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Blending in

Last month I took a trip that some might call blow-your-mind-fantastical. It was quick (one week) and consisted of my greatest friend Megan The Gnome and I tooling the entire island of Ireland. “Whoa, fun!” you say, and I concur. It was also very very expensive.

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Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, Ireland – New friends

It didn’t start that way. Gnome found tickets round trip from Boise, Idaho to Dublin, Ireland for $571.60. That’s pretty phenomenal – especially considering my ONE WAY flight from Sitka, Alaska to Boise cost $358.20. The return flight (Spokane, WA – Sitka) was an extravagent 20,000 airline miles (12,500 miles is normal).

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A session at Murty Rabbit’s in Galway

Don’t worry about busting out your calculator yet. I’ll sum the numbers for you in a minute.

Lodging costs were nominal as Megan paid for most of them with the agreement we would settle up later. I paid a reasonable $105.66 for the week.

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The superb Sandrock Holiday Hostel on Ireland’s northern shore.

In flight booze was free on the international flight, so my airborn booze costs were purely Alaska Airlines – $20.

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Gnomes drink airplane Heinekin from teacups.

Euro socket/wattage adapter – $39.99, and it did not work at all. Stupid airport salesman.

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Um. There was a Pan-Celtic festival in Donegal city.

Tour of the Guinness factory in Dublin – $17.16 which was completely worth it, especially considering a pint was included (and that the average cost of a pint equates to about $7 or $8 US.

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View from the bar atop the Guinness factory.

Foreign transaction fees weren’t bad for my credit card ($2.56), but two ATM withdrawals on my debit card cost $10 in fees.

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Beer on the riverside – Spanish Arch, Galway.

$10 in Skype credits to call home, and $26.81 in souveniers didn’t seem too outrageous, nor did $40.09 for food & booze.

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Crossroads Inn at Malin Head. Thank you, barman Paul.

My ATM withdrawals totalled $395.22 and probably split 60% drink, 30% food and 10% souveniers. A little steep, but all in all a pretty thrifty adventure at $1,597.29.

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Irish coffee is still called “Irish Coffee” in Ireland. It’s just more expensive.

But wait … there’s more.

Sooooo I tried to research how my iphone would work across the atlantic, but I couldn’t find much for straight answers. I knew better than to make phone calls, but I figured the wireless internet smart phone capabilities were created to make my life easier, and I thought of all the times travelling when a wee map or a Google search could have really improved a situation. They did, in fact, make life a little easier – until I got my monthly bill. $409.41. Awesome.

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Dancing on a dart board; The Reel Inn, Donegal town.

So for anyone out there wondering about using an AT&T iphone in Europe, yeah … just don’t. Unless the second you land, you go to: SETTINGS>GENERAL>NETWORK>DATA ROAMING (SLIDE TO OFF). It’s almost as buried as the international usage information on the AT&T website: http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/international/roaming/iphone-travel-tips.jsp. My phone automatically searched for emails and voicemails, running up a steady bill. The kilobytes I used to send one picture by email cost about $20. Imagine if they billed monthly Internet that way. Fucking robber barons.

But whatever – I learned something, and that brings my trip total to $2006.70.

Oh. And then this happened.

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Fuck you, Focus.

That is a Focus from Hertz rental cars. In a land of roundabouts, right-side steering wheels, left-side-of-the-road driving, fast ass driving and 2-lane highways the size of my front porch, this is not uncommon. Plus I needn’t have worried – one of the perks of renting with my Alaska Airlines/Bank of America Visa credit card was complimentary auto rental insurance. Right?

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Notice the yellow line is on the shoulder, white line in the middle.

Oh wait. Also buried on a website (http://usa.visa.com/personal/cards/benefits/bft_dmg_waiver_personal.html) in small print in a section called “Who is NOT covered” was this little cat turd: “Losses from rental transactions which originated in Israel, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland.” So yeah, having declined coverage (since I thought it was covered with my card), I was fully responsible for the damage. But I mean, come on. It’s a fiberglass pop-together fender of a Ford Focus. How much could that really cost to replace?

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Can you find the highway direction signs?

Um – exactly $3,277.03 apparently. Fuckinggoddamncocksuckingsonofabitchassbastards. For that price, I’m pretty certain I could have flown back with the parts, completed the labor, then drove the fucker around for another week, and still had some money to spare. I will never rent from Hertz again. Ever. Assholes.

So my one-week Ireland trip culminated at a grand total of:


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Cliffs of Moher

There are three ways I’ve come up with to justify the excessive money pillaged from me.

1. My job covers food and housing. If I had been renting and paying bills for the last 5 or 6 months, I wouldn’t have that money anyway.

2. This is the first winter I’ve worked full time/overtime fairly consistently, so that money wasn’t very accustomed to my bank account and was longing for escape.

3. It was worth it – the old pubs, the accents, the castles and beer. I learned a couple lessons, but given the choice, I’d do it again. I would not trade the good memories for the couple thousand I lost.

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Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway, N Ireland

Sitting on the city walls of Derry, N Ireland

Near Amsterdam, Netherlands – flower fields from above