One fine day in 2012, in the middle of a conference call, I decided I am going to Ireland. The plan was as impromptu as it has always been. Out of nowhere. Towards the end of that day, I had already decided on the travel dates.
When it comes to travelling, I have never decided the location or the number of days depending on my budget. Rather, I have always chosen location & days first and then figured out the budget accordingly. And hopefully, till the end, I continue to do so!
And thus began the most interesting phase which I like to call as – ‘The Restless Phase’. Because, I am so restless until I book and plan the entire trip, that I have had sleepless nights and missed a couple of meals. If I look back and think, I have never been much restless in life apart from situations related to Travelling. Every other time I have managed to remain as calm as a cucumber.
The most important thing you have to do once you decide on a location, is to check its weather. You don’t wanna get into a situation where you do everything only to realize later you cannot make it due to weather (personal experience, Ouchh!). I decided I am making this trip towards the end of June which means it’s going to be cold. VERY COLD.
So, until here you are done with 1. Choosing the location, 2. The dates, 3. The number of days. Now comes the ‘hole in the pocket phase’ i.e. booking your tickets. You are expected to know what is your budget going to be by now, so you can divide your expenses. It is advisable *never* to book your tickets from the first website you visit. You have to do your bit of research with other websites and check if you can take a bit late flight with maybe an extra stop or be open to flexible dates. Many websites now offer you the Rate Tracker, which is largely helpful to save the money.
I had spent about INR 50,000 (i.e. approximately $800 with a ROE of 1 USD = 62.0490 INR), a pretty decent deal given my last minute planning! But you can of course save your money with early planning.
I decided to keep 8 days to explore Ireland with a day or two extra as a back up. I travelled on my own throughout the country by using public transportation or sometimes hitchhiking. Ireland is a very safe place and I absolutely had no safety issues in staying even at B&B’s of remote places or in hostel dorms.
While planning my navigation I referred to many itineraries floating around on the web world, which is very helpful for your rough draft. My rough draft looked like this.
Source: Cosmos Vacations
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin, Ireland
Day 2 Dublin–Downpatrick–Belfast
Day 3 Belfast–Giant’s Causeway–Derry–Donegal–Sligo.
Day 4 Sligo–Knock–Galway–Cliffs of Moher–Ennis
Day 5 Ennis–Adare–Dingle Peninsula–Killarney
Day 6 Killarney stay over and visit Ring of Kerry
Day 7 Killarney–Blarney–Waterford–Tramore.
Day 8 Tramore–Enniscorthy–Avoca–Glendalough–Dublin
I can proudly confess that the travel bug bit me very generously in the Ireland trip. My experience of juggling between locations, bookings, change of plans after reaching a spot, keeping a track of money, food, drastic change in the weather, the people I stayed with, it completely changed me towards the end of the trip. It changed me so much that I ended up spending 10 days in Ireland and extending it further to visit Paris while on my way back home!
Giant’s Causeway, Ulster-Scots
Ireland is a country filled with lush rolling green pastures as far as you can see. The drive through the country side while navigating from one county to another or from one state to another, was probably my best drive so far. Listening to music while being driven from one landscape to another, the cold pierce wind hitting your face, sipping on hot chocolate was enough to make me fall in love with Ireland and Irish country side. I gorged on the Irish coffee and of course the dry stout Guinness! In Giant’s Causeway I got an opportunity to join a group of marathon runners, a unique way of exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also an excellent opportunity to get to know fellow travellers across the globe.
Having seen P.S. I Love You (both, the movie and the book), I was really looking forward to visiting its film locations i.e. Glendalough, Kilruddery House, Bray, Enniskerry, Lacken Village all in County Wicklow and of course the Whelans Pub on Wexford Street in Dublin. You have to see these places to believe it. If you were dumbstruck watching these locations in the film, its actual beauty may numb you.
Ireland is definitely one of those countries I can keep going back to. And I highly recommend you too.
Some helpful links for Ireland if you are planning a trip too.