Easton Place

Ireland

Ireland 2018: My Ireland Tour Company

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The stunning Cliffs of Moher. Ireland

The stunning Cliffs of Moher. Ireland

Our Tour Group and Driver

Our Tour Group and Driver

I'm back and sufficiently recovered from a couple weeks in Europe. What a trip! My mother, niece and I had a blast. I wish we could have stayed longer. That's usually the best indication for a successful trip. For those who don't follow me on social media (if you're not... why?), I planned this trip as a birthday gift to my mom. She'd not been to Europe, and I was more than happy to accompany her on her first trip abroad. I'll write a few different posts regarding this trip, but today's post will focus on the tour company I used. By the way, this post is not sponsored in any way.

When deciding on how to see Ireland with my mother, I knew fairly early I wanted to use a tour group. I figured this would be the best way to visit several top locations, not have to worry about figuring the driving, and it would also give us a chance to learn a bit about the history of Ireland. 

Our tour bus.

Our tour bus.

There are several tour companies in Ireland, and I'm guessing they're all fairly similar when it comes to what sites they incorporate into their trips. I chose the 10-day Iconic Scenes of Ireland tour with the company "My Ireland Tour" after researching several sites, and getting feedback from friends. Their website was cleanly designed and very easy to use. The staff was quick to respond when I had a few questions or needed to make an adjustment. The booking process was seamless. 

As the title of the tour suggests, this tour was 10 days long. There were 25 people in the group, and the driver, Tony, played double duty as he was the tour guide as well. The bus we used to get around in was clean and spacious. It had free wi-fi most of the time, and there were USB ports at each seat for charging our devices. 

We stayed in a total of five hotels which were all rated at 4-star. Some were nicer than others, but most of them were quite lovely. I will say there were two locations that barely made the 4-star rating (in my opinion), but all were clean, and their staff very kind and accommodating. All hotels offered free wi-fi, and the tour cost included hearty full breakfasts and dinners at each hotel. Lunch was often something we needed to take care of ourselves, but it was included on two of the ten days. And as a side note, our bags were always ported for us, to and from the bus/hotel room. We never had to handle our own bags, which is really a lovely extra touch. A few people on the tour noted that on other tours they'd taken, they had to handle their own luggage, and it was a real treat to not have to worry about that part of transitioning from hotel to hotel.

The other guests on our tour were fun and outgoing. We all really got along well, which made the trip even more special. Enjoying breakfast and dinner at the hotel, with the group, gave us a chance to get to know one another. By the end of the 10 days, it seemed like I was traveling with old friends.

A large reason this trip went so smoothly was the excellent care given by Tony, our driver/guide. He was incredibly knowledgeable about each area we visited as well as places along the way. And he did a terrific job keeping the history-telling interesting with his pace and timing. Tony also gave us an idea of living life in Ireland today with information on things like how their government works, their taxes, their school system, the cost of living etc. It was all so fascinating. If I didn't know better, I'd swear Tony was a teacher in a previous job! 

Tony wasn't the only guide we had on the trip. At several stops there were location guides, hired by the individual historic sites, who would tell us all about the grounds and history of the location. All of them were terrific, though a couple of them really stood out as exceptional! Again, all of this helped make the tour more enjoyable than traveling these sites unaccompanied. This was my third trip to Ireland. I'd been to several of the locations on this tour, but it was new for me because of the terrific guides and information!

My mom and me with the gorgeous backdrop of Ireland.

My mom and me with the gorgeous backdrop of Ireland.

My mom and I had such a terrific time, I find it difficult to believe it could have been any better. I plan on taking other tours in the future, and hope it's as good as this one. If you're thinking about visiting Ireland, definitely take a look at My Ireland Tour options to see if they have a trip that fits your needs. If you have any questions for me about this tour, feel free to message me, or leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer you as soon as possible! 

Watch this space for my recap of the hotels we stayed in. There are a couple I'd love to return to upon my next self-guided trip to Ireland. Thanks for reading! 

