Many a times I have found it difficult to define the actual start of a trip to a destination. If you think about it, it is difficult to truly define if the start of a trip was flying out from an airport, starting to pack up your suitcase, setting off from one’s home early morning to go to the train station or even having the initial idea of visiting a destination around 3 months before the actual trip execution! Of course, all these sound very … trivial practicalities, but they do pose an actual question!
“Can you really define the start of your trip?”
For my latest trip to Dublin though, I think that not only can I truly define my trip’s start, but I have to confess I really felt it!
It was September and it was exactly the end of two hectic days and just the previous day of flying out to Dublin, when at around 23:30 I sat myself in one of the modest and humble seats of a small table of a really nice bar next to my parents’ flat in my hometown called … Elephant. I think it was the point that I felt the tiredness/travel_urge ratio dropping just below “1” and that I started cherishing what was to follow – the start of a magnificent trip via Rome and London to Ireland attending a wedding in Waterford in the South Ireland.
A good friend of mine who was part of the … London ’97 gang and whom I had seen on different occasions in London, Barcelona, Dublin and even Sydney, decided to leave the “single” status, settle down for good and basically… get married!
Our Alitalia flight via Rome landed in London at 11.05am and after a hectic 2.45-hour cab drive from City to Heathrow Airport that could be the reason for missing the Dublin flight (we made it just 15 minutes before the gate was closing), we left for Dublin and landed there at 15.50.
After a swift process we got bus 747 – a good way of making tourists remember what bus number they need to take to get to the airport – and happily found ourselves getting off the bus just in front of our hotel.
For the rest of the day the plan was simple. Walk around, do a bit of shopping, get some photos, do a bit of sightseeing and see how much the place had changed since 1998 on my first visit there, get a nice dinner – fish and chips and a Guinness – somewhere close to Grafton Street, buy some toys and memorabilia for the kids back home and have a nice sleep for the next day. It was a full evening that ended with a couple of pints of I-won’t-say-the-name-again stout in the Temple Bar area before moving back to the hotel.
The next day the simple plan was to get the car and just, …just drive to the South of Ireland. Well, it was easier said and planned than executed. If the previous day we spent … watching the London cab driver move through a hectic London traffic jam, that day was an even more hectic day as I had missed the exit for the highway and I had to navigate myself for almost two and half hours from the suburbs to central Dublin to pick up friends, having to use a totally crappy map that was offered freely everywhere where everything that was portrayed onto it had nothing to do with real “metrics” and proportions of the city of Dublin. Well, I think that God really loved us and in the end after a heart-attack causing drive we made it to the church just 10 minutes before the actual ceremony was planned to start – and it was really 10 minutes – after a psychologically and physically exhaustive total drive of around 5 hours!
And then the fun began! We were rewarded plentifully.
The church was magnificent built in a small village outside Waterford and the set could not be better. The weather was superb for the Irish standards – which meant that for starters there was no rain – the people were dressed humbly and beautifully in colourful outfits for such an event, “wearing” their lovely smiles entering the church and greeting friends, the quietness and the serene atmosphere was rewarding and I just could not have asked for a better start of an Irish wedding.
After some time the wedding started one of the most interesting and intriguing ceremony I had ever attended. Actually it was a first for a Catholic wedding and every time there was a surprise – the harp, the singing, the heart-warming handshaking, the hugs, the readings and the prayers. In the end we all congratulated the happily married couple and prepared ourselves for a great day in probably the most humble, but exquisite resort I have ever been. You can travel in Dubai or in Hawaii or in Bora Bora in the most extravagant and glittering spa resorts or whatever you call these hotels, but I am sure that if one – I – would compose a list of exquisite resorts I have been to, Waterford Castle would rank really high in my list – and in my heart. The hotel was an old castle that was transformed to a hotel – keeping of course the original style – and the combination of traditional-rustic style, the simple, humble yet special set, the serene atmosphere, the flowers, the gardens, the green fields all around and the fact that the location was in fact an island – we had literary to take a small ferry to get to the island – made the whole experience just unique. There was great food and dancing, music and drinking, socialising and photographs, jokes and serious discussions, funny chats and touching narrations. There was more than anything one could have asked for on such an occasion.
I could write pages describing the whole day – because a whole day it was – starting at around 13.00 with the wedding ceremony and finishing at around 02:00 am but what I can say is that truly and utterly this was such a warm, touching, full of music with exquisite dinner, joyful wedding that made the guests feel like close family to the bride and groom. It was a very Irish wedding!
The next day we woke up early in the morning and after a refreshing walk in the green fields of the island, feeling the crispy atmosphere into our nostrils and saying goodbye to our Catalan friends that were going to spend another day in Ireland we drove back to Dublin with our Indian friends. The third drive was the easiest of all avoiding strategically any … silly options for sightseeing, mall shopping or chicken-korma eating. We drove straight to the airport without a single stop anywhere. At the airport we said goodbye and we took our flight to London.
Such a great time had to close in style with a bit of …London for less than 24 hours eating, drinking, shopping and seeing friends.
All in all and after a great London stay that kept the fire burning, we boarded out Alitalia flight back home not knowing what to keep from our exquisite 4-day trip to the British and Irish isles!