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Post Info TOPIC: Is my ITINERARY perfect yet? Help! Obsessed!


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Is my ITINERARY perfect yet? Help! Obsessed!


Michelle and other kind travellers, help! I have been obsessing over my itinerary and it's time to book my flights and b&bs for first family trip next July with hubby and young adult daughters!

I have big pile of guidebooks including Michele's. I have loads of trip reports printed out.

Our interests are traditional music in pubs, biology (husband), nature, castles, history, culture, scenery, bookstores, story-telling, archaeology, and checking out places where our Irish ancestors might have lived. Also we like to visit non-touristy spots, and not just go to all the crowded places. Yet young adult daughters will want lively evenings Yet they too appreciate seeing something off the beaten path with a magic all its own. They have big imaginations and are both creative writers.

Well, now that I've told you my life story, here's my proposed itiinerary. It is showing how many nights we will spend at 1 B&B as our base, and we will take day-trips from there. Will rent a car but won't drive in dublin.

Fly into Shannon, rent car. (long flight from LAX, (Los Angeles).
1 night: Ennis or Bunratty or Cashel, Tipperary (Rock of Cashel)
3 nights: Dingle Peninsula
3 nights: Ballyvaughan (or Doolin)
3 nights: Westport
2 nights: Belfast or nearby (Newtownards?)
3 nights: Dublin (with day-trip to Trim castle or Newgrange)

What do you think? Is this a good balance? Help me stop obsessing and book already! Thanks so much for everyone's help, especially you, Michele, you have been out of this world, so patient and kind and wonderful...Can't believe you put up with me. If hubby doesn't agree to return to Ireland for a second trip someday, I notice you have some group trips...maybe I'll be abe to join you someday on my second trip.

Michele, also, is Westport to Belfast (or Westport to Newtownards) an awful drive to make in one day? We don't want to be miserable.

A big Irish thank-you!

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Melissa,


I see that your itinerary is really evolving. It can be hard to decide on where to stay and for how long. But this one looks good too. Where you want to spend your first night will depend on what you want to see. Bunratty is around 10 minutes from Shannon Airport. Ennis is around 30-40 minutes from there and Cashel is around an hour or so from there.


Drive time from Westport to Belfast on main roads will probably take around 4 hours with no stops. However, you will be going through some scenic areas and if you stop for a lot of photos or sightseeing it will take longer. But breaking up the drive with sightseeing will actually make the time in the car seem shorter. Does that make sense?


A couple of notes:


1. You will want to retain your car for a day trip to Newgrange & Trim Castle, which you can do on the same day (do Newgrange first). Or do some sightseeing on the drive down from Belfast/N'ards. With the new motorway the trip is quick.


2. You had previously asked me about staying south of Dublin or north of the city. I prefer staying on the northside. South of the city seems just as busy as being in Dublin itself and there seem to be far fewer B&Bs to choose from. If you are leaning toward the suburbs try Malahide. Otherwise go for a good city center location.


No problem with obsessing over your trip. You have spiced up the forum with your postings.


Michele


 



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Melissa,


Your itinerary sounds wonderful, but may I offer one piece of advice?


Since you will have a car and will be doing some exploring, allow some time for getting lost and finding unexpected treasures.  I'd planned and re-planned my itinerary, so sure that I had everything all thought out.  Then I got to Ireland. 


Part of the fun is getting lost and finding that little village you hadn't planned to visit.  I found some gorgeous scenery and quirky little towns that were off my planned routes, and I believe they made the trip even more of an adventure.  One of the things I'll always remember from my trip is having a dear little man stop while I was looking at my map.  I knew I'd missed a turn somewhere and wanted to get my bearings.  After asking, "Are ye lost, then?" he gave me directions to back to the last little town and make a turn that I'd missed (rain, wind, narrow roads, non-existent signage).  When I got to where I should have turned, there he sat in his car, tipping his hat as I turned onto the correct road.  All the planning in the world couldn't have anticipated that moment.


So my advice is to leave room for the unexpected.  You'll be glad you did.


Jojo



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Melissa,
I posted some travel ?'s to you on your other question. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Irisheyes

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Spicing it up


Michele, at least I have spiced up something...my son says I don't use enough spices in my cooking. Sometimes he cooks for us, and then, Holy Tamales, it's very...flavorful!

