International Family Vacation Part 1 | Scotland and Ireland

I'm going to get a little mushy and start off by telling you all how amazing my sister and brother-in-law are.  In June of 2016 they celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary, and they decided in 2015 that they wanted to take a trip to Ireland to celebrate.  I instantly got a little sad; I wanted to go but I knew that I shouldn't intrude on their romantic getaway.  But, Jessica being the best sister anyone could possibly ask for, told me that I could join them in Scotland for a week then they would go on to Ireland by themselves.  Needless to say I was over the moon.  I've never been out of the country (except for that one time in Mexico...I went shopping just across the border from Arizona).  This honestly was one of the greatest gifts anyone could give to me.  I mean, I had to pay my way but just letting me tag along meant so much to me.  So, in 2015 we began the planning process.  One week in Scotland for me and one week in Ireland for them.  Let the saving begin!  Jessica booked our plane tickets, our Airbnbs and bed and breakfasts, the rental car, and even events we wanted to attend.  She is the ideal travel agent.  She has never steered us wrong.  Those reviews you leave on travel sites, she reads them.

Let me start the story of this trip at the airport.  Have you ever run to a plane?  If so, then you know the agony I felt as I had to run through the Newark Airport to get to the plane to Dublin.  First off, we flew United.  Do yourself a favor and avoid them for international travel.  Anyway, the plane from Louisville, KY to Newark was delayed twice and the next flight to Dublin wasn't leaving until the next evening, which would completely mess up our plans.  So, finally we get on the plane to Newark and this is when having an air traffic controller for a brother-in-law comes in handy.  He "schmoosed" the pilot (through notes passed back and forth by the flight attendant) into talking to Newark controllers and getting them to ground our plane for a bit.  Even still by the time I got off of the plane in Newark, we had 10 minutes to get to our gate on the other side of the airport.  We had to take a bus from one terminal to the next, which was going about 5 mph.  I got off the bus and began to run, wearing layers, rain boots, and a backpack in August.  I got to one crossroads of hallways and lost the signs for the gate, but alas I found it.  I hand over my ticket and the woman says "oh you have plenty of time, we're not going anywhere."  I smiled; she had no idea what I had been through.  So, I get on the plane, alone.  Jessica is waiting for her husband, Chris.  I'm waiting and waiting.  They announce the doors will be closing soon.  Suddenly, I think "I'm going to Dublin alone."  Then, behind a group coming my way, I see Chris' bald head.  I silently cheer.  Seven hours later, we land at Dublin airport!

  • Day One:  Dublin, Ireland

This day was short.  We hadn't slept much on the plane.  However, we were determined to rally and do as much as we could.  

tip: if you're not renting a car (we weren't getting one until we got to Edinburgh), try to get a hotel with a free shuttle to and from the airport.  Save some money on a taxi or Uber.

The hotel let us check in really early so we could drop off our luggage.  Then we freshened up a little and got an Uber to take us to the Guinness Storehouse.  

tip: you can make a reservation online for the Storehouse tour.  Then you don't have to wait in line.  Also there are 3 different places you can get your free pint of Guinness.  The observation bar is the most popular, but you can drink your pint at a lower bar then go up to the top just to enjoy the view.

We chose to get our pint at a lower bar and they had people doing traditional Irish dancing.  They even plucked people from the crowd to teach them.

So, unfortunately before we left, Chris threw his back out and sitting on the plane for so many hours had done him in, so from the Storehouse he went back to the hotel and Jessica and I went on exploring.  We headed to Trinity College and planned to go to the Book of Kells, but the line was crazy long and we didn't feel the need to wait in it.  The weather wasn't really cooperating anyway and it was starting to sprinkle a bit.

tip: Dublin is a bit difficult to navigate.  A lot of the streets go in weird angles and Trinity college is at the intersection of 5 different streets, I think.  It got a little confusing when we were walking to the college from where our taxi dropped us off, so keep a map handy.

We went to Dublin Castle and this is when it started to really rain.  But we soldiered on and decided to get something to eat.  Many, many people told us to go to The Brazen Head.  But Jessica and I are not ones for going to the most popular place, so we found a pub called O'Neill's across the street from the statue of Molly Malone and St. Andrew Church.  The food was so good and atmosphere was even better.

tip: O'Neill's is cafeteria-style and you go up to the bar to get your drinks.  The food lines are down a few stairs and they have a wide variety: sandwiches, soup, freshly carved meat.  I got the Guinness stew and Jessica had seafood chowder.  And we each had a pint of beer, of course.

After we ate, we got an Uber back to the hotel.  And I admit that I fell fast asleep in the backseat of that car.  The lack of sleep had finally caught up to me.  We turned in early to get up for our early flight to Edinburgh.

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International Stops Part 1: