At the airport, we managed to gather without leaving anybody behind, which is a nice touch. Most of us were wearing our Ireland travel shirts, which makes for a nice tableau in probably fifty pictures or so. We only had three people that were officially overbooked, so that was a nice thing. (This speaks more to the level of expectations we have for the airport, which are uniformly low.)
We sang a couple of songs, one for the checkin folks and one for the plane crew. A couple of the pickup quartets rehearsed, including mine. The plane was delayed (surprise!), and we finally got on the plane at 4:10 for a 3:19 flight. When we boarded, we packed ourselves in like sardines and waited.
Ten minutes later, they brought us off the plane again. Newark, NJ, has all planes grounded because of the weather. Because of the nature of the flight (small plane, small passenger numbers), we had a 45-minute wait to get clearance to take off. So, now we are sitting back in the terminal, which is nice because the seats are about six inches wider than on the plane.
We'll see what happens now.
Well, once we got off the ground, things went swimmingly. The flight from Pittsburgh to Newark was blissfully quick and uneventful, and the busses to get from one terminal to the next were efficient and large. The place was waiting for us at the terminal, and there was no wait to board. Once the last of us was in the plane, they closed the doors and moved to take off.
The international flight was actually fairly decent. The normal stuff was present: questionable food, not nearly enough leg room, and the person in front of me immediately lowered her seat into my lap. I spent the six hours of the flight gleefully kicking her seat until she got annoyed enough to put it level for a little while. The seats all had individual television screens, and the movie choices were pretty good. There was a plug in between the seats on the ground level, so when I got off of the plane, all my devices were close enough to fully charged.
First thing I noticed: the soft drinks were still the same brand names. Next thing: lots of other different brands. Different yogurts, different candy bars, etc. We arrived at around 7am local time, which is 2am Pittsburgh time, so most of the group is currently more than a little zombified.
Nice note? It's about 60 degrees right now, which is about forty degrees cooler than Pittsburgh was when we left.
We waited in line at customs, and our luggage was waiting for us when we got through. Now we're on the tour bus, and we are headed to Dunratty Castle at the start of a busy first day. I have a feeling that most of the chorus is going to nap their way to Dunratty. We'll see.
We stopped about halfway to the castle for a rest stop. They had a Subway restaurant, which some of my less adventurous colleagues utilized. The rest stop was typical rest stop type food, and many of us roused ourselves from a reasonably sound sleep and took advantage of the coffee. Ironic that we travelled 3,300 miles east to drink Seattle's Best coffee.
The scenery outside the bus is a lot of green farmland, with lots of cows and sheep and such. Every so often, the ruins of a castle tower appear. It's not significantly different from central Pennsylvania, actually, with the exception of the tower ruins.
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