As usual, last day spent running around doing things that could and should have been done in a more relaxed fashion over the course of the last week. Flight left on time but the plane was, to put it mildly, old, tired and well past its prime. Apparently a backup that they throw into service during summer when they run a direct flight to Dublin for the summer crowds; cabin crew was in keeping with the plane. I had paid extra for Comfort Class seats for V and I since we were flying overnight to Dublin, picking up a local flight to Kerry and then a rental car for a 3 hour drive to Dingle. I thought that it would be more comfortable to have larger seats with more legroom for the overnight flight in hopes of some sleep, and so be better prepared for a 3 hour drive on the wrong side of the road. There was no Business Class on the plane but the Comfort Class seats were in the former Business Class cabin on our decrepit old aircraft. I was therefore very surprised when we were given champagne and orange juice when we took our seats and were given menus for dinner; hors d'oeuvres, salads, main course with a choice of steak, salmon or seafood pasta and deserts and cheeses with accompanying wines and liquors. The curtain between the Comfort cabin and the rest of the plane was closed and in all respects it behaved as if it were a full-blown Business Class flight with the front loo reserved for Comfort class. Very nice I thought and a great bargain for an extra $75 a seat even on an old aircraft with no in-seat entertainment. We looked around the cabin as we got settled and discovered that our companions in Comfort class were the Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and a number of Conservative MP's. Interesting, but at the time thought no more about it. (Added 30/08/12 after our return home) We were looking forward to our return flight in Comfort class expecting that we would be well looked-after based on our outbound flight. Were therefore very surprised to learn that while we were in the same class and the same seats as previously, there the resemblance ended. There was no champagne, no menu and three course meal, no wines and liquors, in fact we were treated exactly as I expected we would when I paid for the Comfort seats, that is coach class with slightly larger seats and a bit more legroom.
So, the obvious question. Surely it is more than coincidence that the flight with the Minister aboard was treated very differently than the one occupied by mere taxpayers. I can only guess that somebody from an office on the Government side of the House contacted Air Canada to make sure that since there was no Business Class on the flight, that one be created for the Minister and his minions. We were merely fortunate to pick up the crumbs that dropped from his table. A huffy-puffy little man who despite all his sanctimonious lecturing to the rest of us about fiscal responsibility, is apparently no slacker when it comes to personal entitlement! (End Added 30/08/12 after our return home)
Landed on time and picked up a local SIM card for my phone before we checked in for our Aer Lingus flight to Kerry. Small turbo-prop with limited luggage room but managed to get J's golf bag checked and my photo equipment stowed in carry-on as there were many empty seats and we could stuff bags under.
Arrived at Kerry airport in weather that I think will be prophetic for our trip; bright sun breaking through clouds while at the same time we were being rained on. Picked up our car at Hertz; since J's birthday occurs while we're here and the trip was designed, in part, to celebrate his new career I thought that I'd splurge and had arranged to rent a Beemer. However since James had brought his golf clubs, we needed to find the largest car they had available on the lot to take J's golf clubs, our bags, my photo stuff and 4 people. So no Beemer but a Ford Mondeo whose only saving merit is the size of its boot. Large, clanking, tinny piece of Detroit technology. A beast of burden not a thoroughbred but hope that it will get the job done.
Drove from Kerry to the town of Dingle at the end of the Dingle peninsula. Getting used to the miniscule roads barely wide enough for two cars to pass and this is a main road into Dingle town. I'm guessing that driving will get even more interesting when we move onto secondary, country roads.
Checked into our inn, the Pax Guest House; a large, rambling building on the top of a hill outside of Dingle Town with a magnificent view over Dingle Bay and across to the Ring of Kerry. John, our host, is charming, loquacious, funny and very helpful. Brought us tea, got us settled and gave us maps and advice about the next couple of days. Know that we will all be very happy here.