Ireland/ N. Ireland TRIP REPORT

Mar 22nd, 2004, 01:45 PM
  #1  
Syv
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Ireland/ N. Ireland TRIP REPORT

Did "the impossible"

We're Baa-aaack! You might remember me with my 4-1/2 days itinerary that "can't be done".

Lousy mixture of weather (as expected for early March), but overall a good vacation.

SUNDAY March 7th - overnight flight Toronto Canada to London. 5 hr. time change. Arrival Monday 9:05 a.m. at Heathrow. Took TUBE into Piccadilly Circus. Reservation at Regent Palace Hotel right there at the subway entrance/exit. Dropped off our luggage. Headed right back out to The Original Sightseeing Tour bus stop, again right there at Piccadilly Circus. Very convenient location. Sunny but cool day. Rode outside on top to see the sites, hear the commentary, take photos. Hopped on/off at a few places, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey (closed that day), Tower of London tour, etc. Had a great fish & chips dinner 3 pounds$ bought through the tour bus company at Sherlock Holmes Restaurant/Pub. Returned to Piccadilly Circus about 6:30 p.m. Walked the street window shopping for an hour. My friend found a great deal on a fancy church hat & bought it.

TUESDAY Next morning took the underground back to airport for approximately 8:00 a.m. flight to Belfast. It was delayed one hour & they had to switch us to a different plane because of "technical problems" (at least done BEFORE take-off - ha,ha). Arrived Belfast City Airport, picked up rental car -- the steering wheel was on the WRONG side ! Were on our way by about 12:00 noon. Drove west to BELLEEK. No problems sorting out the driving on left, and standard transmission shifting with left hand. Stopped for a few scenery photos en route. BELLEEK POTTERY TOUR. Drove to OMAGH to visit friends for supper & overnight stay.

WEDNESDAY Had "Ulster Fry" breakfast, left house by 8:30 a.m. Drove OMAGH to BURREN AREA (stopped for few scenic photo shots of the area) & CLIFFS OF MOHER. Clear but very cold strong winds. Walked up both sides of hills visible as you arrive at the cliffs (maybe a mile total - too cold! plus we saw private property signs & fences although a path led further). Great spot. Worth the visit!

Easy day. Had an extra hour of daylight we could have used somewhere. Overnight at PADDY'S DOOLIN HOSTEL. Clean good bunkbeds but cold bedrooms, friendly people. The "thing to do" was walk across the road to the pub for live music that evening. Smoky but fun atmosphere. Quite cold, heavy rains & winds overnight.

THURSDAY Drove DOOLIN to CLIFDEN. Went on Sky Road drive, took lots of photos. Drove a few other roads in the area to see what there was to see. Went to CONNEMARA NATIONAL PARK. We were the ONLY ONES THERE. It was way too cold for everyone, including the ponies! Not a one to be seen. Only did one trail - a 1/2 hour brisk walk since it was so cold & lightly raining, watched the video, looked through the visitor centre displays.

Again - an early night - arrived at the B&B at supper time (as you can tell, we're not used to travelling this lightly on mileage/time out on roads -- However VERY GOOD ADVICE from everyone NOT to drive Ireland roads after dark). Overnight - SEA VIEW HOUSE B&B on the Sky Road (back the way we'd came), just west of Clifden. Easy to find. Beautifully decorated, clean, friendly, good breakfast, good view from dining area.

FRIDAY CLIFDEN to DONEGAL - fresh snow on the mountain peaks. Found parking and walked the streets a bit in Donegal window shopping. Went to DRUMCORROY HOUSE B&B. Earlier email conversations had said they were not open but to "stop by anyhow & chat" -- so we did. Had a great visit with them, stayed an hour. They showed us the sheep & dogs, and Patsy still in his farm clothes came in and played the fiddle for us.

Found a place for supper in Donegal. Then went on the Killybegs Road just outside of town to DONEGAL TOWN INDEPENDENT HOSTEL. Again, an early arrival in Donegal but not early enough to drive out to Slieve League Cliffs the same day.

SATURDAY morning early. Awoke to sunshine! Continued west on Killybegs Road to SLIEVE LEAGUE CLIFFS. No problem finding it thanks to BILL's directions. Love listening to & watching the waves crash in.

