Europe Trip – Getting to Dublin

March 9th, 2008 by Thinus Leave a reply »

Where: Dublin, Ireland
When: 2008-03-07 – 2008-03-09
Who: Thinus, Joseph

My day started as old Noah’s – stuffing 2 of each kind of clothing I could find on my floor into my bag at 5 in the morning. By 6am I was ready enough to go to bed. Until 7. Then I woke up, got up, got dressed, realised I was still dreaming, woke up, got up, got dressed and went to a procurement meeting to try and build a pebblebed power station.

Friday

At 9 I was late enough to forfeit my new AmEx Debit Card that I needed to save me the extra service fee of 1.7% per transaction. My parents picked up Joseph from the petrol station where he was waiting at. We met at my place and I packed my bags into their car. Significantly behind schedule, I drove to the airport as quickly as my dad’s old Camry and my backseat driving dad would allow. We checked in, got our boarding passes, greeted my parents, bought some very expensive traveler’s checks and we had our last duty free South African draught as we waited for our official boarding call to start the trip.

On board the Emirates Boeing 777-300er, everything was as grand as I wasn’t used to – a personal flat panel touch-screen TV for each seat, more than 850 TV, series, radio and music channels to choose from, including channels connecting to a front and downward facing camera mounted on the aircraft nose and an overlay of the aircraft position, track log, speed, and eta over a 3D map of earth. Enough to keep you busy on this 8 hour part of the trip to Dubai. That is if the free on board coffee, beer, wine and liqueur don’t.

We arrived at Dubai International Airport at 10pm local time, I went through my first post 9/11 customs point, barefoot with my shoes, belt, wallet, watch, fillings and thoughts in a basket, being screened in every possible electromagnetic frequency band. I passed and so did the 2 bottles Amarula, 2 bottles 3 year KWV and the new bottle 5 year old KWV we bought for next to nothing at the duty free shop. We left Dubai’s busy market-place airport after 2 hours, continuing our journey to London.

Saturday

As pink and golden light filled the little window on my side for more than an hour’s sunrise over the eastern horizon we had breakfast on board and then touched down in Gatwick, London. Inside the massive airport, we needed to kill 5 hours. We did by walking through the same shops 37 times, riding the monorail train between the terminal buildings a number of times, collecting unattended trolleys so we could claim their €1 deposits, sleeping in coffee shops (pretending to be reading) and attending the service in the chapel. This turned out to be a very personal experience as we were the only people there (except for Steve, the retired Salvation Army Reverend).

We then waited in the customs building for the late by more than an hour Ryan Air flight. Outside, the wind was howling and some runways at Dublin were closed because of this. When we flew over the green equator, the big desert, mountain ranges of Western Africa, big blue and green parts of ocean, and now the little pieces of land making up the UK, Steve’s words echoed – “I searched everywhere for Him, and that’s exactly where I found Him.”

Well, my cousin Christa found us, delayed by an hour, at Dublin Airport. We got into a taxi and drove to her one room apartment in Dublin city center. After unpacking, our first obvious stop was at the Jameson Distillery. We did the tour and I volunteered to be the tester that had to choose my favorite whiskey between 3 Irish, Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker. Even though everything around me was green, how could I not choose my favorite, Johnny, above Jameson? Hesitantly our host, Neil, still issued my certificate stating I’m now a certified Irish whiskey taster.

We walked back to Christa’s house in the freezing cold, had a very good Whiskey-sauce Stew at Flanagan’s, a traditional Irish restaurant and headed of to our designer cottage on the better side of the river Liffe.

Christa’s friend’s architect friend lend us his house in Ambassador Court. Very generous of him, and completely understandable that he felt the need to remove his €500,000 “Brok” masterpiece-of-something sculpture for the duration of our stay. I fell asleep on his designer couch for the first time in 3 days.

Sunday

It turns out one thing you do a lot when backpacking in another country is to walk around with your backpack. Which we did again this really chilly cold morning to have breakfast at the hospital where Christa works. With full bellies, Joseph attended a church service in a huge protestant church and I went to Trinity College to walk through one of Ireland’s oldest libraries with more than 200,000 books stacked 45m high. I also went to see the Book of Kells“, an illustrated Latin manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament, dated 800 ad. The pages are so painstakingly decorated with the smallest detail that in the opening’s words to the gospel of John, “Jesus Christ” is abbreviated to the 2 greek letters “Chi Rho”, but it still take up an entire page!

We met up with Joseph again and went into the very large, very old and very grand Temple Bank of Dublin. Which incidentally also won the “2007 pub of the year award. Here we withdrew our first body warming glasses of Sherry.

The mean way to see stuff is the Hop-on Hop-off buses that circle through Dublin’s most famous sites. We visited what’s left of the mighty Dublin Castle, sneaked into a book reading in the massive City Hall (where we were given free red wine), attended an exhibition on the history of Dublin and the wars fought here, and eventually ended at the highlight of the day’s tour – the impressive Guinness Breweries with the tallest bar in Ireland. 7 stories high, the Gravity Bar’s view is never ending as you drink the world’s finest pint.

Lastly, as any tourist should, we pub-crawled through Temple Bar, a long street with many traditional Irish pubs. My only policy was to never drink the same beer twice. Unless someone else pays. We had a Guinness Stew dinner in the famous oldest bar in Ireland, the Brazen Head, before finishing the night off at the South African pub, Woolshed. Did I mention somewhere that Dublin has got a heck of a lot of beer?

That’s it, I’m paste! Tomorrow we must get up insanely early to catch a flight to Brussels. I think.

2 comments

  1. Goedele says:

    Hey Thinus,

    Dit is dus het begin van de reis…
    Ik vind het heel leuk om te lezen.
    Whiskey is echt iets voor jou hè?! ;)
    Goed dat je dus naar Ierland bent geweest.

    Groetjes !

  2. Jannie says:

    Magtag maar jy’t meer energie as sinne! En ek moet tog noem dat ek jaloers is en hoop jy enjoy dit soos in oor ‘n 100, X=… en ek’s bly jy’t die 1.7% gedrop vir ‘n hug. X= vir president.

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