Wow, Ennis is further from Shannon airport than I had realized. 30 to 40 minutes...I'm glad you told me. At least I won't be surprised, if we decide to spend the 1st night there. Though it's going the opposite direction from Dingle where we're headed next....

Bunratty is that close, only 10 minutes...no wonder it's so popular. Michele, are any of those shows at Bunratty really worth it for a first night in Ireland (with jet-lag), or are they very touristy and crowded? Hard to say whether, after a long flight from Los Angeles, we will head to bed early, or whether we'll be all excited and want to join the throngs at Bunratty, or whether we'll enjoy strolling around a real Irish town at Ennis (which also has musical pubs I understand).

Cashel is the furthest away, perhaps not a good stop for 1st night for four jet-lagged travellers.

As always you have the best info. Westport to Belfast is a 4-hour drive...not too bad. I know what you mean, if we stop a lot to sight-see, the hours will fly by. (I do check aaroadwatch.ie for drive times, but everyone says to add time on, and there's nothing like asking an experienced Ireland traveller how long it REALLY takes!

Though I had my heart set on staying in Dublin, it's just not turning out to be practical. Malahide makes more sense...close to the airport, there's the DART that goes into Dublin (right?), and Malahide sounds big enough to have some nice restaurants for dinner. Does Malahide have a fun pub or two? Also, Malahide would be a convenient base to drive to Trim Castle or Newgrange. (If we try to stay in downtown Dublin, I am just complicating life in several ways...)

I might have to give up the Book of Kells though, as with the summer crowds, if we stay in Malahide, after a fine Irish breakfast, we'll never get to the Book of Kells at opening time, and I'd rather not stand in line and fight crowds to see one book...Maybe if we take a day-trip into Dublin from Malahide, it makes more sense to visit the National Museum of archaeology, Killmainham Gaol, and spend time strolling and shopping. And of course the hop-on, hop-off bus! But there's also the long room, which if I understand correctly, is a big old library at Trinity college...libraries and bookstores are where I live .

I had considered staying in Trim, but it sounds like the food is boring for 3 whole nights in Trim! I need a base for 3 nights where the food will be yummy and hopfully there's a fun and entertaining pub for my daughters and hubby and I who will be ready to party for sure after a day in Dublin. (Yes, it's true, one of my daughters is purple, and the other is bald.)

Thanks for the great info and advice, Michele!


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unexpected pleasures


JoJo, yes, yes, I am hearing you! Leave room for the unexpected!

As an obsessive planner, I have solved that riddle. I always schedule in the unexpected into my daily routine. I usually schedule a few hours in the afternoon for the unexpected to happen.

I'm kidding, but only half kidding! I totally hear you, from one planner to another... The best trips should be planned, but not so tightly that the unexpected will be seen as an unwelcome interference. Yes, I love your story about the old Irishman, the unexpected should be viewed as a gift , not as a problem. I see what you are saying.

The way I usually solve the riddle of how to plan well and yet not overplan, is that I figure out how much time I will need in an area, and then add an extra day...That way we can do the things we had planned on, plus some things we hadn't planned at all. That's why I prefer to spend 3 nights in 1 B&B when possible.

For example we had 3 full days to visit Rome, but I only planned 2 day's worth of activities. It was a wonderful visit!

Another trick I sometimes use is I plan the morning's activities, but I don't plan anything for the afternoon. Usually this works too, as by the afternoon everyone knows just what they want to do.



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To: Irisheyes...Happy trip-planning!


Irisheyes, how is your trip planning coming? Isn't this a great web-site? Nice talking to you.

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RE: Is my ITINERARY perfect yet? Help! Obsessed!


