Why did you choose Ireland for your vacation this summer?
We decided Ireland would be our first “destination” vacation together a couple of years ago. We love traveling, but usually only have enough time/money to do “day” trips — overnights in places like DC and Maine, or to see relatives. But we have both been overseas multiple times, so It was simply a matter of “when” – until I learned my job as a teacher could accommodate a summer trip this year.
I agree we wanted to go somewhere beyond the States, but still wanted a destination that wouldn’t be difficult to travel in terms of language and customs, because first and foremost it was to be a vacation.
How long have you been together, and how did you meet?
We started dating about three years ago this past April. Our first date was at a British-themed pub in Salem. It’s where we discovered we both love beer and pub food. Technically, we met 20 years ago, during our first week at college (end of August, 1991), though I don’t remember it. Eric had the dorm room exactly one floor below mine. We were friendly, but didn’t hang out much. Then I transferred and we lost touch.
.three looooooooong years. We did hang out in college but didn’t reconnect until years later when I had a friend out visiting and we all went out to dinner (including her ex).
I hardly see how that’s relevant.
What was the best part about your vacation?
For me, it was that it really felt like a vacation. The
was key, because it was on our terms and we could decide where we were going, and when. I’ve been on a few trips with my family the last few years — Alaska, Prague/Paris, Key West, FL, Orlando, FL — which were amazing, but TOO planned to be restful, because we were just trying to get as much done as possible in a certain amount of time. That’s not what Eric and I wanted for Ireland. Our
was an excellent balance of unplanned exploration and relaxation, which in my mind is the perfect vacation.
I agree that the “self drive” idea caught my attention early on when researching for the trip. I really grew fond of the idea of having the freedom to set our own course and not having to stick to a specific itinerary. That being said, we did book our Ireland B&Bs
ahead of time, because we didn’t want to have to spend too much time looking for a place to stay (as it was high season) and risk losing time to explore the nooks and crannies of each town.
You mentioned your 2 dreams came true: Guinness [Storehouse] and surfing. How was that experience? How long have you been dreaming that this would happen?
Ha! Great question. I had wanted to visit the Guinness “brewery” (which I learned while researching this trip is actually called the Guinness Storehouse) for exactly 17 years. On my 21st birthday, I ordered my first Guinness at my favorite pub in the world, the Old Timer in Clinton, MA (which is Irish themed). 17 years later, on this trip, we flew into Dublin and landed in the early morning of my birthday. Our first stop was the Guinness Storehouse, where I had my first Guinness in Ireland.
I have been surfing for a few years now, up on the north shore of Massachusetts and spots along the coast of New England, as well as in California. I also spent a week surfing in Rincon PR three years ago. I love it, and will take any opportunity to get in the water. I had seen that there was surfing in Ireland on a DVD about surfing around the world, and decided if I ever went to Ireland I would have to paddle out. So Lahinch, Ireland’s own little surf city, was one of my first stops to plan. It turned out that the first day we were there, Lahinch had some great, consistent waves. It was a beautiful day, so I rented a board and wet suit – which one can do all along the beach – and headed out. Being out in the water off Lahinch was great, since you have a great view of the beach and downtown on one side, and castle ruins and cliffs on the other. Very surreal. I caught a few waves, and just reveled in my “mission accomplished!” contentment. The best was coming out and drying off afterwards. Ches and I sat on the deck at a pub called O’Looney’s and had pints of Guinness as the sun set and watched surfers catching waves.
How did you feel about driving on the “wrong” side of the road, and the car?
I’ll defer to Eric on this one, since he did 100% of the driving. I thought the
rental car in Ireland
was fantastic — the perfect size, with just the right amount of “pep.” Eric did an amazing job driving in Ireland. He took to it right away, so it seemed very natural from a passenger’s perspective!
At first I was a bit anxious, especially having the stick shift on the left (you can opt for automatic as well), but it really wasn’t a problem. I am a pretty patient driver, and because we were on our own schedule, we just took our time. Of course, renting a GPS in Ireland came in quite handy in getting from town to town. Besides that, it was just making sure to keep conscientious and alert. I really feel that I can drive anywhere now!
Any advice for future travelers who are driving?
I get carsick if I’m reading or spending too long on my phone in the car. I was not expecting to get sick, since I didn’t read anything, but the winding roads of Ireland were too much for me. Luckily, I brought Dramamine as a precaution, so I would tell people who have EVER been motion sick: BRING IT WITH YOU AND TAKE IT. If you get the slightest bit of motion sickness, you want that stuff on your side so you don’t miss anything out of misery.
I think the best is to use GPS in Ireland as much as you can, but also have a backup physical map for sure. Also, have printed copies of the B&B addresses and telephone numbers. With the mobile phone rental in Ireland don’t be afraid to ask for directions, especially from the B&B proprietors. They have great suggestions for routes and for places to check along the way.
Anything additional you would like to add about your trip, your experience, any any advice for other interested travelers?
One thing have always felt strongly about when traveling are expectations going in. I feel it’s best to make as few as possible, and this is particularly true in Ireland. Just set the “bare bones” like lodging and “must-sees” and be flexible with the rest. We were delighted at nearly every step of our trip to Ireland because we just kept finding things we hadn’t done or seen before. It was a constant “Wow!” trip for that reason.
Yes, and take time to just focus on where you are at that very minute, and not think in terms of the trip’s itinerary. That way you really get to soak in everything that each spot has to offer. The best parts of the trip happened when we just said, “Hey, what’s down this way?” and off we went…
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