10/23/02 - Wednesday/Thursday: Travel and Touring
Team Delaware assembled in a Happy Harry’s parking lot at noon on Wednesday 10/23/02. Besides finally packing, that
morning I had done a brisk 5 mile farewell run at Delcastle Park, so I was loose and all pumped up for our long
journey. Five other athletes joined me in the mini-bus, along with Sue (our Joints in Motion coordinator),
Duncan (assistant coach) and two family members after we received goody bags and best wishes from coach Amy.
Team Delaware departs: Duncan, Scot, Patty, Sue, Andrew, Jane, Jill, Ray
Sue started the trip off right, with a champagne toast before we had even crossed the bridge into New Jersey.
It was a quick, but bumpy ride and we arrived at the Aer Lingus desk at JFK at 2:20pm. First we waited in line.
Then we waited in the lobby for hours. By the time we had boarded at 6pm, we’d shown our passports 4 times.
At least that made them seem more worth the $85 fee.
Waiting at JFK: Ray, Sue, Chris, Andrew . . . . . . . Our plane
It was a completely full flight, with a few screaming babies scattered about. Our team was also scattered. Jill joined me so I could avoid getting stuck next to a big, fat, ugly guy. Not a bad flight, and I may have even caught a wink or two of sleep. We arrived in Dublin at 6am and had a 30 minute wait at the baggage carousel. Then came a dark, cold and damp walk to our bus. We were the first Arthritis Foundation group to arrive and were given the honor of having Jerry be our driver to the hotel. Jerry was quite outspoken on a number of subjects ranging from Irish engineers and their tunnel project, the political situation in Northern Ireland and what he wanted to do with his life. He demanded our attention to his stand-up comedy routine.
The five mile ride brought us to the Gresham Hotel, on O’Connell Street in the heart of the city. We stored our luggage in a closet and walked to the nearest coffee shop to discuss our plans. After exchanging money at Clery’s department store, 4 of us bought 10 Euro tickets for the Dublin City Bus Tour. The tour runs in a one-way loop around the city, with 15 stops for you to “hop on, hop off” to visit the sights. Our first stop was the “Writer’s Museum” just up the street from the Gresham. This city has a prolific history of well-known writers. Jill, Scot, Duncan and I then boarded the next bus for a visit to Trinity College. We toured the campus, running into the two member Oregon JIM team, then paid a few more Euros to view the Book of Kells, a lavishly decorated copy of the four gospels, written in the 9th century by the monks of Iona. Back upstairs, we were impressed with the Long Room of the Old Library. 250,000 ancient volumes but not a single videocassette or book on tape!
By the time we crossed the street to a sandwich shop for some lunch at 11:30, we got our first dose of the local weather---rain. Of course I had left my umbrella back at the hotel. We ignored the rain and quickly strolled through a couple parks and the grounds of Dublin Castle. Jill was not happy that St. Patrick’s Cathedral charged admission, but the interior was beautiful and we were able to snap some photos.
Guinness for Strength
Next stop on our tour was Dublin’s #1 tourist attraction: The Guinness Storehouse. This 64 acre brewery was until recently the largest in the world and two years ago had built a first-class visitor center. The 8 story exhibit is amazing and culminates with a sample pint on the top floor, which provides a 360 degree bird’s eye view of the entire city. It was not even 3pm, but we were kind of groggy from being up for practically 32 hours. That cold beer, along with a comfortable seat for 45 minutes, gave us the energy to get through the rest of the gray, drizzly day. We headed back to the hotel with smiles on our faces.
Most of our group headed across the Liffey River for a nice dinner at Wollensky’s. The chicken and rich chocolate cake gave me another rush of energy, so when the others retired to their rooms, I headed back out for two more miles of walking around the Temple Bar nightlife district. The sight of a full moon from a festively lighted pedestrian bridge over the river gave me a happy feeling and I finally got to bed around 10pm in room 249. My roommate was Jane’s son Chris, a high school junior who enjoys sleeping. The incredibly long day made me appreciate a good night’s sleep also.
Friday: Out to the Countryside
I only got out of bed at 8:45 since I had incorrectly set my alarm. But that still gave me a chance to get some good breakfast, including the hockey puck-like black pudding. Seven of us decided on a 29 Euro rail/bus tour for the afternoon. We walked 8 blocks to the crowded train station and rode south, along the coast for about an hour. It was a pleasant trip, with the beach on the left and green rolling hills on the right. After passing stations for six small towns, we got off at Rathdrum and crammed into a mini-bus headed for the Glendalough monastery. The low point of our tour was 30 minutes of total gridlock in a tiny town due to cars parked in the road.
Glendalough (Glen of the two lakes) dates back to the 8th century and is typical of that monastic period in Ireland. It rained and hailed on us during our walking tour of the graveyard and chapels. Of course, my umbrella was staying warm and dry back at the hotel. Our return trip on the train was pleasant.
Another 7pm dinner, this time at Al’s, where the tortellini was good, but the portions were small. Tonight I opted for some TV over a walk. We picked up 6 channels. Soccer, lacrosse, silly talk shows and American movies.
Saturday: The Expo and a Run
A leisurely morning of exercise, a shower and breakfast prior to getting on the 9:30 bus to the Marathon Expo with our fellow Joints in Motion athletes from the Gresham and three other hotels. We stood in line outside in the cold for 20 minutes before the doors opened for each of us to get our chip, bag of goodies and some free samples from the sexy sales girls at various booths. Runners flocked to the Adidas counter to purchase official marathon gear. Not this runner!
I started the afternoon with a six mile “running tour” of Dublin in sunshine with Duncan. We ran along the Liffey to Phoenix Park and even picked up part of the marathon route as we navigated our way back to the hotel. I waited patiently for the maid to make the beds before showering. Then I strolled through the National Gallery (across from Merrion Square) for a couple hours and dropped into a souvenir shop. It rained as I walked back to the Gresham. Once again, my umbrella was dry and secure back in the room. As always, there were members of Team Delaware in the lobby to exchange remarks about the weather.
It was a short walk around the corner to attend 6pm Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Pretty convenient having a cathedral in the back yard! It was a dark, full church, with kneelers that were quite an obstruction. Just one door was an outright fire hazard!
7pm called for most of our group to head to Temple Bar for dinner at QV2. Great pasta! I don’t remember if it rained on us. A gale was due in later in the night and ended up causing severe damage around the U.K.
Coffee shop: Duncan, Scott, Jill . . . . . . . Jill, Chris, Jane, Mark, Ray
Gresham Hotel on O'Connell St.
Trinity College . . . . . . . Trinity College: Ray, Scot, Jill
Book of Kells exhibit, Trinity College . . . . . . . St. Stephen's Green
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Guinness Storehouse: Ray, Scott, Jill . . . . . . . View of the brewery and Dublin
Guinness Storehouse: Ray, Scott, Jill
Train along the coast: Ray . . . . . . . Duncan and Chris on the return trip
Glendalough: White Horse - - - - - - - Church
Glendalough: Valley - - - - - - - - - - Lower Lake
River Liffey at daybreak - - - - - - - - - Dublin
O'Connell Street . . . . . . . . O'Connell Street Bridge over River Liffey
* * * * Click here for more photos (Breakfast Run, Pasta Dinner) * * * *