Visiting the country of her ancestry has long been on Cathie Harbulak’s bucket list. And with her 50th wedding anniversary approaching, there seemed no better time to visit the Emerald Isle.
Having used AAA to travel within the United States in the past, Harbulak and her husband, John, turned to AAA once again. It was, as she puts it, “the last solitary decision we had to make.”
Since they were unfamiliar with Ireland, the Harbulaks relied on AAA travel experts, including Jill Rosenberg, manager of group and executive travel services for AAA Northeast, for advice.
“We really did not even know the basics: When would the Riish weather be conducive to touring outdoor sites and how long ahead we would need to book air and land reservations?” said Harbulak, of Long Beach, N.Y.
With Rosenberg’s help, they chose the time frame best suited to the weather and updated their passports. She even met with them to review their documents, had them visit a local AAAA office to purchase euros and – of course – told them how much to bring.
The couple’s tour consisted of 24 people, each traveler from a different U.S. state. It was led by a tour director who loved his country and shared information about Ireland’s extensive history, culture, government, schools and churches.
Ireland turned out to be even more remarkable than Harbulak had imagined.
“The shopkeepers, hotel personnel, even horse-and-buggy drivers were very welcoming,” she said. “The meals were fantastic, the hotels were excellent, and the sights even better than the brochure illustrated. It always echoed the Ireland that I have heard about my entire life.”
Of all her Irish experiences, one stood out and brought the whole journey full circle.
“I stood in the castle where my grandmother had been a servant,” Harbulak said. “I will cherish so many moments, but that one especially.”
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