Decision - not enough time to do Glenveagh Nat'l Park AND Fanad Head. Went across country to Fanad Head. Went up another little peninsula just west of Fanad thanks to my friend's map reading (only took an extra hour of our day because of the slow driving). No problem. Just enjoyed the drive. Came back down and went east & up the next peninsula to Fanad Head. Nice view of light house & cliffs (but I had hoped we might have been able to get closer or tour inside). Drove through Portsalon on way back down the peninsula.

Across to DUNLUCE CASTLE (again all fenced across - was closed for tours this early in the year - just took some pictures). Onward to GIANT'S CAUSEWAY. Visitor centre closed. Walked out the top and bottom paths. Raining lightly by time we got out to the causeway. A couple folks ventured out on top but said it was far too slippery with the rain. So we just walked around. By then POURING rain. Soaking wet by the time we got back to car.

Drove to BALLYMENA to meet friends. They changed our meeting location at last minute on our phone call from the causey and we could not find it. So we stopped at the original meeting place and called again and they came to where we were (thank goodness). It was starting to get dark by then. Followed them home near Ballymena. Arrived about 6:30 p.m. Supper, music on bagpipes by their daughter, a bit of a concert with us on piano, singing, etc. Then off to bed.

Sunday Breakfast there then our SURPRISE visit to our previous church Pastor & his family who moved to RASHARKIN 1-1/2 yrs ago. Drove back to Rasharkin to the church. POURING RAIN. Waited in car for a signal from our friends that the service had just started. Walked up the aisle during the song. Shocked our friends, the pastor & his wife. Great surprise. Went over well. They had absolutely no clue! Great visit with their family (4 young children) Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday - left about 6:00 a.m. for drive back to Belfast City Airport without incident.

Oddities we got a laugh at:
- traffic lights go red, yellow, green.
- prices in grocery stores - horrific! (at least with our exchange rates)
- warm centre sitting area of home - very cold wings/ bedrooms. Makes for a cold toilet seat and bathroom floors - yikes!
- Twisty, windy, narrow roads. Dotted centre passing line CONTINUES over crest of hills, and around blind curves! No wonder there are so many accidents.

Saw lots & lots of sheep. Took lots & lots of pictures. Didn't spend too much money. Overall a good trip but many more places in the world still to go! Till next time....


Sylvia
Syv is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 07:29 AM
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Sylvia:

I'm so glad you had a great time. I know we all discouraged you from driving so much, and I've done that myself, but I wouldn't do it again. I'm too old . Still, just to be there is fun. The great thing about bad weather is that you are less likely to stop and get out of the car, so you make MUCH better time.

I'm glad my directions helped you find the Slieve Leaugue. I think it is a spectacular area and it doesn't get much business. Fanad is beautiful too. I didn't try to get into the lighthouse, I just went there for the view.

Again, glad you had a great time.

Bill
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 08:14 AM
  #3  
Syv
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There was a heavy bank of clouds like cotton candy that looked "fastened" hanging to the lower part of half the Slieve League cliffs. Made quite a spectacular photo.

Of course, the other advantage to bad weather is we saw many beautiful RAINBOWS!
Syv is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 09:31 AM
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Sylvia:

Love to see your pictures if you ever post them online.

Bill
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 12:02 PM
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I'm fairly certain that the "other little peninsula" you drove round was the Rosguill--was it posted as the Atlantic Drive? The Rosguill coast is the western shore of Mulroy Bay, the Fanad is the Eastern shore.

The Atlantic Drive is considered by many to be some of the most beautiful coastline in Ireland, but foreign tourists rarely see it unless they are interested in deep-sea fishing or windsurfing. In clear weather, the Drive makes a wonderful day hike; it is only 15 km.
Ryn2691 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 10:38 AM
  #6  
Syv
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I think we saw Atlantic Drive signs. It went to Carrigart, Ballyheerin.

I'm still looking for a friend with a scanner. If I find a way, I'll get some photos online & let everyone know.

Sylvia
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Apr 2nd, 2004, 04:31 AM
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HI Syv,
I'm sooo happy to hear that you had a good time. And glad to hear that you saw so much. IT's too bad the weather wasn't a bit better for you, but it kind of goes part and parcel with Ireland, doesn't it? As Bill says, it's helps with the miles. You're less inclined to get out for walks in the cold and rain. We, also stayed at the hostel in Doolin, and I remember the bunk beds...and also remember how cold we were!! My shower in the morning was the fastest one in my life!
Welcome home.... and happy travels..
kodi is offline  
Apr 10th, 2004, 09:26 AM
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i enjoyed reading about your experiences -- i am planning 7 days in ireland this summer. i have to comment on your "oddity" remark, regarding the stoplights: red-yellow-green. they do this in italy as well, i actually like it better than in the states, where it goes from red to green. it lets you know the light is about to change, which beats being stuck behind people who aren't too quick on the gas
katvg is offline  
Apr 10th, 2004, 03:36 PM
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Well, I could be way off base here, but I always thought that the colours changing from red, orange green, was exactly so drivers could get ready to GO because most cars are stick shift. It gives you warning to get the car in gear. A great idea!
kodi is offline  
Apr 10th, 2004, 03:50 PM
  #10  
Syv
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I finally had a very few photos scanned from Ireland, March 2003.


