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Italian Chauffeur's Brief May 2019 Visit


I'm back and finally getting a handle on basic, 'day-to-day' things, but thought I might get started on passing on lessons learned, sites observed and such . . .  

Basic Plan:  Fly TPA tor BRU via ATL on 2 May on Delta; Fly BRU to PRG on 6 May on Brussels Air;  Fly PRG to DUB on 11 May on Aer Lingus; Collect rental car from Europcar on 12 May and drive to Midelton, County Cork;  Drive to Killarney on 14 May; Drive to Kilkee, County Clare on 15 May; Drive to Sligo on 16 May; Drive to Dublin on 17 May and Fly DUB to TPA, via ATL on Delta on 18 May.  Drop off and Pick up in TPA provided by neighbors -- I will be reciprocating for them, tomorrow!  biggrin  biggrin

 

As I have written MANY times -- NO Battle Plan survives first contact with the enemy! 

Delta delayed our TPA to ATL flight by two hours -- Meaning that we would miss our Brussels flight (and our traveling companions! wink  wink) in Atlanta by about 15 minutes.  After running us raggedly around the Tampa airport trying to board a United flight (That was already loaded, with the Gate closed!!!!!) Delta rebooked us onto our originally schedule plane (which was now departing two hours late.

FYI -- The ATL to BRU flight also ran a few minutes late, so we literally had the opportunity to wave goodbye as it departed.   

Delta booked us onto a ATL to AMS flight and then a KLM flight from AMS to BRU -- but, whilst our companions arrived in Brussels at the scheduled 8:45 AM time, my wife and I finally deplaned around 3 PM.  Fortunately, I had provided our companions with full details (Reservation Numbers, transport options, etc.), so they managed to make their way to the hotel, check in and relax a bit.  Still, it cost us the best part of a day out of an already tight schedule.

Our flight to Prague went fine, but our Aer Lingus flight to Dublin was Cancelled (after over 2 hours of 'waffling' on the part of staff) and they finally advised that the in-coming plan had been damaged by a lightening strike.  We were stuck in an airport hotel overnight -- and lost a full day of our Ireland trip -- since we arrived in Dublin around the scheduled 6 PM -- but, 24 hours later !  furious  wink   wink  furious  

As part of the original plan, I had booked two, NON-CANCELLABLE rooms at the Premier Inn -- and, whilst Aer Lingus HAS agreed to reimburse our Prague Airport stay (and breakfast the next morning) they are claiming 'Act of God' exemption for any further EC261 compensation.  furious  furious

I had reserved a car from Europcar -- A manual transmission, Hyundai Tucson for pick up at 9 AM on 12 May and return on 18 May.  Price was 114.82 Euro (Waiving all Insurance using a Chase Sapphire Visa Credit Card for coverage).  I prepaid 68.92 at time of Booking and was charged 45.90 at Collection.  It took about a week to verify (via email) that Europcar would accept the Chase Sapphire coverage, as their website states that "Only certain US issued Master Cards and Canadian Issued VISA card coverages are allowed" .  I brought along printed copies of all those emails, my "Letter of Coverage" from Chase (dated within the required, 21 day 'window') and copies of CC statements that the website says are required for 'Proof of Address'.  All the desk clerk asked to see was the coverage letter. 

There was NO issue with my arriving 10 hours late to collect the car and a not terribly energetic 'hard-sell' to buy the Insurances.  Interestingly enough, both the shuttle bus driver and the desk clerk strongly advised me to take a full set of photos of the entire car before driving away.  They provided an almost brand-new, unblemished, White Nissan Qashqai -- that still SMELLED new! -- and only had 4,911 Kilometers (about 3,000 Miles) on the odometer.  

