Reflection: My First Full Day in Ireland

I had arrived in Ireland hours after I was supposed to and realized that although I had been traveling for 30 hours it wasn’t over. As I headed out of the airport I went to customs and was pretty terrified that it was going to be London all over again. I had been reassured by Ana, the amazing women that sat next to me on the last leg of my flight, that Ireland customs would probably be much better than London had been. Ana gave me her contact info and we parted ways. I got in line for customs and as I was watching the customs officers it looked like they were laughing with the people coming through. I was shocked! They didn’t seem to be rude at all or that they hated their jobs.

I was overly prepared for going through customs this time and when the woman asked me about my return ticket I told her the day it was on and said that if she needed proof I would be more than happy to pull out my computer and show her. She didn’t seem to want to look at it and asked me why I was in Ireland. I had to try and slow down when I was telling her the quick version of my mom passing away. She told me she was sorry to hear that and that she hoped I had a wonderful time. She stamped my passport, then I hurried through the gates to pick up my bags because I was terrified that someone was going to stop me again like they had in London. Thankfully no one even bothered to glance at me as I aimlessly wandered around baggage claim trying to find my bag.

I found it with not much trouble at all and went to change my clothes. The last thing I wanted to do, as I was already later than planned, was to show up in smelly clothes that had obviously been worn too long. I finished with that and sent an email to the host that I had found on Workaway.com to let him know I had been delayed and that I was still on my way. I got out of the airport and followed the signs for the bus departure. I hadn’t ever been on a bus as public transportation so I was a bit worried. But at this point I had researched so much online as to what bus to take and what time it would be getting there that I really didn’t have much to worry about. I only had to wait about 10-15 minutes and had my first cigarrette since Boise, ID 31 hours earlier. It was a relief and the nicotine high was just enough of a boost to keep me going.

I got on the bus and it was easy enough. It was specifically designed for picking people up at the airport and had plenty of luggage room plus comfortable seats. I was the last stop on the bus so it took about 30-45 minutes. Watching Dublin pass by was an easy way to pass the time. I always bring a whole bunch of books with me when I travel and always find that for at least the first few days I don’t do much reading because I am so fascinated by everything around me. My first impressions of Dublin was that it seemed like a town full of tourists. Not that that is a bad thing, just something to note. I didn’t come to Ireland to hang out with a bunch of tourists. I wanted to really experience Ireland.

I made it to the train station and this is where I was way out of my depth. I had no idea how to use the train station and couldn’t even see where I was supposed to buy my ticket from. There were little kiosks but I felt like I probably would mess it all up if I tried to print it myself. Not that I didn’t try to use one. I did because I was pretty lost at this point. I couldn’t find my stop on the lists of stops. I then decided I needed to sit down and see if I could get some WiFi. The internet always comes in handy when you are trying something new like that. I couldn’t get connected to anything so I stood up to walk over to an information booth that I had spotted. Right as I put away my laptop and went to go ask them some questions the security guard was closing it up.

At this point I felt pretty stupid. How did I not notice the information booth until it was too late? Now whenever I get lost I try to figure out what is going on for a bit and if I can’t figure things out within my first two or three attempts that is when I start to wander. Not that I recommend this necessarily as that is how I spent a long four hours in Portland in a pretty sketchy area when it turns out I wasn’t even on the right side of Portland! But it’s my process and it works out more times than it doesn’t so off I wandered. Luckily I wandered right into the ticket counter. I told the man where I was going and he said there was only one other train going to that stop tonight and it was leaving in roughly two hours.  I must have looked a bit dejected at that point because he gave me an odd look but just printed my ticket anyways. Then I waited.

For a sporadic hour I tried to get connected to the internet so I could make sure that my host would be picking me up, but I wasn’t to concerned as we had talked quite a bit over the week and had set the day and triple checked the date and time-ish that I would be arriving. I was only going to be a couple of hours later than planned because I had luckily given myself some extra time to sight see and eat when I estimated what time I would be arriving in Templemore or Thurles. The train wasn’t stopping in Templemore so I was going onto Thurles. My host had already mentioned that the train might not stop in Templemore and to just let him know what station I would be coming into.

I finally got onto the internet after finding a connection that I had to pay 2.50 euro for. I only had a few minutes to go before my train would be arriving and my computer was about to die as well. So I sent my host a quick email saying the exact time and station I would be arriving on. In a mad rush all of the people that were supposed to be on the train I was went to board. We were all rushing to get through the gates when I noticed the green signals had turned to red, but people were still trying to get through them. They looked like a bunch of confused sheep and the guard laughed and said our train was down farther at another gate. So we all rushed a little less enthusiastically to the other gate and boarded the train with no more interruptions.

I talked to the couple across the table from me for a bit. They didn’t talk about themselves much and the man talked even less about anything. They seemed very sweet though and the woman kept offering me gummy bears and refusing to let me turn her down. She also offered to let me use her telephone to call my host, but I sheepishly refused because we had only corresponded through email. In this day and age I think that the younger generation doesn’t find that unusual, especially if it’s a legitamite website, but it makes some people wary. As my stop was coming up the couple made sure to tell me they hoped I had a wonderful trip. I got off the train and went into the parking lot, where there were only a couple of cars. Then I once again felt the panic coming on.

