Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Magical Honeymoon

Our honeymoon did not start off magical. We were flying out of DC on Sunday night, the day after the wedding. They had some silly mechanical problem that delayed us an hour and a half, so we were arriving in Boston while our plane to Dublin was taking off. We wandered around the airport for a good 2 hours (including waiting for shuttles to take us to other parts of the airport) trying to figure out what to do. First we went to the Aer Lingus desks, but they were all gone for the day. Then we went to information who told us to head back to baggage claim and find out where our luggage is. We found out that Aer Lingus had our luggage locked away and put us on the next flight across the pond at 6 pm the next day - 21 hours after the flight we were supposed to be on. They finally got a manager who got us a hotel room and a couple overnight packs of things like toothpaste and a toothbrush and deodorant. We had to make a 2 minute call to the hotel in Dublin to let them know we were going to be a day late and please don't give our room away. That call cost $14.

Monday morning! It's kinda sucky to be promised Dublin and get Boston. We checked out, took the free shuttle back to the airport (where the Aer Lingus people probably wouldn't be in until 3 or 4), took the free shuttle to the train station in the city, found a place in the bus terminal to check our carry ons ($20) and wandered around Boston Common in the rain. We only had a few hours to kill, so we didn't do much but walk around. We collected our bags and paid for the bus back to the airport where we were finally able to check in. It wasn't a fun day, really. I know it wasn't Boston's fault, but the experience hasn't really warmed me up to that city. We're going to take a weekend to really explore Boston someday, when we have no where else to go and hopefully when it's less wet. And now we're finally on the plane and off to Dublin!

Tuesday morning lands in Dublin! We confirmed our reservation for the car and found a bus that took us close to the hotel. The hotel was nice; it was really an apartment with a little kitchen and living room, and a separate bedroom. We napped for a couple hours and hit the streets. We wandered about a bit- found a church that was near the hotel that made a good landmark and walked pass the Christ Church Cathedral (a friendly local with an amazingly thick accent guessed that was where we were headed and pointed us that way. We were really just looking at the map to get our bearings, but it was nice someone offered to help all the same.) before making our way to the Old Jameson Distillery. As a whiskey lover, I really wanted to see that place! On the tour, the guide picked 8 people to do a comparison taste test with Jameson, Johnny Walker Black, and Jack Daniels. Jameson was definitely the best, and I say that completely independent of the fact that I was in a Jameson museum at the time (Makers Mark 64 is still my favorite whiskey, for the record). 

Illuminated Jameson
We headed to Trinity College and the Book of Kells exhibit in the Old Library after that. It was amazing, and that library seriously belongs in a fairy tale castle. We wandered after that and got thoroughly lost. We ended up in a very residential area and all the helpful tourist signs were no where to be seen! We wandered some more and realized that we were heading in the wrong direction (we had walked completely off our map!). Both of us had to pee really bad. We finally saw a church spire and headed for it, hoping it was the church near our hotel. At a glance it looked like it. We stopped in a pub for their bathroom and a pint (no restrooms without purchase!) then went out to the church and realized it wasn't the one by the hotel after all. However, we were back in the touristy area and there was a map that directed us back to the right church.

The Old Library at Trinity College
We dropped off the days purchases and the big fancy camera at the hotel and went out for dinner. We found a place in Temple Bar (big touristy place, but a lot of fun) and had an awesome dinner. According to an app on my phone, we walked 10 miles that day! Yay, adventure!

A Delicious meal after a day of adventure!

Because of the lost day on Monday, we decided to make our trip out west a day trip instead of a two night trip, so we got our hotel room for two more nights and were picking up the car Wednesday morning. The hotel had a garage too, so it was very convenient to park for a day.

