A Little Turbulence

Coming Home

Day 17 (really Day 18, when you include travel, I think)

Europe
We won’t miss:

  • Inconveniently placed hair dryers in every single hotel.
  • The Shining bathroom
  • Inconveniently sized spoons
  • Paying for parking everywhere
  • Under seasoned food
  • Roads too narrow for cars
  • Fighting over dessert
  • Painted ceilings
  • Hampton Court
  • The Tower of London
  • Overly complicated but ineffective European plumbing — toilets – hot water on one side, cold water on the other.And what I won’t miss about the journey home.
  • This is really not about Europe, but I will not miss the Newerk Airport. I am sure I will have to fly through you again, but today you have let me down.

What we will miss:

  • Superior bacon
  • Dark chocolate covered rice cakes
  • The Chalk Cliffs (especially Kyle & I)
  • Dublin
  • The Cliffs of Moher
  • The Fountain Inn, Whales
  • Cornettos
  • Croissants every morning
  • Bulk loads of Nutella to smother all over the croissants.
  • Tea kettles filled with piping hot water
  • The Kensington Whole Foods
  • Ruined castles and abbeys
  • Walls adorned with hundred of guns and swords as decoration
  • Downtown Leeds
  • Brighton
  • Beachy Head. We loved Beachy Head.
  • The cute boutique London Boutique hotels
  • Dave says he’ll miss Marmite. I do not believe him.
  • Little Ass Burrito, DublinAdditionally,
  • Grandma, additionally we will miss you! <3
  • I will and I will not miss the parallel universe, and overly reserve, polite people.

And about today, it is not over, and we are about to board another plane.

  • We had breakfast in Belfast.
  • On the drive to airport, we joked about the Utah pronunciation of the word mittens pronounced, mih’ ins. We promised to name our pet Mih’ ins (if we ever get one).
  • I was totally thrown at Belfast Security when they sent Eli’s jams through the x-ray another time. That is where we kept the jam(s), and somehow my very lovely toiletry bag did not return to my backpack. Arhg!
  • Yes, and about airport searches. Really, about airports… I think airports are their very own governing unit/police state, with the ticket agents representing say War Lords.  (Um and yes in this moment we are a little frustrated with frustrated rant to follow):The ticket agents know the system and know how to manipulate their power. Everything is always “out of their hands.” And apparently in the Country of Newark, it is ok for four ticket agents to stand in the path of people trying to check-in.  When we first went to check in the agent, Shereen snapped at us and sent us to a computer. When Dave asked her a question, she snapped again, and told us we had to call Award Travel, because some of our tickets were paid for, and some were Frequent Flyer tickets. We kindly stepped away and called the Award Travel People. They couldn’t help so we decided to simply take our original flight. No problem. We walked back up to check in.  As we did, the same United Airlines Premier Access Ticket Agent loudly said to the three other agents she was talking to (instead of any of them helping customers),
    “Oh great, they are back!”
    Yes, that is what she said. And yes, Shareen R. we are back. Where else are we supposed to check in? And when we, the  lowly customer, say something like,
    “I heard that (which I did as we walked by, and I am also tired of bullies, who come in all shapes in forms 00 my bad ;) ),”
    it is apparently also ok for the not-doing-their-job-gossiping ticket agent to grunt and then say,
    “she should not be eavesdropping on our conversation.”
    (Um, I don’t think it is eavesdropping when you give us the obvious once-over, as you share loud enough for us to hear.)Anyway…
    I caught my breath and while walked over to see if Dave heard, the lovely ticket agent quickly went across the way, and called a supervisor  over to talk to us (we found out  who she was calling moments later).

    True story.
    Lame.
    Customers are powerless.

    Shereen R. was using her knowledge of the system to bully us, the customer, and to avoid responsibility . She should have just apologized, helped us and moved on. Instead, she lied and undermined our credibility.  This is one of the reasons why I think airports are no longer places to feel free or safe, especially as the customer. We really are powerless, and it is their (stealthy and practiced) word against ours.

    The three other lady agents are not without blame either. They knew Shareen was wrong. Instead of helping us, they covered themselves, and went back to work.  Yet before I called out the ticket agent, instead of helping all the customers, they thought it was ok to stand in our path and complain about us.

