Ireland and a wee bit o' Scotland -14 days, 10 people and lots of photos

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by KathInJax, Jun 24, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    Last year I convinced 4 people in my family to sign up for the British Airways visa card. With 8 people in Jacksonville, we would have enough points for all of us to go to Europe. My family, while they would love business or first, prefer 2 trips instead of one, so we usually look for economy tickets. After a lot of research, I had settled on Aer Lingus as the most cost effective way to get over there. After realizing the BOS-DUB was going to be 25,000 miles after the BAEC changes in Nov '11 we knew that we could take all 10 of us on the trip.

    We booked the tickets in January. It took about 2 hours on the phone with the agent as we had 3 accounts to deal with and 2 sets of dates. My sister in MEM could only go for one week, so she was flying into SNN and overnighting in BOS on the way back. We were able to get JAX-ATL-BOS for $190 ai and BOS-MEM for $450 + $99 companion ticket on DL. Of course my Dad then says "I don't know why we are going all that way to Ireland with out going over to Scotland, it is so close", so we added DUB-EDI for about $125 per person. Just an aside that the "it's so close" comment is usually uttered by someone in my family on every trip, it just happened to be my Dad on this trip.

    Our final itinerary:

    Edinburgh (3 days) - Holiday Inn Express Royal Mile/Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport
    Belfast (1 day) - Holiday Inn Express Queens Quarter
    Letterkenney (1day) - Radisson Blu Letterkenney
    Sligo (2 days) - Clarion Hotel Sligo
    Galway (2 days) - Radisson Blu Galway
    Cork (2 days) - Clarion Hotel Cork
    Dublin (3 days) - Clarion Hotel IFSC (Holiday Inn Express Boston Garden 1 night for sister)

    Total points and miles used
    250,000 Avios points + $1,440 in taxes and fuel surcharges
    1 $99 DL companion ticket
    165,000 PC points + $600 (cash+points)
    100,000 CC points + $1,010 (cash+points - approx)
    200,000 Choice points (purchased at Daily Getaways $750)

    Total points and miles earned:
    15,000 PC points (10% rebate)
    375,000 CC points (approx with spend and booking bonus)
    35,000 DL miles (approx)

    List of people traveling - my parents, my sister in JAX, her husband and her 3 kids (14,12 & 9), my sister in MEM and her husband and of course - me!

    Our flight from JAX-ATL-BOS was uneventful. We carried on our bags as we only had 3 hours in BOS and I did not want to have to deal with checked luggage. We had talked to EI about our BOS-DUB flight and adding on the DUB-EDI flight. And they said that the bags would be checked all the way through. We paid for the check bags from DUB-EDI. I did not know if they would charge us for it, but this was already a complicated trip and we did not want to through another variable into the mix.

    I explained to the agent about the combination of award and paid flights and that we were going to EDI. She took our passports and started tagging the luggage. That's when we realized that she had only tagged them to DUB and 3 of the bags were already sent on their way. She finally was able to check us all the way to EDI and tag the luggage. There was an orange tag that was also added to the bags that said Transfer in DUB.

    The EI flight was fine. The main issue that we had was that it was only 5 hours long. No, i don't want to be on a plane longer, but after they served dinner and dimmed the lights, there was only about 1 1/2 hours of time available for sleep. The flight from DUB-EDI was on a small plane (I don't know planes, but it had propellers) and didn't take long.

    We arrived in Edinburgh around 8:00 AM. Well, the humans and 7 pieces of luggage arrived - my bag was no where to be found. I finally found the lost luggage area and they took a report. The gentleman working the lost luggage area said that it probably did not get transferred in time and that it should be on one of the next flights. From the nonchalant attitude, it seemed to me that this is a regular occurrence. Anyway, they give you a claim number and they have a website where you can track your claim. The other important piece of information is that the agent in BOS had put all of the luggage under my BIL's name.

