We arrivied into Shannon at 5 am on an excellent overnight flight from JFK. We slept about 4 hours on the flight. Aer Lingus was excellent. And we even landed early. We loved Shannon airport-friendly, small, easy, and the best thing-----easy to drive out of! It was about 6:00 am after we got our car from Hertz. We had a bite to eat in the airport and then we drove around a bit to get the feel of the car, driving on the left and roundabouts. Really...all easier than I expected! I drove the entire trip because I get motion sick easily and I dont read maps as well as my husband. We used our Garmin Nuvi GPS with Ireland maps newly updated from the garmin website. We also used the OSI Road Atlas and the Frommers Ireland atlas. My navigator hubby liked the OSI map the best. Hubby sat with the maps in his lap and the GPS on the windshield so he could follow along the suggested route. He often times reminded me to stay left and he would point to exits on roundabouts which made it easier.
Side note about GPS...it worked.....most of the time. It often sent us on back roads. It sometimes said we were in the middle of the ocean or a field. I STRONGLY suggest to use a map as a back up.
We made our way to the Sky Court mall in Shannon. We went into the grocery store there, got cash out of the ATM, and looked for the cell phone store. The mall did not fully open till 10 or 10:30 so we got some fruit and other assorted snacks to have in the car. We decided to skip waiting for the phone store to open which ended up being a great decision and saved us abot 50-75 Euros. We used our netbook and skype to call home and within Ireland. Skype to Skype is free and Skype to phone was only 2 cents/min. Perfect!
We then made the easy drive to Bunratty Castle. We did the castle tour and walked in the folk park. It felt good to walk and we enjoyed Bunratty. We spent about 3 hours there. I would suggest Bunratty as a great place to start or end your trip. We had lunch at Durty Nelly's and I raised my first glass of Guiness. My son toasted our trip and learned how to say Slainte from the friendly bartender! After lunch we drove to Doolin to check into our first B&B-Daly's house. I am posting a review in the B&B section. In short, we loved Daly's House. Clean and comfortable and wonderfully friendly. Compared to the 11 other B&B's the triple room was on the smaller side but the view was great and we enjoyed our stay.
We decided to keep moving cause if we sat down we would have napped. We made the very scary drive to the Cliffs of Moher on one of the narrowest/winding road of our entire trip. But the Cliffs were beautiful and even my 9 year old was impressed!
It was windy and the sea was rough and the sun was breaking thru scattered clouds. It took my breath away and hubby and I walked hand in hand on the path to O'Brien's tower. We finished the day with a lovely dinner in O'Connors pub and some yummy chocolates from the candy shop on the small main strip in Doolin.
A note about Doolin... Since we had our 9 year old son with us, going to the pubs in the evening was difficult. So we did not get to fully experience what Doolin is famous for. Due to that--- Doolin is at the bottom of our rankings of great small towns in Ireland. Doolin is just two pubs, a pier, and a couple small shops. For families it is limited and we were glad we only had 2 nights there. We called it a day around 8 pm. It was still light outside till nearly 11 pm but we were all exhausted. Hot showers andthe comfy bed felt good. My first day in Ireland was wonderful and my son kept saying he wanted to move there because it was so pretty..
2 observations after day one-
Radio in Ireland is very limited. We did not get any reception in the car at all. We lauged because we hit the search button and it kept searching for hours. When we did find a station it was either talk radio or 1980's American music. Bring your Ipod and play Irish music in the car. : )
TV in Ireland is also very limited. The most channels we had on any TV was 9. RTE stations which were usually news or sports. BBC channels-Big Brother in the UK is crazy! Old American crime/drama series reruns are popular. I could not live in Ireland because of the limited radio and TV. LOL!!
Day 2 coming up-The Burren area AND the Rock that ate the rental car!