Dublin '07 – Day 1

Monday 5 February (Atlanta) to Tuesday 6 February (Dublin) 2007.

I’ve recently flown out to Dublin, Ireland on a 6 week consulting engagement. And since I’ve never been to Ireland and would like to recall the trip later on, I think a daily blog entry or two would help me do that.

Let me first say that, although entitled Day 1, I’m not really on my first day ;) I’m really on my 5th, but I’m going to try to break up the previous days and then continue on writing a post per day after I’m caught up.

Anyway, on the first day, one of my friends and fellow co-workers Jeff accompanied me on an evening non-stop flight from Atlanta to Dublin. We’ve been friends for almost 10 years, so that was pretty cool – going on a long trip with a good buddy is far more pleasant than enduring the doldrums of airports and sardine-like plane accommodations by yourself.

The flight was just about 7.5 hours long, and pretty uneventful. It was an incredibly smooth ride actually – eerily so. I thought I was on a cruise ship or something it was so smooth. The in-flight movie was A Good Year with Russell Crowe, and I have to say it was downright boring. I mean like really boring. I suppose that’s appropriate though since it was a red-eye flight, and anything to help you sleep in a sardine can is a good thing.

After the movie was over, and my desire to poke my eyes out with the Boring Stick had subsided, I popped open my Nintendo DS Lite and played a little Risk/Battleship/Clue. That was entertaining for a while and then I popped in Final Fantasy III, which I had never played before. The game is fantastic and kept me occupied for about an hour until I was exhausted and fell asleep.

I woke up about an hour later just after breakfast was over and the crew was starting to prepare for landing. 45 minutes later we touched down in Dublin International Airport at 7am local time (GMT) after the pilot had performed a crab landing. He did an ok job, given that crabbing into the wind is hard to do, but I suppose it could have been a little better.

After passing through customs and the baggage claim, we hailed a Taxi to take us to the hotel. It was an interesting ride – we saw how the roads had a very European ‘feel’ (as is expected in Dublin, obviously) – signage, intersections, driving on the left side of the road, etc. It was nice to sit back and watch us getting closer to the city interior – old buildings, cathedrals, and street-lined pubs and restaurants.

Our taxi driver had brought up the topic of Rugby and filled us in on the insanity that was about to ensue the coming weekend – apparently the match is a semi-final of the ‘6 Nations‘ (England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Italy). The people here are absolutely nuts about it. I mean nuts! In a good way though – the conversation, the edgy feel of the air – you knew something amazing is about to happen. I liken it to what a hosting city feels like immediately prior to the Super Bowl – visitors from both teams mingling in pubs and restauraunts before the game, wearing their teams colors, starting a fight or two, etc. Its electric. The cool thing though is that each game in these final series has the intensity of the Super Bowl – they’re nuts about their sports. Between soccer, rugby, and Gaelic football, this city is teeming with excitement, and its a lot of fun to be around.

I’ll write more about rugby later – the game is on Saturday of this week, and I’ll have more information later.

As we drove closer in to town, we passed by Trinity College near the center of the city. As groggy as we were from the long flight and no sleep, my buddy and I were certainly pepped up – by shall we say, the local population? All I have to say about that is 4 words: college. school. girl. uniforms. And I’ll leave it at that.

After our heads were out of the clouds (or gutters, or both), we arrived at our hotel, checked in and headed up to our room. Man, were we exhausted. It was about 8:30 am local time, which was 3:30 pm Atlanta time. We hadn’t eaten in a while, so we grabbed a traditional Irish breakfast (scrambled eggs, sausage, good canadian-style bacon, baked beans, toast w/ orange juice). The food was ok, but when you haven’t slept for a while and you’re starving, it hits the spot.

We went back up to the room and finally crashed at about 11:30 am Dublin time (6:30 am Atlanta time). We purposely set our alarm to go off in 2 hours so we would wake up extremely sleepy. Although this sounds ridiculous, we had to force ourselves to remain sleepy so that we could go to bed early a few hours later so we could wake up with our bodies adjusted to the local time zone.

So, as painful as it was, we stayed awake, and met up with 2 of our other co-workers joining us for the trip. We all went out to dinner at a local modernish pub and grabbed our first meal. I had the ‘chicken and mushroom pie’ with my first real pint of Guinness. Man, was that an amazing experience – a pint of the real stuff in Dublin, Ireland. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The other two guys, Chris and Julio, were almost as tired as we were, so we headed back to the hotel to hit the sack early and hopefully wake up adjusted to the local time. I finally fell asleep around 9:15 pm local time and didn’t move an inch until 10 hours later. It was a delirious but good first day.

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