Who Let the Old Folks Out — part 3

Boy, we felt very accomplished since we figured out the train system in Italy.  Hey, we were able to buy our tickets at the machine.  So this time, we decided to venture down to Firenze … Florence to most of us.

We grabbed our coats and umbrellas and off we went.   Once out of the station in Florence, where to go?  After arguing over who was able to read the map better, we started walking.  No, neither of us conceded to the other.  But we made it to the Accademia Gallery and after waiting in line for awhile, which enabled me to view the fashions of those walking by, we made our way to the statue of David.  OMG!  It was amazing.  And … it was huge!


Michelangelo made this from a piece of marble in 1501 to 1504 and stands at 17 feet high … and there we have David!  It was hard to top this, that’s for sure.  So we wandered around town a little more and decided as crowded as it was on a rainy February day, we couldn’t imagine what it could possibly be like in the height of tourist season. Lo and behold, look what we came upon!


The Duomo!

 … and look at that line of people.  We decided not to join them.  And this was just a small segment of them. The tour buses had definitely arrived.


After another pizza lunch, we made our way back to the train station and away from the Madding Crowd. And to the other crowd at the station.  By then, we were in the throng of people heading home after work. We had dinner that night at a restaurant across the plaza from the hotel.  There was some sort of function there with a man who played Smooth Jazz on a saxophone.  He was great!  What an ending to a busy day.

We set out the next day for Florence once again.  This time for a walking tour with views of Florence from across the Arno River.  I had read about walking to the top of the hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo where the bronze replica of David is located.  Let me tell you … that was a climb!  First up a steep street, then the stairs.  Oh my, the stairs.  We’re talking heart attacks waiting to happen.  We stopped at each landing and rested. Luckily the individual steps were not real high, but still.

Florence steps.jpg

The view from the top was fantastic! Worth the climb. And there was the bronze David.


Back on the train to Montecatini Terme and one last anchovies and capers pizza for dinner and time to pack up for our trip the next day to Milan to catch our flight back to the U.S.

We wheeled our suitcases down to the station and decided this time we’d upgrade to 2nd class plus at 10 additional euros each.  We didn’t know what it would mean, but hey … let’s go out in style.  And it was!  Besides being a high speed train, 197 miles per hour, the steward came with a cart of snacks and drinks.  This was living, I tell you.

We were feeling very smug when we got of the train at the Milan airport.  Now to get to the hotel for the night. It does not pay to be smug. We couldn’t find any place to call for the hotel shuttle or anyone who could tell us where to get it.  I even asked the soldier with the big gun. Eventually, someone told us to walk through the hotel that was connected to the airport and wait outside for the shuttle.  Well … that turned out to be wrong.  Before getting on the bus, we asked the driver if he went to the Holiday Inn Express and it did and we were to get off at the second stop. Which we did.  And we could see the hotel off in the distance. What??

So off we went walking along the berm, in the dark, heading toward the road to take us up toward the hotel.  The gravel road, that is. As we were wheeling our bags over that gravel, the language escaping our lips would have made our mothers wash our mouths out with soap. There was a short cut through the parking lot which turned out not to be because it was fenced in with chain link. Back out of the parking lot, graveled as well, to the road up to the intersection.  Finally, paved street!  We made our way down the long drive and entered the hotel.  We thought we’d never get there.

Turned out they did have a shuttle that we could have picked up at another location at the airport. The poor girl at the check-in desk had to deal with two ticked off people.  When she asked for our voucher, I kind of lost it.  Voucher?  Voucher? Are you kidding me? Call Gate 1.  Do you have a printer? I’ll print it off. 

She decided not to pursue it any further.  Voucher not needed. {smile} After depositing our bags in the room, we made our way to the little bar and ordered a bottle of wine.  The bartender told us there was a restaurant nearby.  Go out of the hotel, turn left, take the next right and then another left and it would be right there.  Mind you, it was dark. Off we went in pursuit of a good meal.  Never found it.  Back to the hotel bar where we ordered microwaved lasagna, which turned out to be surprisingly good.  Who would have thought?

