Monday, November 14, 2016

Celebrating 14 years in Ireland! Part three

The first taxi in line at the airport made an immediate impression.  On the back window of the cab, there was a Confederate flag.  Next to it, there was a X-wing Fighter Squadron sign.  Not being a fan of Star Wars, I didn't notice the other sign.  Likewise, Bill didn't notice the flag, but did see the Star Wars reference.

I posted about seeing the Confederate battle flag on Facebook and quite a few of my American friends were shocked and dismayed.  However, I get the impression that Europeans who admire that flag don't associate it with racism the way many Americans do.  I have seen that flag displayed in other European countries.  In fact, last year I saw it prominently displayed at an Italian rest stop.  One of my friends, who is himself Italian, explained that some Europeans see the flag as more of a symbol of rebellion than racism.  A Swedish friend agreed.

Along with having interesting decorations on his taxi, our cab driver turned out to be quite a good reader of people.  After welcoming us to Ireland, he quickly realized Bill had been in the military and said, "Happy Veteran's Day."  Then he and Bill had an entertaining discussion about the Irish military versus the U.S. military.  The cabbie served three years in the Irish Army and said he'd hated it, although he claimed to be fascinated by all things military.

When Bill started talking, the cab driver pegged Bill as a retired Master Sergeant and was shocked when Bill told him he'd retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.  The driver explained that in the Irish military, there's a huge, discernible difference between officers and enlisted personnel and it all comes from how they carry themselves.  Apparently, in Ireland, officers are snobs.  Or so he told us, anyway.  It was an eye opener to hear the cab driver's impressions of American military members, though on the whole, he did seem to be pretty positive.

Naturally, the cab driver, along with many other people we've met so far, also had comments about our recent shocking election results.  I don't remember everything he said, though, because by that point I was exhausted and had a terrible headache.  I do remember him talking about how very safe Dublin is and how much he loves his city, as well as his country.  It was nice to hear.

We soon reached the Marker Hotel, where a man in a top hat opened the cab door for me.  I hadn't been expecting that level of service, so it took me off guard.  We checked into the hotel, where a smiling lady with an eastern European accent welcomed us and convinced us to upgrade our room to a deluxe.  I'm not sure it was worth the extra money to get the deluxe room, but we were tired and weak from travel.  We also got breakfast included, which at 21,50 euros a person was a bit ridiculous.  For those who are thinking about booking the Marker Hotel, I'll just say that the buffet breakfast at the hotel is fine, but there is a nearby Starbuck's if you want a less expensive option for breakfast.  As for the hotel, it offers an enormous buffet with hot and cold items, as well as raw honey of all things.  They actually have a honeycomb on the buffet!

Our deluxe room was nice enough with its view of a big theater and the Bank of Ireland.  It had a marble bathroom and a well appointed minibar, as well as a very comfortable bed and flatscreen TV.  WiFi was completely free and unfettered.  It was fast and reliable.


A few shots of the hotel room...


The bed was a sight for sore eyes!


Nice welcome from the hotel on the TV.


Dinner the first night.  It was just what I needed.


Part of the large breakfast spread.





This is a crappy photo, but it's a picture of the honeycomb.  You can just take a piece and chew it.  Or you can take some of the raw honey from the bowl below it.  I tried some this morning and it was delicious.

We were too tired and I had too much of a headache to go searching for dinner, so we ordered room service.  While we ate ginger carrot soup, Irish soda bread, and brownies with ice cream, we watched a very interesting British television show about police officers.  I would say it was roughly akin to Cops.  I am fascinated by all things police related.  One thing I noticed was that it seemed like the police on the show were more civil than a lot of American cops seem to be.  But given how ready for bed I was, I didn't take too much time to think about that too much.

After we ate, Bill and I crashed hard.  We had big plans for Saturday that involved a trip to Kilkenny, where we'd be visiting the Smithwick's Experience, a tour I prebooked after buying tickets to the Guinness Experience in Dublin.  Kilkenny is about 90 minutes from Dublin by train and the trains to and from there don't run constantly.  Consequently, we knew we needed to be at the train station in time to catch the 10:15 coach heading south.  That train ride, as well as the tour, turned out to be a lot more fun than we thought it would be.  More on that in part four!


The view from our room.


Bill enjoys the Irish Times.  It came with the room.  He said it was "hilarious".

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