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Our trip to Harry Potter Studios outside London, England
and the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
March 11-24, 2014

Hogwarts Castle at Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden, outside London, England:

I have received many notes from strangers who have read our travelogues and used them to plan their own trips. If you are one of these people, know that we really love hearing from you and are gratified that you enjoy these webpages as much as we do.

Keep in mind, though, that I create these travelogues primarily to help US. They remind us what we did when, who we met, and what we would do differently next time, so they are full of things that most people don’t care about. They are personal, and that personalization might help make your trip a better one, but it makes for some very, very long webpages….

We came home with 500 pictures from which 152 were chosen.

I put these travelogues up as quickly as possible after we get back. I’m SURE there are grammatical and spelling errors all over the place. I correct them as I find them but if YOU find any, please let me know! If you find any broken links, please let me know that, too.

The web page was developed in Mozilla FIREFOX. If you use a different browser, it will not look as intended.

This travelogue is very long. If you prefer to read it in smaller pieces here are links to daily pages (they are repeated at the end of each page as well). A new window will NOT open.

Page 01: Tue – Prep and Travel to London.
Page 02: Wed – Thames, Tower of London, Gilray’s Bar.
Page 03: Thu – Harry Potter Studio, Giraffe.
Page 04: Fri – Kensington Palace, Mint Leaf.
Page 05: Sat – Fly to Shannon, Drive to Dingle.
Original, all-on-one-page version.

Press here to return to personal picture menu.


Again, I apologize for the minutia that most people will find irrelevant; but, because we use these logs to plan our future trips, I record everything that might come in handy later. Everything! A picture might be worth a thousand words but there are some things they can’t convey, like the fact that if you order "bacon" in Ireland you will get what Americans call "ham" or Canadian bacon, which comes from the loin (back) area of the pig, whereas traditional American bacon is made from pork belly and is called "streaky bacon" in Ireland

Another tidbit a photo can’t convey is that if you want half-and-half with your coffee, you will have to ask for "full cream" or you will get milk. If those distinctions aren’t important to you, skip the commentary.

Booking our travel

This year was different: KC has a new job and this will be the last year we’ll be able to travel using miles and points.

KC’s new job required him to be in town during the time of year that we normally visit Dingle so we moved our trip to March. American Airlines doesn’t fly a big plane into Ireland until the middle of April (and we like the business class seats on the bigger plane) so we decided to fly into London, spend a few days there to see the Harry Potter Studio exhibit, and then fly to Shannon.

Given that this was the last year we’d be able to travel using miles and points, we thought long and hard over whom to invite along with us. My sister, Linda, has not had a vacation since she had kids so we offered to take her with us. She was worried about leaving her daughter, Dani, home alone while she was gone; plus, Dani is a bigger Harry Potter fan than I am; so Linda paid for Dani’s ticket and we used AA miles for Linda’s. Using KC’s Marriott points, we booked two rooms at the Marriott County Hall, our favorite hotel in London.

We booked our trip for March 11-24. KC and I would fly to Chicago and meet Linda and Dani there for the flight to London. Rather than follow us to Dingle, though, Linda and Dani decided to go on to Paris, France. Dani is studying French and Linda has always loved the city. So, we spent three days together in London and then split up. I haven’t travelled with Linda since I married KC and I was really looking forward to this trip. My sister is great fun to travel with, and so is her daughter!

As usual, we booked our seats in coach and requested system upgrades for Business class.

Pre-Travel Preparations

Please see last year’s travelogue for details on my normal pre-travel preparations. Last fall, we moved our household halfway across the country and I am still unpacking and getting settled in the new house; so, this year, I decided to travel light. All I brought with me were my smoothie packets, supplements, nuts, chocolate and some US Wellness Meats extra-spicy beef sticks

We took all three suitcases because we needed clothes for two different climates – walking around the city in London, and hiking the Irish countryside. We’ve never been to Ireland at this time of year and thought it might be colder and wetter than in the past. I took my Baggallini A la Carte Bagg inside the Tumi Just-In-Case Tote . I brought two Acme ReUseIt bags and the larger Herve Chapelier tote for shopping in Dingle.

