From the initial planning stages through the "welcome home" e-mail, the employees and agents of this travel company were responsive, flexible, thorough, and a pleasure to work with. I, and my other travel companions, recommend them without hesitation.
We were a group of three couples. One of the couples had been to Ireland before; the other couples had not been to the Emerald Isle.
We challenged our contact to prepare an 18 day itinerary that would couple more traditional Irish experiences with some novel ones. Her itinerary did not disappoint. Nor did our guide who, after 18 days together, we consider our grand friend.
With appreciated welcome gifts from our agent in hand and with our guide behind the wheel of a roomy, technology-enabled Mercedes Sprinter touring coach, we began our journey. We were guided to an intimate, informal concert of traditional Irish music performed by recognized master musicians at a music festival in Dingle. At the height of apple blossom season, we met the operator/owner of an old, family farm who has transformed its operations to become an apple distillery, that produces organic hard and soft apple ciders, brandy, syrup, and vinegars. We held baby lambs. We rambled up the steep cliffs of Slieve Liag, traveled by horse-drawn carriage through the Gap of Dunloe, and took in the splendor of its surrounding lakes in a small boat. We explored the Aran Islands, with such perfect planning by our agent and guide that the six of us arrived by plane and had the magnificent cliffs surrounding the ancient Dun Aengus fortress to ourselves before other visitors arrived later in the morning. Although it was too early in the season to attempt the climb up Skellig Michael, we circled the monastic island by boat (and were secretly relieved that we did not have to make its challenging climb!) Each day as we rambled along our guide made the stunning Irish countryside more meaningful by providing relevant Irish history lessons, and he punctuated his pleasant and informative mini-lectures with jokes and songs.
Although the trip was perfectly planned and executed, our guide also displayed an amazing degree of flexibility, as the situation required. He suggested and implemented an impromptu visit to a church cemetery when he learned that a genealogy search by one of our group indicated that she had relatives in a particular County. He stopped the coach at village pharmacies when travelers' sniffles appeared. He changed his own plans when the weather threatened ours. Our guide always delivered a Plan B and often a Plan C, the mark of an experienced and ever-accommodating guide.
Although we were beyond sad to bid goodbye to our agent in Dublin, we were delighted when our agent suggested a morning meeting with the group in our hotel. Her continued interest in the remaining days of our journey were clear: she made restaurant suggestions and offered travel tips for our last days in the city, and she was responsible for the notes that were slid under our doors that suggested a toast to our trip with drinks at the hotel bar with her compliments. The drivers for our airport transports, upon arrival and departure, were unfailingly prompt and courteous. The cherry on top? When we arrived home, we were touched to find e-mails from both our agent and guide, welcoming us home and thanking us for allowing them to host our fabulous trip.
If we took this trip again, we would start with a call to our agent and pray that the guide that she assigned to us could somehow favorably compare with the incomparable guide! And, although we found Ireland's larger cities to be vibrant and their people welcoming, we'd spend even more time on a future trip exploring the unique charms of its towns and hamlets.
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"[Our guide's] nearly encyclopedic knowledge of Ireland made the trip both interesting and informative."
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