Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Accidental Tourist...a tribute to the Irish

If you read my post earlier in the week you know that our winter vacation to sunny Oman didn't exactly happen the way we had planned. Last I posted we were in Limerick, Ireland waiting for London's Heathrow airport to open up so we could continue/finish our Virgin Atlantic flight. Passengers were finally taken to Shannon airport at 7:00pm on Tuesday night, but they didn't take off for London until 4:30am on Wednesday! I don't know if they sat in the airport or if they were sitting in the plane on the runway. We, however, had rebooked ourselves to fly home Shannon--Newark--Los Angeles on Continental Airlines.
We're home!

So here's my tribute to the Irish... They are the friendliest people I have ever encountered! They were welcoming to the thousands of "refugees" that we thrust upon them in the middle of the night, they opened their hotels, their restaurants, and their hearts in the middle of the night. They called our airline every few hours to keep us updated. The taxi drivers went out of their way to get us to sites, shopping, and airports. And when I didn't have enough money to get the airport our driver's response was "That's okay love. Life if too short to worry about these things. Let's just get you home." Every single person we dealt with from airport and hotel staff to bank tellers and shop clerks were friendly, welcoming, helpful, and wonderful.

Since we had two full days in Limerick, we ended up seeing some sights. The town was beautifully decorated for the Christmas season, the river Shannon even had lighted Christmas trees on little islands. My daughter went ice skating and we visited Bunratty Castle, built in the 1400s!
 
They not only had the main castle still set up as it was in medieval times, but the outlaying thatched cottages each had a function: blacksmith, Santa's workshop, a potter's shop, a pub, etc. The funniest part was that they also had people dressed up as Disney characters to welcome children! Definitely a bit strange.

Here's what I learned from this "vacation" that could be useful for others:

  • Don't only pack for your final destination; pack for your stop-overs as well
  • Pack snacks, lots of snacks, because you don't know if you'll get stranded along the way
  • Get web savvy... check the airport websites rather than the airline websites. Airport websites are WAY more accurate and list every flight that goes in and out. Airlines list when they hope the flights will go out
  • Book your trip with AmEx or get get travel insurance, just in case. I am hoping we'll get refunds on the flights we couldn't get
  • Fly a European carrier. European airlines are required by law to put you up in a hotel and pay for your food, etc when something like this happens. Non-European carriers just dumped their passengers and they were on their own to find hotels, food, and transportation. I feel very fortunate that we flew with Virgin Atlantic; they have gained a loyal customer for life.
And, finally, I am glad that we didn't make it to London's Heathrow airport where this was the scene (photos from cnn.com)


6 comments:

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

Wow! what an unexpected journey.

On my blog, I'm hosting a giveaway and asked, "have you ever been to Ireland?" I almost want to re-post your entire experience!

Kirthi said...

That's so weird, because I'm researching Ireland for my novel and I devoured your post! I heard that Ireland was famous for it's nice people, but I wasn't sure until now! ^_^ Thanks for the well-said tribute, I'm sure the Irish will appreciate it.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Gerbera Daisy--I just visited your blog and commented. What a coincidence!

Kirthi--I even sent a letter to the Limerick Post saying how wonderful everyone was and thanking the town for hosting all of us. Good luck with your research

Florinda said...

Since your first post from Ireland, I've thought of you every time there's been a story about the European winter-travel disaster on the news. Glad you're back home safely...and with quite a story to tell!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I didn't think about your "Irish adventure" when I posted my teaser from the Irish countryside. How funny!

http://bonniesbooks.blogspot.com/2010/12/teaser-from-irish-countryside.html

I'm glad you are safely home and are saying good things about the Irish. When will you get to Oman?

Helen's Book Blog said...

Florinda--thank you for keeping us in your thoughts; it's been nice to hear from fellow book bloggers!

Bonnie--We won't get to Oman (we've been four times already). My guess is there is a visit in our future, but not too soon because it's expensive and a LONG trip!