There’s a common misconception about Global Warming. People think it’s going to get much hotter. Actually, in Ireland and most of Europe, it’s going to get a lot colder, and with more and more rain. That’s because the jet stream, which keeps Ireland, England and Northern Europe “warm” will shift far to the south as a result of all of the trillions of gallons of cold water injected into the North Atlantic from melting glaciers. Europe is in for another ice age if we don’t drastically reverse “warming” the planet. Today felt like a poster day for Global Warming, European-style. It was raining buckets when I arrived in Dublin shortly after noon after a mostly uneventful flight from Frankfurt, where it was also raining buckets. I say “mostly” uneventful because as we were making our descent, the Aer Lingus Airbus was pitching pretty wildly from side to side. A couple of exclamations could be heard. The flight attendant nearest to me was reassuring a very nervous woman that “we’ll soon be on solid ground. ” Hopefully smoothly, and not suddenly.
Once on that ground, it proved to be anything but solid. More like liquid with solid beneath. It was like a flood at the airport, with cars and buses splashing hapless travelers as they stood waiting for taxis or shuttles. Miserable doesn’t capture how cold it was at noon. I was wishing I’d packed the gloves I’d briefly considered while packing yesterday in the apartment in Rothenburg, where it had been sunny and warm. While waiting for the rental car shuttle bus, I overhead a couple of Dubliners saying something like “Bloody Hell it’s so cold that my feet are getting frostbitten!” (Or something like that) I chirped with great forced glee, “Yes, it’s not exactly the Ireland we all see on the travel posters now, is it!” I was momentarily dismayed that not a single cold, wet, miserable person laughed.
Finally to the rental car lot, where my Kia Sportage SUV waited in the furthest row (of course) from the rental office. I ran there, ignoring the fact that you actually get wetter running through rain than if you just stroll normally. I was drenched when I finally got into the car and started the engine, turning the heater on full blast. Hey, seat heaters! I cranked mine on full. It’s June 6th and I’m about to freeze to death.
Somewhere on this planet a person is promising to live a good, clean life for just a breath of cool, fresh air. Well, come to Dublin.
Winding my way in heavy traffic through the downpour and strong winds out of the airport I recall the snippet of conversation heard a few minutes before on the shuttle bus. “Chuck, I think we’ll be fine driving on the other side of the road. As long as we can get out of the airport area.” I wonder if those two jetlagged souls from Chicago ever left the airport. Maybe they just checked into the Travel Lodge after the first roundabout and proceeded to enjoy Ireland from the hotel pub. I see signs everywhere on the big hotels promising rooms “starting from 49 Euro.” That’s ridiculously cheap. Ireland is in a free fall, economically. Three years ago, they had the lowest unemployment rate in the EU. Now they have the second highest, just behind Spain’s 18%. The Celtic Tiger is now the Celtic Mouse.
It rained, and rained, and rained harder on the way south to Shannon. It was as if someone was tossing full barrels of water at my windshield every time a truck hit a low spot in the road. (Ireland has no vast network of high, dry autobahns, thank goodness).
I stopped at an Esso “On the Run” gas station about an hour outside of Dublin and there had my first meal on the Emerald Isle. It was a tuna sandwich with the day’s special, which turned out to be a cup of half-rotten strawberries buried under a glop of “cream.” Yuck. I left those behind but gobbled up the tuna sandwich in no time flat. I love the Irish way of making tuna salad. I don’t know, maybe it’s the corn.
But please, the offer to spread butter on the bread before splatting on the tuna? You wanna give me a heart attack, or what?
Tomorrow I greet my guests from Canada. We’ll be touring in County Tipperary, County Cork, Kerry and Clare.