What an absolute whirlwind! When one is actively vacationing, one hardly has time to document!
My 53rd birthday started with a delectable selection of pastries from Gail’s, which is a lovely bakery near our hosts’ house. And I made good use of Ellen’s espresso machine and magic milk steamer. I say “magic” because it heats and foams the milk almost instantly!
Today we travel to Dublin. Checking luggage would be expensive and make our journey longer, so I made do with a day pack—which is actually one of Kylie’s old backpacks from middle school—and my laptop case. There was no room for my rain boots or raincoat, but the forecast doesn’t call for rain until Monday when we leave, and Dave brought a traveling umbrella in addition to his hooded raincoat, so I should be able to stay dry if I keep close to him.
We left Duncan and Ellen’s house at 10:35 to begin our trek via Tube, train, and plane to Dublin. Feeling like a seasoned Tube user by now, I know to “mind the gap” between the train and the platform, and it is now second nature to walk on the left of the escalator and stand on the right. Each Tube station and car look essentially the same, but occasionally I glimpse a new poster or sign that intrigues me. Especially if it rhymes:
If you spot someone ill or in pain/Please try to help them off the train
We can offer aid much more quickly/on the platform if they’re sickly
Although we had only one switch on the Tube, it still took a long time to reach the train station, where we had to buy separate tickets because it’s outside the zone that accepts Oyster tickets. (By the way, I asked what “Oyster” refers to, but nobody knew. If I had Internet access on this plane, I’d look it up and share that info with you, but I’m afraid I’m currently Google-deprived.)
Security lines at the airport snaked six lines deep beyond the first crush after check-in. Illustrated signs are very clear about the transporting of liquids: no containers that hold 100 ml or more may go through, and all liquids, gels, pastes, aerosols, lip glosses, and mascaras must be sheathed in a transparent plastic bag no more than 20 centimeters wide and taken out of your carry-on. This same information is also broadcast in several different languages to ensure maximum efficiency at the security checkpoint. I had dutifully put my travel size containers of shampoo, lotion, mouthwash, and toothpaste in a Ziploc bag, but I should have left my moisturizer/sunscreen back at Duncan and Ellen’s. While we inched along the security queue, I opened it up and emptied as much as I could from the container into a small plastic bag that used to house prescription hormone patches, knowing that the liquid itself would be less than 100 ml. But because of the prescription label, the security officer said it had to be “tested.” I didn’t know how long that might take, so I threw it out. It won’t be terribly expensive to replace, but my face will be unprotected from the elements for a few days. C’est la vie.
We boarded around 1:30 and finally took off at 2:00. That’s a 3 ½ hour trip from London to an airport that’s still in England. I’m glad the flight itself is less than an hour. I have to admit that when I thought about combining our London vacation with a trip to Dublin, I’d assumed it would be more of a hop, skip, and a jump. Of course we do have to cross the Irish Sea, but the countries here are so small that I just assumed we could take a ferry or an underground train…
Some interesting tidbits about Ryan Air: There are no pockets beneath the tray table, and thus no place to store items during liftoff. And the seats are so close together that it’s impossible to bend over to access the area under the seat if there is a person sitting next to you unless you want to plant your face in your seatmate’s crotch. Luckily I’m married to my seatmate. And God forbid someone needs an air sick bag because there aren’t any. And the seat belts are the smallest I’ve ever encountered. I know I’m big and I may even have gained some weight on this trip, but I had to suck in my gut to fasten up. (Nobody should have to do that on her birthday.)
When we boarded the aircraft, flight attendants handed us tall menus with bright photos that resemble something you might get at Denny’s. And they sell scratchers/lottery tickets during the flight that support a church, which is Ryan Air’s chosen charity. But other than the rough landing, it was an uneventful flight. At customs, the agent asked if this was a “birthday trip,” to which I excitedly exclaimed, “Yes! It is my birthday!” before I realized that of course she had just read my birth date on my passport. Duh.
The ladies’ room in Dublin’s airport offers unique services: on one wall is a hair straightening wand, and on the other wall is a breath freshener that you apply to your finger and wipe your teeth. Who knew that Dubliners valued straight hair and fresh breath so much?
We found a bus to get to the center of the city, but we didn’t actually know which stop to get off at. When it looked like we were in the heart of things, Dave went down to ask the bus driver where we should disembark given the address we were heading for. The driver said, “this one.” So we got off and found a nice bar that’s part of the Gresham Hotel, where we ordered a few pints and called the caretaker of our Airbnb, so he could meet us and show us our home away from home. It turns out we were just a block away from the place. Sheer luck.
So now we’re here in Dublin!