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Old 09-07-2010, 03:53 PM   #1
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Default Advice on traveling to....Ireland?

So as a lot of you may know, I'm stationed in Germany. I've been doing a lot of traveling in the nearby area (anything within a day's ride is fair game for a four day weekend) and I've been all over Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg as well as a few trips through Holland and one trip just this past weekend to Italy. So I'm not new to traveling through Europe.

My plans are to go in December during my block leave period (should have around two weeks in total.) I'd like to visit at a minimum Dublin, Galway, and Cork. Just curious if anyone has any first hand experience with things like the train system and any deals I may be able to score, or any other general Irish specific advice. I'm planning on flying to Dublin via Ryan Air and I'll either fly back out of Dublin two weeks later or end the trip in Galway and fly out of there.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-07-2010, 03:55 PM   #2
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Never been... but if/when wife and I go. I plan on driving between bed/breakfasts and spending lots of quality time at the pubs.
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Old 09-07-2010, 04:23 PM   #3
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That's more or less what I've got in mind. Main thing I haven't decided is if I want to rent a car and drive for two weeks stopping everywhere I pass or just use the trains and hit the big areas.
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Old 09-07-2010, 04:54 PM   #4
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I went several years back. Ireland is beautiful and the people are all very friendly. I found the Cork accent hard to understand. All of the Meat & Potato type dishes I tried were fantastic. What they call a sandwich is pitiful and disgusting. You will not enjoy driving around the Dublin area. The streets are narrow and they park on both sides. If you do not fold in your side mirrors, you will lose them. Otherwise driving through the country is fantastic. We rented a 3-series BMW with a 5-speed. Shifting with the wrong hand is a trip. Make sure you pick up Waterford Crystal trinkets for your mom/girlfriend/female figures in your life. You can find them pretty commonly around, but the best place (as you could imagine) was from the factory in Waterford.
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:06 PM   #5
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I went to Ireland almost 10 years ago, just after all the mad cow stuff there. Since we had planned on hiking through the Wicklow mountains we didn't really consider this - as we would be traipsing through farmers fields and such. No issues there, people are incredibly friendly. On a positive note, the trails were pretty empty.

We stayed in hostels mostly and some were pretty impressive. First day after hiking 25k out of Dublin we found our planned hostel was full?? WTF, it was like a Tuesday or something and this place was in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. But the guy had Cub Scouts in the place and wouldn't even let us camp on the grass due to someone breaking their leg years ago, mumbled something about a lawsuit, guy was not interested in helping us

Went down the road to a B&B, they were full, but let us camp under a tree on their property, for nothing. Next morning as we were walking into town, starving, a dude in a Saab was going in the opposite direction. He asked where we were going, told him to <name of town> he said he'd be back in a minute after dropping off his newspapers and drove us in. We had 40-50 pounds of gear so this was awesome, for Day Two.

We went back to the hostel that couldn't have us the night before, and got a ride out of town back there.

After 2 weeks of hiking we really bit off more than we could chew and threw in the towel.. went to the first farmhouse off the road for 'help' and we were greeted like family. Tea, chit-chat, a sandwich, and even gave us a bag of 'junk food' to take with us. They hired a van to drive us to the nearest town where we caught a train further south to Rosslare where we would eventually get on a ferry for Cherbourg.

Downright hospitable those Irish are. Definitely recommend the Wicklow Way if you are into that kind of thing.
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:20 PM   #6
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PROTIP: Don't ever put your lips on the blarney stone, and wash your hands if you touch it.


Last time I was in Ireland I spent most of my time in Dublin getting smashed at pubs and getting hit on by all the Irish chicks, recieving free drinks and the such. Really nice, fun people. I eventually made my way down to Cork where some family still lives and couldn't understand half of what was said. They spoke english, but it might as well have been greek. Still nice people, and not everyone had a super thick accent, just my family it seems.

Renting a car is cheap, but train is the cheapest, and easier to understand than the 'hof in germany IMO. I ended up getting a rent-a-car so it was easier to carry my bags, and to be able to drive RHD. While in Dublin you can snag up hotels for rather cheap, but they are more on the out skirts and not really in the city center. Can be a tad confusing if you don't know european layouts, but since you been around the europe block, you should be fine.


And don't drink Guinness there. Waste of time. They have better ales from local brews.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:48 AM   #7
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Thanks guys, I'd love to do some hiking/backpacking whatever you want to call it but given it will be in December when I go it's probably not the best of ideas due to the weather. I don't think I want to have a car the whole time as I think it will be a waste of money, but I may rent cars to drive between the big areas just so I can have a little more freedom to do as I please. I hadn't even thought about the whole RHD thing but that should b interesting as well, do they drive on the "right" side of the road as well I assume?

