Here’s the view out of our hotel window this morning. Ireland kept the great weather going, even on the day we left.
Everything went exceptionally smoothly, again today. We walked about 15 minutes to the airport bus stop. We got to the airport way early (on purpose), there was no line at the United counter. Customs and Immigration were done at the Dublin Airport. We were able to use our Global Entry status to quickly get through both. The technology being used these days is impressive. At Immigration, they showed us pictures of the bags we checked to make sure they were ours. Bags only get placed on the plane after you have been processed by Immigration.
We filed for our VAT refund, which was partially automated by a VAT card that some of the stores used. Some stores still had paper receipts, so we filed for those as well. We did some duty free shopping, and then went to our gate. The plane was mostly full and left on time. I watched Frozen, Saving Mr. Banks, Delivery Man and American Hustle.
Since we had already cleared customs and immigration, we came into Dulles like a domestic flight. We got to skip the people mover and just went straight to baggage. Got our bags, got on a shuttle back to the hotel where our car was and picked up Colby by 5:00. And driving on the right side came naturally again!
So what did we think of Ireland? I can only speak for me. First, visiting English speaking countries is not as “foreign” an experience. Like going to Canada or the UK, there’s no problem communicating, which makes things easier but takes away some of the mystery and challenge.
The highlights of the trip sightseeing wise were the Waterford factory, Charles Fort and Trinity College. The green all around was awesome, a constant everywhere we went. And we didn’t even have to experience rain to get the green. One full week in Ireland and only one passing shower is better than we could possibly have expected.
But the trip wasn’t so much about the specific places we visited. I realized on the last day, that the most meaningful part of the trip was understanding the Irish experience. The impact of suppression of language, culture and religion makes the Irish experience somewhat similar to Jews, although we went into diaspora, the Irish stayed put and suffered in their own country. Americans of Irish descent are so numerous, it is good to know what their ancestors’ experience was and what drove them to emigrate.
This has to be one of the smoothest trips we have done. Every bit of Ellen’s planning worked perfectly, from the trip plan to the hotels. The worst thing that happened on the trip was I didn’t bring the right electrical adaptors, and we fixed that easily on our first day in Dublin. So Ellen’s travel expertise proved itself invaluable again.
I also want to thank Lisa Byrne for offering itinerary advice, and logistical tips like neighborhoods to visit in Dublin and where to get our SIM cards. Having an Irishwoman’s help was great.
We leave for Poland in just 72 days. Can’t wait!