My tickets to Ireland are booked! Now it’s time to plan…

Last week I posted about the opportunity to fly Aer Lingus business class roundtrip from Boston to Dublin for just 50,000 British Airways Avios points with no fuel surcharges (or just 25,000 Avios points in economy).

One day after I posted about the offer, award availability was spectacular. And I mean really, really spectacular. Unfortunately in the meantime availability has continued to dwindle, and there’s no accurate way to search for award space online anymore. While ExpertFlyer shows Aer Lingus award space, it doesn’t display a single date as being available in business class, which isn’t the case. At the same time United’s website also displays Aer Lingus award space, though in their case virtually every date shows as being available, which isn’t the case with British Airways anymore either. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

So there really is no point in looking online, since it’s in no way an indicator of what British Airways has access to. Out of Boston availability is still decent, though not great. Maybe every few days has a couple of seats available, though not every flight has availability anymore like before.

Stupidly I only got around to booking tickets yesterday, and as usual it was like pulling teeth. I’m pretty sure the performance of British Airways Executive Club agents is based on how quickly they can get you off the phone, because they almost always get impatient after just a few minutes. Therefore it’s a real pain to book these Aer Lingus seats, since there’s no way to know in advance what’s available, and British Airways doesn’t allow award holds of any sort.

In the end I snagged two seats in business class for 50,000 Avios points and $156.28 in taxes (including the $25 ticketing fee) per person on the following flights:

Aer Lingus 136 Boston to Dublin departing at 6:25PM and arriving at 5:20AM (+1 day)
Aer Lingus 137 Dublin to Boston departing at 2:15PM and arriving at 4:15PM

For anyone that’s interested, the breakdown of taxes is as follows (which doesn’t reflect the $25 ticketing fee):

Of course booking the ticket was like pulling teeth, as usual. First I started by explaining to the agent I was completely flexible with dates starting June 20. He said “that’s not going to work, I need specific dates.” Happy he appreciates my flexibility! I guess he was hoping I just had specific dates in mind, and when they weren’t available he thought I’d hang up. For the next few minutes the agent let out grunts until he finally had some options.

Once we started processing the ticket, he warned me repeatedly that there would be “taxation” on the ticket. When he told me the total due (after using the word “taxation” at least five times) I responded with “wow, that’s a lot of taxation without any representation.” He didn’t even chuckle. And I’m pretty sure he also wanted to be a cop when he was younger, since he read me the ticketing rules as if I was under arrest, and then finished with “do you understand your rights?” Oy, these British Airways folks in Jacksonville are something alright…

All that being said, I can’t even say how excited I am. I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland, and I’m especially excited to visit in the summer. No, there’s no glamorous world class first class product, but I actually get to stay in one place for a week, rent a car, and enjoy nature, which is even more fun!

With that in mind, I figured I’d share my observations thus far, and also ask some questions for those of you that have been in Ireland. I’m sure we can all help each other out if we all contribute in the comments section, since I doubt I’m the only one heading to Ireland over the coming months. šŸ˜‰

Once I get enough feedback my plan is to create an updated post with all of the suggestions consolidated, which will hopefully be a good starting point for those of us heading to Ireland.

Let’s start with the basics. Again, I’ve never been to Ireland so I’m just sharing my research thus far, and hope that others can chime in as well, whether you’re an Ireland pro or just in the planning stages of your trip as well.

Dublin Hotels

Westin Dublin

There’s a Westin in Dublin, though rates seem insanely high. The hotel is a category five Starwood property, so if you’re redeeming free nights it will cost you 12,000-16,000 points per night (with the fifth night free, if you choose to stay that long). Unfortunately cash & points seems to almost never be available. It’s worth noting that this hotel belongs to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, so if you’re booking a paid stay and have an American Express Platinum credit card you can get some extra amenities, including a room upgrade upon availability, complimentary continental breakfast, 4PM late check-out, and free afternoon tea once during your stay. It’s worth noting, however, that this requires booking the flexible rate. Furthermore, the hotel is offering a complimentary fourth night when booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts for stays through August 31, 2012.