Some other interesting details -- Although they claim to place a 5,000 Euro 'Hold' on the Credit Card, none showed up on my account statement.  They do NOT charge a fee (either 'Flat', or daily, as Hertz does) for using Credit Card coverage in lieu of buying their insurance  -- and they also did NOT charge for the Initial tank of Fuel.  When I returned the car, they verified that the gauge read "Full", but didn't ask for the most recent receipt.  Another interesting fact -- They utilize GPS tracking and advised that if the vehicle was recorded as spending more than 2 hours in Northern Ireland, that they would automatically apply the 'Northern Ireland Fee' to my bill.

Over the course of the next few days, I added just over 1200 Kilometers (745 miles), 2+ tanks of petrol and . . .  ZERO scratches, dings or dents!   

So -- Not ALL bad luck!  aww  aww  Even a Blind Squirrel gets an acorn once in a while!!

 

 

 

 



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Bob

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Welcome back, Bob. Boy you sure had a lot of flight problems. It makes it especially difficult when meeting up with others. Did you have trip insurance or does your credit card offer some sort of "trip interruption" help?

Now that my husband and I are getting older I get trip insurance. Although his insurance pays for hospital stays abroad (he never wants another stay at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast)! I am more interested in the medical evacuation portion of the ins.

Looking forward to hearing more about the Ireland portion of your trip.

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I've been toying with the idea of Trip Insurance for the last couple of years, but haven't committed to a purchase yet -- but I may, after this past trip.

My health insurance DOES cover us whilst traveling, but it won't cover repatriation costs.  I'm working with my Credit Card to see if they will reimburse some, or all of the Premier Inn charge.  It's 'iffy' as SIL paid for the Aer Lingus Flights as part of our 'cost-sharing' arrangement . . . 

Total cost of car rental (excluding fuel used and Tolls) was 109.86.  I also purchased a 3rd party 'Excess and Luggage' cover from CarInsurent for $47.21.  Had no claims so can't speak to their efficiency.  

12 May 2019 -- Sunday 

After deplaning, Immigration and collecting our baggage, we made haste to the Europcar desk in Terminal 1 and the clerk advised that despite being over 12 hours late for our scheduled pick up, they had a vehicle available at the depot and he directed us to the Shuttle.  It arrived just seconds after we did and the driver was friendly and talkative.  He asked if we were buying the insurance and when I said, "No", he strongly urged us to carefully photograph 'the whole car'.  He also reminded us about the M50 Toll -- and advised that the 'By 8 PM the following day' was a bit, "flexible".  He also suggested pre-paying for our return trip(s).  Good man!      More on this, later . . .  

At the depot, the desk clerk booked us through and assigned us the freely 'upgraded', PRISTINE Nissan Qashqai.  He also strongly urged us to photograph the car, after failing to 'upsell' the Insurances (with only Moderate effort).  My wife performed the picture taking whilst I squeezed our luggage (Two large rolling duffels, a hard sided carry on and four small backpacks!) into the rear and back seat.  It was a VERY tight fit, but manageable.

By 7:30 PM, we were on the road and heading for Midleton Park Hotel.  A long stretch of the N / M7 is undergoing roadworks with a bit of congestion and a fair stretch of reduced speed (60 KPH), but traffic was flowing fairly well.  It was finally dark as we stopped into the Mayfield Service Plaza at Junction 17 for a meal at the SuperMacs.  We eventually arrived at the Hotel around Midnight and quickly settled in.  Due to the darkness, I opted to follow the M8 all the way in to the Drumkettle Roudabout and then take the N25 over to Midleton, rather than 'cut through' on one of the narrow, unlit "R" roads.   Upon checking in, we discovered that the Cousins had left us a large 'Goody Bag' -- bottled water, nuts, chocolates, digestives (cookies to us Yanks) and Diet Coke -- along with an invite to breakfast / brunch in the morning -- at our "convenience"!  

FYI -- I had booked two twin rooms for two nights for 198 Euro per room (without breakfast) -- all-in. We've stayed here before and found the location convenient, the rooms clean and comfortable and the staff friendly and efficient.  We were well pleased.  They ARE undergoing some major renovations on the upper floors, but we weren't bothered by noise or disruptions during our stay. 