Wednesday! Neither of us got up before noon even though my husband was planning on picking up the car around 8 or 9. That didn't happen. He got back around 3 or so and we headed out to lunch and the Guinness Storehouse. While we were headed in what we thought was the right direction, I asked to check the map and another friendly local with a less thick accent asked if we were looking for Guinness and pointed to the sign where we needed to turn (seriously, the people in Ireland were awesome everywhere). Almost there, we ran into some people who asked us if we were from here because they were looking for something. "No, but we have a map," we say. "It wouldn't be on the map," they say, "we're looking for the oldest pub in Ireland." They meant the Brazen Head, and it was right across the road where we had lunch. Yay, I can help like a local!

The Brazen Head, Ireland's Oldest Pub
The Museum closes at 7, so we didn't have a lot of time to go through the self-guided tour. We did manage to make it for the last Guinness tasting of the night and the last 'pour the perfect pint' class. That place was pretty neat, even though we only saw half of it. It was pouring rain by the time we got out so we picked up dinner at Subway (I know, I know!) and headed back to the hotel for the night.

Pouring the Perfect Pint
Put yourself in a Guinness ad!
Thursday! Up early for a good ole Irish breakfast (Irish bacon is some serious bacon!) then we hit a convenience store for supplies and started driving. We rented a GPS with the car which ended up being awesome. We had to look up how to get the car in reverse though, because husband insisted on a manual transmission. The only problem with the drive west was the fog. It was so thick we probably only had 10 yards of visibility, if that, and that wasn't much at highway speeds. We didn't see the toll plaza until we were right up on it. Thankfully, there were not a lot of cars on the road. We got to Galway and walked for about 30 minutes (which was the length of time at the parking space we found).

Serious Fog

It was impossible to see anything with that fog that seemed to just stick to us out of Dublin. No beautiful countryside: all fog. I really wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher, though, so we started driving south from Galway, even though we probably wouldn't be able to see anything at all in this fog. I came to the conclusion along that drive that Ireland has one weather for the whole island - that day it was fog. Did I mention the fog? Fog. Really fog. Everywhere fog. We drove up this little mountain that defined hair pin turn, it was a little unnerving. Yay, adventure. At this point in the drive, I was reflecting on some of the other countries I have visited: like the moment in Paris where I put my hand on a wall of Notre Dame Cathedral and almost started crying. I was thinking about our trip to Ireland, the one place in the world I want to see more than any other, and we had seen some very fun things, but I didn't have a moment like that - where it was suddenly real and it was suddenly magical that I was actually there. Why was this place, where I most wanted to be, not like that? Then we crested a little hill and the fog was gone. GONE! Rolling hills! Mountains in the distance! Sheep! Cottages! The Atlantic Ocean! The Aran Islands! You could see the fog behind us but the way ahead was clear, clear, clear. Clear and beautiful. And I had my magical moment. 

Suddenly, no fog! Just look at that countryside!
We got to the Cliffs and the guy at the gate was all "it's a really beautiful, clear day!" and we were like, "we know, we just came out of the fog!" and he laughed and said usually it's the opposite, foggy at the cliffs and clear everywhere else. There was a little exhibit thing inside one of the buildings about the cliffs and the ecosystem there and it was all very neat, but I was worried the fog would catch up to us so we didn't spend a lot of time inside. The view over the Atlantic was awesome. We could see the fog rolling in over the Aran Islands. Ravens were flying. I'm so glad we went. I'm so glad we weren't defeated by the fog and changed our mind about trying the cliffs that day. Yay, adventure!
The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Just as we were leaving, the fog caught up. It made for a not so fun drive back, through Shannon and Limerick, in the dark and fog and rain. We picked up a pizza (I know! But pizza with bacon on it in Ireland has Irish bacon on it! Divine!) for dinner once we got back to Dublin because we were tired and didn't want to get dolled up and go out again.

At the Cliffs of Moher, before the fog caught up to us!