    We take the Airlink bus to the hotel and stored the luggage. After breakfast, we get on the hop-on hop-off bus and take a nap as they show us the city in the cold and rain. We head back to the hotel and take a nap. We had a walking tour scheduled for 7:00 pm The tour was fun, but went on a little too long. By that time, we are looking for dinner and we are at the Royal Mile. Did you know that children are not allowed in many restaurants after 8:00pm? Not even Pizza Hut. It has something to do with the liquor laws. After being turned away from about 5 restaurants, we finally found a middle eastern restaurant where we could get dinner. We then went back to the hotel and crashed!


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    Holiday Inn Express Royal Mile

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    Holiday Inn Express Royal Mile

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    Royal Mile


    I will finish up Edinburgh on the next installment!
     
  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    A fantastic report, cannot wait to read more from your experiences!:) Thanks for sharing!:)
     
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  3. wrxmom

    wrxmom Gold Member

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    Great job on the miles. Love your Dad's philosophy. :)
     
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  4. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    With 8 people, getting all of those people up and ready to go out In the morning is a challenge - especially when you have children on vacation. For the hotels that provided breakfast, it was usually over at 10 AM. Inevitably, one of the children (and the adult assigned to them) did not show up until 9:45. Therefore, we always started our sightseeing around 10:30 AM at the earliest.

    Of course, the first attraction that we were going to see was the Edinburgh Castle. My mother wanted to be there when they shot one of the cannons off at 1:00 pm. We got to the Castle and the line was massively long. Luckily, we had purchased the Royal Edinburgh Ticket with the Hop-on, Hop-off bus and were able to bypass the lines. It was at that point that we realized the this was the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend and since Monday was a banking holiday, the Queen had declared Tuesday a holiday, so there was a 4 day weekend, which was one reason why there were so many people at the castle.

    The castle was interesting and the canon did go off at 1:00. The views over the city were great.

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    Edinburgh Castle

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    Scott Memorial from Edinburgh Castle

    After lunch, we decide to go to Camera Obscura. This attraction has been in Edinburgh since the 1800's, and I gather that some people don't think much of it. My family loved it. There are several floors of optical illusions, all of them hands on. At the top of the attraction is the Camera Obscura - a device using mirrors that project an image on a round table. There is a little show telling you how it works and then you are able to play with the image for a while.

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    Camera Obscura (white building on left)

    Happily, that evening I get an e-mail from my staff that the Dublin airport had called and that my bag was sitting in Dublin. The bar coded tag had been ripped off and only the transfer in Dublin orange tag and my fabric tag was still on the bag. From now on, I am also going to include my business card on the inside of my bag, in case this happens again. Since we were going back to Dublin the next day, I told them that I would pick up the bag in Dublin.

    The next day, we decided to go to Holyrood Palace. There are 2 tickets there, one for the Queen's gallery and one for the actual castle. The Queen's Gallery had several pieces of work, but most importantly for us, there was a Faberge Egg. While it was worthwhile for us, since the gallery is so small, this is something that you might want to skip if you are going to Edinburgh and you have time issues. Since we were there during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, they had a craft room set up where children could make a crown. My nieces spent some time making elaborate paper crowns. Holyrood Abbey is attached to the palace and is in ruins.

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    Holyrood Palace

    We could see Arthur's Seat and the steady stream of people walking to the top.

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    Arhtur's Seat (notice the people at the top) with Scottish Parliment and Dynamic Earth in the foreground

    We had read about The Piemaker and had wanted to go try their pies. My Dad grew up near Toronto and is always looking for a good meat pie. It was quite good and was affordable for lunch. It is mainly a takeout place, although there were a few seats to sit down.

    That afternoon, my sister takes the kids to the Edinburgh Dungeon, which they described as being like a haunted house with a couple of rides. My Mother and I go and return the clothes that I had purchased and not worn.

    We go to the airport and catch our flight to DUB, but it was delayed. We finally arrive at the hotel in Dublin. Unfortunately, by this time, there are no restaurants open. We finally order pizza to be delivered and have a pizza party in the lobby "lounge" area in the hotel. The Holiday Inn Express is attached to the Crowne Plaza and had an increase in points from 15,000 to 25,000 points in January. The staff was quite helpful and provided us with takeout menus when we realized that it was going to be our option for dinner.

