Kind of just for me to keep track of it.
I just had the opportunity to spend 10 days in Ireland. My wife, Ginger, works for a company in Dublin and I went along on vacation for the 10 days. Here are some tips and reflections on the trip.
Travel; I suppose most folks will not have the opportunity to fly First Class. It’s a lot better in 1st class (I did it both ways) but it is not that bad to fly over on coach. I have done coach as well.
- Once you leave the USA, you’ll want to sleep. Be prepared to buy some drinks, or have some sleeping pills.
- They’ll feed you (generally speaking, IDK about all carriers) and it’s not bad.
- You don’t want stomach issues on the way, so I have suitable meds available like Pepto-Bismol or similar products.
- Eat, drink, take a sleeping pill, and then try to sleep as much as you can.
When you land (Dublin);
- You need EUROS; you can bring some with you from the USA (the east coast airports have currency exchanges) or you can get some out of the ATM at the airport. Most American debit/credit cards work all over Ireland.
- Cabs are ALL OVER THE PLACE in Ireland. No problem getting one to downtown.
- The buses are nice and safe and cheaper.
- It’s about 15-20 min to city centre on taxi, 40 minutes on bus.
- Taxi is about 20 Euros, bus is about 4 Euros (2014 prices)
- You’ll have to go through customs; you’ll need a PASSPORT. It’s pretty efficient and simple. They don’t grill you too bad.
- You pick up your baggage AFTER customs. Once you get your luggage you can leave.
- We stayed at the city centre O’Callighan Alexander Hotel; http://www.alexanderhotel.ie/
- I liked it a lot. You can walk to most of the city from here. They have a restaurant and bar, and know how to pour Guinness properly.
- There are several good hotels downtown, and several more up by the airport. However, traveling in from the airport every day would be a pain.
- You can walk from here to Jameson’s (long walk), Guiness (long walk) Pearse Train Station (short), Temple Bar (short) and Grafton Street shopping (short)
- Temple bar is basically between this hotel and the Jameson area.
- Pearse Train station gets you to anywhere up north, or south along the coast.
- The motels in generally are safe, secure, and pretty nice. They will have some US style plugins but you likely should bring some European power converters (1) to be safe or check first.
- Air conditioning is not like the US, I couldn’t get my room really cold.
What to do
- I ran a few times while there. If you’re a runner, I think the best place in the downtown area is to get over to the Grand Canal Docks, Ringsend Road, and Ringsend Park. There are quite a few runners in that area.
- The tour buses are GREAT. These guys really know the history. If the passengers shut up and listen, you can learn a lot. We used PaddyWagon. They pick you up at several locations downtown and then take you to see the sites. We took bus tours to; The Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle, The Giant’s Causeway, Cork, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Belfast, the Blarney Castle (Blarney Stone) and more.
- The Blarney Stone is pretty scary (to hang over and kiss it).
- These buses are clean, safe, and the drivers are fantastic with a great knowledge of the history.
- I really liked the history in Northern Ireland (Belfast), the Giants Causeway, the Blarney Castle, Cork, the Carrick-a-Rede.
- Read the local newspapers. In Belfast, the local political undercurrents were very interesting.
- Hop-on-Hop-off buses. These tour the city in a loop, stopping at the tourist stops. You buy a ticket for like 20 Euro and you can ride it for 24 hours. They are open top, double decker buses and a lot of fun. There are two; the RED ones and the GREEN ones. We rode the GREEN ones, although they are very similar but have a friendly competition. The bus stops are listed here. We rode this thing all over town.
- Must do; Guinness I suppose. It’s HISTORY. There is some local feeling that they’re not a conglomerate owned bully, but you have to go to the tour and the Gravity Bar. The views and the history are incredible.
- Jameson’s Distillery
- Temple Bar – this is a bar, true, but it’s also a shopping/party district/area. It’s worth checking out; I had some fascinating discussions with Amnesty International right there. Also, a lot of other places try to keep tourists OUT of Temple Bar (competition) by saying it’s really expensive. Well, I don’t call $6.00 for a pint of Guinness expensive especially when it’s $5.00 anywhere else in the city. I had a Guinness and a Jameson’s for $12.00 euro. (2014)
- Dublin and Ireland have a long history with beer and Irish Whiskey. I enjoyed this history, but if you don’t, you’ll want to skip that part.
- Croke Park skyview; they take you on the top of the new stadium. I did not do this, but I wanted to. Looked really cool.
- There are convenience stores all over the place. SPAR is the most common, small store. A little larger are the Centra stores which have more deli, hot buffet type food, and some have liquor. For a larger grocery store try Tesco which will have more groceries. If you see any of these stop in, they are safe, have great food, and usually local deli and bakery stuff. In the suburbs, they have bigger ones, but I didn’t go there.
- There are ALL KINDS OF restaurants. Literally. In a block area in downtown you’ll see Thai, seafood, Irish, steak, Japanese, falafel, burrito, etc. I don’t think you need to be scared of any of it. I wasn’t in any restaurant that concerned me. We ate at Jack the Thresher where the First Lady ate the week before we were there.
- Cell phone; if you get yours turned on for International, coverage is pretty good. Most carriers have good plans.
- The train up north and down south along the east coastline is cheap, easy and really fun. I rode it to Killiney, Dalkey down south. Killiney is where Bono lives. The beach there is the nicest beach I saw assuming the weather is good. I rode the train north to Howth (pronounced HO-th). You can also get on/off at different stops. Like, get off at Killiney, and walk north to Dalkey and then get back on to go back to Dublin. Again, these trains are clean, safe and cheap.