The next day we made our way back to the airport on the hotel shuttle. After going through security and passport control, we picked a place for lunch.  Wow!

Calamari and a side salad.  Can you believe this airport food?

What a send off Italy gave us.  Once back in New York, we once again needed to navigate the ticket machine.  With a little more help, we managed to get our tickets. I had already studied the subway map and knew where we needed to change trains so we were good. Except I asked this one lady two or three times if we were taking the right train.  And she was American!  I think I had lost some of my confidence in my navigating skill. Good thing we looked our ages.  People give allowances for Senior Citizen confusion.

We had a great trip!  We plan to do this one again.  We enjoyed the heck out of it.  For anyone reading our misadventures as reasons not to travel to places you’ve never been to countries where you don’t speak the language, I only have one thing to say … “Go!”


Who Let the Old Folks Out–part 2

After a decent night of sleep, we decided to explore Montecatini Terme. We needed to get some euros because we had decided not to get them before we left. I never charge cash to my credit card, but knew I had the pin number that was needed to do this. So before we left home, I began my search for the pin.  But, where in the world would I have recorded it?  I was not very successful in my search and then remembered that it had been sent to me in the mail when my bank was acquired by Wells Fargo.  I spent about an hour searching every piece of paper in my file cabinet.  Voila!  Found it.  I wrote it down and put the paper in a hidden place in my purse. Jim had his written down in his wallet. Oops … he didn’t bring his wallet.  It was back in the good ol’ U.S.of A. He was pretty sure he remembered his number, so not a problem.

While on our exploration, we happened upon an ATM.  I whipped out my card and … what?  My pin wasn’t valid?  Are you kidding me? I tried again.  No dice. Of course, because of my advanced age, I figured I must have transposed a number. Or maybe it was the machine.  Next up?  Jim.  He tried a couple of variations of his pin, but didn’t have any luck either. Who left the old folks out? Now our exploration became a mission.  Find a machine that would give us some euros.

We saw a place called a Banco. I decided to go in and try to get money in person. Well, you couldn’t just walk in.  You need to be buzzed in.  Then there was a small revolving door you had to go through where you needed to be buzzed through again. Once in, I was told that they had no money there. Don’t ask. It was easier to get back out.

After trying a few more machines we came across without any success, we decided to see if we could get money at the hotel. Nope, but we were told we could get money from the post office with our cash. Luckily, Jim had put a couple of hundred dollar bills in his money belt. FYI, $400 = 326 euros. Lucky, Irene. Jim was now bankrolling this trip.  It’s not like we needed euros, I had some left from our Ireland trip last fall.  But each time you charge on your credit card, you not only have a conversion from dollars to euros (which is not in favor of the dollar), but you pay a transaction fee.  If you get a bunch of euros, you save on transaction fees.

The next day we decided to take the train to Lucca. On TripAdvisor, many people wrote about the difficulty buying the tickets from the machine at the station.  Not a problem!  Those people must have never tried buying them from the NY or Boston subway system! Bada boom! Tickets!

Luckily we brought our umbrellas with us because it rained the entire time we walked around Lucca. It was a pretty town and we could have enjoyed it more on a sunnier day.



This was a walk along a 2.5 mile wall around the city.

That night, back in Montecatini, we headed back out in the rain to a restaurant that got good reviews on TripAdvisor.  But all the tables were reserved, so on the way back we happened upon a place, Ristorante Da Lorenzo on Corso Roma and with some hesitation, we went in.  Hunger does that to you. What a great meal we had! Pricey, but good.


I had black spaghetti with some kind of fish pieces. It is hard to see it hanging off my fork against my black sweater. Trust me, it was tasty.  I’d love to have some now.

Next installment … Firenze (Florence).

Who Let The Old Folks Out?

It started one dark and stormy night. No, it didn’t. It started with an email. I don’t know what kind of night it was.  Maybe it was daytime. Jim was sitting in the chair and I was reading my email. And there it all began! The email from Gate 1 travel.  An eight day trip to Tuscany, including flight, hotel, car and breakfasts for $799. As I read it to Jim, I knew his answer would be, “Let’s go.” So we did.

