Finally! This is the first of several posts on our trip to Dublin October 2011. We rented an apartment there for a week so there are a billion pictures. To make it little more manageable, I’ve broken out a lot of things into their own posts/galleries. Those coming up later…

Getting there: We took low-fare king Ryanair. I was a little nervous about flying with them. The customer service is notoriously bad (whole books have been written about it). The airports they fly into are often nowhere near where you think they are (or where you want to be). There are no seat reservations, a huge potential problem when traveling with children. And they nickel and dime you for everything. You’ll pay to check a suitcase, you’ll pay if you don’t print your boarding pass at home (40€!)—about the only thing you don’t pay for is to use the bathroom (they once considered it).

On top of that, the carry-on baggage restrictions are ridiculously small (weight and size) and unlike most airlines, you only get one—not one carry-on + a purse, you get one item. If you buy anything in the airport, it has to go inside the carry-on. Otherwise, you have to check something and pay the 35 or 40€ baggage fee. After we ran out of backpacks small enough to meet the carry-on dimensions, one of our carry-ons became an box, just under the limit (suck it, Ryanair).

That said, if you don’t check a bag, you can fly crazy cheap. Our tickets to Dublin were only 192€. Total. For four people, round trip. AND reasonable flight times (no 6 a.m.). At 48€ round trip per person, I wasn’t expecting much. But I have to say: I love Ryanair! Not because our experience was sooo wonderful, more because it was not at all terrible. (Completely expecting one of those “well, you get what you pay for” moments.)

We went out of Eindhoven, NL. Eindhoven is a very nice airport. Has a kids play area and a bar that serves La Trappe. No hassles at check in, no sign of the infamously awful Ryainair customer service. Everyone was nice…even the poor flight attendants. These people I feel sorry for. The have to hock all sorts of crap during the flight. From the standard food/drink to the odd “in-flight duty free shop” items, aka stinky perfume cart, to the really bizarre lottery scratch-off tickets (you could win a 1M€…or Ryanair vouchers). I guess this is how they subsidize the low cost of their flights, but how degrading for the flight attendants. It’s bad enough the abuse they endure, being little more than sky waitresses in many people’s eyes. Then the hideous bright yellow and blue outfits. Then to have to sell lottery tickets? Ick. You’d imagine: captive audience, high pressure sales tactics, but it’s not like that at all. By their brisk walks down the aisle, it seems as they want to get it over with as quickly as we do.

There were big storms on the approach; a lot of turbulence. Kids slept thru the whole thing. That was fortunate. Not great to have loud voices questioning, “Is the plane going to crash? Are we going to die?” when the people around are bracing themselves on the seat in front of them. Everyone clapped when we touched down safely in Dublin. I assume this was because of the weather, but maybe they do that every time a Ryanair flight lands without bursting into flames.

So, on to Ireland. It was pouring rain. There was flooding. (Some of the train stations were closed due to water damage.) We were soaked through by the time we arrived at the apartment. An apartment with a washer, but no dryer.

Our shoes did finally dry out. And the rest of the week, save a little drizzle one day, it was beautiful. We had our first pint in Ireland the next day at The Porterhouse. The first of many. I had the Oysterstout and Matt had the Porter; we tried every beer they make that week. We did the Jameson tour, Guinness Storehouse, a castle, a couple museums, went shopping, ate the best cheddar and beef, briefly occupied Dame Street and walked all over the place. It was the first trip we did sans stroller (thanks to Ryanair’s baggage fees), but the kids were great, in spite of their tiny little legs. Nicholas did say, “Carry me like a backpack” and ride on my back some, but the stroller’s been in the garage since we came back. (Really it was only a crutch for a lazy five year old.)

We had a great week. In Dublin, it’s hard not to.

M O R E   P H O T O S
From Dublin. Shot Oct 25-30, 2011. Dublin, Ireland

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