Travel Tuesday: Good Eats, Europe

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Not use to seeing Crocodile, Zebra, Emu and Kangaroo on a menu like they offer at the Outback Lodge in Zürich, Switzerland

This past summer Matthew and I spent 23 days traveling Europe. The majority of our time was in Ireland, France and Italy. On a spur-of-the-moment decision, we traveled up to Innsbruck, Austria where we spent two nights (more on that part of the trip at a later date). We took a scenic drive through Liechtenstein (a tiny and beautiful country) so we could have lunch in Zürich, Switzerland before finally heading back into Italy for our final 3 nights of vacation. It was an incredibly fun trip filled with delicious food and drink plus plenty of sweets. 

While I didn't take the challenge to eat Zebra, Emu, Kangaroo or Crocodile in Switzerland, I did enjoy plenty of fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken and seafood during our travels. And I might have had more than one helping of gelato as well. My favorite breakfasts were had in Ireland where we were offered a hearty buffet selection of meats, cheeses, fresh fruit and pastries (though no pastries for me), plus we also ordered from the resort's menu where I enjoyed the best eggs and bacon along with perfectly prepared mushroom caps. And the silver pot of tea, that was frequently refilled, ensured a leisurely start to the day.

Italy offered delicious meals, but I believe the best lunches and dinners were had in France. The French know their sauces! And the seafood was incredibly fresh, as it was in Ireland, but the French seem to really know how to do everything just right. From salads to elaborate dishes, our palates were most happy in Provence! Here are a few shots of some of our favorite dishes. Enjoy!


Ireland: Doonbeg Lodge

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We touched down at Shannon International airport at roughly 6:30 in the morning. This was a terrific time to start three weeks abroad even if we were a little tired from lack of sleeping on the flight. Once we collected our luggage, cleared through customs and collected our rental car, we set out to explore the West coast of Ireland... at 7:30 AM. 

Living on the East coast of the US, not far from NYC, my husband and I are use to our world waking early. This is not the case in Ireland. Not only could we not find a restaurant open for breakfast, it was as if we were the only people out and about on the roads. This turned out to be a huge benefit as neither of us had driven on the left side of the road before! (Well done, Matthew! I had full faith in your driving skills and I was more than happy to be your co-pilot.)

Another plus to being up before anyone else was gaining free access and parking to the Cliffs of Moher. There wasn't anyone on duty at the parking lot nor at the entrance, so we parked and walked the cliffs, taking in the amazing views, flowers and birds. After roughly an hour and a half, we noticed people began arriving and the shops started opening. We stopped to ask if we should pay and were told "If you get here that early, you deserve free entry" It was a great start to our Ireland visit!

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The majority of our stay in Ireland was at a Trump property: Doonbeg Lodge. The property is a 5-star links golf resort located on the Atlantic Ocean. Side note... neither my husband nor I play golf, but we are very drawn to life on the water. Though we didn't use the golf course, we've heard it's quite lovely.

Doonbeg Lodge, Ireland

The resort has a main building, a cluster of suites across the courtyard, and several cottages located seven minutes away by foot. Our suite, #15, is located in the main building and from the master bathroom, you can see and hear the waves crashing on the coast. Perfect. Suite #15 includes two bedrooms, a main sitting room, a full kitchen and 2.5 bathrooms. The building itself was built in 2004, but has the look and feel of an antique estate by the sea.

The hallways are wide and outfitted with either dark-stained wide wooden planks or warmly aged stone flooring. Throughout the main building are collections of frames and touches of home with wooden tables, wool runners, collection cases & glass jars and other accessories. While I saw the 5-star appointments all around, I felt as though I was in someone's home, not just some industrialized business. Perhaps the reason for this was the staff working at Doonbeg. My husband and I have been fortunate to have stayed at a few luxury hotels, but the employees at Trump International, Ireland are the most genuinely warm and hard working people we've ever met. From the front desk to the wait-staff, the concierge to the management, everyone we spoke with is as kind as the day is long... and the days are very, very long in Ireland in the summer. Sunset is at 10:30 in July! 

With flights from JFK to Shannon International taking only 6+ hours, I see returning to Doonbeg in our near future!