With a open border, a day trip to Northern Ireland is another great option to see more of Ireland's natural wonders and green scenery. It's also a very popular option if you happen to be a Game of Thrones fan as it stops at a few filming locations that you will recognize and make you feel like you have been dropped into the middle of Westeros.
TOUR COMPANY: GRAY LINE IRELAND
DEPARTURE: 8:55am from 118 Grafton St., Dublin 2 (Check in at The Dublin Visitor Center at 8:40am)
STOP ONE: Dunluce Castle
What could be a better first stop then visiting one of the castles from Game of Thrones? Dunluce Castle sits on the north Antrim Coastline and is none other than the home of the House of Greyjoy. It sadly is just a photo stop, so you wont get to go in the castle, the site is breathtaking and a worthy experience.
STOP TWO: The Giant's Causeway
The main attraction. One of my top recommendations when you first arrive is to head over to the visitor's center and buy the bus ticket. It cost £1 / €1.30 and you can take the bus down and take it back up from the Giant's Causeway. I would recommend walking down, it's only about a 15 minute walk downhill and then taking the bus back so you can have as much time as possible to enjoy the Causeway.
STOP THREE: Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is an additional €9 ticket fee to cross the bridge, but if you like heights, a little risk, and a shaky bridge then it is completely worth it. The views from both sides of the bridge are incredible, but I won't lie, it is quite the hike to get to the bridge and to get back. So definitely book it to the bridge so you can get in line to cross the bridge (depending on your time slot and how many tour buses are there at one time there can be quite a line to cross the bridge) and then take you time coming back so you can enjoy the views.
STOP FOUR: The Dark Hedges
The final spot is another Game of Thrones filming location. The "Dark Hedges" as it is known in Game of Thrones is the former entrance to Gracehill House and is the most photographed location in all of Northern Ireland. It's the last and final stop of the tour, and it is another photo stop, but you do have plenty of time to walk the length of the Dark Hedges and explore a little before getting back on the bus for the ride back to Dublin.
xx, A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
Probably one of the most popular - and the biggest highlight of any Ireland tour - is the Cliffs of Moher. It is one of the most recognizable Irish destinations and is definitely worth the trip cross the country to see the national monument. The Cliffs line the Western Coast of Ireland along the Atlantic Coast, and while you do have to hike up the Cliffs to see the view, it is completely worth it.
TOUR COMPANY: Irish Days Tours: Premium Cliff of Moher Tour
DEPARTURE: The tour will meet up at the Molly Malone Statue at 7:15am to depart for the first destination on the tour, Caherconnell Fort.
STOP ONE - Caherconnell Fort and Sheep dog demo
After a few hours of a little R&R on the bus the first stop is at Caherconnell fort. The fort is a historic ring fort in the rolling green hills that you can explore before watching a sheep herding demo.
STOP TWO - Boat Tour of the Cliffs
The boat tour was definitely a must for me and the main reason I chose this particular day tour. It was different perspective of the Cliffs and a just a chance to spend some time out on the water versus walking around or stuck on the bus. But be cautious, the water is just as choppy as it looks so if you get seas sick you might want to pass on this one. The boat tour was about an hour and then afterwards you have a bit of time to explore Doolin and grab a late lunch.
STOP THREE – Doolin
The next stop is a lunch break on the Atlantic Coast in the town of Doolin. Lunch not included on the tour, but there are a variety of pubs and cafes to choose from to get a quick sandwich to keep exploring Doolin or sit down and relax for a meal. The seafood is the recommended choice since the charming little town is a rather good place to find some of the best fish around.
STOP FOUR – Finally – The Cliffs of Moher
To get that picturesque view of the Cliffs, you’ll want to take the paths to the right when you get to the entrance of the Cliffs. If you take the paths to the left, you get to walk along the Cliffs for some pretty amazing views and the ultimate choice: walk along the trail or walk along the unfenced path on the edge of the Cliffs. The only downer of the tour is due to the boat tour time at the Cliffs is limited, so you have to either run from side to side to see it all, or just pick one side to really enjoy it. I decided to run like a maniac and see it all.