I waited for ten minutes and even the security guard and most of the taxi drivers had left. I realized that if I waited any longer I was going to be waiting here all night. I went up to the taxi driver to ask if there was a hotel near by and his Irish accent was so thick that neither of us could really understand one another. I was so exhausted I just got in the taxi and hoped he didn’t take me to somewhere weird, like his house. He didn’t, he dropped me off at the nearest hotel and I gave him the 5 euro fare. I went into the Hayes Hotel a bit skeptical because it looked pretty nice and I just wasn’t willing to pay a large amount to stay there even if I was exhausted.

The woman at the counter was delightful. I explained my story to her briefly and she told me about all the other hotels in Thurles and told me that she would only charge me 40 euro for the room which included a free breakfast and all day access to the bar. I thought that sounded pretty decent so I took the room. I got upstairs and was pleasantly suprised. The room was very nice and when I looked at the back of the door at the prices for different rooms I was suprised to find out she had charged me about half the price that the room normally costed and those didn’t include breakfast. I was so happy to have met another friendly person especially in my time of need. I wanted to get a drink but after I had a bath in a very deep and comfortable tub I practically passed out in the bed! I almost forgot to add that in addition to my crazy 30 hour flight and my host not showing up, I also had to deal with my duffle bag.

I had checked it in Boise and when I got to the hotel and opened it up it turns out that the airports must have had some fun with it. It had very obviously been gone through. I am a very meticulous packer, everything has to be in the spot it fits in the best and I roll all of my clothing up very tightly to save space. My clothes had been unrolled and haphazardly been thrown back in my duffle. My boots were in odd places and my makeup, shampoo/conditioner, and body wash were all broken open and all over the bottom of my bag. I separated everything out into two piles, one pile of unaffected things and a second pile in the bathroom of affected things. Luckily it wasn’t too bad, but between the now completely broken zipper and the cover-up all over my bag I realized that I would be needing a new duffle in the near future, but it would have to wait.

I had a nice, restful sleep for the first time in days. I tried to connect to the internet in the hotel but the signal was too low and I realized that breakfast was almost through being served. So I headed downstairs and everyone was again so helpful and I got a nice simple meal. Scrambled eggs, toast, and what turned out to be a sausage wrapped in hashbrowns. It was very good after airplane food. It was almost time to checkout at this point so I headed upstairs and packed up my things and did a last check around the room. Now this is something I highly recommend doing anytime you are traveling and staying in places that you won’t be coming back to. On this particular occasion when I stopped at the door and went back to do a last check I found out that I had left my leatherman lying on the bed and I would have been pretty pissed at myself if I had left it. I then went downstairs and checked out.

I asked the woman at the counter if there was somewhere with WiFi nearby and she said that the lobby had WiFi so I had a seat and got online to try and find a new host, as the one that was supposed to pick me up hadn’t bothered to email me at all. Then as my luck that week would have it the power in the whole city went out right as I was going to try and send my first email. I couldn’t even believe it, how do these things keep happening to me? I mean first customs, then the train station, the bag, the host, and now the internet wasn’t working! I had made it through all of the other things so I figured I would probably make it through this. I went outside and had a few cigarettes. I was sitting right by a gate that went into some sort of parking lot that people kept driving around rather than paying the gate. I thought it was pretty funny and then a lady drove up to the gate from the other side and was trying to get it to open. She couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t open and was trying to get me to explain it to her or do something about it. It took a minute for her to understand that I had no idea how it worked, but that she could drive around it. As soon as she backed up to do so the gate opened and we had a good laugh about it.

Around this time I could hear some sort of sirens going off. It took me a minute to realize that this meant that the power had come back on so I wandered down the street to find a coffee shop. I came across one not too far down the street. It was so cute! It was fairly small for a coffee shop and most of the seating was outside. I stood in line and looked at all their treats. It was basically a bakery/sandwhich/coffee shop and all three looked amazing. I finally got up to the counter and asked if they did iced coffees or just hot. I don’t think I have seen anyone here in Ireland so far be so confused by something I said as this poor woman in the coffee shop was. She did not understand what I was asking about at all.  Not to mention the only thing that I could understand that she said was that she couldn’t understand me and I’m pretty sure that’s not even exactly what she was saying, because she kept mentioning, “Yes the power is back on.” I settled for a carmel mocha and waited for my coffee.

Once I had coffee and WiFi password in hand I went outside to work on finding someone else to stay with. I emailed five or six people who seemed to be in the general area that I was and told them the story of my host not picking me up and that I was looking for someone that needed help immediately. The first person I had emailed got back to me about an hour later. He said he was in Clara and that I could come stay with him for about ten days and figure out what I was going to do next. He gave me his phone number and directions on which trains to take. I told him I would email him when I got on the train and he said he would wait for me at the train station with his dog. I was very greatful for this and did let him know exactly what time I should be there once I got on the train. I was pretty frustrated with the first host, because I spent 80 euro on a trip down to Thurles and a night in a hotel and he hadn’t even bothered to email me back at all!

I arrived in Clara ten minutes later than scheduled but Simon was there waiting with his dog Paddy and I don’t think that I could have been more thankful. He showed me to his home which was less than a five minute walk away. It was a 150 year old cottage that was built to house people that worked on the railway when it was first built. I thought that was really cool and enjoyed that I would be staying somewhere with a bit of history. He showed me around his home and later that evening we went into town and he showed me where things were in general. He also showed me down to the river where I could take Paddy off the leash because he wouldn’t wander off. I was still a bit tired and worn out from the last couple of days so Simon made me dinner and I went to bed shortly after that. It was a pretty crazy day, but I was very glad to be in a bed and know that I would be there for a bit.

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