Day 24, Thursday, 4 October 12
We were up early so we could do the last of the packing and get all settled. Neither Margaret or I like to be rushed. 🙂
The Radisson has a nice breakfast buffet you can add to the cost of the room for ten euro, and we knew we needed to have a good breakfast to get us through this day, especially since we’d be going back through that nightmare airport (Dulles). The Radisson’s shuttle drivers are very nice, too—ours loaded all our luggage and then waited for us to check out, then unloaded it for us at the airport. So Radisson gets the gold star.
Remember, once you get to the airport there are two things you’ll need to do:
1. Take care of your VAT situation (see #11 in Jamie’s Travel Tips)
2. Shop in the duty-free … maybe.
Currently in Ireland there are three entities that handle VAT refunds—two with old-school paper forms and one electronically (Fexco). Perhaps eventually it will all be electronic; certainly most of my VAT refunds were applied to the card I got from one of the first merchants I visited. In the electronic situation, you are never charged the VAT tax; however, if you leave the country without visiting the Fexco machine, your credit card will be charged the VAT later. So care of it.
There are two companies that handle VAT refunds with paper; it just depends which refund company is used by the merchant you visited. More than likely, you’ll have to visit both. You must remember to ask for the form when you make your purchases, keep your receipt with the form, and then the night before you leave, fill out each and every form. It’s not fun, but you can end up with enough dollars to get out of the parking lot back home (or euros to save for your next trip). So you should make the effort—and then visit the VAT kiosks as soon as you get your luggage checked in.
Then you’ve got time to wander the duty free shops! There are a lot of them in the Dublin Airport—it’s a regular ol’ mall. I’ve become cautious, though, because I’m not convinced I’m always getting a deal. I like to take Irish chocolate home to hand out as thank-yous, but I’ve begun buying it ahead of time in the Butler’s shop, so I can pack it rather than carry it. On this trip I found the Orla Keilly bag I’d fallen in love with at a shop in Dingle, but it was thirty-five euro more in the duty-free shop than in Dingle! Same bag. The best bargains are in perfumes and cosmetics and alcohol, so if you’re looking for a deal, that’s where to go. Just make sure you’ve got room in your carry-on for that big bottle of twelve-year-old whiskey.
We were pretty shopped out, though. As noted, I’d done all my Christmas shopping on this trip, and it was all packed; for myself, I’d bought two paperback books, the Moulton Brown shampoo and conditioner, the scarf I was wearing, and a pretty necklace at the Kilkenny Design Center. Oh, and a rain hat. 🙂
There was a new procedure to follow on this trip: we were assigned a time by which we were supposed to pass the security checkpoint. Naturally we missed it 🙂 but not by much. I can see why they do this, though: you really have to run quite a gauntlet to get out to the gate. We had to show our passports at least half a dozen times once we passed the initial security checkpoint—no joke. Once we arrived at our gate I left my carry-on with Margaret and went to buy a bottle of water—and had to show my passport again. To buy water!
I was much less stressed on this flight, though. I read, watched a movie, and before you know it, we were on the ground in Dulles. A quick check of the departures signage and Margaret and I realized we had to go in opposite directions! We weren’t ready for such an abrupt good-bye after our three-week vacation, but there we were, with a quick hug outside the ladies’ lounge before we each hustled off to catch the next flight.
Naturally, once I got to my gate my connecting flight had been delayed, so I called my friends in Tennessee to let them know I’d be late. And then … I was home. And the felines were glad to see me.
The next morning, I settled down with a cup of tea and the cookies Eoin and Tracy had given us the day before … and began writing this travelogue.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this trip as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about it. I’ve got another trip planned in May (about two and a half months from now) so I hope you’ll stick around for that. In the meantime, I’ll be posting some other interesting travel-related pieces, and I’ll be continuing to add material from trips I’ve taken in previous years. You may have noticed that there are already a few entries posted from a Christmas trip to England and my first trip to Ireland. There will be lots more; I’ll let you know when the trips are completely chronicled. Thank you so much for visiting with me!