Four Seasons Dublin

The deal at the Four Seasons Dublin is probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, so this is where I’m staying for substantially less than $200USD per night. The Four Seasons Dublin belongs to both American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts and Virtuoso (and by connection of course Four Seasons Preferred Partner). The benefits are as follows:

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts:

  • One category room upgrade upon availability
  • Complimentary continental breakfast
  • Guaranteed 4PM late check-out
  • Complimentary afternoon tea once during your stay
  • Third night free for stays through August 28, 2012

On the other hand, if you book via a Four Seasons Preferred Partner, you get the following benefits:

  • One category room upgrade upon availability
  • Complimentary full American breakfast either in-room or in the restaurant
  • $100USD food and beverage credit per stay
  • Third night free for stays through August 28, 2012

So the rates here are actually really good as well. They start at 210 Euros per night ($275USD). So I’m paying $550 for two nights with the third night free. That means for ~$180USD per night I’m getting a room at the Four Seasons with complimentary full breakfast and a $100 food and beverage credit. Amazing!

So in the end I decided to spend three nights in Dublin, and then the other nights roaming the countryside.

Where I (we?) need help

I plan on spending three nights in Ireland outside of Dublin. I realize there’s a lot to see from castles to cliffs to beautiful countryside. Any thoughts as to the best way to structure it? Does it make sense to pick one centrally located hotel for all three nights (is there such a thing?), switch hotels every night in different parts of the country, or something else? If anyone has a basic three day itinerary to hit all the highlights in Ireland outside of Dublin, I’d be eternally grateful.

Also, secretly I’ve always wanted to stay in a castle hotel. Can anyone recommend one?

Lastly, is it worth renting a car for the entire stay, or only while roaming the countryside? In other words, is transportation around Dublin and to/from the airport pretty good, or does it make sense to have a car?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, whether it’s a detailed itinerary, quick tip, or link to trip report that covers a similar trip. And I’m sure I’m not the only one that would be appreciative!

Comments

  1. Last time I went to Ireland we didn’t even enter the city of Dublin. Frankly, I’d spend as much time you can away from the city. Same for the other city I’ve visited in depth, Galway. The countryside is the place to be.

    Be aware that rental car insurance in Ireland is outrageous and credit card insurance (at least in most cases) does not apply. I think we paid about $80 for the car for six days and $500 in insurance.

    I’m very partial to the Burren, a starkly beautiful area in County Clare south of Galway. Doolin is a center of traditional music. You can give the nearby Cliffs of Moher a big miss, in my opinion.

    It’s really hard to go wrong in Ireland, there are sites of greater or lesser interest every few feet it seems like.

  2. I think you finally understand BA’s point: They do NOT WANT your award ‘business’ and will go to great lenths to discourage you. Can you imagine what hell that booking would be for someone without your experience? I hope the trip works well for you.

  3. I have been to Ireland twice and love it out there.

    Dublin is a nice city, but three nights is kind of a lot for just the city. So yes, you should visit the country side.

    There are a lot of day trips you can make around Dublin. But I would suggest maybe spending two days either in Galway or Cork as that’s where you can get to see the countryside.

    Here is a castle hotel I lived in near Galway. It’s called the Ashford Castle. It’s absolutely amazing.
    http://www.ashford.ie/

  4. Earlier this month, I spent a weekend in Dublin and then 7 days driving around Ireland with friends.

    Transportation between the center of Dublin and the airport is pretty good — I used the Airlink express bus, which I believe would get you close to the Four Seasons; taxis also seem to be fairly reasonably priced.

    Dublin is compact enough that you can probably walk to anywhere you might want to go; I can’t imagine a car being particularly useful.

    On our drive around the country, we stayed one night each in a mix of hotels and B&Bs; we spent nights in Derry (Northern Ireland), Galway, Killarney, Cork, and Kilkenny (and then a final night in a Dublin Airport hotel since we had early flights). I would suggest staying in 3 different places, similar to what we did.

    Highlights were the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle, and Blarney Castle for the ridiculous-but-obligatory kissing-the-Blarney-Stone. I also liked walking around the center city in Cork quite a bit.

  5. I didn’t bother going to Dublin when I visited. I flew into Shannon. Spent a day in Galway (stopping by the Cliffs on the way). Then we drove down to Dingle Peninsula (LOVED IT!) and also the Ring of Kerry and stayed for a few nights. We spent the last night in quaint Kinsale near Cork. If you go out of the city, a car is really worth it. Just don’t trust Google Maps…

  6. We seem to be on the same circuit. Bali, Dehli now Dublin at roughly the same time. Were you in Zimbabwe too? Bizarre concidence.

