Ireland Day 3 & 4 – The Dublin Two-Step
What a shitty experience this has been.
It hit Maggie first. She had just returned from a reception at her conference. She was pale and felt more tired than usual. The next thing I knew, she was in the bathroom vomiting and doing other things. It was two exits, now waiting – everybody out. I didn’t feel the onslaught yet, just a little tired and I put our Maggie to bed and soon joined her.
She was tired the next morning and feeling weak so we thought she had come down with a virus but I couldn’t convince her to stay in bed rather than go to the second day of the conference. She’s quite determined is our Maggie, or as the Irish say it, stubborn as a mule. When she got back mid-afternoon, I wasn’t feeling great and we decided to lie down for an hour.
Five hours later, we got up. Maggie was starting to feel better; I was starting to feel worse. Nonetheless, we decided to go down to Temple Bar and do a bit of wandering and get a bite to eat. Bad decision. We weren’t back at the hotel ten minutes when it hit me and I mean walked to me and bitch-slapped me as hard as it could across the back of the head.
Maggie had never seen me move that fast but there I was high stepping across the hotel room to the bathroom, feet flying, and arms and hands immobile at my sides like a dancer out of River Dance. It made me wonder if tainted mussels were the secret behind the success of Irish dancing.
I spent the next hour in the bathroom alternately cursing my luck and counting the tiles in the shower – there are 1828 by the way. After that bit of intestinal math, I limped out of the bathroom and to bed we went.
Nobody likes to hear someone else drone on and on about their illness but too bad so sad, this is my blog. I had the shakes, was alternately hot and cold and every half hour or so had to go back to the bathroom to confirm my original shower tile count.
I was sick as a dog, Maggie was only just on the mend and we lay in bed through the night each secretly hoping we weren’t going to die but equally as afraid that we might live.
It got pretty ugly and the Dublin Water Treatment folks starting to threaten us with a surcharge if we didn’t get control of things.
It’s during moments like this that your values are tested and I failed. At one point I found myself admitting that I didn’t care about saving the environment by using toilet tissue that was made from recycled paper.
“By the resurrected bowels of the risen Messiah. Screw the environment and Kill some trees. I can’t face another roll of toilet paper that still has bark in it.”
We were supposed to fly to Amsterdam in the morning but I was too sick so Maggie contacted Aer Lingus to book a later flight or more accurately tried to call Aer Lingus. We keep forgetting that airlines believe in customer service only at their convenience. The reservations call centre wasn’t open yet.
So we called the travel agent in Ottawa, who fortunately operates 24 hours a day and then rearranged our flights at only a 400% increase in the fare. It’s unbelievable. We weren’t cancelling our ticket just flying out later in the day but apparently that just completely overwhelms the economy of the airline and they had to charge 4 times the fare to accommodate us.
It made me thankful one of us hadn’t died. I don’t think we could have afforded whatever fare increase that might have caused.
Thanks to another six hours in bed and Imodium which I was now eating like popcorn, we made it to the airport on time although I was only just vertical. I managed to drag what was left of my ass through security and check-in and slept for most of the 75 minute flight.
I didn’t miss much. According to Maggie, we were no sooner off the ground than the flight crew started selling stuff. First it was the bar and coffee cart. Yup. Even coffee costs you on Aer Lingus. Then it was the food cart. Nothing free there either and finally it was the famous ‘Aer Lingus Gift Wagon’ full of little gifts you might want to purchase at three times their value for the loved ones back home.
It’s less an airline than a high-flying flea market.
We’re here though, in the Netherlands, Maggie’s homeland. It didn’t take her long to get back into the swing of speaking Dutch, which for those of you who have never heard it, is quite guttural. If you stand too close to someone speaking Dutch, you’re going to get wet. There’s a lot of throat clearing and saliva throwing involved.
Because of the food poisoning, we didn’t see as much of Dublin as we had hoped but what we did see was charming.
It is a city of comparable size to Ottawa, Canada with just slightly more than 1.2 million people. It is a wonderful blend of modern and historic architecture and definitely reflects the culture of a people who have a strong sense of who they are and where they come from.
It’s a city where the residents take pride in their community. It’s clean and well-maintained. The people are friendly, polite and all around, it’s just a very human city to spend time in.
We learned quite a bit about Dublin and Ireland while we there but not so much from touring about thanks to getting sick. We learned a lot from our cab drivers. If you want to know something about a country or a city, talk to a cab driver. During the course of their weeks and months, they see and hear it all from business people, entertainers, government bureaucrats, teenagers, crooks, pimps and hookers all of whom pass through the doors of their cabs at some point or another and they learn a little bit from every one of them.
It’s information they’re only too happy to pass along if you are of a mind to engage them in conversation and listen. Of course, sometimes they get so caught up in the conversation that they insist on looking over their shoulders to talk to you which is fine when you’re parked but at 100km/hr is a bit disconcerting at times.
We’re checked in to our ultra-modern hotel here in Amsterdam and trying to pull some semblance of health from the shaky bowels of the last couple of days. It’s a slow-going, tough battle but we need to get better. We’re taking the train to a small village up north to visit Maggie’s aunt tomorrow and quite honestly, it would just be bad form to do in her bathroom what we’ve been doing in bathrooms in Dublin and Amsterdam. The dear lady is nearing 90 and might not survive it.
It’s only now becoming clear that Maggie and I are going to survive it. Praise the Lord and pass the Imodium.
The only good thing that came out of the last two days was that nobody can ever tell me now that I am full of shit. I have complaints from the management of hotels in two European cities to prove that I’m not.
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