfully we had enough time, but I just mention it as a warning.

Upon arrival we took a cab to Heuston Station - easy and about $30. We had train reservations https://booking.cf.irishrail.ie/en-I...oking/42299080 and picked our tix up at a kiosk. Had a nice chat with a young French couple on the 2+ hour ride.

While in country, we had rented a 6-person van and our 'experienced' friend did all the left side driving. He gets a prize for that! I think we could have done it, and did it in England/Scotland many years ago, but it certainly takes some getting used to.

Sunday - Galway
We arrived mid-afternoon and walked an easy 10 min to our B&B. We had booked 3 nights at the Corrib House, HOME - Corrib House. It was beautiful and comfortable. There are different rooms, one without an ensuite bath, but our room - Salmon Weir - had a large bath with tub and separate shower and a nice view of the river. Breakfasts were amazing and huge! You order off the menu the night before and there are lots of choices. I am trying to be gluten and dairy free and it was easy to accommodate. They even had oat milk for my coffee! They have a tea room open to the public, with a beautiful little garden patio. We were so busy we only took advantage of this the first afternoon but it was lovely to have a glass of wine there after all that travel. That evening we had dinner at Hooked, 65 Henry St, https://hookedgalway.ie/henry-st/. Reservations recommendation. This was similar to the casual seafood shacks we have here in New England. Good food, not fussy, and good first night meal. Seemed like a lot of locals.


Patio at Corrib House

View from our room - the Salmon Weir
Monday - Galway
After our first delicious breakfast, we did a walking tour of the city. Medieval Galway and Waterways Walking Tour with Martin https://www.galwaytours.ie/private-tours. Martin was funny and very knowledgeable, even about Ireland/Portland Maine connections (director John Ford was from Maine and his parents from Galway). Two of our group headed off to play golf and the rest of us explored the waterfront area and had lunch. Galway is a nice-sized city with plenty of pubs and restaurants to choose from but not as crazy as Dublin. The river flows through it and is divided by ancient stone weirs and walls to create channels that served various industries. We really liked it and it was a good hub for exploring the western coast. That evening we had dinner at Brasserie on the Corner, https://brasseriegalway.com/menus/. They specialize in steaks, but I had a delicious lamb dinner. (Note: in all cases I mention my friend had made reservations for dinner. I prefer to travel a bit looser, but she didn't steer us wrong!)

Tour guide Martin at the 600-year-old Saint Nicholas Church.

Swans at River Corrib.
Tuesday - Galway
We got a relatively early start to drive to the Cliffs of Moher. We had timed arrival tickets and got there about 10:30. Although crowded, it was worse when we left with the tour buses arriving from Dublin, so glad we got an early start. We walked along the cliffs and took in the visitor's center interpretive exhibits to understand the geology. Then we headed to Dooley, for lunch at Gus O-Connor's Pub (recommended by a Fodorite!). Seafood chowder and Guinness, of course. Then we headed to The Burren area for a guided walk with Shane Connolly Burren Hill Walks Guided Tours. Shane is a local farmer who is incredibly knowledgeable about the flora, fauna, geology, and human history of this interesting area. Its hard to explain, but it was very interesting and it felt like we were getting an authentic experience. I highly recommend visiting here. It isn't as well known as the Cliffs, but well worth it. That night we didn't have dinner reservations and were quite tired, so just had a quick bite at a pub.

Cliffs of Moher

Shane explaining the chemical erosion of limestone in The Burren.

Beautiful views from The Burren.
To be continued...
cindyj is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2022, 10:10 AM
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What month was your trip? I notice people are wearing cold-weather clothing. Sorry to hear your trip was interrupted.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2022, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo View Post
What month was your trip? I notice people are wearing cold-weather clothing. Sorry to hear your trip was interrupted.
I know 🙋‍♀️!! Northwestern beat Nebraska in Dublin August27.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 05:20 AM
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nyse is correct. We arrived Aug. 20 and left the 28th. Being home recovering from covid I've got time to write a report! We actually had beautiful weather! Most days in the high 60's/low 70's and no rain to speak of, just a couple of misty periods. My friend's puffy jacket is very light and she's always cold!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 05:56 AM
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Wednesday - Galway/Connemara
After yet another Corrib House delicious breakfast, we headed to Connemara National Park with a plan to hike the Diamond Hill trail. We drive through a few showers and it started raining just as we left the visitor center so we waited it out 5 min and were rewarded with no rain the rest of the hike! Sun was in and out and it was very windy, but we did it! The hike is a figure "8" so you can do the lower half and decide if you want to do the rest, which is one-way on a narrow path. Completely open to the elements, but the views are incredible. The whole loop is 4.7 mi and 1,350 feet of elevation gain. But it is well laid out and not that difficult. A lot of people in various stages of fitness made the trek, and it was well worth it at the top. We even saw mountain goats grazing on heather! After the hike we drove to Clifden for lunch and I had some Connemara mussels. Delicious! We got back to Galway late and tired. I would have enjoyed exploring the coast in this area but that would have taken another day. Next time!

Dinner that night was at Dela in Dublin. http://dela.ie/evening/ Delicious but very loud. I guess this is a trend - restaurants equate loud with busy and good. But I had a hard time hearing my companions.


One of the magnificent 360-degree views from the summit.

