Essential Ireland Travel Skills

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Travel Skills

I’m actually flying over there tomorrow for two months. So this is our guidebook here. Just very quickly, I wanted to mention that we have a great sale going today for 20% off on all of our merchandise and guidebooks. That’s right around the corner down here at our Travel Center. And you just need to use a festival code–or code I should say, that is “festival” — our promotional code, just the word “festival. Rick and I sort of have a playful little debate about Ireland. He always calls Ireland the “rainy Italy,” and I can kind of see his point, you know. It’s a place full of history, full of people who are in love with life and wear their emotions on their sleeves, and a beautiful place, but I prefer to think of Italy as a “dried-up Ireland,” okay? Okay, we’ll just kind of our Irish pride going here at least for the next hour and a half or so.

So we’re all part of the same clan on St.Patrick’s Day anyway. By the way, “clan” is an Irish word. We have lots of words in English that we’ve adopted from the Irish language. “Clan” is short for” Clannad” which means family, and so that terminology was transported across to the States, particularly into the Appalachians. We refer to those clan feuds and so on. A lot of Irish and Scotch-Irish people settled in the Appalachians. So let’s start our travels around Ireland here. When we’re looking at the map of Ireland, it’s about 300 miles north to south, maybe 150 miles east to west. What this means is that you’re never more than 75 miles from the ocean. And what that means is that you’ve got a very mild climate, right? It’s rare to get a lot of snow in Ireland, even though when you’re in Dublin you’re as far north as Edmonton, Canada, and when you’re up here on the northern coast, Donegal, you’re as far north as Ketchikan, Alaska, on the panhandle up there. So it is pretty far north.

Longest days of the year in late June, of course, you’ll have really long days there. We’re looking at a map though that shows the four different provinces of Ireland — the ancient provinces. We’ve got Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster. Now, Ulster makes up nine counties and only six of those counties are part of Northern Ireland. We sometimes hear Northern Ireland called Ulster, and that’s true, Northern Ireland is a subsection within Ulster, but Northern Ireland is also part of a different country — the United Kingdom versus the Republic of Ireland there in the south. So let’s start moving around here. I like to fly nonstop to Europe when I can, or at least I don’t want to be stuck in between if you catch my drift here.

Flying from here to Amsterdam non-stop, from here to London non-stop, from here to Paris non-stop, from here to Frankfurt non-stop, and then make a short connection.

My thinking is, you know, I’d much rather be stuck either here at home if the flight is canceled or something, or stuck in Europe, but not stuck in Dallas or Chicago or Minneapolis or somewhere right along the way.

So, if you can book far enough in advance, you should be able to get some nonstop flights across over to Europe and then make a short hop over to Ireland. There are no non-stops from here in Seattle that go straight to Ireland. Now, if you are combining your travels with the United Kingdom or Britain you can connect over to Ireland using the ferry system. There are three different ferry ports that go across — two from Wales and one from Scotland. It’s about a three-hour crossing in between. But if I was doing was tying London together with Ireland, I would fly it. You know, don’t spend a whole day of your valuable time surface-travel getting it all the way across to the Welsh coast and then taking a three-hour boat ride from there across to Dublin. Just fly it unless you want to do some sightseeing in the rest of Britain. Now the thing about Ireland is that it is the youngest per capita population in the EU, so, about 40% of the population is under the age of 25. It’s a very youthful population and a very vibrant population, kind of a baby boom going on there right now.

When we talk about traveling around Ireland, I’ll kind of go through some of the nuts and bolts of traveling here first before we start looking at destinations in particular.

When you’re traveling around Ireland trains are fine where they exist but the problem is that they don’t serve the country as well as some of the other European countries. Basically, a third of the people live in Dublin so all trains lead to Dublin and that means that if you’re on the west coast you might not have the train service that you need in Ireland. So as an example, if you’re here in Trawler and you want to go to Gal way, you’ve gotta ricochet across the country by train. So when you can’t get there by train, you can augment that by bus instead, going across Ireland by bus. Now in Ireland, they use the euro. The euro at the moment is worth about $1.30 — that’s in Ireland, the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland they use the British Pound, which at the moment is worth about $1.60. So the Euro is almost ten years old now. It’s not a big adjustment, it’s pretty straight-forward. These are the countries that use the euro.

Actually, we need to update this because now Slovenia and Slovakia also use the euro.

So you can pull money out of an ATM machine in Helsinki and spend it in Athens or Lisbon or Dublin. But now look at the island of Ireland here and look at this little chunk up here — that’s Northern Ireland, and of course, as I just mentioned they use the British Pound. ATM machines are the way to go for cash. The traveler’s checks are really dying out, kind of a dinosaur, and slowly dying out. ATM machines are open 24 hours a day and you get a good bank exchange rate.

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