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Ireland: Dublin and the Emerald Isle - FAQ
With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring Ireland, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your Dublin and the Emerald Glens tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information you'll need as you get ready for your Irish adventure.
Ireland follows Greenwich Mean Time (1 hr. earlier than Central European Time). It is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. Like most European countries, Ireland has daylight savings time which lasts from late March to late September. It moves its clocks ahead an hour in late spring and an hour back in the fall, corresponding roughly to daylight saving time in the United States, but the exact dates vary. When it's noon in Ireland, it's 7 a.m. in New York and 4 a.m. in San Francisco. Ireland's latitude makes for longer days and shorter nights in the summer, and the reverse in the winter. In June, the sun doesn't fully set until around midnight, but in December, it is dark by 3pm.
There are many great souvenirs to bring back with you from Ireland, so make sure you have space left in your suitcase and pack light. You do not need any formal clothing for this trip. Two of the hotels have a swimming pool, so you may want to bring a swimsuit, the Irish weather calls for rain gear, and the most important item to pack is a pair of comfortable shoes.
Visitors from the US, Canada and Australia need a valid passport, but visas are not required for Americans, Canadians or Australians visiting for less than 3 months. If you are a citizen of another E.U. country, you do not need a passport, only an identity card. Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the European Union. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another in your suitcase.
|ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION |
This tour starts at 4:00PM on Friday, August 16, 2019 at the Dublin International Airport (airport code DUB), and your flight should arrive no later than 2:00PM. That means that you'll probably depart North America on Thursday, August 15, 2019. If you are prone to jet lag and travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early. We have arranged for private airport transfers on arrival in accordance with your flight arrival time, and you will be met by a chauffeur on your arrival.
The tour will end at 9:30AM on Sunday, August 25, 2019 at the Shannon International Airport, and we'll have a group airport transfer from Galway, arriving at the airport at 9:30AM, so you should schedule your return flight after 11:30AM. If you need help with your flights to Dublin and from Shannon, please feel free to give us a call.
To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones) drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.
The Ireland tour group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the tour director. The minimum group size is 6 women + the tour director. However, because we have only 11 rooms available on this tour, if there are a lot of people requesting a single room, we may have a smaller group. In addition to the tour director, the travelers will be assisted by private local guides, museum docents and bus drivers, who will be sharing their insights about Ireland with the group throughout the tour.
No special vaccinations are required to enter Ireland, and mosquitoes generally do not carry malaria. Bees and wasps are commonplace, especially on the islands off the west coast. Irish food generally is not spicy, so gastric sensitivities are rarely triggered by the food. However, if you have fish or shellfish allergies, be sure to ask about ingredients, especially when dining on the coast. Restaurants serving vegetarian choices are becoming more commonplace, especially in larger cities, but you can find potatoes, root vegetables, cabbage, cheese and plain pasta are available almost anywhere.
Tap water in the United Kingdom is pollution-free and safe to drink. If you would rather have bottled water, it is commonly available at grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines.
Public restrooms are usually simply called "toilets" or are marked with international symbols. Some of the older ones still carry the Gaelic words FIR (MEN) and MNA (WOMEN). Among the newest and best-kept restrooms are those found at shopping malls and department stores. Free restrooms are available to customers of sightseeing attractions, museums, hotels, restaurants, pubs, shops, and theaters. Most of the newer gas stations (called "petrol stations" in Ireland) have public toilets. Please keed in mind that some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them.
Ireland generally is very safe for travelers. Theft and crimes against persons are not commonplace. However, you should exercise caution anytime you're out and about in an unfamiliar area after dark wherever you are. Visitors should carry limited cash and credit cards and should leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents at the hotel safe. Taking a few simple precautions will minimize travelers’ chances of being targeted. Photocopy your passport, credit cards, plane tickets, driver’s license, and other important documents – leave one copy at home and keep another one with you, separate from the originals. Take only what you need on busy sightseeing days and use the hotel safe.
Women do not face any particular travel difficulties in Ireland. They are treated with courtesy and respect in both big cities and small towns. If any church visits are planned, remember that women are expected to wear tops with sleeves and bottoms that fall beneath the knees. Churches and some museums post their dress codes and they will turn you away if you are not in compliance. Carrying a light weight scarf in your purse can come in handy to cover your shoulders or tie around your waist as a skirt. Women are accepted traveling alone or in groups in virtually every environment, and gone are the days when women were expected to order half-pints of beer in pubs, while men were allowed to order the bigger, more cost-effective pints of ale. In fact, the only time you're likely to attract any attention at all is if you eat alone in a restaurant at night, a sight that is still relatively uncommon in Ireland outside of the major cities. Even then, you will not be hassled.
