Escaping angry Icelandic volcanoes and Final Thoughts

Lyme Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 9 › view all entries

People who made my travels more enjoyable: Richard (England) Jenni (England) and DK (USA)

I woke up earlier than needed (I have a habit of doing that the day of a flight) and finished packing. I noticed that I only had one more set of clean clothes, luckily I would be home soon enough. After making my way downstairs, Richard informed me that the Icelandic volcano was acting up, and they had already closed airports in Northern Ireland and Scotland. I must have jinxed myself by not bringing more clothes!

Richard's driver showed up about 15 minutes later, so I said a quick goodbye to my gracious hosts, and started on my way to Heathrow. The drive to the airport was uneventful, luckily the driver (whose name I can't remember) was a Arsenal supporter, so we had plenty to chat about. Once I arrived at Heathrow I rushed up to the Aer Lingus desk. I imagine that nearly every person in the airport felt the exact same level of anxiety that I was feeling.

"Are we going to get out?"
"Is the airport closing, and if so, for how long?"
"Why aren't they telling us anything?!"

As I began to check in at the kiosk, I was interrupted by an Aer Lingus representative. He explained that they were going to put me on an earlier flight to Dublin, and hopefully I would get out of Heathrow before the airport closed. Yay for Aer Lingus, great customer service! Unfortunately, the flight left in about 30 minutes, so I had to basically run to the gate.

The layout of Heathrow is appalling, hardly any of the terminals are connected, and getting to your assigned gate is like searching through a maze. I proceeded through multiple security checkpoints, some of which seemed to serve no purpose. I know in America we take space for granted, but the Heathrow setup is ridiculous and unnecessary.

I made it to my Aer Lingus flight and took my seat. The plane was more crowded than my last flight (apparently I wasn't the only one who managed to get on an earlier flight). Before we started to push back I started having daymares (A combination of day dreams and nightmares). I was imagining multiple scenarios, all of which involved us not taking off, and me being stuck in Britain for the next half week. Luckily my daymare didn't come true, soon we were pushing back and taxiing for take off.

The flight was smooth and short, but my stress/anxiety level shot right back up as soon as we landed in Dublin. As I mentioned earlier, Dublin airport is a total disaster. I deplaned and started making my way toward my next gate. This included: going through passport control, walking through baggage claim and up some stairs that literally led to a maze (previously I had used maze in a figurative sense, this was an actual maze). The walls of said maze were painted bright white, tall in stature and were extremely narrow. A discarded baggage card was left at the entrance, as if to warn travelers that they were entering a point of no return. I made turn after turn and finally ended up at carry-on security! It was as if I had failed the maze and was now being punished, the irony...

I went through security and decided to get a quick snack before I found my gate. I stopped by a familiar Starbucks, which was literally 50 feet from the portion of terminal that I had just come from. I had done a complete, 45 minute, circle around the Dublin airport. My frustration was further compounded by the fact that every minute another flight had its status changed to, "Cancelled" on the arrivals/departure board. While ordering my snack, the Starbucks barista could sense my uneasiness, and decided to play a little joke on me. "Did I just hear Boston announced on the intercom?" she asked. I rushed out of line and checked the board, luckily it still said, "on-time". At least I managed to keep my sense of humor, even after all the stress of the day.

After the snack, I continued on my journey to find the gate. I wandered through a section of the airport (annoyingly full of duty free) and came to yet another security checkpoint. The woman attendant informed me that I had to fill out the US immigration form and go through passport control. I filled out the usual form, and remembered to check all the "no" boxes, including, "do you have any farm animals or plants in your possession?" (Why in the world would people be sneaking farm animals or produce in their luggage?!).

Once I reached passport control, I was greeted by a friendly American who assured me that our plane would be getting out of Dublin. Finally, I could breathe a sigh of relief. I boarded the plane on-time, and within half an hour we were in the air. Having escaped the angry Icelandic volcano, I was able to sit back and reflect on my trip...

The Great:
1. Ireland is one of the more beautiful places I have visited. I'm a bit spoiled, having lived in Jackson Hole, Norway and New Hampshire. Despite all of that, I was able to appreciate the uniqueness of the Irish countryside. Irish people really have something to be proud of.

2. I was able to meet many friendly people, enjoy gracious hospitality and even make some new friends.

3. I was able to enjoy some very delicious beer. In fact, it wasn't the Guinness that I enjoyed so much, but the lukewarm English beer at the local pub in Muswell Hill.

4. Belfast, and its tumultuous history, a place I won't soon forget.

5. London, one of the greatest cities in the world. I hope to spend much more time here in the future.

The bad:
1. Driving in Ireland. Arguably more convenient than public transportation, but very tiring and stressful.

2. Irish cuisine is regularly panned for its blandness and high-fat content. Unfortunately, this stereotype holds more than a bit of truth.

3. Airports, both in Britain and Ireland, were a mess.

4. Icelandic volcanoes.

Overall Trip Rating: 8/10

After a 7 hour flight I arrived safely in Boston. I cleared customs without a hitch, and was greeted by my brother, who came to pick me up at the airport. This marked the end of my Ireland/UK adventure, one that had been eventful, exhausting and above all, fascinating.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this blog! If you ever have any questions or want to share travel experiences you know how to get in touch.


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photo by: kkrater