Back to Dublin

Not much to report today. Got up, packed, cleaned up the flat, dropped the keys off, and schlepped my backpack down to the train station. The train from Galway to Dublin was very full, and many of the passengers showed evidence of having had a rather festive Saturday night before getting on the train and heading home.

I killed a little time at Heuston Station in Dublin, because it was raining and I was about an hour and a half too early to go meet my AirBnB host. I took a cab down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and found my way the block or so to the flat, and got the keys, and settled in.

I picked this place mainly because of the location. This is the view out the window. That’s St. Patrick’s Park right across the street, right beside the cathedral. I am, I must say, pretty happy with my choice.

I’ve been pretty lucky with both my AirBnB stays on this trip. This place even has a washing machine, and one of the first things I did when I arrived was put a load of clothes on.

I also walked down to a grocery store and stocked up on some drinks and some food for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow.

Tomorrow is pretty much a free day, and I’m probably going to spend most of the day wandering the neighbourhood. I’ve spent more time in Dublin than any other place in Ireland, and I want to try and get my familiarity back. Tomorrow evening, I go to the Irish House Party, which should be fun. I just hope the weather gets back to the glorious sunshine I’ve been getting most of the time on this trip.

Train Adventures!

I left Larkinley Lodge this morning, and it was a little bit hard. Toni and Danny have treated me so well both times I’ve stayed there, that I kind of hated to leave. I mean, they even gave me an extra piece of bacon at breakfast this morning1!

Seriously, folks, if you go to Killarney, stay at Larkinley Lodge. Tell them I sent you. You will not regret it.

Anyway, I walked down to the train station, several hours before the train left. There was no one at the ticket counter, yet, but I found someone there who let me check my backpack, then I went wandering around town.

These statues of Irish red deer are in the town centre of Killarney. They’re about life sized, the size of small horses, so bigger than the normal white-tail deer around home in Manitoba.

That’s the only picture I took today. The rest of the day, I was on the trains. It was a bit of a challenge to get on the train – the ticket office didn’t open until half an hour before the train left, and I was getting a little panicked, because the automatic ticket machine didn’t have an option for Killarney to Galway, and the option for Portarlington2 was about 30% more than the online price for the whole trip.

But, as I said, a ticket agent showed up, I got the ticket3. The first leg of the trip was the train to Heuston Station in Dublin, and so it was really crowded, and it took some doing to find someplace to sit.

And then a hen party got on the train about half an hour into the trip. And they were already pretty drunk4, and very loud. It made the majority of the trip less than restful.

I managed to change trains successfully at Portarlington, and this leg of the journey was much less crowded. And, of course, it was raining when I got to Galway. I found my way to the AirBnB place I’d booked, and met the owner, and got settled, then went out in the rain to get some groceries. Not entirely successful, as it’s a rainy Sunday evening. But I managed to get a sandwich for dinner, and I can do some proper shopping tomorrow.

Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be rainy again, but then it’s supposed to clear up for a few days. So, guess what day I have the walking tour booked.

  1. Gotta say, I really love Irish bacon. []
  2. Where I’d have to change trains, anyway. []
  3. Cheaper than the price quoted online. []
  4. So drunk, in fact, one of them pinched my butt as I walked past them to get off the train. []

Travel Day

Not much of a post today, as I spent the bulk of the day either waiting for or riding on a train. This means that not much interesting happened.

One thing I noticed was that I was dreading putting on my full backpack to haul around all day. It made me start rethinking my luggage choices – or my travel style. I didn’t weigh my fully packed luggage before I left, and maybe I should have, because I spent most of my first day wondering exactly how heavy it was.

It felt very heavy. But I think a lot of that is the fact that I was pretty tired after the overnight flight, and also I had walked a long, long way carrying it through three airports and far more of Dublin than I needed to.

Today, when I put it on, and fastened the belly band, it didn’t feel that bad. The walk from the hotel to the train station was still pretty taxing, but it didn’t wipe me out as badly as I had feared. So, maybe I’m getting used to all the walking.

The whole day wasn’t nearly as much of a strain as I had built it up in my mind. There was a lot of waiting on metal benches at train stations, where I didn’t have to carry the pack. And train station sandwiches over here are so much better than the kind of sandwich you’d get in a similar place back in Canada. I got a lot of reading done and, when I arrived in Killarney, I was especially pleased that I was able to find my way from the train station to Larkinley Lodge without any problem.

And now I’m settled in for the evening, and actually looking forward to getting to bed before midnight.

Yeah. I am old and pathetic. Even on holiday, I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow, I’m off to see Ross Castle, Innisfillen Island, and a few other sites around town. I’ll have more pictures for you tomorrow, I expect.

