As I noted in the introduction, getting to Ireland didn’t cost us an arm and a leg – AND we got to fly in business class on Aer Lingus using British Airways Avios. This was very important to me because I needed some rest because we were planning to rent a car and drive a few hours the first day in Ireland. As with most transatlantic flights to Europe, the flight was a redeye and I needed some rest. Once we landed, we visited some amazing natural sights, the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, and then drove south to our hotel in Killarney by way of ferry. Air, land, and sea, all in a day!
Aer Lingus business class, BOS to SNN
We arrived at about 6 PM for our 720 PM flight to Shannon. There were only two Aer Lingus flights out of Logan that night, so the check in counter was pretty empty when we got there. Guess nobody leaves things late like we do! Anyway, we checked in pretty quickly and then went to the Aer Lingus Gold Circle lounge to kill some time before the flight. It was pretty whatever, though I did score some Lay’s potato chips. Yay.
After we boarded our flights and settled in our seats (2A and 2C), we were off and on our way pretty quickly (though I did manage to down half a glass of champagne before we took off). Since the flight is only 5 hours, the flight attendants got to work quickly serving dinner. I finished my appetizer and main course about an hour and a half through the flight, and decided to skip dessert so I could get some rest. Although the seat isn’t a fully lie flat bed, the angle didn’t bother me too much. I wasn’t super tired, but managed to get about two and a half hours of on again/off again sleep before I woke up as we were beginning our initial descent. Before I knew it, we were on the ground in Shannon and I was at the car rental agency! The first leg of our journey was over. As we were getting off the flight, my wife aka the Points Hater told me “I guess those business class seats were fairly comfortable.” Geez, you do realize we could have flown coach, right? What a monster I’ve created! (I’m exaggerating – though it was funny.)
Driving to the Cliffs of Moher
It was still dark when we landed, which was weird. I went to go rent the car and was told that Visa and AMEX don’t cover collision damage waiver in Ireland (they don’t, as far as I can tell). So, I sucked it up and paid an extra 17 euros a day for the CDW because I was paranoid about driving on the other side of the road. After we rented the car, we loaded it up and then…took a one hour nap.
When we came to, the sun was STILL not up (but it was getting light). I drove about an hour to the Cliffs of Moher, and decided that driving on the other side of the road is WEIRD, especially when driving a manual car. I couldn’t find my mirrors or blind spots, but luckily, it was still quite early so the roads were pretty empty. We got to the Cliffs of Moher before it was even open, which means we got into the parking lot for free. When they closed the gate to the lot and an attendant got into the booth, I walked over to go pay, but he said I didn’t have to, and it was “a perk of being an early bird.” Sweet!
Anyway, the Cliffs of Moher is an amazing natural spectacle. It’s basically Cliffs that have been cut out by the ocean over thousands of years, making quite a dramatic impression. Pictures are better than words.
The Burren is this crazy geologically formed area near the Cliffs of Moher. We drove through it to take in some of the weird features next. I’ll let wikipedia explain the science: “The rolling hills of Burren are composed of limestone pavements with criss-crossing cracks known as “grikes”, leaving isolated rocks called “clints”. The region supports arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants side-by-side, due to the unusual environment”. Gotta love Wikipedia.
While driving through the Burren we were treated to some amazing views and we got to see a prehistoric burial ground. It was also just a nice scenic drive in general, and quite a contrast to the Cliffs, while impressive in its own right.
After stopping by a local pub to chow down on some Guiness beef stew, we were tired and needed to make our way to Killarney, which was two hours away. I decided it’d be best to take a ferry across the Shannon estuary rather than drive all the way around it, and that we could take a nap while waiting. I stopped in the ferry line and we took a nap there. My wife asked me if we needed to set an alarm, and I said no because I figured someone would honk us so we wouldn’t hold up the line. Turns out Irish people are way nicer than even I expected, because we woke up about a minute before the ferry left in an empty line – everyone went around us! After a nice ferry ride, we arrived at our hotel where I proceeded to take a picture of my Aer Lingus amenity kit and the points hater promptly proceeded to make fun of me.
We decided to eat at Bricin, an atmospheric restaurant within walking distance from our hotel. I had some Murphy’s Irish Stout with dinner – they don’t serve Guiness the closer you get to Cork! I had a boxty, which is a potato pancake filled with savory stuff, which in my case was a lamb stew. It was as good as it sounds. The wife just had some fish cakes and we both chowed down on sticky pudding for dessert. The food and service were great, and the manager (or owner, I couldn’t tell), struck up a conversation with us and gave us some CLUTCH advice about our plans for the next day, which I’ll get to in the next post. His name was – I kid you not – Johnny O’Quinn. He was a great guy and his kindness and hospitality felt sincere – I liked that. Anyway, after that satisfying meal, our long day was over and it was time for some well deserved rest.
That was it for day 1! Up next, Dingle…An Daingean!