  7. Okay so the “I didn’t even bother going to Dublin” comments are pretentious and dumb — it’s a nice city. The LUAS (light rail) is pretty good and taxis are reasonable though, so you won’t need a car if you’re sticking around the city

  8. I would *not* have a car in Dublin.

    As previoiusly noted, a day or so in Dublin is enough, spend time in the countryside driving around. Someone mentioned Ashford Castle, which is really nice. We stayed there two years ago for one night on the cheap. We went hawking at the Ireland School of Falconry, which was something you should definitely do there, they also have clay shooting, riding, etc.

    Personally, I would do southwest: Dingle, Ring of Kerry; West: Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Galway (Ashford Castle); and Northern Ireland: Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery. A lot of driving but a nice feel for major sites and different parts of Ireland.

    Maybe too much for one trip though. My wife and I spent a week and change last time and also hit Skellig Michael (which was awesome but takes most of a day and good weather); and a couple of days in Scotland.

    Ike

  9. Only rent the car when you plan to travel outside the city as parking, driving and traffic in the city is a pain. If you stay at the Westin, you can pretty much walk to most of the sites and for the ones out of reach, just do the touristy hop on hop off bus.

  10. I don’t know why you’d skip Dublin. We did 2 nights, 2 days there, which felt perfect. Then drove across, stopping at Rock of Cashel and Bunratty. Stayed near SNN for 2 nights to do Cliffs of Moher (definitely a highlight of the trip) and The Burren.

    Did not drive down to kiss the Blarney Stone. Seems like a giant tourist trap.

  11. I have wondered this since your initial post about Avios and Air Lingus: it is really worth business class and 2X the miles for a sub 6 hour flight? Just curious why you salivated over the redemption value. Unless I hear a compelling reason my gut feeling is that I would rather save 50K points (when buying 2 tickets) and, for example, go twice it Ireland or use the saved miles towards the free companion ticket award redemption.
    As for Ireland, I went once. Kinsale was a pleasant, quaint place as Irene mentioned. Also, what struck me the most was how incredibly friendly everyone was. You hear it all the time but until you experience it you just don’t get it. Finally, aside from places in Ireland, I recommend you look into catching a hurling match if given the chance.

  12. Thanks for all the suggestions so far, folks! Keep ’em coming!

    @ Ken — Great question. As a relative value, is business class worth twice as much as coach? I don’t know, it probably depends on who you ask. However, the way I look at it is that you’re paying 12,500 miles to upgrade each way. That’s less than you’d pay for a domestic US upgrade, and you get lounge access, priority security/check-in, a better seat, better food, etc. At that cost it still seems like a bargain to me.

    And in my case I have a lot more Avios points than I can use, thanks to the number of family member I had sign up for the British Airways Visa last year. So I’m still rather Avios “rich” with a shortage of good uses for the points.

  13. Ben,

    Do you still do Virtuoso bookings? I made a reservation for the FS in Dublin a few days ago through FHR (noticing the same awesome rate you point out), but feel like the FSPP benefit would be an improvement (free FULL breakfast!)

  14. Funny how it differs agent to agent; I booked two separate tickets earlier and had great, friendly, smart agents both times.

    @Lucky — BTW, thanks for breaking this deal wide open. I was able to book NINE coach tickets for myself and friends over to Dublin for my bachelor party in August. Epic award availability and value for prime season.

  15. If you visit Galway, don’t rule out The G Hotel. Great design, although the pink lounge isn’t great with a hangover! There’s a sister hotel in Drogheda, just north of Dublin (‘D Hotel’) but I’ve never been.

  16. We are flying into Dublin this Saturday on AA. I have used points for two night at the Conrad Hilton, pick up rent a car from Doolys for a week at $305.00 ALL insurance included, Driving to Galway for two night, then to Dingle for two night, then to Cork for two nights and back to Dublin for the last night. We were able to go through Select Hotels of Ireland where they were offering a BOGO. We stay at Forester, Skllig, Montenotte. Some deals on restaurants or entertainment can be found on Livingsocial.com, Groupon.com, http://www.grabone.ie/dublin, http://www.menupages.ie/Dublin.aspx,
    Alot of helpful people at http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g186591-i88-o20-Ireland.html. Have a great time!!

