Traveler Spotlight: Ben & Danyell, Ireland September 2011

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Once the team at Tenon Tours got a glimpse of the pictures Ben and Danyell sent us upon their return from Ireland we wanted to see and hear more!  They sent us their blog,

IRElogue

(cute name!) and we knew they had to be picked for our Traveler Spotlight this month.


Ben, You came to us with a good idea of the itinerary you wanted based on your own research, what exactly helped you narrow down your chosen towns, how to arrange them and how long to stay?

Although Ireland has a beautiful variety of dramatic landscapes, we felt that America does as well, so we wanted to focus on what America doesn’t have as much of. We wanted to have an itinerary based on towns, pubs,

whiskey

, and music (mostly traditional music, but not exclusively). The main idea was to have extended weekend stays in Dublin and Galway so that we would have plenty of time to explore there during the most “happening” time of the week. Then we would tour around the southern half of the country in between the two weekends.


What advantages did you feel you had booking with Tenon Tours rather than doing all of the planning and booking on your own?

Our preference was to have as much of the trip as possible paid for all up front (in US dollars) so we wouldn’t have to deal with that aspect while there. We also wanted knowledgeable recommendations of accommodations and itinerary scheduling.

Stephanie Molettiere

was great to work with and provided great recommendations, but she was also open to my personal preferences based on my independent research. The availability of an emergency contact 24/7 was also a key advantage.

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What tips do you have for others who are just starting the Ireland self-drive itinerary planning process?

I suggest an

Ireland self-drive itinerary

with minimum 2-night stays in any given town along the way. One night stays often result in being in the town for less than 24-hours due to the distance between them, and the preference to never drive at night. We certainly don’t regret our itinerary, but the next time around we will plan to stay in fewer towns to allow for more in-depth exploration of each.

Also, GPS IS KEY.  Though Tenon Tours includes GPS rentals with their

Ireland self-drive tours

I had bought my own GPS unit that it comes loaded with both USA and Western Europe maps. One of the key features is that you can enter points of interest (POIs) based on latitude and longitude. This is important in Ireland, as many streets and street numbers often aren’t clearly labeled, and streets can change names many times over a short distance. Prior to the trip, I used Google Maps and their Street View feature to pin point major points of interest with specific lat/long coordinates, which I then saved into the TomTom. Once we arrived in Ireland, we decided to name the unit Siobhán – my favorite Irish name. I am so happy to report that Siobhán was absolutely indispensable! She was so helpful in getting us from place to place, with pin point accuracy as planned. Only a couple of times did she lose track of our path or our destination, but she eventually got us to every single destination that we asked her to guide us to. Siobhán’s most impressive guidance was in getting us to Ashford Castle west of Galway. She took us down the most beautiful and narrow country roads, then we rounded a bend to arrive at the front doors of the castle. There were no road signs, and no signs whatsoever pointing to Ashford Castle, yet our trusty friend Siobhán knew the way! Without her, we would have never found the castle, as maps would have been rendered absolutely useless.

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If you each had to pick the top 3 places you visited in Ireland what would they be?

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The fish and chips at Sheehan’s in Dublin, the traditional music scene in Galway, and the

whiskey distilleries

across the country. Danyell’s favorite town was Galway, mine was Dublin, and we both wish we had stayed longer in beautiful Kinsale.


Other than your amazing pictures, did you bring back any other Irish souvenirs?

Before the trip I planned to buy a bodhrán drum while there (got it from Powell’s in Galway), and then purchase a beater (bodhrán drum stick) in each town that we stayed. I have a wonderful collection now, and I couldn’t be happier to display (and use!) the bodhrán and the beaters in my home as a unique reminder of our first

trip to Ireland

.


What is the one thing you feel that makes Ireland unique?

If I had to pick one thing, it would have to be the Irish accent — our favorite accent in the world! With the historical basis of their unique Gaelic dialect, their spoken English comes out more beautiful than any other country, including the other Gaelic areas such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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Many of our travelers preparing for their trip to Ireland ask us about the weather, traveling at the end of September how was the Irish weather? How did you prepare for the temperature and climate changes?

Most rain events were very light in comparison to the heavy rain I’ve experienced in Vegas and the Carolinas. We prepared with layering our outfits, but the temps were pretty warm for the second half of the trip, so no layering was needed. We were also prepared for the rain with waterproof boots, but we had to upgrade our umbrella… The picture to the left was taken at Kilkenny Castle. Not too long after that photo was taken, the bottom fell out of the sky and we had to seek refuge under the gatehouse at the castle entrance. It didn’t seem to be letting up, so we had to ditch that little umbrella for a giant umbrella with the logo for the Kilkenny hurling team on it. A

trip to Ireland

isn’t complete without a memorable weather story!

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Please submit details about your tour and pictures to travel@tenontours.com

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