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Author: jeswlloyd

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 28
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2009

May 31, 2012

First, a big thanks to all of you who wrote a review of this trip.  Your comments and suggestions are so helpful.  I appreciate the recommendation of “Ireland” by Frank Delaney and thought it was a very enjoyable read in preparation for this trip.

As we prepare for our June 25th departure, I am soliciting any advice or suggestions for free time or dining.  I know that we will have all kinds of options, but often on trips, we will have an experience that we find especially charming or fun.  Or sometimes, we come back with a tidbit of knowledge that would have made the trip easier for us.  So I am asking all of you out there who have made this trip to think back over your experience and share any sites, pubs or restaurants that we should include in our free time.  And I know all of you shoppers out there can save us time by guiding us to the best places to shop.

I look forward to your input.  Thanks in advance.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 524
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

May 31, 2012

It seems that there were a lot of included meals and I don't remember much about meals on our own except in Killarney and in Dublin, but I stayed four days longer in Dublin. If you do, don't miss the National Museum, not far from Trinity College and the Chester Beatty Library near Dublin Castle (one of the best meals I had in the country at their Silk Road Cafe). The National Museum is considered one of the best archeological museums in Europe. The gold jewelry and Viking displays are wonderful; there is a coffee shop where you could get soup or sandwiches.

If you follow the same schedule  that we did, we had the afternoon free after seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity. The National Gallery and the National Museum are nearby. I wasn't too impressed by the Gallery but some in our group enjoyed it. Both have gift shops and the museum has a nice collection of books and silver jewelry (Viking and Book of Kells designs) ranging from low into $100s.

Our PD had a lot of suggestions for restaurants and took us on orientation walks in Killarney and Dublin. I ate with a couple of women in a small, busy restaurant that specialized in fish and chips in Killarney. Sorry, I don't know the name but the PD will. In Dublin we wound up eating in the cafe at the Camden Court hotel and some ate at the Pub next door.

If you're looking for sweaters, Irish hats, scarves, etc, Galway and Killarney have speciality shops and there is a wide variety of goods at the Blarney Woolen Mills shop in Blarney. We had lunch on our own in Blarney and I had a good lunch in a small hotel/tea room on the same street as the Blarney shop. 

Highlights for me were Connemara, Dingle, Galway and Dublin. I would not have minded skipping Waterford; I don't know is there is a reason to stop there other than the crystal showroom. It was interesting but not worth an overnight to me. I would have preferred an extra day in one of the other cities.

Our hotel in Cork was a short walk to the English Market and many of us bought food and wine from a tantalizing selection.

Our home-hosted lunch in Cobh was nice and then we had time in the Heritage Center. I paid the small fee and went through the interesting exhibits. Gift shops there too.

If you are taking the Dublin extension, use the hop/on/off bus and don't miss Kilmainham jail. to Several enjoyed the tour of the Guinness factory.

It's a good trip and I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. The evening at the pub was fun; I developed a taste for Irish coffee.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 239
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

June 06, 2012

We just returned yesterday from the Ireland in Depth tour with pre-trip in Belfast.   Across from the Europa Hotel where we stayed is a beautiful pub called The Crown Bar.  It has stained glass windows, and the original "snug" booths and excellent foods. Our program director escorted us in for "lunch on own" after vicinity walk, and  we got 12 pre-trip people in several snugs.  Yes, it is snug in the booth, but we managed.  There is another very old pub from late 1700''s we visited before the trip ended in Dublin. Our PD arranged it; the pub is very old, with original thatched roof, wooden beams, and a wonderful fellow named Richard who provided entertainment of old Irish songs.  We had a great evening but we just had a drink there, not food.  The PD can recommend a lot more pubs on the vicinity walks, some are within walking distance to the hotels.  S/he will email you before the trip, and you have an opportunity to email back with your question for first  hand info.  If you get Dee Dee, you have a winner, she was a great PD.    Dee Dee also pointed out very good restaurants on vicinity walks.  There are plenty.

