Saturday, 3 September 2016

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

A few of you requested for updates of our recent summer break to the beautiful island of Republic and Northern Ireland, especially on attractions and places of interest for young children. Thank you for your continued interest in my rant and babble.

To be completely honest, we boarded the flight on 22 August to head home via Dubai, arrived Kuala Lumpur on 23 August and school term for Autumn/Winter started on 24 September. There was no time for jet lag, so we hit the ground running.

To top it all, I started working on my client's file by morning of 25 September. Alhamdulillah for rezeki, no complaints there.

The holiday post will have to be uploaded in piecemeal *grin*

Here goes:
1 (Monday) and 2 (Tuesday) August 2016:
We checked-in to Sama-Sama Hotel in the afternoon. The kids enjoyed their family taxi ride to the hotel from home.

The famous Haji Samuri satay from the cafe was not available as the cafe was being renovated so we dined at another lobby restaurant. The satay has been oven grilled, dry and tough. No repeat orders after the first dozen.

Our Emirates flight was scheduled for 2.10 am so by 11pm, we checked-out of our comfortable room and took the kids for their highlight of the night - the airport club car ride to the terminal. They were so easy to please.

Our luggages were wrapped to stay clean and dry (weather forecast was summer rain in Dublin). Being paranoid of losing one of our 3 luggages, I packed in such a way that in the event one of the luggages should go missing, we still have enough to wear for a couple of days. However, I must admit that packing for 4 persons into one luggage had become easier over the years.

The Priority Lane check-in consumed a long time, it felt like the entire world was travelling First and Business Class. KLIA Check-In Hall was balmy with hardly any air-conditioning on. After what seemed like an hour, we were issued our boarding passes. The kids were restless by then so the inter-terminal train ride after passport clearance was a grand welcome.

The Business Lounge was another highlight for the kids. They treated themselves to a grand supper then wrecked havoc at the TV Hall, with their loud and happy voices at 1am. By boarding time, I was counting down the minutes when they could finally be in bed 30.000 feet above sea level. Girl did sleep on her flat bed as soon as the seat belt sign went off, bless. Bean was alert and a set of Emirates airport scene toys were quickly purchased from on board duty-free from the get-go to occupy him. For the entire A380 flight to Dubai, he stayed up and had 100% mummy-time. I was so sleepy and grouchy.

2 August 2016 (Tuesday):
Dubai to Dublin leg. The Business Class Lounge was a welcome change after being confined to our seats for 6 hours plus with Bean. Lights on/off, service call button on/off, TV on/off, toys were all over, books read many times, nursery rhymes sang on repeat (particularly Wheels on the Bus) and endless random topics of endless conversations later, Bean was still energised to walk while I felt like crashing. Instead, we rode the inter-terminal train, plodded our way to breakfast and onward to board our connecting flight to Dublin. This leg, Bean slept while Girl was up. I caught up with my French movies of 2015/6 to reward myself since no sleep was possible. The Boeing felt small after the A380.

We arrived at Dublin safely, all green and fresh (the grass, not us!). It was drizzling when we went to get our car rental from Hertz. Our car rental booking was upgraded from Mazda to BMW BUT the driver and front seats were locked in position! I had been looking forward to driving on country roads, I was destined to be passenger for the entire 3 weeks, it was frustrating and crazy. Allah swt has His Plans, yes.

We checked-in to Premier Inn Dublin Airport Airside and crashed to local time. Best feature of this hotel: Free Wifi. You can also upgrade for 5 Euros.

3 August 2016 (Wednesday):
We drove to Galway. Checked-in to Salthill Promenade Hotel and after a hearty lunch, we unpacked and took the kids out to a garden across the hotel and summer fun fair just a few minutes' walk away. The tokens were expensive at 20 Euros (every ride was at least 2 Euro per child) but the young ones had a gala time. This routine of park and fun fair soon became their highlight at Salthill.

4 August 2016 (Thursday):
Park, fun fair, repeat. Bye bye Euros.

5 August 2016 (Friday):
We rode the local bus to The Latin Quarters and had lunch there. Girl had her hair braided by a local artist before we headed back to Salthill for some fun in the sand at the sandy promenade across the hotel. Best features of Salthill Hotel: Great service at breakfast and free Wifi.

6 August 2016 (Saturday):
We drove to Sligo, bought supplies and checked-in to the house at Bundoran. Best feature of this house: Free wifi. I know I keep reviewing the Wifi connection of everywhere we were staying at because my sanity, work and discussions depended on it.

