Traveling Abroad (Three) — May, 2013

When Saturday dawned, I was up before the wake-up call, eager to get back home.

Domer and I tightened our belts in lieu of breakfast and went to the hotel lobby to check out.

Now, we’d been told this taxi would charge a flat fee of 35 Euros, payable by swiping a credit card.

But the guy who showed up said he couldn’t do that. He wanted cash, so we had to stop at an ATM and withdraw enough for the trip.

Sorry, buddy, no tip for you!

When I fretted about how little time we had to get to the airport, he floored the accelerator, weaving in and out of traffic. On the left hand side of the road.

I held my breath the entire trip.

At last we reached Dublin Airport.

Mass confusion reigned. Queues were snaking everywhere.

Finally, we got “rid” of our heaviest suitcases — filled with clothes we hadn’t worn — only to find more lines.

For screening.

For customs.

For pre-boarding to the States.

That means taking off one’s shoes, unpacking the laptop, removing jackets and keys and coins.

Before this trip I hadn’t flown since Domer was in the womb (1990). So you can imagine how stunned I was to see a woman in front of me felt all over by a TSA screener.

I slipped through, then poor Domer got groped.

Despite having shaved off his scruffy beard. Despite looking like a clean-cut, decent young American.

And after he told me — on the plane, no less — I was ready to hop off like Mama Tigress and give that screener a piece of my mind for touching my kid!

We didn’t wait long to board, and more than once I looked at Domer and asked whether we were making the right decision.

“I’m going home,” Domer said. “I’ve had it with this place.”

The flight back was okay. We availed ourselves of everything that was offered — food, soda, tea, bathroom, free movies, you name it.

Other passengers were still irritating; we knew it was going to feel like midnight when we finally got home (because of the time change); and I couldn’t relax for the thoughts swirling in my brain, but Domer helped.

We’re going HOME, he kept reminding me. And it was sounding better and better.

Join me tomorrow as I complete our trip.

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24 thoughts on “Traveling Abroad (Three) — May, 2013

  1. Wow, flying has really changed since you flew last time. Everything you described makes me remember that flying use to be so much easier. You see, we can’t “profile” so everyone is a suspect. Don’t even get me started. In Ireland, we didn’t taxi, I rented a car, but I didn’t drive in Dublin so we hailed more than our fair share of busses after we figured out the system which is hard even if you live in a place where public transportation is the norm. The problem with “somewhere else” is that it is not home and that can be hard and not necessarily a vacation. To me a vacation is the beach or a cabin in the mountain where I can do very little…traveling “abroad” is wonderful, but in my experience it is also exhausting from the time you are dropped off at the airport. Sad, it didn’t work out for you…maybe it would be easier next time if you went with someone who knew the ropes or signed on for a tour. I’ve loved every tour I have ever taken. Of-course…I might not be the best source for recommendations. :-D

    • Thanks for sympathizing. Yes, traveling can be hard — things are so unfamiliar, and you’re so eager to see what everybody’s told you you “have” to see! No way would either of us have been comfortable driving on the left side of the road, especially not with the crazy drivers weaving in and out and hanging onto that middle line! That sounds like a fast trip to the local jail, ha!

      A beach or a cabin sounds practically perfect right now. However, a tour might have resolved most of our issues, IF we could have found the right tour group. We didn’t want to go with senior citizens, and they’re about the only ones affording tours these days (young people are working or in school).

      I admire you and Cole for doing Ireland right — wish I’d tagged along then, ha!

      • I’m not sure we did it right, we had a few trips under our belt and learned a lot. I drove from Dublin to Galalie and it was lots of fun, but there was a learning curve. fortunately the Irish watch out for the Americans—it’s in there best interest!! You do have to find the “right” tour, but it’s really not that hard…even if you just plan day tours which is what worked for us in Italy–they hail the bus. :-D….Keep in mind tho–you have to look at “right” outside of an American mindset…we have it pretty good….I tagged along for a long time! Now you have experience under your belt….it’s helpful. Look at this as a starting point, not an ending point!

        • I like your upbeat, optimistic attitude! Domer and I intended to put on our happy faces, too, until we just sagged deeper and deeper into despair. Looking back, we probably ran into a combination of issues — any one of which could have made our experience unpleasant. I’m not totally sure this was the right time for this kind of trip, nor did we do enough pre-planning. Oh, well. It is what it is.

  2. “That means taking off one’s shoes, unpacking the laptop, removing jackets and keys and coins.”

    Yes, Debbie, I remember flying last year after not having flown for YEARS, and going through security before going to my gate. OMG…what a PRODUCTION!

    “I slipped through, then poor Domer got groped.”

    Yup…the same thing happened to me at the West Palm Beach Airport, heading back to Philadelphia. And it totally shocked me because the guy never even warned me he was going to do it. He just GROPED. And you should have seen the look my face. I was utterly flabbergasted.

    Can’t wait to read more tomorrow!

    Happy Friday, dear lady!

    X

    • Aw, Ron, I’m so sorry you, too, had the groping experience. Domer said his guy actually told him he was going to “check around his waistband, and would he mind?” What was he supposed to say — “go for it, buddy”??

      I know we have to take protective measures so we’ll be safe from terrorists and such, but one would think x-ray machines would be sufficient. And I realize they can’t “profile,” but seriously — old ladies and little kids??

      Thanks for stopping by, and I hope your Friday is SUPER!!

  3. The last time the hubby and I flew he was whisked through and I got the image scan and pat down…it didn’t upset me though. I’d rather we go through these procedures to ensure the safety of all passengers. I did think it was kind of funny I was selected though.
    So sorry your vacation was a bummer…Ireland sounds like such a dream to visit.

