(The boys tried to come along)
On Friday, we went down to the airport again, only to find out that the new flight we had been put on had been delayed by two hours, and we would be missing our connecting flight. The new airline told us that they couldn't help us, and referred us back to Continental. Thankfully, the representative working at the Continental was able to save the day; a couple was trying to upgrade their seats, so he pushed that through and got us on the next flight out.
(Two cancelled and delayed flights later, we finally got a plane that took off as scheduled)
The flight was pretty long - five hours from LA to Newark, and then another 6 hours from Newark to Dublin - so I thought I would be able to knit to pass the time. Sadly, that didn't happen. See, the average coach class airplane seat is only about 17" wide. Both my husband and I are pretty big people, so we were squashed into our seats like sardines. If I had tried to knit, I would have ended up stabbing him, and the poor person to the left of me, constantly, so the knitting needles stayed in my bag. Napping was also out of the question. The Continental representative had assigned us seats on the exit row to give us a little more leg room, but the problem with sitting on the exit row is that you can't recline your seats at all. The second I would start to nod off, my head would flop forward and I would wake up.
(Sunrise over the Atlantic)
We arrived in Ireland at around 9 or 10 in the morning and made it through customs without any issues (though I was sad to find out that they didn't stamp my passport, or, if they did, it was in invisible ink) A nice lady employed by Dublin Bus told us how to get to Dun Laoghaire, but the bus she told us to get on turned out to be the wrong one, and we ended up wandering around the Trinity College area trying to find the right one (little did we know that this would be a recurring theme with busses in Dublin later on in our trip) Eventually we did, made it to the Dun Laoghaire Ferry Terminal and boarded the ferry that would take us to Holyhead.
(The Husband was very glad to be off the airplane)
Let me tell you, ferries in the UK are much nicer than ferries in the US. This thing was huge and it had a shop and a food court and even a play area for the kids. However, by this point I was so exhausted from our flight and walking around Dublin that I ended up stealing my husband's coat and napping at a table for most of the trip.
Once we reached Holyhead we picked up our tickets for the train to Liverpool. See, we had meant to rent a car in Ireland and take it on the Ferry over to England and drive up to Scotland from there, but apparently you can't take a rental car out of Ireland to England or Scotland, though you can take it up to Northern Ireland for an additional 30 Euro. So then we had tried to rent our car in Holyhead instead - only to find out that the Hertz in Holyhead closes at three on Saturdays (30 minutes before our Ferry was supposed to show up) and that it doesn't reopen again til Monday. There weren't any hotels near the Ferry terminal, and we had a reservation for a hotel in Scotland that was for Sunday, so staying in Holyhead until Monday was impossible. Thankfully, there was a car rental at the Liverpool airport that was open 24/7.
(Holyhead train station)
The train from Wales was nice, then we had to get off and catch another train into Liverpool - only this train looked more like a metro car from Washington DC and less like a normal train. There was another train we were supposed to get off and catch at the main Liverpool station that would have taken us closer to the airport, but by this point we were so tired of lugging our suitcases around that we ended up taking a cab instead.
Now, you're probably asking us why we went through all of this when we could have just asked Continental to change our flights to land in Scotland instead. Trust us. We tried. However, the only available flight they could get us on landed in Dublin, so we consoled ourselves with the fact that we were going to be able to see a lot more of England than we were originally planning. We just didn't realize we were going to be too tired to appreciate it.
Anyways, we eventually made it to the Liverpool airport and picked up our rental car. Now it was time for us to start driving on the left hand side of the road. The Husband was understandably a bit anxious about this, but he did a very good job, and with our faithful GPS (that we nicknamed Homer because we installed the Homer Simpson voice on it) we were able to locate the hotel we would be staying at for the night before driving up to Scotland the next day: The Hard Days Night Hotel. Finding a place to park was another matter entirely. We didn't realize that some hotels don't have parking lots available, and there wasn't a place for us to park on the street, so we ended up circling around the hotel until we found a nearby alley where we could park for a moment while we checked in. Then we spent another twenty minutes driving around trying to locate the nearby car park that the hotel told us to go to. Sadly, Homer the GPS was absolutely no help on this since we didn't have an exact address, and the print out that the hotel gave us was pretty faded, and didn't have street names, so it was useless too. Eventually, we figured it out, parked the car, unloaded our suitcases, and walked back to the hotel.
Then, once we got back to the hotel, we couldn't figure out how to get in to our room. In the US we are used to most hotels having key cards instead of traditional keys. We're also used to the fact that you have to insert the key card into a slot on the door in order for the door to open. At the Hard Days Night you had to hold the key up to a pad outside the door in order for the door to open - which wasn't all that different from how the locks at my job work, but at this point we had been up for almost 30 hours, so we couldn't figure it out on our own and had to run downstairs to ask reception to help us. I hope they took pity on us and didn't laugh at us too hard after they explained it. Once inside, we discovered something else about the hotel - you had to put the keycard into a slot on the wall in order for the lights to stay on. This confused the heck out of us at first - we would turn the lights on, and some would stay on, others would stay off, and then a few would stay on for a moment, only to turn back off - but thankfully we were able to figure it out on our own.
Aside from those bits, the room itself was very nice - probably the second swankiest hotel that I had ever stayed in (the first being the Portofino Bay at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida) The bed was only supposed to be a double, but it was actually as large as a queen and very very comfy. There were down pillows and a fluffy comforter. You could adjust the room temperature and lights from something that reminded me of a radio that was built into the headboard. The bathtub in the bathroom was large and deep and there was a heater built into the wall that also warmed up your towels too! The only drawbacks to the room were the fact that our room overlooked the front of the hotel, was on the first floor (which was more like the second floor), and had very thin windows, so we could hear all the yelling going on on the street below us, and above the headboard was a sketch of a young Paul McCartney in a t-shirt and underwear.
(The Husband trying to ignore the picture on the wall)
Even though we were tired, we tried to stay up as late as possible since many of our friends had advised us that this would be a good way to adjust to the new time zone and beat the jet lag. We finally gave in to our exhaustion at 11pm that night, and promptly passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillows.