What a journey!
Saying goodbye to friends and family, it seemed, was easier than I thought. Perhaps the excitement of the new adventure ahead of me was exciting enough to keep me from feeling too badly about leaving my life behind for a while. All that was true, until I was at the airport, waiting for my flight. I cried for a solid hour. Non-stop. The people sitting around me were sincerely concerned, I think. I was forced to purchase more Kleenex from one of the airport shops because my crying was genuinely out of control.
I flew from Edmonton to Toronto, then from Toronto to London (Gatwick). The airport in London was absolutely surreal. Waiting to get through customs, I was under the impression that the airport was run down and needed a face-lift. Was I ever wrong. Once you pass customs, the scenery changes completely to a modern space worthy of welcoming foreigners into a new country, or welcoming existing citizens back home.
Because I was technically signing in a second time to catch a flight to Dublin, I was forced to pick up my luggage and make my way to the departures level. I hadn’t really realized until then just how heavy all of my bags were. My main backpack weighs a smidge over 30 pounds, and although I never weighed it, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out my carry-on bag weighs around 20 pounds, plus my medical equipment which weighs 5 pounds…
By the time I took the shuttle to the second terminal to sign in to departures, I was a sweaty mess, exhausted from travelling through the night, and almost crying at the prospect of having to carry this all once again once I arrived in Dublin. Needless to say, I did make it to the second terminal, and once I was signed in and went through security (the woman patting me down cringed at how sweaty I was…) I was baffled by the path to the departures lounge.
As you walk through the airport, the entire lower floor is a duty free shop. I legitimately thought I was walking through a department store! Perfumes, alcohol, jewelry, and more! I must have had my jaw on the floor, because a woman with a very pronounced British accent approached me to ask if I was okay, or lost. That’s when it hit me. I am in a completely different continent, and here, I am the outsider.
At the Gatwick airport, everyone waits in a common area until the gate opens, at which point you can make your way to the gates. In the waiting area, seating is limited. There is SO many people in one common area. It was completely overwhelming! I took some time to get a water bottle and a treat, and it took me a second to realize I had no British currency. No worries though, MasterCard helped me out, and I was finally on track to relieve myself from my sweaty mess, and hopefully take a couple of hours to relax before my final stretch to Ireland.
After nearly falling asleep, my gate number was announced, and off I went to Ireland. Walking out to the plane was my first taste of the weather I was expecting, and boy, was I ever happy! No snow, a little overcast, and not as dry as Alberta!
RyanAir is a trip. Unlike other airlines, all baggage has to be stowed overhead, because the seats are so squeezed in that there is barely any leg room. I shuffled into my middle seat between two full grown Irish men,and tried to close my eyes not to have a panic attack because, if you didn’t already know, I am quite claustrophobic. Anyway, once we got close, I could see the coast of Ireland, and I was so relieved to finally be at destination.
Off I went. Backpack on my back, backpack on my front, carrying my CPAP, all the way to the bus that dropped me off near my hostel. If I was overwhelmed in the London airport, nothing compared to the feeling I had stepping off the bus in downtown Dublin. Imagine the intersections near Rogers Place in Edmonton after an Oilers game has ended. Multiply that several times, and that was the commotion at every intersection I walked through to get to my hostel. Surprisingly, no one seemed too fazed by the fact that I was carrying a ridiculous amount of baggage on my body. I guess they’re used to seeing that in Dublin.
I was way too happy to get to my hostel, pay my fee, and sit down on my bed. Sweaty mess once again, I was also emotional. Overwhelmed, relieved, terrified. All of them applied in this moment. In tears, I switched my phone on to wifi to contact anyone who would listen. Luckily, it was around 11am in Canada, so many were willing to listen and chime in with words of love and encouragement. Thank God for all of you. I am eternally grateful to have you all just a chat away. I showered, and made my way to an Irish Pub in Temple Bar, paid for a beer and some Guinness beef stew, and listened to an Irish man sing for an hour or so. I slept like a baby!
Today has been a better day. I visited the Long Room and the Book of Kells at Trinity College, got a SIM card that I will soon activate, and I booked an appointment to get my working permit. Bad news is I am not allowed to work without this, and I don’t have an appointment until February 20th! Until then, I plan to lay low, do a lot of walking, thinking, and blogging.