I obviously want to see the Blarney Stone/Castle, hit the Guinness plant, do a bunch of pub hopping in Dublin, but anything else to recommend or to stay away from attraction wise? I've got two weeks of time to fill up.
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:41 AM   #8
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Sit and drive on the right, shift with your left, pedals are still the same. It was good fun. I drove this around Hill of Hoath during a windstorm. While intoxicated.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:31 PM   #9
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Bringing back my own thread here in hopes of catching someone new's attention.

I got conned into going back to the States for Christmas so I didn't make it then, BUT I just booked a flight on the 24th to Kerry (couldn't get a flight to Dublin unfortunately) and I'll be there for a few days.

Anyone have any advice that hasn't already been given for that side of the island?
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:19 PM   #10
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I used to live in Rathmines and I spent my formative years getting throat from hot, accented chicks while attending university in Dublin. When I get home, I'll post the same guide I give to all my bros who are thinking about slumming it around my favorite town.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:49 PM   #11
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I was there in 2008, but we flew into Shannon and went north to Donegal and Mayo. Rented a Focus, which was much better than an American Focus. It's a really cool place to visit, and the owners of the B&B's/guesthouses are unfailingly cool and friendly.

There's a gov't-affiiated website called Gulliver http://www.gulliver.ie/ that can give you some ideas about places to stay and what to expect as far as facilities and costs go. Unlikely you'll need reservations, but good to know what to expect.

FWIW - I think Irish driving distances are as the crow flies, not as the road winds. Always seemed like I was driving all day to go 150 km. Good to give yourself extra time.

Too bad it won't be later in the year - in late spring and summer they have "road races" in a different little town every weekend. Tie some hay bales to the phone poles and stone walls, and turn loose the superbikes! It is crazy and amazing to watch - sort of like the Isle of Man but more low-rent and dangerous. Marvelous. Google "Athea Road Race," which is one I saw.
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:28 PM   #12
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Here is the guide I've shared with many of my bros and even a girl:

Notes:
  • The Irish police force is called the Garda (plural = Gardai or simply Gards). You'll see officers everywhere, often in bright yellow raincoats and walking around in pairs. They're very friendly and will help you with directions and stuff.
  • The river Liffey separates Dublin into N. Dublin and S. Dublin. The north side of town can be quite rough (my friend got robbed at knifepoint and another night two teenagers tried to sell me a horse) but it's not all that bad during the day. If you must be in the N. side of town at night, don't venture off O'Connell Street, Gardai patrol the area but it isn't safe at all. I hate to harp on the N. side being unsafe, but it simply is.
  • Irish dudes are make-out fanatics. They'll buy you a drink and then go in for the kill.
  • Street names change after a few feet. It's VERY confusing. I'd usually Googlemap places to get an idea of where I was headed, but this probably won't be an option for you and you're on vacation so don't be afraid to just cab somewhere or ask for directions to avoid wandering around for four hours trying to find a chip shop.

Transportation:
  • Buses are a cheap and easy way to get around. I'm not sure if there's a map or anything at the stops but I don't remember having any trouble figuring the system out.
  • Taxis are expensive but they're everywhere and the most direct way to get places. Expect a 5 Euro minimum and 1 Euro for each extra passenger.
  • Walking around Dublin is great. I'm not sure where you're staying but you can easily spend an entire day in the Temple Bar/Grafton Street/Camden Street/O'Connell Street area.