    • I’ve long wanted to visit Ireland, Suzi, but maybe this wasn’t the right time. Or the right kind of trip. Whatever.
      So sorry to hear you had the pat down. A woman in front of me got the full treatment, too, and I was shocked and embarrassed at having to watch. It’s sad that we have to go through such procedures to be safe, isn’t it?

      • We don’t have to go through such procedures to be safe. That’s pure foolishness and government hype. It’s also worth remembering that the TSA now has spiffy uniforms and is showing up at places like IRS offices “just to keep an eye on things” when protestors show up.

        Well, enough. ;)

  4. I have barely traveled in my lifetime and when I flew recently, I was expecting it to be difficult after all I’ve heard. But I got through security fairly easily and I was grateful. So sorry to hear that the Ireland trip couldn’t be salvaged.

  5. Debbie, You have shown so vividly the wearisome side of travel. And I know what you mean about the groping. It is a routine part of my flying experience since I have a pacemaker. Sounds like from the comments that you’ve learned a few lessons so I guess something valuable came from this excursion. If I didn’t already know you and Domer’s made it home safely, I would be sweating right now. Looking forward to the completion of your trip:-)

    • Thanks for traveling along, Kathy. What I wouldn’t have given to see the friendly, smiling faces of my friends and to reap their accumulated knowledge and encouragement at the time!

  6. Debbie,
    I am so sorry that your long awaited trip abroad was such a disaster. I would have thought that in Ireland, it would have been easier to get around than in a non English country, but it looks like that was not case. Unfortunately, trans Atlantic travel has taken a turn for the worse, but most of the time, the trip itself is a wonderful cross cultural experience. But the other great drawback is cost…with the dollar low, no European travel destination will be bargain for Americans right now. The cost of living, too, is so much more expensive than in the Midwest. And unfortunately this year, we are still awaiting springs arrival, so I imagine the weather was dreadful.

    • Actually, Pat, the weather was the least of our worries — in fact, we even saw some sunshine (which is more than I can say for Illinois lately, ha!) It was a bit cooler than what we’d left, but that felt really good. And hearing from our chatty cabbie that temps never really reached 90 degrees sounded like Heaven to me!

  7. I’m really sorry your trip was so disappointing for you. One thing did catch my attention – your comment about all the things people tell you that you “have” to see. Next time, think a little more about what you want to see, and that will help.

    I very rarely pre-plan anything when it comes to travel, but a good dose of traveling in Africa taught me a good bit about how to cope with the most unusual of circumstances. And, I think personality plays into our enjoyment of travel. I’m pretty laid back and don’t mind being in the “Oh, my – it’s getting dark. Where shall I stay tonight” kind of situations. Sounds like a little more pre-planning could have made it easier for you. That’s not good or bad – just the differences in people.

    • Interesting observations, Linda. I rather thought Domer would be more laid-back. After all, he’s traveled with the ND Band for four years, enduring everything from airports and buses to long lines and wondering what to eat. However, he’s the one who proved more inflexible! Perhaps that’s because when he was traveling with the Band, they did everything for the students — made travel arrangements, booked hotels, came up with a schedule of activities, etc. Silly me — I’d left that open-ended, assuming he’d want to display some of his newly-found maturity and help! Then, too, perhaps he was just fretting over the first cavity his dentist found and dreading the thought of having to get it filled.

  8. Debbie, was this your first time ever traveling abroad? If so, I agree with My Odd Family about taking a tour. The first time I went to Europe we went with Globus Journeys. They took care of everything. We never had to life our suitcases except to leave them outside our room door when we were checking out. Then, when we arrived at our next destination, the suitcases magically appeared in the rooms. They took care of all transportation and any needs, problems we may have had. I also loved meeting the other travelers, many of them, like me, single moms with their children. Sixteen days of traipsing across the continent and it was a blast!

    • Now that sounds lovely, Monica! Yes, this was my first time outside the States. Domer was in Dublin briefly with the Band, which took care of all arrangements, so that hardly counts.
      The entire experience — from the confusion of applying for a passport to the airport screenings to the lack of familiarity with the Euro — was a bit overwhelming, especially so close on the heels of graduation. I sincerely intend, however, for there to be a ‘next time,’ and I’m pretty confident it will be more successful!

  9. I’m not a fan of air travel anyway (though we’ll be flying across the country in a little over a week) and your story makes it even less likely that I’ll venture outside the states! My best friend went to Paris a couple years ago and the length of the flight alone caused me to say, “no thanks…I’ll just look at your pictures!” I’m off to check out the next part…as soon as I let the dogs outside :)

    • Something tells me it’s easier flying within the States. No confusion over currency, greater expectation that service will be more to our liking. That said, maybe we simply had a run of bad luck, all at once. Does that sound simple-minded?!?

  10. Debbie, I’m so sorry for you and Domer! What a shame. If we look on the bright side, this trip could be thought of as a learning experience of what not to do next time around. I imagine this must have been quite expensive as well. I’m flinching with pain at the thought of you dropping so much money for three days! And with the dollar as low as it is. The Significant Other once said, “We work so we can eat,” and I agree. The cost of living in Europe is outrageous. Thankfully, not all countries are the same. You can eat quite well in Spain and it’s not as expensive as other European countries. Perhaps this might be a great travel destination for you next time around! :)

    • Domer says he’s done with traveling — I hope that’s just frustration talking because I, for one, still want to see places! I might have to go without him, maybe sign up for a tour, the next time. Did you notice I said, the next time? Yes, I still want to travel! Crazy, isn’t it? If nothing else, I can more readily empathize with the cost of living in Europe now than before.

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