Made It!

All packed and ready to go.

Over the last week, I got all my errands run and all my packing done. My luggage choice this trip is the Hero’s Journey from Tom Bihn. It’s a backpack with a detachable shoulder bag – the main backpack is about the size of my beloved Aeronaut, but is designed kind of from the other direction, as a backpack that can be converted to a shoulder bag or duffel, rather than a duffel that can be used as a backpack. The backpack is about the maximum size allowed by most airlines for carry-on, and the detached shoulder bag is about the perfect size for your personal item. Once off the plane, I was able to zip the two together, and wear it as a large backpack.

So, I managed to get everything for three weeks packed, and still was able to lift it. And wear it that way for an extended time1.

And then, yesterday morning, I got into the taxi to the airport, and the adventure began!

Of course, the flight to Toronto was delayed, but only by about 20 minutes. Headwinds, apparently. I believe that, because even though we left 20 minutes late, we were only 4 minutes late getting into Toronto.

And that’s when I realized how spoiled I’ve become with online check-in for flights. Instead of just heading right for security, I got to try and find the Aer Lingus counter, and then wait for two hours before the counter opened. And there were maybe five whole chairs in the entire check-in area. The hate for the backpack weight started then.

But, I made it through that, made it through security, and made it to the lounge, where I planned to wait for the flight to Dublin.

Unfortunately, there were several people in the lounge who seemed to be competing in the Loud Important Business Person of the Year Award, in about three different, braggadocio-laden conversations. After about an hour and a half, I decided to go down to the gate to get away from it, and found that the flight had been delayed by an hour.

Sitting down there, surrounded by other loud people, including what seemed to be a class tour of very excited teenagers. And I still preferred the noise they made.

Reflective Rick in business class.

But we got on the plane at last, and off we went. And I had a nice dinner, and got about three hours of sleep2. For those of you trying to do the math at home, we landed at what for me was around 1:30 am.

And then we sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes, because we were late leaving Toronto. I didn’t mind it all that much, but I had a comfy business-class seat and no connecting flight to catch. Other passengers3 were not as sanguine about it all.

Of course, we made it in to the airport, and I took advantage of the Revival Lounge to have a shower and some orange juice.

A little perk of flying business class. I like business class.

Then I caught the Airlink bus into central Dublin. I wanted to get some stuff at the Lush store there, and get a local sim card for my phone. The helpful fellow who sold me my ticket told me that the bus would drop me off on College Green, just around the corner from Grafton Street, where Lush and the phone shop I wanted were.

He was right, but my memory of Dublin is not what I thought it was. While Grafton Street was literally right around the corner, I turned the wrong corner getting off the bus. And spent over an hour wandering around, failing to find any of the landmarks I remembered. When I found that I had inadvertently circled right back to where I started, I realized that I needed help, so I went in to the tourist office there and asked for directions.

And they told me that Grafton Street was literally right around the corner. The moral of this story is that I shouldn’t trust my brain.

So, I got the stuff I wanted, and took a cab to Heuston Station to catch the train to Kilkenny. By the time I got on the train, I was starting to fade. I spent the train ride nodding off, trying not to sleep through my stop.

Being so sleepy, when I say we were going through Athy, I got the song Lanigan’s Ball stuck in my head. Right up until we went through Carlow, and I got Follow Me Up To Carlow stuck in my head. But all I could think about when we got to Kilkenny was the Cats of Kilkenny rhyme.

I planned to take a cab to the hotel, but there wasn’t a cab at the train station, so I walked. Every step of the way, I kept telling myself that this was how I got lost in Dublin. And I told myself that right up to the moment I got to the hotel

The moral of this story is that I should trust my brain.

Checked in, and got to my room, and there was no electricity. Tried all the outlets and all the switches, then went down to the desk to tell them. And learned about this:

This is what the concierge called the electricity box. You need to put your key card in it for the room to have power. And leave the card there. “It’s pretty much a European thing,” said this nice lady so that I didn’t feel like too much of an idiot.

And now I’ve done up this little blog post, and haven’t fallen asleep, so I win. I don’t want to go to sleep too early, because I need to get on the local schedule, so I’m going out to a pub tonight for some dinner and music. Matt the Millers is nearby, and apparently has live traditional music starting in about half an hour.

I made it to Ireland!

  1. Though, even with the planning and testing, I knew that I’d be hating the weight of the thing by the end of the first day. Spoiler: I was right! []
  2. Flight was about six and a half hours, and take-off and dinner service took about two hours, then they woke us up about an hour before landing for breakfast. []
  3. And, indeed, the flight crew, who were understandably ready for their day to be over. []