So Confused: Ireland & Scotand

Old Jan 21st, 2014, 05:45 AM
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So Confused: Ireland & Scotand

My wife and I would like to spend about 2 weeks touring Ireland and Scotland in May or June this year. We've never been to either country, but we did spend a week in England several years ago. We prefer to be a part of a tour group. Most itineraries are quite similar so we can't pick a tour operator based upon that criteria. We've heard good (and bad) things about Globus, Grand European Tours (GET), and CIE. Who would you pick and why? I've tried to do a review using the internet, but I'm more confused than ever...HELP.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 06:46 AM
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Is there a reason why you're leaning towards a tour?
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 06:48 AM
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I am not a fan of "Tours" having worked at "tour Hotels" and seen too many exhausted travellers.. Try Looking at smaller tours rather than a fill the coach and dash about type.. http://www.rabbies.com/ are a good reliable company who have operated in Scotland for years and now also do Ireland.. Unlike some other companies they do not incite or insent Reviews so don't worry that you cant find 100's of reports giving the name of the guide and not much else.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 06:50 AM
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Brucer, seemingly, you won't want to hear this...but the UK, IMO, lends itself to self-drive/self-tour. You don't have to worry much about signage and facing a "foreign" language. Even driving on the "other" side would come to you comfortably after a day or two.

As for "self tour" (without a car),trains and busses are readily available. I've racked up 1000's of miles driving Eng,Scot,Wales, Ireland, north and south...and always found it to be rewarding, with pacing to fit your time schedule.

There, I've said it. Hopefully, you just might consider the above. Otherwise, in order to alleviate your confusion, truthfully, I can add nothing as far as a Tour Group is concerned. Sorry.

Whatever you decide, enjoy Ireland and Scotland, as I'm sure you will..and welcome to Fodors.

stu
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 06:56 AM
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Many on this forum will recommend independent travel. But no reason not to do a tour if you prefer. Here is some good information about choosing a tour, including good questions to ask. http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/tourshop.htm.

He also has some good suggestions if you do take a tour but might want a bit of independence. http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/998tourtips.

As for good and bad tours, like most things in life, it is often a matter of matching your expectations with what is offered and choosing accordingly. So it is not whether you "hear good (and bad) things but whether you understand the details of what a tour includes and it suits your preferences.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 07:07 AM
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I would also recommend Rabbies.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 07:26 AM
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I'm with the Tower of Power on this:

Considering that you already know the language (or at least a non-bastardized form of it), do you NEED a tour? Why do you prefer a tour?

Driving on the wrong side is actually natural once you start doing it considering where the driving accoutrements are on British cars (unlike the USVI, where they drive on the left and the driving controls are on the left).

That said, Rabbies gets a lot of good pub on this board for Scotland. Local tour companies with relatively small maximum group sizes (e.g., 20 instead of Globus' 50) would be better for these destinations.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 07:29 AM
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I'd advocate a self-drive tour. These are very easy countries to travel to. I did my own itinerary and we had no problems and a fabulous time. It's not hard to function in these countries. Go for it!
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 07:54 AM
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For those who asked about my tour preferences, I like the idea that someone does the planning, travel agenda, luggage handling, ground ticket purchases, driving, etc. Since the air travel is expensive, I want to make the most of my time on the ground. I don't want to spend time being lost, or going to a place that is closed that day, or arriving before it opens and waiting around, or going to a restaurant that is lousy, or going to an attraction that is a rip-off, or...

I guess I'm a little lazy and a little intimidated to pick an agenda that maximizes what we see and do in countries that we will never be back to in most cases. I want to go and see the best that these countries have to offer without any hassle in doing so.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 08:16 AM
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Rabbies. We generally don't do tours, but did in Scotland and had a very enjoyable and informative day trip with them.
Don't know if they "do it all" but what they do is first class.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 09:02 AM
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Ah, you're going after the whirlwind tour. A tour is your best bet for that.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 09:29 AM
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If you simply MUST do a tour I'd consider Rabbies or Timberbush (or CIE if you want la large coach tour) - I would not do Rick Steves for the UK

>>or going to a restaurant that is lousy, or going to an attraction that is a rip-off, or...
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 10:22 AM
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Do NOT whatever you do believe any of the total cacamas which is produced by St Rick of Steves when it comes to Ireland or for that matter Scotland... The man and his minions have no concept of either country... I pity the poor disciples this operation attracts as they get nothing but self opinionated drivel to base their holiday on.. I talk crap some times, they sell it.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 12:24 PM
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Not sure that promoting your own business on every post is abiding by the rules.. Forums are open and advice is freely given.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 12:46 PM
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I'm new to the forums, just signed up today, so I apologize. I'll leave out my business in future posts.

I've been mentioning it just to give perspective, my advice comes from personal travel to Ireland as well as someone who does this for a living.

Thanks for the feedback.
FravelTravel is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 02:47 PM
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>>I've been mentioning it just to give perspective, my advice comes from personal travel to Ireland as well as someone who does this for a living.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 07:38 AM
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faveltravel, you have a nice website, saw it in your profile. It is a fine line as janisj wrote. I linked the butlers buses and wondered if I should but they are just someone we used and like. I don't work for them or have anything to do with them. Welcome to Fodors, your input is appreciated. Green Dragon has the most awesome pics and she goes way off the beaten path. Check her out.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 07:58 AM
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Oh - it looks like the moderators deleted the post where you linked your site. Like flpab says - there is a line and you apparently crossed it. Maybe try posting the basic info/advice again w/o the 'ad' bit . . .

BTW - many of us link commercial sites in our posts -- That is allowed for sure. But they aren't businesses we work for or own
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 11:55 AM
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flpab- thanks for checking out the site, glad you liked it! And I'll check out Green Dragon for sure.

janisj - thanks to you too, appreciate you guys helping me learn the ropes

Ok Brucer, in case you missed what I had written previously and was deleted - Essentially I think 2 weeks for both countries would be rushing it. I'd would recommend choosing one to focus on and then doing 3 or 4 night city stay in the other. Such as:

10 nts Ireland, 2 nts Galway, 2 nts Edinburgh or
10 nts Scotland and 4 nts Dublin with day trips (or split Dublin and Galway or Dublin and Belfast)

Really depends on your travel priorities. But out of all of the itineraries I've done, I've found that people do regret rushing their trip but I've never had anyone that regretted slowing it down to enjoy each stop fully.

Any of the cities I mentioned are easy to explore on your own also, so you could book a tour in one country and then do a few nights independently in the other.
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