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Best of Ireland in 14 Days Oct 11-24, 2019

Best Tour ever!! – “IN THE WORLD”
This was my second Rick Steves tour, and the second time I have been to Ireland. My last trip to Ireland was 18 years ago, and my oh my, there have been many changes, especially in Dublin. My earlier trip was a self-tour, and while I enjoyed the countryside did my research on the many places we visited; it didn’t hold a candle to the information/education provided by our RS guide, Pascal Fitzpatrick.

Pascal is the quintessential Irish storyteller. We were enlightened throughout the tour with factual stories and Irish folklores. The bus was driven by Dennis, the most relaxed man I have ever met. He became even more relaxed when faced with hairpin turns, or a rocky wall on one side of the road and a drop-off cliff on the other. Oh, and perhaps a camper or two would be coming toward us, on a single road. Yes, he was the calmest guy on the bus.

Pascal kept us on “Irish timish” schedule, and reminded me of the Border collie we saw herding sheep. The difference was that Pascal was nice about it. The tour group was absolutely the “best in the world”; we were introduced to great Irish music, excellent food, and breath taking views. I would say at the top of the list would be the visit to the School of Falconry at the Ashford Castle. We all had the unique experience of having a hawk land on our appropriately protected arm, and eat rodent parts out of our appropriately protected hand. When the hawk finished eating out of my hand, we exchanged eye contact, as if to say, “ Is that all?” Fabulous experience – my grandchildren were duly impressed with that action.

The Giant causeway was just one of many absolutely beautiful scenes. We also had a lesson in the unique ecosystem of the Burren. The local guides were a wealth of information on the local areas, from the Dingle peninsula, Aran Islands, Burren, Belfast, and more. I couldn’t be more pleased with the tour, our guide, driver, and fellow travelers. My question to Rick is “what’s next for Ireland?” My response is, tour of Irish villages, similar to what is offered in England, Villages of Southern England

Posted by
6 posts

Sounds like you had a lot of fun! I've been living in Dublin since 2010 and I've seen so many changes happening... I'm not sure the city is getting better though... What do you think about the city now?

Posted by
128 posts

Glad you had a great time....I have been on that tour and agree Pascal is super....he was our bus driver several years ago and was such a nice, personable guy, I can well believe he is a wonderful guide now!

Posted by
2251 posts

Nicely done, gwenpurrier! Sounds like a wonderful tour. I love your idea for an Irish Villages tour. Count me in!

Posted by
16 posts

in response to Milo,

I think Dublin lost it's quaint city appeal. It's a growing city, (I think I lost count of all of the cranes after about 20). If I were a city person, I'd love Dublin, theater, music, great restaurants and history. However, I prefer the country, smaller villages, and getting to know the people on a more personal level.

Posted by
111 posts

Ahh, so you were the tour following us! I was on BOI October 5 to October 19. Best. Trip. Ever.

Posted by
1811 posts

I agree that is a wonderful tour. I loved Ashford Castle, but opted out of the falconry walk. I am a vegetarian and the thought of a large predator bird eating small animal bits on my arm did not not appeal. The guide was perfectly ok with this (aren't the Irish wonderful.) He suggested I go in the hotel and have coffee which I did. I was well treated and the interior was lovely. I had coffee and a biscuit and then walked around both inside and out. I had a lovely visit there, even though it wasn't what Rick had planned for me. In fact, being able to opt out of some things is one reason I usually choose a RS tour when deciding which tour company to take.

I am anticipating this trip next September and am even more excited after reading your report! I am traveling solo and still figuring out whether I should add any extra days. i am thinking I'll arrive in Dublin around noon the day before and book a night ahead at the same hotel where the tour begins. What would you suggest I do with that extra time and is it enough to see a bit more of Dublin? I also think I'll fly home the morning the trip ends out of Dublin as I am usually happiest with no more than 2 to 3 weeks of travel at a time. Thoughts on whether I should stay extra days either way? Thanks!