Flying is something that I find both exhilarating and unnerving, such a delightful combination, much like roller coasters. That take off, where gravity fights against technology and acceleration, a losing battle to keep wingless beings on the ground as we take off in our great winged Pringle cans of aerodynamic excellence. And as we gained altitude out of O'Hare in the late evening, the sunset caused the satellite dishes and skylights of neatly manicured, miniature replica subdivisions below us to wink and glitter and glare and I felt relief. Relief that for the first time in my adult life, I'm embarking on something grand and momentous and completely outside of my frame of reference. The flight itself was smooth and uneventful, and I'm quite impressed with the tiny little personal on-demand television screens that offer your choice of programming. And they run off a Red Hat shell, which I find interesting.
The landing, the time through Customs, all such a perfectly nothing experience. The customs officer made fun of me for wearing a green shirt, and Zoe helped, and then we were on a bus to the hotel, and we only got lost a bit. After that nap (the one that Z mentioned), we put on our feet and wound up walking deep into the heart of Dublin, stopping at a little place called the Boulevard Cafe for a bite. It was a nice little Italian-style bistro, good music, nice open atmosphere and the only staff member we saw was incredibly friendly. The food itself was simple and elegant, the best kind. I had a steak sandwich, which was served open-faced on a ciabatta with confit (read carmelized) red onions and a portabella mushroom. The texture of the mushroom was perfect, the brown sugar and red wine vinegar in the onions complementing the savoriness of the steak and mushroom, and the bread deliciously sopping up all the juices, providing amazing counterpoints to each other. Zoe had a goat cheese tartlet, filled with pears and what-have-you, wrapped in a buttery, flaky pastry, amazingly filling and light at the same time, and she of course followed it up with Bailey's cheesecake that beat the holy hell out of any cheesecake I've had stateside. Just remembering this meal, typing it up to share with you, I'm getting hungry again.
We wandered back slowly through St. Stephen's Green, admiring the lush foliage and giant evil swans (pictures to follow later, after sleep), stopped at a pub for a pint of cider and use of the lavatory, where we were the only two people in the entire establishment and were thoroughly ignored by the elderly Irish woman behind the bar, and then kept wandering back towards the hotel until our tired bodies betrayed us and we were forced to catch a taxi.
So here we are in a hotel in Dublin, tired, jet-lagged and overjoyed. Tomorrow, Galway. Now, sleep.
P.S. Not-rain, possibly similar to a light drizzle in Chicago, is a phenomenon occuring in Ireland, in which water dribbles from the sky long enough to refresh your face, or long enough for you to open an umbrella and walk a block only to realize that water is no longer dribbling from the sky. By the time you've walked another few blocks, the not-rain begins again. Bollocks to the umbrellas.