Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Back in Dublin...

I'm back in Dublin...and it already feels a little like coming home.  It is so refreshing to be in a place where everyone speaks English!  All the signs in the airport are in English, all the TV stations at the hotel are in English, and everyone around me in the restaurant where I had dinner were speaking English.  I don't think I realized how much I'd missed that until I had it again.  Not understanding anything said around you does tend to make one feel a little isolated after a while. 

Although I rarely turned the television on anywhere that I stayed, the few times that I did provided quite funny entertainment.  I'm not sure what was the most surreal; seeing SpongeBob Squarepants speaking Polish, or hearing the Fonz, in a Happy Days rerun, speaking Italian.  Actually, the funniest may have been something I heard in Prague.  I walked by a shop and heard the song La Bamba being sung in Czechoslovakian.  That's a bizarre cultural shift to try and wrap one's mind around!

It also feels a little like coming home because I love the Irish people.  They are warm and friendly, and when I said in an earlier blog that they have the gift of gab, I meant it.  My flight out of Athens was about 40 minutes delayed taking off.  That left only 10 minutes to make the connecting flight from Copenhagen to Dublin.  About 30 minutes before we landed in Copenhagen, the pilot on our Scandinavian Airlines flight came over the speaker and said if you were connecting to Dublin, please let the flight attendant know.  They moved the 6 of us trying to make the quick connection to the front of the plane so we could get off first and make the mad dash across the Copenhagen airport to our next gate.  I was re-seated with two girls from Ireland: Sinead, from Dublin, and Kathleen, from Cork.  Before I even sat down, they were talking my head off.  I loved it!  By the time we landed I felt like I had known them all my life.  The three of us stayed together right through Copenhagen (where it turned out all our running was for naught since our second flight was also delayed) and were happy to find that we were seated across the aisle from each other on the flight to Dublin.  Even this late in my trip, I'm adding new friends to the list of wonderful people I've met in the last 5 weeks.

This morning I left the hotel in Athens at 11:30am (Athens time) and arrived at my hotel in Dublin at 8:00pm (Dublin time).  There is a 2 hour time difference, so that's 10.5 hours traveling.  For some reason, all that time spent just sitting is more tiring than the days I spent walking around all day.  Tomorrow will be worse.  I'm leaving my Dublin hotel on the airport shuttle at 9:30am (Dublin time) and will arrive in Charlotte around 7:30pm (local time).  There is a 5 hour time difference, so that will be about 15 hours traveling.  And although it will be 7:30pm in Charlotte, after over a week in Greece my body is still on their time, which will be 2:30am.  In another weird twist, I have a layover in Chicago, which is an hour behind Charlotte.  So, in less than 40 hours, I will have gone from being 7 hours ahead of east coast time (Athens), to 5 hours ahead (Dublin), to 1 hour behind (Chicago), and then finally back to eastern standard time (Charlotte).  It gets very confusing!  I'm going to be beat when I get back.  Although I'm anxious to see everyone, I may need a couple of days to recuperate and acclimate first.                
Now that I have English TV, I've been able to watch some news about the Boston bombings.  It's just awful.  Such a senseless tragedy.  At the Athens airport, they were announcing that all flights to the US had been delayed.  I wondered if they had beefed up security and delayed flights because it was taking longer.  I flew through Boston coming to the UK, but I'm flying back through O'Hare in Chicago.  Even so, I bet security measures will be at their highest.  And, frankly, as an airline passenger flying into a major US city, I'm happy about that!

This may be my last post for a little while.  The big adventure is coming to an end.  But, stay tuned because I do still have some thoughts and observations that I will post after I return home and have a chance to rest a bit.  I also plan to write a post about the traveling itself...how I did it, where to book different things, pics of my bags, ways to stay safe, tips for easier traveling, etc.

Many thanks to all of you who have been reading and traveling along with me.  I hope it's been fun for you, too!     

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