First of all my plans for 2011 are starting to take a new shape, so my surprise destination or should I say hometown for next year will be? ...remains as a secret.
On the other hand, I've been having quite busy days lately, specially because of some friends of mine that just can't stop stalking me , it's like I have no breaks anymore and I have been hardly ever online lately. My mom is definitely not pleased as I now spend a good amount of days without talking to her through the internet.
This week started with beautiful and warm mornings so it was just perfect to wander around the city (ditching college), have a nice breakfast with tea and scones, go to the park to lie on the grass and light up illegal barbeques (I don't care, the park ranger told us to shut it down when we were finished, satisfied and with our clothes smelling like burnt rubber), non-scheduled and free Irish dancing shows at the theatre and of course, yesterday was my first official tour in Ireland.
Again, lots of things resembled my cabin crew thingie from last year so they gave me a nice 'Athlone - River Shannon Cruise' which I could compare with a Dhaka or a Casablanca flight , not as bad as an Indian turnaround but definitely not a very good trip as well.
I got to the pick up point very early in the morning because my bike had a little technical problem the night before so I just took a bus there and since I didn't want to get lost or anything, left the house way ahead of time.
Noone was there so I even started wandering if I was in the right place, but after some five minutes all my beloved customers started to arrive and another tour guide who would be taking care of the second coach.
So there we were , 83 passengers distributed into two coaches heading to the Midlands. Shouldn't be a problem and the weather was just beautiful.
I remembered about my first flight last year (which was Stockholm) and would try to do anything but would be too scared of doing it or even talking about it.
My first minutes as a Tourist Guide were like that as I just tested the microphone for over ten minutes until I gathered enough courage to catch a little air and transform it into a "Good Morning Ladies and Gentlement, I'm gonna be your tour guide for today, I hope we spend a very good time together".
So head count done and noone missing, we departed South Dublin and hit the road non-stop to Athlone.
On the way there I unsucessfully tried to explain some interesting facts about the city and the region, thanks to my friend Wikipedia, but all I could hear in my head was yabbin', I do think that at some point it made sense to them (hopefully).
While getting to Athlone, some hour and a half away from Dublin, our driver performed a little bit by cracking some very nice jokes and singing. Of course that our customers loved it as most of them (all of them) were elderly women having a day-off.
On arrival ,we headed to our very nice hotel for some nice tea and scones combination (even had two scones today) and then back into town for some sightseeing while the whole group was split into two for the River Shannon cruise.
I got the second group so we had to wait some fifty minutes before we got into the boat. In the meantime and as we couldn't really go far, I had a good chance to bond a bit with my customers. All of them from Dublin, they just started asking all sort of questions about my background, my family, my travels, my tan?...anyway , it was very nice to chat with some of them as the sleazier ones would ask to take their picture with me so they could brag about it with their grand-children or would ask for simple hugs.
So we jumped into the boat and cruised around the River Shannon, first through Athlone where we had to dodge some floating devices installed for a big European Triathlon Competition starting the next day and, after crossing the M6 bridge, a strong mild wind welcomed us to Lough Ree, the second largest lake in Ireland (not a big thing to accomplish as the island is tiny) where there were loads of people windsurfing or just having a nice yatch-day.
Back in town we had around three hours to wander around and shop, I didn't really feel like shopping so I just took some pictures with my camera, went to the park until it started to rain and watched all triathletes training for the big day.
End of the afternoon and time to get back to the hotel for some nice 3-course meal consisting in homemade soup with vegetables and croutons, beef with vegetables and mashed potatoes and apple pie with cream for dessert. Some nice Earl Grey tea to wrap it up and back to the bus for our journey back to Dublin.
I admit that at this point I was extremely tired but at the same time we were trying to make the best of it ,so 10 sing-a-longs and some 30 jokes later we were safe and sound on our pick-up point.
Guess all the being nice and taking photos combined with a fitted shirt paid off in the end as our tip was extremely (and I mean it) generous, even though I had to refuse some "can I take you home" proposals.
It was a day full of enjoyment to be honest and I'm sure that there will be plenty more to come as like I always say: you have to enjoy what you do to make it right.
3-meal courses are lovely but on my way home I still stopped by Eddie Rockets for some super vessel-clogger combination of Homestack burger, the one full of bacon and sauce and some lovely cheese & bacon fries to finish the day (felt stuffed until today evening).
Next adventure: Don't know yet, let's see what rostering has prepared for me.