Unfortunately, I left packing until the last minute and I was up all night distributing everything between the two checked bags. I do NOT trust the airlines to get my bags to their destination, especially when we don’t have a direct flight, and I pack so that we can manage if only one bag makes it. I will also not pack anything in the checked bags that cannot be replaced. I hate packing.

Travel to London

Tuesday, March 11

We left the house at 11:30am, arrived at Boston’s Logan airport about an hour later, and used curbside check-in. There was no-one in the line at security; and, for once, I breezed through. We had almost two hours to kill and neither of us had had breakfast so we stopped at the food court where KC had a breakfast burrito and I took my supplements with some nuts and chocolate. We spent the rest of the time at the Admiral’s Club (KC’s membership had expired so we re-upped) watching planes land and take off. It was a beautiful sunny day. The flight to O’Hare was uneventful and Linda and Dani met us at our gate. The adventure had begun!

Admiral’s Club at Chicago’s O’Hare airport:

We went up to the Admiral’s Club to pass the next THREE HOURS! Thankfully, the chairs in this lounge are much more comfortable than the ones in the Flagship Lounge. KC had a beer, Linda and I had a latte from the nifty new machine they now have, and we nibbled on the things they offer for free – cheese, crackers, snack mix. I was getting a migraine and was hoping the coffee would abort it.

Linda and Dani boarding:

At 6:55 we walked down to the gate. KC and I boarded first and I was able to get a shot of Linda and Dani walking past us. We settled in and were pleased when the FEMALE captain announced that we would be on our way shortly. There was a snowstorm forecast for O’Hare and we were glad to be leaving before it started.

We pulled away from the gate and jerked to a stop. Huh? What was going on? The captain announced that the tug had malfunctioned and was unable to either push or pull us so we had to wait for another one. Ten minutes later she told us that the tug operator had overturned the front wheel and that it would need to be inspected before we could depart. They towed us back to the gate, did the inspection, and we FINALLY left, over an hour late. We found out later that O’Hare got 8 inches of snow that night.

AA Business Class Dinner menu for outbound flight between Chicago and London:

The food on American has improved since last year. They offered us champagne and orange juice on boarding, and the nuts were warm but there were still no pistachios or pecans. I forgot to take a picture of the nuts so when she came by with seconds I accepted. After finishing the second bowl my migraine, which had abated slightly, returned with a vengeance so I took a Maxalt.

For dinner, KC had the filet and I had the haddock. The salad was fresh and the appetizer – thai chicken breast – was moist and tasty. KC raved about his dinner which, he said, was cooked to perfection; and my fish was also very good. I passed on dessert but KC indulged a sundae.

I checked the inflight entertainment and, although they were offering both The Hobbit:Smaug and a few episodes of Big Bang Theory, I figured I could watch them on our way back. I fell asleep right after dinner and slept soundly, thanks to the Maxalt, until breakfast was served – a cheese omelet. KC slept fitfully. Linda and Dani said they didn’t sleep at all even though they each had two seats to themselves.

Cheese omelet for breakfast:

Although the service has improved considerably the announcements were as bad as before - poorly worded and delivered with large pauses while the speaker decided what she was going to say. Yes, AA, it makes a difference when your flight attendants are inarticulate.

Our route:

London – Thames Cruise and the Tower of London

Tower of London

Wednesday, March 12

We landed on time and there were only a few people ahead of us in passport control. Our bags came out quickly, we got some Brittish pounds from the ATM, and we were in a cab before we knew it, making our way to the Marriott County Hall.

Dani in the cab:

The cab was small so Dani sat on the jump seat and the three adults squeezed into the bench. We drove past the Museum of Natural History (what a gorgeous building) and Big Ben to the Marriott County Hall right by the London Eye. It was around 11 am. They gave us both king size rooms with a view of the Thames, Big Ben, and the London Eye. The windows in our rooms were so big you could stand in them, which Dani and KC did!

