Sunday, December 18th-Tuesday, December 20, Dublin

Flying to Dublin (or not); where are my suitcases?; breakfast and a bit of a nap; wandering around the neighborhood with a bit of shopping & lunch at a world buffet; back to my room for some more rest; reunited with my suitcases; unpacking; wandering around the neighborhood some more; an Irish vacation SIM card & plan; snack run; dinner at the Italian place down the street

Jurys Inn Parnell Street

1/30/2017

It took longer than it should have for me to get here and for me to have all my baggage than it should have.

Sunday was cloudy but pleasant in Ft Lauderdale, with temperatures in the 80s in the afternoon. I did my exercise walking in the morning before finishing packing and was checked in and at the Jet Blue gate in the airport a couple of hours early.

When I got there I noticed that the flight before mine, to Newark NJ, was listed as being an hour and a half late but our flight still showed as on time. Right after the Newark flight left, however, the status of our flight to JFK was changed to being late at least an hour and a half. I called Aer Lingus and learned that they only have two flights from JFK, one at 5 PM and the one I was supposed to be on at 9 and that I would have to go back to the Jet Blue desk and have them rebook my entire schedule.

I hightailed it back to the Jet Blue desk in the terminal and after repeatedly telling them I had spent a lot of money on my business class ticket with Aer Lingus they were able to rebook me for the 5 PM flight from JFK on Monday. I then had two choices–fly to JFK on my original, delayed flight, or fly up early on Monday. My home iPhone was running out of power and I was having trouble connecting to Priceline or Hotels.com from there in the airport and finding any hotel rooms that were available near the airport so I decided I'd just catch a cab home and have Jet Blue book me on their first flight from Ft Lauderdale to JFK the next morning, 7 AM. I could have taken the 1 PM flight but was worried that if there were any delays on Monday I might wind up missing the 5 PM Aer Lingus flight as well. I wanted to just take my checked bags back home with me and bring them back in the morning but when the supervisor who was helping me checked she was told it was too late to have my bags retrieved but she was assured my three bags–my hat box, and two suitcases–would be transferred to Aer Lingus at JFK and would be on the same plane I would be.

I caught a cab home from the airport and when I was telling the driver what had been going on, and that I'd need to call as soon as I got up the next morning for a 5 AM pickup to go back to the airport he said he'd come get me. That evening I used my desktop computer upstairs for a bit and left it too late to go out for dinner so I just heated up some leftovers from the freezer instead.

I got to sleep before midnight Sunday night, and slept quite well–until about 1:30 AM. I had planned on being up around 4 AM to take a shower since doing so makes me feel better rested than I would be on so little sleep (for a while, anyway) and eventually gave up on trying to go back to sleep about 3. I took my shower, dressed, and called my driver from the night before on his cell phone to confirm my pickup and he was there a bit before 5 to take me back out to the airport.

Jet Blue has nothing like first or business class but it was adequate for the relatively short flight from Ft Lauderdale to JFK.

Unfortunately I had forgotten that Aer Lingus has only two flights from JFK, with the first at 5 PM, and they don't even have anyone at their desks until 2 PM. For some reason the self serve check in kiosk wouldn't give me a boarding pass for my flight, which would have allowed me to go use the Aer Lingus's business class lounge so I had to snag one of the very few seats to have somewhere to sit while waiting for the couple of hours until Aer Lingus opened. Not only are there no coffee shops or restaurants on that side of the departure terminal, there didn't seem to be any restrooms either, so it's a good thing I didn't need one.

I was the first person in the business class line for customer service when they opened at 2 PM. I explained the situation, and the people who helped me not only printed out my boarding pass but talked with someone in their baggage handling section and were assured by them all three of my bags would be on my flight.

I then spent the next hour and a half or so in Aer Lingus's very nice business class lounge, with free food and things to drink and, like the same lounge at the airport here in Dublin, also has showers.

As usual I couldn't sleep on the plane, and actually felt a little bit better than I usually do when I've had so little sleep. I watched a couple of TV shows on the plane's in flight entertainment system but also as usual spent most of the time with my glasses off just resting in the dark.