    It is my understanding that a ticket agent is a customer service job. Apparently I am wrong. By calling a supervisor over (Dina), Shareen cut me off at the pass, saving her own bacon.  Instead of saying that what she did wasn’t cool, she created a drama that did not exist.

    We couldn’t change our flight, and were ok. We moved on and as we were walking away, Dina (the supervisor),  stopped us (got in our path) and began to accuse us of having a “confrontation.” We were puzzled and really confused.  When I pushed for answers, she said, “the gate agent called and said there was going to be a confrontation.”  What the what?  We explained, she didn’t listen, and then she kind of did. She actually said, “well, I don’t see why we couldn’t help you.”

    Honestly, we were so tired and worn down. We know airports. We were actually were calm and nice. Because Shareen was protecting herself, the supervisor kept waiting for us to strike. We did not. After a few seconds the supervisor could see that we were harmless. We were simply confused (like I said), and caught in the path of a ticket agent, who apparently, has a problem with personal responsibility and integrity. Her reaction was bizarre and also calculated. She knew what to do to avoid punishment and what she did was sicl. She has the power.  We were no one really.  Just people who got in her way. So gross!

    And because of the police state airports have become, there was really nothing we could do. Dina, the supervisor, promised to call both the United Lounge and Customer Service. We stopped at both. Neither knew who we were. Customer Service was useless. They did not listen. Our original concern: “can we get on an earlier flight?” United Airlines, you blew it. Shame on you!

  • We found a Smash Burger in the airport. I finally ate.
  • I talked to two very lovely men in the United Lounge.  Renewed my faith in humanity. Reminded me of Brian and Robbins, my favorite, favorites, who really do make the world a better place.
  • Oh hey and my brother Bill just called. I told him not to hold me to anything I say in this conversation. I’ve been up for awhile.
  • The boys are good. Dave is settling back into the work groove and we are very excited for the next leg of our journey.
  • Ahoy!

Next Morning, which is this morning:

I tried and I tried and I tried to post the post from Newerk. Alas, I could not, so here it is from Los Angeles.
Today is a new day. After twenty-four hours of travel, at midnight, we arrived at our hotel. Sure, once we arrived they had lost our reservation. After watching Eli pass out on the hotel couch, Brian, the front desk guy, took pity on us.  In on fell swoop, and a few calls, the hotel went from full to one room left.  High fives to that! Dave was up at 3:45 AM for his 6:00 AM flight, and is already back in San Francisco. And from our Los Angeles hotel room I am already knocking away at all the things we missed while we were away. It is nice to be back in the United States. Sure, everyone came to the hotel breakfast in flip-flops and sweats, and a lady stole Kyle’s pancake right out from under him because and I quote, “is going to miss her flight.” I am curious. What do pancakes and morning flights have to do with anything. And yes, it was literally the last pancake, by the way. Anyway, we are home (sort of). As I reach for my adaptor, Eli reminds me that those plugs, plug right in.

We enjoyed the journey and are very glad to be back.

 

Last Day in Europe

Monasterboice, Ireland

We are at the Hilton Golf Resort near the Belfast airport. Our European adventure is nearly complete. Moments ago the boys came running in the room.  “Mom! Mom! We are stung by wasps!”

“What?”

They both walked over and showed me. Kyle on his torso, and Eli was bitten on the back of his right leg. “Mom, it hurts! Mom, look! Mom! Mom!” Sure enough, some angry wasps attacked both of them. Their limbs were swelling. “MOM! It hurts so bad!”  Quickly I located my Benadryl, because I always have Benadryl, and my histamine two blocker, Pepcid. Both Dave and I are allergic to stinging things so I come prepared. They are sore. They are swollen, and I am hoping they fall asleep soon. I just packed our stuff for our journey back. And thanks to Kyle’s blind side in my moment of weakness, we are going home with an additional sixteen (that is correct) pairs of socks. Good grief and kind of hilarious. After realizing my memory card had popped out of its slot earlier today. Meaning that all of the pictures I thought I took between Killarney and now, are gone. Well, after realizing my blunder, I feel into the pit of despair. Shortly after that we stopped so the kids could buy treats for their friends, and somehow we walked out of the South Belfast area mall with sixteen pair of socks, and two new pair of sunglasses. Mind you, this is Kyle’s second pair of sunglasses purchased on this trip. Luckily they are very cheap Rayban knock offs.

