Ireland, Day One.

I know I have been remiss on posting anything to the blog.  Thankfully, I was finally able to break away from the grind of daily life and hop across the pond to one of my favorite islands for a little vacation.  I’m going to be blogging at the end of each day (or in this case, really early in the morning – thanks jet lag) so I don’t miss a thing – or a suggestion for someone who wants to go in the future.

I promised my wife that for her birthday, I would take her to Ireland.  This trip is me making good on that promise.  We booked a 6 day self drive tour through one of our trusted travel providers, and so far – I would highly recommend them to future clients.

The 777-200 for our ride across the Atlantic Ocean.

We ended up driving up to the DC area the night before our flight (we were flying on KLM out of Dulles) and found a hotel that offered a week’s worth of parking for an additional $24.  Pro tip there – look at hotels around the airport for cheap stay and fly deals.  We would have spent $70 on parking while we were gone if we utilized the airport’s lot.  The morning of our flight, we had breakfast and headed over to the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center so I could say hello to an old friend.  After that, we headed back to the hotel, dropped off the car and headed out for our flight.  After we checked in and headed to our gate, I had the opportunity to observe the most ridiculously large plane I’ve ever seen.  The Airbus A380.  It’s massive.  And ugly.  It’s so big, they actually use two separate gate jet bridges to deplane.  I took a couple of pictures, and headed over to our gate to await boarding.

Overnight flights suck.  That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the KLM product, I most certainly did.  Plenty of legroom, a plethora of entertainment options, good food, friendly crew, and a very efficient system in place to get you on and off the aircraft.  The reason overnight flights suck is because you end up exhausted when you arrive – but you want to push through in order to enjoy your hard earned time off.  This trip is no exception.  By the time we landed in Amsterdam, I needed to find a coffee shop and get some espresso in me.

The Brazen Head, our lunch spot – found via Yelp, of course!

A couple of hours later, we landed in Dublin.  Forty-five minutes after landing (20 minutes on the runway, 10 minutes at passport control, and 15 minutes at baggage claim) – we finally were able to link up with our driver to take us to the hotel.  We checked into the Ashling Hotel, dropped our luggage and proceeded to develop blisters as we walked to lunch, Dublin Castle (to purchase our heritage pass for the week), and eventually caught a cab back to the hotel.  After a brief nap, we headed downstairs and asked the front desk for a dinner recommendation.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “Oh, you’re Americans – so are we” in a foreign country.  I’m not intending to be a judgmental snob, but I don’t want to meet other Americans when I’m visiting a foreign country.  I’m going there to learn about the country, their people, their food, their music, and their culture.  So, I’d rather not go to the uber-touristy places if I can help it.

Ryan’s of Parkgate Street

I explained to the woman at the desk that I was looking for a nice place for dinner.  A local’s place, if you will.  I also told her that my parents lived in England for 3 1/2 years, and that I’ve been involved in lock-in’s there (while being referred to as a “Colonial” for the entire night), and THAT is the kind of experience I’m looking for.  She gave us a wonderful recommendation – Ryan’s of Parkgate Street.  Literally a 2 minute walk away from the hotel.  Dry aged Irish beef, we arrived in time for the early bird special, and – we were the only Americans in the joint.  It was truly a wonderful experience (and the food was simply amazing).

After that, we walked back down into City Center and down in to Temple Bar.  We found a small coffee shop that was right in the heart of it, and relaxed before we caught a cab back to the hotel and went to bed.  Hopefully, I won’t be as jet-lagged tomorrow!



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