some folks have inquired how we have been able to travel to ireland and scotland like we have. it's because of using groupon.
i know the first time i tried this, i was little skeptical - fly to ireland, have a rental car for 6 days and stay in really nice hotels - what the catch? all for $799 / person from chicago! really? Our challenge was to get to chicago ohare. i'm not cheap but at the same time, i hate to pay baggage fees. we typically fly southwest into midway, take the EL (city train) for $6.00 to Ohare. Again, you have to plan this out as it takes about 75 minutes to get from one airport to the other. - same coming back. it's not rocket science, but does take some planning on our part. so far, we have not had any problems. i guess we could fly into ohare but at extra $100.00 for bags (2 x 25 each way) i'll take the EL and enjoy the sights of chicago.
we also travel in the off season - feb/mar/april or late fall - oct/nov - granted some things are closed but you get better deals and a lot of the places you can walk around the grounds for free as they are closed.
so took a chance and it was great. groupon works with great value vacations. from what i can see, this is a good pairing. don't think you can get a better deal direct with them.
Our second trip to ireland was hotel based and all the hotels were already picked - number of nights and location - we just had to be there to check in and check out. we didn't worry about breakfast at the hotels, having lived in germany for 10 years, we were used to going out and getting breakfast at the local bakery / fruit stands. much cheaper. we would also pick up some lunch meat or already made sandwiches for lunch. dinner we usually went looking for a small restaurant that looked busy.
Our third trip was using B & Bs. This one we had to plan out a litle bit. where did we want to stay. i will say that traveling in off season can limit you on your choice of B&Bs. But you also typically are the only ones there.
This last trip to scotland, we had to pick our B&Bs and then have the tourist group make our reservation for us. little different, but again, just some planning on our part. you do have the option of "upgrading" your room but can't imagine why - you need a bed, a toilet and shower - you are not living there - just a place for the night. everyone that we have stayed at - both in scotland and ireland - the standard fare rooms have been excellent. can't imagine what an upgrade would get us.
finally did i like scotland or ireland better? - ireland is more green year round. it's not as rugged as scotland. scotland had some pretty tall mountains - by their standards - and were snow capped in march. in fact we drove in snow most of our last two days across the mountain passes. each has their differences and to be honest would go back to either. what helps in both countries is we have friends there - irealnd is where boston (former guidant) is located in galway, clonmel and cork. i know folks at all the plants. we also have friends with the scouts there. In scotland, we have friends there as well from scouting days - they brought a group of venture scouts over and some stayed at our house.
we enjoyed both - and there is still so much to seee in both. we have been to ireland 4 times and scotland once. the irish are and continue to be the frinedlist people i have met with scottish folks a close 2nd.