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Old 06-22-2019, 05:13 PM
Location: Pa
166 posts, read 112,908 times
Reputation: 344


My wife and I just came back from a trip to Scotland and Ireland some things we learned from our 31 day trip mid May until mid June.

1. Do Scotland first IF you plan to rent a car. Why ??? the roads are better ie wider then in Ireland. You will get used to driving on the wrong side of the road. If you rent a car with a stick shift you will get used to changing gears with your left hand very weird experience had not driven a stick shift in 30 years. They do have automatic transmission but you will pay a premium for it may want to consider it.

2. Make sure you bring your GPS with you, using google maps was not as helpful as our gps particularly at the MANY roundabouts you will encounter. The Garmin gps indicated which turn to make when entering a roundabout with many have 4 options as to where to turn. They have roundabout every mile or so even on major highways you will encounter them. Many times 3 lanes of traffic are entering the roundabout at the same time. No one uses blinkers or gives you any indication where they are going soooooo much fun!! Try to plan your stops to the N and M roads they are so much better and easier to drive.

3.Signage in Ireland was VERY POOR without the gps we would have not found many places we visited. BUT make sure you look at where the gps is taking you, sometimes it took down 1 lane roads that were really 2way roads. Nothing like a big truck heading towards you with no place to go!!

4. I only got beeped at 2 times BUT they will ride your tail very quickly when going too slow. They have many small narrow roads with 60 mph speed limits which I did not feel comfortable doing. I would wait until a place they could pass and put my 4 way emergency lights on and they would pass. Some roads had places you could pull over which was very helpful.

5.Beware of others using the road such as groups on bicycles who would ride 2-3 bikes across taking up the lane. Coming around a blind corner with no shoulder and seeing this was soo much fun. People walking in the road. Sheep are EVERYWHERE including walking in the road or along the road not to mention sheep dogs going after them.

6. We only brought enough clothes for 8 days. We used laundry facilities where we dropped off the clothes and within 24 hours we picked it up. Saved us a lot of time and was was very reasonable priced about $15.

7. On and off bus tours in the cities give you a great overview. We used Park and ride buses in Edinburgh which saved trying to find parking and driving in this ancient city. For 4 pounds per person you can ride all day with many buses and routes to choose from. Be prepared to walk a LOT up and down BIG hills.

8. The OPW Heritage pass in Ireland and the Explorer Pass in Scotland helped you bypass the long lines Stirling and Edinburgh Castles.

9. Distance on google maps are short BUT because of the roads you need to add extra time to your destination.

10. Castles both ruins and finished/furnished, Cathedrals/Churches and distilleries are in EVERY Town so plan accordingly.

11. It rains a lot going from a beautiful day to pouring rain so bring rain gear and layers.

12. Locals do not wear baseball hats...gee I wonder why??

13. Souvenir T Shirts for places you visit do not exist!!!!

14. Woolen shops are EVERYWHERE!!!!!!

15. Locals are wonderful and very helpful.

16. Leave time to get through the customs lines in Dublin airport. We had Global Entry and it took us 2 hours to make it through the process. Our plane was delayed for 1 hour because folks did not make it through on time, yea they actually waited for the passengers.

17. Do not bother with the Ring of Kerry or as we called it the Ring of Terror!! Instead do the Dingle Peninsula and the A2 road to Northern Ireland, and the costal highway between Galway and Westport. The Ring of Kerry road was narrow, changed suddenly to one lane bridges with no warning with MANY tour buses driving like it was a 4 lane highway. The Killarney National Park is definitely worth seeing but not the entire Ring of Kerry.

18. Scotland has no toll roads but Ireland does make sure you have some local $$.

19. Pots of tea and scones were wonderful, coffee not so much as well as full Irish breakfast....baked beans in the morning???

20. Hotels require you to place your door entry card to turn on the power in the room. They have a slot as soon as you walk in to insert the card....make sure you get TWO cards so if you need to leave the room the other person is not sitting in the dark. They also use the card to get onto and operate the elevator. Hair dryers are in the desk drawer sometimes not near a mirror....lol. Each showers we encountered operated in its own unique way!! They do not believe in washcloths..... Make sure your hotel has parking some did not and we had to walk several blocks and pay for parking. Sometimes they had underground parking which was nice BUT it was like driving through your patio door into your basement....yea that tight. We had a Volkswagen Golf not a big car and it was VERY challenging,!

Overall we had a great time and really enjoyed ourselves. They were both wonderful countries with spotless thriving towns, and amazing green country side.
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:15 AM
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
4,239 posts, read 8,074,474 times
Reputation: 5291
Thank you for the very informative post!

Having done two seperate 10 day/2000+ mile self drives of Scotland, I agree and it is good info.

