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Old 06-16-2008, 08:42 AM   #1
Poppins2000
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Smile Part Five Final Chapter of Our Trip to the Emerald Isle

Arriving at Dromoland Castle
Luckily for us, the sun was shining upon our arrival at Dromoland Castle. We rolled through the gates and on to the property surrounded by greenery, massive trees, the golf course and then, the castle! As we approached the building entrance, you could see several members of the castle staff waiting to greet our bus. Each one of us received a personal greeting as we exited the bus - right off the bat they made us feel welcome and special. After a group photo op, we were ushered into a special lobby, offered a cold drink and were told a little bit about the castle history. After a brief tour of the castle and location of amenities (pool, spa, etc.), we were given our room keys. While the boys headed off to the rooms, BFF and I made a beeline for the spa, hoping we could get a treatment that afternoon before heading over to Bunratty Castle for dinner that evening. What luck - we each got an appointment for a massage/mud treatment! With an hour to spare, we went to check out our rooms. All I could say was WOW! Our room was HUGE, a king bed, (with two robes and slippers lying on the bed - you get to keep the slippers!) two night tables, two wing back chairs, a couch & coffee table (all placed in front of a bay window), a desk and chair, a massive armoire with double closets and TV. The bathroom was a separate tub and shower (with water pressure that knocked me up against the wall!), toilet and double sink vanity area. It was definitely luxurious!

BFF and I then decided to head down to the hydro pool for a steamy soak before our spa treatments while the boys went over to the indoor pool. The spa was wonderful and very relaxing - if you get the chance give yourself a treat!

By 6:15pm. it was back on the bus for dinner and Irish night at Bunratty castle, about a 10 minute drive from Dromoland. Think Medieval Times but with an Irish flavor. Our group enjoyed a traditional Irish dinner with live entertainment, singing, dancing and live music. It was a lot of fun.

Saturday
Our last full day in Ireland ! After an exquisite breakfast in the castle (meals served on Wedgewood china, and Waterford crystal ) it was on the bus to the Cliffs of Moher. We were blessed with another beautiful day and scenic drive. Upon arrival to the Cliffs, it was quite windy so we bundled up; hats, gloves and scarf. It wasn't a biting cold wind (thank goodness!) but I was glad to have bundled up all the same. We were given a little over an hour to explore the Cliffs. They have a nice gift shop as well so shoppers make sure you save some time in the end for a visit.

After the Cliffs, it was back on the bus for a drive through the Burren, stopping in Clare for lunch at a seaside pub, Monks. The seafood sandwiches were very tasty along with the desserts. We all went for a short walk along the pier that was across the street from Monks, before boarding the bus for our trip over to Rathbaun Farm. Rathbaun farm is a working farm and very picturesque. White wash building, thatch roofs, a homey peat fire in the front room - it was everything you have ever seen in an old movie or pictures about Ireland. Our first chore of the afternoon - making scones while donned in lunch room lady attire - some great photo ops, haha. Once the scones were made (and while they were cooking), it was time to see the farm and it's sheep. We saw various types of sheep, their babies, watched a border collie do his job herding the sheep and witnessed a shearing. The junior adventures got to bottle feed some of the lambs as well. By this time the scones are ready! Time to wash up and sit down to sample our wares with a good cup of tea before heading back to the castle.

While we had our magical farewell dinner later that evening, I will end my trip report here. There are so few surprises in life anymore, let this be one to savor and discover on your own! I want to personally thank all of our guides Courtney, Francesc, Adam and Sarah for making our trip a most memorable one. Our whole group was wonderful and I miss the many new friends I have made. If you decide to do this Adventure - you WILL have an awesome time.....


Just Some FYIs:
All hotel rooms had an in room safe, Molton Brown toiletries, blowdryer, ironing board and iron
Voltage is 220 although in Dromoland castle we also had a 110 outlet over by the desk

My Opinions (for what its worth!)

Best Bed - The Westin (that is if you like them soft!)
Best Hotel Room View - Killarney Plaza (our room overlooked Killarney National Park)
Best Restaurant in Dublin - Fire (expensive but awesome...found it by watching Tasty Travels w/Rachael Ray on the Travel Channel)
Best Restaurant in Killarney - Bricin
Best Breakfast - Dromoland Castle
Best Service - Dromoland Castle
Best Drive - To the Cliffs of Moher and Rathbaun Farm
Best Drink - A"true" Irish Coffee (try one, you'll see what I mean)
Favorite part of the trip - Killarney Park and the Cliffs of Moher
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Old 06-16-2008, 10:03 AM   #2
AndreaJ
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Thank you, thank you, thank you! We leave in 9 days, and I am so excited! One quick question - do we really need to pack those warm items for the Cliffs? It is 91 degrees here today in Atlanta, and just the thought of digging up those items make me cringe! I so enjoyed your reports - it puts my mind at ease with your detailed info! Thanks also for not giving away the happenings of the last night's dinner - I am sure it will be wonderful! Thanks again!!!!
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Old 06-16-2008, 10:28 AM   #3
Poppins2000
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I would because it is windy and the temps may still be somewhere in the high 50's when you get there (I checked on weather.com). I know what you mean about digging out the winter clothes. When we moved here (30 miles SOUTH of Miami) from the 'burbs of Atlanta (Flowery Branch by Lake Lanier) two years ago, we put all that stuff away and haven't worn it since! Have an absolutley marvelous time (I know you will)! I'm pretty sure Courtney and Sara will be your guides and they were just great....
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Old 06-16-2008, 10:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for all your reports they all were great!
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:38 PM   #5
Tracie Wallace
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Thanks so much for the trip report. We're on the July 24th Emerald Isle adventure and reading your report just gets me more excited.