  17. Ben, Make sure you’ll be able to rent a car. The min age is 25 I believe. And CDW on a card will be tough. Rent through a broker (we used Nova Car Hire) as it will be cheaper than renting direct.

    We’re in Galway right now and only plan on spending one day in Dublin. Spent the day driving around Connemara today and had a great time.

  18. Dublin is worth it for a day or two… But the highlight of my trip was going down to Kilkenny, where your eyes will truly feast on Ireland’s lush greenery and vibrant beauty.

    I stayed at what was then the Conrad Mount Juliet, but it looks like now it’s an independent establishment and not part of the Hilton family. It’s not a castle, but a refined, breathtaking, sprawling country estate/manor.
    http://www.mountjuliet.ie/

    I took a train down–which I highly recommend to avoid exorbitant car rental fees and gas–and they pick you up at the station.

  19. I stayed at the Hilton Dublin Kilmainham. The AAA rates there can be reasonable 100-130 Euros depending upon when you travel. The breakfast spread is good, and you will get free breakfast, internet, and a room upgrade as a Hilton Gold.

  20. I would suggest you chose 2 of 3. Too much travel to try and fit all 3 areas in.

    North: Donegal, Giantā€™s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery
    West: Galway, .Skyroad, Connemara, The Burren, Cliffs of Moher.
    South West: Ring of Kerry, Skelligs, West Cork, Kinsale.

    Dublin is just worth a night at start/end of the trip. Cheap rates at Hilton in Dublin. Hotel rates in ireland are cheap in general. Ashford Castle or Ballinahinch Castle (both in West) are the best option for a special treat.

    I would arrive Dublin, spend a day to see book of Kells and Guiness Storehouse. Drive to Galway and see west. Next head south past Cliffs of Moher/Burren down to Cork/Kerry region. Finally back to Dublin for return flight.

  21. The FS is a really good choice (i’ve been there twice with my father on a business trip), staff is amazing and Irish people are among the friendliest people i’ve ever encountered.
    However, beware of the location of the FS. It’s in the residential part of dublin, meaning a cab both ways (in and out) everytime you want to spend time in the city center (count 10-15 euros one way). The FS used to have a house car BUT, two years ago, it seemed pretty hard booking it (restricted hours, not advertised …).

    The idea of renting a car is a must do. I particularly appreciated visiting the Connemara , and a salmon “factory” visit is usually nice (though prepare another set of clothes, cause it stinks !!)

    Happy travel !

  22. As an American living in London, I was struck by how much Dublin resembles London (only smaller). Don’t tell the Irish, but Dublin is really a very nice Georgian city.

    Try to get up to Northern Ireland if you have any interest in modern history. Derry/Londonderry is fascinating if you take a tour of the city walls and murals. You can’t really appreciate how far NI has come and how far it still has to go until you spend some time walking around and seeing the “Peace Walls” that still separate protestants and Catholics. Belfast also has a lot of murals worth seeing, and the new Titanic Belfast experience is great.

  23. Hi Ben,

    My suggestion would be to fly to DUB and spend 2-3 nights in Dublin. Depends on you’thing’, but you should try and do the ‘touristy’ things like the Guniness tour, whiskey tours, temple bar etc. Dublin is expensive, so do your research for meals etc. after a few days, grab a car and explore the fabulous countryside. As Mitch says, time permitting, Belfast is worth a trip….. I still find it a sad and frustrating, yet fascinating place.

    Who are you going with….. What are their interests?

  24. I’m enjoying the suggestions as we’re planning to hit Ireland in the near future.

    The US BA call center reps aren’t that great. Has anyone had better luck just calling the UK call center – or are they no better than their US counterparts? (Assuming you have the ability to call overseas without it costing a fortune, which nowadays I think most of us do)

  25. 2 nights is enough for DUB. Car is a serious liability in the city and not needed if you are going to stay in town. You miss out on day-trip things like Newgrange and Glendalough, but that’s ok for a first trip. Ditto driving up to the Sally Gap which is really fabulous but maybe not worth the hassle of getting a car.

