Ours was a whirlwind trip to Ireland. We could not make it to the North of Ireland, but the South as far as I see it, was well covered indeed.
The North Ireland is under the United Kingdom. And the South is Republic of Ireland. There was some major confusion about visas. One web site said those having British Visa, would have no trouble getting in. One said it’s at the discretion of the Immigration officer.
Anyway not to confuse you – Those having British Visa’s made or renewed post 2015 would mostly have a BIVS visa. They will have no problem entering Ireland, as long as they have an immigration stamp in UK – meaning they have to come via the United Kingdom.
Those who have older visas – well October 2016 the end of the agreement between UK and Ireland, so you had better get an Irish Visa for entry.
We reached Knock airport. Two airports are close to Galway (from where we started the journey). Shannon and Knock. Dublin would be a few hours away.
We wanted to be free to stop for drinks or take a nap in the car. So we did not choose to drive around. Instead we hired a chauffeur driven taxi. It turned our pockets into dust, but was well worth it.
Also we had heard / read that the roads in some places can become so narrow that it could cause a traffic jam, if a car came in from the other side. So yes!! A traffic jam with only two cars is apparently an Irish thing. And it did happen, but far and large we found that Ireland very easy to drive in. The roads were very good.
We used them throughout the trip.
At one point we had to take an internal taxi in Galway. The driver gave us a good rate – still a shock to our pockets – but you can also try to talk to the local taxi guys. They are willing to help.
THE IRISHAre very very very and I cannot add really add the number of “verys” I really want to – FRIENDLY. Helpful. Happy. Amazing Singers. Inborn Musicians. And some of them as naughty as their famous Leprechauns. Asking an Irish for help, could often lead to a story waiting to be told. Within an hour of us visiting pubs, we had heard the life story of many a local.
THE WEATHER. Now that’s the most controversial word in Ireland. This country is known for it’s untimely rain and bleak weather. The Irish, have got so used to it, that even their sheep look up in disdain and disinterest when the weather goes foul. Carry a warm water proof jacket. Ours stood us in good stead. If you don’t have a head covering, carry an umbrella. Scarves and mufflers are a good idea. We went in late September, which according to me is the best time to be in Ireland.
We started in GALWAY
We stayed in The Twelve Hotel. This was a little away (appx 15 minutes by cab) from the main Galway city(Barna). We did this on purpose as the other hotel we were looking up, was bang in the middle of town and at the start of a noisy street.
I would recommend The Twelve in a heartbeat. They had a fantastic gastropub, an amazing concierge and fabulous rooms.
The breakfast was outstanding. The recommendations for restaurants, bars and pubs outside the hotel were bang on.
Our room was HUGE. And rates were fantastic.
The Quay Street.
The Spanish Arch is just outside Quay Street. Hmmm! It’s noting to shout back home for. Just an arch. But – once you go through, the sea catches up with you, and the view is spectacular.
The Latin Quarter, is a huge network of streets with all the shops, bars, pubs and restaurants. Since Galway is a student town, the place rocks on weekends. The streets are buzzing with the most amazing street performers, and the pubs and restaurants, put out seating outside (when the weather is good) and it’s a full bonhomie scene out there.
Here are some recommendations for bars and pubs.
For good wines – go to Bunch Of grapes, Quay Street bar, Freeny’s, Neactin.
Deli La Tosca served fantastic Spanish Wines.
Other bars and pubs.
The Crane bar was highly recommended, but we were not too impressed.
The Quay Street bar was super.
Milano Pizzza (it’s a huge and popular chain), Kia (food was fantastic), Adbria, Twelve Hotel Gusto Bar, Lighthouse – at Abbey Gate Street, Quay Street Kitchen.
We went to Connemara for a day trip. We stopped at the Clifden Castle, for some champagne. (Um! It was our 12 noon break folks. You drink the coffee we will stick to our champagne- Thank you!) This was a really quaint stop, over looking the mountains. A perfect serene get away.
After that we stopped at the Kylemore Abbey.
This was bought by Mitchell Henry for his wife. After she passed away, he sold it to the Benedictine Nuns. It still belongs to them. I do believe they could be the holiest of the lot, so peaceful is this place. It’s a museum of sorts, and we could hear plaintive piano music as we roamed around. They also have a walled garden, which was very non impressive. But do walk around. And take in the essence of old world charm.
