I flew from Dulles airport to meet up with Maura in Boston on the 31st of January, celebrating New Year’s on the lovely Aer Lingus airplane. It was a bit rocky getting out- it was snowing in D.C. and there were several inches of snow already when we boarded the plane to Dublin. Once we were up in the air, however, I relaxed a bit. It never snows in Ireland, landing shouldn’t be a problem. We were just going to catch a bus from Dublin to Cork, arrive with a few hours to kill before checking into the apartment and enjoy the journey.
Passport and Plane ticket- I'm Dublin bound!

 
Passport and Plane ticket- I’m Dublin bound!

Things did not go quite as planned. When they tell you- they meaning Mr. Frommer of Frommer’s guide to Ireland 2010 that the weather is mild and very very rarely snows in Ireland, they do not anticipate the coming of the next Ice Age that Ireland is currently experiencing. Dublin airport decided to shut down while we were halfway across the Atlantic. But we were able to land safely at Shannon airport, across the country from Dublin. We landed at approximately 5:30 am, the pilot of our lovely plane informing us that no one was actually in the airport working, so we would sit on the plane until the employees arrived or until Dublin airport reopened and we could fly to our intended destination. After 4 hours of sitting on the plane in Shannon, our pleasant pilot regretted to inform us that, alas (when all is said in an Irish accent, it really is quite pleasant), he and his crew had run out of their legal flying limit and were no longer able to work. Off the plane and into Shannon airport we went! We bought bus tickets to Cork, where our school was, had a bite to eat, and went to board the bus.
***Travel Tip! Always make sure you have the right bus- do not board the bus to Galway while the bus to Cork drives off into the distance if you wish to head to Cork****
Luckily, we only had to wait an hour for the next bus. We still had 8 hours to spare before we could get into our apartment, so this was no problem. At 12, our journey to Cork via Bus Eirann finally commenced. Determined to stay awake and soak up the scenic Irish countryside in its mysterious thick fog, Maura and I, naturally, fell asleep. Thankfully we did not miss the stop at the Cork Parnell Place bus station.

         Laden with our heavy luggage we stepped into the streets of Cork City Centre, which on New Year’s Day, has a tendency to be quite empty. We finally found an authentic, Irish… McDonald’s, where we hunkered down to wait it out until 6pm, when the “warden” arrived to check us into The Spires, the apartment complex that would be providing the roof over our heads for the following six months. We caught a taxi at a quarter to 6, learned that we were living on Bandon Road (not Brandon Road- although this took a while to figure out, on account of the fact that we had to ask our taxi driver to repeat himself at least, I don’t 4, 5 times). As we walked through the gates of our new home and knocked on the door to the Warden to receive our keys, we shivered in the cold, but it wouldn’t be long now until we could walk into our nice, warm new place!
***Travel Tip! Never assume that your apartment should be warm. Plan for sub-Arctic temperatures.****
Apartment 19, The Spires was freezing. Luckily, our lovely Warden turned on the heat. Unluckily said heat takes approximately 24-28 hours to really heat up. I was smart; however, I stole a blanket from the airplane- a thin, threadbare piece of fleece the size of a child’s scarf- absolutely brilliant! My outfit for the first night: underarmour coldgear turtleneck, nike coldgear zipup, long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, down vest, north face jacket (at least I was sporting the R.E.I. winter catalog) along with 2 pairs of thick socks, spandex underarmour tights, sweatpants, gloves, an earwarmer and a hat. And I was STILL COLD. Thus began the coldest night of my life. Maura and I tried to sleep in the same bed for warmth (did not work- bed too small for two people) and cold person + cold person unfortunately doesn’t = warm people. But I couldn’t sleep. I tried sleeping in a chair, on the floor, under a desk (next to the heater) all to no avail. But eventually, many cold miserable hours later, it was morning. Maura and I headed into town to buy duvets. We found them eventually and bought double sized ones, desperate for added warmth. We got cell phones and had lunch. We returned to the Spires laden with our new purchases. Night 2: Warmer, but unfortunately, we forgot pillows. That wasn’t too bad; I was simply able to stuff my pillowcase with 1/3 of the previous night’s pajamas and had an instant fluffy pillow! Also, we forgot food. I don’t know how we could have done this, but, still jetlagged, we awoke the next morning at about 1 pm absolutely starving. And while this may seem like a long sleep, it wasn’t- jetlag had us awake until about 4 am.
The following day, January 3, was successful! We got groceries! We were introduced to Crunchy Nut cereal (DELICIOUS!) and learned that brewed coffee is a rarity, and good brewed coffee is even rarer of a rarity. We bought cappuccino mix, don’t worry, America, Lindsay and Maura are finding ways to get caffeine and are thus, surviving!
Reading back over this, I feel as though I should you all that I am, in fact, enjoying Ireland! The town of Cork is very cute and I have met lots of nice people (or at least I think they are nice. Because of the accents, I catch about 75% of what they really say, so they could only be ¾ nice, but I’m willing to give the ol’ Irish the benefit of the doubt). I’m a wee bit late in getting my initial post on the web, so it’s been about a week and a half since the above events actually occurred. I’m still fighting the culture shock a bit…well a lot not a bit, but, overall, I think Ireland is pretty class! (Irish Translation: class = superb! Fantastic! Great! It’s all good in the hood!)
Cheers,
Linds

 

This is the Main Quad at my school in Ireland. Thanks for sending me to Hogwarts Mom and Dad!
This is the Main Quad at my school in Ireland. Thanks for sending me to Hogwarts Mom and Dad!