We are settled in for the night, and we never made it to the Titanic Museum or the Giant’s Causeway. We are cooked and all the things we wanted to see will have to wait until next time. It was a good trip. It was a long trip. I feel happy and that is nice.

Here is a little run down of today.

  • Grapes in Dublin are really good. Apples are not.
  • We had breakfast and then we packed our things and checked out of our hotel
  • The waffle situation. Oh yes, the waffle situation. Let me back up. See, somehow Eli ended up with three Belgian waffle pieces, which led Kyle to claim, “unfair, unfair.” To make up for the disparity and to entertain himself in hopes of getting some waffle himself, Kyle at about seventeen (ok two or three) croissants smothered in Nutella. Yes, the waffles arrived, and both boys had more.
  • At breakfast I started singing, “Beth” by Kiss after asking Dave who his favorite Beth is. Eli said, “that is a lame song.”  And I responded, “Oh, my son if you could only know how awesome that song really is.” To which Dave said something about, “Cecelia,” and “Amanda.”  And now that I think about it, “How cool would it be if my name was, ‘Sister Christian?’”
  • We walked around St. Patricks’ Cathedral. No pictures to show for it except a few obscure iPhone photos.
  • Driving out of town. We saw a ton of folks who seemed to be showing their team spirit. Many were wearing blue team  shirts, and many more were wearing green and yellow team. What were they going to watch?
  • There was a peacock waking down the busy road by Monasterboice.
  • Millafont Abbey was closed. Seriously?
  • We stopped at a bayside town. We walked along the shore, by a ruined castle and into the town. The boys wanted to stay and skip rocks.
  • And because I am an idiot I just realized all the pictures I have been taking for the past few days are not there because the memory card was not inserted properly.
  • So mad! So angry I can spit. (still so frustrated)
  • Crushed – that would be me.
  • Feeling sad. Dave and DeAnne (my mother-in-law) came to the car with ice cream for themselves and the boys. Feeling sorry for myself is not my thing, nor is say jealousy. Tears of frustration are  rolling down my face, because that is how I roll. Somehow being allergic to milk fat and not being able to eat a damn ice cream cone made me more frustrated.
  • In that moment I wrote: I feel alone. I need a connection. When I am frustrated a loving connection always does the trick.
  • Then I posted my frustration to the great human connector on the internet, and within seconds so many cool folks were helping me feel better. Thank you for that!
  • We are at the Belfast golf resort. Kind of funny. The dinner was super yummy. We are tired and ready to hit the road.
  • Hoping all goes well tomorrow. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you!

And of course now we are on the phone Skyping another flight reservation for an upcoming family reunion.  We needed a number, and had to talk to all these different people, and thank goodness we found what we needed!  Crazy. Crazy!

 

Our Day in Dublin

Us, Dublin and the River

We are winding down our Europe portion of this trip. My brain seems to have been left somewhere along the way. Jetlag and sleep schedules are all aflutter and I have discovered the best Gluten Free cookies. Tesco Brand “digestive” Ginger cookies. I have no idea what the “digestive” is for, yet I truly love to ingest then digest them. I can’t stay focused on one subject, moving from jetlag to digestive cookies. I am feeling happy and blessed. I like my family and feel blessed to be a part of their crew.  Craziest best part of the day is when we were at the Irish Archeology and History Museum. Kyle came and found Eli and me. “You guys. You have to see this exhibit. Go down the hall, then off to your right. Once you are in the room, go into the white circle things.” My son knows me and knows I like a surprise. Lo and behold the Bog People, or as they call them, “The Bog Bodies,” are the coolest thing ever. I hesitate to post a picture here, however.  I’ll ask Dave and see what he thinks.

We are trying to go to be early and it is already 10:45 PM. Tomorrow we leave Dublin. I wish we could stay a little longer.

Here is the daily breakdown.  Hello Wawa (my mom). Thanks for checking in!

