Ireland '99: Days One and Two

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Dublin at Night

Days One and Two -- August 27th and 28th, 1999

I guess the trip to Ireland truly began the moment that Jenn picked Emerson up to say goodbye on the curb of Houston’s International Airport. The poor little guy had started to cry when it became quite clear that he was not to be going with us, and Jenn’s heart fluttered enough to take him out of his car seat to give him one last hug. Actually, she began to rationalize that maybe she could just take him to the gate and Janis (Jenn’s mom) could meet us before boarding. I told her that was quite risky. Soon Emerson wasn’t the only one crying.

We eventually took off (just the two of us) on flight to Chicago and then to London-Heathrow and then to Dublin (insert a dotted red line tracing our route ala Indiana Jones – be sure to include my flight from Portland to Houston in it too). After walking much of the grounds of Heathrow in order to get on to our flight to Dublin, we finally knew we were in the right place when we rounded a corner and came upon a sea of green seats. Indeed, this was the Irish section of the airport. On our flight over we were served by flight attendants who wore gloves and hats – aptly British – and talked to an older London housewife on her first trip to Ireland. When we landed, we exited from the plane via the rear and I promptly kissed the tarmac with as wet of a kiss as I could muster. Jenn refrained, again, aptly British of her to do so.

In baggage [re]claim, we found out that our luggage did not quite make the same journey we did, as it failed to appear from the magical conveyer belt. Jenn filled out the details while I tried to exchange some money and figure out how to make a phone call. We then tried to get ourselves a room for the night Dun Laoghaire B&B. It turns out that Britain was celebrating Banker’s Day, and thus everyone was going to Ireland for a three day weekend (including London housewives). After about 10 calls, I gave up and called one of the more expensive hotels in downtown Ireland. At last, it was clear that we were staying our first night in the “posh” (to quote a passing pedestrian when we left the following morning) Wynn’s Hotel.

While waiting for the next flight to come in from London for our luggage, we had our first Irish meal (courtesy of the airline): ham and cheese subs. One hour later, with still no suitcases, we head for our car rental. Their, waiting for us, was a top of the line Opel automobile – the skinniest, squattest little vehicle I have ever driven. I drove out of the parking lot not even knowing how to reverse ( a bit of foreshadowing here).

Driving proved to be a huge exercise in concentration. For the next few days, I repeatedly would let out a huge sigh of relief every time the car came to a stop and was parked. Between shifting with my left hand, driving on the left, having my boots be too big to push the gas pedal without touching the break pedal, and trying to figure out the street signs, my concentration was completely taxed. It took also took a while to relearn what it was like to drive a car that did not stall every time you push in the clutch! I was barely able to limp into a parking garage not far from our hotel.

Despite being 3:00 in the afternoon, Jenn and I instantly crashed upon seeing our room. We were both utterly exhausted. In essence, we had just had an all-nighter (and for me, the second one in three days).

First look (through the camera) of Ireland
Tig and I sitting in the thick stone gutter outside our window

After a quick three hour nap, we woke up and began to explore a bit of Dublin. First stop was the ledge outside of our hotel window. Amazingly, the gutter for the building as solid stone and wide enough for a person to walk along. I peered over the edge from six stories up, but did not get enough nerve to actually go walking around the building in the gutter. Below us was a shop (of unknown business -- but I learned later that it was a bookie shop) named “Veritas”, which I took to be a good sign. I did take my first pictures of Ireland from my perch.

As we left the hotel, we found out that our baggage had arrived while we slept, much to our relief. We headed out for a quick walk across the River Liffey. The streets were quite European, narrow, winding, and colorful, with 4-5 story buildings that had tall facades and business names written in distinguished typefaces above every bottom floor. After a small dinner of fish and chips (with a fellow who was a wee bit looney), we walked around some cobblestone streets cordoned off for pedestrian traffic and watched the Guinness drinkers slowly emerge with the nightfall. We topped it off with a brief respite on a bridge over the Liffey, lit up by the night’s lights. We slept hard and long that night.

Jenn at the Most famous Fish and Chips
Jenn experimenting with night shots...



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