    Next, we pick up the cars and start our journey north.
     
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  5. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    The next morning there was some commotion at the hotel. The Olympic torch was in Dublin that day. There were cars and trucks that had something to do with the torch at the hotel and we are still unclear if the torch actually went by the hotel. After a little googling, we learn that the torch was going from Dublin to Belfast that day - exactly what we were doing.

    We picked up 2 cars from Dan Dooley. Since we were renting three cars in total, they threw in the extra driver on each car for free. Renting a car in Ireland took a lot of planning and research. If you do not buy their "Super " CDW and buy just the regular CDW, then they charge the entire amount of the deductible to your credit card, which can be 1,000 Euros. "Super" CDW was only 100 euros. None of my credit cards included coverage in Ireland, so we went with the "Super" CDW. Dan Dooley also did not charge us for driving into Northern Ireland, which is charged on most of the other companies.

    My sister and brother-in-law decide to get a GPS for their car. We figured that we would follow right behind them. Our first stop for the day was going to be Newgrange. We head out on the M1 and follow my BIL. We have a map and the signs for Newgrange are well marked, but my BIL does not get off at that exit. We get off a little later and head down some very narrow streets until we arrive at the site. There is no parking lot, just cars pulled over on the side of the road. We walk up to the entry point and they tell us that we have to go back to the visitor center and take the bus down.

    When we arrived, we were told that the next available tour would be at 3:00 pm. This was not unexpected as we had read that the tours sell out fast. However, we were trying to get to the Titanic Experience in Belfast and to see the Olympic Torch, so we bought our heritage cards (free entry to several historic sites) and drove on to Belfast.

    Driving on the M1 was fine, the road is divided and it gives you time to acclimate driving on the left (wrong) side of the road. Driving in Belfast was extremely frustrating. The roads were not well marked. They are narrow and people parking on the street don't always pull in straight. Many of the roads are one way, but none of our maps marked that.

    We finally make it to the Titanic Belfast. Tom911 had recently done a trip report advising people to pre-purchase tickets since he saw sold out days. We debated about pre-purchasing, but we're concerned that we would not make the time for our entry. We finally e-mailed the Titanic Belfast and asked if we needed to purchase the tickets or would we be fine purchasing the tickets when we arrived. They e-mailed back to tell us that on a Wednesday afternoon, we would be fine and that they would not be sold out. The sign upon arriving: Sold Out.

    We went into the ticket booth and started to explain that we had e-mailed and were there any tickets available. They did sell us tickets for the next entry. The attraction is very well done. I thought that it captured what Belfast was like during the early 1900's and what went into building a ship during those times. There was even a ride the took you through the "shipyard". Of course, they had information on the sinking of the Titanic and the aftermath, but most of the focus was on the ship itself. My sister gave it high praise as she declared it "interesting".

    By this time, the sun was out!


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    Titanic Belfast


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    Belfast from shipyards

    We received recommendations for dinner and brave the downtown area. By that time, we had given up on the Olympic torch and just wanted dinner. However, there was a huge traffic jam with police out. My sister asked what was going on and they told her that the torch was about to go by. She and my two nieces rush to the line standing at the street and see the flame go by a few seconds after they get there. They walk back towards the cars, but my BIL had been forced to turn and leave that street. My sister puts my youngest niece in our car and she and my other niece wait for my BIL. They spend the next 30 minutes playing an elaborate game of Marco Polo as he tries to navigate streets with just a GPS and she only has street signs and her cell phone.

    The places that we had been told to go for dinner were closed, so we finally headed over to Victoria Square. This is a shopping mall in Belfast, but it does have a couple of sit down places. We go to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen for dinner.

    Outside the food court area, they have a platform for viewing the city.

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    Victoria Square


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    Belfast from Victoria Square

    After dinner, we head back to the hotel and call it a night.