The flight was out of JFK, where all the deals seem to start for us.  So we flew up early in the morning to allow us time to spend in Manhattan. We both wanted to go to Ground Zero and since our flight wasn’t until 10:30 p.m., we had plenty of time.

We put our luggage into storage and boarded the Air Train to get the subway into Manhattan. That was the easy part. Shoot … how do you work this dang machine to buy the ticket? We got someone to help us, but she did it so fast we weren’t able to follow what she did. Shades of the subway in Boston.  I think I discovered a pattern.  That being … we aren’t capable of buying tickets out of a machine. Buying tickets outside of the U.S. was much easier as we discovered later. We even needed help putting the card in the slot to get through the turnstile. Good Lord, if we can’t even navigate in the U.S., how were we going to navigate Italy? Who let the old folks out?

We got the E Train and followed the signs to the World Trade Center Memorial. Or we thought we did.  We found ourselves in the Oculus, which is a combination huge shopping center and train station. How do we get out of here and on the street? As one person told us, “I’ll just tell you some of the turns because you won’t remember them all.” And we didn’t. Finally, having had enough, I just walked through a door that looked like it led outside.  I didn’t care where it led, I just wanted out. Whoa! We were right across the street from the Memorial.


I’m not sure how I feel about the physical memorial. I don’t think any of us will ever forget the day those buildings were brought down and all the innocent people we lost. I’m just not sure about the design.

Eventually, we walked to a different subway station (not wanting to encounter the Oculus again) and got ourselves back to JFK where we retrieved our bags and got ready to board our plane to Milan, Italy.

On the advice of people who had done this trip previously, and the fact that the rental car company wouldn’t let Jim be a driver because of his advanced age, we elected not to use the car but to use the train system. ( Sorry Jim.) Having had a bad experience in the Milan train station a number of years before, I was uptight about using the train station there once again. And since we were so inept about using the trains in the U.S., I was worried when I closed my eyes to sleep. Were we going to spend our whole trip trying to get out of the Milan Malpensa station? Heck, were we even going to find our way from the airport to the train station?  Someone did let the old folks out!

Upon landing, having retrieved our bags and gone through immigration, we found a very helpful ticket agent at the airport who issued tickets to Milan Centrale station, Firenze (Florence) and then on to Montecatini Terme. The train from Milan to Florence was high speed.  What would have been a 4 hour drive was less than 2 hours.  The train from Florence to Montecatini Terme was 50 minutes.  What a great way to travel! Since we were going to Montecatini Terme, when it was announced, we got off.   The way people had described where the hotel was in relationship to the station didn’t make any sense. Where was the hotel? Through sign language and small words, we managed to learn from a passerby that we were to get off at the next station … Montecatini Centro. So we got onto the next train and got off at the next stop.  Here we come! And there was the hotel, right where it was supposed to be.

0219181600b0219181600a (2)This was the plaza outside of the hotel, the Grand Hotel Plaza & Locanda Maggiore. It was a very nice hotel and we enjoyed staying there.  Once checked in, we went to a small pizza place right on the plaza where I had a delicious anchovy and caper pizza.  Yum! After more than my share of wine, and Jim’s more than ample scotch, we headed back to the hotel and bed.


More on the next post about our great time!




Where Have You Been?

That’s what you’ve been asking, right?  Come on — confess.  I know you’ve missed me.  I could feel it. And I’ve missed you.

I don’t know — I hate to admit this or even really think this but, is my advanced age causing me to be too easily distracted?  Where does my day go?  I need to put my laptop back up on my third floor, that’s for sure.  I’ll think of something I need to Google and two hours of playing games later, I walk away. Sound familiar?  I know I have company out there!

So what have I been up to you ask? Well aside from the hectic pace of the holidays, I had two cataract surgeries in December.  My distance vision is great now, but dealing with  reading glasses has been driving me crazy. I’ve worn glasses for 62 years.  They were the first thing on my head in the morning and the last thing off my body at night.  How do people manage readers?  Besides reading and looking at my computer screen, there’s like a million things I need to see.  Like chopping vegetables instead of my fingers, for instance.  I look like Chuck Schumer with his glasses hanging off his nose.  Hate! Hate! Hate! I decided to spend $400 on new glasses with a mild distance prescription and bifocals so I wouldn’t have to deal with this annoyance. Sometimes, I’ll wear them and sometimes not. I actually see better without them.  When I go back to my doctor in March, I’ll have him check them. I’m obsessed with my vision right now.