Dani in the window at the hotel (Dani studies dance):

Our room:

Linda’s room wasn’t ready yet so we left the bags in our room and went for a stroll along the Thames. When we passed the ticket office for the ferry we inquired whether they went as far as the Tower of London and, when they said they did, we booked passage on the next boat, leaving in 20 minutes. We gawked at the street performers along the Thames until it was time to board.

The weather was beautiful so we went to the upper deck. The commentary was informative but it was hard to hear when you were standing at the rear.

Ferry to the Tower of London:

Marriot County Hall, London Bridge, Traitor’s Gate, Tower of London:

Twenty minutes later we disembarked at the Tower.

Here is the description from Wikipedia: The Tower of London has become established as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. It has been a tourist attraction since at least the Elizabethan period, when it was one of the sights of London that foreign visitors wrote about. Its most popular attractions were the Royal Menagerie and displays of armour. The Crown Jewels also garner much interest, and have been on public display since 1669. In the 21st century tourism is the Tower's primary role, the remaining routine military activities, under the Royal Logistic Corps, having wound down in the latter half of the century and moved out of the castle.[134] However, the Tower is still home to the ceremonial regimental headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, and the museum dedicated to it and its predecessor, the Royal Fusiliers.[136][137] Also, a detachment of the unit providing the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace still mounts a guard at the Tower, and with the Yeomen Warders, takes part in the Ceremony of the Keys each day.[138] At least six ravens are kept at the Tower at all times, in accordance with the belief that if they are absent, the kingdom will fall.[149] They are under the care of the Yeomen Warders.

We headed towards the crown jewels stopping at the torture chamber and armory along the way. The torture chamber was small and uninteresting but the armory was fascinating – so many different types of armor, many of which were encrusted with gold. There was one display with a suit for both a giant and a dwarf.


Outside the armory was the cage where the ravens are kept – what gorgeous birds! They’re huge! At least 18” from tip to tail with great beaks.

Outside the Crown Jewels was a lawn where two ravens were ‘on display’. We watched while one waddled/hopped over to the other and then had a ‘conversation’. Perhaps they were discussing the meal they were about to eat – a guy suddenly appeared with a metal tray and tossed them what looked like chicken parts. One of the ravens went right up to him to get its share, the other waited for the food to be tossed its way.

Around the perimeter of the raven’s lawn were some odd looking trees. I asked the guards what they were and he said they were London Plains. They had been pruned to enable people to see the tower.

Ravens and London Plains:

The Crown Jewels were much more impressive than I remembered. Perhaps the last time I saw them, 20 years ago, I didn’t realize how rare a hundred-carat diamond is. This time, I was blown away. There isn’t much you can do with a stone that size besides put it in a crown or scepter, so it’s a pretty useless stone, but they were beautiful. The huge rubies and sapphires, however, weren’t as impressive as the diamonds because the colors weren’t that vibrant. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow pictures.

On our way out we passed some guards putting on a small display.

Ceremony of the Keys?:

We were hungry now. Right outside the tower was a pub with a provocative name: The Hung, Drawn and Quartered. There was an open table so we stayed for a late lunch/early dinner. We perused the menu and waited for someone to serve us. And waited and waited and waited. When we saw a couple bring their drinks from the bar followed shortly by their food we realized we needed to place our order with the barman.

The legal drinking age in London is 16 so Dani had her first legal beer. She tasted the one Linda ordered, a delicious honey ale, and then KC took her to the bar to taste the others they were offering. The barman was accommodating and gave her a little bit of each one. She chose a Fuller’s London ale.

Dani’s first legal drink, a Fuller’s London Ale:

I ordered fried calamari and it was very tender but it wasn’t as tasty as Niall’s. Linda thought her fried haddock was fishy. KC inhaled the appetizer platter laden with scotch eggs, bbq’d ribs, chips and chicken skewers.

I was taking a Maxalt every 8 hours.

We walked back to the hotel, unpacked a little, and then met in the hotel bar, Gilray’s, to settle up. We never settled up but we did have some cocktails – Linda and KC had the warm drink that was delicious, I had a cucumber mint elderflower concoction, and Dani had a Pimm’s cup.

We ordered some appetizers – triple fried chips, spinach dip, and crab cakes - that were measly and uninspiring which surprised me – the last time we were here the food was delicious and copious. The crab cakes were mostly crab, which was nice, but they were tiny and there is no way those chips were triple fried – they were way too light and not crisp at all.

We asked for the dinner menu from the restaurant next door but they wouldn’t let us order from it. So, we ordered the truffle chips and some cheese yorkies. The truffle chips were better than the triple fried but the yorkies were a disappointment – huge Yorkshire puddings filled with a minuscule amount of cheese.

Cocktails in the hotel bar:

We were all tired so we went back to our rooms, asked for 6am wake-up calls, and hit the hay. It was around 10pm.

London – Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Thursday, March 13

We met in the dining room at 6:30am. I had salmon benedict, everyone else had the buffet. Mine was delicious and £14, theirs was £17 for a measly amount of food!

Breakfast in the hotel dining room:

We took a cab to the bus depot and then waited in the cold for the bus to open its doors. The ride there was uneventful, about 1 hour long. Outside the studio are a few of the giant chessmen, to keep you occupied while you wait for the doors to open. We arrived at 9:15, the doors opened at 9:45 into the main lobby where the souvenir shop is, and they let us into tour at 10:00. They cautioned us that we had to take the same bus back, and ours left at 1:15 giving us a little over three hours. Three hours 15 minutes is NOT enough time to see the whole exhibit!

Getting there:

We had done our research so, as soon as we got inside, Linda and Dani went into the shop and found the photo-op for the Quibbler while I hit the head. You really need to have your Quibbler picture taken when you arrive or the lines will be too long and you’ll miss your bus back.

At 10:00 we started the “tour”.

The first thing you see when you enter the studio is the great hall and it’s pretty impressive. The floor is genuine slate, made to survive filming all 7 movies.

Great Hall:

From there you go into the room with the indoor sets. This is where you can have your picture taken in the flying car and/or on a broomstick. KC and I did the car and it was a riot; Dani did the broomstick and it was one of the best pics they’ve taken – they put it up on the board above the cashiers where you pay.

There is SO MUCH TO SEE in this area, and so much to read, too, as every set has several placards and/or TVs providing relevant information. Somehow, set my camera on “square” and missed a lot of detail. I guess I’ll have to go back….

Indoor Sets and Costumes:

From here you go to the outdoor sets area where you have an opportunity to try butterbeer.


From there you go to the creature and prosthetics room which might be the best part of the exhibit; but, by now, you are running out of time and have to rush through it. I took lots of pictures in here, especially of the costumes, but many of them have weird reflections and/or muggles in them so I wouldn’t say they’re good pix.

Creatures and Prosthetics:

The creature room leads to Diagon Alley, the least interesting part of the tour for me. It’s better than the one at Wizarding World in Orlando, FL where I went with Dani in 2011, because the streets are the right width, but you can’t go into the stores, you can only look at the storefronts. The street is always full of muggles so the effect is lost.

Diagon Alley:

The next area is the models and wall art, and they are amazingly beautiful, but taking pictures was again very difficult.

Models and paintings:

You finish with a 1/10 scale model of the entire castle in a room of its own with lighting that cycles from daytime to nighttime and back. You’re able to walk around the whole thing and see the castle from every angle. VERY impressive!

Hogwarts 1/10 scale model:

From there, you rush through the store in order to make the return bus ride. As thee few pictures illustrate, there is SO MUCH to see there you really need to go alone, not with a tour, so you can spend as much time as necessary. Or, the tours need to offer a longer option. I would have liked AT LEAST ANOTHER 2 HOURS.

KC and I both fell asleep on the ride home, and Dani noticed that there were 13 nodding heads on the upper level. The bus is warm, it sways gently, and we were tired from being on our feet for almost 4 hours, so I was not surprised.

When we got back to London, we walked through the park – there were so many unusual birds there - and caught the changing of the horse guard. It’s amazing to me that they go about this in the middle of normal traffic.

Birds in the Park:

Changing of the Horse Guard:

As we made our way back to the hotel, we crossed over a field and saw another group of guards about to exit. While we were waiting for them to come out, I walked under the arches to see if the riders would tell me how much longer we’d have to wait. The guard, who had been posing for pictures, suddenly noticed me and came running towards me shouting, “Exit the Arches!” Exit I did, in a hurry!