    Next, we are going to the Antrim Coast!
     
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  6. Sedosi

    Sedosi Gold Member

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    Nice trip report. Thanks.
     
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  7. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Very nice report!!
     
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  8. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    Thank you - I am trying to keep it on the shorter side - but it was a long trip!
     
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  9. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Looking forward for more! A great trip report! Keep posting!:)
     
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  10. Mikus33

    Mikus33 Silver Member

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    IMO you didn't miss out too much by skipping Newgrange. I just got back from my honeymoon in Ireland (We were actually in Dublin the same day as you - the day the Olympic torch came through), and I had heard a lot of good things about Newgrange. It didn't help that it was rainy and overcast on the day we visited Newgrange, but I definitely found it underwhelming.

    Thanks for the report, I'm loving reading about some of the things we didn't do - Northern Ireland & Scotland.
     
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  11. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    Mikus33 - we were told that there was about 2 weeks of clear weather before we arrived. I hope that you had some of the good weather and avoided the deluge that happened later in that week. Oh - and Congratulations on your wedding!

    We woke up to more rain and wind and for us it was cold - in the 50's. We had planned to go to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Giant's Causeway that day. Because our reservations were in Letterkenney and we did not know how long the drive would take, we did not drive the Antrim Coast Road.

    As we arrived on the coast, we passed through Ballycastle. I wish that we had time to stop and explore, but we only had time to snap a couple of pictures

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    Fair Head from Ballycastle

    We arrived at the bridge and it was open. The walk to the bridge is supposed to be one kilometer. I think they lie. It was quite a walk up and down hills, steps and in the sun, it would be gorgeous. The rope bridge is 66 feet long and is 100 feet over the water. There are only 8 people allowed to cross the bridge at the same time. Now, I am afraid of heights. Changing a light bulb is challenging as I have issues standing on a ladder, so I had quite a few trepidations about trying to cross the bridge. I was able to do it by not looking down, staring straight ahead and repeating "I can do this" over and over. The bridge not only swung side to side, but it also moved up and down. It has two boards that are strapped to the rope making a walkway. Once you add in the wind and rain, it was quite the adventure.

    The island had a few ropes to prevent people from falling off the cliffs on the island, but you definitely need to watch any children that you bring with you. If you are interested in this, there are quite a few You Tube videos of people crossing the bridge.


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    Carrick-a-Rede Island

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    Walk along to coast to the bridge

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    Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

    Unfortunately, my camera broke right before crossing the bridge. I had to rely on the iPhone camera for the rest of the trip.

    The next stop was the Giant's Causeway. This is an area of interlocking basalt columns (Wikipedia knowledge) near Bushmills. There is a long walk to the columns, or you can pay to take the bus. My parents were smart and took the bus, while we walked. The weather had not cleared up, so it was still raining. While we were walking, my BIL kept asking "What are we going to see?" the only thing that I could come up with is "interesting rocks". Luckily, the area was fascinating. The columns are different heights and you can climb all over them.

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    Giant's Causeway

    We then drove to our hotel in Letterkenney. This was the first Radisson Blu that we had stayed in while we were in Ireland. All 7 of the adults had stayed during last year's promo to earn 50,000 points each. We were using some of those points on a cash+points reservation. The original reservations were in my Mother & sister's names as they had status matched. After Radisson came out with the second Big Night Givewaway, I redid the reservations so the my father and BIL could qualify for the promotion this year.

    I had status matched to Gold last year, and the hotel gave me an upgrade to a Business Class room. This room was similar to the standard room, but had robes, slippers and a Nespresso maker. In addition, they provided 2 small bottles of wine and a nice note thanking me for staying at their hotel.

    Next we explore some of northwest Ireland and start our journey south.
     
  12. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    I was really looking forward to Glenveagh National Park. There is a castle by a lake - I don't know of any castle that doesn't look good by a lake. There was a garden to look forward too and possibly some short hiking. Then the weather hit. It was still raining and cold. The wind had died down, which was good. We drove to the visitor center and showed our Heritage cards that we had picked up at Newgrange. The Heritage cards are good for a year and cover many of the historical sites in Ireland. We had calculated that we only needed to do three attractions to break even.

