My adventure began at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. I arrived a few hours early preparing for the possibility of long lines and delays. I shouldn’t have worried. The Phoenix Airport is not only one of the friendliest, but also one of the most convenient I’ve ever flown through. It took me less than 20 minutes to find my way from curb to gate leaving me with a 2 hour wait before my flight. I didn’t mind, the extra peace of mind was worth a few extra minutes in the terminal.
I settled in, pulled out my netbook, and streamed an episode or two via Hulu using the Airport’s complimentary wifi service. Another benefit to flying out of Sky Harbor.
Before long my flight began to board. We piled on and quickly sandwiched ourselves into our seats. Unfortunately, mine was the middle seat. Luckily both of the gentlemen I was sitting next to were of a reasonable weight and friendly.
Then something odd happened. I’ve heard of and been in all sorts of weather delays. I’ve had mechanical delays, and scheduling delays…but I’d never had a weather delay on a bright, sunny, Phoenix afternoon. As it turned out, our flight was delayed by just under an hour – the captain informed us that we were too heavy. The sweltering Phoenix heat had increased just as the wind shifted which meant we had to drop several thousand pounds before we’d be able to take off. I guess there’s a first for everything.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. Though initially expecting the delay to be problematic, I made my connection to Ireland without difficulty. Sleep was more wishful thinking than reality, but that’s par for the course. Some day I’ll learn how to sleep sitting up. Until then….well, I’ll be thankful for movies on my netbook and a good book.
I arrived in Dublin just after 9am. My lack of sleep was offset by adrenaline and excitement. I seemed to draw new energy from the very ground I was walking upon. The adventure was finally real. I’d made it! There was no going back, no chance of cancellations or obstacles.
I hit the ATM first, then found my way to the tourist center where I bought my bus pass and broke a 50. There’s nothing quite as obnoxious as having to break large ATM bills while traveling. Why they don’t have a “small bills” option is beyond me. Too inconvenient for the bank no doubt.
The air was crisp and warm, the sky sunny and bright. It would be a beautiful day.
The bus ride lasted about 30 minutes and deposited me on Dublin’s main drag, next to their millennial spire – a gargantuan steel spire that pierces the heavens. A grin on my face I set off towards Temple Bar and my hostel, all the while retracing old steps from previous visits. Over the river, up past the bar district, past Dublin Castle and then around one last corner before I arrived at Kinlay House, Dublin.
I checked in, but had to wait until 2 before my bed would be ready which was expected. My main pack in a luggage locker at the hostel I set out to poke around town and quickly tracked down the small out door market I’d discovered on a previous trip.
A few Euro later found me with a delicious Bratwurst and several small bags filled with fresh goodies — rice wrapped in olive leaves, green olives, and fresh anchovies. Treats in hand, I made my way across the river to a wooden boardwalk where I settled in and enjoyed my small, savory feast.
With a full belly I was off to poke around town: A quick stop at Trinity College for some video; a quick hello at the statue of Molly Malone; a pleasant stroll through central park, where I paused and watched a grandfather and his granddaughter feeding the ducks; a few moments spent on the main market street watching street performers; then a final stroll back through Temple Bar to the hostel.
Once back at the hostel I found my way to my room, crawled into my bunk bed and crashed, only to be greeted by strange dreams.
I dreamed of a parade, of huge crowds, loud music and chanting. It was odd. I never dream of parades. Why would I? ….and then I started to slip towards consciousness. As I drifted up and out of my slumber, the music and chanting remained. It turns out the dreams were a reflection of reality. The noise was coming through my open 3rd story window from the street below where thousands, if not tens of thousands, people marched along the street celebrating Ireland’s Pride Day. I’d noticed an abundance of rainbow flags earlier in the day, but hadn’t thought much of it. As it turns out, it was a huge festival filled with color, music, and thousands of people marching for equality.
I settled in and enjoyed my birds-eye view as cars, buses, and people strolled by chanting, smiling, and singing. A convertible with 5 drag queens preceded the YouTube bus, which was followed by a semi pulling a flatbed trailer which announced the world’s first LGTB circus. The whole spectacle was a welcome surprise.
I crawled back into bed and stole another few hours of sleep before finding my way to the common room where I made a few new friends, as we watched the USA’s exit from the world cup. Starving, I split off and wandered through Temple Bar which had turned into a madhouse. Streets near gay-friendly bars (most of Temple Bar) were packed with people who had spilled out of the bars, live music, and general revelry. In more than a few areas the streets were so busy that the crowd was shoulder to shoulder. The sheer level of positive energy was delightful and the variety of outfits was quite often quite comical.
After tracking down a bite to eat and a few beers I found my way back to the hostel where, to my delight, I recognized the guy working the front desk. Hostel workers are typically fairly temporary in nature, so it was with some surprise I recognized a guy from Belgium, also named Alex, who I’d gotten to know during my previous stay in July 2009. We caught up and bullshitted a bit before I re-joined the rest of the party I’d met earlier, while adding a few new friends. We drank our beers and set out for a night on the town. A few pubs later, we found ourselves deep underground in an old wine cellar-converted into a night club where we danced a decent portion of the night away.
Jet lagged and tired, I wound down around 1:30amand made my way back to the hostel. I had a 6am wake-up call for my flight to Norway. The previous 48 hours had been intense. The following 24 promised not to disappoint.