31 July 2009

Flight: Dublin to ATL (and layover)

I tried to spend all my remaining euros before I left (read: bought Cadbury Dairy Milk Bars for later), but still ended up having about €5 left in change.

I watched 3 movies on the plane (Fast & Furious, My Life in Ruins, and Sunshine Cleaning) and finally finished 17 Again. I even won a round of trivia! Having the seat-back TVs that I could control totally made the trip this time around because I could do what I wanted at my own speed.

Lunch was just as much food as dinner on the other flight, but it wasn't as good. I had cannelloni this time. For our snack we had a spinach and ricotta pizza, but the spinach looked more like guacamole and the ricotta was more like mozzarella. I utilized the free wine a bit more this time to make my movie viewing more enjoyable.

Our flight was delayed from 6:45 to 7:20, and now it's been delayed again to 8:45. My 3 hour layover suddenly became another 5 hours in ATL. 8:45 became 9:20, and it looks like that's going to be the final time. The plane is here now, and it's 8:45. Jacqui's flight into JFK had to circle around several times and attempted to land a few times (and had to go back up) before it could finally land. The only inclement weather I see is rain. These people need to learn to operate like Ireland -- it rains all the time there and it doesn't slow them down!

Ireland Day 6: Cliffs of Moher

Cahergal Farmhouse B&B
The farmhouse was a lot nicer than we thought it would be. We had to wake up early (around 5am) to make it to the airport, so we missed the full breakfast experience. The family who runs the B&B were nice, and the animals roaming their land were fun to watch.

The Cliffs of Moher were awesome, but I didn't see any of the puffins. =( I bought a Claddagh ring in the gift shop, so I will always be able to remember the day. You feel so small when standing on such large cliffs that have stood for hundreds of years.

30 July 2009

Ireland Day 5: Castles and Ring of Kerry

Blarney Castle





Well, I kissed the stone above the Blarney Stone anyways. We hiked up the narrow, winding staircase and it was scary. By the time I was lowered to kiss the stone I felt like I was as near to death as I wanted to be that day. You have to be held over an open space and bend over backwards to kiss it and I couldn't get down low enough. It was too scary to go farther.







Lakes of Killarney







Then we went down the winding roads of the Ring of Kerry, which includes the Lakes of Killarney and an old fort from around 400 AD. The old lane leading to the fort was only big enough for one tiny European car, but it was a 2-way street. That definitely made the journey more interesting!






Staigue Fort

Ballyseede Castle Hotel



Then we drove into Tralee, which is the town closest to the Ballyseede Castle Hotel. The castle is on 30 acres of land and is very beautiful. They have a big Irish wolfhound that's like the hotel mascot, and it's the biggest dog I've ever seen. Every time I saw it, he was lying down. I guess I would be lazy too if I had to haul all that bulk around!








Now we're on the road again to the Cliffs of Moher in Shannon. After that we go to the farmhouse B&B in a town called Newmarket-on-Fergus.

(11:15am Ireland time)

29 July 2009

Ireland Day 4: Cork (Not Much Happened Here)


Cork

We finally made it to Cork yesterday, and it was cold and raining hard. By the time we ate at this nice (and delicious!) sandwich shop called the Liberty Grill, everything in the city was closed. Things close around 5 or 6pm here, which is crazy when you come from the land of the 24-hour Walmart.

We went back to the hotel (which was majorly fancy -- 4 star!) and slept for a while, got up and ordered room service (french fries and ice cream), and slept some more. Now we're on our way to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone.

(9:51am Ireland time)

28 July 2009

Dublin Day 3: Kilmainham Gaol & Croke Park

U2
Kilmainham
The Script


Yesterday we went to the jail (Kilmainham Gaol) and the U2 concert at Croke Park. The Script and Bell X1 opened for U2, so the concert took up a good chunk of the day (and night). The energy of the crowd was amazing, even though some of us were ready to punch someone for not respecting our personal space. Standing for 7 hours with no refreshment or bathroom kinda sucked though.


Now we're lost in the Irish countryside looking for Cork. We're in a little town called Maynooth, which is cute and looks like the typical Irish town from a movie. We didn't know the scenic route would be quite this scenic!

(11:16am Dublin time)

27 July 2009

Dublin Day 2: Trinity College, Guinness Storehouse, & Dublin Castle

(8am Dublin time)

Yesterday we did a lot of tourist stuff. We bought one of those tour bus passes where you hop on or off at your convenience.We visited Christ Church Cathedral, Trinity College Dublin, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Guinness Storehouse.
Trinity College Dublin


We went to the huge library at Trinity College (which is the biggest library I've ever seen with nothing but old books) and saw the Book of Kells exhibit. The library had a handwritten copy of Beethoven's symphony no. 3 and the Rosetta Stone*, which was awesome.

* I later found out that this is a casting of the Rosetta Stone, as the real Rosetta Stone resides in London. I feel duped!


I saw so many awesome things today... I took so many pictures (mostly in St. Patrick's Cathedral) that my camera battery died... And I charged it last night.

