The Emerald Isle, part one of our trip to Ireland

Emerald Isle, nead Dublin, Ireland
Howth Coastline, twenty-five minutes by train from central Dublin.

SirTrips-a-lot in Ireland.

Recently, I had the good fortune to visit Ireland on holiday. I would recommend Ireland to anyone and personally, I wish that I would have visited sooner. If you have never been to Ireland, you definitely should go because it is a wonderful place with an interesting culture, history, and a plethora of beautiful natural landscapes.

Starting Point: Dublin. Dublin is not only the capital of Ireland (Republic of), it is also the largest city and metropolitan area in the country. Over two million people live in the city or its environs. Dublin is served by a beautiful and modern airport that is located north of the city. Aer Lingus, the national carrier, has direct service to many destinations in central Europe as well as north America. Dublin has an extensive public bus system, and there are a limited number of street car lines, but no subway. Taxis are also readily available almost anywhere in the city day or night. If you need to take the bus from the airport into the city, you should be aware that the city buses are the cheapest and take the longest to get to the center because of the traffic congestion and the number of stops, but there are many coach lines that are express service to the center for about twice the amount of the city bus one way. If you travel with the city bus, it is best to purchase a ticket from the machines at the airport because the bus drivers do not accept bills and you must have exact change.

Dublin is a vibrant city with many different attractions. The city center is crowded with tourists and locals alike. Traffic congestion is a big problem in Dublin as the cars, delivery vehicles, and buses all compete for the limited space on the narrow streets; by the way, they drive on the left side of the street, so it is a good thing that at the crosswalks that they tell you to look right for oncoming traffic. If you are planning to travel in the city you should consider getting a Leap Card, that is a bus pass available at most grocery stores, post offices, and other retail establishments. You can get a three or five day unlimited pass, and then you can reload the card with money after the unlimited travel has expired. The five day pass costs 30 EUR.

Pubs galore. Naturally, you will want to visit one or twelve of Dublin’s wonderful pubs. You cannot walk more than a few hundred meters without seeing a new one. The atmosphere is always friendly and inviting and the food and beer are delicious. You cannot visit Dublin, or Ireland for that matter, without having at least one pint of Guinness. If you do not like beer, or you do not like stouts, do not worry, they have plenty of different beers to choose from at most pubs, including ales, and lagers from all over the globe. Be ready to open your wallet, a pint of beer is usually 5-6 EUR. You should probably avoid the Temple Bar unless you cannot live without visiting the most packed tourist pub in Dublin. In the Temple Bar section of Dublin, there are literally hundreds of Pubs and all of them are pretty good so do not be afraid to explore. I personally liked the Porter House, which is a brew pub near Trinity College. They make their own beer, so no Guinness on tap, and the food was great. Another nice pub was the Long Stone, a viking themed pub.

The Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland
The Temple Bar is the most famous pub in Dublin

 

Places not to miss. Of course, you have to visit O’Connell Street in the center of the city. This is one of the main shopping districts in the city. This is also the location of the Dublin Spire. There are shops of every description. Do not forget to visit the GPO (General Post Office) site of the 1916 Easter Rising. Dublin Castle is also worth the visit. It is the former seat of power for the English Lord Governors prior to Irish independence, and now it is the formal location for the swearing in of the heads of state and where formal state affairs are held. The castle is a whole complex of buildings including, a church, gardens and the castle itself. If you go, you should try to visit on a Wednesday, because admission is free. Saint Stephen’s Green is the best known park in Dublin. Wonderful verdant grass, trees, a small lake, and many different birds, it holds a certain charm for the Dubs and tourists alike. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is also a great place to see. The admission is only 3 EUR, which is really a bargain considering that you can wait and get the guided tour at no extra cost. Jonathan Swift is interned there. Trinity College is also worth a visit. The guided tour is 13 EUR, which is a little steep, but it also allows you to see the Trinity Library, which is really impressive, as well as admission to The Book of Kells, an illuminated copy of the Bible from the middle ages. Inside the Trinity College Library is the Buru Harp, the symbol of Ireland.

Dublin Castle, a real medieval castle in Ireland

The tour of the Guinness Brewery, is actually a tour of the old Guinness warehouse, and costs 29 EUR; the brewery itself is located on the banks of the Liffey and is not open to the public. I did not take the tour because I found the price to be a bit exorbitant. The Jameson Distillery also has tours for 16 EUR, which I also found too pricey. Do not worry, you can find official Guinness merchandise in every souvenir shop in Dublin, and there is no shortage of those.

I found it particularly helpful that all the public buses in Dublin have free Wifi. In fact, there were not many places in Dublin that do not have free Wifi. This is really nice because it can help you orient yourself with GPS enabled phones.

Come back next week for a further review of other places visited in Ireland, namely Galway, Kilkenny, Howth, and County Wicklow.

Ask Sir Trips a Lot: Incorrect Billing Address while booking.

Question: What happens if you attempt to make a booking and the airline or online travel agent’s website won’t let you enter your billing information correctly?

I recently was asked a question by a friend of mine who wanted to book a flight within the continental United States. He had already booked his international flight from Austria to the UnitedStates and he planned to be in several different locations throughout his business trip. Unfortunately when this friend of ours proceeded to try and pay for the flight at United Airlines’ website, he noticed that Austria wasn’t a valid country he could enter in his billing address. My friend being the cautious person that he is, and given that the United States government is over paranoid about security, decided to check with me to see what would happen if he entered say “Germany” as the billing address. Would he have trouble with the TSA or other US immigration authorities?

Error on United Airline's website.
Error on United Airline’s website.

Well this is an excellent question. First of all, I have to say it’s both sad and hilarious that a major airline like United left off a country like Austria off of their list. Perhaps they think Australia and Austria are the same place like in the movie Dumb and Dumber. That said, not putting your the correct billing address in won’t cause any problems whatsoever with the government authorities, assuming you’re able to make the booking. I’ll explain in a minute. When you make a booking, it’s very important that the passenger’s name, gender, and date of birth match the passport or official identification (if it’s a domestic flight). This is because the airline has to submit a passenger manifest to the appropriate authorities, and of course the security check is conducted to make sure you’re not on the “no fly list”. The security standards are much higher if you cross an international border and if your boarding pass (the name which is on the passenger manifest) isn’t the same as your boarding pass, you could be denied boarding. What isn’t checked is the billing address of the person who pays. This is just common sense if one thinks it through. The airline allows one person to purchase airline tickets for another party all the time. So it begs the question. Why ask for the billing address at all?

The answer of course has to do with the Airline’s online payment processing system. When you enter your payment information, the payment service provider cross references the given address with the address the bank has on file for your credit card. It also checks your IP address to make sure your location is where you say you are, and of course patterns of behavior which are highly probable to be fraud. E.g John Q. Smith lives in Austria. However the person making the booking enters a different address from what the bank has on file, the routing is Lagos, Nigeria to Bangkok, a route that Mr. Smith is unlikely to book, and his IP address is outside of Austria. This is a way of

pre-screening potential fraud. So what is our friend supposed to do if he wants to book a United flight, but can’t enter his billing address correctly. Well there is a much higher chance that Mr. Smith will either have his payment rejected if he instead puts “Germany” as his country, or at the bare minimum, the transaction will be held up for extra scrutiny, delaying the transaction and causing the lower priced fare to no longer be available.

What’s the solution?

In this case of such a blatant screw up. Call the airline and make the booking over the phone. This way you will bypass the online security and hopefully the agent will pass this problem on to United’s IT department. I hope this was helpful and thank you for reading!