Ireland

posted by : Jon Kroupa on 10/16/2011
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Related Comic: Pirates Cove

Related Photos: Ireland 2011

About The Photos:

As usual what I consider to be the funniest captions are the signs. Some of the photo sets are intended to be viewed in sequence, because a photo occasionally sets up a joke for the photo that comes after it. So if you are one of the people who just randomly clicks on photos that look interesting from the thumbnail, some of the captions aren't going to make any sense.

The Trip:

Like so many trips this one was basically last minute. My aunt, my oldest brother, and myself have been on several trips over the last few years, and they often seem to be thrown together just days before we depart, this trip was no exception. We were upgraded to first class flying from JFK to Shannon, Ireland. A flight which is only 5.5 hours long.

England is very serious about security, and you go through a number of questions and checks before being allowed into the country. I was expecting something similar coming into Ireland (the little England), but boy was I wrong. Ireland apparently has no security concerns. While the normal customs form will ask for lots of details, including birthdate, passport number, and what you are carrying into the country, the Irish customs form literally only wants your name and address. I guess this is so they can send you a Christmas card later in the year.

When I got up to the customs official he asked me how long I was staying there, I said 1 week, he stamped my passport and sent me on my way. In England you are essentially required to have documented proof as to where you are staying and for how long. Ordinarily you expect the customs process to take an hour or so, including the walk from the plane this one took less than five minutes.

Originally I thought my trip would last somewhere between 4-6 days, however this plan had to be changed on account of my aunt's employment with Delta. When she arrived in JFK she received a frantic text from a coworker to contact her manager. Apparently when you resign from Delta your flight benefits end on the last day you physically work, because my aunt wasn't going to be working there anymore she wouldn't be able to fly as a non-revenue passenger and would have to pay full fare. After talking with her manager she arranged to make Saturday the 15th her last official day, meaning she would have to return on Friday. There was also some uncertainty about whether my brother's and my buddy passes would also be cancelled when her benefits ended. This could leave us stranded in Ireland without a way to return short of buying a last minute one-way ticket. A quick look on Delta.com shows this would have cost me around $1200.

Ultimately we decided it was in our best interest to return on Friday with my aunt, rather than running the risk of having to live out the rest of our lives in Ireland.

The Castles:

We saw six castles in our three days in Ireland, I think an average of two a day is pretty good.

We stayed in Kinnity Castle Hotel, which is one of Ireland's most haunted castles. We personally didn't experience much in the way of haunting, but a couple staying there told us their TV turned itself on in the morning while they were still in bed. We marveled at this story, because our room did not include a television.

They do a good job of making you feel like you've been transported just a little bit into the past. There is plenty of stone work, antique furniture, and bizarre layout choices. There is an old musty smell that permeates throughout the castle, which is interesting initially, but makes you wonder if you really want to stay overnight with it. Even the wifi was spotty, as I imagine it was in medieval times.

Dinner and breakfast were included in our stay. They have a very nice dining hall at the castle, which accommodated both dinner and breakfast. Dinner was a three course meal, I had a potato cake, a steak made from Irish beef, and a chocolate brownie. For breakfast they had a little buffet of fruit, yogurt, and cereals, in addition to a traditional Irish breakfast. The breakfast consisted of fried egg, English bacon (ham), tomato, mushrooms, and a small serving of pork and beans. The breakfast also came with black and white pudding, which is some type of blood pudding, we all opted to pass on this.

The Non-Castles:

Obviously my highest priority on any trip is seeing castles. On this trip my aunt told me there is more to Europe than just castles, I am beginning to suspect she is no longer a true believer.

We saw the Dunmore cave, which is the largest cave in Ireland, but that really isn't something to brag about. In previous trips I've been very fortunate that my camera has captured the extra ordinary ( Osaka, Banff, Scotland ) and this trip was no exception.

My aunt was skeptical about taking pictures in a dark cave, and Joe and I tried to convince her that the camera was picking up detail that wouldn't initially be seen on the view finder. Notice how the adjustment reveals detail that was previously invisible ( entrance adjusted )

The Return:

Friday morning we packed our bags and headed back to the airport. In just a few days the flight had gone from only several people being listed for standby to the list being closer to twenty. Because my aunt is an employee she had high priority and was able to secure one of the first class seats. Joe and I were stuffed into the back of the plane in coach, like a couple of commoners.

The flight from Ireland to JFK was acceptable, although long (7 hours coming back as opposed to 5.5 hours going out). The flight that was really burdensome was from JFK to SLC. This flight had 7 seats available with 9 standbys listed, as a buddy-pass holder I was of course listed last. As I sat hoping to get a seat the time to board came and went, before actual boarding started, this was a bad omen. Eventually people started boarding and I was luckily given a seat. Just before I got on I jokingly said to my aunt that the plane would probably spend an hour at the jetway and another hour sitting on the tarmac. Remember that estimate.

Eventually we were all boarded and it was time for the video from the president of Delta to come on and thanks us for giving up our hard earned money. This flight had just come in as an international flight, and so initially the video started to tell us what to expect at U.S. customs. Once the technical problems with the video were resolved we pulled away from the jetway, rolled around for a little while, and then sat. After about 20 minutes the pilot came on and said a storm to the south was disrupting traffic lanes, and that takeoffs were being delayed as a result. About an hour after that we were told that takeoffs were still happening, and that it would be about another 15-20 minutes. Roughly that much later it started to rain, and the pilot informed us no one was being allowed to take off until the storm passed. To make up for this we were allowed to take a few snacks from a basket, this is Delta's pathetic way of apologizing for their inability to control the weather. Finally after more than 2 hours we took off, I couldn't help but remember that is how much I had thought I would be delayed before boarding the plane. Next week I am opening my own pyschic hotline.

Time may be constant on Earth, but this was perhaps the longest flight I've ever been on. According to so called "clocks" the flight time was a little over 4 hours, however I'm pretty sure I aged several days on that plane. After a lifetime we finally landed, many people had been expecting to make connections, which were totally disrupted by the extreme latness of the flight. Fortunately I rarely have to make connections once I've arrived at my final destination.

Postscript:

For those curious, Friday night when I got home I was one pound heavier than when I left, Saturday I went jogging for 7.75 miles and ate a number of fruit and vegetables, and Sunday I was only .2 pounds above what I had been the previous Sunday.

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