We agree the overnight in Waterford to visit the Waterford factory was a waste.  After traveling days for 8 hours or more through country roads (scenery is beautiful), an extra day in Cork or better, in Dublin would have been better.  We noted that in all factory visits, the normal person cannot afford even the smallest item, anything worth having is over $3000.  The same was our thoughts at the Meissen factory in Germany.  We had absolutely no time in Waterford besides the factory tour because we arrived a few minutes before the tour through the factory, and then had a dinner and had to pack up for the next day.  I will include this in my review both in the evaluation and in the review. 

 

 

 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 07, 2012

I think Waterford was included because the GCT planners thought that people would expect to go there once it was announced that the showrooms had re-opened.  I also felt that it was a waste of time, although I did buy two very small pieces of glass.  One was a seahorse and one was a harp.  They were on sale and didn't cost much. 

Scheduling more time in Dublin would have made more sense, since they don't give you more than a day on the main trip.  And, in fact, the original schedule had less than a full day.  You went to Wexford and stayed a night, not Waterford, got to Dublin midafternoon and went straight to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and then to the hotel.  The next morning, you flew home.

Author: jeswlloyd

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 28
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2009

June 19, 2012

Thank you for taking the time to respond and for the good tips on places to visit in free time and places to shop.  That will help us maximize our time and  have an opportunity to plan without making last minute decisions.  I understand about visits to factory stores.  We usually don't buy, but hopefully,we  will find the history and production process interesting.  At least we do have a partial day and a full day in Dublin.  You comments just add to the anticipation of our upcoming trip. 

Author: jeswlloyd

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 28
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2009

June 19, 2012

Thank you for taking the time to respond and for the good tips on places to visit in free time and places to shop.  That will help us maximize our time and  have an opportunity to plan without making last minute decisions.  I understand about visits to factory stores.  We usually don't buy, but hopefully,we  will find the history and production process interesting.  At least we do have a partial day and a full day in Dublin.  You comments just add to the anticipation of our upcoming trip. 

Author: walshcs

Joined: 1/25/2011
Posts: 87
Trips Taken: 3
Countries Visited:

Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, the Canadian Maritimes incl. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI, Montreal (Quebec), Guatemala, and many USA cities incl. NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, Portland Oregon, the Oregon coast, Maine coast, parts of Florida. I took a 10 day tour to Costa Rica where I was especially thrilled to experience the tropical plants, birds, volcanos, and met the friendly Ticos. I did Ireland in Depth with GCT Oct. 2011 and it was an inspiring, beautiful, and meaningful experience to finally visit the land of my Irish ancestors. Completed the Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast with the pre-trip to Venice April 21, 2012 and it was a travel dream fulfilled. I booked Guatemala with Tikal, Antigua and Atitlan for January 2013 and had a wonderful adventure discovering modern day Maya culture and learning about ancient Maya city states with my visit to Tikal. Very excited that OAT has brought back the trip to Japan and I leave on that tour Nov. 4, 2013 with the pre-trip to Tokyo. Now I finally have the resources to pursue my "bucket list" of foreign travel and the freedom to chart my own life's course. Ask questions that will satisfy your requirements/interests in a travel buddy. Looking forward to meeting you here and maybe in the world. Warm regards, Cate I'll post a photo when I remember to bring one from home. (Only have internet at work for now.)

Traveler Since: 2011

June 20, 2012

Hi there...you may not see this before you leave on your Ireland trip 6/25, but just in case.

For a charming Irish experience have a pot of tea and fresh-baked cake at Cupa Tae in Galway across the street from the Spanish Arch. I stopped in after my guided walk with the PD.

If you enjoy restored Castles and want a lovely photo op, take a Jaunting Car ride from your hotel to Ross Castle in Killarney. This 15th Century castle is located on a lake complete with swans swimming nearby. Guided tours of the castle are offered, however, folks gave it mixed reviews. I didn't take the tour but completely enjoyed the ride out and back, strolling the grounds, and taking photos of the beautiful setting. You could elect to walk to the castle but be aware that most folks considered it a LONG walk. If some of your travel companions were interested you could save $$ by sharing the cost of the Jaunting Car.

