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Dublin 2019

Started: 2019-08-25 16:59:49

Submitted: 2019-08-26 22:41:03

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator flies to Ireland for Worldcon

For the third year in a row, Kiesa and I decided to attend the World Science Fiction Convention, the annual gathering of fans of science fiction and fantasy literature. (We previously attended Worldcon 75 in Helsinki two years ago and Worldcon 76 in San Jose last year.)

Lego model of the Convention Centre Dublin
Lego model of the Convention Centre Dublin

I took the whole day off work on Wednesday, the day we left, even though our plane didn't leave until early evening. This gave me plenty of time to do laundry and pack before heading to the airport late in the afternoon.

Icelandair TF-LLX 757-200 at SEA
Icelandair TF-LLX 757-200 at SEA

We ended up flying Icelandair, with a brief layover in Keflavík (the international airport serving Reykjavík), on our way to Dublin. They operate two daily flights between Seattle and Keflavík, both on 757-200s, scheduled to depart five minutes apart from each other. (Apparently Icelandair tends to operate only one daily flight between Keflavík and most cities, and times the flights so they all arrive at once and depart at once so passengers can make any connecting flight.) I picked the flight scheduled to leave first, but it ended up delayed by fifteen minutes so the second flight actually departed first.

Sun setting over Puget Sound
Sun setting over Puget Sound

The plane was sparsely populated; Calvin and I were the only two people sitting on our row of 6 seats. After he finished watching The Lego Movie 2 we were ready to try to go to sleep on the plane. I sent him across the aisle, where he pushed up the arm rests on the block of three seats and curled up to go to sleep. I likewise had a block of three seats to myself, but I had a harder time fitting into the seats. I started out trying to sleep in an upright sitting position, sitting perpendicular to the aisle with my legs stretched out on the row of seats, leaning against the wall of the plane; but the outer arm rest was immobile and I had limited success wrapping it in blankets so I could lounge against it. I had somewhat better luck lying down on the seat and bending my knees to tuck my legs into an only-slightly-awkward resting position around the aisle armrest. In the end I managed about four hours of sleep before waking up because it was morning in my new time zone and the cabin was just beginning to wake up in anticipation of landing in an hour.

Every time I flew across the Atlantic Ocean, usually between North America and London, I'd watch the in-flight map to see if I could catch a glimpse of Iceland. Most times my plane would fly north or south of the island nation; sometimes I'd fly right over the island but clouds obscured my view of the land. Once, on a recent flight (this year or last, I can't remember), my flight route took me directly over Iceland and I caught my first glimpse of the volcanic island; but I seem to have no permanent record of this happening. This trip offered the opportunity to see part of Iceland from the ground -- at least, to the extent that one could count the inside of an airport as "Iceland".

When we began our descent into Keflavík all I could see outside my window was open ocean. We landed to the east, following our flight path straight onto runway 10, so the only part of Iceland I saw before landing was about 2 miles of old lava, and some indistinct land on the horizon forming the peninsula leading to an unpronounceable volcano.

We disembarked via stairs on the tarmac and boarded a waiting transfer bus to drive around the terminal to another gate. Because we were transiting through Iceland from North America to a non-Schengen country, we could stay in the international transfers area of the airport and we didn't need to enter the Schengen Area. The bus dropped us off at the end of the international transfers area; close to where our connecting flight to Dublin was already boarding. We boarded (again via stairs on the tarmac) and departed Iceland after only a very brief stop at the airport.

Calvin waits to board TF-FIN at KEF
Calvin waits to board TF-FIN at KEF

I did, at least, manage to get a picture of Iceland from the air -- a picture that has eluded me on all of my previous flights across the Atlantic.

TF-FIN flying over Iceland
TF-FIN flying over Iceland

Then, two hours later, I saw Ireland -- looking much greener than Iceland, since it's further south and less volcanic. (I'm quite sure I've flow over Ireland before, on my way to London and other parts of Europe, but I can't remember whether I've seen the Irish countryside or if clouds obscured my view of the ground. I can confirm that this picture is the first photograph I've taken of Ireland.)

TF-FIN flying over Ireland
TF-FIN flying over Ireland

Our approach into Dublin took us one-third of the way across the Irish Sea before turning around to land in Dublin from the east. We taxied for what seemed like the long way around the airport, then we got to do something I've never done before: disembark a jet airplane via the rear door, via stairs onto the tarmac.

Passengers disembark TF-FIN from the rear door at DUB
Passengers disembark TF-FIN from the rear door at DUB

We made our way through immigration, grabbed our bags at baggage claim, then emerged through customs into the tiny arrivals hall at terminal 2. Our first objective was lunch -- it was mid-afternoon, Irish Summer Time, and we'd only eaten a small breakfast on the plane from snacks we'd brought from the airport in Seattle. (It was still early morning in Pacific Time, but I tried not to remind myself of that in an attempt to adjust to my new time zone.) Properly fortified, I picked up local SIM cards for our mobile phones and transit cards that would work on the local transit system. (I got €40 Leap visitor cards for Kiesa and I, and a stored-value child Leap card for Calvin with €20. Julian was young enough he didn't need to pay for transit.)

We took the express bus from the airport into central Dublin, stopping by the Convention Centre Dublin (where Worldcon was already underway) then generally following the river Liffey westward into the city. We got off the bus on the south side of the river and walked the rest of the way to the furnished two-bedroom apartment I'd found on hotels.com, in the neighborhood of "The Liberties". The door code and key box code I'd been given worked, and we let ourselves into our temporary residence for the next eight days.

I took a shower before heading out again to check in to Worldcon. It was late in the afternoon, and I was still vaguely tired from having gotten insufficient sleep on the flight, but I was eager to pretend that I was ready to face Dublin. We walked across the river to catch the Luas tram, then took the tram to the convention centre. (The first time I saw the convention centre was as a Lego model at Worldcon in Helsinki two years ago, when the Dublin 2019 bid was confirmed. When Calvin saw the model in Helsinki he pointed to the Daleks sneaking around the side of the convention centre and said, "Oh, British robots!" because his entire exposure to Doctor Who at that point had been a tiny reference in the middle of The Lego Movie.)

Convention Centre Dublin
Convention Centre Dublin

We registered for the convention, then considered our options for supper. We weren't especially hungry, so we found a coffee shop (Starbucks across the river was the only coffee shop open at that time of the evening) and ate a snack before heading back to the apartment for a plausible early bedtime on our new time zone.

Everyone I'm sure, knows that when something goes wrong somewhere,
anywhere, anytime it is automatically SCOTT'S FAULT. Your dog ran away?
SCOTT'S FAULT. Your car won't start? SCOTT'S FAULT. Your power got
shut off because you forgot to mail the check? Yep, once again, SCOTT'S
FAULT. It is very similar to the "six degrees of separation" theory.
Somehow everything can be tied back to Scott.
- Renee Galvin, 25 October 2000