TO PLAN OR NOT TO PLAN... THAT IS THE QUESTION
Hard to describe how we planned this amazing trip… how to get there, get around, where to stay, what to do… wing it, plan it, so on.
First thing, we flew Aer Lingus – that’s a no brainer as it’s Ireland’s national airline and it’s actually affordable. We had to fly some crap US airline to Chicago, but whatever.
Second, how to get around. I’d heard Dublin is a pain in the ass to park a car and the transit is so good that you shouldn’t bother renting a car – and given that we were staying in the city center right near the GPO (see below) we just opted to see where public transit could do for us. Outside Dublin I was told is the opposite and renting a car was a near necessity. The best deal was a local Ireland company Dan Dooley Car Rentals… great people, affordable rates, much more so than the big international companies.
In planning out where to go, we decided after talking to friends and doing our research that we wanted to do Dublin and Belfast because they’re the biggest cities, Derry for the significance of the Civil Rights movement and Bloody Sunday, Sligo, Galway as it’s an arts and culture center and near Connemara National Park, Dingle because Rick Steve’s said it’s not to be missed (and boy was he right!) and finally Cork on the recommendation of a friend. So here’s the final itinerary:
Next was housing. We did a combo of hotels, B&Bs and Air B&B… Ireland is very affordable if you go at the right time and with Expedia and Trip Advisor and the like, you really shouldn’t have a problem getting a good deal unless you’re just planning too late or going during some mega event like the massive Fleadh in Derry – we missed it by a week but there wasn’t a room in the city during this culture and music festival. Air B&B was great because we got to stay with Irish people in their homes and that was a big thing for me, so I tried to book everything with Air B&B, it didn’t always have a place but we had a great time everywhere we went. Here’s where we end up staying in each city: