A friend of mine recently told me that when you get older you have two birthdays. This point comes to mind as I turn back to writing on my blog. This particular post started off as a redux of our “recent” trip to Ireland that we took in May 2016. Close to a year ago now, that trip was not so recent, but it is still worth a few posts starting with our initial few days in Galway City. In some ways it was one of the best vacations that we have taken and also one of the most dramatic.
Galway City was our initial resting place, but I must begin with our arrival in Dublin. Excited to land and get out on the open road in Irish countryside, we quickly collected our luggage and headed to the car rental office. This is where some advice comes in – if you rent a car in Europe, particularly with Sixt, you need to bring your proof of auto insurance. Despite the fact that we knew this ahead of time, the paperwork we brought with us didn’t satisfy the rental agency and we ended up paying for insurance anyway. Any money we thought we were saving by using this particular company was lost due to this issue. (Plus, they did not have the manpower to accommodate everyone and it took close to 2 hours to get our car.)
For some travelers, planning a trip is almost as enjoyable as the trip itself. It generates excitement and wonder. Nothing else can compare to this kind of freedom of exploration.
Recently, we met with the couple we are traveling with to Ireland to plan our itinerary. With our plane tickets purchased, we had the dates nailed down and the parameters of our schedule set. The next point of order was to decide where we were going to visit so we could make room reservations. For some people that like to live on the edge, booking the accommodations beforehand is too structured. In fact, a friend that I consulted about our trip arrived in Ireland without one night booked. She and her husband flew to Dublin, rented a car and just started driving. The couple stayed in Ireland for a month and never failed to find a place to rest for the night. Apparently, with the numerous bed and breakfasts in Ireland, this kind of travel is easy. For those of us that like to have it all laid out in advance, that is not something I could ever imagine doing.
Coming together to plan a trip is an opportunity to share a meal and catch up. It was our turn to host so we prepared dinner – our companions were in charge of the dessert. [For my husband, letting go of the dessert planning is akin to my trepidation in traveling to Ireland without accommodations—he had to make sure they were bringing something “good” and “not just fruit.” Needless to say, the homemade blackberry cobbler and Blue Bell ice cream met his expectations.] After a lovely meal, we got out our maps and the handy itinerary chart I prepared for everyone – a planning element I developed for our trip to London a few years ago. The chart is designed to plot out where you are staying each night and what to do in the morning and afternoon. Filling in the chart with a map and guide ensures efficiency in travel and sightseeing.
Ireland is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Partly because I have always been told that I have an Irish heritage – along with half of America! (More about that later . . . )
For me, one of the best parts of a trip is the planning stage. I’m a “learner” by nature and this gives me an excuse to research and learn about somewhere new. Books, guides, blogs and various travel websites all provide great fodder for research. This trip began by learning about the weather and the best time to visit Ireland – May through September with August being an optimal time to go. With our summer travel schedule, we couldn’t do August, but we also didn’t want to be there during the high season for tourists. We opted for May – the weather would be fair and the tourist levels would be low.