Greetings from Ireland! We have arrived safely, in one piece anyway. I can’t really attest to our mental health at this point, since we haven’t slept since Friday. Who knew our harrowing experience in the parking garage at the hands of my father would sort of set the tone for our entire trip. He decided to park in the one hour parking at DFW so he could help us check-in. If you’ve been in the car with my dad in any kind of a parking lot, you will understand. If not, let me try and paint a picture for you. Put yourself in a Lincoln Navigator, in the parking garage at DFW (with its really low, claustrophobic ceilings) and then imagine driving at reckless speeds, careening around corners, JUMPING curbs, making wrong turns down one way lanes while driving in circles, all the while having your driver exclaim that “it’s hear somewhere!” while screaming at us to calm down! Calm down? CALM DOWN? I want to actually make it to Ireland not spend my last moments in the parking garage at DFW! Finally, we park. There is much grumbling about people exaggerating and being overly-sensitive, but since I wasn’t the only passenger in this death trap, I’ll let the witnesses speak for me.
We check in and go through the long and arduous process of security checkpoints. Our first leg takes us from DFW to Newark, New Jersey. We all worked our hair up into poufs and spray tanned prior to arrival so we’d fit in at Newark, NJ, Jersey Shore style. The flight was thankfully non-eventful. We arrive in Newark to terminal A. Now, I’ve never flown into Newark before, but apparently it’s not just the one terminal like we initially thought. My sister is living it up in the President’s Club, so we texted her to let her know about our arrival. This is when we learned that we had to take the Airtram to our departure terminal, C. This meant we had to go through all the security checkpoints again. Boarding the Airtram was certainly an adventure. Nothing like the airport on one side and absolutely nothing but air on the other side. As we are taking the ride to our terminal, these two men in our compartment decide to partake in some lewd flirting and inappropriate touching. I sat there, gazing off into space when I realized what I was looking at exactly. One of the guys was rubbing his hand over the other guys johnson. I quickly look up in shock to find one of the guys staring at me. They both start laughing. I mean really? I like people watching, but that takes it a little far. Of course, I look over at Libby and she is staring at them with her mouth hanging open. Seriously, how long until we get to the terminal!
We finally make our way to the security checkpoint and Libby and I are dashing our way to the back of the line, when I turn around and realize that I’ve lost mom. Yes, I lost my mother. She’s like a toddler, you have to watch her every second! Before I can even formulate a thought, there she is! She’s popped up from behind several other gentlemen. Whew! Disaster averted!
Then Libby gets pulled aside by security for carrying a diet pepsi in her carryon. It probably didn’t help that she was eye-rolling and sighing at the agent.
We stop to eat, and Libby suddenly is sitting there next to me, kind of slumped over in a daze. I thought maybe she was upset because I SLIGHTLY overreacted when she dropped my phone. She exclaims she needs to excuse herself to the ladies room. Keep in mind, she only wanted a bagel with cream cheese, but I made her order the nuggets. Well that was a mistake. After puking up her not even digested nuggets, she stumbles out of the bathroom in tears. I, of course, feel so bad now. Poor Libbles.
The flight felt twice as long as it actually was, slightly over 6 hours, not counting the 3 hours we spent flying from Dallas to New Jersey. Libby and I tried to watch Black Swan, but we both got really freaked out at the incestuous overtones and worried about what our seat neighbor would think about my 16 year old watching some of the more….pornographic scenes, so we stopped about 45 minutes into it. Finally, we land in Shannon!
Our luggage arrived in one piece, although it did look like the pieces were dragged from DFW to Ireland. We obtain our rental car, and now the real fun begins. It took us a good 30 minutes just to figure out how to turn the car on. Oh and did I mention that it’s sleeting? Yes, sleeting. Awesome. Once we got the car started, it was another few minutes to figure out how to put it into drive, use the windshield wipers, and find the defroster. Ok, finally we are ready for take-off. Yet nothing happens. We don’t go anywhere. MOM PUSH THE GAS! Oh, ok here we go.