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13 May 2019  --  Monday  --  Little tourism, but much fun.

We stumbled out of rooms around 9 and drove the short distance into Midleton town center -- stopping in to a delightful florists to order three bouquets of flowers for the cousins and then made our way along one of those picturesque, winding "R" roads to the eldest cousin's house.  There we were feasted with a sumptuous breakfast a mini family reunion that stretched on for hours, through lunch.  A little after 1 PM, I slipped away and returned to Midelton to pick up the three arrangements  (60 Euro) and to purchase a '3' Mobile SIM card with 'All You Can Eat Data' for 30 Euro as my lengthy call to Aer Lingus had burned through all the call credit on my UK SIM card and I couldn't add credit to it in Ireland.

Back to the house, the flowers were received with much appreciation and we then made our way to the youngest cousin's home for dinner and a meet up with a fourth cousin and her daughter -- that drove in from Tralee for the night!  Fun times were had by all and planning was initiated for a possible reciprocal visit by some of the cousins to Florida this fall.

With dark falling, we made plans to meet for breakfast at a café in Midelton the following morning around 10 AM and made our way back to the hotel.  Our traveling companions enjoyed a trip to the bar, but my wife and I called it an early night. 

14 May 2019  --  Tuesday  --  Off the beaten path

I awoke early and did some creative repacking and rearranging that made it possible to secure all the luggage other than one backpack in the luggage compartment, freeing up a fair amount of space in the back seat.  We then left the car in the hotel lot and walked the pretty 800 meters (mostly along the river) to the café:  http://granary-foodstore.com/ 

Food and service were impeccable and I can highly recommend this for any who drop into town to visit the Jameson Distillery.  Counting one infant, there were 9 of us and we whiled away about an hour and a half.  Our traveling companions and I split the bill (under 160 Euro -- including a tip of 20 Euro that I had to insist that the staff accept!).  After heartfelt "Goodbyes", we walked back to the hotel, check out and hit the road.

I drove into the Dunkettle Roundabout, through the Jack Lynch Tunnel and followed the South Ring Road around the city to the N22 (Killarney Road).  Can I just say again how much I appreciate the addition of the fly-overs that eliminate all of the Roundabouts that USED to be necessary to navigate????  biggrin    biggrin

I followed the N22 into and through Macroom -- STILL no bypass --  although, they claim to have one, 'In the Works'  Just beyond town center, I turned off to the North on the Millstreet Road (R582) and made our way to the parking lot of Carnegie Hall -- home to Millstreet's Town Hall, Library and Museum:  http://www.millstreet.ie/blog/tag/carnegie-hall

Over the years, I've acquired a few 'Millstreet-centric' items that I've donated to the small, but amazingly well run and organized museum.  This trip, I had two small Irish tourist dolls that had been manufactured by a small company that thrived in Millstreet for a few years:  http://www.millstreet.ie/blog/tag/clara-toys   That brings the number of dolls that I've returned "Home" to four -- but there are still a few more examples out there . . .  hmm  hmm  hmm

Spent a couple of hours chatting with Millstreet's premier 'Semi-Official', Community Greeter and Chronicler Supreme -- Sean Radley -- and the ladies also made a brief visit to the Church.  Afterwards, we scored our first '99s' at the shop across the street before heading onward, to the church, in Rathmore.  That stop is another regular as my wife (and SIL's -- who was one of our two traveling companions) Great grandparents were married there, in 1865.  From there, it was onwards, to Killarney. 

A brief word about our traveling companions -- They are my Sister-in-laws -- two ladies, mid-to-late 50s, that have travelled with us a fair few times -- New England, New Orleans and three and four times to Ireland -- but neither has spent any time IN Killarney, so I thought that THIS trip,  I would give them a 'Taste'.  I parked in the large lot next to the tourist office and we checked in the Eviston House Hotel on nearby, New Street and then did a brief 'walk around' of town, before ending up, back at the Qashqai.

