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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Irish Honeymoon Commences: Day #1 - The Flight

Since there is a 5 hour difference (6 before the time change) between West VA (our current location at the time) and Ireland, and since we did not want to waste a "day" traveling, we took the red eye from DC to Dublin via Boston. The unforeseen, slightly stressful, issue with this was that the Ireland Airline (Aer Lingus) connects in Boston, and since it was an international flight, we had to go through the check-in and security process in BOTH DC and Boston (this was something we should have followed-up on a little more carefully).

When we landed in Boston, we were definitely NOT in the international terminal and had less than an hour until our gate closed (not starting to board - closed). Kudos to my quick-thinking hubby though, because we Googled the gate for international flights while waiting to get off the plane and at least knew we had to get from B to E. So, we exited the plane and proceeded to exit the B gate completely...which took us outside...where we had to catch a shuttle to E [Scott: Note to anyone who happens to be reading this and also works at the Boston Airport; you need to seriously reconsider your signage from B to E...or lack there of.]. When the shuttle arrived at E, we then proceeded to the Aer Lingus counter to check back in. The one "bright light at the end of the tunnel" was that our checked bags were automatically transferred, so that was at least one thing we did not have to worry about. After checking in we had to wait in line at security - again.

By this time it was getting pretty late and we were starving. Due to another unforeseen, minor lack of  planning, we did not realize that the red eye flight was actually going to serve a meal, so while Scott was standing in line for security I grabbed some sandwiches. Please note here that I picked the slowest sandwich making place in the world to order from and I definitely almost left them. The security guards moved our flight to the front of the line for the check-point and Scott definitely had to yell across the airport to get my attention - which was pretty awesome [Scott: Note to anyone who happens to be reading this and works for Boston Airport Security; though people complain about security, you guys are awesome. Thank you for being so considerate. Needless to say the stress on my marriage would have been significantly greater had we missed this flight.] 

Long story short...we made it to the gate, and although a little sweaty and rushed (unnecessary sandwiches in hand), we had plenty of time to find our seats and get settled. The flight was a lot shorter than we also anticipated (only 5 1/2 hours), so unfortunately we did not get much sleep. That was kind of my own fault though because Game of Thrones was on the personal TV guide and yeah...I'm a little obsessed with that series right now [Scott: It is also a little weird when the semi-porn scenes from that series pop up and you start to worry about the age of the surrounding audience].

So, our what did we learn/Couple Travel Tip of the post is:
- Boston Airport security guys are amazing and they really don't want you to miss your flight either
- you in fact do NOT need food on a flight from DC/Boston to Dublin because they feed you
- the flight from DC/Boston to Dublin is fairly short, so don't expect to sleep much

Anyway...Day #1 will be continued...

 Such a pretty plane!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Have you heard of Bloglovin'?! If not, you're missing out!

Where has this site been all of my life!? No, seriously, I've been blogging or following blogs for years and apparently I have been living in a cave. Not only is this site fantastic for people who WRITE blogs, but it's so convenient for people who READ blogs.

I've heard people compare Bloglovin' to Instagram and I think that's a really nice way to try and explain it:
- you can follow your favorite blog posts all in one place
- you can get suggestions for new blogs or follow certain topics (like travel, for example)
- you have a blog feed and will see "featured posts"
- Bloglovin' takes your interests in mind and helps you customize
- you do not have to worry about setting up emails to follow a blog
- you can follow a blog from any platform
- there's an app (who doesn't love another app!)

I know, right?! It's pretty awesome. So, how do you get this set up, well, here you go:
  2. You can sign up through Facebook (because everything is linked nowadays) or create your own user name and password.
  3.  Start following!
These are your sign up options...pretty simple.

 This is what my feed looks like. You can see my profile in the upper, upper right, then you see in the middle suggestions for blogs I might want to follow, and then my own blog is also on there.

And this is my new platform on Bloglovin' for this blog, Low Stress Traveling - Darling Style. And a big thank you to those of you who have already started following.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

First Time to Ireland? Suggested 2 Week Route

For our trips, Scott and I tend to post something for every day or for specific "legs" of the trip. Because of this we will start out with an overview of our trip schedule for our readers, this way, if you only want the basics of our itinerary and get a good starting point you have that option. After this, we will go into the details of the sites, restaurants, accommodations, and of course, any breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, and meaderies along the way. Trust us, the detail parts are quite informative, and we've been told, quite entertaining, but for now, here is our two week Ireland Honeymoon route:

Day #1: Red eye flight to Dublin (and then a full day in the city center)
  • We prefer red eyes because we do not loose a day traveling, but we take the mindset of whatever time it is, that's what time it is - meaning, none of this "well, it's 8am in Ireland which makes it 3am at home." Yes, it makes for a long day, but we don't go on vacation to sleep.
Day #2: Dublin
  • We were lucky enough to be in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day!
Day #3: Glendalough
  • An hour south of Dublin in the Wicklow Mountains
  • Monastic ruins and cemetery
Day #4: Glendalough
  • Amazing hiking!
Day #5: Kilkenny and Cahir
  • Kilkenny is an hour and a half west from Glendalough
  • Cahir is another hour west of Kilkenny
Day #6: Cahir, Cashel (to see the Rock of Cashel), and Bunratty
  • Cashel is only 18 minutes north of Cahir
  • Bunratty is another hour west of Cashel
  • Ruin and more castles! 
Day #7: Bunratty, Cliffs of Moher, and entering The Burren (and the little town of Lisdoonvarna)
  • Bunratty to the Cliffs of Moher is an hour west all the way to the coast
  • From the Cliffs, Lisdoonvarna is only 15 minutes north up the coast
Day #8: Poulnabrone Dolmen, Caherconnell, and Galway
  • Ancient tombs and ring forts
  • Poulnabrone Dolmen and Caherconnell are 24 minutes from Lisdoonvarna and are right down the road from each other
  • Galway was another hour north up the coast
  • In our opinion, Galway was 10x better than Dublin and we wish we would have started our trip there and even celebrated St. Patrick's Day there (read the upcoming posts for more details).
Day #9: Galway