Don't miss taking the optional to Connemara for beautiful scenery, thatched cottages, and a sense of the Old Ireland. This day trip was a highlight for me.

Except for the overnight in Waterford (I agree with everyone who felt it was a waste of time & would have preferred an extra day in a different town/city), this was an excellent experience in a beautiful country with a fascinating history and warm, welcoming people.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

cate w.

Author: jeswlloyd

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 28
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2009

June 20, 2012

Hi  walshcs,

Thanks for your response and suggestions. Wanted to let you know that we saw it and have included your suggestions in our plans.

Author: avalarue

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 68
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2008

June 21, 2012

We were in Killarney on a Sunday and took the day off and went to church, St. Mary's I believe. It was built in 1197 and still has an active congregation. It's not very often that Sunday is a free day on a tour, and we're glad we were able to take advantage of it.

Author: jeswlloyd

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 28
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2009

July 20, 2012

Here is a quick update for those going to Ireland

If you take Aleve for pain or as anti-inflammatory, be sure to bring some with you.  Naproxen (Aleve) is not available over the counter in Ireland.  It is only available as prescription.

Don't miss Murphy's Ice Cream shop in Killarney.  In fact, be sure to go on arrival since you will want to return each day.  They have many interesting flavors of ice cream and you get two scoops with each serving.  They love to give you samples mixing different flavors.  The youngsters working there are delightful as is the ice cream.

We found the best price on Aran sweater at Quills in KIllarney.  (It is near the ice cream shop.)  The staff is so helpful and not at all pushy and the selection is great.  In fact, in general we found shopkeepers to be very friendly and helpful.

Take your umbrella and raincoat wherever you go.  Even when it is bright and sunny, it will probably rain at some point while you are out.  The weather changes quickly.  It is so much more fun when you are prepared.  Then the "Irish Mist"  won't trouble you at all.

The Celli and National Folk Performance are very different.  Celli is like a local party.  The National Folk Perfomance is stage perfromance with modern dance that depicts a Irish folk tale.  It is very impressive. 

The dinner with NFP is good, but they will top off your wine and then come around collecting 5 Euro.  Be sure you actually want a second glass and that you have finished your first one - several of us were talking and not paying attention and got blindisded.

Go and enjoy Ireland

Author: jeswlloyd

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 28
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2009

July 20, 2012

Here is a quick update for those going to Ireland

If you take Aleve for pain or as anti-inflammatory, be sure to bring some with you.  Naproxen (Aleve) is not available over the counter in Ireland.  It is only available as prescription.

Don't miss Murphy's Ice Cream shop in Killarney.  In fact, be sure to go on arrival since you will want to return each day.  They have many interesting flavors of ice cream and you get two scoops with each serving.  They love to give you samples mixing different flavors.  The youngsters working there are delightful as is the ice cream.

We found the best price on Aran sweater at Quills in KIllarney.  (It is near the ice cream shop.)  The staff is so helpful and not at all pushy and the selection is great.  In fact, in general we found shopkeepers to be very friendly and helpful.

Take your umbrella and raincoat wherever you go.  Even when it is bright and sunny, it will probably rain at some point while you are out.  The weather changes quickly.  It is so much more fun when you are prepared.  Then the "Irish Mist"  won't trouble you at all.

The Celli and National Folk Performance are very different.  Celli is like a local party.  The National Folk Perfomance is stage perfromance with modern dance that depicts a Irish folk tale.  It is very impressive. 

The dinner with NFP is good, but they will top off your wine and then come around collecting 5 Euro.  Be sure you actually want a second glass and that you have finished your first one - several of us were talking and not paying attention and got blindisded.

Go and enjoy Ireland

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