Sunday, April 16

We weren’t really paying attention, but sometime during the flight it turned into Sunday morning.  Must have been when everyone pulled up the shades right before breakfast and the bright sunshine streamed in the windows of the plane.  Sure was a short night.

We landed at London’s Heathrow Airport shortly after 7:00 AM British time (which was 2:00 AM Lexington time).  Then the real fun began.  How to make our way over to the terminal where our British Midlands flight to Dublin was scheduled to depart?  Well, you’ve got to keep your cool.  Just follow all of the “Flight Connections” signs until you arrive at  your gate.  To do this you wind in and out of narrow passageways, go up and down steps, queue up for the bus that takes you on a five minute ride to your terminal, get off the bus, go through more sets of narrow passages and stairways (this all adds up to a lot of serious walking with two very heavy carry-ons), get your passport stamped, and try not to set off the alarm at the security check.  Glad we weren’t in a big hurry or anything!
The departure gates for British Midlands were slightly disorganized to say the least.  The monitors said our flight would leave from Gates 82-90.  Gates 82-90?  When we arrived in that vicinity, no one was at any of these gates except a lone baggage handler.  His sage advice was to wait around there until someone official showed up.  Wunderbar!  Bolstered by that dubious bit of reassurance, the two of us weary world travelers sat down with the faint hope that eventually one of the gates would be manned by authorized personnel.  Nancy sprawled out over a few of the empty seats in the waiting area and zonked out.  She may deny that, but I took a picture to prove it.  She never even stirred when the flash went off.

Once the British Midlands’ staff finally arrived, we were annoyingly herded from Gate 88 to Gate 84 and back.  We crossed our fingers that the pilots for our flight would be more competent than the gatekeepers.  As it turned out, it was an uneventful flight to Dublin.  Both of us slept most of the way.  The security checkpoint at Dublin Airport was no problem for U.S. citizens like us, but other nationalities seemed to be subject to extensive questioning.

Allie met us at the baggage area.  After hugs all around, Nancy and Allie headed off to exchange a traveler’s check or two for Irish money, while I stayed with the luggage.  I occupied myself with one of my favorite games--watching all the people pass by.  Since it was raining, we took a cab into the city rather than relying on mass transportation.  Fifteen pounds got us delivered to the front door of Allie’s house on Ashfield Rd.  We hauled our luggage upstairs to her apartment.  Our load was lightened when we dropped off Allie’s suitcase and her other things.  Then it was off to check-in at our Bed & Breakfast at 32 Annesley Park.

We stayed at the home of Colette Carter.  Allie reserved the place for us, after Nancy spotted it on the Internet back at home.  Our B&B more than met our expectations.  The room and bath were small, but very neat, clean, and cheerful.  Colette proved to be friendly, helpful, and talkative.  The three of us didn’t hang around for long though.  It was time to eat!  Whether the meal was supposed to be breakfast, lunch, or dinner didn’t really matter to Nancy and me.  Our brunch at the 51 Cafe was the traditional Irish breakfast--eggs (sunny side up), sausage, ham, tomatoes, toast, and of course, tea.  It was our first of many hearty meals in Ireland.

Once we were all well-fortified, we decided to walk into town with Allie as our guide.  That took about 25 minutes.  It was a good first step toward us newcomers getting our bearings in Dublin.  The rain had stopped, but the temperature still felt a lot like winter.  Nancy and I were already glad we’d brought warm clothes.  No need for shorts and sandals on this trip!  Our route took us out of Ranelagh, back in the direction our cab had come.  Everyone here walks a lot it seems.  The pace is fast, faster, and fastest, even on a Sunday afternoon stroll.
We made our way to Grafton Street, the heart of a very crowded pedestrian/shopping area.  Soon I was up to my old tricks, hanging back and pretending to be lost in the throngs of people.  It brought back memories of our trip to London several years ago, when I actually did get lost.  Needless to say, Nancy and Allie were not amused.  It quickly became apparent that Dublin was a lot like London in one way: you take your life in your hands whenever you cross the street.  First you “look left” or “look right” (folks drive on the wrong side of the road here), then you cross yourself and prepare to high-step when an aggressive motorist gets you in his sights and speeds up.

Nancy and I tried to soak in everything Irish during our walk, but it took us several days to really get the lay of the land.  Our hike that afternoon took us as far as the Ha’penny Bridge, which crosses the Liffey River.  By this time I was more than ready for our first serious photo-op.  A little later I was delighted to see Forbidden Planet, the local incarnation of the huge science fiction specialty store in London.  Of course I wanted to stop in for a look, but Allie thought there might be a bunch of “weird teenagers” hanging out there.  Guess it was good that the place was closed on Sundays.  Later we sat in St. Stephen’s Green and enjoyed all the colorful foliage in bloom there.  A great place for people watching, too.  All in all, we had a nice introduction to Dublin on our first day.

To say that the weather changes a lot in Ireland is an understatement.  By the time the three of us walked back out to Allie’s place in Ranelagh, the skies had cleared, but it was still very cool.  This time we met Toni and Rachel, Allie’s roommates from Fordham University.  They had three girls visiting them from New York.  We chatted for a little while, then Nancy and I headed back to our house.  Jet lag was really beginning to set in.  On the way home we grabbed a few things to eat from the neighborhood Centra grocery.  We also bought a few postcards to send to the home folks, which we dutifully wrote before going to bed.  Sleep was not a problem after a long, full day of traveling and exploring.

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map of Dublin City Center


Created by Nancy and Dave Badertscher
May 7, 2000