Ireland – you say it and tons of visions come to mind – green meadows, sheep grazing, nicely poured pint of Guinness, dancers, etc. I have wanted to visit this island for many decades and once retired, it was number 1 on my bucket list.
I started researching tours as I didn’t want to drive myself. What better way than to be driven by someone, someone who knows the country, and someone who enjoys driving. In my quilt magazines there are always tours listed – from being driven to cruises. I Googled Quilt Tours Ireland and came up with a few names. There were two that caught my eye.
I downloaded the itineraries for comparisons. Both were around the same price and length of visit. One guaranteed a small group – no more than 25 people. The other said no more than 50. So what do you do? You ask your guild if anyone had taken either tour. One guild member highly, and I mean, highly recommend Celtic Quilt Tours LLC.
This tour started off with Dublin, up to Northern Ireland around the west coast and back to Dublin. The places listed were all around the coast of Ireland. I sent off an email explaining that this would be my first tour as well as my first trip overseas. The American contact was so helpful. For four months before the tour started, we received newsletters about the trip. Everything from where we were to meet at Dublin Airport, how much money to bring over in Euros and pounds, the Horizon VAT cards, shopping trips, packing items, size of luggage etc.
Our first item was a tour of Dublin and then off to visit Malahide Castle. The tour provided breakfast as most of us came in on red-eye flights from the States and Canada. We could opt out for shopping or a tour of the castle. The gardens were beautiful and the castle tour guide was extremely informative.
We went back to the hotel and checked in. Now by this time my eyes were rolling around in my head from being up so many hours. First thought was – I need a nap. But then my brain kicked in with “You are in Dublin – get out and explore”. Splash some water on my face, grab a glass of water, brush my teeth and off I went. Down Grafton Street, past Trinity College and in to a few stores.
We had on our schedule to visit the Book of Kells the first day but due to other circumstances, it was held off. One thing about a tour is to be flexible. Dinner at O’Callahan’s was great. But by 9:30 pm, I was done. Plus we had to have our bags out in the hallway early the next morning for the porters as we were leaving Dublin by 8:30 am.
Off to Belfast in Northern Ireland. The past problems have been resolved and restoration and revival has been started. This is a very passionate city.
More later on my trip as this was a 13 day tour and I took a lot of photos and notes. But in a nutshell, great trip, great people on the tour, amazing tour driver, beautiful scenery, terrific people in every city and delicious food. More later…….