Day #10: Connemara Scenic Drive, Connemara National Park (and spent the night in the town of Westport)
  • From Galway to Connemara National Park is 1 hour 20 minutes north west
  • Westport is another hour from the park (we did not plan on staying in Westport, but we spent a long time at the park)

Day #11: Driving across the country into Northern Ireland to the Giant's Causeway and Belfast
  • From Westport to the Giant's Causeway was 5 hours (we took a few side roads) and was 100% worth the drive
Day #12: Belfast

Day #13: Back to Dublin
  • Belfast to Dublin is only a two hour drive south
Day #14: Last Day in Dublin and Back on the Plane

To give you an idea, this is the route for day #1 - #10 compliments of Google Maps.

For the end of day #10 - #14 the next leg looped us up and around back to Dublin.

Hopefully the maps give you a better sense of the driving possibilities and let us know if you have any questions about our route!

Also, we are now on Bloglovin' so please follow us! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, January 13, 2017

Packing for a 2-Week, Semi-Planned Ireland Trip

So, I will admit that Scott and I are not light packers. I think the reason is that we (1) always anticipate going places that need different outfits/shoes/etc. and (2) we have enough travel experience to know that it is better to pack extra and not need it, then to not pack enough. The issue with Ireland was that we were planning on visiting places throughout the country, so that meant packing nicer for city centers like Dublin and Belfast, but still with comfortable shoes (which for me was a compromise in itself), and then rougher for when we wanted to go hiking. There was also the weather - we were visiting in March, which, if you live anywhere with seasons, you know that March is the most inconsistent month in the calendar when it comes to predicting weather! So, that meant we had to plan for rain, cold, wind, but also potentially sunny and perfect all in the same suitcase.

We are not fans of paying extra for luggage, so that also meant that our 2-week trip needed to fit into two checked bags, two carry on items, and two personal items. AND we had to anticipate bringing things BACK that we purchased (namely, we had to plan on my husband bringing back empty bottles...side note: we like microbreweries and Scott collects different beer bottles, so I knew an entire carry on bag coming back home would be filled with empty bottles).

So, what this turned into was numerous nicer outfits with layers that fit with one pair of nicer shoes and numerous outdoor outfits with layers that fit with one pair of hiking shoes. "Couple Travel Tip" of the post: We decided that Scott would have his own suitcase limited at 50 lbs and I had my own suitcase limited at 50 lbs, this way one person was not "hogging" too much of a checked bag (yes, this has definitely been an issue in the past because apparently I pack too many shoes). Anyway, by using this system if your suitcase was over, something came out and it was your own decision. Oh, and let me shout out the best purchase ever - REI Digital Luggage Scale! I can pack to 50 lbs like a champ!

Overall, we did not end up packing everything and the carry on and personal items actually turned into "extra bags" for later. We literally packed two empty carry on bags simply to not stress over bringing extra things back and not pay an extra check-bag fee. Scott brought a personal backpack with our bulky sweatshirts and rain jackets and I brought a satchel with my nice camera + lenses. This ended up BEING THE BEST IDEA because we packed the two extra carry-on bags FULL while we were there...

 My husband has said this to me more than a few times... 
What can I say, I like options?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Honeymoon Planning Part 2

So, since we had narrowed down the location to Ireland, the next step was figuring out what we wanted to do. As you can probably guess, this was quite the "challenge" because there is just not enough to do or see in Ireland, right?!? When traveling, Scott and I have the philosophy that we can have a general plan, but if one person wants to see something or the other person wants to go somewhere, the plan can definitely deviate.

We knew we were flying into Dublin and we were renting a car there. We also strategically planned our Honeymoon to arrive in Dublin on March 16th so we could spend St. Patrick's Day in the city centre on the 17th (we thought that would be a good start to our trip)! So, each night we spent some time researching different places to go. We found that simple Google searches for "Top 10 Ireland Must Sees" were effective and gave us a wide range of sites and blogs to read. We also kept track of articles we found in travel magazines and my parents helped cut out things they found as well (I know, so old school). We ended up just creating our own Google Map page and plotting out the different cities, sites, restaurants, pubs, etc. we were interested in visiting and our path started to form.

The general idea was to start in Dublin and stay there for a few days (we thought a "St. Patrick's Recovery Day" was a good idea). From Dublin we would head south into the mountains to enjoy some hiking, and then the plan was to cut across west to the coast to explore The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren. From The Cliffs, we would then go north through some of the coastal towns and then cut northeast all the way into Northern Ireland to The Giant's Causeway. From The Causeway we would drive southeast to Belfast and then south back to Dublin.

Once we had "the route" our "just wing it" attitude really started showing. We decided to plan out the first 5 days and then just "go from there." If we wanted to stay somewhere longer or go one route west, for example, versus another, we would just take each day as it happened...

 So many options...where to start?!