My flight two weeks ago went smoother than I expected. It was my first time flying, and I was by myself on a long transatlantic flight. Thankfully it was a direct flight, and both the Chicago O’Hare International Airport and the Dublin Airport were not busy, so I was able to through lines quickly. Once I got out of the airport, I was finally hit with the realization that I was in Ireland and that I would remain here for the next four months. The realization was both thrilling and frightening, thinking of everyone I know being across the Atlantic and myself being alone in a new country. However, over the course of the last two weeks I have found the locals, especially around Limerick, to be extremely kind and friendly.
Beforehand, I had booked a bus from the Dublin Airport to the University of Limerick (UL) campus through the Dublin Coach. When I left the airport, I was bombarded with several signs indicating which zone is for each bus provider. I kept scanning over the signs but could not find a sign for Dublin Coach. Eventually I realized zone 16 is for all other bus providers, but it is a bit further from the airport than the other zones. I got to the zone with plenty of time to spare before the bus arrived, but eventually the scheduled time came and passed. I continued to wait, my anxiety growing by the minute. There were several others waiting with me, so I felt somewhat reassured that I had picked the right zone, but I still worried that somewhere on the signs I had missed where the Dublin Coach arrives.
Learning the Buses
The bus did eventually come about 20 minutes late. I rode the bus to Red Cow LUAS where I then transferred to the bus that would take me to UL. While on the two hour bus ride, I did see a rainbow that you can see a picture of below. The bus driver does not always announce which bus stop you are at, so you need to pay attention to where you are at, otherwise you may miss it. The bus stop for UL is right on campus which is convenient. For Dublin Coach, your tickets are valid for the whole day, so you can use your ticket on an earlier or later bus if there is room. Additionally, the buses have enough storage for luggage and free Wi-Fi which was nice since I did not have any service at the airport (Version).
Ireland has a great network of buses that can get you to most places you need to go. There are a lot of different bus companies, but I have found the common ones to be the Dublin Coach, Citylink, and Bus Éireann. For traveling from UL to the center of Limerick, I recommend taking 304, 304A, or 310. Just make sure to read the screen that says where the bus is heading to as buses heading away from Limerick will stop at the same bus stops as the buses heading towards Limerick since the bus stops on campus are only on one side of the road. I also recommend applying for the leap card online as soon as you get to Ireland since it can take five days to be mailed to you, but using this card gives you major discounts on bus fares. For example, with the leap card, taking the bus roundtrip from UL to Dublin costs €12.50, but without the leap card it would cost €25. My final recommendation is to use both Google Maps and Real Time Ireland for navigating the bus routes. Real Time Ireland is especially helpful as you can enter the bus stop number you are at and it will tell you the routes of buses that stop there.
Beyond figuring out how the bus system works, I also recommend using a local phone provider since the service usually ends up being better and cheaper. As of writing this, I found Three to have the best phone plan for unlimited data. For €20 a month, you get unlimited data in Ireland and 19 GB in the rest of Europe. They also gave me the SIM card for free at the store. I still need to use WhatsApp to communicate with people back home since that plan does not cover international communication, but have the unlimited data, especially for navigation and Google searches while traveling, has been extremely handy.
Overall, there has been a lot of things that I have needed to figure out since arriving in Ireland, but it has been well worth it. Ireland is a beautiful country that I have only seen the surface of so far. In the future, I plan on writing a post about my favorite places and maybe some places that I think may not be worth the price. Below is a picture of the view as I walk to Aldi to get groceries.