I’ve been traveling throughout Ireland for the past week, and as a result of not going with a tour group I needed to make many decisions along the way. The hardest thing for me was to decide which sites to see and what places to visit, since I was only visiting the country for a week. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the idea of what you “HAVE” to do versus what you feel like doing at the moment. I spoke with friends who had traveled to Ireland, and I also read multiple guide books before the trip. Prior to the vacation, we decided where we would stay. I had hotels booked and the flight, but that was the extent of it. We had no idea how to get anywhere after we got off the plane. I was a bit nervous about that (since I usually like having a plan in place), but things worked out fine. We found our way around easy enough, and we ended up traveling by bus, taxi, plane, train, and automobile by the end of the trip. People in Ireland are probably about the nicest, friendliest, and most helpful of any people I’ve come across in the world so far.
(Buses around Dublin, Ireland) (Our AWESOME bus driver in Dublin)
(My husband waiting for the train) (Our nice train-mates that walked us to our hotel)
Here are the two times during my trip that indecision had me the most flustered:
1. The first was when we got to Cork, Ireland (about 1/3 of the way through our trip), and the receptionist told me it would be easier to rent a car than to take the train around like we had decided to do the night before. Basically, I had it in my mind that we would not rent a car as a way to get around (due to traffic, driving on the wrong side, wheel on the wrong side, gas prices, getting lost, having to park, having to pay to park, and just the responsibility of having the car and having to return it at a certain time). When the receptionist brought it up my first response was, “No, we are not driving here,” but then she persisted to state all the positives of renting a car. My husband thought it might not be such a bad idea, but I was REALLY nervous about it. We ended up getting it, which actually turned out to be a good idea. We were not bound by bus and train schedules anymore, we could do things “off the beaten path,” and it made driving through the country somewhat of an adventure. It did take me a good hour or so to be okay with the idea, but I bounced back. We even made it to Kinsale and Blarney (to kiss the Blarney Stone). Had we not rented a car, we would have chosen one or the other, as we wouldn’t have been able to do both. It also made it possible for us to go in areas where the buses did not go (like places we stopped at along the Dingle Peninsula).
(Our rental car, a Nissan Micra) (The boats in Kinsale, Ireland)
(The Blarney Castle) (Me kissing the Blarney Stone)
2. The other situation where I struggled, was when I found out I couldn’t do everything there was to do in Killarney, Ireland in the allotted amount of time we were there. I had heard and read that we NEEDED to do the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Dingle Peninsula. After hearing how long it would take to get to each place, there was no way we could do all three (in fact, we could only choose one). Everything you read from tourist information sites tells you the number one thing to do is the Ring of Kerry. I felt like I should do it because of this, but I really didn’t want to spend my entire day on a bus with a group of people for an eight hour tour on narrow, windy roads. I was conflicted about doing what I felt I “had” to do versus what I wanted to do. Could I really come to Killarney and NOT do the Ring of Kerry? After going back and forth about what to do, I finally decided not to do what everyone else at our B&B was doing, and we took our rental car and drove ourselves out to the Dingle Peninsula (the rental car came in handy). It was beautiful, relaxing, and in the end an overall great decision. I have had to come to grips with the fact that I didn’t do everything that I was “supposed” to do here, but glad with what we did decide to do. Some things we did were the “touristy thing,” but others were not. In the end, I’m glad we experienced a balance of both.
(Downtown Dingle, Ireland) (Inch Strand, Dingle Peninsula)
(Slea Head, Dingle Peninsula) (My Hubby & Me at Slea Head)
(Driving back – Irish Famine Houses) (Sheep on the hills on Dingle Peninsula)
(View from the roadways leading to Slea Head, Dingle Peninsula)
Overall, our 10-year anniversary trip to Ireland was a success. We did many things that were suggested to us (museums, tours, pub crawls, etc.), but we were spontaneous and created an adventure for ourselves as well. I wouldn’t change a thing from our trip, but we will definitely be coming back to Ireland in the future. It’s such a beautiful place to visit, and there are many wonderful people here!!! There are so many more towns to visit and sites to see! I can’t wait until we return (with the kids next time!). So whether you choose the path that most people take, or do something that others don’t usually do, just choose the path that’s right for you!
* What do you like to do when you travel? Do you feel obligated to visit the touristy sites?