I'm travelling with my 81 year old mom to Ireland in early Feb. Trip was booked through Groupon and includes airfare, hotels, and our rental car. The order of the trip is as follows. 1. Arrive in Dublin in the a.m.; spend night in Dublin 2. Drive from Dublin & spend 2 nights in Galway 3. Drive from Galway & spend 2 nights in Killarney. 4. Drive from Killarney and spend last night in Dublin. What are the BEST sites along the route we should visit? We don't have to be at the hotels at any particular time so excursions are ok if there is something slightly "out of the way" we shouldn't miss. Thanks in advance for helping us plan our memorable trip!!
Happy travels to you and your Mom -- my mother was still traveling to places around the world and in her 80's and loved it. Just checking - are you prepared for driving on the left side of the road, in kilometers per hour, and possibly on some hilly, curvy, relatively narrow roads?
My suggestions are based on our Western Ireland bicycle trip in June 2009 - we got rain about every other day but temperatures were generally warm enough. Not sure what the February conditions would be for you. These are all west of the main highways between Galway and Killarney, so you'd have to see how "slightly" out of the way these would be.
South of Galway and Galway Bay, in County Clare, the famous, 700-foot high Cliffs of Moher. Although plenty of people ignored the signs warning about not walking along the edge of the cliffs, we stayed on the safe paths, ensuring we wouldn't tumble or get blown over the edge - - it's a loooong way down.
Between the Cliffs and the main motorway you'll likely be taking to get to Killarney, still in County Clare, is The Burren, south of Ballyvaughn and north of Kilfenora. It's a unique place on Earth, for the terrain and plant life that grows there, plus the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a stone-age burial tomb. Again, not sure how things will look in February.
Farther south, in County Kerry, and northwest of Killarney, is Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula, one of Rick Steves' European "Back Doors," described at length in his Ireland guidebook. It's well worth a visit (or staying for a few nights), but as a somewhat out-of-the-way destination and a quickie visit, you'd have to drive over Connor Pass - twice! Not sure what the road conditions on the pass would be in February.
Your Mom might enjoy a day trip from Galway to the village of Cong...about 45 min. north. It's where the "Quiet Man" was filmed back in the 50's (John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara). The little town and the surrounding area still look like the movie sets they were back in the day.
Continuing the drive around to Clifden and taking the Sky Road scenic drive would also be nice - weather permitting.
Thanks to "Cyn" and "Robert" on the suggestions! I've never driven on the opposite side of the road (at least not on purpose!) so it will be an adventure for sure! I plan to watch several "youtube" videos which give a decent perspective on the subject and offer a realistic glimpse into what I can expect. The Cliffs of Moher is on my short list already. Hope to add many other stops. thanks again!! :)
One thing that helped me get used to the sight picture for driving on the left was using the Google Maps street view feature to preview my route each day. Helped to have seen the roads, intersections, turnoffs, signage etc. in advance. Might be of benefit to you too.
Also, if this really is your first time tackling LH traffic I'd recommend specifying a car with automatic transmission when booking your vehicle. The default rental in Ireland is manual, an extra fun factor you probably don't need.
Robert-Thanks for the tips!! I will definitely check out the google preview feature...I didnt realize that existed! As a left-handed novice 5 speed driver, I DID already specify an automatic vehicle. It cost a little more but in the end was the best decision. Left handed driver +opposite side of the road+manual transmission=DISASTER!! :)
Hi, I just posted a response in your other thread. Short story: February = Dark + Rain + Cold. Wear warm waterproof layers and drink lots of your favorite antifreeze. Your mom might like what I was told was an old lady drink (which I happen to love so no offense to any old ladies out there), hot whiskey and clove. Shot of Jameson, a little sugar, hot water and a clove-studded lemon slice. Just what the doctor ordered after getting caught in a cold Irish rain.
I'm an American, now living in Waterville on the Ring of Kerry for 2 1/2 years. Here's a few thoughts:
I tell my friends: even if you're protected with good coats outside, you'll be cold INSIDE! The thing I still notice, is most places (especially old buildings) are cold. Electricity is VERY expensive in Ireland. Many B&B's don't turn on heat until 4:00 p.m.!! Be prepared with good sweaters. I personally bought a few cashmere sweaters at charity shops and wear them as undershirts. Seriously, I still do this after all this time.
The temperature different today, for an example, between Dublin and Waterville is 9 degrees. So it will be winter in Dublin - hat, scarf, gloves. But here in Waterville I walked the dog with no gloves (but a hat to protect my hair as it's VERY windy, today!). So I hear from my friend that visit that they like waterproof coats with fleece linings - they can always unzip if they warm up. And waterproof shoes are handy, too! I see lots of LLBean duck boots around here! ;-)
Is your mom a fit 81 year old? My mom, when she was that age, could walk well but certainly wouldn't be doing an hour walk to a good view up a path. On the other hand, my 91 year old neighbor here walks 3 1/2 miles every day from her house to the sea and back. How hardy is your mom? And now that I have questions in mind: do you like museums? nature? history? photography? Let's narrow down what you may like. Me suggesting a museum in Galway if you hate setting foot in one - well that doesn't help, does it!? So let us all know what types of things you enjoy!
Hope to hear from you!