Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End May 01, 2012

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Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Saturday, March 24, 2012

We have returned to Western Europe; no more struggles with language, back to driving on the right (or left) side of the road and no more guessing and hoping when ordering food. We arrived in Dublin late Sunday evening after a long flight from Stockholm and our first impression of Ireland was immediate. The taxi from the airport was driven by a real character who didn't take a breath the whole journey telling us all about the country, do’s and don’ts in the city, a little bit about his family and a joke or two thrown in for good measure. He is a massive Commitments fan and told us that that movie best reflected Ireland and its people. It was unfortunate that we missed St Pats Day by one day but the scraps of a great party remain with green hats and wigs and spew stains decorating alcoves and gutters all over the city. The pubs and shops are still fitted out and we can only imagine what it would have been like.

Two full days have been spent visiting the tourist sights and historic places, like Trinity College and Ha Penny Bridge, we went on a walking tour, strolled through Temple Bar (pub district) and shared a pint or two of Irelands biggest export. Our hotel room is nice and big and contains all of our prerequisites like towels and shower pressure, although on the first morning Belinda was locking the door and snapped the key in the lock. We were given another room which was even bigger than the first with enough beds to sleep a relay team plus a nice big TV.

After three nights in Dublin we caught a bus to Belfast where we stayed for another three nights. Belfast has its own unique charm, not quite as tourist friendly as Dublin but slightly more authentic. We dined on delicious traditional food, like steak and Guinness pie and the old favourite fish and chips with mushy peas. About the only Irishness we didn’t experience was the famous Irish rain-who knows what they’re always complaining about? We didn’t see a drop! You will be happy to hear that with the onset of spring the layers have decreased and now we are back to the conventional human standard of one t-shirt, one jumper and one pair of socks.

There is a saying that bad luck comes in threes. We experienced this first hand, well Belinda did. The first strike of bad luck was having a bird shit on her beloved jacket. People say this is good luck but try telling this to someone immediately after they have been shit on and see if they agree. Bad luck number two came in the form of a cup of hot chocolate that deliberately dove out of Belinda’s hand and face planted all over her recently cleaned jacket. We thought we off the hook and breathed a sigh of relief when Belinda had a bit of a stumble on a street cobblestone, but this must not have registered in the bad luck department because the worst was yet to come. On the bus coming back to Dublin from Belfast we experienced some technical difficulties with the bus and after five false starts the driver eventually gave up and called for reinforcements. This was ok, frustrating, but we weren’t going to let a little bit of inconvenience break our spirits, plus it was a beautiful day. While we waited for a second bus Belinda lingered with her backpack on her back commenting that she was enjoying the hug, blissfully unaware of the looming disaster that was awaiting us in Dublin. The second bus arrived after about twenty minutes and we were again on our way and enjoying the green hills and stone walls of Ireland. Another stop at Dublin Airport sent one person off to catch a flight and we assumed we were on the home stretch. But before long we were back on the shoulder of the motorway. A young passenger sitting across the aisle from us, five or six seats from the front, noticed other motorists beeping, flashing and pointing and decided to let the driver know. The bus driver, a middle aged Belfast native with white hair and a few extra kilo’s disregarded the passenger arguing that they simply wanted to get into our lane. But the young man persisted insisting that there was something wrong on the left hand side, possibly to do with the luggage. The driver eventually relented, pulled over and rummaged around doing who knows what before he was back in the driver’s seat and we were again on our way. It was unknown to us what he did outside the bus but Belinda did mention the strange smell coming from outside, something burning she remarked. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before but Belinda has a nose like a bloodhound, she could walk straight into a job on Border Security because she frequently calls a horse smell ten blocks before we actually see any. Anyway, we learned exactly what the driver was doing and where that smell was coming from when we arrived at Dublin depot and went to retrieve our bags. Belinda noted that her bag felt a little light and as she carried it away from the crowd and my electric shaver dropped to the ground along the way. Our first thought was that someone had been through her bag. But as we turned the bag over the shock of the carnage horrified us. Her beautiful and much-loved backpack had huge rip and burn marks right down the center and the entire bottom section of the pack was missing. The stench of burning plastic was pungent "it stings the nostrils" and as we dragged it inside the depot like a dead carcass we knew full well what had happened after that last stop. The official explanation was that when the bus had stopped at the airport the bag must have been knocked and rolled. As the doors to the undercarriage closed on top of the bag it was left suspended half inside and half dangling outside the bus. Ten minutes of dragging along the motorway completely destroyed the bottom section leaving all our toiletries strewn along the road and all of her clothes touching the front flap of the top section torn, burnt and black. It looked like a Nam movie prop or something savaged by wild animals, possibly wolverines. The reason people were honking and flashing the driver was because they would have been dodging the hairdryers and make-up and body wash bouncing past their cars like some PlayStation game.  

Luckily, a customer service man from the Dublin station took us into an office and gave us some time to recuperate before filling in a report and taking us to a nearby shop the buy a new bag for her surviving clothes and supplies. We have come to realise that it could have been much worse. We did lose toiletries, a couple of shoes, a couple of pieces of clothing and some jewellery but nothing that cannot be replaced. Straight away Belinda was onto the Insurance Agency and we will try to recover as much as we can. This all being said and not taking anything away from how distressing the situation was, there are a couple of good things to come out of this experience- 1) We were chauffeured to our hotel in our own personal double decca bus that dropped us off right at the front door, how many people can say they have had that experience? 2) Belinda has extra space in her bag and an excuse to go on a massive shopping bender, which she was going to do anyway but now without the guilt, and 3) Belinda has a new trolley bag so I don’t have to hear her grumble about the heavy pack and she is less likely to fall over again. We are both looking on the bright side, especially after Belinda called home that evening and instead of sympathy got laughter from her mum, and we agree that in another place or another time during the trip this could have been a lot worse.

Ireland has been a wonderful place to visit, we have loved the cities and the people (the majority of them) and we are left with memories that will last forever. Overall the craic was grand.  

P.S. Jim Stynes death was big news over here in Ireland, one front page headline read 'Irelands Greatest Export’. We were both very saddened by the news.
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Danielle on

No good about the back pack Bind. Maybe it over heard u telling everyone u were going to burn it when u got home and was trying to escape u :)
Can't wait to see u xoxo luv u lots xx

Benjamin on

Hey Guys,
This blog was very amusing and made my day start quite nicely. I am sitting here eating breaky with Mel and even though we had heard about the bag from your mum and dad, coming from you the explanation is so much better (and funnier). It really is a bummer that it happened at all and a right pain in the backside however you seem to be coping relatively well. Dublin sounds amazing by the way and it Trinity College would have been great to visit.


jenny and vince on

just looking forward to seeing you both and hear in all in person...can't wait

Jenny Johnston on

Sorry for laughing but it did sound very funny and I knew that you were ok. Your final country visited and your coming home. Your Dad and I are very excited and can not wait to see you both. Lots of Love Mum and Dad xx

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