Ireland – Paid Entry Vs Free Tourist Attractions

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Where to go if you are visiting Ireland on a budget.

We have been living in and touring Ireland for almost four months, and during that time we have visited lots of the ‘must see’ tour book recommended tourist attractions around the country. Some of them have had some pretty hefty entrance fees, but on the other hand, we have also had plenty of awesome free experiences. So, if you are visiting Ireland and you would like to stretch your cash further, here’s our advice on the places worth paying for, and also what the free (or cheaper) options are. Continue reading

Why You Should Travel In The Off-Season

Rugged up against the cold, but loving exploring Ireland in Winter.

Rugged up against the cold, but loving exploring Ireland in Winter.

At the moment we are travelling in our second winter in 7 months. We have done back-to-back winters from Australia to Ireland. Yes, we could do with a sunny beach and a tan about now, but there’s lots of reasons why we wouldn’t have it any other way. Traveling in the off-season suits us as family travelers, and here are some of the advantages to putting away the bathing suit, and hitting the road in winter instead. Continue reading

Blarney Castle – Kissing Royal Butt in Ireland

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle, was built in 1446, it is actually the third castle to have been erected on this site. The first fort built in the tenth century was a wooden structure. Then in 1210 this was replaced the first stone structure. Later the building was demolished for use as the foundations of the imposing, dramatic castle guests see today.

You will find Blarney Castle in Co. Cork, about 15km out of Cork city. Considering it is one of the two most visited castles in Ireland (the other is Bunratty Castle) in summer you could probably just follow the steady stream of tour buses. But, if like us, you are visiting in winter, then a good map, or GPS is advised.

Touring Ireland in the off-season definitely has it’s perks, especially when visiting a tourist attraction as popular as this one. We had read numerous reviews of long waits and large crowds, but on the cold January day that we visited, we almost had the entire park and castle to ourselves. Yes, the air was bitter and damp, but completely worth it. Blarney Castle absolutely blew our mind in every way possible. To start with it is high and impressive. It rises up from the top of the rock in a way that says it means business, do not mess with the inhabitants! Even better, is the fact that guests are able to wander about in side the castle, (and underneath in the dungeons) freely exploring, imagining and touching the history within it’s 600 year old walls. Oh if those walls could speak – What stories they would have to tell! Restoration has been done to make the castle safe, but it has mostly been left in it’s original state, which allows for visitor imaginations to run wild. Given that there were so few other visitors, within minutes our seven year old son had begun imaginative role play, shooting arrows from the walls and hiding in the dark corners waiting to pounce on an enemy invader.

Get Up Close and Personal with Royalty

Of course everyone knows of the legend of the ‘Blarney Stone’, that those who kiss the stone will be blessed with the ‘gift of the gab’ to talk their way out of any situation. Did you also know that the Blarney Stone itself is also said to be half of the Scottish ‘Stone of Scone’, otherwise known as the ‘Stone of Destiny’? For centuries the Stone of Scone was associated with the crowning of Scottish kings and then, in 1296, it was taken to England and later placed under the Coronation Chair. So to smack your lips against the cold hard Blarney Stone at the top of the tower, you might as well be kissing the butt of royalty! Did we kiss it? Hmmm, well one of us was brave enough to do so… we’ll let the pictures tell the story. Continue reading

The Giant’s Causeway and a Snow Storm Adventure

On Monday we met an Australian friend at the airport who was coming to stay just three days with us here in Ireland. It’s a short time to explore an entire country so we came up with a few ideas for some day trips that we might take from Wexford to show off the best of the region. As we head south on the motorway that night toward Wexford, we asked our friend (who had briefly visited Ireland before) if there was anything that she’d really like to see during her short stay… “The Giant’s Causeway” was her response. Um, OK, we live in the far south, and that is about as far north as you can travel in Ireland, AND there is a snow storm forecast, but sure, why not? Let’s have an adventure!

Giant's Causeway

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First Impressions of Ireland

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Well, we’ve done it. Survived our first week in Ireland. I have purposely waited exactly 7 days to write this post so that I could give our first impressions of Eire after a few goodnight’s sleep (hello jetlag!) and so that I could tell you that we have seen more than the route from the airport to the hotel! We’ve spent most of our time in Dublin, with one day down in the South East of Ireland, at Wexford, so we have barely scratched the surface of the Emerald Isle. But, this is not a comprehensive ‘tell all’ about Ireland, this is our First Impressions of Ireland, warts and all, because first impressions count right? Continue reading

10 Reasons Why We Have Decided to Live in Ireland

ireland_118_bg_061702 (Medium) The flights are booked, and there’s dog-eared pages in our Lonely Planet Guide. In 10 weeks we will be moving to The Republic of Ireland, or Eire as the locals prefer to call it. So in anticipation of counting down the next 10 weeks, it seems only fitting that we share our top 10 reasons for starting the first overseas leg of Our Global Adventure in Ireland.
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Getting Back into the Travel Groove

Mount Kosciuszko

We have traveled locally with our children since the were very young. Lucy did her first camping trip at just a month old, Oscar did his first cross country road trip at just two years, and they’ve both sat on airplanes and in airports as toddlers. But, so far, they’ve never traveled outside of Australia. This means by default that they have never been in a non-English speaking country, and even though they have quite exotic taste buds for kids, they’re not used to chilli infused everything on the menu. Continue reading

Why I DON’T Love the Locks on the Bridges

Padlocks on the Pont de l'Archeveche, Paris, France, (DailyMail.co.uk)

Padlocks on the Pont de l’Archeveche, Paris, France, (DailyMail.co.uk)

Call me unromantic. I just don’t like them. Years ago when we visited Paris, Simon and I saw the locks hanging on the rails of the Lover’s Bridge over the Seine – we didn’t leave one. Now that we are planning our next overseas travel adventure I am of course reading LOTS of travel blogs and guides and I’ve noticed pictures of these bridges popping up all over the world! With the recent passing of Valentine’s Day it seems every Tom, Dick, Harry and their dog was locking an ugly hunk of metal to the rails of a beautiful bridge and then polluting the river below with the keys!  Continue reading

Our Travel History – Europe

When Simon and I lived in London from 1998 – 2002, (before the children) we had the extremely good fortune to be able to do lots of European Travel. We marveled at how easy and affordable European travel was from London compared to Australia, and we joined the backpack brigade as soon as possible. I’ve been digging through old photo’s of our travels, and want to share a snippet of the places and experiences that we had. These are the days when our wanderlust began… Continue reading

Our Travel History – Great Britain

Tower Bridge, London UK

Tower Bridge, London UK

When I was in my 3rd year of University (1997), studying to be a teacher, job offerings here in my home city Adelaide were scant to say the least. I had one more year to go, and the Lecturers made no secret of the fact that our best chances for employment after graduation were in remote country locations or overseas. At that time, I had also been dating Simon for about two years. I am extremely lucky to hold dual passports for Australia and the United Kingdom (thanks Mum!) so plans to travel to England went from “Considering travel one day” to “I’m going!” Continue reading