As I was cleaning out a closet stuffed with books, I unearthed my old copy of Round Ireland With a Fridge, a true-but-silly travel story about Tony Hawks; Tony lost a bet, and his "reward" was to circumnavigate Ireland by hitchhiking. But here's the kicker – he had to do it while toting a small refrigerator. The re-discovery of this book propelled Ireland back into my mind, and to the forefront of my possible destinations for 2016.
Round Ireland With a FridgeÂ paints Ireland's people as up-for-anything characters who roll with the oddities in life and don't sweat the small stuff. The descriptions of the towns sound more than a bit idyllic, especially to a desert dweller like me. I would really welcome some cool temperatures once we're in the middle of months of 110-degree heat (that's about 50 for you Celsius users).
And I have to bet that the craft beer craze has sunk its claws into Ireland at least a bit, so I'd be eager to look beyond the Guinness (if you're a craft beer aficionado who knows Ireland well, this is your cue to speak up.
Also, I'm more than a bit intrigued by WestJet's service to Dublin. I can hop on a WestJet flight from Phoenix to Toronto, and there I can board one of the new-to-them WestJet 767s and get to Dublin. It sounds like a lot of fun without too much fuss – but I am one of those oddballs who finds getting there to be a big part of the fun. I recently had a great round-trip experience on WestJet, and I'd like to see how the airline makes the most out of its upgraded fleet on a flight to Dublin.
So, once we're there, what's next?
Usually, we like a good mix of independent travel mixed in with a guided tour here and there. The do-it-yourself method allows flexibility and spontaneity, while guided tours are great for those times when some local expertise and know-know can enhance the experience.
I'd plan to use some of the major cities – Dublin and Galway in Ireland, and Belfast in Northern Ireland – as bases. From there, we could take a look at some of the better-known sites while keeping an eye out for surprises beyond the guidebook. TheÂ Giants Causeway is definitely among the best-known destinations, and I'd have another read of Round Ireland With a Fridge to ferret out a few more ideas.
And I admit that I'm about to bet a bit nerdy here: I've read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series – which TV viewers know as A Game of Thrones – five times already. I visited the Wall when I was in Iceland, so I'd like to see some of shooting locations scattered around Northern Ireland. There are also plenty of castles for me to check out because I really can't get enough of them. I also have some good friends who insist that I'd love hiking in Ireland – we can't hike like we used to since our daughter was born last year, but we can at least get in a few short but interesting hikes, I'm sure.
When my family starts to talk about our big yearly trip, this is will all be part of my pitch for Ireland.
If you've been there, what are some travel tips you'd offer a couple traveling with an 18-month old?
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