    Upon arriving at the Castle, we had to wait for half an hour for a guided tour. That gave me time to tour the gardens. The rhododendrons and poppies were in full bloom. These were the biggest poppies that I had ever seen.

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    Glenveagh Gardens looking toward Glenveagh Castle

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    Glenveagh Gardens

    The castle was built in the late 1800's and parts of the castle had been remodeled a couple of times. Since we were expecting the building to be older, the tour of the castle wasn't as interesting to us. Because of the rain, we were unable to take the hike to the waterfall that is on the grounds. There is a lookout tower on the grounds and we were able to climb to the top and take in the view of the lake.

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    Viewing Tower

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    View of the lake from the viewing tower

    We then drove to Sligo. In Sligo, we stayed at the Clarion Hotel Sligo. Choice Hotels put their European properties on sale from time to time and you only need 8,000 points for a night. Choice usually sells 1,000 points for $11. During the USTA Daily Getaways, 8,000 points was sold for about $30. We were able to buy enough points for 25 of the room nights that we had on the trip. Choice Hotels have a few other quirks as well. For international hotels, you can book 60 days in advance, unless you are a Platinum or Diamond member at which point you can book at 75 or 100 days out. Since we were within the 60 day window, we were able to book as soon as the points posted. Another quirk with Choice Hotels is that the rates can change anytime, so I was happy that we were able to book all the rooms at 8,000 points. If anyone is interested, it seems that all the Clarions in Ireland are at 8,00 points from July 1st to Dec 30th.

    Another nice aspect of this redemption is that we were able to book suites for all three rooms. The suites were huge - my parents room was more like a one room apartment. In addition, the hotel was massive - bread crumbs to get to our rooms was a serious consideration. There are 2 restaurants on site, but we did not try them. The indoor pool has limited times for children, but me nieces had fun at the pool. There is a putt-putt golf course and 2 churches on site. It seems to be a popular place for weddings, so parking was limited the first night that we were there.

    We did not have problems with the hotel, but some people might be unhappy that the carpet in the main areas were stained. This seems to be caused by the rainy weather and people walking to their rooms with wet and dirty shoes. The sofa in the suite part of the room was gently worn. These things don't bother us, especially at $30/night, but it might bother some people. In addition, breakfast was not included in our rate. As a data point, the Radisson in Sligo includes breakfast on their points redemptions.

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    Church at Clarion Sligo
     
  13. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    In Sligo, my sister and nieces went horseback riding and my father, nephew and BIL went golfing. After the horseback riding, we were able to explore the area further.

    This is "Yeats Country" and the landscape is dominated by Ben Bulben.

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    Ben Bulben, part of the Dartry Mountains

    We then spent the afternoon at Rosses Point.

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    Rosses Point - Shipwreck


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    Rosses Point lighthouse in distance


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    It was very windy and cold - most people were not sitting and taking in the sights



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    Ben Bulben from Rosses Point


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    Drumcliffe when Yeats is buried


    There were a couple of people kitesurfing and a lot of people walking along the promenade to the beach. If I were to return to Ireland, this is where I would go.

    Next, we go to Galway, Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher.
     
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  14. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Awesome report, photos and experiences! Keep posting, looking forward to more!:)
     
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  15. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    My sister & my BIL from MEM was flying into Shannon on Sunday and we had scheduled to meet her at Kylmore Abbey. Her flight arrived in Shannon around 6:00 am. We were staying in Galway for the next two nights, but Sligo was a 2 - 3 hour drive away and we were not going to leave Sligo at 6:00 am. We were able to leave about 9:00 AM. And drove down to the Connemara region.

    The road is very good, until you get close to Connemara. At that point, it became curvy and narrow. Once again, stone walls lined some of the road and holding you breath and pulling in your shoulders does not make the car smaller. We finally arrived at the abbey around 11 AM.