    For a quick trip, Kenmare & the Ring, and/or Dingle Peninsula. Connemara is also very nice, but not in the same class as Kerry IMO.
    You can drive back to the city via west Cork and then along through Waterford to Wexford and on up, which is a nice drive.

    Just some initial thoughts.

  26. Lots of great advice already! I would like to underscore the need to not try to go too far or cram in too much. Keep in mind, if driving on typical roads (the great majority are narrow two-lane adventures and some are one-lane) you may find that going 200 kilometers is a very full day. Not to worry, though, that relatively short distance is bound to be chock full of interesting and historical sites and some of the friendliest people you will meet anywhere!

  27. @lucky, welcome to Boston. As your long term blog ready based in Boston, I’d love to meet you in person if you get a few extra hours. Let me buy you a lunch.

  28. @ Chin — I’d love to meet up, though dinner/lunch/drinks/whatever is on me! I’m traveling in late June, so please send me an email closer to the date and we can work out the details if that’s alright.

    @ Jack — Good to know, thanks.

    @ Bruce & Lance — Usually with either family or friends.

  29. You already have the gift of gab (and then some!), so really no need to visit the Blarney Stone…

  30. Last night I booked a (revenue) ticket to Dublin for travel in a few weeks. I will probably do a Shamrocker tour, though I can tell it is not your style of travel.

  31. I recommend against the FS as it is in an inconvenient location overall – away from the city center, not accessible by the LUAS (tram) and DART (regional train), and merely served by bus lines.

    The Westin Dublin is a lovely hotel. They still carry Molton Brown if you ask for it. Upgrades aren’t easy to come by, although as a repeat guest I tend to get them – they have a number of nice bi-level “library” suites. It is downtown, close to the river, the Green LUAS line, Trinity College, Grafton Street, Dame Street, and a ton of pubs.

    I don’t agree with others that you should skip Dublin – it’s worth 2-3 days. I wouldn’t drive there, though. Use public transit or even on of those tourist buses. To get out of the city, take the train or the rather extensive long distance bus system.

  32. I haven’t been to Dublin so I can not speak from experience but I agree with Pat+. Choosing the right hotel in the right location is always difficult if you’ve never been somewhere. From my recent research for a potential Dublin trip, I found a few hotels worth taking a look at in this part of town – and this is the part of town to be in if you want to be within easy walking distance of the things you’ll want to do.

    In addition to the Westin, look at The Fitzwilliam (member of Preferred Hotels,) the Radisson Blu Royal (Carlson) and the Conrad Dublin (Hilton.) The Conrad is at the very edge of the radius I would want to be inside of but it was worth mentioning anyway.

    And forget about driving a car in Dublin as a first-time tourist. Like any old major city, parking is an expensive nightmare, much less getting around by car in a foreign place, and you just don’t need to do it. And cab drivers will take you to exactly what you’re looking for, even if you don’t know where to look for it. Maybe for leaving town and going to the countryside a rental car may be a good idea though.

  33. Lots of good advice already mentioned on NOT driving in Dublin. Listen to it. What has been neglected is the fact that the countryside is a terror-filled driving experience full of 1.5 lane roads with hedgerows on both sides that serve as major trucking thoroughfares. And all the while you’re driving on the WRONG side of the street. Driving in Rome during rush hour makes the Irish countryside seem safe.

    Skip Dublin? Yeah, and if you get to New York, don’t bother with Manhattan. Stick to Rochester and Albany.

    I booked the Dublin Westin a couple years ago on Priceline. Got an upgraded room and SPG points for the booking. Bless them.

  34. I agree with many others when I say, screw Dublin. Yes, it’s a very nice city, but all in all it’s pretty similar to other cities. 2 nights max.

    You really feel Ireland in the West/Southwest. Kerry, Limerick, Cork, Clare. Killarney, Bunratty. Ring of Kerry and Cliffs of Moher. Next time I visit Ireland, I’m flying into SNN and skipping the long drive from Dublin.

  35. Yeah Lucky, “screw Dublin.” They’re just too “culturally enlightened” there. And so much like other cities. Seen one, seen ’em all! All the hippies and freaks go there anyway, like other hotbeds of God-forsaken radicalism: San Francisco, Amsterdam, Prague, Copenhagen, etc. I think you you know what I mean. Don’t make me spell it out for you.