Exiting the Arches:

We made it back to the hotel, dead tired, and agreed to meet in the cocktail bar, Gilray’s, , for a preprandial drink to discus our dinner options – gin & tonic for kc, basil and blood orange for me

Cocktails in Gilray’s, :

We decided to walk along the river and find a place with ambiance. This proved to be impossible – there was only one café within walking distance (we were really tired) and it was packed – so we ended up at the Giraffe which had a nice view of the river and reasonably priced uncomplicated food.

I ordered cod but it came with the skin so I traded it for grilled salmon and veggies which was delicious (the waitress had assured me it was skinless before I ordered and readily made the swap). KC had grilled sirloin, Linda had chicken salad, Dani had a huge burger with bacon, lettuce and avocado. We shared a pot sticker appetizer and Tiramisu for dessert. .

Dinner at Giraffe:

By the time we finished, it was too late to do the London Eye, the ticket office closed at 9:00pm. It would have been nice to do it at night. The walk home was uneventful and we fell into bed around 11pm.

Big Ben at night:

London – Kensington Palace, Fortnum and Mason, and dinner at Mint Leaf

Kensington Palace

Friday, March 14

We decided to do Kensington Palace today because there was a costume display Linda and I wanted to see. KC did NOT want to see that so we split up – KC went his own way (more on that later) and Dani came with Linda and I.

We had some trouble finding the entrance. Here’s a picture of Dani in front of an elaborate gate on our way there.

Kensington palace:

Unfortunately, the costume display was meager – maybe 10 dressses in all and they were all more recent, not the historic ones I’m more interested in; but, I did learn that Princess Margaret was a fashion icon in her day and hung out with the likes of Andy Warhole and Yves St. Laurent. There were a few of Diana’s dresses there but not the iconic ones. The royal robes and wedding dresses shown on their website were not on display. I took only one photo, of some handmade lace.


King’s apartments were mostly art, and an impressive coronation robe. The dial positioned over the fireplace is still connected to a wind-vane on the roof so that the King could see which way the wind was blowing, where his navy was likely to be heading, and when the posts were likely to arrive. Created for King William III, it is still (amazingly) in working order. The grand staircase was being refurbished so all we saw were the stairs.

Kings apartments:

The most interesting aspect of Queen Victoria’s “Revealed” display was that you saw how tiny she was. There were many exhibts showing how she was raised, her interests, and her relationship with Albert. You can read about them here

Queens apartments:

Although this wasn’t part of the display, on the Kensington Palace website is a link to pictures of a fancy dress ball given in honor of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. The guests all dressed in ‘historic’ costumes, like Cleopatra, Josephine, Joan of Arc, Titania, and SirThomas Moore!

When we purchased our entrance tickets I foud they were offering a “Georgian Dining Protcol” tour, which I really wanted to do, so we timed our visit to the apartments to enable me to attend. Neither Linda nor Dani were interested. We went down to the café and gift shop. Linda shopped (I bought small ornament and lace mask), Dani had a coffee, and then the two of them waited in the café while I went for the Georgian Dining Protocol ‘tour’. Now, THAT was worth it! What a fascinating tour! I don’t have any pictures, because it was a lecture, but here’s what I learned:

‘Dinner’ was served at 2pm and lasted for 3 hours. It was observed by whoever was dressed well enough to be allowed in to watch. The observers were seated on risers around the family’s dining table. Can you imagine eating with 100 people gawking and remarking on your every move?

Foodwise…the first remove was 20 light courses – meats at one end for the men, veg and soup at the other end for the women. Women were not allowed to reach, they had to eat only what was in front of them.

The second remove was 20 heavier courses, like puddings, and included the piéce de resistance, an architectural marvel (piéce) for which you resisted eating too much of the first remove.

The third remove was fruit and cheese.

The people observing then left and reported on things like changes in the king’s diet.