  • Best breakfast. After all the breakfasts, Irish Black and White Puddings, Sausages, and beans, I would have to say this morning’s super awesome breakfast buffet was the best. Sure, I ate bacon. The boys enjoyed yummy waffles. We had delicious fruit that was not soft apple slices (ew, btw).  There was Soy Milk, Soy Yogurt (kind of gross, but at least they had it), and chocolate croissants. We all left pleased and promised to come earlier tomorrow. Kyle suggested we go to breakfast when the buffet opens and stay for four hours until it closes. “We could have both breakfast and lunch that way.” If only they would let us and if only we had the time.
  • Dave, the boys and I spent today walking around Dublin.
  • Our first stop was the lovely Starbucks just off of Grafton Street. The boys quickly went upstairs, found some comfy chairs and logged onto the free wi-fi. They did not want to leave, which I supported as soon as Lionel Richie’s, “Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady,” hit the airwaves. It was fun to finally just be. And I was done just being as soon as Elton John’s, “That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” cycled through.
  • We were on our way and soon standing in the middle of Trinity College. We wanted to see Book of Kells, but as we stood there the already long line precipitously grew.
  • At least where we were standing, Trinity College is not as handsome as I imagined. I was picturing a sort of Tom-Hanks-starring-in-the-Da-Vinci-Code atmosphere. Sadly, no.
  • So many tourists standing there is what I observed. There were several touring groups of teenagers. I kept trying to figure out where the teens carrying the yellow plastic satchels were from. Finally after earnestly and repeatedly listening to their leader, Dave and I decided they were from Italy.
  • The awesome Irish Natural History museum is a taxidermist’s paradise. We weren’t going to stop. I am so glad we did. It is an oddly cool mall of specimens. The human skeleton next to the horse Skelton was crazy weird. I spent a long time on the first floor with Kyle looking at bugs under glass covered by leather sheets you lift up. It was great seeing all these specimens through his eyes. I learned a lot from that kid.
  • Next off to the Irish Archeology and History Museum.
  • On our way there we ran into Grandma on the street. She pulled out her old school paper map, and Dave showed her how to get to the art museum. She is having a grandma day, which means we will not make her walk all over the place for hours and hours and hours, or rush her through the pre-Raphaelite art exhibits. J
  • Loved the gold 1st century BC boat. Kyle came and found Eli and I and suggested we go see the white circle areas in the room down the hall, on the right. Each little circle room was filled with a very old and preserved person, that had been found in peat bogs. Crazy and cool.
  • Eli and I are now waiting in the cafe for dad and Kyle.
  • Kids keep talking about the next leg of our journey, the leg where we take it down a notch. I think they have officially hit burn-out. I get it. This has been an high paced action packed adventure.
  • Kyle offered to find the name of the gold boat. I took him up on his offer.
  • He’s back.
  • The gold boat is part of the Broighter Hoard.
  • The Temple Bar area is cool, and I am glad we walked through it.
  • River that goes through Dublin. What is it called? Shoot. Now I need to go and look it up.
  • Yes, I looked it up, and it is called the River Liffey.
  • We walked to the river, took our family picture, and made our way around the city.
  • Somehow we found our way into the Dublin Castle. I would call that a happy accident.
  • Back at the hotel we dropped the boys off, Dave and I took three suitcases down a 500 meter journey to do laundry.
  • The Laundrette was open, but it was too late to do a load.
  • Re-adjust.
  • Dave and I took the laundry back to the hotel, and went shopping for underwear. We decided it was cheaper to buy.
  • Yay, we bought underwear at TK Maxx, and yes, TK Maxx is most definitely and for real, TJ Maxx’s European counterpart.
  • Burritos for the boys from the Lucha Libre Burrito place.
  • Eli was not happy with his burrito at first and quickly changed his mind. He would have preferred I left the wrapper on instead of ripping it off to see whose burrito was whose. Good point, Eli.
  • Dave’s mountain biking friend, who lives part-time in Dublin, met us at the hotel, walked us through Dublin to a cool, organic restaurant. Dave and I cannot remember the name. Dave says, “It was like three letters. Something like J. LO, or something like that.” It was lovely.
  • Good Karma goes to the supermarket employee who let us buy our Cornetto and pack of gum even though we were seven cents short. Until tomorrow.

 

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