Saturday, July 21, 2012

Adventures in Ireland

Travel is just about my favorite thing. 

New places, new experiences, new people, and new adventures get my heart pounding in a way that almost nothing else does. I've had the privilege of visiting 8 other countries so far, and I can't wait to add dozens of new stamps to my passport. 

So since I love travel, and I love writing, I thought it might be fun to start putting a handful of my favorite adventures on paper in a series of short(ish) vignettes. And you, my loyal blogger audience of roughly 18 people, will be the first to read them! 

But where to start? 

How about the first BIG adventure I ever shared with my hubby - our honeymoon! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the the tall, sometimes ridiculous tale that wove together to become the beauteous memory of our honeymoon trip to Ireland...

~ ~ ~

After a wedding that could not have been more magical and two nights of R&R on the beach, my new husband and I donned our matching "Bride and "Groom" t-shirts and caught a ride to the airport with my fam to board the first leg of our trip to Ireland. Looking back, we were so absurdly young, starry eyed, naive, and high-on-fairy-dust that it was a miracle that we managed to make it through the next two weeks without getting mugged, grifted, or otherwise taken advantage of. Stop 1 - Laguardia International. Our flight from West Palm Beach had been running behind schedule, so when we arrived in NYC, our 35 minute layover was painfully reduced to a mere 15 minutes, and we had to change both terminals and airlines to make our connection. After following all of the appropriate signs, we ended up... outside on the street in New York City. As we stood staring idiotically at a very poorly drawn map of the airport, we were approached by an apparently Caribbean man who asked us where we were going. We told him "Ireland," and he laughed and said, "An Island? Oh good! I'm from an island too! hahaha!" We then told him we needed to get the the American Airlines terminal within the next 10 minutes, and he told us to get on the empty, unmarked bus that was waiting on the curb with him, and he would take us there. Yeah, to this day we're not really sure if this man even worked for the airport, but we were desperate, so onto the bus we hopped. This began an elaborate journey through the city that involved very nearly hitting several yellow cabs and stopping to chat with multiple random strangers along on the side of the road. At this point for me, small seed of panic began to set in. When we finally arrived at the American Airlines terminal, our flight already boarding, we were ushered into a painfully long line of other equally stressed-out international travelers. After realizing that actually waiting in this line would cause us to absolutely miss our flight, I frantically flagged down the first airline employee I could make eye-contact with. We showed him our tickets, and with his own ashen face matching ours, he ran us in front of the line to the counter. (Sidebar: when airline employees panic, you know you're in trouble.) After telling the guy behind the counter to "Work his magic," he handed us back our tickets, and in a deadly serious voice, said "you're going to have to run." And run we did. To the security check-point. Where we had to wait in another maddeningly long line to have our bags x-rayed and be felt-up by surly TSA agents. By the time we made it through the metal detectors, we were in a dead sprint in nothing but our socks. We finally reached the plane, shoeless and sweaty, just as they were closing the doors. Success! But before we even had time to savor the sweet relief in our cramped economy seats, an announcement came over the PA system: "Well ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we're 43rd in line for take-off, putting us about two hours behind schedule; so if you need to reschedule your connections, here's the phone number." So we pick up the phone to see if there were any other flights from Chicago to Dublin. There weren't. But we could sleep in O'Hare if we wanted to! (Because all of my most beautiful honeymoon fantasies involved sleeping on a disease-riddled chair in the biggest air-hub in the US.) So we started to pray, and miraculously, not five minutes later, the pilot makes another announcement, "Well everyone, I guess it's your lucky day, we're #3 for take off!"


And we were on our way to Chicago. (Because just one layover in the US wasn't enough.) Luckily, O'Hare went over without a hitch, and before we knew it, we were soaring over the Atlantic toward the Emerald Isle.
 If you've never had the pleasure of an overnight trans-Atlantic flight, I must tell you, it's quite a gas. You think you'll be able to sleep the whole way, but if you've ever been a 6ft tall human with a 35 inch inseam in coach, then you're already laughing at me. They serve you dinner, (which was surprisingly piping hot and not bad), you get to watch two movies (Finding Neverland and something else I don't remember - I only caught glimpses while flopping around in a futile search for comfort and fighting my new husband for leg space.) And then, at 1:00am Eastern Standard time, the sun was up, shining brightly into our bloodshot eyes, and breakfast was being served. So sleep was at a premium, but we were still totally pumped. After all, we were newlyweds! On our way to Ireland! In matching t-shirts! Yay! And after a mere eight-hours of not being able to feel my legs, there it was: Ireland! A brilliant green patchwork of fog-wrapped mountains and rolling farmland - it was truly breathtaking. Now we really started to get excited. We hit the tarmac, and after grinning our way through (reason for your visit? We're on our honeymoon! Squee!), we gathered around the luggage carousel to wait with all the other happy people who had blood flowing to their legs once again to pick up our things. 

So we waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

The crowd dwindled, and soon we were all alone, crickets chirping, empty carousel spinning.

Yep, they'd lost our luggage. So we filled out the standard lost-baggage report, trying not to be discouraged, (cause we're honeymooning, gosh darn it!), and headed over to pick up the rental car we'd reserved on Expedia. We found our little tram to the rental office, and enjoyed the brief ride through Dublin. At the office, and I stepped into the restroom while Braden went to sign the paperwork. A few minutes passed, and when I came out, Braden had the most ashen look on his face. "They won't give us a car” he said with an impressive amount of calm, “because we're not 25." Oh. Good. Lord. We'd already paid for this car. Nothing in the fine print had mentioned an age restriction. Our itinerary required us to get to a castle that was about two hours out into the boonies that night, and then drive cross-country a few days later. A rental car was the only way for us to get where we needed to go. But, alas, we were only 20 and 21 years old. Praise God for my level-headed, crisis-ready husband, because for me, that was when the real panic set in. They told us that our only option was to return to the airport and plead our case to the other car rental companies, but they warned us that it probably wouldn't do any good. This was when I started crying. So we prayed. And by the time we made it back to the airport, I was a complete basket case. There were about five more rental companies, so we started working our down the line, telling our sob-story every time. 

Company #1: "Sorry, 25 only." 

Company #2: "Sorry, 25."

Company #3: "Sorry, 23 is the youngest we go." 

Company #4: "Nope, can't help you"

By this point, I was ugly-crying like an infant. Our dreamy honeymoon seemed to be over before it even began. And then we reached Company #5: Our last and only hope. Everything, everything, was hanging on this moment. I proceeded to tearfully and pathetically tell them our whole sordid tale, which to the best of my memory went something like this: "We're on our honeymoon -sniff- and they won't give us our rental car -sob- just because we're young -snarf- and we're going to have to just turn around and go back to America if you can't help us -bawl- and we just don't know what to do -bahahahaha-" and so on and so forth. It may have been even less rational than that. I can't really remember. When I paused to catch my breath, the woman at the desk just sat there and starred at us for what seemed like an eternity, until she cracked a sympathetic and slightly bemused smile and said "Well enjoy your honeymoon then." We may have actually jumped up and down with elation, not even thinking of the extra 20-euro-a-day underage-charge; finally, 20 hours after we'd last slept, our adventure could begin! So we climbed into our fabulous little European car, (Braden was an instant whiz with the opposite-side manual transmission and the opposite-side-of-the-road driving), and began to make our way to our first spectacular destination, Castle Leslie...

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog. I was looking up Snarf's sandwich shop and ran across it. You are an awesome writer and lovely person! I hope all is well with you, your hubby and little boy. You have a wonderful way with words and I hope you write more soon!