Ladies “promiscuous” dining was where the women were interspersed with the men - male-female-male-female – so the men could assist the women to put meats onto their plates. Were the women so frail they could manage a slice of beef? LOL!

When we left the palace, we had a disagreement as to what we would do next. Dani wanted to go shopping – by herself but with Linda’s credit card. Linda was NOT in favor of this, understandably. We ultimately left Dani on ??? street, without the credit card, but with the phone recharger, and exacted a promise that she would meet us at Fortnum and Mason for tea at 2pm. Linda and I decided to walk there.

We left Dani here:

Linda and I actually had a really good time, looking at the weird shop windows and stopping for a gelato on the way, at Caffé Concerto. We did worry that Dani wouldn’t be able to make her way back….

Walk to Fortnum and Mason:

When we got to Fortnum and Mason, it was under construction. It seems like everything was this trip. We waited for Dani, called her repeatedly with no answer, and finally decided she wasn’t coming and that we shouldn’t let that ruin our afternoon. I really wanted to experience tea in the Diamond Jubilee Salon but I wasn’t dressed for it. They took one look at my hiking boots and shook their heads! That might have been a good thing, because it was £44.00 per person, or around $80. So…we ate in the Fountain Room.

Linda ordered a rarebit with ham, I had tea. The only organic options they offered were herbal, and black tea is grown with lots of pesticides, so I tried the nettle. It was very mild and vegetal. The food was good, but not stellar, and the ambiance of the room was nothing like what I imagined the Diamond Jubilee Salon would be like. Next time…take a cab and wear nice shoes. There was one table whose picture I snapped surreptitiously due to their clothing – it looked like all three of them had coordinated their outfits. The man’s shirt looked especially nice.

Tea at Fortnum and Mason:

By now it was obviousl Dani wasn’t going to join us so we grabbed a cab and went back to the hotel. Yes, we were worried. Dani does not always make the smartest decisions. Fortunately, she showed up shortly after we did, in a cab. She said she had a good time but hadn’t bought anything. Whew!

KC’s day, on the other hand, had been a bust! He had hoped to visit the Maritime Museam, and had taken a cab to get there only to discover they were closed! So, we went back to the hotel and hung our there until we got back. We found him in Gilray’s, working. I don’t know why he didn’t call me – he could have met us for tea!

Back in our room, I checked my feet to see why they were hurting so much and discovered I had a huge – HUGE – blister on the little toe of my left foot. It was almost as big as the toe itself. I had another one on the pad. My right foot only had callouses, no blisters. I didn’t have time to deal with them now – and didn’t know what I would do about them either – so I left them alone but walked gingerly.

Before we left Brookline, KC had arranged for us to meet a colleague for dinner, and we had asked the concierge to make us a reservation at an Indian restaurant. Neither Linda nor Dani can eat spicy food, so they went off on their own. KC and I changed into dinner clothes and caught a cab to Mint Leaf

We arried before she did so we sat in the bar and had a cocktail: a spicy Paloma for me, and a caipirinha for KC. We had another round of cocktails with her (she had a mojito) and then moved into the dining room. I ordered a lassi, which was exceptional (not too sweet), and KC got us a bottle of viognier.


For appetizers we had fried cheese bites, beet and potato cakes, and tempura asparagus. For dinner Vikki had the lamb in caramelized onions, KC had chicken thighs masala, and I had paneer in sauce.

Dinner with Vikki:

Everything was very tasty but I would have liked the food to have more heat. Linda and Dani could definitely have handled it. We were there almost SEVEN HOURS (from 6:15 to almost 1am) and closed the place down! KC and Vikki shared two bottles of viogner plus three glasses of champagne, two cocktails, and two armagnacs EACH. They were both still standing at the end of the night which amazed me. I would have been under the table!

We took a cab back to the hotel, and slid a note under Linda’s door to say we would meet her for breakfast at 7am. We set the alarm for 6:30 and I went right to sleep.

London – Travel to Dingle

Saturday, March 15

We got up at 6:30 and met Linda and Dani for breakfast at7am. Because it was the weekend, they had the full English as a buffet. I ordered the salmon benedict, Linda had waffles, and Dani had the buffet. KC wasn’t up for eating and had nothing but coffee and OJ.