    You and your male travel companion you share a bed with will feel much more comfortable in the rest of Ireland because it’s culturally on par with the rural parts of Middle and Southern USA. When my Furriner fiends ask me what they must-see in ‘Murika, I tell ’em to skip New York City or Chicago and fly straight into Lubbock International! Yes Sirree.

    LBB Flyer- Well bless your heart.

  36. one other tip – you clear US customs/immigration in DUB before you return (similiar to how it works in Canada) – You normally need to be there 40mins before departure. There is nothing much after immmigration so no point going there too early (Leave the lounge at T-45).

  37. Ireland is a LOT less conservative than the US. It is light years away from Bible belt USA in terms of tolerance

  38. Lucky- Ive stayed at FS and Westin and highly recommend the Westin- much, much better location for a first time visit and great Plat treatment.

    The FS is nice, but not spectacular in any way really.

  39. Great comments as I am thinking about Dublin and Ireland too! Need to see if 6 or 7 nights is enough (w/ 2 nights in Dublin) to see most of the countryside. Tough to plan it out as driving appears to be an adventure there…

    When is best time to go to Ireland (weather/tourist season wise)?

    Or if we wanted it to be a gateway to other European cities…What are some destinations with rock bottom airfares out of DUB?

  40. If you are set on 3 days/nights in DUB, I would use on of those to do a day trip to the Wicklow mountains, Glendalough. Really 3 days in DUB is too many and you won’t need a car. Make an early start and then head out of the city to Galway (about 2 1/2hrs drive on boring motorway) and then spend the day driving around the Connemara. Spend the night either in Galway (if you want a fancy hotel such as the G), or see if you can get as far as Doolin (for a great nights craic and trad music mixing with the locals). Spend the next day in the Burren – Cliffs of Moher, Dolmen, Kilfenora for anceint high crosses, maybe Mullagh More if you like a bit of hiking (takes an hour or two to climb to the top (not difficult) and is a really cool way to explore the Burren landscape up close and personal). Then spend the night at Dromoland castle just outside Ennis – the chinese vice president stayed here recently on his visit to Ireland. Then another early start and head down to dingle to do the ring of dingle which i much prefer over the Ring of kerry. Connemara day and Dingle day have a lot of driving but it is doable. For this itinerary it is only the road around the Ring of Dingle that is a bit hair raising – the rest are ok. Spend the night in Dingle. Then head back from Dingle to Dublin. If you can, map out a route to take in the Rock of Cashel in Cashel. I think i’ve got one too many days in that! Best to loose a day from Dublin – you won’t regret it. Or if you can, see about flying out of SNN – would save you the trip back to DUB and give you some more flexibility. Or, if the weather is good, you could skip the Ring of Dingle and instead catch the ferry from Doolin over to the Aran Islands (Inis Mor is the most popular) for the day, then head to Dromoland castle for the night. Ennis is then 3 hours from Dublin via the motorway.
    So many options! If you want a driving route taking in the best parts of the Burren send me an email.

  41. Hi Ben,

    HURRAY!!! You are coming to see us :)What a lovely surprise I got today!
    My apologies in advance to everybody for the extremely long rambling, but I hope you will find some of my comments useful as I have been living around kerry for the last 15 years.

    To start by some general pointers:
    Boards.ie is the general forum for Irish people to talk to each other. The link I am giving you is for their bargain alert sub forum but as Ireland is a country of just over 4M inhabitants it covers pretty much all the subjects relevant to Irish life. It is a tresure trove to anybody thinking of coming! And of course, everybody should feel free to go there and ask questions about their itinary as there is no such thing as a stranger in ireland just friends you haven’t met yet! as the saying goes.

    A link that I also find useful when booking hotels in Ireland is the Exclusive Deals result from Booking.com . It can be hit and miss particulary during the summer months but always worth a quick look.

    Also to be aware, Ireland was 1 of the worst hit countries by the recession, which translates to bargains aplenty but before the downturn we had a standard of living more similiar to a scandanivian country than a mediterranean one so no surprise in having the worst rip off and best bargain living side by side. Perfect example would be the Four Seasons Dublin (perfect location for an irish staycation) and the Westin (perfect location for international tourists) are both priced accordingly to their locations.