Friday! Last morning in Ireland. Very sad. It was kind of rainy, but less foggy. We had talked about walking around for one last bit, and I thought about hitting the Distillery gift shop once more, but decided against it lest we get lost again. We did walk to the convenience store by the church for travel snacks and then headed to the airport. We had to turn the car in at noon but our flight wasn't until 5. The airport in Dublin is awesome in that you can go through US Customs right there before leaving, making landing stateside way convenient. We did some duty free shopping (because what else are we going to do waiting around the airport?). The flight back was a little irritating. There were many more people than on the flight over (where there were hardly any) and this one lady who was sitting in front of me reclined her seat and then moved to the seat next to husband which was a little closer to her family - without putting her seat up! RUDE!!! Husband likes to tell people that she was coughing and hacking the whole flight and "thanks for sitting next to me with that." Yay, adventure.

So, we land back in Boston. They wouldn't let us get out of the plane for 20 minutes because of congestion in the terminal. Boston Logan, not a fun place. The way this worked, since Aer Lingus is not a US carrier, we had to leave the international area and go back in the domestic area. We were worried that security would give us trouble with our duty free purchases (whiskey!) even though they were in a sealed bag with the date of purchase on the receipt clearly visible. There was a bit of a delay there, but we got through. We checked at US Airways to make sure our luggage was going to be on our flight. The guy looked confused as to why we would bother to ask (because you loaded it on a different flight on the way out and we wanted to make sure it would go through to DC with us) but said it would be on the flight with us.

Back to DC! We head to baggage claim! Our flight was on the monitors, but it didn't list a carousel number- that was blank. So we wandered through baggage claim for a bit and see nothing coming out. Husband went to ask where our luggage was while I waited. The announcement said something about a flight coming in from Tampa would be on carousel 7, and a bunch of people gathered, then another traveler came up to them and said the bags from Tampa were coming out on 11, though everyone heard 7. This does not bode well. Husband said they told him our luggage was coming out on 12, so we waited. Luggage came and people went and there we were, waiting. Waiting, for like an hour. We suddenly realized there was like no one in the baggage claim area. There was a couple to our left and a handful of people at the end of the hall. And no luggage. So husband asked again and they said carousel 12 and he said, no, we were there and our bags were not. They scanned the tag and said our bags got loaded on the flight after ours that was just landing. *headdesk* Ours were the first two bags on carousel 12 that time. The lesson: if you ever have to fly US Airways, please for the love of all things living, do not check your luggage. Do not trust your bags with them. They don't care when they show up. Bags in hand, we met MIL who drove us to her home where we left our car and then we drove the rest of the way. Yay home!

Yay, adventure!

(For the record, I will never fly US Airways again. We lost an entire day of our honeymoon and the only thing they could think to offer us in recompense is a single $100 voucher - that we can't even share! Some prodding finally got two vouchers out of them, with a ton of conditions, but the delay still cost us more than $200 to adjust our travel plans for the lost day. Seriously, dear readers, US Airways, which is owned by American Airlines, is dreadful. They don't care if they cause you inconvenience or to lose a day of your vacation and they won't make good on it. Think twice before you book with them. And if you have to book with them, for the love of cats and little fishes, do not check your luggage. Carry everything with you. Trust me here.)


capyboppy said...

If I had known your honeymoon was going to be in Dublin, I would have been very tempted to suggest we drive to Holyhead and get the ferry over:-)

Mary D-L said...

Jaysus, the flight debacle! I am glad you had your magical moment in Ireland, though! It sounds like you have many wonderful memories of your first grand adventure as husband & wife. :)

We also had trouble with flying last April, also American Airlines/US Airways. Our tickets said one company name, but the people at that desk told us we were actually booked under the other, & we had to hop a bus to the correct part of the PHX terminal to go through customs, & we made it to the plane, carry-ons in hand & baby slung to my hip, within MINUTES of take-off. And they separated us which made me go all mama bear on them until I got to sit next to Ted, because I am not taking a 10 hour flight alone with a 9mo baby who will want her Dada who she can see two rows ahead. And nobody else wants that shite, either! (end rant)