Melissa,
Trip planning - Well, we were progressing along just fine during the summer months, but in Sept. my husband and I BOTH started new jobs, so we have been very busy lately!! The travel plans got pushed to the back burner.... When the dust settles, we hope to get back on track. This we do know... and it's not much... We are starting out in Dublin and leaving from Shannon. DH likes the idea of doing it this way. he says it feels more like a vacation. We will stay in Dublin 2-3 nights depending on when we arrive. Next stop will be Kilkenny. We had several ancestors who lived there, and it's a reasonable driving distance from Dublin. From what I've read, it sounds like a neat place to see. In Dublin, we hope to see a prof. soccer game (husbands choice on this activity) and I'd like to see a play at the ABBEY theater if time/schedules permit. We also have two school -aged children and need to consider fun things for them as well. We will also attend mass, sometime during our stay of 10 nights. I am also very interested in visiting Dingle, so that's a must see. We also talked about going to Kilarney National Park. We will stay in B &B's with the exception of Dublin, where we will probably get a hotel in the city centre area. I'm not one for long windy car rides, so we've eliminated the Ring of Kerry and Conamarra area/s. So, that's about it so far.
Trying to eliminate too much time in the car.
Irisheyes

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Happy Irish Dreams


IrishEyes, sounds like a fun plan. We're going to fly into Shannon and out of Dublin, so we'll end in the big city. We're not planning to drive while in dublin, the hop-on, hop-off bus sounds easier.

I hear it's easier to rent your car near the airport and not have to drive it through the center city.

Good luck with getting acclimated to your new job(s). I like to read a bit about Ireland before going to bed each night, a nice bed-time story. Hubby leaves the planning to me as the family have learned to trust me after the last 2 trips turned out great! But I always give them some info and some choices.

Dingle sounds like a great place for everyone. We're going there too.

I originally wanted to stay right there in the heart of dublin but with the way our plans are turning out it might be more convenient for us to stay near the airport on the north side of dublin on our last 3 nights (going to see dublin, Trim Castle, and Newgrange at the end of the trip.) Michele has recommended a good B&B in Malahide. Originally I was thinking of staying in Kilronan House, a B&B just south of St. Stephen's green, or in Bewley's hotel in Ballsbridge area, wich has good prices and a good reputation plus is near public transportation. But you see if we stay in Dublin on our last 3 nights we will have to drive out of the city to see Newgrange and nearby sites...not so sure I want to hassle with driving out of a big city and driving back in. Can be stressful. that's why Malahide is looking good.

If we were starting the trip out in Dublin, I would spend our first 2 nights in the city without a car, then get taxi to the airport and rent a car there when moving on.

Oh well I'm getting boring! I'd be interested to hear your plans as they progress! Kilkenny sounds good too. We will miss it this time.

Happy Irish dreams.

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Truly and Devotedly Obsessed with Ireland Planning!


Obsessing again. Staying 3 nights near Dublin at end of trip, must pick a B&B. This will be our base for a day in Dublin, and a day visiting Newgrange and Trim Castle.

Don't want to drive IN Dublin. But DO need a car for Newgrange area.

So...turn in rental car, get taxi to hotel in Dublin's centre? Enjoy being in the heart of Dublin, lots of food choices of every variety, take the hop-on, hop-off bus. But then no car to visit Newgrange and Trim Castle. Would have to book a tour and be part of a tour-group. Or would have to take a bus.

OR...keep the car, book a hotel just north of Dublin like in Malahide, Howth, Skerries, Trim or Slane...NOW we have a car to see Newgrange and Trim. Can take the DART into Dublin for the day from places like Malahide or Howth. Would have to take the bus into Dublin from Trim. Would probably end up skipping the Book of Kells because by the time we got there it would be too crowded. (Well hubby is not REAL excited about seeing Book of Kells anyway so he won't be REAL disappointed but I wanted to see it.) Then we return to our B&B in the evening...but...would there be good restaurant choices and fun pub with music in the suburbs? Trim doesn't seem to have any exciting food...Malahide might have good but expensive food...don't know about pubs with music.

EEny meeny, miny, moe, catch a city by the toe, Dublin, Malahide, Trim, go...

How about Slane?!

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RE: Is my ITINERARY perfect yet? Help! Obsessed!


Melissa,


I think you should either choose Dublin city center or Malahide. With either choice there will be sacrifices and different plans made to compensate for either location (cars, transportation, tours, etc.). Flip a coin and go with it.


Malahide has some very good restaurants and pubs. The restaurants in my book are middle of the road in price. For lower prices go with pub grub or an early bird. If you are looking for a splurge I understand that Bon Appetit is excellent but is 50 euro per person for dinner. Ouch!


