Day 1: San Jose to Dublin

First of all, thank you to Bryan Reed for giving us a ride from home to the airport!  He got us there in perfect time and we sailed through security – until I set off the metal detector like Christmas.

Turns out, FitBit registers a lot like a weapon of mass destruction to those things.  I got the full pat down and sweep for bomb residue, apologetically, before they let us go on their way.

After being highly unimpressed with SFO, we hopped on a plane and commenced our first leg – to Toronto.  We had a really fantastic canadien sitting next to us, who chatted with us the whole way.  He’s travelled all over the world and had some great tips for us.

Toronto’s airport is freakin’ gorgeous.  The art and the architecture of it put SFO to shame, big time.  However, it’s not nearly as well organized.  There was lots of stopping and starting and “only ten people can walk down that hallway at a time” and customs officials wearing very obvious bullet proof vests.  I really did wonder if we were going to come out the other end as soylent green.

Our plane was delayed almost an hour, but we never found out why.  Before takeoff, we were delayed even longer when one of the overhead oxy mask compartments burst open a couple of seats in front of me.  Not confidence inspiring, people.  However, we eventually got off the ground and I have to say the flight was uneventful, if ridiculously uncomfortable, and the in-flight dinner was not bad at all.  So far, Air Canada gets pretty high marks from me.  But man, they need to improve their seats.

Chris was able to get a couple of hours of sleep on the plane, but I didn’t get a single wink.  By the time we finally debarked in Dublin, we were worn out and worn thin, but super happy just to be on the ground and done with 15 hours of flying.  We went to pick up our rental car, and that’s where we got a RUDE surprise.

First of all, it took forever.  I’m talking like an hour.  Second, while I’d seen prices as low as $9 per day online, the guy quoted me 100 Euros.  That’s $140 to those of you paying attention.  For a wee economy rental car, for ONE day.  He gave me some BS line about not having any other rates but the website says otherwise.  What that was, ladies and gentlemen, was a tax on Kryses who don’t reserve and pay up front for the rental car for the one day in Dublin.

I had a damn good reason to not do it, but in retrospect, I could have saved myself about a hundred bucks by just biting the bullet.  Don’t worry, our Scotland rental car is long since booked and it’s even prepaid.

So then, after all that, came our first experience of getting behind the wheel on the WRONG side of the car and driving on the WRONG side of the road.

I’m proud to say that after being awake for almost 48 hours and having never driven on the wrong side before, I did not wreck us, scratch the car, scare any irish people, or get us irretrievably lost.  Note the irretrievable part.  We definitely had an adventure getting there, and I was definitely driving at 20kph down the tiny winding narrow road with ivy-colored stone walls on other side, which had a 40kph speed limit.

I am also proud to say that Chris did not shriek at the top of his lungs, pee his pants or pass out.  Barely.  Poor guy is a little greyer after his first ride in Ireland.

But we got here, in one piece, with no real incidents, and the property is GORGEOUS.  The hotel proper is a 14th century castle with a 16th century (yep, renaissance, folks) manor house built around it.  It’s beautiful, creaky, substantial, and labyrinthine.  After showering and eating (OMG the best cider and the best sticky toffee pudding I’ve ever had) we wandered the entire grounds and explored every not-locked door inside.  We have lots of pictures, they’ll be put up eventually.

There’s a freakin’ suit of armor in a cellar bar that for all the world looks like you took Single Barrel back in time 500 years.  There are stained glass windows.  There is crown molding and crystal chandeliers.  There are sitting rooms and drawing rooms and chatting rooms and relaxing rooms and a ballroom that they call the library, for some reason.

And now, it’s 8:45 and Chris is already asleep on the bed.  I needed to pay a bridge toll so we can turn in the rental car tomorrow at 4:45am.  Yes, you read that right.  We’re going to bed early, we’ve got a plane to catch at 6.

However, I’ll leave you with some observations:

  1. Apparently, being a dick is not a uniquely american talent.
  2. Bad drivers are everywhere.
  3. The irish speak really, really fast. Like someone pressed fast forward and their tape is about to run out.  I think all my irish friends slow themselves down so that we three-dimensional mortals can understand them, but I suspect they’re 5th dimension star trek beings.
  4. Currency exchange is a hell of a racket.
  5. People while travelling are really gregarious, chatty and delightful.  At least, while traveling to Ireland and Scotland.  We’ve met loads of new people and we’re only a day in.  I even met a wonderful fiber nerd who lives near prunedale and has sheep and is willing to give or sell me fleece and wants us to come out and play with the sheep and stuff.
  6. Ireland is humid.
  7. Castles are cool.  They’re like normal houses inside, except that the doorways are really thick. And except for the fact that they’re freakin’ castles.
  8. It’s clear this is not a seismically active area.  None of these buildings would be standing in CA.

Good night, kids, The adventure begins in earnest tomorrow.

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