    I really think that it is difficult to get a bad picture of Kylemore Abbey. The abbey is located at the base of a mountain and in front of a lake, which reflects the abbey and the mountain.. There is a small church and a walled garden on the site.

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    Kylemore Abbey

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    Walled Garden

    We then drove to Galway and another Radisson stay. It is located close to Eyre Square and on Galway Bay. I wasn't expecting much of an upgrade as they sell the possibility of upgrades when you make your reservation. My Mother's room and my room did have a nice view of the bay.

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    Radisson Blu Galway lobby

    The next morning, we went to the Cliffs of Moher. The road to the Cliffs was the worst road that we were on. On one point, at the top of Corkscrew Hill, we stopped at the lookout as most of the car occupants were carsick.

    When we arrived at the Cliffs, we went to O'Brien's towers first. The weather was still overcast, but it was clearing up.

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    Cliffs of Moher

    The paths along the Cliffs are sunken and have granite slabs that provide a fence to prevent people from going over the side. There are cattle and sheep in the adjacent fields.

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    Cliffs of Moher

    On the actual cliffs, you can easily climb over the wall that ends the walkway and walk a path that goes to the end of the Cliffs. There are warnings posted, but a good majority of the people were taking the walk. The path is wide enough for 2-3 people and has areas that widen out for photo opportunities. This walk provides better views of the tower.

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    O'Brien's Tower at the Cliffs of Moher

    We then drove back to Galway. We tried to tour Dunguaire Castle, but it was already closed.

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    Dunguaire Castle

    Next, we tour more castles on our way to Cork.
     
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  16. Maximizer

    Maximizer Silver Member

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    Very thorough report! Brings back a lot of great memories from 12 years ago when we toured these parts.

    One question from a newbie: I see "Upload a File" button, but how do you attach an entire slideshow?
     
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  17. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    Thank you! I should get the rest of the report finished soon.

    For the pictures, I usually upload one at a time. I haven't uploaded an entire slide show. There is a thread that explains uploading pictures, but I would have to find it.
     
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  18. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    We left Galway with an ambitious plan for the day - three sites! We were planning on stopping at Bunratty Castle, the village of Adare and Blarney Castle on our way to Cork. The weather was going to be overcast and raining (what else was new?) and given the time, we were prepared to move Blarney Castle to the next day.

    Bunratty Castle has an entire folk park attached to it. There are demonstration huts, so that you can see what life was like in earlier times. The one thing that I noticed was that the smoke from the fires in the huts permeated everything. I really don't like the smell of smoke, so I am glad that I live in a time with central heat and air.

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    Bunratty Castle Folk Park

    We then went into the Castle. There was a large tour group that was listening to their guide in the dining room. Anytime I see a large group like that, I try to get ahead of the tour. We went to the next level, which has the Great Hall and started taking the different set of stairs that emanate from this level. All of the stairs are circular stairs, they are very narrow and most of them are two way stairs.

    Unfortunately, the guide had finished his tour right before we were going up the last set of stairs, which led to the Battlements. The entire tour dispersed and we now had a traffic jam on the stairs. There was a lady that was going up the stairs that was mistakenly insisting that the stairs were one way and that everyone coming down the stairs had to turn around, go back up and take another staircase down. She refused to let anyone pass and kept yelling "one way stair". We were waiting on a small landing pressed against the wall as the people kept coming down the stairs past us (we were trying to go up). I am not sure what broke the stalemate, but somehow, the people going down the staircase were allowed to move, and get to the battlements.


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    Bunratty Castle Battlements

    It started to rain, so we hurried to the rest of the park, where they had several small stores and more. We were able to send post cards from here as there is a post office on site. I love gardens and especially roses, so I was thrilled to see this cottage with an outstanding climbing rose.

