TRIP REPORT INDEX
This is multi-part trip report – this part covers daily highlights of our 15 day trip to Ireland & Poland.
DAY 1 – Red Eye Flight
We planned to arrive early at the airport to enjoy our “pre-flight” meal at the Aer Lingus business class lounge but… well, we didn’t arrive early (good thing because the food wasn’t very good). After a short break at the lounge, it was time to board. I had dinner then managed to get a couple hours sleep. It was a short 5.5 hour flight.
DAY 2 – Drive to Athlone
After landing, we picked up the car at Sixt (which took almost an hour because the 3 people in front of us had very long personal conversations with the employees). The drive to Athlone takes about 1.5 hours. We grabbed lunch and wandered around the city a bit as the jetlag quickly caught up with us. After an hour power nap, we headed out for dinner and called it a night.
DAY 3 – Galway
We started the morning by hitting the gym briefly then the free breakfast at the Sheraton. I wanted to check out Athlone Castle for a few minutes before checking out and hitting the road. Standing from the highest point gives you great views of the city. We arrived at our Airbnb apartment in Galway but we couldn’t get in touch with the owner for 2 hours. Just a few blocks away, we found lunch, booked a tour to the Aran Islands, and checked out the downtown area.
DAY 4 – Galway/Aran Islands
An early start today – the bus then the ferry. After arriving to the Aran Islands, we rented bikes from Burke’s Bike Hire and followed the map on the wrong road wondering why we weren’t seeing the tourist spots. Eventually we found the cliffs and with only a short time left, we raced to the ‘wormhole’ for a brief stop and made it back to the ferry with about 10 minutes to spare. The wormhole can be dangerous – a giant wave almost killed a student here! A full day riding bikes around the island was very satisfying and tiring.
DAY 5 – Doolin / The Burren / Cliffs of Moher
In the morning, we drove south to Doolin. The roads quickly get narrow…much too narrow for our small car + buses coming the other direction constantly! After settling in at the B&B, we get back on the road, stop for lunch then keep exploring the road around the coast line (“The Burren“). As sundown approached after 9pm, we drove out to the Cliffs of Moher. Entrance and parking is free before they open or after they close — many reviews say this is the best time to go. I wish I knew there is a good amount of walking trails available — there is even a walking trail from the village of Doolin. I would have certainly walked this trail instead of driving around the Burren area.
DAY 6 – Doolin / Dublin
On the way back to Dublin, we stopped by the Cliffs of Moher a second time hoping for a clear sunrise view (it was cloudy) and checked out the Doolin Cave, which has the longest known free-hanging stalactite in Western Europe. We skipped Aillwee Cave. In the evening in Dublin, we grabbed dinner then a comedy show at Anseo Comedy Club. Good times!
DAY 7-8 & 11-12 – Family visits in Poland
After landing in Berlin, we picked up a car from Avis. I was excited to drive on the Autobahn which I heard had no speed limit (there is a limit in certain areas of 130 km/h (81 mph) and lower where there was construction). No matter how fast I drove, there were always a few cars that would blaze past…one was a tiny Leon, not just Porsches and BMWs! I kicked myself the whole way for not paying the extra $100 to get a BMW for the week! Our visit to Poland started with a several family visits. Lots of sitting and eating… a never ending supply of cakes and sweets. In between the visits, we rode bicycles on the forest roads from one village to the next and in the evenings hung out with Grandma, who loved to make sure we ate every couple of hours :). The area reminded me of images straight from Little Red Riding Hood.
DAY 9-10 – Poznan
Poznan is a beautiful city which reminded me of Krakow, especially the Old Market Square, which had lots of restaurants and vendors selling kielbasa, pastries, and many other things. We walked off our lunch around Malta Lake, a popular walking trail. In the evening, we went looking for some good pierogies. The next day we visited Park Cytadela – a large park with many military vehicles (tanks and planes) on display. The museum was closed that day but most of the vehicles are visible from the outside anyway.
DAY 13 – Szczecin
We drove up to Szczecin to check out the recently discovered underground German underground bunkers 59 feet below the surface. I learned a lot about World War II during this tour! The “Stare Maisto” (Old Town) is very small but does have a few good dining options – we stopped here for lunch. Later, we walked through the Central Cemetary (3rd largest in Europe) and arrived at The Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle a few minutes before closing time…so we could only see the outside. Although we are not big into museums, I did want to visit The Museum of Technology and Transport but we didn’t have time. We just drove in for the day and accomplished a lot before driving back to grandma’s house.
DAY 14-15 – Dublin
We arrived back in Dublin very late and went right to sleep. In the morning, we joined a free 3 hour walking tour. I often lose interest after walking around with a large group and was trying to plan an afternoon sports activity called Experience Gaelic Games. My calls and emails weren’t returned until it was too late. Too bad! Instead, we had some Irish burgers on the way to see Riverdance at the Gaetiy Theater which was excellent! Afterwards, we headed to the crowded Temple Bar area to see some amazing live trad music…then reluctantly returned to the hotel to pack and prepare for our return flight in the morning.
My Cameras: These photos were taken using my Canon S110 Digital Camera (which has been replaced by the S120) as well as my larger Nikon D50. I love the S110 – it’s tiny, fits in my pocket, and takes amazing pictures/videos.
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