After we got married, we headed off to Ireland for a week and a half. We rented a
car and wandered around the countryside, seeing interesting things
and eating very large meals. It was everything we had hoped for
and more. In hopes of helping others have a similarly enjoyable
experience, we have some advice on how to have as good a time
- Don't join a tour or follow a set route. Read a guidebook or three
and pick out a few places you'd like to see. Say, one or two for
each day plus maybe some backup locations. Once you're in Ireland,
use your pre-selected sites to give yourself some direction, but
keep an eye out for anything interesting along the way And believe
me, you will see something interesting along the way. The country
is packed with awe-inspiring scenery, lovely towns, nice shops,
fluffy sheep, and crumbling old buildings. Many historical landmarks
are conveniently signposted, but some are just standing around
waiting to be noticed.
- Avoid the cities. If you've got a pressing reason to go to Dublin,
Galway, or what have you, do so, but if you don't, don't bother.
I'm sure they're exciting, vibrant cities, but most Americans
already have access to cities. You do yourself a great disservice
if you don't spend the bulk of your time in the countryside.
- Stay at farmhouses and B&Bs. If you're Big Business Guy, you may
need the room service, direct-dial phones, cable TVs, and central
location provided by hotels, but if you're on vacation, B&Bs are
just what you need. You won't get a phone and there may not be
a TV (although we were surprised by the presence of TVs in every
B&B where we stayed), but that's not why you came to Ireland,
is it? You're going to be out and about during the day seeing
as much as you can, so you need a pleasant place to sleep. The
B&Bs are quite comfortable and infinitely more charming than the
average chain hotel. Oh, and they're cheap. Even our most luxurious
B&B, a lovely old building socked with antique furniture, cost
half as much as a generic hotel. The farmhouses have the added
attraction of utter peace and quiet. No jackhammers, flashing
neon, car horns, or rattling trash cans at 5 AM; just the moon,
the stars, and the occasional bird or sheep.
- Strongly consider the off-season. On one hand, the weather isn't
as good (although Irish weather in the off-season is still a marked
improvement over off-season weather in much of the US) and many
attractions and B&Bs are closed or operating on a reduced scale.
However, it's much less crowded and very inexpensive.
Enough advice. On to day 1.
(Warning: Some of these pages have lots of large graphics, and
we haven't even put them all up yet. If you've got a dial-up connection,
expect to spend a lot of time waiting for the pictures to show
up. Maybe you should go get a sandwich.)