Fun pubs in Malahide that have trad music on some nights:


Smyth's
 
Gibney's: http://www.gibneys.com/
 
Duffy's: http://www.duffys.ie/
 
Other interesting links:
 
Malahide map: http://www.malahidechamber.ie/map.htm
 
What's on in Malahide: http://www.fingal-dublin.com/calender.htm
 
Michele
 
 

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With the hop-on, hop-off tour, you and your husband can split up and catch up with each other later. You can stop at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, and he can go on and do something else. My sisters and I split up; I wanted to see Kilmainham Gaol and they wanted to do Jameson and Guiness so I went on without them and after touring the gaol I waited for the bus with them on it and we went on together.
Don't go all the way to Dublin and then miss something you really want to see.

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The Voice of Sanity


Michele, thanks for being the voice of sanity for me today. Your advice and your terrific info links have set my busy mind at ease. I will eliminate all those endless options that were cluttering up my mind, and decide between Malahide and Dublin!

Your info links for Malahide were great. I saw nice photos and learned Malahide did manage to snag the Tidy Town title for a couple years. What a cute award! Only in Ireland... And getting to see the menus for those 2 pub/restaurants in Malahide was very helpful...you're right, the prices are fine, and the menu is "regular folks" food, the kind that makes hubby feel comfortable. Right now I wish I had a bowl of home-made soup and brown bread.

I also checked the links for what's going on, and was reassured there is trad music, sometimes in Malahide, sometimes in Howth.

And I followed a link for the DART. Looks like from Malahide you would want to exit at Connolly station in downtown Dublin? Do you know how far a walk is that from centre city Dublin? Or is it too far to walk? (We would want to see Trinity College, National Museum of Archaeology, and St. Stephens' Green area, Grafton St. area, etc. in centre city. Unless I am very confused it looks like the DART takes about 22 minutes from Malahide to Connolly station.
.
Thanks very much, Michele! I always enjoy my year of planning our big trip, and then I get a little crazy right before I book the B&Bs. It's commitment time! Then I am fine and I settle down after that, becoming normal again, maybe reading a bit about Ireland at bed-time. I think I will get off the computer now at a decent time.

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Hopping on, Hopping off


Dude: good idea about splitting up in Dublin for part of the day if we want to see different things. That hop-on, hop-off bus sounds great, but do you know if it has a web-site showing exactly where it stops? (For example, if I take the DART from Malahide to Connolly station in Dublin, how far would I need to walk to catch that hop-on, hop-off bus?)

Thanks for your reply. I've been a bit obsessed today and it helps to chat with you all since the people I live with are tired of hearing about it!



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RE: Is my ITINERARY perfect yet? Help! Obsessed!


I'm not at home with all my Ireland stuff (shh. Don't tell the boss) but when I get home this afternoon I'll dig out the leaflet from the ho-ho tour (there are more than one) and see if they have a website. If not, I'll list the stops on the one we used (I'd guess that they are pretty much the same). I'm not familiar with Connelly Street; I wonder if it's O'Connell Street which is pretty much Main Street. The tour bus offices are along there, but you can buy a pass at any of the bus stops from the driver of the next bus along.


We took the bus in from (here I'm drawing a blank, but it's a big modern shopping center north of Dublin where we left the rental car in a parking lot and caught the bus) and ended up right downtown near O'Connell Street and spent the whole day walking or using the ho-ho bus.


In my humble opinion, the only way to see Dublin: sleep outside the city, preferably north, catch the bus or DART into the city centre (see, I'm spelling like the Irish) and use the ho-ho bus for sightseeing and shopping. Then just make sure you're on the right bus at the end of the day and go back to your car. We were pretty tired so we ate at TGIFriday's. It was fun to be in the American ambience and hear those charming Irish accents all around. Plus flirting with the good-looking waiters. One of our party was actually single so we used her License to Flirt.


Okay, I had the brilliant (another Irish word) idea of doing a Dogpile search and here's what I found:


http://www.irishcitytours.com/hop_graylinedublin.htm


http://www.irishcitytours.com/hop_citydublin.htm


http://www.dublinbus.ie/your_journey/dublin_city_tour.asp


I forgot about the coupons; the maps that you get with your pass have coupons for some of the attractions. And at least one of the above sites has "buy your ticket online." Isn't the internet a wonderful thing?