We had the Jet Stream behind us most of the way, and got here to Dublin an hour early. We were all at the Aer Lingus baggage carousel about half an hour before the bags started coming in. I kept waiting and checking but after everyone else had collected their bags I still hadn't seen any of mine. Two guys in what looked like sort of uniform polo shirts and name tags, whom I figured somehow worked for the airport, directed me down to the Aer Lingus baggage enquiry desk at the other end of the area. The only person working then, a woman, took my information and looked up my luggage tags and entered my claim into the system. Before I left we went back down to same carousel again and by this time my hat box had shown up but the other two suitcases hadn't yet. I decided that was a hopeful sign and that either my suitcases were actually somewhere in the airport or perhaps would be on the plane which left Ft Lauderdale at 9 last night and would be in around 8 this morning.

I had worn my fleece vest and had packed my Cliffs of Moher sweatshirt in the book bag which I'd taken on the plane with me which was very good since it was quite chilly–cold for me–this morning and didn't get light until around 8:30. I was starting to not feel very wel by this time and decided to just catch a cab over here to my hotel instead of hanging around waiting at the airport for my missing suitcases to show up.

On the way from the airport over here I was amused to see that the work on the light rail system which had been going on when I was here in July was still going on instead of having been finished "within a few weeks" as had been officially forecast back then.

Sunday when I had contacted Hotels.com about my booking here at my hotel here in Dublin, I had been told that they could only book be into a less nice room Sunday night for me to have somewhere to take a nap once I arrived this morning, and I'd have to check out of that room and then check back into the room I had originally booked. When I got here, however, I recognized one of the guys working the reception desk as someone who had helped me several times back in July and he was able to just book me into the same room for both reservations. While he was helping me, I asked about possible places to have dinner on Christmas evening itself. He thought that the best places would probably be hotels with restaurants, like this one, since their guests then would need places to eat themselves. Since the restaurant here will be serving dinner Christmas evening I made a reservation for 7 PM.

This room is the same type as the one I was in back in July but instead of being on the street side of the building it's along the side of the interior courtyard which is actually a pleasant view overlooking the bar and restaurant on the second floor.

By the time I came to my room it was almost 7 AM, which is when breakfast starts, so I ate first and had some eggs, white pudding and porridge before coming back up here to my room. I took off my shoes and slacks and went to bed for a couple of hours and actually fell asleep for a good while, waking up around 11. My luggage still hadn't been delivered here to my hotel, which I had been informed would happen when they found it, so I called Aer Lingus baggage claims and was eventually able to get hold of someone who told me it could take up to 24 hours for them to even update their database. I took a shower, put my dirty clothes back on, and went out for lunch.

I went up Parnell Street to O'Connell Street and around the corner to the pleasant inexpensive world buffet where I'd gone a couple of times when I was here in July and had a very nice lunch before coming back here. I went around the corner and down Henry Street, which is mostly pedestrianized, on the way back here to the hotel and really enjoyed the holiday decorations. I found my neighborhood Boots pharmacy where I got some Slimfast in case I skip breakfast here in the hotel and an Irish/UK USB charger for my iPhone and Kindle Fire before cutting back to Parnell Street through one of the shopping centers and was delighted and pleased that not only are there several department stores in the immediate area in case I had to buy fresh clothes for a couple of days if my suitcases didn't show up today but right up the street from the hotel is a branch of Meteor, an Irish cell phone company.

When I had turned on Verizon iPhone, it had connected to the Meteor cell phone network. I had been able to add money online to my Vodafone IE account before I left home but the Phillips cell phone I bought last summer from the Vodafone store in Drogheda is not as good of a phone as the Samsung I bought in London, so I decided I'd just buy an Irish SIM card and have that installed instead. There is also a branch of the Carphone Warehouse, which is here in Ireland and in the UK up the street so I could have gone there as well.