We're going to be in Dublin in few days before the Adventure starts. Can you tell me of any must dos or must sees while we're in Dublin (2 adults and one 11-year old)? Any restaurant recommendations?

Also, since you've already done the trip, any advice for future travelers - anything we should or should not bring?

Again, thanks for the trip report. I always think I'm going to do one and then never get around it.
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:52 PM   #6
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Tracie,

We arrived in Dublin two days early as well to adjust to the time change and to have some time to explore on our own before or adventure officially began. We spent alot of time just walking all over Dublin, down to Grafton Street, to St. Stephen's Green (a lovely park at the end of Grafton Street), we walked along the Liffey and crossed the Ha' Penny Bridge. Do visit the Molly Malone statue on the right hand side of the road at the beginning of Grafton street.

On Sunday, before we met our group, we walked over to Christ Church Cathedral to take a tour of the inside (only the outside grounds were covered on the tour), alas, services were going on so we missed out (should have gone on Saturday!). We also walked over to the Dublin castle and toured the outside and visited their gift shop (I'm glad we did this for while we toured the inside the following day w/ABD, we did NOT have time to tour the outside or visit the gift shop).
We heard that their zoo was awesome, we just never got around to going.

For packing - I was glad that I packed 2 travel umbrellas and kept them in my day bag. They came in handy a few times, especially since we weren't wearing coats (pretty much lived in jeans and long sleeve T's). The only time I deviated from jeans was the one night we ate dinner at Mentons (adult night) and for the Farewell Dinner (I wore khakis and a nice sweater - that's about as dressy as anyone got). I did pack gloves and scarf and was grateful I had them when we got to the Cliffs.

As far as food goes, we ate dinner at a pub called Gallaghers in the Temple Bar area (which is directly across the street from the Westin), had lunch at Bewleys Tea Room (on Grafton Street) and another time at O'Neil's Pub (across from the Dublin Tourist Center). The food was great at all three places.
If you want to splurge, go to Fire, off of Dawson street (which runs parallel to Grafton) for dinner. It was expensive but the steaks were delicious!
Just an FYI...if you are going out Friday or Saturday night - go early!! Places get packed after 7pm. Oh, and Friday afternoon, after a nice nap, we all went to the Atrium downstairs in the hotel and had afternoon tea and cakes for a special treat - yum!

The concierge at the hotel is most helpful and will give you a map of Dublin and point you in the direction you wish to go. I also suggest a visit to the Dublin Visitors center (also by Grafton Street ).

Have a safe and magical trip!!!!
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Next Trip: February 2015 SSR & AKL
2014: Kidani MLK Wknd, SSR Princess Wknd, GFV-OKW-Eastern on Fantasy, Paradise Pier @ DL, Food & Wine AOA-SSR
2013: POR-OKW & DVC Member Cruise, SSR with Dad, BWV Scrap Expo, Barcelona ABD Escape & Med Cruise, OKW Mickey Jingle 5k, Christmas at SSR
2012: AKL-Dream to Bahamas-BLT, BWV, OKW, VBR, OKW, VBR, Dine/Dash @ SSR, Turkey Day at Vero Beach
2011: BCV-Wonder Panama Repo, SSR x 2, AKL, CSR 2010: Wonder Double Dip, CSR-Birthday Trip, YC, AKL, BC, SSR 2009: Magic to Tortola, VWL, POR, POLY, BW, 2008: Magic Eastern Caribbean, ABD Emerald Isle, WL, SSR 2007: Joined DVC 06/07, POR, DWNTWN DIS, GF, SSR 2006: Moved to FL -Yippee! POP, Westgate, POR, Christmas at AKL 2005: Magic Western Caribbean, 2004: Wonder to Bahamas, 2003: DWNTWN DIS 2002: CBR, 2001: Honeymoon @ WL 1977-1998: HS Trips, Solo and Girlie Vacations August 4, 1976: 1st of many trips to WDW!
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Old 06-16-2008, 02:20 PM   #7
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Thanks Poppins2000. I already know I don't have enough time to see everything. I'll be on the lookout for the "Tart with the Cart!"
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Old 06-16-2008, 07:04 PM   #8
AndreaJ
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Thanks Poppins2000! I guess I will now go and dig out some scarves and gloves!
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Old 06-17-2008, 08:37 PM   #9
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Thanks Poppins2000! This trip sounds wonderful. I can't wait till next year!
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Old 06-21-2008, 09:23 PM   #10
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Thanks so much for your trip report, it has been most helpful, and exciting to read as well.

