Help! 85th Birthday trip to Ireland...
I have been given the task of planning a surprise birthday trip to Ireland for my grandmother, who turns 85 this summer. It will be myself (26) my mother (50's) and my dear grandmother (85). She's never been before, but has always wanted to go given our family ancestry. I've only been to Galway, and it was ages ago. And honestly, I was just on the piss the entire time with friends so didn't see much of the sights.
My problem? My mom wants to do a tour. I've never done an organized tour before, as its not really my style - but I'm not paying (hurrah!) so I can't really complain. And after dragging the two of them around New Zealand and playing tour guide myself for 2 weeks last year, I welcome the idea of not having to plan every little detail. (I am NOT a planner - and they like to know what is going on ever minute of every day, which caused a bit of friction towards the end...)
I realize that this probably isnt the *best* place to ask for advice on tour companies, as it goes against the independent travel spirit that most people here share - but I figured you may be able to help a little about what I should look for (places not to be missed, etc) . Any advice, suggestions, etc welcome!
We're looking to go early June, and do a 7 or so day tour. After the tour, I'd like to stay in one area for an extra few days to wind down, possibly stay in a quaint B&B, do a little shopping, and just relax before our flight back.
Obviously, as my grandmother is older I'm a bit limited. Shes still as lively as ever, but can't do anything really strenuous. Shes a fan of quaint towns, good shopping... and her favorite past time ever - eating. If there is a pasty shop within 5 miles, I think the lady will sniff it out.
Someone had suggested CIE's Irish Spirit Tour http://www.cietours.com/affiliate/cieto ... ourID=2234 Opinions? That trip begins & ends in Dublin though. Is there alot to see in Dublin? I was hoping to find someplace a bit smaller, with a charming B&B. Also, it doesn't go to the Aran Islands...and it seems as though thats an un-missable place.
Anyways, I guess I'm just rambling at this point. But any direction that people can give me in terms of: What I shouldnt miss. Where might be a good post-tour place to stay for a few days with good shopping/dining. Any tours they recommend, or any great B&Bs... let me know! Back to the drawing board....
Just a word of advice dont go with Paddywagon! I think CIE might be a good choice - havent been on one myself but have seen them around alot.
For the benefit of your grandmother it might be better to find something like this: http://galwaytourtransfers.com/ (scroll down for their personalized tours) Again dont know it personally but my grandmother and her kids did something like this in Greece - a personalized tour - quite a bit more expensive but might be well worth it as it means you can travel at your own pace, go off the beaten track and have alot more personal attention, smaller accomodation etc. Also means youre not restricted to 20minutes here, 10 minutes there sightseeing that you get with tour buses.
Id stick to the west of ireland if you want quaint towns. Guess it depends on your family history too though - you might want to go see churches/graveyards in certain areas of Ireland. Also depends where you fly into. You can avoid Dublin by flying into Shannon.
Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, Doolin, Killarney, Kilkee, Dingle, Beara Peninsula, Connemara, Westport might be suitable towns (not in that order), and Galway for the shopping. Inis Mor (biggest Aran Island) has minibuses that give you a tour of the island - otherwise its a long way to walk...or cycle...
You could easily just do a tour of The Burren, Doolin, Aran Islands, Galway and other small towns in Clare. OR just do Connemara and Mayo. I was there for years and still didnt see everything!
Dublin is great if you want nightlife and shopping but is a large area to walk around unless you stay in the middle of the city.
Depends what kind of shopping and dining you want. Galway is probably the best for both if youre wanting modern fare. Also Ive always stayed in hostels so cant recommend much in way of B&Bs.
Doolin is quaint (though crazy busy in Summer) and dining is good, Irish music is great, but shopping is mostly souveneir. Killarney and Westport both smallish and central for shopping and dining. Kilkenny is nice with castle and big grounds. Too much to choose from!
Hope Ive helped and not just given you more choices!
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