I figured I'd just hang out here in my room for a couple of hours, hoping my suitcases would show up, even if I didn't fall asleep again. I planned on calling Aer Lingus baggage claims again about 5:30 or 6 PM if I had to. While I was watching something streaming on my Kindle Fire via the hotel's wifi I thought I heard someone knocking on a door but it was so tentative I didn't think it was mine.

The Aer Lingus baggage claim desk is only staffed until 5:30 PM. I had been unsuccessfully trying to at least connect with the automated system over the hotel's phone here in my room when I went over to use the bathroom and noticed that someone had slipped a letter in under the door and was extremely delighted and relieved to see a note telling me my two suitcases had been delivered and were now waiting for me downstairs, and I promptly went down and got them.

I unpacked a bit, mostly my electronics including one of my UK/Irish plug in alarm clocks (the rooms here don't come with them) so I could take the wrist watch I'd been wearing off and still know what time it was, as well as my only winter coat and the other sweatshirt and heavier outdoors vest I'd packed, before going out to buy some smaller stuff before finding somewhere for dinner.

This type/class of room, although very nice and comfortable with a lovely long desk with two drawers, plenty of hanging space, end tables on both sides of the bed, and an additional small table and comfortable chair, are a bit limited in terms of available electrical outlets. There's only one over by the bed, fortunately on the side I where I can plug a clock in and see it in the dark. Over here on the desk there are three, but one has the desk light plugged into it and a second has the electric kettle in it, so that leaves only one. I also like having an additional clock here on the desk as well as plugging my computer in, as well as occasionally needing to plug in the battery charger for my camera and an adapter for charging my Kindle Fire and smart phones, so I wanted to find somewhere to buy a couple of power bars or extension cords with short cables. I also wanted to pick up a couple small bottles of rum and Irish whiskey and find some ziplock bags since I hadn't packed any from home.

The first place I went was back up to the Meteor store to buy an Irish SIM card and have it installed in my Samsung. While there I asked where would be a good place to buy the extension cords/power bars and the guy reminded me there's a branch of Argos, that wonderful warehouse store chain I'd been to several times during my summer travels, in the same small shopping center, so I went there, bought two, and then brought them back here to my room.

This is a major shopping area. Not only are there several department and clothing stores such as Topman and Dunnes Stores along Henry Street, which is around the corner, and in the shopping centers along Parnell Street, but there are branches of Lidl, Tesco, and Aldi across the street or within a couple of blocks.

I had gotten my chains confused. I couldn't remember where I had found zip close bags last year and went to Lidl first since that's nearest the hotel. It turns out that Lidl is more of a special discount place, where they only having things for a brief time until they run out, kind of like Big Lots back home. I went across the street to the large Tesco, which is a very nice store as well and has their own line of zip close bags, a very good selection of ciders and beers available in single cans and bottles and a small liquor store, where I bought a bottle of pear cider and an Irish stout as well as small bottles of rum and Bushmill's.

I dropped everything off back here in my room before heading out one last time for dinner. A couple of blocks down the street, near the shopping center with the multi-screen movie theater, is the small Italian restaurant I'd been to while here in July and rather liked, so that's where I went tonight. By this time it had started to drizzle and was a bit chillier. The place, Café Cucina, wasn't too busy when I got there but I had a bowl of wonderful mushroom soup, their excellent seafood risotto, and tiramisu for dessert.

After I got back here I finished unpacking and putting things away before starting on these notes, and it's now about quarter to one. I don't think I'll have much trouble getting a good night's sleep tonight and being on local time tomorrow.

I have the first of my Christmas pantomines on Thursday ("The ugly sisters and yer wan", at the Olympia Theatre) on Thursday. On Friday I have the evening of fairies and Irish folklore with dinner at the Brazen Head, Dublin's oldest pub. Next Monday I have my other Christmas panto, "Aladdin".

I don't have plans for tomorrow yet. Some evening when the weather's decent I want to take a night bus tour to see the city's Christmas lights; all of them leave from around the coner on O'Connell Street.

I still have to finish putting a few things away, including some small stuff that I temporarily put here on the desk and on the bed, that's it for tonight.


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