Friday, September 24, 2010

Ireland Trip Log

I made it to Ireland at last.  Going through security was a bit of a pain, because the guard pulled me aside and unpack my carry on bag for some reason.  Boarded my flight from BWI to JFK at 4:55 PM.  Sat next to an entrepreneural specialty brewer who was on his way to Brussels for a beer convention.  Landed at JFK at 6:40 PM.  My flight to Dublin boarded at 10:55PM.  I took the opportunity to see as much of the airport as I could while I was there.  This meant leaving the Delta terminal and going back through security again.  Though I was reluctant to do this, it proved worthwhile.  I couldn't locate the Saarinen TWA terminal, but I did see some amazing construction that seemed to be modeled after the 1962 iconic design.  The above building is Terminal 4.  I then walked to the newest terminal housing Air Japan, Lufthansa and Air France. 
Really sophisticated engineering, and quite an awesome cavernous interior space.  I made it back to the Delta terminal and back through security with no problems.  My flight left from gate 14, and as I waited for the boarding, I tried the JFK wifi and was dismayed to learn that it wasn't free.  The flight to Dublin was quite uncomfortable and I couldn't sleep at all, though I really tried.  During the flight, it occured to me that my hotel reservation was booked for the wrong day.  No problem, just have to find a new hotel and pay a "no show" fee.  I was relieved to get off of the plane at 10:30 am local time.  My next challenge was getting past an overly zealous Irish immigration official who made me prove that I was worthy to enter Ireland.  His main objection was that I didn't have a return ticket.  I commented that I wanted to leave it open, because I wasn't sure how long my itinerary would take me.  This wasn't a sufficient enough explanation apparently, because then he asked me how much money I had and forced me to provide a bank statement.  I cooperated knowing full well that he could ruin my whole trip by deportation.  On showing him the proof, he relented and graciously stamped my passport with a one month allowance.  I was relieved.  My next challenge was finding a room for the night.  I carefully assessed the best locations, and decided on Bray, which is a seaside community south of Dublin.  I had to rent a car, which was a breeze, and got lucky with an automatic Toyota Corolla.  The clerk at the Budget rental desk was quite pleasant in contrast to the immigration official.  The GPS proved to be invaluable as I navigated the M50 and had no problems adjusting to driving on "the wrong side of the road".  In fact, I found the Irish drivers to be very sensible and a welcome contrast to the idiots I am accustomed to in DC. Arriving in Bray at 12:30, I checked into the Esplanade hotel.  A relatively inexpensive place right on the coast.  The clerk at the desk was also courteous and said that my room would be ready at 1:30 PM. 
This is the Esplanade hotel.  I took a stroll along the coast of the Irish sea and was envigorated by the gusting winds and the salty mist. 

I went into the hotel and was surrounded by a mob of French speaking students.  Fortunately, the clerk noticed me and said that my room was ready.  I was practically delirious and needed to clean up, so I was relieved to check into my room and get recharged.  I slept for 4 hours and went down to the bar to get something to eat.  I had the fish and chips which was excellent.  Tomorrow I am going to the monastic city of Glendalough and then will drive up north of Dublin to stay at a B&B in Navan, Meath County.  On Sunday, I am going to go to see Newgrange and the Boyne Valley.

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