I have one question: How was the food at the group meals?
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Old 06-22-2008, 09:35 AM   #11
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Breakfast at the Westin & Killarney Plaza was a buffet which included the following items: Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes (hash browns in Killarney), pancakes, cold cereal bar, fruit & yogurt bar, Smoothie bar (Westin), smoked salmon, salmon, assorted cheeses, salmon, breads, toast, pastries, juice, coffee, tea. You MUST try the Porridge in the buffet line at Killarney Plaza – it was incredible!

Breakfast at Dromoland – table service WITH a buffet of cheeses, fruits, cold cereal, all the usual hot breakfast items and then some – also AWESOME porridge.

In all of the group lunches and dinners, there was usually a choice of fish, beef or chicken along with various salads, veggies and breads, with wonderful cheeses and desserts. There were plenty of choices and we never had a bad meal. Everything was very fresh, I don’t think we sampled anything processed – everything tasted wayyyy too good!
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Next Trip: February 2015 SSR & AKL
2014: Kidani MLK Wknd, SSR Princess Wknd, GFV-OKW-Eastern on Fantasy, Paradise Pier @ DL, Food & Wine AOA-SSR
2013: POR-OKW & DVC Member Cruise, SSR with Dad, BWV Scrap Expo, Barcelona ABD Escape & Med Cruise, OKW Mickey Jingle 5k, Christmas at SSR
2012: AKL-Dream to Bahamas-BLT, BWV, OKW, VBR, OKW, VBR, Dine/Dash @ SSR, Turkey Day at Vero Beach
2011: BCV-Wonder Panama Repo, SSR x 2, AKL, CSR 2010: Wonder Double Dip, CSR-Birthday Trip, YC, AKL, BC, SSR 2009: Magic to Tortola, VWL, POR, POLY, BW, 2008: Magic Eastern Caribbean, ABD Emerald Isle, WL, SSR 2007: Joined DVC 06/07, POR, DWNTWN DIS, GF, SSR 2006: Moved to FL -Yippee! POP, Westgate, POR, Christmas at AKL 2005: Magic Western Caribbean, 2004: Wonder to Bahamas, 2003: DWNTWN DIS 2002: CBR, 2001: Honeymoon @ WL 1977-1998: HS Trips, Solo and Girlie Vacations August 4, 1976: 1st of many trips to WDW!
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Old 06-24-2008, 08:23 PM   #12
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I know you didn't end up cycling, but I have a few members of my family that don't cycle. What happens if you don't? Will they bus you there as they did with you? I would hate to have some of us miss out.
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Old 06-25-2008, 06:04 AM   #13
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They will bus you if you don't cycle - not a problem. We had a handful of people that chose the bus option before our cycling expedition was cancelled last minute due to rain.
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2013: POR-OKW & DVC Member Cruise, SSR with Dad, BWV Scrap Expo, Barcelona ABD Escape & Med Cruise, OKW Mickey Jingle 5k, Christmas at SSR
2012: AKL-Dream to Bahamas-BLT, BWV, OKW, VBR, OKW, VBR, Dine/Dash @ SSR, Turkey Day at Vero Beach
2011: BCV-Wonder Panama Repo, SSR x 2, AKL, CSR 2010: Wonder Double Dip, CSR-Birthday Trip, YC, AKL, BC, SSR 2009: Magic to Tortola, VWL, POR, POLY, BW, 2008: Magic Eastern Caribbean, ABD Emerald Isle, WL, SSR 2007: Joined DVC 06/07, POR, DWNTWN DIS, GF, SSR 2006: Moved to FL -Yippee! POP, Westgate, POR, Christmas at AKL 2005: Magic Western Caribbean, 2004: Wonder to Bahamas, 2003: DWNTWN DIS 2002: CBR, 2001: Honeymoon @ WL 1977-1998: HS Trips, Solo and Girlie Vacations August 4, 1976: 1st of many trips to WDW!
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Old 06-25-2008, 12:07 PM   #14
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Thank you. I really appreciate your reports. We were indecisive about Ireland (mainly because DH and I have already toured there on a different bus tour) but your report really inspired us. We're planning on going next July if the prices haven't skyrocketed.
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:37 PM   #15
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Question Bus security

Are you allowed to leave items on the bus while you are visiting various activities and towns along the tour. Or do they want you to take all your personal items off each time you leave the bus, even for short stops?

Fiona
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