We rise early to catch the train to CDG airport this morning. Our flight isn’t until about 10:30, but the airline has warned of dire consequences for late check-ins. We meet some other Aussies in the hotel lobby. They’re heading to the airport too and are taking the shuttle bus. Ha! We reckon we’re Parisians now and opt for the train(s). Like true locals we skip like gazelles up and down the station stairs and on and off the trains, with only our forty-three suitcases suggesting we might not have been born within sight of the Seine.
Airport reached and it’s only 8:15. Pats on the back all round. Now, to find the Air Cheapo check in counter. Oh, maybe it’s the one behind that line of people – the really big line of people.
As the flight takes off the First Officer makes the usual announcements apologising for the late take-off, announcing our flying time and suggesting weather conditions in Dublin will be pleasant. He must be feeling the pressure to catch up time because his whole announcement is delivered in about three seconds. We look bewildered, but we didn’t hear any words like “broken engine” “missing wings” or “revolution” so it should be OK. Then comes our first taste of the real Irish. A green liveried flight attendant asks “Would you be wantin the big breakfast?” Sausages, black pudding, white pudding and more – sure!
The convivial atmosphere continues when we land. After we pass through the immigration checkpoints we swap tales of our experiences. Our guy takes one look at our passports and says “Yer loosin by a point.” Huh? Oh, he turns around the iPad on the desk in his little booth to show he’s watching the Australia vs Lions rugby match while he’s protecting the borders from undesirables. Multitaskin to be sure. We go through a typically Irish process when we hire the car, lining up for ages at the booth, then being served by a very cheerful young lady who took all our details, filled in lots of things on a computer, and then announced that “dis is nottin compared ta de tings dey’ll get yer ta sign when ya get to de branch”. OK – so why did we do all this here?
We finally collect the car and head to our B&B. It’s not far away and easy to find. We check in and then make a group decision to go into the big city to see some of the sights. If we can negotiate the Paris metro, we can handle Dublin buses. There’s a bit of fun when we find we don’t have the right change, but all goes well and we hit the road. Our uncanny ability to blend in with the locals wherever we are is again marred by a couple of obvious cameras, and the fact that we try to climb to the upper deck and stagger along the aisles as the bus in rocketing through the traffic. The locals give us that knowing non-stare usually reserved for people who have had a Guinness or two too many.
When we arrive in town, we learn something new about Dublin – the weather forecasts are updated every thirty seconds. We’re freezing as we alight from the bus, and wish we brought heavier coats. By the time we cross the road, the sun has come out and we’re hot. It starts to pour down rain as we walk under an archway, but is clear when we walk out the other side. Maybe the Narnia books were inspired by a visit to Dublin.
It will be interesting to see if this unpredictability is just a local phenomenon, or something that’s common across this friendly but half crazy country. We’ll find out tomorrow.