The tour is all day and gets back to Dublin around 8pm at night, so pack some food, a good pair of shoes, and something to do to pass the time on the bus. It's a long day but full day!
xx, A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
Sorry for the MIA treatment, but between getting my first major cold (welcome to Ireland) and working I have been non-stop for the last few weeks. I have been living in Dublin for a little over a month now and as crazy and hard to believe as it is I am ALMOST all settled in. Your probably like, "Um, honey you got the job and your housing situation taken care. What else could make you feel settled in???" Well, a few things - there a a few hoops you have to jump through to be able to work on a visa, become registered so you can get paid, and then get a bank account so they can get your money to you. All of it is very tedious, revolving around appointments, paperwork and a whole lot of patience.
If you are considering moving abroad for a year to Ireland, these are going to be the steps that you will take before you go (step one you start before you leave) and once you arrive to get officially grounded.
Step One: The GNIB Appointment
The GNIB office can be rather difficult to make an appointment with, so once you know relatively when you want to go to Ireland, I would start trying to book your appointment even if you don’t have your visa from the consulate/embassy just yet. Start looking to book about three months out (that’s how far out the will let you book an appointment, anyways). If you are having a hard time finding openings, check around 12:00pm IST/GMT.
For the actual appointment, arrive about fifteen to twenty minutes early to get a spot in the queue, cause you will be there a while. No one is in a rush and there is probably going to be a lot of people there; so pack a book, bring some music, or an activity to do.
You will need a few different forms for your appointment and depending on the type of visa you will have the forms may vary. To finish your working holiday application you will need your passport, a credit or debit card to pay the €300 fee, your working holiday authorization from your consulate/embassy, and your address in Ireland.
After you have your appointment, you’ll have your visa stamp in your passport and you can start applying for jobs while you wait for your IRP card to come in the mail or until you get an email to pick it up at the INIS Office. The next step you can take after you’ve applied and been accepted for a job, you will need a letter from the manager to give to the PPS office that you are employed.
Step Two: PPS Number Appointment
Before making your appointment for the PPS office, register online with MyGovID. You will use that that account on MyWealfare.ie to make your PPS appointment. A PPS appointment is not as hard to book, but it is usually booked about five days out and it will take 5-7 business days to get after your appointment. You will need almost all of the same documents that you needed at the GNIB appointment: passport, IRP card, driver’s license, letter of employment from manager, and your permeant Irish address. All in all, the appointment is quick and takes about fifteen minutes to complete everything.
Step Three: File for Taxes
Slow and steady, but that PPS number finally came in the mail! Woop Woop! Now you can fill go online to Revenue.ie to register your first job. You will use the “My Account” portal to login and can use your MyGovID account to start the process. To register you will need your PPS number, date of birth, your phone number (Irish number is best), email, and address. Once you complete the first step you will be mailed a temporary password in 5-8 business days to relogin and finish filling out the forms. While you are waiting for the temporary password to come in the mail, ask your employer for the Employer’s PAYE Registered Number, you will need it when you fill out the tax information and it will help make the process go faster if you have it the day the password arrives. Then you can login again with the temporary password, change it, and your Revenue account will update in about two days with your tax information once you add your PAYE information.
*Follow up with Revenue.ie after you get your bank account and add it to the website. It will ensure you get your tax free and faster and follow up with your payroll off that they received all the information they need from Revenue to help you with the process.
Step Four: Getting an Irish Bank Account
Well, last but not least, when you finally have all of your forms in order you can FINALLY set up your bank account. There are four main banks in Ireland to choose from: AIB Bank, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland, and Permanent TSB. You will most likely need to make an appointment with the bank that you want to open an account with, but for the most part you will need the following things at any bank to open an account: Bring the letter from the revenue office, your passport, PPS number, IRP card, letter of employment from your manager, and some cash. You never know which bank will want what information so it’s better to have more than less. My best recommendation is to make an appointment or start looking into it after getting your PPS number in the mail. Depending on the time of year, the banks can be booked for 2-6 weeks in advance for account openings and you may not want to wait that long. Once you know which bank you want to go with, go to a few of their locations to ask for an appointment, as well, just to see what is available. Each bank will have different availability based on the size of the branch and you never know where you might find an opening.
After your appointment, you have an account number and all that fancy jazz, go to your employer as soon as possible so they can process the information and they can get you off emergency tax. It’s no fun for anyone so get your banking taken care of so you can get all of your money and start saving. (or shopping. Whatever floats your boat, really).
I know it is A LOT of information to digest at once, but just remember it's a one step at a time kind of process thing so don't worry to much about it if you are considering about moving abroad to Ireland or are in the process of moving. Just plan it out, make appointments, and it will all work out.
xx, A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)