The back of my well broken in chair is reclined as far as it can go and it’s dark outside, but try as I might, I just can’t get myself comfortable enough to sleep. I’m three hours in on a seven hour flight to Ireland with my wife and I want to sleep so I can actually be alert when we arrive and actually make something of the day.
This trip is our 15th year anniversary gift to each other. We had hoped to go on a trip like this for our 10th anniversary, but the usual curveballs that like likes to throw at you happened. In its own way, these unexpected “life moments” give you a chance to second guess your plans and see if there is a better way of working them. I have to admit that even with all our planning I am a little leery of this trip. I’ve never been on a flight this long and I get motion sick fairly easy. The Sea Bands are working so far. I had no problem with the flight from Florida to Philly, but would they hold up for this flight? More importantly will they hold up for the entire week of road tripping? Yes, my friends, our trip to Ireland is a week long journey by bus. We’re going to hit all the hot spots: Dublin, Killarney, Galway with stops in Cashel, Blarney, Bunratty, Cliffs of Moher, Clifden, Leenane, and Connemara to fill out the week. It’s through CIE Tours and promises to be a winner. I’m really excited about it and brought with me both versions of Dramamine just to be certain.
Somehow between the tight seats and calls to buy duty free liquor I am able to sneak in a few cat naps on the trip over. It’s light out now and I can see a little bit of ground peeking from under the clouds. Hmm. Fairly heavy cloud cover. I guess all the movies and stories about Ireland’s and England’s weather is true. Then a larger break in the clouds reveals the gem of Ireland before me. It’s just like the pictures show! Patches and Patches of farmland divvied up by thin rows of trees. It looks like a rich earthen quilt of emerald green! Amazing! I prod my wife, Carol, so she can look out the window as well to make this moment real.
A few moments later and we are in Ireland!
When we get off the plane we immediately start looking for Carol’s sister, Gail. She and her husband, Tom, visited Ireland ten years earlier and jumped at the chance to join us when they heard we were going. Being new to the area, I loved the fact that we were going to have two experienced people with us to help pick out the secret little local spots that most people miss.
It didn’t take long for us to find them. In fact, all we had to do was turn around. Their plane was delayed and ended up landing just after ours did. With quick hugs and salutations, we head downstairs to grab our luggage. After that we went through customs. A painless process with a very small line. After that we walk over to the airport café where I have my first true experience with Ireland. Tea! The people are having tea with their breakfast. Now there’s something you don’t see every day in America.
I wonder what else will be different. Carol want’s a Diet Coke to wake up, so I mosey into the airport store. It’s called Spar. Wow is it different. They sell real food here. I’m talking boxes of rice and cans of soup. Why? There’s no place to cook it. How many people buy it for their flight home?
The candy is different too. They have a few things from us: Kit Kat, Twix, Snickers, and Cadbury, but their wrappers are different. They look like they belong in a Willy Wonka movie. It’s not bad, in fact, it’s very cheerful when you think about it. Just another thing to let me know I am in a new country.
I hand Carol the Coke as we all head over to the gathering spot. There’s a good sized crowd there and they are every bit as tired and excited as we are. The age group runs across the board from college freshmen to retirees. They are a lively bunch and I get the feeling this is going to be better than I expected.
Next: Onto Dublin!