Kathleen and I were up at the crack of dawn today toget to the airport for our flight to Dublin. Our flight was at 9:45, but we had to leave the house at 6:30 if we wanted to check in 2 hours prior as is advised for international flights. It’s a good thing we did.
At Gatwick Airport, you have to scan your boarding pass and get a biometric scan of your face before you can even enter security. As we approached these gates, at least 15 people were having problems with their passes. Two were screaming at the guard that their gate closed in a few minutes, to which he replied that they wouldn’t have made it anyways. Other people were also very obviously getting close to their departure time, and panic was rising.
Kathleen gets through the first checkpoint just fine, but of course I am rejected. It’s just a problem with my boarding pass barcode. Security sends me back down to the check-in desk so they can print me a new boarding pass. When that one doesn’t scan either, he scans it himself and let’s me through.
The lines at security were hugely long. Still, by the time I went through all that and met Kathleen on the other side, we had an hour and a half til our flight left. Our gate hadn’t even been announced yet. We had planned ahead the night before and brought chocolate croissants to the airport for breakfast. After grabbing some coffee, we settled in just fine. We weren’t even tired. We went to bed so early the night before we had gotten about 9 hours of sleep.
We got on a crowded flight with several groups decked out in green festive clothing. The flight was relatively uneventful, which is good. Customs was also blessedly uneventful. “How long are you staying?” “One day.” Stamp!
We caught a bus into the city center. Hayley and I had met last time at a Starbucks near the bus route, so this was our plan again. Unfortunately, when Kathleen and I arrived, we realized that this Starbucks was literally in the middle of the parade route. We were on one side, it was on the other, and the parade was passing through at that exact moment.
Kathleen and I retreated to a bar on a side street that had wifi so I could contact Hayley. She was on the opposite side of the parade. Since she lives in Dublin and knows it much better than us, she tried to find a way over. Eventually she got to our side, and we met her at Trinity Gate.
Hayley had made potato soup so we navigated through the thoroughly conjested city back to her house. The soup was delicious, and we picked up some Irish soda bread on the way to have with it.
The rest of the afternoon we spent wandering around Dublin. St Patricks Day here is like St Patricks Day anywhere, except for the fact that some people are actually Irish. The drunk crowds of people got sloppier and sloppier every hour. The women all looked like trash. I don’t know why they are still shopping in the toddler clothing section. There was a lot of midriff for a freezing day.
We saw some of the major neighborhoods and landmarks, sampled some Irish beers, and enjoyed observing the crowds. As the night got later and colder, we stopped at Leo Burdocks for some chips and bits. “Bits” refers to the fried batter that falls off the outside of fried fish, and it made the chips 100x better than any other chips I have ever had. It was amazing.
The night got rowdier and really limited our options. Kathleen and I were concerned that we would have problems getting to the airport in the morning in the aftermath of all this. Our flight was early enough that we’d want to wake up and leave Hayley’s just after 4:00, when the drunks still out would be at their drunkest. We were especially concerned that after waking up that early and walking through the cold and rain, we would have some kind of transportation problems that would keep us from getting to the airport.
We decided to head to the airport tonight, sleep there, and simplify the whole operation. We took the fish and bits back to Hayley’s house, ate them there, and then grabbed our bags and headed to the bus station. We stopped in a few convenience stores at Kathleen’s request. Foreign convenience stores are admittedly very intriguing.
After this, we made our way through the sea of drunks. It was slow going and not at all fun. Makes you never want to drink again. A guy who worked for the bus company tried to keep us from getting on because he didn’t think we were going to the airport; highly irritating. Do we look drunk?
Today was a great day. Dublin is a beautiful place. Although the weather wasn’t pleasant, it was undeniably authenticly Irish. I think it was good for Kathleen to get the full experience in that way. It’s fun to watch the people and walk around, see old friends and be in a different country.
However, having now experienced St Patricks Day in Ireland, I think I have earned the right to say it is just not my favorite holiday. It’s all about drinking, and I just don’t see the appeal in that. When the people get too far gone, they go from being fun to watch to dangerous to be around.
Chips and Bits of Heaven
Written by the award-winning journalist and surprisingly beautiful Kathleen Blanck
Today, I experienced Ireland. We packed as much of a country as we could into less than 24 hours, and I’d like to think we were pretty successful, considering Anna is passed out from exhaustion in front of me.
We started in Brighton, packing day bags and rushing to catch our train to the airport. We got through security with time to spare and sat down to enjoy croissants and hot drinks, cocoa for me, coffee for Anna.
The flight was easy, although we had to resist many on-flight purchase opportunities, including smokeless cigarettes and lotto tickets. It was quite the struggle, but we stayed strong and held onto our pounds and euros.
We also got the first idea of what our day would be like from the flight. Sitting just two rows behind us were three men, dressed in exuberant green and gold and near the front of the plane were three girls in tiny feathery green hats and tiny green dresses.
We got off our flight and seamlessly hopped onto the bus into the heart of Dublin. However, as we approached our meeting point with Hayley, we saw that it would be no use. There was a parade keeping us so close, yet so far from our destiny.
Instead. We settled into a little bar to wait out the parade. This may or may not have been where and I tried and rejected my first taste of Guiness. Did I drink it? Did I resist? The world may never know (or at least until I get admitted into college).
The rest of the day passed in easy touristing and frigid temperatures. We had potato soup at Hayley’s and later came back to enjoy chips and bits from burdocks. Needless to say, this was easily one of the best parts of the day. Despite our long walk home, the chips (or French fries) and bits (of fried fish batter) were still deliciously warm and ready to eat.
We went to a grocery store on our way to the bus stop and I bought possibly the most disappointing thing I have ever faced. They were crazy sour skittles. And you would think, as I did, that this is just the British term for sour skittles. No. Oh no no no. These are not covered in sour sugary powder. These are not the traditional skittles flavors. These are some weird combination of flavors, mixed into a bag made to deceive and kill the hopes of many an American skittles eater. The bag was even the same color as sour skittles in the US. I have still not gotten over this heart wrenching discovery.
I may be bitter for years to come.
My status will be reported again tomorrow.