DOOLIN. We stopped at Doolin on the way back, for a meal. Stone Cutter’s Café. A small quaint yellow house, in the middle of fields, occupied by sheep and cows. As whimsical as it can get. But the astounding part was the food. It was unexpectedly amazing, both in taste and variety. We were vegetarians and the mélange of dishes had us very impressed.
CLIFFS OF MOHER AND ARAAN ISLANDS: When in Ireland, you cannot miss The Cliffs of Moher. The Araan Islands, were nothing great according to me.But the Cliffs – now they took our breath away. The entire cliff is cordoned off with a wall, so you cannot really stand at the edge. But – a little way towards the left (while facing the sea) start walking towards the cliffs and there is a little walk way, where you can jump the walls and you can walk along the edge. the height is imposing, and my toes curl inwards when I am very close to the edge of any height, but I got some awesome pics. The walk involved wall jumping and getting down from heights, but we had a great view. Since it was raining we got our shoes all nice and gooey, its best to wear sturdy shoes. Take your time and go to the Cliffs. The walk is a must. Try and see if you have the option/ luxury of choosing a bright sunny day. But Ireland being what it is – it could rain the exact minute you step out of your car.
KILLARNEY. This was the best part of our trip. The coolest, hippest!! The people in Killarney are mad, half drunk and uninhibitedly friendly. Within an hour into the city we knew who are the locals, who lived where, did what?O’connors pub: do go there. You must go there. For all the locals go there. And that is where the fun is. And if a band called The Small Hours is playing anywhere in Killarney, DO NOT MISS IT. Go to the ends of Killarney for it. It’s a husband, wife band, and they are fab.
The grand. Another rocking party place. Bouncers and all. The front, they play Irish bands, (the New Foundland was amazing) and in the back of the club, they have a discotheque. It’s a bit risque. So please go with company.
Food. We ate at the Khao (Vietnamese) and the Stone Chat Café. Fantastic food, authentic and fresh. There were many other restaurtants, but we had only two days, and both the days the lunch was out of Killarney.
Must Visit.: The National park.Take the Jaunty ride. Its fun. Alternately its an amazing place for a long walk.
The Cathedral: was very pretty. We did not go in, but the sites from outside were also majestic.
Ring Of Kerry.This takes a full day. So you can do what we did. We went half way then turned around and took a short cut back.
Skelligs Chocolate Factory: is a must do. We stopped off the coast for a quick lunch. It was basic pizza fare therefore I did not write down the name.
We stayed at The Ross.: it was round the corner from all our sinful debacles. Completely walkable and very safe. Heart of town, but not in the noisy streets.
DUBLIN: We stayed at The Mespil. I don’t recommend it at all. Coming to Dublin after friendly Killarney was like getting lost amongst wolves. The city seemed too big, the people too busy and nothing suited us for a few hours. Once we got the hang of it we were good, but we would have liked to do Dublin first, so as to savor the flavours of small towns towards the end.
We were there only for a day, so have not done much sight seeing or food eating.
Temple Bar: The district and the bar. Every local will turn up their face at it, but I am telling you – YOU HAVE TO GO. Its jostle jostle, bump bump, no place to get drinks, too many people, loud music, but Oh Lord! Its amazing.
A tasting bar of the original Temple Whisky is attached to the main temple bar. Do visit if you are a Whisky lover.
At the end of the Temple Bar district, stands a small take away selling the most amazing French fries. PLEASE HAVE SOME!! 😛
The Quay Street bar was also nice.
Grafton Street: also has a lot of clubs and pubs.
Guinness: Now whether you like Guinness or not, you cannot come to Dublin and not visit the Store House. Book in advance and pick up souvenirs for your friends.
Trinity College Library: is one of oldest and most well kept libraries in the world. Must visit.
Food: We ate at the Bull and Castle. Fantastic service and great food. Hugo, was a champagne bar. We were caught in rain, and decided to stop walking and work up our appetite with cheese and champagne. They have a very cute window seat, so if you are just two on a romantic evening out, book it in advance.
Rasam: we had a private invite, but invite or not, distance or not –(its in the burbs) if you feel like eating Indian, go no where else. The food was authentic, fresh and the restaurant was one of the most classy ones I have ever see. Since it was a personal invite by the owner, I can vouch for the fact that the owner stands at the helm himself and manages the show.
This husband wife team, have an Air B and B and the husband also has his own car which he uses to drive people around Ireland as a tour guide. Very sweet people if you want someone to drive you around.