Friday, June 3, 2011

Dublin and Belfast: Car Rental Problem Resolution, and We Meet Scottish Nationalists

The drive back to Dublin from Kinsale was easy.  No problems at all with driving on the left.  We arrived in the Glasnevin section of Dublin and even found a parking spot right in front of the Botanic View B&B on Iona Road.  Penny found this on, which is our source for almost every accommodation that we have booked.  Bernie and PJ are great hosts, which is doubtless why they are so highly ranked on tripadvisor.  PJ is a sports fan, although he thinks that soccer players are a bunch of showboats.  He prefers rugby and hurling.  Two of their grandchildren, Aaron and Luke, were visiting, and the picture above is of PJ coaching them in hurling.  I even took a turn at it.  I did manage to hit the ball more often than not.

Michael Collins is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Above is the interior of Kavanagh's pub, which has been in the same family since the 1830s.  It is adjacent to Glasnevin cemetery and so has the nickname "Gravediggers."  You can see the FC  Barcelona jersey displayed behind the bar, celebrating Barca's UEFA Champions Cup victory over Manchester United.  I was happy to see that, but I watched it at the Botanic, shown below, which is around the corner from the B&B.  I had a great time there.  Unfortunately, one of the Irish Barcelona fans was rather rude to a ManU fan, but the latter fellow had more sense than to respond to the Guiness blathering from the Barcelona fan's mouth.

Bernie was extraordinarily kind, and drove us to Dublin Connolly Station, below.

We took a train from Dublin to Belfast, which took a couple of hours.  On board were a large number of Scotsmen who had come to Ireland to watch the Scotland national soccer team play the Ireland team for a championship.  Ireland won!  The Scots were still decked out in kilts and soccer jerseys.  We had a great time talking with them.  Most surprising was their unanimous, outspoken support for Scottish secession from the United Kingdom.

We arrived at Belfast Central station and walked to the Premier Inn, just a few blocks away.  This is a cookie-cutter chain hotel, but for one night it was perfect.  Clean, a comfortable bed, and a reasonably priced dinner and breakfast combination.  Our only reason for being in Belfast was to take the ferry to Scotland the next day, and so the Premier Inn filled the bill nicely.  

As we had arrived in the United Kingdom, we needed to get pounds sterling from an ATM.  We were surprised to receive Bank of Ulster notes.  I remember from living in London five years ago that Bank of Scotland notes were sometimes frowned upon in England, and so we wondered about these Irish notes.  

The Car Rental Problem:  we rented the car from Budget at the Dublin airport, with the rate being guaranteed and the reservation made through USAA.  The rate was quite good, but then there was the matter of insurance.  Twenty euros a day for their insurance.  We declined it, being covered by USAA, which is itself an insurance company.  Ours, in point of fact.  When this has come up in the past, we have signed a credit card guarantee of a few thousand dollars which was kept as a pending charge.  Budget went ahead and posted it immediately to our credit card bill.  Because we were keeping the car beyond the next billing period closing date, we had to pay the guarantee!  When we turned in the car at Dublin airport, we then went inside to the Budget office to get an offsetting credit.  This was immediately done, except several days passed before the credit showed up on our account ledger.  Annoying, but all's well that ends well.  But if you are renting a car, do watch out for this.

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