Back in the car, I drove out to Kate Kearney's cottage.  The day had turned a bit dull and the jarveys had all left for the day, so there was nothing for it but to head onward through the Gap and onward, through the Black Valley, before finally emerging onto the R568 just before Molls Gap.  The HUGE panoramic sun roof in the Qashqai was WELL appreciated by the rear seat passengers on this stretch biggrin  biggrin   From there, we followed the N71 into Killarney after brief photo stops at Ladies View and just outside of Muckross House -- where we spotted a large herd of placidly grazing Irish Red Deer.

I think the ladies were sufficiently impressed.   

We ate dinner that evening in Treyvaud's and enjoyed a chat, a photo and scored an autographed copy of 'Hooker In The Lobby' with Paul:  https://evoke.ie/2018/06/13/food/chef-paul-treyvaud-amazon-series

 https://www.paultreyvaud.com/product-page/the-hooker-in-the-lobby-1

Dinner was reasonably priced (About 80 Euro for four sirloin steaks) and service was outstanding.  Although I didn't find the food particularly outstanding, it was perfectly adequate.

After the dinner, we did a bit of wandering and then returned to the hotel.  We spent a bit of time at the attached, Danny Mann Pub and then headed to our rooms about 10 PM.



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14 May 2019 -- Tuesday night

Just before retiring for the night, I wandered across the street to a small shop to buy a bar of my daughter's favorite (Cadbury Mint Crisp).  The were a dozen or so 'young folks' (Looked to be high school age, but probably were older), but it WAS only around 9:45 PM, so I paid them little mind as I made my way back to our room.  Our rooms were on an upper floor.  My wife's and mine over-looked the tiny parking lot at the side / rear of the hotel and the narrow laneway that ran beside it.  Our companion's was across the hall and was apparently over the front of the hotel because they mentioned in the morning that they heard music from the Pub until 11, as well.  At least it masked the worst of the chanting / singing from the alley!

About 10:15, we heard a raucous chanting / singing / yelling through the window.  Looking out, I could see 40 or so people some of whom were the group I had seen before.  Around 10:45, my wife called the desk to complain and the desk clerk informed us that "It happens every night", that he lived nearby and was, "Sick of It".  The Garda had been called but "they likely won't be do anything about it".  A little after an hour after the noise began, two Garda DID show up and the group loudly dispersed.

The next day, when we complained, the manager insisted that the event CERTAINLY was NOT an every day occurrence, but that 'being a city center hotel we should have expected a bit of noise".  He offered free breakfast as compensation, since we were moving on, however and I might have let the whole experience 'slide' -- had it not been for something odd that the manager demurred towards the end of his defense  -- "I'm surprised they didn't come back. . . "

So, I don't know what the REAL truth of the matter is, but I'll likely NOT be returning to Eviston House Hotel any time soon.

FYI -- Two twin rooms were 234.10 Euro for the night.  I booked them on their web site and upon arrival was advised that the cost of both had already been charged to my card.  When we asked for a second magnetic room key we were advised that "Too many failed to return their cards and replacements cost "thousand", so they could only issue a single card per room.

15 May 2019 --  Wednesday

Once we departed Killarney, I drove up and around Tralee, through Listowel and into Tarbert.  We had to wait about 15 minutes or so for the ferry, but the blue sky and sunshine made it quite pleasant to do so.  A passenger car ticket is 20 Euro (18 if you pre-purchase online -- which we didn't) and the crossing takes about a half-hour.  Again, thanks to the delightful weather, we ranged about the ship and enjoyed the sights.  