Let me say a few things about the Irish highway system. First of all, go outside and draw a chalk line down the center of your sidewalk. Then try driving on it. Yeah, that’s how small these freaking roads are. Secondly, you can only drive one way. Everywhere. You can’t just u-turn. And the roads never end. Never. They go on and on and on. We’ve gotten lost more times than I can even count at this point. Now my mom is doing an excellent job driving…now. But at first, O M G. It was like the parking garage experience, except way scarier. Mom was so worried about hitting the cars heading the opposite direction that she was sideswiping bushes and trees and driving in the ditch. There aren’t shoulders! It’s death by oncoming traffic or death by driving off a cliff. And we had to really be careful not to point things out, because mom would turn the steering wheel in the direction of her head! I don’t think we are at the point where we can even laugh about this yet. It took an extraordinary amount of time to even find our B&B, and it was only 10 kilometers from the airport. We find our B&B, only to find out we can’t check in yet, so we go in search of breakfast. Nothing is open yet, but a gentlemen tells us to go to the hotel and ask for the buffet even though we aren’t guests.
We walk in and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE stares at us as we walk in. Might have been because we were the youngest people there, or because we hadn’t slept in 2 days. I don’t know but it was creepy. My sister heads over to the buffet line first, and all of a sudden we hear this loud clangy crash noise. We all look over and I exclaim, “thank goodness it wasn’t my sister!” My mother looks at me and says “ummm, yes it was!” Good grief, it was her. She had her hair down, so I didn’t recognize her. Did I mention how tired I am? So now people are staring at us even more. The buffet was ok. Mom decided to try some local flavor. I thought it looked like poop with seeds in it, and no way was I going to stick it in my mouth. Our brave mother popped a piece in her mouth and then asked the waitress what it was. It’s never a good sign when the waitress at the restaurant asks you if you are sure you want to know. We reply yes. It was pigs blood. They call it Irish Pudding. Pigs blood. Yep. Mom’s vampire transformation is 1/4 complete. Gross. Pigs blood! I can’t wrap my head around it as a breakfast delicacy.
We still have time to kill after breakfast, so we decide to see our first castle, Bunratty Castle. It was amazing. The black crows swarming and swooping and cawing down upon us was a little disconcerting. I felt like was a background extra in the movie Birds. The castle was awesome! There was only one little incident involving my sister. After warning my mother to watch her head, the ceilings were very low coming out of the dungeon, my sister proceeded to whack her head, knocking herself out and causing her to fall over and hit her knee on the stone floor. Yes, you read that right, she actually knocked herself out. And my loving daughter made a lovely comment to me. She remarked how funny it was to watch me squeeze myself up the tiny stairs and through the tiny doors. Ahhhhhhhhhh, thanks. Thanks. So. Much. If she doesn’t make it back from Ireland, she sends her love to you all.
We finally make it to our B&B and get all checked in and rest for a bit before we headed out to the Cliffs of Moher. It was about an hour drive north of our B&B, but considering how often we had been lost already this day, we were a little nervous. You will be happy to know that we did make it, and in one piece with no incidence! We are making progress. We arrive at the Cliffs of Moher and as you can see from the pictures, it was incredibly beautiful. However, when we arrived, it began sleeting. Heavy sleeting. As my sister would quickly point out, none of us, but her, were dressed appropriately. So we make a quick pitstop into the little shop and purchase sweaters, gloves and hats. When we came out of the store, the sleeting had stopped and the sun was even peeking out. Granted the sun only peeked out for a hot second, but it we soaked it up. The cliffs were magnificent. There is absolutely no way to describe the sheer beauty of it all.
Now for the long drive back. We decide we are all hungry, and it is dinnertime, so when we make it back to Bunratty village, we stop and eat at The Creamery, a local pub. After we all unwind with a little cider, beer or wine respectively, the conversation takes an unexpected turn. Now, my mother every once in awhile comes out with these nuggets of awesomeness. We were sitting there talking about one thing or another, and she brings up this TV show, “Heavy”. I’ve personally never watched the show, but according to my mother, it’s very sad and well…heavy, like and I quote “hard-core porn”. Hard-core porn? Sad and heavy? First of all, when does my mother watch porn and secondly, what kind of porn does she watch that makes her reach for the tissues? We spend the next hour discussing all the possibilities, while my mother keeps knocking back the wine. We got nothing further out of her, but we’ve still got a week.
Next stop: the Blarney Stone