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    Bunratty Castle Village Street

    We left Bunratty Castle and drove to the village of Adare. We had heard som many things about the village - prettiest village in Ireland, place to shop, not too be missed. We gave it a "shrug". We saw prettier villages up north and we did not find great shops. The town was also overrun with tour busses and other tourists, so there were traffic jams and trouble finding parking.

    Since we did not spend a lot of time in Adare, we made it to Blarney Castle with plenty of time to climb to the top and for some people to kiss the Blarney stone.

    Luckily, the weather had cleared off, so we had beautiful clear blue skies. Blarney Castle is a ruin, so it is open to the elements. The stairways have a thick rope chained the the center post for you to hang onto as you climb. If you have a fear of heights, the climb to the top, is not the easiest. Once at the top, there is a steel fence and walkway around the top inside of the castle. There is a photographer and a man to help you kiss the Blarney Stone. You lay on your back, grab the handlebars throw your head back and push yourself toward the stone and kiss it. The area below the stone is open to the ground (with a few bars), so a fear of heights is definitely a problem. 5 out of the 10 of us actually kissed it (I did not!).

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    Blarney Castle

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    Blarney Stone

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    Walkway at top of Battlements

    We then drove to Cork, where we were staying at the Clarion Cork. The hotel is located right near the main shopping district, right on the river. Finding the parking garage was almost an exercise in futility as you have to go across the river, double back and then go down a street that says no entrance! However, we were thrilled to have a hotel centrally located, the Radisson is outside the city center.

    Next, we go to a distillery, a market and the Rock of Cashel
     
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  19. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    We had our family stay at the HIX Royal Mile as well, we needed 4 rooms,
    Breakfast spread was ok & acceptable enough.

    Staff had very good local knowledge & were responsive.

    Rates here were far cheaper than other lodging in Edinburgh for the dates we wanted.

    Small 4 stool bar area for pre/post night drinks.

    Drive from the airport was easy enough, fyi street parking was free on Sundays.

    Beds were fine, not quite plush, choice of two different pillows. Plus extra blankets or additional pillows if needed.

    Seeing as we were only in our rooms for 6 hours at night to sleep, this property worked just fine for our needs.

    Nice Report !!!!
     
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  20. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    I really do not like to drink, sometimes when we travel overseas, I will have a beer, but that is about it. I just really do not like the taste. My sister and BIL, on the other hand, like wine, beer and spirits. One of her requests for the trip was to go tour a distillery. Since she had a limited time in Dublin, we had scheduled the Jameson Experience outside of Cork.

    Now, I have been to wineries before. I do find the process interesting, even though Diet Coke is my drink of choice. We leave the hotel and drive to the Jameson Distillery in Midleton. When we arrive, we are told that the next tour will be in about an hour. It turns out that there had been a fire alarm, which backed up all of the tours, otherwise, we would not have waited so long for the tour. The lobby area has several sets of tables and chairs and they had some interactive displays, of which half were broken. You could go through the shop or into the bar area.

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    Outside the Jameson Experience

    We finally get to the tour and it starts with a 10- minute film. The guide then takes you through the different buildings and into the bar for a tasting. While the guide was enthusiastic, there was a cursory amount of explanation at each stop on the tour. The guide did answer questions, but I felt that the tour should have a re-write to have less filler. At the end of the tour, they ask for 8 people to volunteer. These 8 people get to sample Irish, Scotch and American whiskey. You will also receive a certificate at the end of the sampling. While it took a while for the 8 people to be chosen out of our group, I felt that this should be open to all people on the tour. My sister did volunteer and enjoyed the tasting.

    We went back to Cork and walked around the main pedestrian street.

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    Oliver Plunkett St, Cork

    We went to the English Market and bought items for a picnic lunch.

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    Grand Parade Street, Cork

    We did have an issue with my Mother's debit card. She went to withdraw cash and the ATM ate her card. We went into the bank and they shut down the machine, but could not find her card. We spent some time on the phone getting her card cancelled, but that afternoon, the bank called and they had found the card in the machine.