St. Patrick's Cathedral


We took a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, where Guinness is made. Fun fact: the first shipment of Guinness to the USA landed in South Carolina... Which means Charleston! I'm learning local history in another country. The best part of the tour is the end, where you end up in the top of the Guinness glass (the building) for spectacular 360-degree views of Dublin. There are even quotes about Dublin written by famous authors printed on the glass near the monument/area the quotes mention. I picked up a pair of Guinness glasses in the shop, as they're celebrating their 250th anniversary and had special glasses made for the occasion.


Dublin Castle

25 July 2009

Dublin Day 1: St. Stephen's Green & Temple Bar

(1am Dublin time)

Jacqui: We made it!


This is technically the end of the first day in Dublin, even though it's already tomorrow. Today we went to St. Stephen's Green and walked around the area surrounding it and Temple Bar. We ate in a little pub in Temple Bar area, and then sat outside the hotel U2 owns because there were cars out front that looked like they were taking people to the concert. They were, but it wasn't the band.

Then we needed a nap (which was much-needed) and had dinner at the hotel restaurant. I imagine it's pronounced like "ivy," but it's Iveagh. Then drinks in the hotel bar and now bed.

P.S. Not sure they know how to make a Long Island Iced Tea in Ireland. The bartender just poured a bunch of shots and some Coke into a glass that she squeezed about 10 lemon slices into. Dunno what that was about...

Charles de Gaulle Layover, Part 2

As soon as I said something about wanting a shower, water started pouring from the ceiling two gates over. It went undiscovered for about 30 minutes, and by then it had created a small lake by gate E24. Take that Paris!

I've been passing the time talking to a woman on her way back home to Ireland from a visit to Nigeria. I told her how shocked I was at Coke prices here, and she came back from the restroom with a Diet Coke ("Coke Light") for me. Her name's Esther and she has a daughter who's cute and very energetic because she didn't sleep on the plane to Paris.

They ended up moving everyone on our half of the terminal to the other side so we didn't have to smell the stinky water smell anymore, but we were completely fine where we were.

Charles de Gaulle Layover, Part 1

(what I assume is about 6am France time)

The plane landed early (joy! An even longer layover!), around 5am France time. Paris was so pretty because it was all lit up in the dark. Breakfast on the plane was an egg and cheese biscuit with raisins (yuck) and OJ in one of those little containers the water came in. The man next to me was polite, but not nice, and he smelled a little bit when he put his arms up (which thankfully he didn't do much once we were settled). The guy in front of me had the highest voice I think I've ever heard coming out of a man's mouth. The old guy next to me was apparently going to Marseilles with a bunch of his old guy buddies, and the guy in front was going to Barcelona to study opera for 5 weeks. Seems like I just attract voice majors wherever I go! He is a sophomore and loved laughing at his own statements every 5 seconds. Not his own jokes, just statements. My opinions on the Paris airport are going to be written in the form of a letter to a friend, who asked for my opinion on de Gaulle.

Friend --

The Paris airport (well, Charles de Gaulle anyways, but no one really counts Orly) is beautiful architecturally from what I saw of this terminal in the dark. The walkways from the plane are metal and glass, which is way better than those beige boxes they have in America. But that's where the niceness ends. The carpet inside when we got off was a garish red (not what you want to see at 5am), and the people movers are so slow I was walking faster than the people on them.

I had to go through security again and they made me throw away the wine and Coke I saved from the plane. Their bins are more like cafeteria trays than bins, and every electronic item has to be in them. This was not good for me, because I had to hold up the line getting various devices from both my purse and my backpack.

There's no gate on my ticket or on the screen when I get in, and the dude I ask about it is of course a complete a-hole. When I finally find the one screen in the whole airport that has my gate number on it, I find myself in the most ghetto terminal in the whole place. The chairs are mismatched orange and burgundy (vomit!), and I was the only soul here at 5am.

I decide to go to the bathroom (which of course is all the way at the other end of the terminal from my gate -- there's only one) and discover it only has two stalls. Two! The doors make this creepy Haunted Mansion sound when you move them, and the toilet seats are round and impossible to cover. The flush buttons say Presto, and I'm pretty sure that's Italian. And they get mad at me for not speaking French! I brushed my teeth and washed my face so I'd feel human again and they have this contraption that looks like a paper towel dispenser only with some kind of cheap cloth hanging out. I think: cool! Cloth paper towels! (even though that doesn't make sense, you know what I mean) and I go to grab one to wipe my face on. Only it doesn't come off. It comes out where paper towels normally come out, hangs in a loop, and goes back in the other side. I don't have anything to wipe my face on, so I just use the front of it and leave it hanging there. Another girl comes in shortly after and pushes some magic button to make it advance forward so she can wipe her hands on some new cloth, but I think she got some of where my face was. How unsanitary is that? You're using the top of an already used paper (cloth) towel! Oh, and on further inspection, I still couldn't find the magic button.

You know how else I know my terminal's ghetto? It's on the ground! I think I'm going to have to take a bus to the bitty airplane when it gets here. It's also ghetto because the pretty raised terminal apparently has its bathroom right above my head. Every time someone flushes, I hear it. Joy. So my opinion, if you haven't figured it out already, is that Paris blows. Well, the airport anyways. My 5 hour layover wasn't long enough to do anything good.

