I’m finally in Ireland. And it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined. I mean, LOOK AT THIS:
I began my journey, as always, with a drive to Memphis airport. But I had a paranoia moment before I got 10 minutes away from my house, so sure that I hadn’t locked the door. So I drove back. Yes, I did. And guess what? It was locked. But then I had peace of mind. I was so distracted earlier yesterday morning when I left, that it was very possible that I could have left the door unlocked. I, however, eventually got to Memphis, where my first flight was delayed by 30 minutes. Being that I had a three-hour layover in Chicago, I wasn’t too concerned. I checked in with United, which handled the first leg of my flight. However, they couldn’t check me in for Aer Lingus, which was getting me to Dublin.
So guess what I had to do in Chicago? Not only did I have to leave one terminal and go to another, but I had to check in, as if I were just starting my trip ALL OVER AGAIN, and then stand in line for security. So I had to do that whole take your shoes off and scramble to pull the laptop and liquids out of the bag TWICE. At that point, I was grumpy because I was seriously hungry. I’d already made plans to eat in Chicago for lunch, but I didn’t realize I wouldn’t get to eat until 2 p.m.
Eventually, I made it to food and sat down at the bar at Fronteras Tortas, which gets a lot of hype, particularly for an airport restaurant. It’s tortas, which is this sort of Mexican sandwich thing. It’s hard to describe, but it’s really good. I started by ordering a margarita, which helped chill me out from having to go through security twice and then had chips and guacamole. The guac was okay, but I fell in love with this chipotle salsa they offered, as well as a habenero salsa I got, too. The sandwich I ordered was called a pepito and was short rib meat shredded with all kinds of good tasting things in between two delicious slices of bread.
What was most fun about sitting at the bar, though, is I met some lovely people and had some interesting chats. One of the other customers was going to Ireland, too, but was doing a Game of Thrones tour. How did I not know this was a thing? Anyway, she was a lot of fun, and then we met this guy from Minnesota headed to Vienna. Between those two, me, and the bartender, we had quite the little Bon Voyage party.
The flight was nice and I sat next to a nice woman who I chatted with quite a bit. I attempted sleep, but my freaking legs are too long to ever be comfortable and I kept shifting around. Of course, by the time I started to watch something on the video screen, I nodded off. Who knew? LOL
The flight felt like forever, but when it was over, I was fine. I went through immigration and grabbed my bags and got a taxi to the hotel. At 6:30 a.m.
The hotel was booked up and had no rooms. I sort of expected that, as they have check-in and out times for a reason. However, they allowed me use of a day room, so I could shower and change clothes and then stored my luggage. I spent the early morning hours roaming around St. Stephens Green, where the above photo was taken.
Then I realized I needed to charge my phone. It had, after all, been nearly two days since it had last been plugged in. So I sat in the hotel lobby and charged my phone and used their free Wi-Fi. By 9:15 a.m., my room was ready, so I didn’t have to wait as long as I expected. I immediately went up to my room and crashed until almost noon.
I was still a little groggy (and am a little now), but felt a lot better and capable of tackling the day.
Which I did.
Yes, that’s right. THERE’S MORE!
My first order of business was food. I had already researched a few places and so accessed the list of starred restaurants I’d done pre-trip on Google Maps. That led me to Coppinger Row, which is a sort of Irish-meets-Mediterrean restaurant. So yeah, my first meal in Ireland wasn’t even 100 percent Irish. So sue me! However, I ordered the daily special, which was a pasta (rigatoni) with homemade lamb sausage and a tomato sauce. And it was literally the best pasta dish I’ve ever eaten. It was a great start to what is also a culinary adventure (all of my adventures involve food, though).
I then went to Trinity College. Yep, I went back to school! LOL I saw the infamous Book of Kells, which was so unbelievably gorgeous and completely indescribable. To think that something that was created by hand by monks in 800 A.D. still looks as good as it does, with every detail on display. It’s literally mind-boggling.
I then went to the college’s Long Hall library. I’m a writer, OF COURSE I’M GOING TO THE LIBRARY! There, the college had a Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf exhibition on display. I learned that my surname was linked to this great ancient High King of Ireland. Apparently, some guy named Burks (originally Burgo, I believe) wrote about Brian Boru’s adventures, and he was a descendant of the king.
I know a lot of people come to Ireland to learn about their family heritage, but I honestly hadn’t expected that. I know quite a bit on my father’s side, so I knew we were some of the first English settlers in Ireland. However, I had no idea we were linked to royalty.
I strolled around the college grounds and enjoyed the most beautiful day of my life (sun shining, green grass, blue skies). I also enjoyed some shopping. Grafton Street, the mecca of shopping in Dublin, is way too close to my hotel.
I also grabbed a gelato and sat in the Green again for a little while before coming back to the hotel to make dinner reservations. The plan is to have a good dinner, some wine, and get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow, more adventure awaits!
In the meantime, here are a few more photos I snapped today.