    The next day, we drove back to Dublin. We stopped at the Rock of Cashel on the way. This is the place that St. Patrick baptized the King of Ireland and was the traditional seat for the Kings of Munster. This is an attraction on the Heritage pass, so we did not have to pay to get into the site. When you exit the first building, the buildings acted like a breezeway, so with the already windy conditions, it was similar to standing in a tropical storm. We all decided to go out and play "Jim Cantore.". It would have been perfect if we had a hand-held anemometer!

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    Rock of Cashel - looking toward Graveyard

    We arrived at the airport and finally found someplace to fill up (while exiting the airport). We returned the car and Dan Dooley processed the refund for our €100 deductible. We took the airlink into the city. The dropoff point is right outside of the hotel. I had reserved "Executive River View" for myself and my sister. My parents and my other sister had suites reserved as they had three to the room. My river view room had a balcony that wrapped around the front and to the side of the room.

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    View from my room

    Unfortunately, the balcony door was locked. I asked 2 times for it to be unlocked, as I wanted to get a picture of the balcony. They did promise to send someone up, but it was never unlocked. My sister had a 2 bedroom suite, albeit with a lesser view and my parents had a huge corner room with a sitting area and an alcove with additional twin beds. The main drawback to the hotel is that after work hours, the area pretty much closes. We did not want to go far for dinner, but many of the restaurants were closed. The Luas red line stop (George's Dock) is located right behind the hotel, so in decent weather, the location is pretty good.

    Next, we brave the weather to finish our trip in Dublin.
     
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  21. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    Great trip report. :)
     
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  22. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Excellent trip report, keep it going, awesome sharing here!:)
     
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  23. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    I hope to enjoy your trip report further incl. your adventures in Dublin. Thanks for sharing!:)
     
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  24. KathInJax

    KathInJax Silver Member

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    I am sorry - i didn't realize that it had been a couple of weeks!

    Since my sister had one day in Dublin, we tried to go to as many places as possible on the first day. We started with the Book of Kells at Trinity College. The line for the Book of Kells was long. Not Best Buy on Black Friday long, but longer than checking out of Costco on Saturday.

    Before the book, there are several rooms and displays that show how books were handmade and the history of the Book. There are actually 4 volumes, with 2 displayed at a time. There were 2 people that were gathered around the book, reading and debating something. This created a backlog as no one else could look at it until they moved. People were pushing and there were a few heated words as people tried to peer around the two people. Docents would have been helpful to maintain the flow of visitors.

    As you exit, you go through the Long Room, which has the Trinity College Harp on display. This is the national symbol of Ireland.

    Next, we went to Dublin Castle. The tour is a guided tour and the docent was excellent.

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    Dublin Castle

    The next stop was St. Patrick's Cathedral. This is where Jonathan Swift served as dean and where he was buried.

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    St. Patrick's Cathedral

    Next, we went to the Guinness Storehouse. This was better than the Jameson Experience in Midleton, but it was very expensive. €14 is definitely not worth it. At the end of the tour, you can get a Guinness at the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor. The place was so crowded that you could only get beer (I don't drink). I waded thorough all of the people, took a couple of pictures and went to the restaurant of the floor below. They were able to give us our Diet Cokes.

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    Dublin from Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar

    The next day, my sister and her husband left for Boston and we went to the National Leprechaun Museum. This was pretty fun. They provide a guide that explains Irish Mythology. Yes, you do get to go through the rainbow and see the gold at the end of the rainbow. At the end of the tour, you will be asked to draw a picture and if you had tickets to the Hop-on, Hop-off bus, you get a small prize.

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    Pot of gold at National Leprechaun Museum

    We did a little shopping on Grafton Street and at St Stephen's Green shopping center - which had fairly interesting architecture.

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    St. Stephen's Green Shopping Center

    Of course, we saw the Ha'penny Bridge

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    Ha'penny Bridge

    And the Spire of Dublin

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    Spire of Dublin

    Next, we fly home and I have a few final thoughts on our trip!
     
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  25. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing, as always makes for some very enjoyable and informative reading. Great images too.:)
     
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