I’m taking a trip to Europe in March to visit:
- London, England;
- Belfast, Northern Ireland; and,
- Dublin, Ireland.
My thought process for this trip went a little like this:
- My birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) so it would be fun to celebrate it in Dublin, Ireland.
- Since I’m going to be in Europe, why not visit my friend in London, England?
- I could rent a car and travel to Northern Ireland to see Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway (I’ve heard great things).
From there, I started planning my trip, making a budget and telling everyone about it.
This post will be a discussion on planning the Ireland and Northern Ireland portion. Continue to follow Passpportunities for a discussion on planning for London, England.
My original plan was to:
- Fly from Canada to London, England for Saturday, March 11;
- Fly to Dublin on the morning of March 15 and rent a car to drive north to Belfast and Giant’s Causeway;
- Return late to Dublin on the evening of March 16 to stay in a hostel;
- Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin on March 17 and explore Dublin March 18;
- Fly back to Canada March 19, 2017.
Once I started planning the trip, I found out that there is a St. Patrick’s Day festival in Dublin and returning on March 16 might not be the best idea for driving in the city. So I changed my mind and planned to fly into Dublin late on March 14 to drive to Belfast that evening and drive to Giant’s Causeway early on the 15th. Turns out, booking a hostel in Dublin on January 8 WAS NOT FAR ENOUGH IN ADVANCE. When I was looking online to book accommodations, two things happened:
- Every hostel/hotel/B&B I looked at was sold out on March 17, AND
- You had to book a minimum of 3 evenings (some were a minimum of 5) when booking a hostel.
So, even though it showed a private room available on March 17 I couldn’t book it online because I had to book at least 3 evenings for the same type of bed/room. It was the same for hostels, hotels and B&B’s. I made a quick decision to book a bed March 15, 16 and 18 and emailed the hostel to see if they had ANY beds available on the 17th and booked a private room (read $$$). Moral of the story: if you plan to travel on a holiday of the country you’re visiting, book it as soon as you make the decision to go. 2 months in advance might not be enough!
I will say I lucked out. The hostel I’m staying in is a short 4 minute walk to the Temple Bar market.
Once my accommodations were booked, my plan for Ireland and Northern Ireland became as follows:
- Fly into Dublin March 14, rent a car and drive to Belfast (1.5 hour drive);
- Get up early and drive to Giant’s Causeway (1.5 hour drive);
- Spend some time at Giant’s Causeway and drive back to Belfast for noon;
- Explore Belfast and visit the Titanic Museum (I’ve heard good things from a friend);
- Return to Dublin late March 15 (1.5 hour drive);
- Use the car to travel in the vicinity of Dublin and return the car before dinnertime March 16;
- Explore Dublin, do the Guinness Brewery Tour and join in the St. Patrick’s Day festivities on March 17 and 18;
- Fly out of Dublin Airport at 11 AM March 19 to return home.
I think it will be a good mix of spending time exploring the two countries on my own and enjoying the company of hundreds of strangers celebrating my birthday (OK, they won’t be celebrating MY birthday but they’ll be celebrating ON my birthday so close enough!)
Stay tuned for updates on how my plans became reality and if anything changed last minute!