Category Archives: ireland

Flight Day and Learnings

We woke at about 0330, had to have our bags outside the room at 0420. The hotel had bag lunches for us on the lobby counter, consisting of a sandwich, apple, crisps, and a bottle of water. I immediately emptied the glass bottle into the plastic bottle that I keep reusing. We left the hotel in two taxis (vans) at 0445.

Last view of the Falls Hotel.

Leaving early was actually a good thing. Our taxi driver did not use GPS, and was stumped by a road diversion (detour). He went slowly around the same roundabout 6 times, trying to get on N19 to Shannon Airport. Finally, he talked with his colleague on the phone, and went through Shannon Town, then back onto the N19. I saw the detour on my Google Maps, but didn’t want to add to the chatter.

At the airport, I ate my sandwich and apple. I also refilled my water bottle.

We made it to London Heathrow Airport. I don’t know what they were checking for at Security at Shannon Airport, but it wasn’t water. I made it through with my plastic bottle half filled, and Jerry made it through with his entire sealed glass bottle. Unfortunately, Jerry later got flagged by the K9 at Denver for having an apple.
Merrianne is eating her sandwich at Heathrow. Apparently, all the sandwiches weren’t the same. Mine only had a thin slice of white cheese, two paper-thin slices of ham, and butter. No lettuce nor tomato.
At other airports, I had always wanted to see the prayer room. It’s usually at some distant, hard to access corner of the airport, so there was never time to get there. Our layover at Heathrow was nearly 6 hours, so I got to see theirs. No one was inside except two (possibly) chaplains. They welcomed me, and I went to the back section with prayer maps and a compass on the floor, where I sat in a chair. The chaplains were making a bit of noise processing coins or some such (not a problem for me.) Maybe they weren’t chaplains?

Security for the flight headed to Denver was tighter. I chugged my entire bottle of water in the line, and had to remove my belt and shoes.

We got home at 10 pm on October 11th – more than 24 hours after we woke up in the morning.

Yes, we’re back in California.
I did a load of laundry when we got home, and noticed something about the brand-new pants I had gotten for the trip. They can’t withstand washing. My guess is that these are disposable clothes, never meant to be washed. Good thing I didn’t wash them on the trip.
These cheap +1.50 reading glasses lasted for the 3 weeks of the trip, but just barely. About a week into the trip, a screw came off, which I was able to repair. But as soon as we got home, the plastic lens snapped. A plastic lens for a structural element seems to be a poor engineering design; I won’t be buying this type again.

There was little time for reflection during the trip. These thought were gathered in subsequent days.

  • The pants issue above. Use durable clothing on a trip like this.
  • I brought one pair of dressy shorts, but only used them for sleeping.
  • Except for my jacket, I did not bring layered clothing. No umbrella, no raincoat or pants, no warm hat. Extra clothing would have been easy to acquire at a charity shop, but it turned out to be unnecessary (remember, timeframe = Sept/Oct)
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen were never used. I did use sun hat. My jacket not needed as frequently as I thought it might be.
  • The group was unmasked for most of the time, there. A few of us wore our masks in enclosed spaces like a museum or shop. Everyone masked on the plane flights, as far as I know. While Merrianne and I did not get sick, 3 of our 12 did. None got covid.
  • We had electricity every night, which was sufficient to charge our devices. The only external battery I brought was a little one about the size of a pack of gum for emergency phone charging, and even that was never tapped.
  • My headlamp was never used. Should I go on a similar trip, I won’t bother. The phone has a flashlight.
  • All hotel rooms seemed to have low-wattage shaver outlets with 110. I still appreciated the size and weight of the single disposable razor I brought.
  • We paid someone to do laundry once, but I would not have bothered if I was on my own. Shower wash of clothes would do, and there was often a heated drying rack in the bathroom, anyway. If there wasn’t, every room had a hair dryer, and most had irons.
  • Water was good everywhere we went, straight from tap. Scotland and Ireland have no drought issues.
  • The power plug converter I brought was not good. The added USB ports were put in below the plug, adding so much height that the adapter would not fit in some hotel outlets, especially the ones right by the desks, with low clearance below.
  • Almost all the hotel rooms had USB outlets in the walls, already.
  • Plastic utensil set I brought was never used. Any grocery store selling food also provides utensils.
  • I normally keep notes in a paper journal on trips. It was simply not possible to keep up with the pace of this guided tour.
  • ATMs with no fees were abundant on the trip. We brought large amounts of cash, but were struggling to use it up at the end. With few exceptions, everyone accepts credit cards, even for tiny purchases. Uses for cash: tips, buskers and panhandlers, bus, paying back friends, one toilet.
  • I did not buy a local SIM card for my phone, and it was not possible to buy an international plan on my Tracfone. Wi-fi calling through Whatsapp was enough. Good thing I had Android.
  • United airlines allowed messaging while in flight. It was probably a DirecTV link (saw that on the video screen at one point).
  • Ended up averaging about 1 GB of pictures / movies per day. No time to edit or recompress movies. Adapt and overcome, was able to save on combination of laptop, phone, and flash drive. Automatic backup of Android phone made Google Cloud fill up. I was not willing to pay for more storage, so offloaded pictures to my netbook.
  • Pickpockets, muggers, and even aggressive panhandlers simply were not an issue.
  • With the exception of our guides, I hardly met anyone new on this tour.