MY daughter, Aby, has been planning a long trip to Europe with a fellow nursing colleague for the past 18 months.
With the astute guidance of my wife, who did a two year stint as a travel agent, the entire six week journey is now locked and loaded.
After flying into Heathrow next month Aby will grab a 90 minute Aer Lingus flight over to Dublin to begin her once in a lifetime holiday.
Having spent a week driving around the southern villages of Ireland I believe it’s the best possible place to step off for a European vacation.
The Irish are fun loving people and like Aussies they love a chat. If you get lost you can always pull over and ask for directions, the only issue is you may not be able to decipher exactly what they are saying.
Dublin is a great city to explore and the best way to do it is on a walking tour which leaves mid-morning most days from Barnardo Square in the centre of the CBD.
Knowledgeable young University students lead the tours and the cost is totally up to you with a tip to your guide at the end of the walk.
The tour meanders through the streets and takes you down to the Temple Bar district where the Irish pubs on every corner become the pubs next door to each other.
Many bands such as U2 made their big debuts in this area and up and coming groups are always scrambling to play there.
Our tour guide told us that after a young U2 won a band competition at Temple Bar they were refused entry to the Clarence Hotel across the road because they were under age.
“An upset Bono told the bouncer that one day he’d come back and buy the pub, and he did,” the guide said.
Like all good Irish stories, it may not rely on a lot of facts, but Bono did buy the pub.
There are plenty of grand old hotels to stay at in Dublin and it’s the perfect stepping off point for a drive around the Emerald Isle.
On a map the next townships don’t look too far away, but windy roads and traffic means it’s best to choose your route carefully.
The last thing you want to do is to be driving for hours.
I recommend staying south and going to places such as the Cliffs of Moher which is a four hour drive via Limerick.
Kilkenny, Galway, and Cork are good to put on your itinerary and there are plenty of stop-offs along the way to visit castles.
Some even offer accommodation, although that’s not in the daughter’s budget, but it may just be in yours.
Ireland offers history, friendly people and is an easy country to get started in before you fly over to places like Paris where getting a smile or maybe a hello from a local is not that easy.