Monday, August 5, 2013

Europe Part Two - Departure, Ireland, Arrival

We stayed up almost all night Friday June 7th, getting ready for our trip, packing and cleaning and buying last minute things. I only got to sleep 2 1/2 hours! Lisa picked us up at 4:45am and took us to the airport. Flight from Wichita to Chicago was at 6am and we made good time. 

We were about to board our flight to London when American Airlines told us that something was wrong with the plane. They then explained they would have to get a new plane and that we couldn't leave until 4:30pm. Our flight was supposed to leave at 9am! Essentially we were delayed 7 hours. So Jonny and I decided to leave the airport and see Chicago since our London plans were ruined. The plan was to rent a car in London and drive around during our overnight layover. Instead we got a train ticket and took an hour ride into the city of Chicago. (still in America, peeps. I know, disappointing!) We went to the Sears Tower, which I guess is now called the Willis Tower. We went up to the SkyDeck and looked out over Chicago. It was pretty neat, but seriously, we waited in 5 different lines! Crazy how many people were there. 
 Thar she be!
 Me with Chicago (can't see me very well)
 Nice view!
 Jon with Chicago in the background (can't see Chicago very well).

Us standing out on the ledge


 I told you, crazy lines!

We then went to a small pizzeria and got some deep dish Chicago style pizza! We rode the train back to the airport in plenty of time for our flight.

Jon with the pizza.

On the train!

When we got back to to the airport, we had Macaroni Grill because the airline paid for lunch. :) We still had 2 hours before we finally boarded the plane to London. We were expected to arrive about 6am in London, so our layover is not long enough to see London, but long enough to catch our flight to Dublin. We were super bummed out about this, (Jon more so than me, I've been there before) but it is what it is. 

Hours Pass....

So we are enjoying enduring our flight to London, watching movies, sleeping, etc, when about three hours into our flight there was message that popped up during the movie asking if anyone on board was a licensed medical professional. I'm not sure what happened, but a woman got up and went to the back of the plane. About a half hour later the pilot announced that there was a medical emergency on the plane. We had to land in Newfoundland (seriously, we are only in Newfoundland after three hours!?) for a spell to unload the person and their party. This ended up taking a long time and were worried about missing our connection to Dublin! We ended up being on the ground for 2 1/2 hours! They had to remove the bags of the people who got off the flight, reweigh all the bags, and refuel based on this calculation how much we would need to get to London. This delayed our flight considerably and so we did end up missing our connection. The flight was one of the worst I've been on because of the two delays and because of how sick I became near the end. In the last 2 hours I felt nauseous and about 30 minutes before we landed, my whole neck suddenly tensed up and I had a splitting headache. It was as close to a migraine as I've ever been. I took some Advil and tried to sit still so the pain would go away. The plane had to circle for a while before landing which only made things worse. Just after we landed I lost my breakfast (and whatever else I ate that day) including all of my water intake. Luckily it all landed in the barf bag on the plane. This was pretty disgusting, so also lucky for you, I don't have a picture ;) I feel bad for the people who were sitting next to me, and the flight attendants. Ewwww

Photo Credit:
Here's a nice picture for you :)
Since we missed our connection, the airline booked us on another flight, which we had to fast walk run sprint to catch. The flight was scheduled to leave at 11, and we had landed about 9:30. Definitely not enough time, especially in LHR. London Heathrow is the worst airport I've been in. It is HUGE and not very friendly to connections, yet there are hundreds of thousands of connections that go through here. I don't understand it. It is not convenient, and the worst airport to have to be in a hurry. 

Photo Credit:
Here's a map of the terminals. We came in on Terminal 3, and of course, we had to go to Terminal 5. That bus ride is LONG! And see how there is no post-security bus at Terminal 3...ugghhh. Also, see that ominous arrow that points to the right by Terminal 5...that indicates that Terminal 5 continues...forever...

We had wait times for busses that were about 15 minutes, then the long bus ride itself, crazy security lines (mind you we never left the airport, so why did we have to be scanned again?) biometric scanning, and LONG walkways to terminals and gates that never seem to end. We made it, but only because Jon is the best and ran really fast to hold the plane for me (We cannot hold the plane, sir. My wife is RIGHT behind me!). I was wearing flip flops (bad idea) and was completely out of breath, and dehydrated from my episode on the last flight. My throat was completely dry, and I was miserable. Let's just say I was NOT right behind Jon...