    Regarding the Weather there is a very true saying that if you want to see the 4 seasons you only have to spend 5mins in Ireland! Which translates to:
    1. Layers, layers, and more layers in clothings
    2. And more rainbows than you can throw a stick at. Please, feel free to chase them but be careful with the leprechauns, they can be vicious šŸ˜‰
    The temperautures are a lot easier to predict. Ireland is a mild tempered country due to it’s location and the gulf stream. During the months of May to September they are between 60F and 70F and stay the same between days and nights.
    The perfect time to come to Ireland are the months of May, June and September both for the weather (sunnier than July/August) and not being overcrowded by tourists. I personally always try to make my friends and familly come between the 15th of May and 15th of June.

    Car wise:
    To dispel an earlier comment the minimum legal age to rent a car is 21 years old with/or 2 years experience driving. However every car rental company has specific rules some with a minimum age of 23 others 25. So shop around.

    Also to get the umpleasantness out of the way, 1 of the thing that is absurdly expensive in Ireland is petrol. So please take a seat and a deep breath… the price is between 1.60 and 1.70 euros/liter which translates into a solid 8 dollars/barrel šŸ™ But please pretty please before rushing off to cancel your flight, let me tell you about the best ice cream ever…
    And the fact that baileys is to irish cream what jack daniels is to bourbon. I don’t know what the situation is nowadays in the US? But are you aware that there are many, many, many brands in irish creams and even if you have different ones, think about the fun way it is to spend an evening figuring out which one among all the new 1s is your favourite šŸ™‚

    Cannot believe how much babbling I have done already but next post will be about my itinary tips and the location of ice cream heaven…

  42. @RandyH: Thanks for showing your own prejudices.

    I was speaking purely as a tourist. I actually think I would prefer living in Dublin over most places in the world, but for a one-week, first-time visit to Ireland, it really doesn’t have much to offer.

    Dublin has nothing compared with Paris, London, Prague, Madrid, Munich, Berlin, etc. Nor in the US: NYC, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston. Let’s see what Dublin’s got: Trinity College (Book of Kells), Guinness, tons of pubs and…. hmmm. Dublin Castle. (Not that impressive. I’ve seen maybe 15 castles/palaces scattered around Germany that were better.) A couple of nice cathedrals. (Again, there are plenty of better cathedrals throughout Europe, but if you are Catholic or of Irish descent (I am neither) then the ones in Dublin might be more interesting to you.) Um, Molly Malone statue? Some art museums that would be minor wings of the greats in Paris/Madrid/Rome/London/NYC/Munich etc. (Yes, I have been to the major art museums in all of those places. Shove your “backwards Southern ignorant redneck” stereotypes right back where they came from!) Dublin has nowhere near the wealth of museums and other sights that other European capitols have. The immediately surrounding landscape is nothing special either. The city itself is very nice (as I said before), with lots of nice/pretty architecture and some picturesque canals, but a couple of hours walking around and exploring and you’re pretty much done.

    Again, speaking only as a tourist. As a place to live, I think that Dublin would be great. I am not bashing it at all, just stating my preferences (and I think the preferences of many others) when travelling/sight-seeing. (I remember Lucky’s falling head-over-heels for Berchtesgaden.) I would move to Dublin in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose for me to work there. But for a week-long trip to Ireland, I’d rather spend my time in the countryside, and in the streets and pubs of the smaller towns, than the streets and pubs of Dublin.

    (Note, Ireland is kind of unique with regard to cities. Namely, there is only one real city in Ireland, and it is Dublin, with over 1M inhabitants. The second-largest is Cork, which at 190k, is actually smaller than Lubbock. I wasn’t really trying to set up a city/rural dichotomy in my original post, but the reality of Ireland’s population distribution turned it into one.)

  43. I agree with one of the posters regarding Mount Juliet Country Estate. It is a magnificent estate and a great hotel.
    Some fab shots on their website.

  44. I am planning a month long trip to Ireland, starting by staying at an upscale hotel in Dublin for 4 nights to get my bearings, then travel to various towns, staying at the 10 Celtic castles listed. Is there a pattern to take that I could go castle to castle and take public transport? This is a first time visit and my going abroad as well. Since I am travelling alone, not sure about renting a car. Am I better off booking castles on my own or going thru certain website? Any imput is appreciated!

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