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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Landing in Dublin

Leaving NYC was smooth on Friday April 18, 2008 for Dublin, Ireland. We left JFK at 9:40PM and arrived on time at 8:50 AM Dublin time. We left NYC with a temperature of 80 degrees and arrived in Dublin to 45 degree 20-30 mph winds. We disembarked the plane onto the tarmac. The weather was raw, a great introduction to Ireland.

Sláinte chugat. We will be in Ireland for the next ten days.

Entering another country from USA is always pleasant, civilized, and quick. Picked up luggage and went to get car. Now I have been having sleepless nights thinking about driving in Ireland, they drive on the wrong side of the road. I've never done that on purpose. Well, once we go to the car, we did the traditional thing, I opened the door for Heather and low and behold there was a steering wheel. We started to laugh, we knew this was going to be an adventure. Once we got ourselves into the right places of the car, we were off and immediately I was confronted with a roundabout and some cars were behind me. I pulled over and let them lead. It is better to follow than lead in this situation. So I followed. We followed the directions we were given to get us from Dublin airport to our hotel in Dublin, The Harding Hotel. On the M1 to Dublin, I missed the turn to City Centre and ended up in the tunnel toll road with lots of lorries. When we arrived at the toll, I got into the lane with no human to take my money, paper when they wanted 3 Euros. Well I got out of the car, and approached the car behind me. A little girl in the passenger seat indicated it was 3 Euros with her fingers. The driver, her father recognized I was in a Hertz rental because he worked for Hertz. I needed coins and had only paper. He had 5 Euros in coin for my paper 5 Euros. I thanked them for my SNAFU, dropped 3 coins in the basket and after getting into the car awkwardly, proceeded to Dublin.

Let me speak about this driving experience thus far. At this point I'm sweating and I'm very nervous. Everything is backwards. I now understand Alice in Alice in Wonderland. My instincts are all wrong. It took me a long time to understand the car when I was at Hertz. The mirrors are all wrong. I look right instead of left to see the in car mirror. I am saying to myself, stay left, stay left, stay left. In the car a sticker is affixed to the windshield also reminded me of this. Getting in and out of the car is new, turning around to back is wrong, everything is left handed. It is weird and requires so much concentration.

Okay, so I am calming down, I am getting used to the manual shift using my left hand and driving on the left. We arrive in Dublin and now we have to find the streets to get us to our hotel. Street signs are on the side of buildings and so small we need binoculars to read them. So I drive along the River Liffey looking for street to get me to the bridge to get me across to the side with our hotel. I have no choice as I arrive at a light that demands we go left over the river. On other side I go right and travel the Quay Road which changes name every block. I am lost, I'm driving on the wrong side of the street, in a car completely backwards for me, in a city I don't know and can't find navigation signs. I'm going with the flow. We pass places I recognize from Joyce's Ulysses and the shows of Frank McCourt and Rachel Ray watched before we came to Ireland. I've decided I need to turn left soon to get to our hotel, which is across the street from Christ Church. I go left at Parliament, because I recognize it and it is connected to Copper Alley, the location of our hotel. We spend the next 2o minutes driving in circles and conducting U-Turns and finally arrive at eh hotel. Our room isn't ready. I put our bags in the holding room, put on a sweater, and we are off. We took the car to a parking lot and deposited it for the next two days. We walked back to the hotel and Christ Church and found a cute little coffee shop to get ourselves organized and centered. After we got our caffeine we sent off to Christ Church and tried to find the stops form the City Tour bus. Thank goodness a bus came along so we could find the stop. We boarded for 15 Euros each. This was a great decision. We tour the city, with entertaining tour guides and find benchmarks. Highly recommended. We see most of everything we have read about and prepared ourselves to see. We have our bearings. The bus arrives back at our hotel in time for us to check in. We check in and take a nap. We woke at 5 and headed out to Temple Bar, Grafton Street, and dinner at Fire. It is still cold and windy. The streets are crowded, on this Saturday night in Dublin. Walking the Temple Bar area is like being in a college town. The pubs are overflowing, the Irish music is everywhere, and the kids are costumed. The place is a young person's town. We walk into a few pubs and realize without seats, this is not where we want to be. We forge on to Grafton Street. Then there it is, Davy Byrne's Pub. We find a table next the bar and order the Pint. My first one.

When we leave we are ready to eat and head off to Fire on Dawson Street, around the corner. We get a table, but we have to leave it by 9PM, haha, no problem, it is 7PM. The place is magnificent. We know the restaurant is known for its grilled food. There is a huge grill in the prominent corner of the restaurant. The food is excellent and meets our expectations. When we left, it was raining lightly and the streets are empty.

We decide to find a new way back to the hotel and get lost, very lost, haha. Once we get back on track, we find classic pubs and sites. Once we get back to our hotel, we discover our hotel has a fabulous pub. Fabulous because it has classic Irish music and then a second show of classic 60's and 70's music. The folks in the pub are our age, we are young and it is our music. We are home.

We have a fifth floor room in the back. It is quiet, clean, and fabulous. It was a great first day.

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