And another reason to avoid this airport: a can of Coke is 2. That's like $3... For a can!

24 July 2009

Flight: ATL to Paris

I don't know what time it is because my cell phone's off and I don't have a watch. The movie system on the plane is messed up and they have to keep restarting it (much to my dismay). We had gotten about halfway through 17 Again with Zac Efron and I was getting into it when they restarted it the first time. Now I'm watching the beginning of that Disney "Witch Mountain" remake for the third time. I want to see the end of the grown-up movie!

I've also just had the best airplane food I've ever had. It was pasta in a cream sauce with vegetables (which I left on the side), a little salad with Italian dressing (had a few bites and it was wilty so I didn't eat the rest), a roll with butter, Monterey Jack cheese and crackers, a cookies n creme brownie, and water in a little container with a foil lid (like a yogurt cup). It had a little maple leaf on top. Only the Canadians would come up with something like that. The little plastic silverware were adorable, if cheap. And I got complimentary white wine to go with my pasta! I've already had a Coke, and we get breakfast in the morning too. They just came by to see if I wanted coffee, tea, or water and I still have almost all my wine and half the little container of water left. Talk about service!

When I started writing, we were over Rhode Island and it really does resemble a boot. Now there are so many clouds that I can't see anything but white. I used the airplane bathroom for the first time since freshman year of college and it's not nearly as bad as I remember. Maybe this one's bigger, or I'm not as claustrophobic anymore.

Back to my wine and movie now!

ATL Layover, Part 3

After watching the pilot episode of Arrested Development (free on iTunes!), I got my pack of miniature Cinnabons and headed back to the T terminal. I went to one of the ever-present Atlanta News & Gifts stores to get a bag of pretzels and a cold bottled Coke, both of which may come in handy on the plane if dinner sucks. I get breakfast on the flight to Dublin too, which will probably be close to non-existent (mini croissant, anyone?), so I hope the French caf├ęs serve wine and cheese at 6am!

I just thought of an awesome idea. There should be gyms in airports, like in hotels. That way you have something to do other than sit on your fat behind while you're waiting. Not that I'd use it, because I'd totally be intimidated by the people inside. Just a thought.

ATL Layover, Part 2

I've walked back to the A terminal after breaking the seal in T (and again in A, even though you can't technically break it twice). I've stationed myself in the neighboring terminal so I can sit in front of the Cinnabon in case the drunk munchies strike (and even if they don't, I still want one!). I spent my remaining time in T talking to the bartender and Afghanistan man about international drinking ages. I spent $11 before tip on the margarita (that's almost a pitcher at La Ha... highway robbery!) and didn't realize until after I left that I added wrong. Now she's gonna think I'm an idiot. Or a drunk.

I realized while I was walking over that I've flown in and out of ATL as many, if not more, times than I've flown out of Charleston. I think that's odd. I'm a big hater of the ATL bathroom sinks too. They squirt out enough water to wash a third of one hand and then stop so you have to wave your soapy, partially wet hand around like an idiot until it will squirt again. They need to recalibrate those things.

I'm going to either read or watch TV on my iPod until I get the Cinnabon craving (yum!).

ATL Layover, Part 1

After a short flight to ATL, I find myself looking for ways to amuse myself for 5 hours. So far, I've eaten a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut (at 10:30 am!) and looked at giant sculptures from Zimbabwe between terminals T & A (haha, T&A). What do you call sculptures (or anything) from Zimbabwe? Zimbabwean? Must Wikipedia later.

Now I'm sitting in the On the Border conveniently located right across from my gate drinking a margarita. This woman who I believe was drunk (at 11am? Props to her!) said the bartender made really good ones. It's pretty good, but doesn't compare to ones from Cozumel! It's in a huge glass though, which makes me happy. The fact that I'm drinking a margarita out of a tumbler makes me feel a little trashy though. And the John Mayer/Gavin deGraw crossbreed wannabe they're piping throughout the restaurant has a decidedly un-Mexican feel. I paid almost $7 for a small pizza, drink, and breadsticks (which were awful and the only time I've ever not enjoyed Pizza Hut breadsticks), so I'm afraid to think how much this margarita will cost. It will be worth it though, if not for the tequila for the place to sit and write without being hunched over in those crappy benches at the gate.

I'm sitting next to a guy that just got back from Afghanistan and he's wearing this little pouch thing on his arm with his ID in it (among other things, I guess). The bartender said it would be handy for when she was out on the beach in the Bahamas, and I had to hold back the urge to tell her that she'd have awful tan lines (and weird looking too) if she used it for that purpose.I'm kind of in love with my new Sharpie pen now, by the way.

Now they're playing Madonna. How Mexican. I've only killed 20 minutes here and I'm running out of ideas. I may have to watch movies/TV shows on my iPod and pray there's an interesting movie on the plane. E! wasn't working in my last flight, and that's the only channel worth a damn in the morning.

OMG, they're actually playing a song in Spanish! About time. Anyways, the margarita's almost gone and my hand's starting to hurt, so I'm stopping now. You can measure my boredom by how many more times I write today.