The previous day, at the insistence of the ladies, done an online inquiry about stopping in to Kilrush for a trip out to Scattery -- but, they were only taking bookings from Friday onward -- frustrated:  -- so I continued on, to Kilkee.  I had booked two twin rooms at Bay View Hotel (where we stayed in 2016) and weren't disappointed.  After checking in, we walked down to beach (only about 100 feet or so) and then drove over to the car park at the South end of the harbor.  From there, we walked along the rocky shore that was fully exposed, as the tide was out -- and walked up, onto the Cliff Walk, part, but not all of the way -- before retiring to the café for beverages.

We whiled away a couple of hours there, talking, people and wave watching as the tide returned.  It was a beautiful warm (ish), sunny day, after all.  biggrin  biggrin

We ate dinner that night at the hotel and then retired for the evening.  It was an easy, restful day.



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16 May 2019 -- Thursday

 

After a hearty breakfast (included in the 140 Euro per room price), we departed Kilkee and headed North along the N67. through Ennistimon and turned onto the R481 to Leamaneh.  We turned just past the ruins and followed the R480 to Caherconnel. https://caherconnell.com/

The day was dull and over-cast with occasional "soft bits", so we opted not to tour the Caher itself and merely browsed the café and shop.  My wife and I had toured this site previously and if the weather is co-operative it can be QUITE enjoyable.  We had missed the sheep dog demonstration, as well -- but we DID manage to buy some very nice items, so it wasn't a totally wasted stop!  biggrin  biggrin

 

A brief drive brought us to Poulnabrone   http://www.megalithicireland.com/Poulnabrone.htm  where we happily spent about an hour -- in spite of the weather.  We also acquired a terrific birthday present for our oldest grand daughter (Miss 'Just Turned 8' from our 2013 visit!) from a craftsman who had set up a little table in the car park.  It's a leather banded bracelet with end caps decorated with triskeles (three connected spirals) symbolizing 'body, mind and spirit' and an oblong, central plate -- on which grand daughter's name was inscribed in ogham script as we watched.  I can honestly say that the now, 14 year old was ecstatic with her gift!     

Onwards, we traveled -- taking in the scenery as we connected with the M18 East of Kilcolgan.  Our only stop along the way was for Petrol (about 60 Euro worth) -- although the ladies took the opportunity to grab some '99s'.  biggrin  biggrin  Once on the M18, heading North, we bypassed Galway entirely; staying on the M18 until it 'degraded' into the N17, just North of Tuam -- and continued onward, to Knock. 

Exiting at the first junction, I made our way to the free, massive car park and we paused briefly for rest room breaks and to purchase small bottles to be filled with Holy Water.  Just inside the Shrine, we were greeted by the two eldest cousins who had driven up from Cork in time to meet us for the scheduled 'Healing Mass'.  As the four ladies made their way inside the church, I gathered up the bags of bottles (including a liter-sized bottle that one of the cousin's thrust my way) and I headed off to the spigots that provide Holy Water -- on demand.

In addition to the afore-mentioned, 1 liter, I had 5 or 6 small bottles that my wife had acquired and at least that many from the SILs -- But I'm 'hip to the scene', 'cause I've been here before and managed to fill them all without under-going yet another "Impromptu baptism'!   

For explanation, see: https://ireland.activeboard.com/t12825158/ics-07-voyage-of-discovery-tour/?page=2&sort=newestFirst

I stashed the full bottles in the Qashqai and then wandered back up to the main street, where I browsed a few shops and scored my own '99' -- killing time whilst waiting for the Mass to conclude.  Once it had, I rejoined the ladies and we wandered about the grounds before making our way to a café back on Main Street where we grabbed some tea and pastries.  We sat and talked until the staff began putting up chairs and wiping down tables.  Since we needed to continue on, to Sligo and the Cousins were returning home, to Cork, we said our goodbyes and parted ways -- At which time, I returned the now-full liter bottle.  They mentioned again about visiting us at our home in October and then, we made our way to the N17 and Sligo.

Google maps brought us to the Riverside Hotel where I had booked two twin rooms for 75.60 Euro each -- Room only.  They have a tiny, congested parking area, but there was plenty of available street-side parking nearby.



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