Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Few Highlights . . .

Day One:

We arrived at the SLC airport in plenty of time for our 2:35 p.m. flight. Upon arrival we immediately discovered that we no longer had to worry about missing our connection in Chicago since the flight was already delayed to the point that there was absolutely no chance that we would make the connection. The American Airlines people told us that the Chicago AA people would assign us seats on the next day's flight to Dublin and take care of hotel and meal vouchers for us once we got there. Phil joked about getting upgraded to first class. The girl didn't see the humor at all.

After getting on the plane two hours late, we got to sit on the runway because of another problem. After 45 minutes on the runway, we finally lifted off.

After deplaning in Chicago, we went to the nearest AA desk and asked for vouchers and seat assignments. We were told that the delays were weather related so there would be no vouchers.

Ummmmm . . . what??!? In SLC we were told that that the delay was mechanical and even though another AA employee in Chicago backed us up on that, the woman we were talking to refused to help us and sent us to another gate to talk to a supervisor. Being the obedient Phil and Julie that we are, we went to that other gate and found it completely deserted. I had to make a restroom stop so I left Phil there to figure it out. By the time I found my way back from the restroom ( I was only lost briefly) Phil had spoken to multiple other AA people and finally managed to get us a place to sleep for the night and a voucher for dinner. All of the airport restaurants were closing by that time so it didn't do us a lot of good though. We wondered if they would let us use it for breakfast the next day.

On the shuttle to the hotel we sat behind another couple who was in SLC with us and had missed their connection too. They were very happy as they explained to us that "without even asking" the AA woman in SLC gave them hotel, dinner and breakfast vouchers, and upgraded them to first class. They were convinced that they got such great cooperation because of his Latin accent and the fact that he called her "honey" and "sweetie". When we chuckled at that his wife said "No really, my husband gets all kinds of things because he talks to nice to them. You should do that." . First of all, Phil would sound funny doing a Latin accent. Secondly, we were nothing but nice to every single person that we talked to, including the woman who told us that we couldn't have a voucher because the delay was weather related and third, things never go that way for us. Ever. Phil reminded me about the time that he got in trouble during his internship at at Texas A&M because he walked up to the receptionist desk one day and said "How's it going, ladies?" Apparently "ladies" is a condescending term that they took offense to. If Phil tried to call somebody "sweetie" he would probably get punched in the face. The Latino couple were on a flight out at 9:00 the next morning. Phil and I had to sit in Chicago until after 7:00 the next evening. For our trouble we did manage to get a bed to sleep in and a meal voucher that we couldn't even use. I wonder how their first class seats were?

We spent the first day of our European trip in Chicago, on the same day the the White Sox and the Cubs were playing. By the way, those Chicago-ans (-ites? what are they called???) are very passionate about their teams. We rode the train into the city but since we had done no pre-planning we had no idea how to spend our time. We wandered around, saw some "zombies" (see below), some street musicians, and several weddings in progress before we got back on the train to the airport.

Day 2:

We got on the plane in the evening feeling more like it was the end of our trip rather than the beginning. The flight was long and uncomfortable. The good news is that we were in the bulkhead seats so we had a perfect view of all the great treatment that the first class passengers were getting. I think they had two rounds of drinks, and some dessert before we were even off the ground. I think I even saw a masseuse up there, and somebody hand feeding them chocolate covered strawberries.

The flight was pretty uneventful which is great news when you are talking about flights. That is until it was time to land. We had been semi-awake all night and were very tired but I managed to get my camera out to snap a shot of our first view of Ireland.

As we got closer and closer to the ground, my stomach started feeling the way it feels when the Dramamine is wearing off. My stomach doesn't like sudden movements, and with the clouds over Dublin in the way of our landing, there were lots of sudden movements. I tilted my head back and just waited for it to be over. Ten minutes later, I was still waiting and I peeked out one eye and saw water below us again? What the. . . ? I'm not real up on Irish geography, but I was fairly certain that we shouldn't have been over water again at that point. I peeked with that one eye at the monitor in front of us that was tracking our progress and saw that we had looped Dublin and our altitude had gone from just over 2000 feet to closer to 6000 feet. Seriously??? I put my head back and tried to convince my stomach that it would be over soon. It turns out that I was completely lying to my stomach. After going up and down through the clouds and in and out over the ocean for close to 40 minutes, the nausea won and for the first time in my life on a commercial flight, I had to get one of the bags. Phil took pictures. Yeaaaaaa Phil. For reasons that should be obvious, the one of me won't be posted, but here's me managing to hold the bag after Phil closed it up all nice and tidy:

We did eventually land and my stomach did manage to recover about the time our bags came off of the luggage carousel (Since we checked them so early, they really were the last ones to show up.)

After a 15 minute bus ride, and probably a 20 minute walk in the wind and rain, while pulling our luggage, we finally arrived at our dorm, which I'm fairly certain is sponsored by IKEA (see Phil's room below). It was still a couple of hours before they would let us check in, so we had to go wander some more. In spite of what the nice Irish boy at the dorm told us, everything on campus was closed, we assume because it was Sunday. As we were wandering, we saw Norm and Linda go by in a taxi (we are sooooo taking a taxi back to the airport) so we rushed to catch up with them to let them know that they couldn't check in yet. They dropped off their bags and the four of us went into the city to explore.

Here's me getting beaten to death by the wind while we were wandering and waiting for them to let us into our rooms that first day:

Here's Phil holding a newspaper that we found on the bus the next morning with a headline referring to the day that we arrived:
Lest you all think that I am nothing but a giant complainer, I have to say that I LOVE Dublin. It is a really cool city and the pictures that you see in guide books don't even come close to doing it justice. There's just something ultra-amazing about being able to walk in and out of buildings that have been around since the 11th century. (We ate in the pub that you see on the ground floor of this first building - yum!) After the trauma of getting here, things have been great. I'll definitely post more about Dublin after I get home, but I think I just heard the college kids come in (no singing tonight; bummer) and we are well into my birthday (happy birthday to me!!) so I need to at least try to get some sleep so that I don't walk around half asleep again tomorrow.


Michelle said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! i can't even begin to tell you how super jealous I am - but what an awesome place to celebrate your 30th birthday!!! Ü hope things go well and i really hope that you will get bumped to first class for your flight home! If you do, Happy Birthday from me - it was all me. If you don't, sorry - let's do lunch when you get back!