Things to do during the day:
  • Croke Park - a very interesting place to visit. Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) matches are played there and it was the site of a massacre during the Irish War of Independence in 1920 (pretty historic if you ask me).
  • Phoenix Park - Breathtaking and I recommend a visit.
  • Guinness Storehouse - Be sure to visit the storehouse while you're in town. I believe tours are 10 Euro and you get a 'free' pint afterward in the Skybar (I think the tallest point in the city).
  • The Jameson Distillery – It's pretty cool and you can try your hand at distinguishing different brands of whiskey from good ol' Jame-o.
  • Grafton Street – I really like shopping so I spent a lot of time here. There are plenty of little cool stores and you can visit Molly Malone, everyone's favorite fish monger statue. It's not uncommon to find all kinds of musicians, fake-statue dudes and other types of street performers. St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre is at the top of Grafton Street, there are lots of little mall shops in there but it's a maze and VERY confusing.
  • Temple Bar – Not actually a single bar. It's a bar district in Dublin between Grafton Street and the Liffey (on the south side of town). There are a lot of great 'touristy' restaurants and bars here, I really like the Vat House for midday pints and whiskeys. There's also a great nightlife scene which I'll touch on later.
  • St. Stephen's Green – It puts Central Park to shame. It's gorgeous in the spring (not sure how it'll be in the beginning of January but It'll be cold so don't be worried about shirtless, pale Irish people sunning themselves.
  • O'Connell Street – On the N. side of town and can be very dangerous at night but there's a lot of good shopping and there's the Spire which is just a huge silver spike coming out of the street. Look for bullet holes in the O'Connell Monument from the Easter Rising in 1916, one of the women in the monument even caught one in the nipple-area (a favorite comment of cab drivers as they pass it).
  • Trinity College – The campus is open and you can wonder around. Check out the Book of Kells, one of the oldest and most ornate Bibles in the world. It's really beautiful.
  • Dublin Castle – It's pretty cool.
  • Kilmainham Gaol – This is very near to where I lived. It's a very old prison and is very eerie to visit. I had goosebumps during my entire “stay.” Visit it if you're the kind of person who would take a ghost tour, it's very macabre.

Nightlife:

I'm not really sure how to go about this one. I'm sure it hasn't changed too much, but I'll try to give you the best recommendations I can. It will be very expensive everywhere you go. Don't be surprised when you have to pay 6 Euro for a pint of beer. Also, there's no tipping. Seriously, the barman will look at you funny if you tell him to keep the change. I'd really recommend that you guys just around Temple Bar and look for places playing good music. Most places will be three-story units with a pub setting on the bottom floor and club-like stuff upstairs.
  • Citi Bar – Located near Temple Bar. It's a pretty cool place, the upstairs can be pretty chill.
  • Purty Kitchen – Weird name, pretty cool bar. It's in Temple Bar.
  • The Bleeding Horse – Located at the top of Camden Street, few blocks from where I lived. This is a really cool pub and has been there for many years.

Dining:

Expect to pay ~10 Euro or more for a sit-down meal in a good restaurant. Irish food is generally terrible as a rule, but I'll try my best to recommend some places to eat. Don't be surprised to find a Subway that has corn as a topping option and doesn't take credit cards. Also, if you don't specifically say not to, people will put butter on a sandwich. It's kind of weird.

There a thousand places, but I'll try to just give you the highlights. Don't be afraid to try somewhere new.
  • Spar – 7-11 in the US gives mini grocery stores a bad rap, but Spar has really good pre-made sandwiches and baked goods. Some are open late, others are not. I recommend the chicken baguette in the deli section, it's a few Euro but it's pretty good. Also, the baguettes alone are really good.
  • Leo Burdock – The best fish and chips in Dublin, hands down. It took us awhile to find this place, but we went there with some locals one night and it was fantastic. You can't sit inside, so we'd walk a few blocks until we found a nice place to sit. You also get a huge amount of chips (french fries). Located on Werburgh Street in Christchurch.
  • Gallagher's Boxty House – Located in Temple Bar, it's a really good restaurant but it's a little touristy. Boxty is like a potato pancake thing and it's really good.
  • Diwali – A good Indian place on Great Georges St. I still have a coupon in my wallet, I should have given it to you the last time I saw you.
  • Bewley's – A GREAT place for meals, tea or cakes. I really recommend this place and it's on Grafton Street so it's not difficult to find.
  • Subway/Quizno's – These are everywhere and Quizno's serves french fries, it's kind of weird. I highly recommend the BLT at Quizno's.
  • The Brazen Head – Claims to be Europe's oldest pub. I'm not sure about this, but it is REALLY old and has fantastic food. I recommend the Guinness Stew or Bangers and Mash.

Enjoy yourself and be safe. I'm jealous!
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:31 PM   #13
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Also, I forgot to mention The George and The Dragon on Great Georges St. These are two GAY BARS, do not listen to Irish dudes who try to tell you it's a good time and has cheap drinks. You will be kissed by a man. It happened to my friend Evan.

The Wool Shed is one of the only places in Dublin to get actual pitchers of beer. It's an Australian bar on the N. Side of town, it isn't too bad. The food is ****.

Supermac's is a fantastic fast food joint (think an exact copy of McD's but with fried chicken, pizza and a deli). Try the hot muffin w/ ice cream.
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