During the Dublin and the Emerald Glens Tour, we'll travel by private bus. We will also be walking quite a bit. To be able to fully enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 5 miles throughout the day, sometimes on cobbled streets and uneven surfaces. You should be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you should be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles, including boats, without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. Overall, this trip is not strenuous, although it is busy. You must be prepared for a couple of full days and some early starts.
One thing you can be sure of about Irish weather is how little you can be sure of. Thanks to the moderating effect of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, Ireland’s climate is relatively mild, with a mean annual temperature of around 50°F. The temperature drops below freezing only intermittently during winter, but snow is scarce, perhaps one or two brief flurries a year. In summer, temperatures during the day are a comfortable 60° to 70°F. During the warmest months, July and August, the average is 61°F. A hot summer’s day in Ireland is 72° to 76°F, although it can sometimes reach 85°F. There are about 18 hours of daylight daily during July and August and it’s only truly dark after about 11pm. And then there’s the rain. Ireland receives a lot of rain, with certain areas getting a soaking as many as 270 days of the year. County Kerry is the worst affected. The southeast is the driest, enjoying a more continental climate.
Ireland's cities have Internet access available in internet cafes, hotel lobbies and in some public places. Internet access in rural areas may be available, but it varies widely. Cellular phone coverage is generally very good in Ireland's cities and metropolitan areas, although expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous areas. All hotels where we’ll be staying have WiFi Internet available for their guests.
The Irish electric system operates on 220 volts with a plug bearing three rectangular prongs. To use standard American 110-volt appliances, you'll need both a transformer and a plug adapter. Most new laptops and small appliances meant for travel have built-in transformers, but some do not, so check. Attempting to use only a plug adapter is a sure way to fry your appliance or, worse, cause a fire.
Ireland has two official languages: English and Gaelic (which is also known as Irish). All native Irish can speak English. Gaelic is growing in popularity, and there is a strong national movement to preserve and expand use of the language. Areas of the country where Gaelic is protected and promoted are known as the Gaeltacht and include Donegal, Galway, and parts of Kerry. In these regions, signs are in Gaelic only (no English translation is provided). As Gaelic is a complex and ancient language that you will not be able to figure out on your own, don't hesitate to ask for help (in English) if you get lost, despite the government's best efforts, everybody in Gaeltacht regions speaks English.
Some people like to bring local currency with them when traveling to a foreign country, but it is not needed, and depends on what you're comfortable with. We believe that the easiest way to get local currency is on arrival at the airport ATM. ATMs are common throughout Ireland. You'll find them inside and outside all banks, in major shopping centers, in supermarkets and gas stations. The Euro, the new single European currency, is the official currency of Ireland. Each Euro is divided into 100 Eurocents.
Restaurants', drivers' and guides' gratuities are included in the Dublin and the Emerald Glens tour price. While dining on your own, a 10% to 15% gratuity is expected in upscale restaurants. Otherwise, it is considered polite to leave any coins from your change on the table in cafes and restaurants. A small (1 - 2 Euro) tip for other service providers (taxi drivers, hotel maids, bellmen) is the norm.
As in many European countries, sales tax is called VAT (value-added tax) and is already included in the price quoted to you or shown on price tags. The VAT rates vary, for souvenirs and gifts, it is 21%. Visitors from outside the EU can get a VAT tax refund at the airport when departing, but the minimum that you must spend at one store to obtain the refund is 100 Euro. The VAT refunds are not made for services. To get a VAT refund on purchases that qualify, present your passport to the salesperson and ask for the special stamped form. Present the form with your purchases at the booth marked IVA Tax Refunds at the airport, as you leave EU. Your refund should arrive by check or be credited to your credit card within a few weeks. Not all stores participate in this, so it pays to ask first, particularly for major purchases.
What to bring home from Ireland? The choices are endless and confusing, but there are some things that are "typically Irish" and worth bringing home with you: Aran sweaters, Celtic jewelry, crystal, tweeds, Linen, Parian china, whiskey, Irish music CDs, smoked salmon.