Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's been GRAND . . .

Top of the mornin' to ya! That's the only phrase I really wanted to hear when traveling to Ireland during the weekend of December 6th - 9th (yep, I've been a wee bit lazy keeping up on posts), but apparently no one actually says it.  In order to not be "that tourist," I tried to control myself and not say this phrase to everyone I met.  "They're after m' lucky charms" was also avoided for obvious reasons.  Now just for the record, I've always been a fan of Ireland and the Irish culture, probably because I can claim at least 1/8 Irish heritage on m' mother's side.  Though my resemblance to an Irish person is about the same as The Office's Michael Scott being 2/15 Native American, something about being in Dublin and the Irish countryside ignited the Celtic fire inside of my soul.  While my trip in Ireland itself was fantastic and beyond words, getting there was another story.  I've told it so many times now (mostly in Spanish) that I've grown tired of the same old rhetoric, so prepare yourselves for an epic drama with hints of beat poetry as I recount how I missed my connection from Madrid to Dublin through Ryanair. (Pardon the present tense too; I think it sounds more exciting).

Crunch, crunch, lip smack, triple crunch goes the trail mix in my mouth as I await to board the next metal bird for the Emerald Isle.  "Oh Trader Joe's," I muse, "If your founder was indeed a real person, I hope he is in heaven serving this hearty snack to its citizens."  In my cashew-induced day dream, I am roused by the shuffling of luggage and slow movement of the crowd.  Yes! The moment has arrived, and I reach into my backpack to procure my golden ticket (boarding pass).  The employee reads mine, does a double take, and delivers the news that strikes terror into my very soul: "You don't have your stamp (which only applies to people outside the EU). If you don't get one soon, you can't board." Realizing that responding with "I've heard it both ways" would be ill-advised, I dash off in the opposite direction in the hope to find the elusive office of Ryanair, completely unaware of the coming challenge.  Left and right I ask whoever looks official if they know where, and vague yet somewhat helpful responses come my way.  With the suaveness of James Bond I sneak my way past the National Police passport check with ease . . . after asking their permission to do so.  "Not long now," I think to myself confidently as I assess my bearings.  Utter dismay hits me like an elephant when I realize the office lies beyond the exit of the airport.  With a deep breath, I dive into the great beyond and begin my merry chase again.  350.  The number of the office rings in my head like one of those creepy cat cuckoo clocks, but I pursue it nonetheless with a renewed effort.  Like a shark who's smelled blood in the water, there's nothing that will stop me now in my hunt . . . except the line when I get there.  Tick tock goes the imaginary sound of my digital watch as I mentally tell it to stop reminding me.  Procuring my stamp after what feels like an eternity, the employee tells me advice I knew from the beginning: RUN. Dodging idle passengers this way and that, I come to my final obstacle: the security check. Stripping off my belt, shoes, wallet, and other accessories like I'm on fire, I pass through the radiation machines relatively unscathed.  Here it is: the final sprint.  Boots clopping, backpack shuffling, heart pounding, and sweat dripping in literally every crevice of my body, I kick myself for never running long distance in college nor training for an Iron Man.  Nearing the place of my destiny I constantly tell myself I'm almost there and that I can die on the plane.  However, the unthinkable happens.  Much to my chagrin I see the aluminum eagle in its nest preparing to soar into the heavens and leave me in the dust to forge my own existence.  The Man has won, and I, one man, have lost.

Hope you enjoyed that little portion of monologue; I'm hoping to pitch it to Broadway and get the musical version started up real soon.  There's a bit of a happy ending in that I was still able to go to Ireland by booking a ticket with Aer Lingus for a flight that evening.  An expensive lesson, but definitely worth it after such a fun weekend in Dublin.  That being said, here's a list of highlights, in order of occurrence:
1) Getting directions from an older Irishman to the buses at the airport.  If I couldn't have Morgan Freeman narrate my life, I would definitely love this man's charming Irish brogue accompany me wherever I go.
2) Hanging out with Jenna and some of her friends! She was such a great tour guide and really knew her way around the best parts of Dublin.
3) Seeing the Book of Kells, one of the oldest and best preserved illuminated gospel books (800 AD)! Even though it's protected with strong glass, an employee from Trinity College turns a page of it every day. No pressure or anything.
4) Guiness Factory Tour! The best, and might I say most "academically enriching" part, was when we poured our perfect pints of Guiness and graduated from the factory's academy.  Much to Jenna's and my surprise, I liked Guiness and its uniqueness among cervezas.
5) Evensong in St. Patrick's Cathedral.
6) Authentic Irish food in O'Neil's (shepherd's pie + roasted chicken = mouth watering goodness).
7) James Joyce's play "The Dead" in the Abbey Theater.  Witty, great cast, a merry winter scene, and a final tragic scene making you wonder what you just saw.  Touche Joyce, touche . . .
8) Authentic Irish music back in O'Neil's! I could have done a jig :)
9) Hiking Bray Head, Greystones, saying hello to all the Irish people, ice cream, and trying to stay warm in an elevator with Jenna and my new friend Lily as we waited for the train! (Turns out the latter was unnecessary).
10) Mass on the Assumption of Our Lady in a PACKED Carmelite church! Weird to think that it was my first English-speaking Mass in months.
11) A literary pub crawl in which we learned about the various authors of Dublin and which drinking establishments they frequented.  Not to mention watching people participate in the self-named "12 Pubs of Christmas," a popular pastime in December.

As always, here's the link to some Snapfish photos and a few examples below if you don't have an account:

I am traveling to London this coming Monday (New Year's Eve) to spend a few days there before meeting up with some friends from Whitworth for their "Christianity in the British Isles" trip.  Please pray for me, as this will be my first time traveling/spending time in another country completely alone.  However, I'm really excited and can't wait to share the adventure with you all through a blog post that will hopefully come sooner than this one did. ¡Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo!

Hasta 2013,


  1. Hi Ethan!
    We always enjoy reading your posts and hearing about your travels. Glad you enjoyed your Irish roots!
    Te amo,
    Madre and Padre

  2. Hola Hermano,

    James and I have been working on our Irish accents ever since we read your post! I think I'm winning right now. I think you may want to trade in your history and Spanish majors for creative writing. Your vivid descriptions of Ireland have inspired us for our upcoming trip to Ireland (and then to Madrid to visit you)! We can't wait to hear your creative voice in person! Love you!

    ~Claire y James

  3. I've missed a couple of flights in my day. It's exhausting stuff. After missing one, I literally collapsed to the ground and fell asleep until someone nudged me awake hours later to board a later flight.

    Like your family, I really love reading what you write. Keep it up.

  4. Wow, that sounds like quite the tale, Ted! I would love to hear it some time so we can lament over the bureaucracy of airlines ;) Claire, James, I am thoroughly excited for your trip to Ireland (and of course Spain), as it is a wonderful country with such a friendly atmosphere. Mom and Dad, always nice to hear from you and equally excited for your adventure here in March!