2 October 2015, Friday
We got going earlier this morning, and were in the breakfast dining room by eight o’clock. And it was packed.
In fact, the hotel was booked solid. We expected it to be quiet this time of year—it’s definitely after the tourism season—but apparently Europeans know something about October in Ireland that we don’t know: it’s great golfing weather.
A-ha. The Portmanock Hotel and Golf Links, this beautiful hotel with a gorgeous golf course on the edge of the sea, was positively brimming with Europeans (mostly Germans), men and women, in Ireland to golf. The men in their brightly colored slacks. 🙂 (John said, “Golf clothes are what happens when men dress themselves,” which made me laugh, but then I wondered if the slacks became more colorful in direct proportion to the sobriety of the gentleman’s work clothing. There might be something to that.)
They were very vocal too: women, for example, would greet as they encountered each other walking down the hall, often from several yards away, and continue talking as they passed, their comments getting louder and louder the further apart they were. No concept of using their (ahem) outside voices in the hall of what is essentially the bedroom wing.
But then we discovered they’re all traveling together. Two busloads of them. No matter when we went to the breakfast room, the noise level was very high. If we diners were all discrete small groups—two, three, four people—we would talk amongst ourselves at the table. But these folks were talking between tables too.
For a woman who likes to ease into the morning (me), it was way too loud most of the time, although the people-watching was spectacular. 🙂 October golfing in Ireland! It’s a thing!
We had to take care of a little more business … another drive into Dublin to the dentist to finish up the work, and we had to call and rearrange table seating slightly because Gerry’s cousin was ill and had to cancel at the last minute. We dropped our party favors—small boxes of truffles from Aine Hand Made Chocolates—with our party planner to be set out at the dinner.
My dear Margaret had an influence on another aspect of our party weekend too. You may recall that back in 2012, we had afternoon tea at the Shelbourne, which she had instigated. I knew our American guests might enjoy the experience, and we considered planning another tea party at the Shelbourne. (In retrospect, I’m so glad we didn’t, given the atrocious traffic situation.) But back in June when Gerry and I stayed at the Portmarnock, we learned the hotel also offered an afternoon tea—which we’d sampled and found delightful. Convenient!
So we’d planned a late afternoon tea, put it on our list of options for our October guests, and had several people who were interested. And this was that day. In the Seaview Lounge with that lovely view of the Irish Sea.
We got downstairs early to make sure everything was in order.
We had a few last-minute dropouts (these things can’t be helped), so we were eight instead of ten or twelve, but this bunch had lots to talk about, and did. It was … special. Really nice. We all got stuffed. And this was just the beginning of bringing strangers together with a happy outcome.
That was almost more excitement than I could handle, so after the tea party, we retired to our room to relax and rest up—Saturday would be a big day. And lo and behold: Gerry had an email from the embassy that his visa had been delivered to the courier company!
I don’t have a photo of us squealing, or dancing around the room. But we did (insofar as two tired, middle-aged folks on a sugar high can). We immediately adjusted our Saturday plans to drive back into Dublin yet again to pick up the package containing his passport with new visa page, instructions, and sealed information to be presented to the customs officials when we left the country.
We were fast asleep before ten o’clock …