The flight was pretty good. We had a smooth take off and landing, and had a really good meal over the Atlantic. Steph fell asleep almost instantly after she ate, but I had trouble sleeping in an upright position. Got to watch some of Nacho Libre so I didn’t mind too much. After about 6 hours we had made it to the West Coast of Ireland, and I could start to see some of the lights in the villages down below. We came just to the north of Dublin, flew out over the water again, and then came in for our landing at Dublin Airport. It was a long line to get our passports stamped, and we were already pretty tired. Once we finally got through to pick up our luggage, we still had another 2 hours to hang around the airport until we could get our rental car from Enterprise. So we sat down for a little bit, watched some Sky News and ate some Cadbury chocolates.
When they finally opened, I jumped up to get into line. I’m all ready to pay, and then I find out the cost of the rental car was going to be 250 Euros higher than what I was told, and the car I had reserved wasn’t even available. It was a lousy way to start off the trip, but I didn’t let it get to me. We left Enterprise and hopped on a shuttle to pick up the car, made it to our destination, and then got stuck standing around for another 20 minutes waiting. The lady comes out with the keys and a Honda Civic, then suggests I try driving manual because it was half the cost. Even though I hadn’t driven manual transmission in years, and I had never driven on the opposite side of the road before, nor did I know any of Ireland’s street signs or traffic laws, I decided to go for it. Big mistake. I thought I was doing pretty good with all things considered, but after hitting a couple curbs and stalling once or twice, Steph was about ready to snap. I was pretty aggravated myself, so I pulled over into a parking lot in the village north of Malahide, completely lost, and got out of the car to cool down. It was one of the most beautiful coastlines I had ever seen. But I knew I had to return the car for an automatic, so I got right back in and headed back to Enterprise.
Once the Enterprise nightmare was over, I found myself in the small fishing village of Howth asking for directions. Thanks to the help of an old Irishman in a dog race betting office, I finally found the Shieling Hotel in Raheny. The hotel was beautiful. It seems more like a local place and not very touristy. I think we were the only guests when we arrived.
After a nice long nap, we had regained some of our energy so we decided to hop into the car and head into Dublin. We did OK driving in. It was extremely exciting to drive by all the pubs and Guinness signs, and to absorb all the differences you notice when you travel to a different country. We crossed the River Liffey, passed the Guinness Brewery, and then parked near the Brazen Head. We weren’t exactly sure which direction we wanted to head in, so I pulled out my map and instantly a local came up to me and told me where I wanted to go. We followed his directions and soon found ourself in a lively, cobblestone paved section of the city called Temple Bar. The streets were closed off so pedestrians could walk around, and there were people, pubs, and restaurants everywhere. We stopped in at Quay’s Bar for our first meal and a few pints. I had the most incredible salmon of my life and Steph had some tradition Irish stew. The Guinness there is incredible! It tastes much, much better than it does here in the states. The place had a great atmosphere and there was a guy playing Irish folk songs all night. From there we checked out the Hard Rock Cafe where we found a pair of Ringo’s drum sticks and a pair of shoes Paul McCartney wore in the 60’s. We also stopped in another bar which was a lot more like what we had in the states. When we left Temple Bar we drove up to Howth and walked around the coast for a couple minutes. It was amazing. Felt great to be there. I’ll never forget it. After an insanely fun night, we hopped back into the car, and headed towards the Shieling.
All night I kept on asking myself "Why the hell don’t I live here?" Even with all this mornings frustrations, the trips been amazing so far. I love Ireland!
Steph – "Arrival In Dublin"