At 8am we saw Linda to a taxi then went up to pack. We had a car scheduled for 11:30 which gave me about 3 hours. I managed to do it in 2 with each bag just under 20kilos, the limit for domestic European flights. I don’t know how we’ll manage the return when we’ll have souvenirs with us.

Once the bags were sorted, I turned my attention to my blisters. I took a needle from KC’s sewing kit, sterilized it using tea tree oil, and then lanced them both. After draining the fluid, I rubbed them with helichrysum italicum and covered them with the blister pads I’d brought for the purpose. They still hurt but I felt better that I was ‘doing something’. I put on my thickest socks and wedged my feet back into my hiking boots. My feet hurt for a little while and then the pain subsided.


Check-in was easy but TSA was a pain. We were required to take all liquids and electronics out of our bags but were allowed to keep our shoes on. KC forgot to take his iPad out so they went through his bag. Anything iPad MINI and smaller can stay packed. For once, he slowed us down and I didn’t!

Before going through the TSA check they took our pictures. On leaving the terminal for the gate they took it again and compared it to the previous one. We had to look at the light until it turned green – were they doing an eye scan?

We had a quick lunch in The Tin Goose (our favorite restaurant at Heathrow) – croque madame for KC (grilled open-faced ham and cheese with fried egg on top) and I had a gluten-free hake fish cake with poached egg and dill cream. The fish cake was mostly potatoes with some veggies (peas? Green beans? Pickles?) , and the breading was cornmeal, but it was tasty. KC had coffee, I had a latte.

Lunch at Tin Goose:

The back of the plane boarded first and I was worried there wouldn’t be room in the overhead for my carry-on. The people ahead of us had to check their carry-ons and I wondered what I would do if they asked me to give mine up. The seats were very small and it was packed. I was in middle seat but I was tired and slept most of the way. We bought 2 bottles of water. The flight left half an hour late, at 2:48.

Leg clearance:

We were in the second row so we were first off the plane, our luggage came out quickly, and there was no line at the ATM. KC took out 300 euros and there was none left in the machine for me! I had forgotten to move the maps from the checked suitcase to the carry on so I bought a map in WHSmith plus a Cadburry flake and a bar of milk. We still had the 2 bottles of water from the plane.

KC forgot which company he booked the car with and tried Avis first but they had no record of him so he went to Hertz. We had a bad experience with Hertz last year but they must have read my blog because this year was a different story. So far. They gave us a Skoda Rapid, built in Czechoslovakia by VW.

The cost for the week was €330 including €116 fuel deposit and €16/day comprehensive collision. If we return the car with a full tank, we get the fuel deposit back. Compare that to the €40/day comprehensive collision we paid last year for the Audi A3 plus €100 rental.

Net-net, we’re paying €22/day this year versus €50/day last year. I guess that’s the difference between an Audi and a Skoda.

The car was parked outside the terminal – NO SHUTTLE – so if the return is this easy I’ll give them high marks for convenience.

Our Rapid had a turbo drive 200-horsepower turbo diesel engine
and a 5-speed manual transmission.

The car has a huge boot (trunk) and 4 doors. KC described it as a little twitchy but he likes the challenge of keeping it on the road. I don’t think I would like driving a ‘twitchy’ car.

We were on the road at 4:45, a little later than planned.

Route from Shannon to Dingle, 120 miles (191 km), approx. 3 hour drive:

St. Patrick ’s Day is this Monday and it’s a bank holiday here so this is a 3-day weekend in Ireland and there was quite a lot of traffic. We made good time but it didn’t pass quickly. It was a beautiful day. KC asked me if I would be disappointed if we didn’t get any rain this trip and I said, “Yes!” He admitted that he would be, too. We like rain because it gives us an excuse to stay in the cottage and watch the surf pound the shore.

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OOAKFolk, Inc., and artist Barbara Healy are not affiliated in any way with the original manufacturers of the dolls pictured in this site. No photograph, text or graphic on this site may be copied without written permission from Barbara Healy. Copyright © 2004 OOAKFolk, Inc.

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