Wednesday 24 April 2013

Ireland: Day One - Dublin/Malhide

We made it through day one!

Our flight left Toronto last night at 930pm and despite having periods of rough turbulence we got into Dublin 30 minutes early. The Air Transat flight was nice - we opted to take the "Option Plus" feature which got us two seats at the back, pre boarding, extra luggage weight and other perks. Definitely worth it for such a large, completely full flight. Fortunately I was able to get a few hours of sleep on the plane, so I wasn't a complete Zombie today!

After arriving we had to clear Irish customs which didn't take too long. The area of the airport we were in was very old and cute - it reminded me of the airports I saw in the now cancelled TV show Pan Am. All the doors were wood panelled with nothing automatic/key carded. It was all plain doors with locks. My dad even noticed they had ticker tape. Not sure what it is/was used for but he seemed surprised to see it.

Once we cleared customs we were in a modern/typical airport where we were met by our tour guide - Emon (I am probably spelling this wrong.) Almost all of our tour was on the flight, so we loaded on to the bus together. It's a good group - everyone seems really nice. It is mostly all couples aside from my father and I... And I think he and I are in the 4 youngest tour members category. But everyone is friendly and easy to talk to.

Our hotel rooms were not ready, so they took us on a bus tour of Dublin. We stopped at the park behind St. Patrick's Cathedral (first picture below this post) where we got some great views of the cathedral and the park which is full of literary memorials for famous authors like Swift, Beckett, Joyce, Yeates etc. My dad seemed shocked that I not only knew all the authors and could name some of their works, but that I had read at least one thing from each of them. I guess he never really realized just how much reading one does during the 5 years they are completing their specialist in English. (Photos Two and Three are of that.)

We went into a large park near the Zoo, called Phoenix Park where we saw the Irish Presidents home, the US ambassadors and some monuments. We also got to stop for coffee and muffins which was good considering we were all functioning on limited sleep, jet lagged and not yet used to the time change.

We drove around Dublin some more and saw some interesting sights and areas. Definitely found some places to head back to on our last day/free day in Dublin. (Photos Four and Five are of other Dublin sights).

We headed up the coast toward Malhide where we checked into the Grand Hotel for night one. The weirdest thing I encountered here thus far was using the leisure centre attached to the hotel and being told I had to wear a bathing cap to swim. Luckily they were able to supply me with one... But it was still odd. The hotel is great - very old and beautiful. I have a single room. Which is super tiny, but fine since we are only here for one night. (Photo Six is of my room). We had a welcome reception and then dinner with the group where we were able to meet some new people and spend time talking with them. Since its a Canadian company most of the others are Canadians too. It's kind of nice, since I have been on other tours where the majority is American and found it can sometimes be hard to follow when groups start talking about specific US issues. This way we all get each others jokes and can share a good laugh!

One last fun mention before I head off to sleep... THERE IS A TIMMY'S HERE!!!

The tour guide mentioned it on our Dublin drive, but I didn't see it and figured he was kidding. But in talking to people at dinner there actually is one! I felt so Canadian and proud in that moment, and suddenly felt less far away. It is my goal to go be Canadian at the Irish Tim Hortons store at least once this trip! (if Brian were here he would laugh and claim my Canadian is showing, but I do not care! I am a proud, Timmy's loving Canuck.

More tomorrow as we will be heading into Northern Ireland/Belfast.

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