Then, Christmas Eve I got the flu.  That lasted two whole weeks.  Is there a theme going on here?  Whine, whine, whine.

The last three weeks my grandson has been tracked out of school, so he’s been hanging with Grandma.  This is a good thing.  Well, as long as I’m not making him do something he doesn’t want to do, that is. Just prior to his tracking out, I was paying my credit card bill and my balance was higher than I expected. Turned out he had been charging robux on this game he plays, Roblox, to the tune of $257.62.  Whoa!

He had my old iPad and so I immediately contacted my son to take it away from him until I could get my card info off of it.  It turned out not to be as easy as I expected, but “Nevertheless, she persisted.” My teenage granddaughter could have done it in 5 minutes, but it took me most of the day. Luckily, Apple refunded all the charges.  Woo.

Thursday was our last day together. He goes back to school on Monday. I’ll miss him.

Now that I’m unencumbered, I can concentrate on my stuff seeing as how I can sorta see and I’m not blowing my nose every thirty seconds. Jim and I leave for Tuscany on Wednesday.  How’s that for a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? So I’m finalizing the last bit of detail.  Most of you would probably be making a list of the museums, etc. you want to see.  We’ll head down to Florence, of course, and to Lucca and on to Viareggio for their Carnivale. But me?  I’ve been researching the Milan train station!

What?? We’re doing what? We opted not to take the rental car that was included because Jim was too old for them to let him be a driver. Really.  Talk about feeling old! How’d you like to hear that? I didn’t want to be the sole driver, lest I “lose my shit” and park the car somewhere and walk away. And so much of what I’ve read on TripAdvisor indicated that it’s less stressful to just take trains.  Not enough parking in places and we won’t even discuss the narrow winding roads and crazy drivers. Hence the Milan train station.

The last time I was using trains in Milan, it was a nightmare. I didn’t want to be in that situation again. Heck, the last time, two in our group broke into tears and I had a hissy fit on the train. So, I’m prepared. A kind soul on TripAdvisor told me exactly what train to get from Milan to Montecatini Ferme.  And there is a station at the airport into Milan, so I printed out the airport map and her directions and know exactly what we need to do.  Problem solved, I think. Hey, I have my priorities.  And it’s to not have a hissy fit again! Getting from point A to point B to point C is a biggie.  And if I happen to run across the Statue of David, that will be a plus. Mostly, I’m wanting to eat some great food and drink some great wine and meet some nice Italians. And we’ll be staying in a spa town, so some mineral baths are on the horizon.

Catch you when we get back!






This is something I posted three years ago.  It still holds true.

I watched a video on the Internet recently about what characteristic people possess that makes them the most happy.  I was attracted to this video because I’ve wondered it myself. Why do some people always seem so content?  Do they have especially good lives?  I’ve had people tell me that I must have had an easy life because I laugh so much.  I haven’t, by the way.

So … the attribute that is most important for being happy?  Gratitude!  Since then, I’ve thought about it a lot.  Do I have gratitude?  I do!  I didn’t realize it until I began to think about it, but I do.  That doesn’t mean I’m unrealistic or that I’ve never had “bad” things happen in my life or that I’ve never been disappointed.  Quite the contrary.  I know those things are there, I just don’t dwell on them.  When I look back on my life, I see the good things and good times, first and foremost.

  • I have two great kids (Todd and Amy, whom I’m so proud to call my children) and two wonderful grandchildren (Lila and Shane).
  • A new man (Jim) in my life who is kind, caring and enthusiastic and loves traveling.
  • A previous man (Paul) who remains a good, dear and kind friend who taught me more than he’ll ever know.
  • A husband of 35 years (Larry) who left this Earth way too early and shared so many of those good times.
  • A brother (John) who flew out to CA to drive cross country with me when I moved back East.
  • His wife, my sister-in-law (Deb) who came and spent two weeks packing my belongings for my move, so I could work my last two weeks.
  • My nieces and nephews who have all made me glad to have them as part of my family.  They each have their place in my heart.
  • So many friends who have stepped in and out of my life, contributing bits and pieces to my life when I’ve needed them most.
  • My new friends here in Murrells Inlet who make life fun and make me glad to be here.

