Based on my communications with several people going on the tour, is likely you will arrive in Dublin the day before the tour starts. That seems to be what everyone is going. That is a good plan, by the way, as it gives you a day to get acclimated and even see a bit of Dublin before we get started with our tour. In fact, Roben and I plan to get there a day ahead of time as well. We ought to be available to help you get settled, but I wanted to get you a game plan as well.
Everyone on this tour is coming from the US or Canada. Almost all flights from the US and Canada depart in the evening and arrive in Dublin the morning. The best thing you can do to ease your acclimatization is to get some sleep on the flight. This is, for many, easier said than done. Here are some lessons I have learned the hard way:
- Eat before your flight. On many flights I remained awake waiting the free meals they serve. Why? I don’t know. Being cheap I guess and not wanting to pass up a free meal. But you are better served eating at the airport before your flight. Use your time on the flight trying to get some sleep.
- Bring a pillow. The biggest impediment to sleeping on a plane is that you are in an uncomfortable position. You can help this greatly with a pillow of some sort. You can get one of those neck pillows, although personally find them very uncomfortable, but they are easy to take with you. I have seen people go so far as to bring a full-sized pillow. I scoffed at this initially, but then realized that you can get one for about $3 at Target and just toss it after the flight. They have camping pillows you can wad up as well. Whatever works.
- Ambien or other sleep medication. I am a recent convert to this. On my last flight I slept the whole way. It was incredible. I literally took it as we were walking onto the plane, was asleep shortly after takeoff, and didn’t wake until they were serving the little breakfast at the end. I have heard Ambien horror stories, but my experiences have been great.
One other thing, and believe me I learned this one the hard way. You are better off avoiding alcohol. It might help you sleep (but then again it might not) but in any event will hurt more than it will help. Believe me I speak from experience on this one.
Your flight will arrive in Dublin in the morning, sometimes really early. Flights land as early as 6:00 am. All flights from the US and Canada arrive between 6:00 am and 10:00 am. What you will want to do is navigate the airport, get your luggage, and head into central Dublin.
The first thing you will have to do is clear customs. The lines for this can be short or very long, you just never know. You can help yourself by moving briskly from the plane to the customs line. Don’t stop to go to the bathroom or anything like that (do that before the end of the flight if you need to). You don’t need to rush or run, just don’t dally. That will put you ahead of most of the people on your flight, which will help get you through a lot quicker.
Once you do that, just go to the baggage claim and collect your bags. There are signs telling you where to go. There are ATM’s in the baggage claim area. While they will cost you a dollar or two more than other places, it is nice to have some Euros right away. Ultimately, you will exit into the common area. You are now ready to exit the airport and head into central Dublin.
Getting into Central Dublin
Take a cab or Uber from Dublin Airport to your hotel. Cabs run from the airport, just follow the signs. It is easy and we will reimburse you if you go that route. It takes about 25-30 minutes to get into central Dublin, where will all be staying.
Whatever you do, don’t take the airport shuttle. For some reason, airport personnel are absolutely insistent that you should not take a cab, but should instead take the shuttles (buses) that run from the airport every 20-30 minutes. They run into central Dublin and make stops anywhere you are likely to be staying. It costs considerably less than a cab. I have done this, however, and found it a monumental pain. Between waiting for the bus to depart, the slow rate of speed of the bus, and the stops, it takes twice as long as a cab. Just ignore the airport people. Tell them you are a high roller and your time is precious!
I have a separate post on some choices for where to stay here. Of course, this will all be set well before you get to Dublin. I will be booking my hotel very soon and will let you know where we are staying (not that you need to be at the same place). Just let me know where you will be so we can make arrangements for meeting up and such.
You will likely arrive at your hotel well before check-in time. You might get lucky and they will have your room available. More likely, they won’t. In that case, just leave your luggage with the front desk. Just go get something to eat or explore the area until your room is ready.
What to Do
You have a day to spend in Dublin. You might be headed out because you were able to sleep on the plane and you are chomping at the bit to explore this great city. Or you might be dragging and headed out because your room isn’t ready. Either way, here are a few things to make the most of your time.
First of all, I should mention that while Dublin is a very cool city, you won’t find much in the way of can’t miss photographic spots. When you head out today, don’t feel like you need to bring all your camera gear. Just take it in (except for the Old Library after the Book of Kells tour, mentioned below).
With that in mind, here are a few things I would do:
- Trinity College/Book of Kells: This is the top tourist attraction in Ireland. There is an ancient manuscript that is ridiculously detailed on display in Trinity College. It is interesting, but I think the most interesting part is the Old Library you enter immediately after viewing the book. It is also conveniently located at the head of Grafton Street. It is super-photogenic, so bring your camera if you are going here. The picture at the top of this page was taken in that library.
- Grafton Street: This is a pedestrian area full of shops, restaurants, and pubs. It runs between Trinity College and St. Stephens Green. It is variably crowded. It is fun to walk it, watch all the people, and check out the shops. Don’t buy anything you don’t need though, or you will be lugging it around the whole trip.
- Guinness Storehouse: This isn’t an actual brewery, but it is the best beer tour I have ever seen. It culminates in you pouring your own Guinness. You then get to consume it (or not) at the top of the building, which has a great view of Dublin. It isn’t particularly photogenic, but worth going to. I’ve done it twice. It isn’t particularly close to central Dublin so it will likely require a cab ride.
Another idea is to take the hop-on, hop-off bus. If you just mentally rolled your eyes at this though, I get that. These buses are, however, an easy way to see a lot of different things. I’ve heard Scott Kelby say that he always takes them and brings a pocket camera (with GPS) so that he can mark good spots to come back and photograph later.
In the Evening
While Roben and I will be spending that afternoon on tour preparations, that evening we will have a little get-together for anyone that is in Dublin and cares to attend. It will be at a suitable but as yet undetermined pub in central Dublin. I will shoot for Sheehan’s, but won’t have anything definite until the date draws nearer. We will talk briefly about the tour and answer any questions. But mostly we will all just get to know each other a little bit.
After that, we’ll head back to our hotels and get ready for the start of the tour the next day.
The Next Morning: The Tour Begins
Assuming everyone is in Dublin the day before the tour starts, then everyone should be prepared to meet up at 8:00 am in the morning on Sunday. We will load up the vans and head out by 8:30 am. If your hotel isn’t near where I am staying, then we will come get you. We’ll tighten that up as we confirm flights and hotels. The idea is that we get an early start, but not so early that you cannot partake in the hotel breakfast and such.
It is possible that some people will be arriving the morning of the tour. In that case, we will adjust that timetable, as we will have to go get them. We will let you know about that.
Things may be a little hectic in Dublin. We will all be getting in, we will be staying at different places, and Dublin is very crowded. Once we get started with the tour, however, and we get out of Dublin, then things will calm down considerably. You’ll feel the pace slow down as we get into the countryside. You can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Hopefully this gets you comfortable with logistics for your arrival. If you have any questions or need additional information, just let me know. In the meantime, we will be planning the remainder of the trip and we will get your more information as we get things booked.