Friday, September 12, 2014

Some Practical Matters

Traveling does entail its own logistical challenges—especially for those of us who travel to research our destination after we arrive there. The nature of our research journey to Ireland this October is two-fold: first, to head to the rural areas where my husband’s Irish immigrant family originated; then, to attend to a concentrated week of research in the libraries and archives of Dublin.

Although I’m set when it comes to the Dublin library work—hotel, days’ activities and most meals are already arranged—in the preceding two weeks, we will be free to follow our noses, search and find, then search some more, as we drive from one tiny town to another, seeking our Irish roots on the west side of the island. There is a lot of planning yet to do, regarding the mundane details of where to stay, where to eat, who to meet. And yet, there is the need for the freedom to pick up and head in a different direction or mode if a lead is uncovered that warrants the flexibility.

Planning—or anti-planning—for those first two weeks will be a world away from the preparation for a week’s worth of wading through books and microfilm. After all, one solid week of this trip will be spent inside. Inside some rather sizeable buildings, admittedly, but inside.

Yes, think about it: I’m heading to a library. Who cares what the weather will be like? The more pertinent question will be: Does Dublin prefer the east coast mode of freezing-cold-winters-equals-cranking-the-indoor-temperature-unbearably-high? Or are they more like our laid back west coast style, environmentally friendly yet freezing their residents…while they are indoors? I know what the Scots would do (courtesy of my sister, whose daughter currently attends college in Scotland). But how about those Irish?

As I write about such weather quandaries, I’m heading into a day predicted to reach ninety eight degrees. In comparison, the residents of Cork—our center of operation for those first two weeks in Ireland—are well on their way towards a balmy sixty eight degree high this afternoon. Just add rain and these numbers are sure to plummet. This may take some adjustment.

I wouldn’t need to trouble myself over such pesky creature comforts if it weren’t for the trivial matter of packing my measly fifty-pound-limited suitcase. And leaving spare room for shopping. Not to mention, lugging around those items someone neglected to bring with her at her departure from the homeland five weeks ago.

Oh, did I mention books? Laptop? Notebooks? Records? There may not be much room for clothing. I believe I will be opting for the layered look—same outfit repeated ad nauseam minus one item for warmer weather, plus one for misery rain.

Then there is that creature comfort known as sleep. Face it: everybody has to do it at some time or another. If I can’t manage to do it during the flight, it will be Despicable Me making the grand entrance at the Dublin airport. I know; I did it once before in Frankfurt. It will not be pretty. Regardless, if I want a place to lay my head that night, I have to decide now: immediately travel the extra three hours it will take to get from the airport to the train station, then to Cork? Or stop off in Dublin and catch up on sleep right away? Who knows what I’ll feel like when I get there. But there is this sticky little detail called reservations standing in the way of my free spirit.

Which brings up another point: where to sleep. If we opt for wimping out in Dublin, I know exactly where to stay: the same place our daughter stopped at on her way to Cork. The staff there was quite accommodating of her jet lag, and it made the perfect stopover for someone who intended to do nothing else while there than sleep.

But the rest of the way? I’m still pondering over the possibilities of quaint local bed and breakfast versus stodgy old American-style corporate cookie-cutter hotel. While the former sounds quite charming, I know how a night on “charming” can feel. We do, after all, have B&Bs here in America.

There are, of course, other options. We could stay in a castle. We just might stay in a castle. As for hostels, well, think again. I think I’ve outgrown my college travel-the-world bravado.

What helps with the hotel planning is my secret other identity as frequent-flier-mileage queen. (Although, admittedly, I can’t top this.) For many of our stops, we will be “limited” to the facilities included on our airlines frequent flier program. But that won’t stop us from using them for stays in the cities, and selecting other options when we begin exploration of our ancestral turf.

Which brings me back to the question: Hotel? B&B? Or castle?

That is the question.

 Above: Sketch of the Vice-Regal Lodge in Dublin, circa 1831, by Irish artist George Petrie; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Oh, B&B, of course -- Ireland is supposedly much more the B&B country than a hotel country. Or so I've heard. I'd put money on your running into a proprietor who is a Falvey, Tully, or Malloy cousin.

    1. My heart is with you, Wendy. And funny you should mention that idea of running into a proprietor. I have a post coming up for that...

  2. I've stayed in B&Bs, Hotels, and on a boat on the River Shannon for two weeks. The boat thing isn't going to work for you!

    Just so you know - energy costs in Ireland are high, so even in June (it is nearly always cool in Ireland) it was hard to get/stay warm. B&B were not heated to the degree Americans would expect, and the water for showers was only "warmish" and very limited. I was warm in some of them, only under the blankets in bed.

    Furthermore, the streets wander here and there (grid patterns are rare) so B&Bs were hard to locate (there are lots of them, just finding the one you have a reservation for might be challenging) and if you go out for a walk - make double sure you know how to get back, and remember the name and address of the place if you have to ask someone!!) I got royally lost one night, took 4 hours to re-find the place.

    Hotels on the other hand were always warm, easy to find, and had lots of hot water. But didn't have the same "get to know the natives" charm.

    1. Glad to hear from someone who's been there. You know me well enough, Iggy, to have figured out the boat option is not my kind of overnight experience. It doesn't matter that I grew up on an island and am no stranger to being on the just wouldn't work.

      Now, as far as temperatures go, I guess I have a lot more Scottish blood speaking loud and clear in me than I thought: I am not one of those Americans accustomed to over-heated buildings. I think I'd find no problem with the B&B temps--at least, not for the night or two I'd like to try the experience. We can always retreat to an American-style hotel the next night.

      Funny you should mention the streets. My daughter found, now having wandered the streets of both Dublin and Cork, that there are many alleyways that evidently confound the GPS system resident on her phone. Your suggestion is well taken. We are forewarned. Thanks for the heads-up!

  3. No matter what you choose, you're going to have such an amazing time, Jacqi! You can always mix it up--a B&B here, a hotel there. And I'd definitely go for the castle once, just to say you did it. Of course, when you look back on this trip, visiting your daughter is bound to be one of the highlights :) Have fun making your final plans!

  4. Yes I vote Castle for at least one night! You could always wear layer after layer on the plane and then unpack off your body once you have more room after you drop off you know whose stuff they forgot. Perhaps they have thrift stores in Ireland where you can pick up a sweater or a jacket:)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...