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Slán go fóill, Judy


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Melissa,


Dude has given you links for the hopper buses and you can peruse them at your leisure.


You asked about where to take DART to from Malahide. You should get off at the Pearse Street Station not Connolly, which is north of the Liffey and too far of a walk. Pearse Street is near Trinity College (Book of Kells) and from there you can do your exploring and the hopper bus. DART takes about 30 minutes. After all it is Irish transportation.


Michele


 



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Dude: Wow, you mean you need a license to flirt in Ireland? You're funny! Thanks for the links for the hop on hop off bus in Dublin. I will check them all out. I PROMISED not to be on the computer right now. Shhhh...don't tell.

Thanks for your vote for staying north of Dublin and DARTing into the city. but where did you leave your car? Apparently there's a car park at the Malahide DART station but I'm worried it might be full by the time we get there...after a full Irish breakfast we'll come rolling in by 10:00 am maybe! Do you really think 1 day-trip is enough time to "get" Dublin or will we end up feeling befuddled?



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parking the car


Michele, thanks for the info about getting off at the Pearse St. Station for Dublin near Trinity College. Kind of you to clarify that. I worry too much, but the good news is I do all my worrying in advance of the trip, so that by the time we arrive in Ireland I will be done worrying and ready to enjoy! (My kids told me that's my job, I'm the family Worrier!)

I am worried, though, that there won't be parking left at the Malahide DART station by the time we arrive around 10:00 am. (after enjoying a nice breakfast at Beechwood). The early birds may snatch up all the parking. I heard from somebody that Beechwood is maybe a mile from the DART station. Does that sound right to you? Is there any way that Beechwood could arrange us a ride to and from the DART station, do you suppose, or is that too much to ask of a B&B? They must deal with these transportation issues with all their guests, though, I would presume.

Good night and have a nice weekend.
The Family Worrier


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RE: Is my ITINERARY perfect yet? Help! Obsessed!


Melissa,


Since Joe at Beechwood is a former taxi driver (in Dublin!) he will be able to advise you about transportation to the train station. You can ask his advice about the parking. If the parking will be difficult ask him what he suggests as an alternative way to get there. This gives him the option of offering you a ride if he can or offering his opinion on the best way to do it. In my other posting to you I suggested getting an early start on this one day. As a last resort you can take a taxi to the train station. I don't think it would cost any more than about 5 euro for the bunch of you. Beechwood is a bit more than a mile from the station.


Michele


 



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When we stayed north (on other trips we stayed in Loughlinistown and Prosperous and caught the bus (from Naas on the Prosperous stay) we were in Dunshoughlin (actually closer to Ratoath) and left the car in Blanchardstown which wouldn't work at all for you in Malahide.

I think you only get a license to flirt if you are single; any other use could be dangerous!



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Dublin wins family vote


Dude: I have a license to flirt with hubby! Thanks for your reply. I love talking about Ireland. Really helps me plan my trip and makes it more fun.

I took a family vote and we decided to skip Newgrange and spend 3 nights in Dublin, getting a better feel for Dublin. (Partly why I think the family voted to skip Newgrange is we've seen ruins in Italy in 2004, and they are looking for new experiences in Ireland.) Of course we'll still see some ruins in Ireland, I don't think you could avoid them even if you tried and you wouldn't want to, they're interesting. But nobody wanted to miss Dublin to see a tomb, not even a 5000-year-old tomb.)

So we'll spend the 3 nights in city centre Dublin, hopefully in a place where we can still get some sleep but be within walking distance to city centre! I'm thinking maybe Kilronan House or Waterloo House. The hop-on hop-off bus sounds good too.

We'll have a lot of time in the Irish countryside and smaller towns in Ireland, so the family voted they wanted to see a big city too. Dublin has such a concentrated number of museums, Georgian houses, good restaurants, etc. it will have plenty of variety for everyone.

I's so exciting to actually have one more decision made! I'm pleased that we'll now have time for the National Museum of Archaeology, the Killmainham Gaol, Trinity College, and maybe even the Dublin Writer's Museum. We like to leave time for strolling about and dawdling wherever we find something interesting too.,



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