So after a lovely if not long 11 plus hour flight from São Paulo to London Heathrow, I had the wonderful task of changing terminals to catch my flight to Dublin. Now if anyone has ever been to Heathrow and had to change terminals, you know what a clusterf*** it can be. Follow the signs to connecting flights, figure out what terminal your connecting flight is leaving from, follow more signs to connecting flights and then board a train to take you to the transfer station, go up an escalator, go down an escalator and then wait for the transfer bus to take you to the terminal. Once at the terminal you go through security, then through customs and immigration and then FINALLY you can proceed to your gate.
Now my flight arrived at 6:55 a.m. in terminal 5 and my flight to Dublin left at 8:50 a.m. from terminal 2. I figured I had enough time to make it since I was very familiar with the Heathrow dance. However, I was concerned about my sister and brother-in-law making it because (1) they are not familiar with Heathrow and (2) they were sitting further back on their plane than I was on mine and (3) they were to arrive about 5 minutes before my flight arrived.
Turned out I had nothing to worry about. Once I made it though all the twists and turns to reach terminal 2 and began the walk to my gate around 8:00 a.m., who should I meet but my brother-in-law Don. Turns out they arrived early and were on the transfer bus ahead of me. So after a month on the road, I found my travel partners for the next two weeks (or they found me). And as fate would have it, our airline seats on the trip to Dublin turned out to be one row apart and thanks to a nice man who agreed to change seats with me, we were able to sit together on the brief flight to Dublin.
Once in Dublin, we cleared immigration and retrieved ALL of our luggage. (Yay! No lost bags.). We then met our driver for the day, Paul Williams, who turned out to be a wealth of information. Paul was going to give us a driving tour of Dublin and suggested we begin with a stop at Malahide Castle (located on the drive in to Dublin).
This turned out to be a great suggestion. Malahide Castle was built in 1175 when Richard Talbot, a knight who accompanied Henry II to Ireland in 1174, was given a massive plot of land known as Malahide. The castle was home to the Talbot family for 791 years, from 1185 until 1976, when the property, including the castle, was sold to the Irish state. The grounds were massive and included public parks and grounds for soccer and Gaelic football. There were numerous walking paths and areas where families could picnic on nice days.
We ended up arriving just in time for the 45 minute tour where we were led through the drawing room also known as the Oak room, a room where the gentlemen retired to after dinner, a ladies sitting room, then upstairs to the bedrooms and finally to the Great Hall where Margaret Thatcher and Bill Clinton apparently met to help negotiate the Northern Ireland peace agreement.
Each room was unique with old hand carved wooden furniture, old paintings of former residents and wealthy relatives, and wonderful old toys in the childrens’ bedroom. Each room had elaborate ceiling detail and woodwork, and several of the rooms included amazing marble fireplaces.
The tour guide was incredibly informative and provided a wonderful history of the castle and the family who resided there for so many years.
After the tour was over, we ended up walking back outside (in rather windy weather) past the old family church that had been destroyed because the Talbot family was catholic. The family’s religion was a constant source of grief for the family, including the time when 14 male members of their family met for breakfast and 13 were dead by evening in the Battle of the Boyne.
We ended up stopping for quick bite to eat in the nice little cafe before we met back up with Paul for a driving tour of Dublin. We drove through the little village of Malahide and then south along the waterfront before crossing into Dublin proper, through the Docklands and across the River Liffey. We then made our way into the old part of Dublin passing by Temple Bar and Grafton Street where we encountered a myriad of restaurants and shops as well as the ever present Irish pub. (Donnie saw so many Irish pubs he liked he will have to stay in Dublin for a month just to hit every one.)
As we passed through the historic center of Dublin, we drove by Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, Molly Malone’s statute, St. Stephens Green, Merrion Square (where we saw a reclining statute of Oscar Wilde) and the Parliament Buildings.
We then headed back south past the Dublin port terminal and along the waterfront again where we saw beautiful old homes lining the waterfront in the little towns of Sandycover, Dalkey and Killiney. It was in this last town where Paul showed us the magnificent home owned and occupied by Bono. We even got out of the car and took a picture of the gate that included numerous writings by Bono.
From here, we drove further south to the little town of Bray, where Paul recommended we go for a very late lunch (it was 3:30 by now) and a drink in one of the oldest pubs in Ireland: Peter O’Toule’s Harbor Bar established in 1831.
Cheryl, Donnie and I ended up eating at this tiny title seafood restaurant where we had fish, calamari and shrimp with chips. (Cheryl also ordered a side salad that could have doubled as a meal for two. It was massive.)
After the lunch, we went next door to the Harbor Bar where we ordered a pint of Wicklow Wolf Pale Ale. Then we wandered around this very old and somewhat eclectic bar. There was a tiny room with a fireplace and two tables, then another room upstairs that was decorated for a 30th birthday party followed by a room set up for a band to play. We finally settled on what I thought was probably the original part of the bar. A dimly lit room filled with “old timers” and a wooden bar that has probably seen its fair share of stories and B.S. The bar was was quaint and offbeat and exactly what you would expect from an Irish pub. And the best part. We all finished our pints in record time and avoided the the faux pas of leaving beer on the table in an Irish pub.
By now we were all exhausted. We had met our goal of staying awake for the entire day and saw an amazing amount of Dublin and surrounds since our 10:00 a.m. arrival. Paul had been a fantastic guide and driver for the day and we could not have asked for more from Day 1 in Ireland. Tomorrow we were on our own with a number of tours lined up: St. Stephens Green, Book of Kells/Trinity College, walk through Temple Bar, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle and Guinness Brewery Tour. Then on Sunday we meet our driver Liam for our tour of Ireland.
Paul dropped us off at our hotel, Ariel House, where we were promptly shown to our lovely Victorian rooms. We grabbed some tea and biscuits and then called it a day. We had made it to 7:00 p.m., but it was time to get some sleep before we tackled Dublin in earnest.