AfterthoughtsI’m home now. It’s good to be back in my own home with Chris and in my familiar life. Our Scotland 🏴 & Ireland 🇮🇪 trip was just 2-1/2 weeks long but I feel like I’ve been away for much longer, as is normal when one is away and doing a lot. Two countries, 6 different places, which meant… 6 times to pack and unpack, 6 different showers and toilets to figure out, 6 new beds to hopefully sleep well in, 6 new kinds of electrical switches and outlets, more stairs to lug luggage up and down…. but also…. 6 opportunities to take in great new experiences, vistas, history, people, local culture and food, and local beverages. Traveling is tiring and can be hard but Mary and I decided it was more important to stay positive, go with the flow, and enjoy the moments.
Before you decide to do the same trip we did, may I suggest the following, based on our experiences:
* make sure you have a good electrical adapter (do not get the Samsonite one!). I would bring two next time
* once you arrive at your quaint hotel / Airbnb check the nightstand drawer and any other drawer to find the hair dryer
* take some time to learn the shower fixtures in each new place, especially if you wear glasses and can’t see once you’re in there. Holy craic! You will also need to have your glasses on to figure out the light fixtures. It’s all part of the adventure, or at least the experience.
* check insurance rules if you plan to drive. Do you have that letter from your credit card insurance that, duh, we should have known about, but no one told us??
* Just know before you set out on your drive, you will not get clear instructions and directions from the easy going Irish car rental guy or anyone. They aren’t being eejits, just how they do “tings”.
*driving is tricky enough in Ireland especially with signage in Irish first then English below. Once you actually find the directional sign you’re looking for among the 10 or so signs, you’ve likely gone around the roundabout and got off on the wrong exit. Having a good navigator and a good GPS is key (thank you Mary!)
*driving is tricky (repeating this). The Canadian driver’s inclination when driving on the “other side of the road” is to drive too far over to the left. I learned that if I kept checking my sideview mirrors to ensure I was close to the centre line and basically centred, it really helped. Your eye’s perception then becomes accustomed to where you should be.
* plan to be in good physical shape before carrying your bags up and down those staircases if you stay in the quaint older centrally located hotels or b&b, not to mention the miles of walking you’ll do. Or just get a hotel with elevators.
* on the physical condition topic, wear a GOOD pair of walking shoes, preferably waterproof. It will rain.
* on the physical comfort topic, wear layers, especially if doing a tour, say, to the Aran Islands during a storm bringing strong winds and hail blowing horizontally. Example of layers: camisole, sweater, fleece jacket, gortex jacket, thin wool scarf, wool headband. You can always take layers off and juggle them with your personal bag, water bottle, and all the souvenir bags you are carrying.
* whatever budget you have, plan for it to be blown. Everything is expensive whether you are spending pounds or euros. And let’s face, who isn’t tempted to spend away when it’s not in Canadian dollars. It almost feels like it’s someone else’s money.
* research the attractions you think you might want to see so you don’t arrive at the Kilmainham Gaol, say, and they are not allowing people in and you learn at that time that you should have ordered your tickets well in advance online. (I should have read the Rick Steves Ireland book).
*do take a good walking tour with local guides leading the way. They are “free” (tip is requested), and they are so very informative, interesting, and entertaining. History lessons in simple sentences with anecdotes and being on location. I learned so much.
My final remark is to say that I will keep so many wonderful memories through this blog and through all my photos, and maybe even in my head. Thank you for following along with me!