Mountain goats on Diamond Hill slopes.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 06:45 AM
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Thursday - Galway to Dublin
This was the morning hubby woke up and tested positive. So we all masked up for the drive to Dublin (~2.5 hrs) with windows down. On the way I reserved a room for him at the Hampton Inn downtown. Our plans were to stay in a shared apartment, more on that later, so he needed to isolate. Because of the football game things were booked up, but we got the room and it is a nice, very new and modern hotel. I won't dwell on the covid stuff and will move on to my somewhat clouded experience in Dublin.

Our accommodations in Dublin were at Merrion Mews, a historic Irish Landmark property (https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/merrion-mews/). It was a nice quiet location, although I think there was an event at the garden of the French Embassy across the back garden. We didn't see the horses that apparently use the lower level for food and watering when doing events in the city. But it was comfortable and quiet. I honestly think my rating of this spot is clouded by my feelings at the time!

That first day we took a guided tour of 14 Henrietta Street. https://14henriettastreet.ie/ This building tells the history of Dublin from the aristocratic 1700's through its use as a tenement house until the 1970's. Very interesting. Dinner that night was at Ely Wine Bar (ely Food Menus - Best Restaurant & Wine Bar in Dublin City Centre). Delicious and outside of the mayhem of the Temple Bar area.

Friday - Dublin to Bru na Boinne
About an hour drive north of Dublin is this incredibly archaeological site. https://www.worldheritageireland.ie/bru-na-boinne. This area contains several 5,000 year old neothlitic "passage tombs." The tour and going inside one of them is amazing. I feel like this site is far less known than Stonehenge but much more interesting and important.

That evening we had an early dinner at The Wollen Mills (https://www.thewoollenmills.com/), good but nothing special. Then we did a "Dark Dublin" walking tour. I thought this would be about ghosts and spirits but it turned out to be about infamous murders. Sort of a historic Dublin true crime walk. Interesting but at that point I was tired and worried about my husband isolating at the Hampton Inn!

Saturday - Dublin
I awoke very early with a very slightly scratchy throat. Tested negative but knew my time was up. I isolated in my room and when the others went out to brunch I made the arrangements to fly home Sunday, packed up, and moved into the very tiny Hampton Inn room with my husband. I figured I was already exposed, so it didn't matter. Again, we flew home in the window 5+ days after his first symptom and before I tested positive, following CDC guidelines.

I loved my first trip to Ireland, which I had been able to continue to Scotland, and vow to return and not to stop traveling because of our experiences!

"knowth" tomb at Bru na Boinne.

Newgrange tomb

Tomb entrance with Neolithic art.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 07:08 AM
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What lovely photos! You were lucky with those beautiful blue skies. Appreciate all the details of restaurants, hotels, etc.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 09:37 AM
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Kudos, CindyJ!
We'll be returning to Galway next spring/summer and it's great to have an updated restaurant list.
You also reminded me that I need to book Shane. My husband was not on our family's first Ireland cycling trip where Shane was featured, and my daughters and I were so impressed with him.
I liked your Dublin 14 Henrietta St tour idea too. We'll only spend a night in Dublin on our next trip (which will properly be spent in every pub we liked from years ago), but that kind of tour appeals to both of us.
Again, thanks.
AZ
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Old Sep 7th, 2022, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by AlessandraZoe View Post
Kudos, CindyJ!
We'll be returning to Galway next spring/summer and it's great to have an updated restaurant list.
You also reminded me that I need to book Shane. My husband was not on our family's first Ireland cycling trip where Shane was featured, and my daughters and I were so impressed with him.
I liked your Dublin 14 Henrietta St tour idea too. We'll only spend a night in Dublin on our next trip (which will properly be spent in every pub we liked from years ago), but that kind of tour appeals to both of us.
Again, thanks.
AZ
I'd love the names of your favorite pubs for future reference. And also tips for Galway. We really enjoyed that area and hope to go back.
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Old Sep 8th, 2022, 09:56 AM
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CindyJ--
I'm posting the link to the Trip Report I wrote in 2017:
Trad Music and Hops--Our Week in Dublin
It's probably very outdated, but my recommendation as far a music remains: ask the local next to you about where one should go next!

Our last Galway stay was eons ago. I might have a trip report, but I'm thinking I don't. We stayed at The Park House and more or less roamed the streets and pubs (could only do afternoons because we had kids with us) until we met up with our cycling group two or three days later. But even the Galway street corner buskers were good musicians, and we've always wanted to return.

Our last Ireland trip in 2019 was to Northern Ireland. I do have a trip report for this sojourn--we had a FANTASTIC time. Done!--North Ireland Without a Car (A Trip Report Continuation)

We'd go back again to Belfast in a heartbeat, but we decided the focus of our upcoming 2023 trip will be places where we DID NOT spend any time during three cycling trips and our two trips on our own. So other than Galway, most spots will be new. We're doing Westport (trad music galore), down to Galway, down to Dingle, over to Killarney (we had been to Kenmare), over to Cork then done. I have already assembled a preliminary "sessions" list and will refine, refine, refine.

And we're starting out in...Liverpool. My husband's great grandfather was from Cornwall; my grandparents were from Wigan and Tipton; all left from Liverpool. "The Leaving of Liverpool" always brings a tear to us.

Again, thank you for your information.
AZ
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Old Sep 9th, 2022, 06:47 PM
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bookmarking - sounds like a wonderful trip, so sorry you and your husband were ill - glad you recoverd
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