For a little change of pace, I am actually writing about my latest adventure after the fact instead of my normal running commentary. I just did so much that there simply wasn’t enough time to collect my thoughts and write at the end of each day.
But I get slightly ahead of myself. For the past 10 days I have been enjoying the great country of Ireland. I took part in Moostash Joe’s From Ireland’s Ancient East to the Wild Atlantic Way tour in conjunction with Globus Journeys. Man, it was a blast! This is a tour for anybody who wishes to experience the beauty and the mystery of Ireland.
As usual, the first day was nothing but travel, travel, travel.
Using Delta Airlines, I flew to Atlanta, GA for a 5 hour layover which I utilized in getting a bite to eat and getting a good exchange rate at TravelEx for my Euros. Combining my money with my parents (who also joined me on this adventure) got us some pretty good bang for our buck as it reduced the service charge and netted us a better rate of exchange. We also took part in a special where an extra $5 not only saved us more service charges when we changed the money back to dollars, but also guaranteed the best rate of exchange.
About 8pm we boarded the plane and began our journey to the Emerald Isle. It was a very comfortable flight which a powerful tail wind that sliced an hour off our travel meaning only 5 hours on the plane. Delta Airlines also had an amazingly good film library which I made full use of on the trip and had a quite tasty hot chicken dinner.
Before I knew it, we were landing in Dublin and the first thing I noticed was just how green it was. That may sound a little cliché, but it was just green, lush, and beautiful. I just may retire to this country due to its temperance (it never gets very hot or cold) and the fact that I could do a bed and breakfast review every day for the rest of my life. They are everywhere!
Due to the time change, it felt like the middle of the night for our travel group, but the day was just getting started in Ireland. Apparently, everyone on the planet decided to land in Ireland at the crack of doom because it took over an hour to go through customs. But we finally got through, collected our bags, and met our Tour Director, Bill, and our driver, Yarrick, who loaded us into our motorcoach to drive us to our first hotel, the Clayton—Cardiff Lane.
Since we arrived so early, our rooms were unavailable so our dog-tired group could do little except walk around the town a bit or sit in the lounge on the first floor. Dad managed to find a nearby Catholic church so he, Mom, and I dragged ourselves over to St Andrew’s to attend services.
The church (as many are in Ireland) was very beautiful and ancient. As cool as it was to attend a service in another country, it was also the oddest service I’ve ever attended. Being so fogged with exhaustion made it hard to focus on the service which was only exacerbated by the fact that I could not understand the priest due to the poor acoustics of the archaic structure. There also didn’t seem to be much sense of community as every person attending the service prayed at their own rate of speed, leading my mother to wonder if this was actually a proper Roman Catholic church (it was).
Still, it was an experience to remember. Afterwards, we dragged ourselves back to the Clayton where we grabbed a light meal in the lounge. I had a toasted ham and cheese sandwich and nibbled on some of Dad’s chips (the European word for French fries). As I ate, I looked around the lounge and saw our weary fellow travelers falling asleep on chairs and at tables.
About 3pm, we were finally able to get into our rooms where we all passed out for a nap. Feeling somewhat refreshed after a few hours of rest, I cleaned up for the welcome dinner in the hotel restaurant, Stir.
Dinner was wonderful. I enjoyed a delicious barley risotto with mushrooms and wild rice and a true Guinness. The Guinness served in America has nothing on the real thing.
When dinner was done, we all returned to our rooms for a night’s sleep to begin the tour proper in the morning.