I have found  that life is too short to let it pass me by without squeezing every bit of fun out of it.  Living in an adult community, I’ve learned you can’t count on there being a tomorrow.  I wish all young people would learn this, as well.  Accidents and illness happen to them too.  So … since life can change very dramatically from one minute to the next, I intend to enjoy all my minutes.  I hope you do too.

If you are interested in watching the video, this is the link:http://www.upworthy.com/scientists-discover-one-of-the-greatest-contributing-factors-to-happiness-youll-thank-me



It’s not just the BIG things…

If I would just win the lottery.  Once I get through this week.  This month.  I’ll sure be glad when this year is over. These are thoughts I’ve had over the years.  Honestly, I think I spent so many years wishing my life away. I suspect many of you have or do, as well.

I realize I don’t do that anymore. I’m satisfied with my life as it is right now.  Is it because I’ve settled into and embraced retirement finally? Or maybe it’s that I am now fully into my 7th decade and I no longer sweat the small stuff. Maybe it’s a state of mind because really, it’s all about the small stuff.

The big stuff is great.  Kind of like the icing on the cake.  Maybe you’re the icing type of person.  I’ve always preferred the cake.  Anyone want my icing?

These past three weeks have been my cake.  My grandson was tracked out for those weeks from school.  Both he and my granddaughter have been attending year-round schools.  They are in school for 10 weeks, then out for three. This occurs four times a year. My granddaughter is now in high school and it follows a traditional school calendar. Consequently, she was not available to care for Shane.  This fell to me.  In the past, they’d both be home and I’d be a chauffeur for her and the person who’d play card games and such with him. This first track out for the year gave me time to spend with him alone. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

Mostly, our days consisted of him walking in and taking possession of my computer to play Roblox. It’s more fun on my laptop than his iPad I was told. And I mostly got food together because he was hungry. All. The. Time. And now that he’s eight, he actually will eat things besides mac ‘n cheese and chicken nuggets/tenders. Well, truth be told, those two items still make up the bulk of his menu. But hey, progress is progress, after all.

Yesterday was our last day together.  Monday he goes back to school.  So as a finale, my son took the day off and we went to the Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, NC. It’s a favorite destination of ours. It has grown into the largest collection of exotic and rare waterfowl in the world. The facility now houses more than 3,000 birds representing 140 species.  It also plays a role in protecting endangered species.

We ended our visit with a stop in The Landing.  This is an enclosed area where you feed the birds with popsicle stick coated with seeds. We had a lot of fun with them landing on our heads, shoulders, and a favorite, my backpack.

All in all … a great day.

While hopping on a plane and flying off to some new or favorite place is fun, you can’t underestimate the joy of the small stuff.




Can I do this again?

I really liked Killarney.  It was easy to navigate around town and I enjoyed the shopping district, but we move on. Next stop … Ennistymon, County Clare. What great scenery we saw along the way.  We stopped in a neat village called Adare.  After wandering around a bit, we went into Pat Collins Bar for some lunch.  Marie and I began a love affair with the soup we ate in Ireland!  I had vegetable soup, blended.  I promised myself I was going to blend my soup from then on, but so far I haven’t honored that promise since being home.

We arrived at Ennistymon late afternoon. Since it was a relatively small town, we headed straight to the hotel.  Falls Hotel and Spa was nice enough for us to stay put. We had a  beautiful room in a beautiful hotel and the bathroom was extraordinary. How often do you say or hear that?  But, we were very impressed. From now on, all bathrooms will be held to that standard. Large, dark wood, ceramic tile, chrome … just impressive.