You should be able to view the slide show at

http://public.fotki.com/Syv/ireland

Syv is offline  
Apr 12th, 2004, 08:07 AM
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Beautiful pictures Sylvia!

Bill
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Apr 12th, 2004, 10:45 AM
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Singletail
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Wonderful report and glad you had a good time and felt as if you used your time to best advantage. Of course, one wonders where all the big mouths around here who kept telling you "it can't be done" are right now???? probably playing with their keyboards and wishing they were as adventurous as you are...and even half as well-traveled. Cheers!
 
Apr 12th, 2004, 11:32 AM
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I'm one of those big mouths singletail and as I said before, it's not something I would do. This is a board for opinions and I hope we can contribute to it without have to preface every sentence with "In my opinion". In otherwords, no one said you can't drive that far, it's just more than most would advise. I once traveled more than 200 miles in a day in Ireland and didn't arrive until almost midnight. That's because I stop a fair amount. I read a trip report from a person that said they drove from Portrush to Schull in one day. Most people would consider that way too much and would probably tell you so. Are they big mouths? No. Just offering an opinion.

Again, people come here and ask for opinions and they get them. I can tell you that you can drive from anywhere in Ireland to anywhere else in Ireland in one day. Whether or not it is something that the average traveler would like to do is another issue ... big mouths or not.

Bill
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Apr 12th, 2004, 11:58 AM
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The cold toilet seat thing is very common in restaurants and pubs here, but fortunately not so much in houses--at least not in the houses I visit, luckily enough for me.

Glad you hit the north--so many people pass it by, and they just don't realise what they're missing.
Ann41 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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Very well said , Bill.
I, too, am one of the big mouths, I guess.
We are all just trying to help each other on this board. We've all had great trips and do our best to give what we believe to be our best advice to other travellers... and we give our advice in good faith. I don't think anyone is trying to be a big mouth....just helpful and friendly.
If we can help someone, it's great.... but nobody has to take our advice.

Great pictures Sylvia!! Makes me want to return to Ireland!!!

kodi is offline  
Apr 12th, 2004, 03:34 PM
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What wonderful pictures!!!! Are you a professional photographer? If not, you could be! Thanks for sharing them with us.
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Apr 14th, 2004, 05:58 PM
  #17  
Syv
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Nope - certainly not a professional. Just a 35 mm Canon SureShot. Love travelling. Enjoy my photos & making up the album afterward for memories.

Hate to think of how many photo albums I'd have to grab if, God forbid, there was a fire!!

(just kidding... I know, I know - don't grab stuff, just get out).


Am taking a quick jaunt from Ontario Canada down to Charleston SC and Washington DC at end of June (timing it to be in DC for July 4th fireworks).

Next year - heading to Canadian Maritime Provinces (east coast) and Newfoundland, then down into Maine and NYC.

Happy trails to you!
Syv is offline  
Apr 15th, 2004, 04:29 AM
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Hi Syv,
I think you are following me!!!!! I live in Southern Ont and in the last 18 months have visited Charleston. IN the last 2 years I've visited NYC twice and also Newfoundland ( on different trips, of course). Loved it all.
Happy travelling!!
kodi is offline  
Apr 15th, 2004, 12:17 PM
  #19  
Syv
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Hi Kodi,

Yes - it's been years since I've been to Charleston, so taking a friend who's never been. Also went to Nfld about 6-7 years ago (loved it) & taking friend who's never been east at all. Before Ireland, my last trip was CO/WY/SD (driving the whole way from Barrie!).
Syv is offline  
Apr 15th, 2004, 05:40 PM
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Good for you!!! I went to SD too!! But we flew to Rapid City and rented a car and toured around. Loved it. I hope to get back to Ireland some day, but have been 6 times and really have a lot of other places on my wish list.
Heading out to the Rockies this summer.
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