Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Emerald Isle, Here I Come 10/15/04

Day 1

A quarter of a century has passed since I flew over to the European continent. 1979. 2004. How could so much time and life have passed? I wondered what changes aside from the introduction to the Euro would await me.

I am a marathon runner accustomed to traveling in search of the next adventure, the thrill of a new city, a different race course and perhaps a new out-of-state friend or two. Several events inspired me to explore new horizons and indulge my wanderlust in a more expansive way. I turned the other side of 50 and felt the nudge to move out of my comfort zone. I was tired of thinking and dreaming of a trip such as this. It was time to take action. My 24 year old son had ventured overseas on more than one occasion and encouraged me to take the leap.

Now to narrow my choices. I wanted to travel to a land I had never been to. The country would have to have a fairly well established fall marathon. I wanted to thoroughly research this venture with limited professional travel help. Utilizing my own ’travel agent’ savvy has come in handy for many out-of-state trips and I was eager to stretch my abilities further.

I compared notes with runners who had experienced the Dublin City Marathon and concluded that this particular international race would be a wise choice, indeed.

Months of researching websites, reading guidebooks and questioning fellow travelers rendered me more excited each day. My proud-to-be-an-American boyfriend grew increasingly enthusiastic as he anticipated his very first trip “across the pond.”

We diligently trained for the marathon, booked our flights, reserved our car and selected race day accommodations carefully. Thursday October 14 could not get here fast enough for my taste!
Bon Voyage
Ready or Not, World, Here I come!

I arrived at LAX as excited as a college student out for summer break. I wanted to tell everyone within earshot that I’m going to Dublin to run the marathon! Once I checked in and blessed my bags (Please dear God, have them arrive safely, my running shoes are in there!), I wandered to my boarding gate. I got a glimpse through the window of my ‘trusty steed’ a strong, SAFE Lufthansa 7something7, packing up the gear and ready to be boarded.

I looked around and noticed there were several people reading German periodicals and books. That made sense as we were flying through Frankfurt on my way to Dublin. I love this! I started to observe travel clothing and gear, especially the backpacks. Slots for water bottles, and clips to secure jackets and cameras. So clever and practical and hands free.

As we boarded, I was offered my choice of reading materials – USA Today, the Herald Tribune and a German newspaper. Oh yeah, I’m an international traveler now. If I was Ellen Degeneres, I would start to dance down the aisles!

I love hearing all the languages. The flight attendant was at least bilingual and in German asked what I wanted for dinner. My seatmates were French and asked for ”deux poulets”. I asked for the pasta (and blew my cover at that point). So much for my international mystique. I wanted to speak French to my neighbors but my shy personality (ok, my limited recall of my high school French) took over. I’ll brush up for the next trip, I promised myself.

It was an 11 hour flight to Frankfurt so I did a little reading and settled in for the evening. The head rests had little adjustable sides which cradled my head comfortably. The seat next to me was vacant which was a life saver for my 5’10” long legs as my seat back did not recline. I slept a few hours nonetheless and awoke to the fragrance of those heavenly lemony towels distributed to all the passengers. Wake up! Time to rise and shine.

I became so accustomed to hearing German, I really enjoyed this. I wanted to be able to read the signs. Once I arrived in Frankfurt, I made my way over to the next terminal preparing to fly to Dublin. I wanted to buy a German postcard but didn’t have time to exchange my money into Euros yet.

A quick hour and a half flight from the continent to the Emerald Isle. And was it ever green. Depending on whom you ask, rumor has it that there are up to 75 shades of green in Ireland.

The airport shuttle took me to the Dublin Airport Holiday Inn. I settled into my room, had a lovely room service dinner of savory vegetable soup and rolls and called it a night. Or day. Or whatever it was by then. I vowed to become acclimated to the time difference. I was too weary from the preparation and actual traveling to experiment with the trouser press (!) so going to bed sounded like a wise idea. I needed lots of sleep for tomorrow’s big adventure…right hand drive on the left-hand road!!

29 Comments:

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Daniel M. Perez said...

Absolutely wonderful, Karen! I'm so glad you got to relive your trip and, through this blog, share it with the world. I'll be sure to put a link to this journal on my Ireland site. Many happy trips, and may you return soon to the Celtic shores of Ireland. :)

 
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