Friday, July 17, 2009

Éire: Day 1

In which we go to Ireland...

Day 1: Adventures with Ryanair

You may have heard of Ryanair...they're the one's that supposedly were going to charge for toilet use? Their model is to fly out of minor airports, charge a nominally small fare (but taxes and fees and luggage fees and would you like to get on first fee and how about flight insurance and would you like to buy a soda? are added) but generally be a NO FRILLS low cost airline.

In fact, I can say the flight was just fine. I had low expectations. They are quite firm that your 1 and only 1 carry on can only weigh so much, as can your checked bags. I dutifully weighed mine ahead of time and we were well under the weight limit.

The airport (Memmingen) was 2.5 hours away. It is a relatively new airport ( From 1959 to 2003, it was the home base of German Air Force fighter wing 34 „Allgäu“.) and as such was not in my Navigation system! Oh NOES! After a short delay (reboot the computer back up, find out where it is), we had an uneventful drive since it was a nice day.

Now the Ryanair planes are definitely no frills...there are no pockets in the back of the seats (less to clean out), if you want food you have to buy it (they have a menu), and if you can buy a charity scratch off lotto ticket if you would like! At one point the little one's tray table would not come down and I told her "you have to put a euro in if you want to use it" :-) I think she half believed me.

Anyway, after an uneventful flight we touched down in Dublin. There was a few ways to get to the hotel...taxis, airport bus and city bus. City bus was the cheapest and was easy to find and we were in no hurry so we went with that. I knew which bus stop to get off at and I had a map from there. What I DID NOT KNOW is that unlike every other bus/public transportation I had been on, there was no way to know what stop was next. No map, no announcements. Even the map at the airport just showed like 7 major stops and mentioned that oh, yeah, this could take up to 90 minutes to get to the end. You could barely read the signs at the bus stops to see what stop they were. So I thought I would ask the Bus Driver: "How do I know when we are at Camden Street stop?" "I'll give you a shout."

There was no shout. But thanks to the eagle eyes of the eldest, we saw clues about where we were and got off at the right stop. A short walk to our hotel and we check in.

Now normally the avg. daily temperatures in Dublin are 11-20 degrees Celsius (52-68F) but it was 23 degrees. Not really so hot, but you can tell they are not prepared for heat as our room feels like it is 400 degrees. We ask for and eventually get a fan. A tiny fan.

The first night we do a lot of shopping as the girls love them some shopping and I was not sure how much time was allotted for that. We were near Grafton Street which is a major pedestrian shopping street.
We notice a BOOK Store. As we go in, we notice there are books, lots and lots of Books, in ENGLISH! WOOT! German book stores have a little English section usually but it is limited to best sellers and the classics. The girl's want some teen-type books and there are a bunch. We all get a book or two and are happy as clams (as happy as clams with books can be, I suppose).

After shopping we get a bite to eat at a Thai restaurant. We have now had American Thai, German Thai and Irish Thai. All pretty similar (unlike Mexican!). We sit down and the waiter puts a giant pitcher of ice water in front of us. Did you hear me? A Giant Pitcher of (FREE! FREE!) Ice water (WITH ACTUAL ICE CUBES!!) in front of us. Now maybe to you in the U.S. this is perfectly normal! Not in Germany. In Germany they don't do tap water and the beer and the water are about the same price. Ice? Never heard of it. The girls order their customary coke/sprite but I am revelling in the ice water.
Of course we are in "I am visiting in a Foreign Land" mode but are being careful not to say "Danke!" (German for Thanks!) to all the shop keepers.
We get back to the hotel and it is only 350 degrees in the room...but what is that noise? Is it coming from the hallway or the window? I try the hallway. It seems the people next door are having a party with the door open. They do not mind closing it (I don't think I was too scary in my Piglet pajamas, but it worked). I still hear more party noise. I am pretty sure they would keep it down for at least 5 minutes, so I check out the window. Why there is a night club right out back!(Note to self: as this is the second hotel that I have gone to with an attached night club, always ask before booking. Also the fact that the hotel provides free earplugs in the nightstand drawer should have been a clue).
I try to go to sleep. I put my ear plugs in. Still doesn't work. But remember it is 350 degrees in our room and I face a choice of : AIR or QUIET. If I close the windows, it is quieter, but hotter. At midnight I feel I should not have to make this choice. I feel greedy that both should be possible. I try calling down to the front desk, but the phone isn't working.
Please sirs, help me. I came to this hotel to sleep as that is what I believe they are there for: Sleeping while away. They offer another room...that is down the street in another building. Sorry, don't really want to wake up the kids at this point. Then they say How about we take this giant floor fan that is keeping the poor dude at the front desk from melting? Oh, no.....
But they say "He's used to it!"
With two fans, earplugs, and some sort of unit outside our window that hums, we go to sleep.
Next: Day 2, a walking tour of Dublin.

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