When we arrived, the place was full with locals watching a finals Irish soccer match.  Dublin won. By the time we registered and got our bags in the room, the match was over and the bar had emptied out. We missed an opportunity to talk soccer … or Trump with the locals.  So we followed our normal routine … hit the bar for our afternoon libation.  Marie had her drink of choice — Irish coffee, while Jim and I  stayed with wine and scotch.  As we sat and enjoyed the view of the falls and the town in the distance, a  sheep dog came bounding into the corral to herd the donkeys back to their barn. The donkeys weren’t really having any of it.  Mostly they were hiding under a little bridge. The sheep dog evidently decided the hell with it because he just went back to the barn and laid down. Kinda like dealing with your kids … whatever! Marie then headed out to climb over rocks and hills to take pictures. Jim and I sat and drank our adult beverages and watched her.

After breakfast the next morning, we loaded up and headed out.  Next stop?  Oughterard. I did receive instruction from the bartender in how to say it, but I’m wasn’t always successful. The “ough” is sort of like “auk”.

We took the scenic route via the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. More beautiful scenery. Ireland is packed full of beautiful sights.  The Cliffs are self explanatory.  The Burren is what it sounds like … barren. It’s limestone without any soil cover.  After all the green grass, it was such a stark contrast. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore much of it.  It was best experienced by bicycle or walking.

As we exited the Burren, we stopped in Ballyvaughan for lunch. We saw a neat looking place sitting on the water and decided it would be a great place for lunch.  Monks Bar & Seafood Restaurant. Once again, we loved every spoonful of the most wonderful soup. Yum. Yum.

After our delicious lunch and some silly picture taking, we got back in the car to head up to Oughterard. We missed a turn in Galway, but managed to get it corrected and reached our destination without further issue.  As I was reading off the highlights of things about Oughterard, we discovered part of The Quiet Man (old John Wayne movie) was filmed here. This got Jim really excited as he loves movies … old ones included. This became a “must see.”

We stayed in a really nice B&B with extremely nice and helpful hosts — Carrown Tober House.  We deposited our bags and after asking where The Quiet Man bridge was, we went in search of it. We found it, with a minimal number of wrong turns, as well as a mini bus of tourists from Minnesota. We all took turns getting our pictures.  Jim was sooo excited.

We went back to town for some liquid libation and some local interaction. We chose a place because of its thatched roof … Powers Thatched Restaurant and Bar. Turned out to be the right choice. Once again, we were on the receiving end of barbs about the President we elected. We definitely saw a pattern here. We had some great laughs with one bartender and when his shift ended, we were subjected to the same comments from the next one. (We laughed with him.)  Isn’t this a neat looking place?


Next stop … Cong.  This will be on our way back to back to Dublin for our last night.  Having learned about that part of The Quiet Man was filmed in this town, Jim had Pat Cohan’s Tavern on his must-do list.  After a tasty lunch at Puddleducks Cafe we walked up the street to have a drink at Cohan’s. What? What?  It can’t be!  Closed on Tuesdays?  No!  It can’t be. Not only was it closed, but shutters were across the inside of the windows and we couldn’t see in.  Bummer. Oh well.

On to Ashford Castle so Marie could take some more castle pictures.  Wow!  Really impressive.  And expensive.  People with lots of money … lots of money … like movie stars, etc … get married here.

AND … the Piece de Resistance?  Some of the buildings here were used in the movie. The  one with the red porch is the one Maureen O’Hara lived in with her dad, I believe.  My memory isn’t what it used to be.  It was fixed up, the red porch not being there when the movie was made.

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We were happy campers when we got back in our car.  This last day was definitely a good one.  Onward to Dublin for our last night.

Lest you think it was smooth sailing from here, think again.  We did not leave Ireland without stress.  Heck, we didn’t even get to our hotel in Dublin without stress.  We managed to get into Dublin during rush hour.  With no GPS or even a great city map.  Not that a map of any type would have helped much. Coming into town we planned to head to the airport because the directions I had for the hotel had easier directions from the airport. BUT … we missed the airport exit off the freeway or whatever they call them there. Hence our foray into downtown Dublin at 5:30 p.m. Marie had her phone GPS on, but the phone signal couldn’t keep up with our need to make decisions on turning or going straight ahead.  Street signs aren’t on posts at the corners like in the U.S.  They are on small signs on the corners of the buildings, so you need to get rather close. Yikes!

