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Live From Ireland: 17 Day Trip Report (Self Drive)

Live From Ireland: 17 Day Trip Report (Self Drive)

Jul 26th, 2012, 05:57 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 521
The regrets - the things I wish we had skipped.

1. Let's just get this out of the way - Ring of Kerry. Complete disappointment sandwiched between the spectacular drives of Dingle and Beara. Too many tourist buses and not enough views. Skellig was great though....but I'm not sure it was worth the time just to get there, especially when Beara is so much better. And tour buses are now doing part of the Skellig Ring ;(

2. Some of the tower houses - especially the renovated/restored ones that were being used as banquet halls. So disappointing ;( Not at all authentic...they just seemed cheesy,

3. Galway - What is the hype? Congested and full of tourists.

4. Some of our B&B choices stick out....notably Grey Gables in Ennis due to the sewage smell. I think we preferred the smaller houses and I wish we had picked more that were in the center of town so we didn't have to drive in. I also learned my lesson on bed sizes. I'll be emailing the hotels on my upcoming European trip to find out bed sizes!

5. I've discussed this already, but I wish we had spent a little less time. I should have sacrificed some things and just said "we'll come back another time" but one of my personality flaws is that I have to "do everything." As a psychologist I know it is close to being disordered, but I feel distressed when I don't complete things (McDonald's toys as a kid? If I didn't have the entire set I would be really upset and then would just obsess over acquiring them). So I needed to do the full circle, but at the same time I would have been happier with about 10 days in Ireland.
twiggers is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 05:58 PM
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Things I would have changed

1. B&Bs - We ended up in a lot of large guesthouses. which were generally impersonal. The exception was PAX House. Also, we often ended up not in the center of town and having to drive in for dinner. Need to do more research next time.

2. I wished I had half a day extra in Dublin to do a few more things.

Well, that was shorter than I imagined Really, we had a great time in Ireland and I thank everyone here who was so very helpful with planning things.
twiggers is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 06:26 PM
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Thanks so much for all the good reading and information you've provided over the last few weeks. I looked forward to all your updates, and really enjoyed vicariously travelling along with you. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip, really experiencing Ireland with an open heart.

I'm another "do everything" kind of person, so it was a slow decision for us to eliminate the south and do the north and west only.

In that respect I was interested that a number of your highlights were the north and Clifden in the west, where we're going to spend a couple of days. Bought a new raincoat and waterproof shoes, so I'm good to go!

Have a safe voyage in Alaska - it's lovely to have a vacation from your vacation!
sugarmaple is online now  
Jul 26th, 2012, 08:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 47
Loved your report, but now I'm troubled - we'll have 20 days, and I was sure it'll be slow and interesting with not too much driving, and I almost finished the plan, but now I even cannot decide if it must be clockwise or just like you made it. What to you think? Would you now do it the same way? And can you say how much did you drive daily? How did you choose your stops? All booked beforehand or did you book on-tour?

Enjoy Alaska, it's on my must-see-list and I'd love one more report (LOL)
tasta is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 04:34 AM
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YOu will absolutely enjoy the north sugar! A real highlight for us

Tasta - Well, I actually liked counterclockwise for a few reasons:

1. You're not hugging the coastline. This can be a drawback for your passenger, but for feeling a little safer I liked that.

2. Everyone else goes clockwise, so in B&Bs you can have some GREAT conversations...you recommend some places and others make recommendations to you. Gives you lots to talk about.

I would absolutely have done it the same way!

Our total mileage was nearly 1600 miles. So we average just over 100 miles per day; however, there were a few days where we drove very little. The last 2 days we were averaging about 150-160 per day.

All of our stops were booked beforehand, but only because I am OCD like that. For me, the planning is half the fun! But we met MANY people who just drove aimlessly and booked the day they arrived. There are ALWAYS vacancies and you can use recommendations from other travelers you meet who are traveling clockwise.

I think I'll be doing a live report over on cruisecritic for the Alaska trip Mind you it is a cruise and not an extensive land vacation.
twiggers is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 05:16 AM
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For those interested, here is the link for my Alaska trip report: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1678339
twiggers is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 06:50 AM
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but we did stop on the road when we saw someone walking and would just say "hi" and they would be full of advice.

Ah, Twigg, you've hot a good one here. I've always done the same on my Ireland visits..I would ask directions even if I knew the way...just to hear the answer in full animated Oyrish talk:
"Ye keep on this road, y'hear, and ye'll come to a bridge. Now, don't dare cross the bridge, but take a roight till ye run out of road. There it is, man!"

What lovely memories you've stirred up, doc. How about some pics for us on this thread? I'll look at your Alaska stuff now. It was my 50th state when we visited two years ago.

tower is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 07:40 AM
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Twiggers, I've been to Ireland 4 times and am planning my 5th trip (I'm addicted!). Each time I am concentrating on a different area, and I've learned some tricks that work for MY traveling style (which will obviously not apply to everyone else).

I like small and mid-sized towns. Ennis is the largest I like, I prefer Westport sized - down to Cushendall at the smallest. Must have a couple of pubs at the least. I prefer B&Bs near the center town (staggering distance to the pubs!). If I'm in a city, I prefer to be in a quieter neighborhood, as I'm a light sleeper.

I try not to schedule more than 2-3 hours driving a day (calculated as straight driving) because I know that, with stops and detours, that often turns into 4-5 hours.

I get up early, often before breakfast is near, and go out and walk in the quiet morning beforehand, or for a short drive. It is nice to see the places before others get there, like when we stayed on Inis Mor and had Dun Aengosa to ourselves early in the morning. It was exhilarating!

Doing my B&B research, I look for: WiFi, rooms with the right number of beds for our group, charming decor, location, and Tripadvisor reviews.

