Sunday, August 4, 2013


DAY 21, JULY 28, 2013
We pulled ourselves together in time to leave the hotel Torre San Angelo and head to the Rome airport. Long ago we discovered a little airline trick. We were always in the hunt for inexpensive tickets abroad. The problem with most inexpensive tickets was they weren't direct flights, we ended up with a stop over and having to switch planes and either spend hours waiting for a connecting flight or end up with too little time and missing the connecting plane. We turned this into a bonus, at least in our eyes. See the airlines don't care how long you make your stopover. So instead of trying to make the closest connecting flight we'd make our connection three, four or five days later giving us the opportunity to add another stop on our itinerary and at no extra charge. Italy was over.
Since our tickets were on Aer Lingus and we had to connect in Dublin to get back to Chicago we decided to take a little detour to the Emerald Isle. There were so many things we were going to miss about Italy but the searing heat and those biting bugs were not among the things we would hate to leave behind. We were looking forward to some cooler temps and the disappearance of southern Italian summer insects.
Once off the plane we filled out lungs with the cool fresh air of Dublin, a good thirty degrees cooler than Rome. Our plane had been delayed in Rome due to weather and then air traffic. We stayed on the runway for over two hours before we were able to take off. We were lucky we had decided on staying in Dublin for a few days. Other passengers trying making connecting flights to the U.S. were not so lucky. Whether it was New York, Boston or Chicago they were connecting to, all those passengers missed their flights and had to stay the night at their own expense waiting for the next day's flight. Adding insult to injury, we all had to spend another two hours a line that moved at a snail's pace trying to go through Irish customs. The line for non-EU travels snaked forever with only two customs officials working the line. When it was finally our turn all three of us walked up to the agent's window. First Rick handed over his passport, then I slide mine across the counter, and finally Emmy handed him hers. The official looked at her passport and back to here several times before he asked why Emmy had the same two lasts names as both of us. We braced ourselves for an international incident. Rick was the first to say she's our daughter. With a look somewhere between amazement and disdain he said, "That's the first time I've heard that one". We were very happy to enlighten the Irish.
Once out of customs we hopped in a cab to our hotel. There were several cabs waiting but only one that looked as if it had a boot large enough to hold our baggage that had grown considerably since we left Italy. What luck we chose the larger cab. Our driver, Adrian, was a bona fide tour guide right from the start with a lust for Ireland and an appetite for Guinness that made us hire him to take us around the countryside before we had reached our hotel. Our plan was to spend our first day touring the city and then to drive to the countryside two days hence in search of greenness that makes Ireland so beautiful.
All along I had thought I booked a very contemporary inner city hotel, The Radisson Blu Royal, according to the booking agent a completely blue hotel very hip and modern, something to contrast the antiquities that had been so prevalent throughout our trip so far. It turns out there are several Radisson Blu hotels in Dublin.
What we got was the Radisson Blu in St. Helens, a beauty in itself but in a totally different direction.
An architectural mix of Georgian and Robert Adams styles on four acres of lush gardens transformed into a hotel from a former home, well more mansion than home, built in the 1750's.
Since the 1750's a hodge-podge of additions have been added on but the main structure remains fairly true to its original design.
We were way too tired to go outside the hotel for dinner so we settled on the Orangerie bar and pub, a Victorian glassed in conservatory
with spectacular views of the gardens and grounds.
Dinner far surpassed typical hotel food although I stuck with an Italian entrée. It was hard to leave Italy behind especially on the plate in front of me.
But the highlight was a dessert call Meringue Mess, a plate of melt in your mouth meringue whipped up with a strawberry cream, simple but divine.  For our first night in Dublin we felt very pampered and thanks to Orbitz we did it at a reasonable investment of euros.

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