We had discussed getting gas near the airport so we wouldn’t have to do it in the morning, but obviously that wasn’t happening. Basically, we were going wherever traffic was taking us. At one point, Marie’s GPS got us heading in the right direction but couldn’t keep up. Oh boy!  And don’t forget, I’m the navigator in the back seat because I’m a lousy passenger. Can you visualize the three stooges in the car trying not to scream, yell and smack each other in the head? It took all the control we had.  Or at least I had. (Pat on the back for us all.)

All of a sudden we were in the vicinity of our hotel, The Croke Park Hotel right by the Croke Park Stadium. Thank you, Jesus.  Whoops, we went the wrong way on a one way street. Hallelujah! There it was! We parked that damned car and never felt so happy to be somewhere in our whole lives.

As per our normal pattern, we checked in and put our bags in the room. Woo … nice room. And once again, nice bathroom. I continue my love affair with bathrooms! Staying in better hotels than Holiday Inn Express will do that for you. After our unplanned adventure in Dublin rush hour traffic, we went looking for the bar. Found the restaurant instead. Good enough. Double duty.  We ordered our drinks and then our dinner from a very nice waitress from Nigeria. Feeling sated and relaxed, we headed up to our room to organize our bags and hit the bed.  We had a very early flight out of Dublin … 6:50 a.m. And we needed to fill up the gas and return the car. Not to mention check in and get through security. We all set our phones and iPads for 4:00 a.m.

The next morning, we stumbled around getting ourselves ready. When we checked out I verified the directions to get to the airport.  Now bear in mind, it was pitch black outside when we left. We were told to make a right turn and then head straight until we got on M50.  Well, the straight part of it ended and we had to choose, left or right. We chose left and came onto a freeway.  Yay … M50.  We’re doing good.  When we got to the toll booth, we needed to pay.  But the sign in our car clearly stated we weren’t to pay the toll on the M50. Well, this wasn’t the M50, it was M4 or 1 or 6. It was something not the M50.

We managed to get to the airport and were so stressed we decided the hell with filling up the gas.  Let them do it.  We got to the car rental return place and WHAT? It was gated shut and wouldn’t open until 6 a.m. It was 5:30 a.m. There was a sign that said we could take it to someplace across from the terminal and leave it.  But after driving around twice, we couldn’t find it and ended up back at the rental return. At that point it was 10 minutes until they opened , so we parked in front of the gate and waited. Jim reminded us that he was right when he pointed out where we were to leave the car.  And he was right, I had to acknowledge. We should have listened.  But when do two women listen to one man, I ask?

We made it through check-in and security in time to make our flight. Okay!  We made it! We were flying back to Paris on Aer Lingus to get our flight back to JFK on Air France, then onto Raleigh on American. Well surprise, surprise. Air France canceled our flight and we were going to be leaving 4 hours later. We could have slept longer!  We were now going to miss our connection in JFK to Raleigh. Marie got our missed flight out of JFK changed to the following morning while I found a hotel to stay in that night. And I learned that if you use different airlines that wasn’t scheduled by one of them, you are on your own.  Air France did give each of us an 11 Euro voucher for lunch vs. the $250 we were paying for a hotel room by JFK.

Checking in the next morning, we found that only 2 of us could get on the flight.  One had to be on stand-by. They had already checked Marie and I in.  Jim was the one who’d have to wait for the next flight out unless someone gave up their seat.  No one did. So Marie gave up her’s to Jim, and got an $800 voucher.  Jim and I arrived back in Raleigh, took a short nap, grabbed Marie’s other suitcase and clothing she left at my house and we drove back to the airport to meet Marie.  She had to fly out to Denver for a wedding a few hours later. Success.

With all we went through the last day, I’d do it again in a minute. I’m not sure I would choose Air France again. They did the same thing to us when we flew over to France. But, I guess all the airlines do things like that nowadays.

And remember when we dropped off our car and figured they could fill it up?  This was a economy car.  I would estimate the size about like my Honda Civic with a 14 gallon gas tank. Well, it cost me $80.