"One of the greatest things in human life is the ability to make plans. Even if they never come true - the joy of anticipation is irrevocably yours. That way one can live many more than just one life."

Maria Trapp-The Story of the Trapp Family Singers - Ch. 12 p. 4

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

- St. Augustine

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Luxuries and Locals

While reworking our itinerary did require a few sacrifices, I think the trade offs were worth it and we're going to really enjoy every night of our stay in Ireland.

We're no longer staying 2 nights at a huge, dramatic castle. We choose a more reasonable castle stay, Waterford Castle, and for only one night. Our one night is in a deluxe room, however, and includes wine, dinner and breakfast. I think the nicer room at the smaller castle will for us be more of a castle experience than a tiny room at one of the 5-star castle resorts. The castle itself may be less imposing, but the rooms seem more interesting. The larger castle's room looked pretty much like any other hotel. Waterford seems a little more "castley" feeling. I could've chosen one night at the larger castle, but it wouldn't have included the extras and the deluxe-grade room. The spring specials that I had been hoping to use all along for the larger castles expire March 31st, so I chose to pass. 

Choosing to forgo the luxury castles did allow us the time and funds to end our trip at this place: Ashley Park Estate.

I found this lovely-looking historic estate B&B when browsing website number  12 million and  1  looking for places to stay on our route around the Island. It's off the beaten path, but I loved the look of it so much, I started reworking the itinerary just so we could go here. I think is going to be a relaxing and fun way to end out trip. They're right on the edge of a lake and the owner promised to save a fly-rod and flies for Doug so he could take the boat out. :) Being off the beaten track meant they weren't as booked up and so we get to stay in their nicest room. I think a 4-poster bed, claw-foot tub overlooking the lake and private sitting room with peat-burning fireplace is worth having to pass on the big castle, don't you? It looks like a beautiful spot to slow down and savor our last couple of days in Ireland. 

Since I wanted a mix of only-on-a-European-dream-vacation spots like Waterford Castle and Ashley Estate and local B&B's that will allow us to mingle with the real, everyday people of Ireland, we're also going to be staying at these three places:

Each of these places are in the smaller towns near popular destinations in Ireland. I read an Ireland travel guide I really liked (Karen Brown's Ireland) which suggests places to go that avoid the larger cities and main tourist stops while still seeing the sites. That sounds like my kind of traveling, so I used some of her suggestions for towns to stay in. She gives several driving routes as well, which we may use, but they all suggest more days than we have available, so we'll see.

Planning a driving trip through Ireland makes me so greedy! We're already going to be gone for 17 days, 13 in Ireland, and I just keep thinking, "If only we had just a few more days!"

The only places I have left to find accommodations are New York and Belfast. To save money  I'm going to use Priceline.com to bid on our nights in New York and I'm toying with doing that for Belfast as well. We'll see. 

Next step -  finding the best things to do along the way...

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