For driving, I also like going against the grain - we took a similar route to yours last trip, from Belfast, around counter-clockwise to Beara. I also like starting my trip in any big cities, and ending up in small towns, as there is less culture shock than going from relaxing town to bustling city, like Dublin.

I love talking to locals! That's the best part of it. One reason I like staying in the same place for at least 2-3 nights is to get to know the folks in the area, probably at the local pub

I'm also a do-everything person - the only saving grace I have is that I've finally convinced myself that I need to plan a trip as if I'm going back someday (since I have, several times!)
GreenDragon is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 08:26 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 34
Your billing from Hertz might be merely what the current exchange rate (Euros to US dollars) was at the time your credit card converted it, Twiggers. My husband just returned from a golf trip to Ireland and that's what he found out. Also, some credit cards charge a foreign exchange rate. Maybe yours does. My husband found out that even when Hertz bills you in Euros, your credit card will do the converting when billing you and that is dependent on the exchange rate on the day the bill is received from Hertz. Hey, I wouldn't complain about $20 difference, I don't think! But that's just me, I'm sure. Our credit card, Capital One, doesn't have a foreign exchange rate.....something to think about, I guess, before traveling.

Al in all, it sounds like you had a great trip! That's wonderful and thank you for posting the highlights, hints, and changes you would have made. It is most helpful to those of us going in the future! (You can see that my DH and I do NOT travel together all the time!)
MarilynT1435 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 03:41 PM
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I get up early, often before breakfast is near, and go out and walk in the quiet morning beforehand, or for a short drive. It is nice to see the places before others get there, like when we stayed on Inis Mor and had Dun Aengosa to ourselves early in the morning. It was exhilarating!

Green Dragon, where did you stay? I am in love with that place! We want to go back, my fifth time and stay there and rent a cottage north of Galway around Clifton.

I am following your cruise now!! I live very close to a port city and don't cruise that much. We do hop on and do a rum run every now and then.
flpab is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 12:11 AM
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Enjoyed your trip report very much!
travelgirl2 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 12:08 PM
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TG2..there you are. Haven't seen a post fom you in ages...boys must be college age now? Seems like years ago when you were on that 11 week odyssey...unforgetable.
Write me at [email protected]

tower is offline  
Jul 30th, 2012, 09:53 AM
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We stayed at the Man of Aran Cottage, the place built for the 1920s film Man of Aran. It's about a 10 minute walk from Dun Aengosa, and the hosts (Joe and Maura) are lovely. http://www.manofarancottage.com/

The only downside is that there is no nearby pub. The gift shops and tea cafe is close by, but they close in the evenings. Joe Watty's is about 5 miles away in Kilronan. I walked it the first night (it was a lovely evening), but the weather deteriorated and I took a taxi back later. We rented bikes the next day for getting around and about.
GreenDragon is offline  
Aug 1st, 2012, 07:18 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
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Well, THE HUSBAND just informed me that he was asked at the Hertz counter at the end of the rental whether he wanted his credit card charged in euros or US dollars; he said euros and that's how he was billed. The bill to us from Capital One, however, showed the converted rate in US dollars. I hope this helps for your next trip, just in case you were either not asked or did not request billing in euros.
MarilynT1435 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2012, 08:21 PM
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twiggers, thanks for summarizing your thoughts in the end. We are doing a very similar trip (counter clockwise covering N Ireland and the south west primarily in a few days...super exciting). I do have a night planned in Galway (now wondering if I should nix it...and instead spend a night in Clifton)...however the next day's itinerary is to check out the cliff of moher in the morning and drive to dingle by the end of the day (long day)...dont think its possible from Clifton but it anyone else feels otherwise your input will be appreciated.

The plan was to cover dingle as well as ROK but I may replace the ROK with Beara based on feedback from you & green dragon...just a bit worried about the roads but by then we should be used to driving on narrow winding roads.
mnag is online now  
Aug 4th, 2012, 11:31 AM
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Marilyn - No, the exchange was horrid and my credit card does not charge a foreign conversion charge. We were never asked what we wanted to be charged in, so they just automatically did the auto-conversion at a horrid exchange rate. If you check out Tripadvisor this is a common practice (it happened to others at Budget).

mnag - The roads on Beara are pretty narrow in spots, but there is very minimal traffic. It really needs a clear day though! Clifden to Dingle, stopping at the Cliffs, would be too rough (I think). Maybe better to push down to Ennis and then do the Cliffs + drive to Dingle.
twiggers is offline  
Aug 5th, 2012, 05:43 PM
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Twiggers, I only just caught up with your trip report and had a blast reading it! We have covered a lot of these parts of Ireland in our trips and it is always nice to hear another opinion.

That being said, I was one of the naysayers about Grey Gables. We stayed there based on good reviews, mostly on TA. It is not a place that I would ever go to again or recommend, so I felt some absurd vindication when you didn't like it. I am sorry about that and also sorry that you had a bad experience there.

I feel the same about the ROK. We have driven it twice. We were not enthused the first time but gave it a second chance a few years later, sort of like giving it the benefit of the doubt, but it wasnt any better. I did, however, have some most delicious fresh sole on Port Magee, in a pub where the patrons spoke Gaelic. Those roads were some of the most narrow and winding roads ever!

We usually go in spring or fall, when the tourist season has died down somewhat, and enjoy being there without the bus loads of people at the major sites!

Many thanks for sharing your Ireland experience with us!
allisonm is offline  
Aug 6th, 2012, 02:30 PM
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Allison - Funny, Grey Gables was the only place that I was worried about and I was justified.
twiggers is offline  
Aug 16th, 2012, 03:35 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 478
Twiggers...thank you for your report. I'm a bit confused: did you think the Heritage Card was worth it or not?
peggionthego is offline  

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