now, i’m not claiming to be a travel connoisseur or even have a good handle on what to do or what not to do while you’re on vacation/holiday. but here are a few tips/observations that i took down while in ireland that may not be in every travel guide.
Alcohol (because this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart)
- Smithwicks (pronounced “Smit-icks”) is a beer and it is only 3.8% alcohol, but cost 4.5 euro. This is a rip off, do not be tricked.
- It is more expensive to buy in “bulk” (like a six pack) than it is in the United States. You are almost better off buying the bottles individually.
- A Guinness & Black is a Guinness with black current added, it tastes a bit like licorice. Females will usually order this to make the drink sweeter, although I’ve been told “if you don’t like the taste of Guinness, this isn’t going to help.”
The Lay of the Land
- Your State-side insurance does not cover you in Ireland. This may seem like a rip off, until you start driving. Then you realize why.
- The roads are bat shit crazy. Just get used to it.
[photo borrowed from ms. jamie to prove my point]
- …To expand: the roads are narrower, the shoulder is almost non-existent, and there will usually be shrubbery right next to the road so if you veer a bit too far you will get a passenger side-full of leaves. Tour busses are usually oversized and will naturally cross into your lane of the road. Everything is backwards. Driver’s side is on the right, shifting components on the left, you drive on the left-hand side of the road, and you take roundabouts (“rotaries” in Ireland) in the opposite direction as you would in the US.
- Roundabouts have two lanes, but just always stay in the outside lane. It’s safer for you.
- Invest in a GPS unit. It saved our lives.
Hotels/Public Places Toilets
- Toilets are not made of porcelain, they are plastic. It’s the same in Italy. I’d say they just don’t know about how superior porcelain is for your bathroom needs, but they have bidets (bedays?) and those are made of porcelain, so they obviously know this material exists.
- While you’re in the bathroom, look around. The hot & cold knobs are always separate. I’m not sure why. You either have to choose hot water, cold water, or just splash around to get a happy medium.
- The normal European adapters do not work in Ireland; the outlets are the same as the ones used in England. I feel I knew this ahead of time but just disregarded the information.
- Some hotels will have adapters and will let you borrow them, but don’t bank on it. If you forgot one or brought the wrong kind, they are usually fairly cheap to go out and buy. Most grocery stores, pharmacies, etc will carry adapters.
- “Ground floor” – The ground floor is always 0, not 1. If you have a room on the first floor, go up a flight. I guess it makes sense.
- Can’t get your lights to work? Some hotels require a key card to be left in a slot by the door for your light switches and power to become active. Seem strange and pointless? It is. (Also note if you are charging something while you’re out you will need to leave a card in the slot for your outlets to stay active as well.)
- In Europe it seemed we could pick up free Wi-Fi at every hotel/B&B. I don’t know if this was just luck, but it was very handy.
- FREE breakfast is FREE. Enjoy it.
- Bacon – It’s just ham. Fried ham. This alone would be a reason why I couldn’t survive the rest of my life in Ireland.
- It’s so much colder in Ireland than you think it will be. In June I think the highest temperature it reached was 65 degrees F. I wore a sweatshirt or a jacket the entire time we were there.
- Cliffs of Moher – The Cliffs of Moher are worth the drive and the six euro entry fee. (And I’m cheap!) It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. While you are there, go through the areas you’re not supposed to– nobody stops you, everybody does it, and the views are incredible. Just don’t blow off the cliffs… I’ve heard that happens.
- People are very nice and friendly in Ireland– probably because we speak the same language, but it made the trip even more enjoyable.
- Everyone in a bar will know the words to American Pie. I find that funny.