Gaelic Getaway

Tuesday, December 01, 2015 Road Junkies 1 Comments


GAELIC GETAWAY, CHAPTER 1:  IN WHICH WE GET AWAY FROM CONFLICT (WE HOPE)

Day 1:  Atlanta to Dublin.  For some months, Ken has been talking about spending several weeks in Ireland.  When I asked why Ireland, his reply was quick and succinct.  It's an island.  They speak English.  The kind of weather we like.  Great scenery.  Lots of history.  After a moment's hesitation he added one drawback—driving on the left side of the road.

Our initial plan called for visiting the Emerald Isle in the summer of 2016.  With its mild maritime climate, Ireland appeared to be an ideal destination for escaping the oppressive Georgia summer heat.  Until Friday, November 13, we anticipated returning to eastern Europe this month to pick up where we left off on our aborted circumnavigation last year.

After the brutal attacks in Paris, we reconsidered traveling to the epicenter of Europe's migration crisis at this time.  Since we hadn't made any reservations yet, we had no difficulty shifting our thinking—and our planning—westward.  We were looking for a six-week itinerary, and Scotland seemed the perfect partner for the second half of the trip, for much the same reasons Ken cited in favor of Ireland.

Like virtually every transatlantic departure from Atlanta, ours was a red eye flight to Paris—yes, Paris, for a brief layover—which left a few minutes past midnight.  At the last minute as we checked in for the flight the night before, we were offered an upgrade to first class at a price we couldn't resist.  Though we usually don't mind the economy cabin, on a long haul overnight flight, we were very thankful for flat-bed seats, fluffy pillows and snowy comforters.  We actually got some decent sleep as the crew carried us across the Atlantic.

Journaling across the Atlantic
An hour before our arrival in Paris, we were awakened to a generous breakfast.  By the time all the meal trays were collected and stowed, we were approaching Charles de Gaulle Airport, where the time was just after 2:00 p.m.  Our first sight when we stepped out of the aircraft was a pair of armed police officers in full uniform standing guard on the jetway next to the plane's exit door—a reassuring presence in light of recent events.

From the C gate where we disembarked, we had a bit of a hustle to gate K22 for our 3:30 flight to Dublin.  The flight was operated by CityJet, a regional Irish carrier, piggyback codeshared through Air France to Delta.  When we arrived at the gate, we discovered it was a mere portal to a bus stop.  At the appointed boarding time, we were shuffled onto a minimum-seating bus for a twenty-minute ride to the Charles de Gaulle hinterland, where our turboprop Avro awaited.

Gate K22 - no jetway here
With no opportunity to select seats on this codeshared codeshare, we had been assigned to a three-seat row a few feet from the rear of the plane.  The luck of the Irish smiled down on us as the third seat on our row turned out to be the only empty seat on the 95-passenger airplane.  Our luck held into Dublin, as we were gifted with a skillful pilot who adroitly maneuvered the plane through tempestuous winds to achieve a surprisingly smooth touchdown.  By the time air stairs were pulled up to the plane's front and rear exits, our knuckles were back to their normal color as we stepped out into gusty Dublin to walk to the terminal.

Approach to Dublin
At passport control, the genial Irish immigration officer asked the usual questions about our purpose in visiting and our plans while in Ireland.  But this agent seemed genuinely interested after we told him we would spend three weeks in his country, offering helpful tips about special places to visit.

After a brief stop at the Hertz counter to pick up keys for our Citroën Cactus hatchback, we made the mistake of allowing our Garmin GPS to guide us to the hotel without screening the route.  An hour and a half later we reached our hotel—9 miles from the airport—after getting an up close and personal look at Dublin's rush hour traffic.

Bumper to bumper in Dublin city
By the time we arrived at the Hilton around 6:30 p.m., jet lag was nipping at our heels.  We checked in, deposited our bags, and took the path of least resistance to the hotel's Cinnamon restaurant, where we sleepily enjoyed some meals we don't remember much about.  Barely able to stay awake for baths, which helped warm us up in our chilly room, we dived into bed at 9:30 and fell quickly into a deep sleep. 

Tomorrow we hope to awake in time to see some of the sights of Dublin.

Daily Stats:
  • Started in Atlanta, ended in Dublin
  • Mileage -  4,930   (Trip total: 4,930)
  • Weather - 52° to 55°, windy
TUESDAY, 1 DECEMBER, 2015