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Heart of Ireland 2015 - Another thread

Hi--

First time tour user here. Planning the Heart of Ireland 2015 tour. Referred to Rick Steves by a friend.

A couple questions for those who have been on RS Ireland tours....

How much free time is there to roam around home town (hotel) for a beer, a snack and or some shopping? Is our hotel going to be close to local activities, or will i need to grab local transportation to go shopping?

How would you rate the hotels? I don't need a Marriott...just a good bed. A pub near by is preferred so that we can unwind from a brisk day of sight-seeing.

I read on another thread that early departures are common for tour days. What are we looking at here in Ireland for a departure and return to hotel?

Oh, and one specifically for the RS Staff....Where do we start off in Shannon? We are planning on arriving there a couple days early and want to plan our days around meeting up on day 1.

Many thanks in advance!

Mike

Posted by
921 posts

Hi, Mike.

I have not been on a RS Ireland tour, though I have been on 8 others. When this new one was announced, it became second on my maybe list for next year.

One thing I like to do when looking into a tour is view the scrapbooks of the tour at: http://www.ricksteves.com/tours/scrapbooks/tour-alum-scrapbooks. Since this tour will be brand new, I would look at the scrapbooks for the longer Ireland tour to get an idea of activities, surroundings, weather (time of year), etc.

One thing I noticed about this tour - and it is a good thing for a short tour like this - there are only three hotels, the first night in Ennis, then 3 in Dingle and 3 in Dublin. That gives a good long stretch of not having to pack and unpack. I have been to Dublin before and I cannot imagine the RS tours stay anywhere that is not close to pubs, eateries, and shopping. In fact, if I do this tour, I already have some of my own points of interest already formulated for Dublin. Oh, and Sister Fidelma in Cashel...

Dingle, I have not a clue except what I have gleaned from others in the scrapbooks and reports. It seems quite convivial. And, one happy feature of the RS tours is that there is frequent down time on your own. And, again, it is rare to leave in the bus very early. There have been some recent threads on the topic that you can search for.

Depending on how many days early you arrive, might you consider a side-trip to Galway, the Aran Islands, or Clare Island? Ennis looks kind of interesting, too. Ah, now you have me digging out my Saw Doctors dvds!

Happy travels and write a trip report if you do go - or a scrapbook.

Debbie

Posted by
524 posts

I have taken the longer tour of Ireland, I believe you are interested in the Heart of Ireland. That said, you will have three days in Dingle, one of them your free day. Our tour stayed in two separate B&b's. They were both nice and within walking distance to downtown. RS hotels/b&B's are always centrally located and are usually two or three stars. My husband and I had one of the best meals ever eaten at Out of the Blue, a splurge, but so worth it. The guide made a reservation for us upon learning we wanted to eat there. My favorite pub is located in Dingle, The Courthouse. Husband and I managed to stop in each evening, including the group dinner/music concert night and the music store night. The music and conviviality of the people made this such a great pub. It was a great place with a lively energy.
I don't know what you consider early, but most tours depart 8:00-8:30. I have no problem leaving at this time, I'm on vacation, in Europe, pinch me!!! I feel I can rest when I get home.:)
Most RS Tours leave your afternoon free. The day you tour the Dingle Peninsula will be a long day, I don't recall any free afternoon time.
I hope you take this tour. I enjoyed so much of this tour. There really are 50 shades of green and I feel the people are Ireland are some of the friendliest I have ever met.

Posted by
91 posts

We did the 14 day tour in 2011 and if you have the time, would highly recommend it. Obviously it covers so much more of the country and includes Northern Ireland, which we thought was worthwhile. In response to your questions: The stops for us were a mixture of small hotels and B&B's. All were reasonably comfortable, no shared bathrooms, and good breakfasts. The hotels were always within a few minutes walking distance to restaurants, shops, and tourist sites. In Dublin it was a 5 min walk to the pubs in the Temple Bar district and 10 min to Grafton Street, the pedestrian only shopping area with multiple street performers. In Dingle, you can walk from one side of town to the other in 20 - 25 min, so easy to get around. If you like golf, there is a Pitch and Putt on the edge of Dingle, 18 short holes with the bay in the background! The longer driving days are always broken up by a "comfort stop," lunch, or site visit at about 2 hour intervals. They are also a good time to socialize more with your tour members. Plus on the full size bus, you can have 2 seats to stretch out if you want. The drives were not a burden. Only 1 day did we start before 8AM, and that was to be at a beautiful outdoor site in N Ireland for a relaxing hour before 40 tour buses from a cruise ship arrived as we were leaving. That is the advantage of having a RS tour guide! Enjoy the evenings at the pubs for some of the best music you'll ever hear. Usually starts after 9PM, so plan to stay up a little later. The pace of walking tours was never rushed and the local guides were interesting and informative. We highly recommend the RS tours (have done a total of 6). I think the tour will meet your expectations!

Posted by
8 posts

I have never visit ireland before, but hope to visit in this December vacation.