After a full and fulfilling last day in Ireland, we got a pre-dawn start to the airport. Our flight home was delayed and uncomfortable, but it’s a story for another time. Up until that point, we had a wonderful trip.
Bed and Breakfasts
The network of B&B establishments is extensive across both countries. We had no problem finding availability with our vouchers from Great Value Vacations. All of the host(ess)s were warm, friendly and willing to help guide us around the local areas. Starting each day with a delicious breakfast helped as well. I could use some brown break with orange marmalade and a side of Weetabix right now!
Our original plan to get around Scotland and Ireland was to print directions and work with that. My husband printed off reams of directions to and from every possible combination he could think we might need. At the last minute we downloaded UK/Ireland maps onto our Garmin device. It was about $70 and worth every penny. I don’t think I would have been able to navigate on little printed maps and I’m glad I didn’t have to try.
Scotland Explorer Pass
We weren’t able to visit every place we wanted to (the water conditions at the Inchmahome Priory were too rough for tourists both days we tried) but the Explorer pass offered a great value. It paid for itself with the two castles we visited. Skipping the admission lines made the price even sweeter.
As beautiful and history-rich as the castles were, they weren’t off-the-bat “wow” attractions for the girls. Balancing the history with plenty of tea and playgrounds helped make the trip more exciting for them. They also enjoyed the breakfast each morning and felt special with the kind attentions of our B&B hosts. Even something as small as a pool table in a restaurant went a long way towards adding “fun”.
It’s also a fine line between needing a pick-me-up and needing to call it a day. Sometimes we can extend our touring by an hour or so with a properly placed snack or transit ride. Other times we need to be honest and retire for the day before they reach a breaking point.
The trip wasn’t perfect. There were turns missed, attractions closed, people jet-lagged. As with every trip, some days went perfectly and others we were off schedule. We finished the trip wanting to go back to both countries. That’s always my indication of success. While we’re on the trip and after we get home, I try to gauge the girls’ willingness to return. When they say things like, “Well the next time we come here…” I know that they are having a good time. They’ve said that many times both on the trip and after. I’ll chalk that up to a successful trip!