Monday, May 16, 2011

Trains, planes, and airports...

Our last day in Ireland started out rather gloomy.  We arose early to be ready and at the station to catch the 9:00 am train to Dublin.  The rail website mentioned being at the station 20 minutes early.  We’ve noticed that the taxis always run a few minutes late in Sligo so we ordered our taxi for 8:15 am.  He arrived at about 8:18 am and we got to the station at about 8:30.  We were the only ones in the station at that time, and even at 8:40.  But there was no train to board at 8:40.  Most people arrived a few minutes before 9 and the train didn’t arrive until about 9:05.

We wrestled our luggage aboard the train and settled in for the 3 hour trip.  The train was surprisingly clean and comfortable, and the trip felt shorter than the actual time it took to reach Dublin.  After disembarking, we toted our suitcases, totes, and camera bags over to the Bus Eireann station a block over from Connolly train station.   Luckily, we found a bus heading to the airport, were the first to board, and were able to stow our luggage with a minimum of fuss.   A short drive to the airport and we were on our way into Terminal 2 for the “cattle drive” through check-in and security.

Now I must say, that the Dublin Airport is a wonderful airport.  Check-in was effortless, security was a breeze, and everyone we encountered was pleasant.  In T2, as it’s called, there is a bar/restaurant called The Slaney.  If you are ever in the Dublin Airport, in Terminal 2, you must stop there for a bite and a pint.  The prices are excellent, and the help is friendly.  We shared a chicken club sandwich that was outstanding, and we each had a some Guinness.  Before you criticize, just remember it was my last chance to have REAL Irish Guinness out of the tap.  We have about another hour before our gate opens, so I’ll probably have one more. :) 

Oh  joy, it's now 4:00 and we've just learned that our flight has been delayed for 45 minutes.  But no worries, because I have good travel karma and I know we will arrive safely.  The plane took off and with a tail wind we ended up only 30 minutes later arriving at Gatwick.  The ensuing maze through the South Terminal to get baggage, go through customs, and an extra security check went without a hitch.  Our only difficulty was finding the hotel, and after asking directions from a time-challenged employee we arrived at the Courtyard by Marriot.  Check-in was busy, but we got upstairs to our rooms and got situated.  We then went downstairs in search of a small bite to eat before retiring.  

One does not go to the dining room at the Courtyard at Gatwick with the expectation of being seated promptly.  That being said, I had a lovely G&T (Bombay Sapphire, no less) while waiting for our table, and visited with a very nice woman from South Carolina who had just been to Provence. We eventually got our table, after a slight miscommunication with the hostess, and I had lovely Chinese Duck Pancakes with Ho-Sin sauce and an excellent glass of California merlot.  Anne had Tempura Prawns with a bit of salad greens, that she said was delicious.

So we our about to hop into bed, as tomorrow is another long day of travel for both of us.  Anne is off to Sweden to visit friends, and I return to the States, my kids, my cats, my family, my friends, and my bed!  Will post a wrap-up of the trip in a day or two, so check back for the final review!

Last day and night in Ireland

Our last day in Ireland was very wet.  We tried one outing - to Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery - but weren't able to stay long due to the rain.  It was a great experience, nevertheless.  The rain kept us indoors most of the day, but I was able to work on photos taken, and Anne rested and read.

It cleared enough around 4:30 for us to go in search of supper, and we had a nice Italian dinner at the Bistro Bianconi. One of the freshest salads I've ever had and a gourmet pizza that was absolutely delicious, washed down with a little merlot.  Not the traditional Irish meal I wanted to end the journey on, but a great meal!

All the packing got done and plans made for traveling today and we went to bed.  Now it's up early and ready to go.  We'll get a bite of breakfast and then we're off to the train station to catch the 9:00 for Dublin.
(My very first train ride!)

Our plane leaves at 4:40 for London, so I'll try to post later this evening after we arrive.