Tuesday, August 18, 2009

luck of the irish?

Indeed, luck there is in Ireland. Now, whether it be good or bad luck is debatable.

Last weekend Al and I visited my cousin Andrea and her husband Brenden in Ireland. I flew out a day earlier than Alex so as to take advantage of Ryanair. I arrived Thursday evening and took the two hour bus ride to my cousins' house in Hillsborough, 15 miles from Belfast.
I knew it was going to be a long bus ride and came prepared. I made myself comfortable with my bag of Haribo gummy bears and Alex's tattered and cut in half copy of LOTR. About an hour into the bus ride, I turned the very last page of Tolkien's masterpiece with tears streaming down my face. I still had quite a bit to go but no longer any
Frodo Baggins or Samwise Gamgee to keep me company.

I so unfortunately began to doze.

I woke up after what I truly believed was a five minute nap to find that we were pulling away from some bus stop. I looked around the bus to find that some old man and myself were the only passengers left, and of course the bus driver.
We must not forget about him.
For a minute I was worried that I may have missed my stop. However, I figured I couldn't have been asleep for longer than 5 minutes and there were three stops before Hillsborough. But as we continued to drive and pass road signs, there was no sign for Hillsborough anywhere. Finally, I got out of my seat and walked to the front of the bus.

Me: "Excuse me?"
BD: "Yes?"
Me: "We haven't passed Hillsborough yet, have we?"
BD: "Yes."
Me: *Gasp*

You must understand. I was on a bus all alone with two grown men at 11 pm headed for Belfast Ireland, 15 miles from my cousin's home, with no phone.

Me: "Really?!"
BD: Obviously bugged, "Yes. You said you were going to Belfast!"

I then quickly and desperately explained that I only asked if the bus was going to Belfast to make sure I was on the right bus.

BD: "It's okay, I'll just give you a ride home in my car after I drop off the bus in Belfast."
Me: Too overwhelmed with relief at the possibility of not being stranded to consider the oh-so-dangerous situation that had just been posed, "Really?! Thank you!".

What else was I to do?

So we dropped off the last passenger and the bus in Belfast and the bus driver and I hopped in his car. It wasn't until Jim (that's his name) made his comment about the gate keeper of the parking lot that the reality of what I was actually doing began to sink in.

Jim: "He probably thinks I'm taking you home with me."


But it turned out that Jim was just a 49 year old, Irish bus driver who was just as friendly as his accent and not nearly as scary as his picture.

Andrea and Brenden showed us a wonderful time on the Emerald Isle.

Seeing the Tall Ships make their stop in Belfast during their
around-the-world sail.

Some murals in the city.

I never knew Northern Ireland has such a violent history.
They too have a "Peace Wall" dividing the Catholics and the Protestants.
It felt a little too similar to this:

Brenden and Andrea planned a BBQ for us and invited Brenden's entire family.
We were very touched.

Brenden's nieces
Fiona, Andrea and Erin

The next day was spent touring the country side.

Honestly, it was some of the most beautiful scenery either of us have ever seen.

The Giant's Causeway

Thank you Andrea and Brenden!

Alex left Sunday night and I was scheduled to leave Monday morning at 7:30. I was wanting to go home to him just as much as you are wanting this post to end, but alas, we don't always get what we want.

Despite being at the airport an hour and a half early, making it through security and waiting at the actual gate for 45 minutes, it wasn't until I was boarding the plane at 10 minutes before take off that they told me I hadn't received a stamp of approval. I needed to run to the front of the airport, back out through security and get my ticket stamped before I could enter the plane.

After a lot of running, sweat and a lot more tears, I missed my flight.

They put me on standby for a flight that evening at 7:30 for a mere 100 euros.
Turns out that's how Ryanair gets away with 8 euro roundtrip tickets from Brussels to Dublin.

With twelve hours ahead of me and my cousins 2 hours away,
I decided to take a bus into Dublin to see the city.

After realizing the bus seats were covered with the same multicolored, velvet material as the London buses, I figured Dublin couldn't be too bad.

Top Shop, Museums and Castles confirmed this.

I also happened upon this market

This rainbow rose bouquet should give you a feel for the quality of it.

In the end I made it on the flight that evening and had a great day in Dublin.
Maybe I was lucky after all.



A and L said...

Just reading this is giving me horrible anxiety!
At least you got to explore and make some new friends right?!

Kellee Marie Cook said...

hahahah. annie this post made me so happy (and a little anxious about your safety) It reminded me what it is like traveling with you-but alas everything works out in the end. I am happy that bus driver was nice and not a creep. I'm glad to see that on your lonely day in ireland a touch of london home was there to comfort you (I could never forget that wild seat cover fabric)

mostly I am glad you are safe and sound but still making life an adventure. ;)

oh ya, that pic of you and al at the end is the cutest thing I have ever seen.

p.s. I just thought I would follow suit and respond to a long post with a long comment. so there.

Mama Judy said...

Wow! All those prayers that are said for your safety really work! I'm so glad to hear you're both in Brussels safe and sound. Alex is about 1/8 Irish so maybe that helped you find your way.
Ireland looks amazing. I've always wanted to look for shamrocks and leprechauns on the Emerald Isle. So glad you were able to do it for me.
Annie, thanks for this amazing blog. It's great to sense what you're experiencing. Alex, I love the hair. Love you both to pieces, Mom

kylie said...

annie, you are darling. thank you for your sweet comment!!!! i'm glad you have a blog and that now, i can read it! i sure hope to run into you in provo. you need to come to the house and visit kell, sarah, rebbie, mandi and i!!!

happy traveling!