Have not been to Ireland, but it is on our short list, and I appreciate your comments...

-My only additional opins for Scotland: we did many of the surrounding isles, via car ferry. The loading/unloading and boat trip add considerably to time consumed, when visiting Lewis & Harris, the Orkneys, et al.

-If one is going in 'summer', book rooms in the outlying small towns, as they fill up quickly. We are not couch surfers, hostel age gang, and many of the smaller, esp 'name' places have only x amount of rooms, and none come inexpensively. Sleep masks may be of benefit, as the Sun barely sets, May through late June/July as the 'Summer dims' are not like our east coast night time 'dark', and many hotels/inns have grannie's window curtains vs black out shades.

-A billfold full of Scot Pounds are a nice gesture vs the UK pound, if you get my drift. Both work in Scotland, as do CCs nearly everywhere.

-If you are going to Scotland in August and are interested, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is worth seeing; cop some tix.

-If one can drive a manual trans, even from 'wrong side', those rental cars with manual trans tend to be a 'step up' model wise/more sporty, and cost less than auto trans cars.

-A cooler comes in handy for long day travels to carry snacks in, as 'lunch time' doesn't always match up with rolling into a town. And 'towns' in Scotland are seldom like every little town in the US with a half dozen fast food joints to pick from.

-The remarkable Faroe Islands and the country of Iceland are a both a short flight north of UK, and having been to both a couple times, they are an amazing self drive adventure of scenery/sites/sights, et al. We will do The Faroes again: they are a mini Iceland in terms of getting around, scenery etc. Just a thought as an add on to a northern UK/Ireland trip.

Good to read of another person's actual travel experiences here, vs the 'what is your fave place to dream about' posts that seem to have taken over the 'travel' forum.
GL, mD

Last edited by motordavid; 06-23-2019 at 05:53 AM..
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:40 AM
Location: Portugal
5,916 posts, read 2,883,413 times
Reputation: 11289
Yeah that's a lot of good info, cheers dude
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Old 06-23-2019, 02:29 PM
Location: NW Indiana
1,316 posts, read 1,181,943 times
Reputation: 2074
I have been to both Scotland and Ireland, although it was a while ago.

One suggestion it to take a one day bus tour of the Ring of Kerry. The scenery is great, the guide on the bus very informative and you leave the driving to a professional.
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Old 06-26-2019, 04:53 PM
Location: North State (California)
39,307 posts, read 2,966,634 times
Reputation: 12848
Originally Posted by MyTarge13 View Post
I have been to both Scotland and Ireland, although it was a while ago.

One suggestion it to take a one day bus tour of the Ring of Kerry. The scenery is great, the guide on the bus very informative and you leave the driving to a professional.

I agree with this, you can get the bus tour, & you will get a better view of things, than from a car, as Ireland has so many ditches & bushes along hte side of the road, a minibus will give you a higher vantage point. I would also recommend the RIng of Beara, it is much less traveled & not as touristy.
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Old 06-29-2019, 09:18 AM
3,499 posts, read 4,954,121 times
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I agree, I wish I had skipped the 100-mile Ring of Kerry. Our tour bus had already covered enough other similar roads, without that. 100 miles of curves and nearly getting sick. Would have been better to just wait and stroll around in Killarney for our bus to return.
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:21 PM
Location: Pa
166 posts, read 112,908 times
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A few more things to add to our experience...

21. Make sure you have adequate rental car insurance including the tires! My 3 credit cards did not cover Ireland.
22. We had no problem getting gas with a credit card the stations we stopped at you did not pay at the pump, you had to go in and pay the cashier. As in the USA you sign a receipt for the transaction. Your card never leaves your sight, they bring the machine to you. No pins numbers needed at all.
23. On motor ways the left lane is the slow lane, the right is the passing lane. The speed limit signs just have a number on them nothing else given in the USA which states “speed limit” on the sign. On the motorway they do not post the speed limit on the motorway they only are posted as you come onto the motorway and are trying to merge!!
24. We purchased a SIM card for my iPhone once we got in the country. Sometimes we had google maps and the Garmin running at the same time, the Garmin was so much better. Google maps would say go east on the road, we had no idea what direction we were going, especially when in a roundabout! Where the Garmin gave you a blue line to follow.
25. The Dublin airport is a $50-60 euro taxi ride one way so plan accordingly. We stayed at The Schoolhouse Hotel in Dublin to give you an idea.
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:07 AM
Location: Canada
9,068 posts, read 8,336,310 times
Reputation: 19425
Staying right in Dublin, the Airlink Express runs airport shuttles on 2 different routes to and from the airport for 7€ per person one-way, 6€ if you book online in advance. There is also a round-trip fare.
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