Tag Archives: ireland

Much better Aer Lingus but mystified by the Dublin airport

What a difference a modern aircraft and entertainment system can make on a trans Atlantic flight. My outbound flight had a near-nonfunctional entertainment system. Today’s aircraft has touch screens! Oh joy.

In flight entertainment recommendation

I stumbled upon some surprisingly good viewing options. First up, a two part documentary picturing the Obamas (about the two dazzling Obama portraits) that had me teary at times. I remember going to see them at the National Portrait Gallery and spending most of my time watching people looking at them, taking photos of themselves beside them, crying. It was profoundly moving.

This doc followed the portraits as they went on tour in five cities (including my new home in Chicago). It was fascinating to see how the five different museums created educational , cultural and marketing efforts around the portraits visit, coming up with so many interesting ways to entice people who often don’t feel welcome in high art institutions to visit and better yet, to feel comfortable and connect with the place and its art. I particularly loved watching the kids look at the portraits.

There were also illuminating interviews with Amy sherod and Kehinde Wiley, the two portrait painters whose work I have sought out ever since seeing those portraits. And of course there were fond images and footage from the hope and change Obama years.

All I saw of Ireland this trip 😕

I also found a good Austin city lights type show, I guess the Irish version called Other Voices and watched one episode filmed in a tiny church in isolated dingle peninsula with St. Vincent doing acoustic and in Austin with Margo Price. Both excellent. Another episode had a very young amy winehouse in 2006 singing to maybe 30 people. Cannot imagine!Even the food was a step up from the previous flight. Not stellar but edible.

I was confused by the layover in the Dublin airport because it seemed like a completely different place from the airport I passed though on my outbound trip and in January when I connected thru Dublin en route to Paris and Madrid. This time I had 4 hours to kill. And we had to go though security twice (pulling out our toiletries and electronics again) when we arrived and when we left, which seemed odd. We’d already sent our stuff through the conveyor belt in Frankfurt. Why did we need to do it before entering the Dublin airport and before leaving it? I don’t remember that from our previous trip and considering how tight those connecting flights were we might have been in trouble making our next flight. I talked with the security guys at the second check point snd they said something about this being new and a trial run for two months. I don’t get the thinking.

I did understand this time, unlike the past trip, that we were going though u.s. immigration/customs in Dublin, which is fabulous because it means when we land in Chicago, no long lines. (And there was NO line in Dublin.) It’s like leaving the airport after a domestic flight. Apparently Ireland is one of the few airports with this (ore- clearance, I think it’s called) and I’m I curious how it came about.

Stocking up for next flight

During the layover, I also was in one of those shopping mall/food hall type spaces to wait which was completely different from the previous trips where we were in a relatively bare bones gate area with few amenities (shops, restaurants). So it was confusing. Not the airport I remembered from just 4 days ago, let alone two months ago.

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Tips from a friend who just returned from Scotland and Ireland!! Bring your rain gear

Glenfarg Green

Our friends Kathy, Doug and  Conor just returned from a two week trip to Scotland and Ireland and kindly sent along their highlights/recommendations to share!

Kathy adds: If anyone is planning to go this summer, I’d be sure to bring layers of clothes and rain gear, since they’ve been having torrential rain and predicting it is going to be a “summer without a summer.” So saying, even though the weather was generally cool and rainy, we had some nice days and the weather was never so bad that it prevented us from doing what we wanted.) 



Bed and breakfast: We stayed at Priestville Guest House [10 Priestfield Road, Edinburgh EH16 5HJ], a nice bed and breakfast with a friendly host, near the University of Edinburgh about a 20-minute walk from the Royal Mile and a short walk to Holyrood Park, which has plenty of walking and hiking trails.

* Salisbury Arms, a classy but casual restaurant and bar near the guest house with a nice patio area. 
* Anna Purna, a vegetarian Indian restaurant that was one of the best meals we had on the trip.
* Ciao Roma, a nice Italian restaurant downtown. Had a great pizza for lunch.


* Leslie’s, a “real ale” bar and traditional Victorian pub. 


* National Museum of Scotland: Highly recommended, huge and free. Everything from mummies to dinosaurs and quirky timepieces. You could spend all day here, especially if it is raining.

Glenfarg: A tiny village about an hour north of Edinburgh and Glasgow. “The gateway to the Highlands.” There isn’t much in town but the Glenfarg Hotel, a small (16-room) private hotel with a restaurant and several bars that is obviously the place to be in the area. The Saturday night we stayed there the local soccer team was having their annual “disco night” in the basement bar, another group of locals was watching European championship soccer in the first-floor bar, some senior citizens were having dinner in the dining room, and we camped out in the lobby bar to watch the action. 

Drymen: About an hour north of Glasgow in the beautiful Loch Lomond national park area. A nice little village with several pubs and restaurants that would make a low-key base for several days of hiking, walking and touring. We stayed at the Winnock Hotel on the town square, a nice old hotel that catered to tourists (it hosted a traditional music “céilidh” one night we were there), and had a restaurant and a busy bar. We also had drinks and dinner in several restaurants and bars on the square.

Within driving distance:

* Doune Castle: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was shot in this well-preserved 14th-century castle. A fun, funny self-guided audio tour narrated by Python Terry Jones addresses both the actual history and the filming. We agreed that it was one of the best castle tours we’ve taken. 


Howth: Scenic fishing village a nice day trip north of Dublin on the transit system. After wandering all over town, we ended up eating fish and chips at a tiny pierside seafood tapas bar called Octopussy, where we had literally the best meal of the trip. We are still talking about the light, flaky smoked fish.
Waterford: We stated at Dooley’s, an old hotel on the waterfront, which had large rooms, a nice bar and the best buffet breakfast we have ever had. Waterford crystal is made here, and there is a display room and tours available. 

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Filed under Ireland, Scotland