Day 1 of
My trip to
Day 2

Get me some peanuts!
My excursion to Ireland will begin with an overnight flight to Shannon. I'll leave sometime Sunday afternoon, Fort Worth time, and end up in Ireland sometime early morning of the next day. Most of that time difference will be due to the fact that Ireland is six hours ahead of Central Time in the U.S. But I'll also have to deal with changing flights in New York City on the way there, so that will delay things a bit.
Bunratty Castle is overshadowed by
an adjacent pub.
I'm not looking forward to having to switch planes by myself (oh yeah, did I forget to tell you that I'm going by myself? Yet another good reason to go do this trip with a tour group.) And since I've never been out of the U.S., I've never had to deal with customs, passports, or any of that stuff. It should be interesting. Regardless, I'll have to try to get some sleep on the plane since my tour starts bright and early Monday morning in Shannon.

After arriving at Shannon Airport, I'll be transported to my hotel, and then connect with my tour group. That afternoon we will tour Bunratty Folk Park, a detailed re-creation of rural life in turn-of-the-century Ireland. From there we will go to Bunratty Castle, a 15th-century architectural wonder. This opening part of my trip I'm sure will make me feel like the tourist I will be. There's nothing worse than standing out amongst the indigenous people of a tourist trap. I wonder what will give me away the most: the backpack and camera I'll be toting, the group of awe-struck foreigners I'll be travelling with, our obviously American accent, or the big bus we'll be
Awaiting the boar's head at Knappogue Castle.
getting on and off of? Oh well, so we'll probably be laughed at behind our backs by the locals. That's what tour vacations are all about!

On return from the Bunratty tour, we're supposed to all get together as a group for a "welcoming drink". I don't know what we're going to drink, but I hope it's not just tea. I may have a problem in Ireland with their beverages (outside of beer, I suppose). I am not a tea drinker, and I know they like their tea. However, I'm sure that tea in Ireland is not like the fake tea we have in the states. Maybe it won't be so bad... Anyways, after that welcoming drink, we'll end the day at Knappogue Castle for a medieval banquet and entertainment. The castle is now owned and operated by Texans, so the atmosphere should be a unique Irish-Texan mix, something I might find quite comfortable. My first night in Ireland will be spent in Shannonside (the whole area is basically "Shannon", but the town itself, I guess, is Shannonside).

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