The “going home day”. I’ll admit I’ve been thinking about home for several days now, wanting to be in familiar surroundings, but at the same time not wanting vacation to end. I woke up this morning to sun in Ireland, and felt a little sad to be leaving. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for two weeks. Things I did on my first couple of days feel like a distant memory already. But I’m also very ready to be home. I repacked my suitcase last night, which was no small feat. Zipping it closed this morning was a small miracle!
I knew I had an extra hour or so built into my drive, so I made the detour off the motorway to Athenry. If you’re familiar with the song, “The Fields of Athenry“, it was one of the things that drew me to the town. My first stop was at the Athenry Castle. It has been restored much more than many others I had visited, and it only took a few minutes to see the whole thing. I indulged the nice woman at the desk by watching the 20 minute video, much of which was actually photos of other castles. I walked around the town for a few minutes (including through one of the original medieval arches) and then got back on the motorway to Dublin Airport. I have to say, after two weeks of driving in Ireland, I’ve gotten pretty used to it.
When I checked in for my flight, I asked if there were any seats available closer to the front. Row 41 doesn’t sound very appealing! She said the flight was actually oversold. That’s all it took for my ears to perk up… I love playing the travel game! “Any chance you’ll be looking for volunteers to give up their seats?” I asked. She quickly made a phone call, I was directed to another desk to leave my suitcase, and then I was given a voucher for a snack and a request to return 1.5 hours later to see if they needed me. €600, a free night in a hotel (with my luggage!), and a voucher for dinner was all it took to convince me to fly tomorrow morning instead! I was in luck and was soon on my way to the Carlton hotel. A quick minute to freshen up, and I hopped on a bus into the city!
Not being a lover of cities, I was primarily interested in a drink and some music. I headed straight to Temple Bar and Oliver St. John Gogartys Pub. Yes, it is touristy, but the music was awesome and the people were a lively bunch. Two older gentlemen we’re playing a mix of Irish and contemporary “sing along” songs and the crowd was into it. (Think “Brown-eyed Girl” type songs.) Coincidentally, they also played “The Fields of Athenry” while I was there!
I walked around the city for a little while before coming back to the hotel. Imagine my surprise when I asked what my dinner voucher entitled me to in the hotel restaurant and was told I would be enjoying a 3-course meal. An enjoyable second last night in Ireland!