After the love of my life and I wed on October 1, we spent a week in Ireland for our honeymoon. That visit was the second most amazing experience in my life. (I don’t think I need to explain the first, but if you’re running low on caffeine, just read the first sentence over.)
Ireland is a wonderful country. From the beauty of the scenery, to the streets of Dublin, to the food everywhere, to the friendliness of the people–I was completely blown away. We toured southern Ireland, from Dublin to Shannon, and hope to return someday to complete the circle.
Our trip began with a grueling 6.5 hour flight across the North Atlantic ocean, which departed Newark around 7:30 pm and landed in Dublin, Ireland, around 6:15 am local time. Holy jet lag! The flight was very warm, and a woman passed out around half-way there, requiring oxygen and ice to revive. Thankfully she was okay after that, but needless to say, we weren’t able to manage much sleep.
We arrived in Dublin as dawn was breaking. The terminal seemed vast but empty at that hour, our flight providing the only passengers within the customs and baggage claim areas. It was hard to believe we are walking in a different continent and country. We were a bit dazzled and very excited, fighting exhaustion with every step as we prepared to enter the main airport area. It was somber and hushed as we opened the sound proof doors.
Sounds and lights erupted, people were everywhere, there were stores and bustling activity in every direction. We froze like deer in headlights at this unexpected change in setting, then forged ahead, anxious to reach our hotel before we collapsed. Wheeling our luggage behind us, knapsacks strapped over our shoulders, we dived into the tumult. I noticed a convenience shop selling six-pack minis of Bailey’s next to the soda and bottled water, and knew we were no longer home.
Wanting to make the most of our journey, we had opted to go on a tour instead of striking out on our own, and our travel agent had selected CIE Tours. CIE Tours had sent us as part of their travel kit a set of bright yellow luggage straps with their name on it. A sharp-eyed CIE employee noted our straps and asked if we were with CIE. With our affirmation, he asked for our taxi voucher, and within minutes we were whisked off to our hotel in Dublin, saving us the task of calling the taxi company to arrange for the ride and subsequent confusion of locating them. Well done! I was so tired at that point I’m not sure I could have dialed the numbers.
We arrived at the wonderful O’Callaghan Davenport hotel around 9am, where they cheerfully checked out luggage but regretfully informed us our room would not be ready for some time, and worse, there were about 8 people ahead of us.
I’ll admit we had hoped by some miracle our room would be ready that early in the day, but were prepared to wait, and had talked about seeing a bit of the city. Unfortunately, we were both so tired at this point that we just didn’t have the energy. Although I didn’t know it then, I was sick as well.
The friendly staff promised a room within 2 hours, so we collapsed at a lovely table in the President’s bar and ordered breakfast. Although our stomachs were still tuned to Eastern time, which was about 4:30am at this moment, we were both hungry. Their breakfast menu was a bit different from what we’re used to. Barb ordered Irish bacon on a potato bap ( a type of roll), and I had scones with fresh jam, butter, and clotted cream. Foregoing coffee, we decided to try the Irish breakfast tea.
Our first meal in Ireland was a slap in the head to our taste buds. I can’t adequately describe the shock of that experience, writer though I try to be, other than to say it exceeded all possible expectations. Every flavor was robust and distinct. Perhaps because everything was fresh? Perhaps because the Irish bacon, which is more like a smoked ham to us, came from pigs who ate natural foods vs. hormones? Perhaps because nothing contained artificial flavorings or preservatives? I’m not sure I know the answer, but assume it a combination of all of the above, and then some. Call it what you will, but we called everything delicious.
Barb enjoyed the Irish bacon so much she had some at every breakfast that offered it. The bap was light and delicious, the perfect companion to any filling in a sandwich. My scones were excellent, but the butter, the jam, and heaven help me, the clotted cream…ecstasy on a spoon. I have always wanted to like tea, and do have some every now and again, but tend to opt for coffee as a default. Well, the breakfast tea went perfectly with everything else, and I enjoyed the vibrant flavor so much I procured a box to take home, where I tend to have a cup every day or so since we returned. Add a brown sugar cube and drop of milk, and you have perfection, short of adding a shot of Irish whiskey or Irish cream–but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Coffee for me is pure adrenaline. I use it to wake up. I like it strong and dark, a little sweet, a little bitter. I will not stop drinking coffee. But there is room in my life for both, and this amazing tea rounds out my hot beverage experience perfectly.
Full and satisfied, we slumped deeper in our comfy chairs until finally our room was ready. We took an elevator ride up—the talking elevator woke us up a bit—and entered our room.
It was extremely nice, my favorite on our trip, and even boasted a US 110 outlet. The view of a busy Dublin street was mesmerizing, but we had other things on our mind. We were finally settled in Ireland, but exhausted. We needed a few hours of sleep, and then would be off to explore the city. We had arrived a day before the tour started for this very purpose.
To be continued…! Comments welcome.