United Kingdom Adventure: Five Countries in Eight Days

More and more frequently these days, our travel adventures begin with an amazing deal on airfare. Last April, I came across an Air France promotion from Washington, D.C., to Dublin for just $314 per person round trip, and I couldn’t pass it up. The travel dates were 11 months away, but that gave us plenty of time to decide what we wanted to do and see while we were there.

You must know that when you tell Mr. Mike Ballard that you have tickets to Dublin, you will be seeing much more than just Dublin — and much more than just Ireland! He planned an amazing itinerary for us that included stops in Ireland, Isle of Man, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland in March 2017 as a belated Valentine’s Day adventure.

We typically like to get out of bigger cities as quickly as we can and head to smaller towns and villages where we can see what it’s really like to live in a country. After landing in Dublin and having breakfast (it was Pancake Day!) and a beer (we were in Ireland!), we took the Irish Rail train (€11.35 each) to Balbriggan. It’s a sweet little town on the seashore in County Fingal that the locals call “the Town of the Little Hills.”

Mike found an Airbnb on the beach for just $61 a night, and it was magical. The owner, John, is a professional landscaper, and there was a rainbow over the storybook garden just after we arrived.

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The spectacular seaside garden of our Airbnb hosts in Balbriggan, Ireland.

And if that wasn’t enough, the family has an adorable springer spaniel named Olly, and he was fascinated by Mike’s 360fly 360-degree camera.

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Olly finds a camera.

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This detail of the seaside garden of our Airbnb hosts in Balbriggan, Ireland, seemed especially appropriate at the beginning of our adventure.

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A drone view of the Balbriggan coastline, looking northeast.

After exploring the garden with Olly and shooting some aerial video on the DJI Mavic Pro, we took a short nap, then walked into the village for dinner at Jack Doyle’s Bar. It was exactly what we hoped for — good fish and chips with peas and a nice selection of Irish beers.

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All in all, an excellent first day in the U.K.

We’ll share more of the trip in our next post as we head to Isle of Man, and you can view the entire itinerary as part of Mike’s profile on Travellerspoint.

Today’s expat evaluation: +1 for beautiful gardens, +1 for friendly locals, +1 for a walkable town, +1 for an easy, affordable national train system