Thursday, December 13, 2018

Planning a Trip to Ireland: Where to Stay and How to Get There

This is the last of my 4 part series of planning a trip to Ireland.  Now that you have your flight, you know what you want to see, and how to get around: its time to find out where you want to stay.

Usually, when we visit a city, we like to use HomeAway and rent an apartment for a week or so.  We did this in London last summer and a few years ago in Paris. On both occasions staying in an apartment in the heart of the city is the ultimate travel experience.

Since this is such a whirlwind trip of only 8 days, spending 2 days in each location, we decided to just stay in hotels for our trip.  The next best thing to having your own apartment is staying in a boutique hotel.  I smaller place with character and personalized service.  The key to getting the best rate is to book directly at the hotel WEB site.

When we get off the plane in Dublin at 5-AM in the morning, we know that there is a bus that goes straight downtown.  We picked a Hotel in the downtown close to public transportation and the sites we want to see.   So our 2 days on Dublin will be at the Cassidys Hotel.  I actually got a recommendation for this place from an Army buddy.  A small Boutique Hotel with a short walk to Trinity College and other locations.  We will take our bags to the hotel in the early morning then go see some of the city until check-in. 

After 2 Days in Dublin, we grab the tram to the Heuston Train Station.  Our trip west to Galway is where we will spend the next 2-days on the Irish Atlantic coast.  We visit the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher while there. We decided to stay at the Residence Hotel in Galway, which is another boutique hotel.  This hotel only has 20 rooms and in in the heart of the city of Galway, on a famous pedestrian boulevard called Quay Street in the Latin Quarter.

Once we're done in Galway, we head off by bus south to Cork where we will tour the Ring of Kerry which is in the far southwest corner of Ireland.  In Cork, we decided to stay a the Jury Inn which is a major European Chain.  This hotel reservation was made as a matter of convenience, located close to downtown and to where our tour will be departing from.

After Cork, it's back to Dublin by train east and our flight back to the states the next day.  We wanted something close to the Train Station where we will grab a taxi back to the airport the next morning. So out of the blue after reading the reviews, we decide on the Charleville Lodge.  It seems like a crazy place to stay with a strange sort of vibe.  In a quiet part of west Dublin, it will suit our needs before our flight the next day.

So here it is; a planned trip to Ireland, 8 days on the emerald island. I hope you follow the Wandering Soldier and come along for the ride.  Looking forward to this great trip; we're going to have fun and grow in the process.  Its the whole point of travel.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Planning a Trip to Ireland: Getting Around

I can not say this enough, "Thank God for Google Maps".  Let me say it again, "Thank God for Google Maps".    It has taken all the mystery away from navigating anywhere in the world.  It has made my love affair with public transportation so much better.

Let me give you an example, we are staying at the Cassidy Hotel in downtown Dublin for two nights.  At the end of our stay, we need to take a train to Galway.  Use Google maps to search for the train station and it will tell you where to walk and what bus to get on.   It will include the bus number or train number, it's pure magic baby.

It's worth every penny of the $10 a day that AT&T charges me to use my phone like I'm in the USA.  You can change the travel options for any site you'd like to walk too or ride public transportation too.  Forget the tourist city map and travel like a local.  Google it!!

It is important when selecting a hotel in any city to look at the local travel options for the place you are thinking about staying.  Before booking your reservation do some google map searches to places you want to visit while your there.  Ensure that it fits into your touring plans while you're at a particular location.  Most place will be an easy walk away if you choose the right hotel.

When we get off the train in Galway our hotel is an 800-meter walk from the train station into the heart of the city, with all local attractions within easy walking distance. Once we finish our stay in Galway we will take a bus to Cork, but we will stop in Limerick for a few hours to visit King James Castle.  It is bus number 51 or X51 which is the express bus that only stops in Limerick and then Cork.  We haven't decided if we'll take the express or not.  It does shave an hour off the trip to Cork, but there might be somewhere else we want to stop.  It a decision that can be made right before we get on the bus.

A lot of people rent cars when they go to Ireland personally it's not for me.  There is a lot of stress in driving and parking.  I don't mind driving on the other side of the road but I prefer to leave the driving to someone else while on vacation, plus public transportation is so well developed in Europe there really is no need for the extra expense or stress.  In my next post, I explore the Hotels and the best way to make reservations.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Planning a Trip to Ireland: What to See?

As I stated in my last post,  now that we got the flight arranged, it's time to decide where we want to go.   We are going to be here for 8 days and we are flying into Dublin.  You could easily burn 8 days in Dublin alone, there is so much to see, but we want to see a bit more of Ireland than just this city.

Probably one of the best tools out there is .  Here you can look at what are the favorite sites, then decide where you want to go and what you want to see based on your interest.  So I did a search of Ireland, the number of things to do or see can seem a little overwhelming, so it's best to take your time read the reviews and make a decision.  If you're unable to decide then you can look at suggested itineraries, but that's no fun.

After a couple days of thinking it over, we decided to stay in 3 locations with 2 nights in each location.  The winners are Dublin for the first 2 nights to see the Book of Kells, the Epic Immigration Museum, and several other things. From Dublin, we take a train to Galway to see the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands which will be on an 11-hour tour.  From Galway will take a bus to Cork,  on the way we will stop in Limerick to tour the King James Castle.  Once in Cork, we take the Ring of Kerry Full-Day Guided Tour.

 After Cork, we will take the train back to Dublin for our flight back to the states the next day.  We will sleep well on the flight home I promise you.  In my next post, I will talk about travel details and the art of using public transportation.  I can smell the Irish coffee now, can't you?

Planning a Trip to Ireland: The Airline Tickets

It is important for me to score a good deal on Airline Tickets.  Which I did on a Black Friday Sale through the Irish National Airlines Aer Lingus, $1200 round trip for 2 from Nashville to Dublin.

When planning a trip I break it down into a few phases.  First I decide when and where we want to travel, then buy the initial round trip tickets.  The in-country plans always come later. Sometimes the cost of the travel determines where we go.  This was one of those cases.

I was sitting in my man cave scanning through my email and my eye catches the Aer Lingus sale notice.  My mind rushes back to a few years ago to a trip with an old Army buddy where we walked Haidrains wall in Northern England.  We initially went to Dublin, then Belfast making our way to the to Newcastle where we started the 7-day walk covering 120 kilometers. It was planes, trains, and automobiles for sure on that one.

My mind continued to race back to Ireland and how I wanted to go back with Terri, and that this time we needed to see more of the countryside.  So I clicked the link on the email verified the dates of our school calendar for spring break. I then purchase the tickets on the Aer Lingus website.

So we're set for the trip a United Airlines flight from Nashville to Newark, then Newark to Dublin for our flight across the pond.   Now what to do when we get there?  This is where the fun begins. So stay tuned and we'll decide where we go, what we see, and the travel in between.