Traveling Abroad (One) — May, 2013

Bet you’re wondering where I’ve been for the past few days.

Would you believe Ireland??

You should. I might be part-Irish, but I wouldn’t lie about a trip to the Motherland!

It’s long been a dream of mine. Last summer, my friend Katybeth and her son went and had a blast.

Then in August, Notre Dame played Navy in the Shamrock Bowl in Dublin (and Domer and the Band got to go!). But they didn’t see much of anything, so I promised — if Domer wanted to — that I’d take him back as a graduation gift. He agreed.

I applied for, and received my passport, made travel arrangements, and was so excited about our adventure that I barely slept. I had all sorts of plans — kissing the Blarney Stone, touring the Guinness factory, seeing Trinity College and the Book of Kells and the Waterford factory, looking over Kilmainham Gaol, and taking a bazillion pictures.

To share on my blog, naturally!

We departed Wednesday, May 22, from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, intending to sleep the entire flight because we were to land at 9 a.m. the next day and hit the ground running toward the sights.

No such luck.

  • The flight attendants kept the overhead lights blaring and ran up and down the aisles feeding people every couple of hours.
  • Passengers tromped back and forth to the restrooms.
  • The girl in front of me leaned her seat way back (when I couldn’t move mine), squashing my space.
  • The man next to Domer coughed and snored — mouth wide open — for hours.
  • Somebody’s infant was most unhappy and let us all know about it.

The “fun” really started after we landed on Irish soil.

Domer and I snared a few Euros from an airport ATM and hailed a taxi into Dublin and our hotel. The plan was to drop off our luggage and sight-see.

Neither of us can be sure, but we strongly suspect that the cabbie — nice though he was — took a roundabout route, pointing out all the “bee-u-tee-ful” sights to see while we were in town. We grew more suspicious when he told us how “the missus” likes money and how hard it is to make a living driving a cab.

Thirty-six Euros later, we arrived in front of the hotel — the one Domer had found online before we left, the one I booked and in turn, received confirmation on.

The attendant said he had no record of our booking; however, he’d sell us a room. Figuring I was going to get charged twice, and not feeling comfortable with the seedy-looking place anyway, we high-tailed it back onto the streets.

Schlepping our luggage across crowded Dublin, we made our way to a Burger King. Twelve Euros for two burgers, one small fry, and two sodas.

(One Euro equals $1.30, approximately. You do the math!)

Feeling cheated but no longer hungry, we went to the Discover Ireland office. They found us a “guest house” and gave us directions on which bus to take and how to get there.

The inn’s rate was reasonable that night, but it nearly doubled for the following nights — apparently due to a football (soccer) match in town that weekend, along with some big concert and lots of tourists — so one night was all we booked.

It was a quaint little inn. Tiny, but clean. There were no amenities like in the States — no toiletries, no soap, no washcloths, no clock, no mini-fridge, no microwave. But they did have wireless Internet, which we used to search for our next night’s accommodation.

Frustrated and weary from jet lag, we toppled into our beds for a few hours (killing any hope of Thursday sight-seeing).

When dinnertime arrived, we prevailed upon the desk clerk for directions to a restaurant, and were led to a delightful spot for beer-battered haddock and fries.

Good, but expensive. Cha-ching.

Upon our return, we did more research, questioned the sanity of this trip, then crashed for the night.

Join me tomorrow for more!

Who Goes to Hotels to Sleep?

Why do some people act worse than animals when they stay at a hotel?

Take last Friday, for example.

I’d picked up My Favorite Domer for Mid-Term Break and, rather than fighting traffic, we checked into a chain hotel with plans to watch college basketball and get an early start home on Saturday.

I’d stayed there before and found it okay. Nothing fancy, mind you, but clean and readily accessible to the shopping/dining spots we were visiting.

No sooner had we settled in to watch the games, the NOISE started.

Our room was located near the end of the hall, far from the typical noise-makers: ice and soda machines and elevator.

But some parents must have decided everybody should share in the delight of their little darlings, as the kids charged up and down the hallway, screaming like banshees and slamming their room door every chance they got.

A few minutes after this began, MFD looked over at me and asked, “Do you smell smoke?”

Fleeting images of us re-donning our day clothes, re-packing suitcases, and evacuating the premises went through my mind as I shook my head. Then it wafted my way.

Cigarettes, on our non-smoking hall.

I called the Front Desk and was told our entire wing was non-smoking. “If we catch them,” he added, “we’ll assess them an extra $75.”

Ooh, I’ll bet that would’ve scared them — not!

So we turned up the TV and clicked on the heating/air conditioning unit to block out the noise and disperse the smoke.

I also called down to the Front Desk again to complain.

Nothing did any good.

Along about 11 p.m., the kids started crying at the top of their lungs. Their parents must not have known they were over-stimulated and up past their bedtime.

Finally, just before midnight, the smoking ceased, as did the noise.

When we checked out the next morning, I voiced my displeasure to a new Front Desk clerk, who was somewhat more sympathetic. I couldn’t help noticing the No Pets Allowed sign and told her, “I’d rather have stayed with dogs than endure those screaming kids.”