I do make it, and we enter the flight minutes before takeoff. On top of all of this, I'm feeling sick again on the next flight, still dehydrated and had no chance to get some water in the airport, or even rinse my mouth. The flight charges for ALL items, even water. A wonderful attendant had pity on me when I asked if I could please have some ice chips. I explained what happened and she brought me tap water, ice and crackers. :) Aer Lingus: 1 American Airlines: -3 (Delayed flight, emergency landing, booked us on a flight with not enough time to get there). I did not get sick, but still felt awful this whole flight.

Arriving in Dublin we spent the next 1 1/2 hours in line at border control, (met some awesome Midwesterners in line, though) and go to get our bags. Guess what? Yep, AA is now at -4 for losing our luggage. Aer Lingus is at 3 because they get another 2 points for finding said luggage and sending it to the place we were staying. :) The man at the lost luggage desk was so nice and helpful!

Now for Dublin. I love Ireland. I love the Irish people. I really wish we had a whole trip dedicated to this beautiful island (and UK too, maybe). We really just got a taste of this place, and I've always wanted to go here since I have the Irish heritage and all. It was great! We rented a car (without GPS) and we made it through alive. Yay! We went from the airport to the car rental place. You have to catch a shuttle, but a nice Irish Budget employee offered us a ride. Jon drove us and I navigated. We don't have WiFi access or 3G/4G so we had to rely on our atlas, maps from the airport, and the screen shots I had on my iPad. Crazy day. We drove on the left side of the road, which was a trip! It was weird to adjust to that. But I think we had a good time. Side note: I have no pictures of the car...bummer!

It is now June 9th, and we've been up for over 24 hours. We are exhausted and our feet hurt like hell, but hey, we are in Ireland, for less than 24 hours. We are going to make the most of it. We first went to Kilmainham Gaol. We learned a lot about Irish history and really enjoyed seeing the old jail museum. 

The chapel in the jail

Cell door

A ceiling of one of the hallways.

These were cells that housed leaders of Irish rebellions. They were imprisoned here and executed by the British. 

Jon in one of the hallways

This was an area where the guards stood watch because you can see every cell 

Jon in a cell

Mallory near the ladder up to the second and third floors

Another view of the courtyard area

This guy in the middle was our guide. He was awesome. He could speak Gaelic and did a wonderful job on the tour.

Our group, mostly English speakers with one German couple.

The Irish flag with our group.

After the jail, we took a walk in a beautiful park down the road from the jail. There was supposed to be a museum down this way, but it was closed or we didn't go to the right place. Who knows!

Us in the park

Me with Ireland in the background

The museum

Jon with flags

 Then we headed to city center where we saw Christchurch and St Patrick's Cathedral.

Jon in Ireland



St Patrick's Cathedral

St Patrick's Cathedral

St Patrick's Cathedral

Sign in the old well (Near here is the reputed site of the well where St Patrick baptised many of the local inhabitants of the Fifth Century A.D.)

We then set out to find where we were staying. We decided to use Airbnb for most of our stays during this trip, which is a website service where users rent out their rooms to others. Like staying with a local, but paying them like you would a hotel. Our hosts were great! Romi made us dinner (I love gnocchi) and we talked for a couple hours with her and her husband Joey. They had two beautiful girls who stole our hearts. It was wonderful staying with a real family and getting to know local people instead of a sterile hotel. Definitely recommend using this service while traveling. :)

The morning of the 10th, Romi and Joey made us breakfast, Irish porridge with nuts and fruit and bagels with cream cheese and salmon. It was delicious and so kind of them to make us food. We slept well and really enjoyed our stay in Dublin. 

Irish Breakfast

Our homestay!

We arrived at the airport at 9am, dropped off our car and headed in to check in. We ended up being fairly early, so once through security we looked around at the shops and waited for our gate. 

The plane ride was fair, we slept through most of it, and we collected our car at Amsterdam. 

Jon at the airport
We found out that we are covered only in certain countries, and guess what country is NOT covered? Czech Republic. This is where we are spending the most time while in Europe, so we hoped and prayed that nothing bad would happen. We even concocted a plan that if the car was stolen there we'd make up some ruse where it was stolen in Germany...yeah, it was silly :) We decided not to get a GPS (we'll see how that goes) just because of the sheer cost of it (we could have BOUGHT one and paid less) and drove into Amsterdam using pictures I took off of Google Maps on my iPad and our atlas. 

We now have 7 days to tour Europe before we have to be in Prague. Let the real adventure begin!

(If you missed it, part one can be found by clicking on the link!)

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