7 until 12 August 2016 (Sunday):
We spent a week here; sufficient for some form of routine to be introduced. One that included visits to the local launderette, playground, my favourite bakery Hardy Amies, cinema (kids watched Ice Age: Continental Drift and Finding Dory), chat with local mums to find places of interest for little ones (Castle Farm and Playground highly recommended) and basically lived like locals. We stopped being tourists and assimilated into life at Bundoran! Bundoran is close enough to drive to some of the places we wanted to visit  (Smuggler's Creek, back to Sligo, Yeats' Country, Lisadell House etc) so it was a decent anchor.

13 August 2016 (Saturday):
We drove to the United Kingdom side of the island, Coleraine. Dinner was hosted by one of the two aunts and since she moved to a new townhouse, we had difficulty finding her new home. Kids were totally tired by the time the meal was served so we quickly bundled them into the car and back to Premier Inn Coleraine for an early night.

14 August 2016 (Sunday):
We spent the day at the playground near the seaside. A family lunch went awry and some harsh words were exchanged. Not pretty. The kids had fun and ice-cream so the incident was quickly forgotten but FIL had a one to one chat with The Other Half about the latter's behaviour. It was about time someone did! Alhamdulillah things got better after that.

15 August 2016 (Monday):
Kids day out with the Grandparents and The Other Half. They had a great sunshiny day at The Giants Causeway. Sea water tasted salty, the kids came home drenched in sea water of The Atlantic and covered in sand but happy as can be. Bless.
I spent my day sleeping in and wandering at the shops nearby. It felt so good to be with my own company and thoughts, it was probably the best day of my summer. The Wifi had to be purchased because it kept logging me out but it was worth the GBP5 because I managed to get some work done!

16 August 2016 (Tuesday):
We drove to Omagh, hometown of MIL. We saw the old house where she grew up then we took the kids to the playground to burn off some excess energy.

17 August 2016 (Wednesday):
We found the local laundrette and paid a visit to one of the other aunt still living nearby. Silver Birch Hotel had zero connection for both 4G and Wifi, I felt so cut off from the rest of the world. It was not fun because Girl was expecting her new promotion list at The Big School and I was going to set up the Mummies' Chat Group for the new class. Finally, outside the launderette in town, I had brief connection to 4G so my little situation with the school and Izumio/Super Lutein orders were immediately sorted.

18 August 2016 (Thursday):
I was given a couple of hours to myself after breakfast to look for 4G connection and work but Cafe Nero came with zero Wifi. I ended up browsing at the shops and bought nothing. Omagh is quite a dead town. Kids went to Fintona with second cousins and had a great time at an indoor playground. Later that evening, we took the kids to the town centre for a walk but Bean suffered a meltdown from being too tired. We went back to the hotel for an early night in and "celebrated leaving Omagh soon".

19 August 2016 (Friday):
We drove south towards Dublin and had lunch at Four Seasons en route. It was a lovely lunch, for me. The same Premier Inn Airside with its reliable Wifi and breakfast. Girl followed The Grandparents to meet and greet The Lloyds (they put up at Holiday Inn) then Pavilion (shopping centre near the airport).

20 August 2016 (Saturday):
Malahide Castle was a really pleasant experience. I especially enjoyed the meal at Cafe Avoca. Disappointingly, I had no time to browse at the gift shop because we were going at The Lloyds' pace (rush, rush, rush). That evening, we took the feeder bus to the airport to hitch the bus to the town, walked in the rain, ate at a fast food halal joint, walked back in the rain to the bus stop and took the bus back to airport to change to hotel feeder bus. Kids enjoyed the many bus rides.

21 August 2016 (Sunday):
We were at the Dublin Zoo the entire day. Kids took their time walking, eating, playing at the many mini playground and just did what they did best - being happy. Bean cried when we left at closing time, ha ha ha. Luckily, Girl had good mood and even temperament throughout the holiday.

22 August 2016 (Monday):
Checked-out of Premier Inn Dublin Airside, checked-in our luggages and flights, returned our Hertz BMW, cleared immigration on express with Emirates Fast Pass, snacked at the Business Class Lounge and boarded our Boeing flight. I caught up with French movies all the way to Dubai. Resolved to visit Galway and Dublin again someday with the kids but oh please spare me from Northern Ireland (maybe I was just bogged down by too many issues at Northern Ireland to really enjoy it).

Dubai to Kuala Lumpur flight was good because Girl, Bean and I slept all the way. What a nice way to end the holidays!


  1. Salam sister :)

    I can't believe I haven't read your blog for some time T_T Had a super packed summer break. I will read the previous posts soon. :) Take care!