“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of The Ring.
Travel blogs are always risky business. On the one hand it's a great way to see what a trip is like as it happens. That's why we find ourselves sitting on the couch at some unfortunately early hour transfixed to the Top 25 most expensive cottages on the southern bank of a river we will never visit. If the internet has done anything it has given us the ability to live vicariously through each other.
It can also come across as subtle bragging. "Oh look at the beautiful sunset that I just witnessed from the back of a camel named Jedha" is the kind of things that can turn amazing trip into a few less Christmas presents from our loved ones.
And since I like Christmas, (and more importantly, I like to keep readers happy) this blog will simply be about all the little things worth mentioning that have happened along the way.
Starting Tuesday morning, I'll be on the road to Dublin. This blog will catch you up on the sights and sounds I encounter along the way. There could be short conversations I have with a Penn State fan you might know or little tidbits about Dublin that don't fit into a larger story. Think of this as the deep cut on your iTunes playlist when it comes to Penn State coverage for Week 1 of the James Franklin era.
The current day's updates will run below this introduction and I'll be sure to push out a link on social media when it's needed. (Or you could make this your homepage, how great would that be?)
Either way, thanks for following along now and throughout the season. It should be nothing short of interesting every single week and I hope you'll come along for the ride.
When I first landed in Dublin I wasn't sure what to think. I hadn't seen much of the city, it was raining and I hadn't slept. On Thursday I spent most of the day at practice and getting to and from practice before getting a chance to walk around at night.
But today Penn State didn't have anything going on but a pep rally, an impressive one at that in terms of total numbers. It really looked like "10 or 15 thousand strong" as James Franklin may have said had he seen it (the head man wasn't in attendance.)
So with a little more free time there was a chance to finally see what was going on around town and meet some people. South Dublin is a tourist trap in many ways with all the shops and somewhat super-Irish bars. The farther back you go though, the more tucked away things are and the more each cobblestone street turn you make the more you find.
So maybe Dublin isn't Paris or Rome or a city with all the fancy places to vista that make the cover a coffee book, but it's a beautiful city and there are lots of shops, pubs and little restaurants to explore and find. In a lot of ways it feels like a wild west with each new discovery feeling like you just found a great spot nobody else has.
That being said I found "The Globe" first.
Dublin is a great place.
Everywhere is better when it isn't raining and after a long and soggy afternoon in the host city (and a good night's sleep) it's safe to say things are going well.
The people are great too. My hotel desk has done everything but make my bed for me (that was housekeeping) and I've seen complete strangers stopping to help with directions. Seeing cars drive on the wrong side of the road isn't as weird as having to look the opposite direction when you're trying to cross the street.
Penn State is set to practice in a few short hours in what looks like much nicer weather than yesterday. It's hard to really equate Dublin to an American city in terms of setting but it is a port town even though the ocean is much farther away than downtown proper. Maybe like an inner harbor Baltimore.
I'll just go with nice and friendly.
I haven't been in or around Dublin enough yet to make an accurate assessment of the city but between the clouds, slight rain and grass it's basically like a more historic slightly more depressed version State College. I saw that with love, but my first reaction after getting out of the airport and taking a bus to the hotel was how much it looked like I was driving down 322 on the wrong side of the road.
Penn State practices tonight, we'll have more about that once it happens.
The clock says 8:54 in the morning but it is around 3 am in my head.
Last time we talked I was about to get on q plane and fly to Paris and then fly to Dublin.
And boy do I have a story for you.
Get on the plane and it sits and sits and sits. Turns out there was a medical emergency. Unfortunate, but it also means they have to crawl around inside the cargo area to find luggage. So we leave late. The flight was fine, I played a mini golf game hell bent on never letting you get par on the second hole, talked to the french girl --and her Dad-- next to me and put in a good effort sleeping.
But leaving an airport late only means one thing: missed connections. Having a boarding pass that just says 2E on it turns out to be not much help either. As a matter of fact it took two different people to give me my complete boarding information. One person added a K and another added which of the 45 K-gates it was. Thanks guys.
So I missed my connection.
But in the only positive twist of fate of the past however ,any hours I will still be landing in Dublin before lunch and before the football team thanks to a new --and free-- booking.
To top it all off though, I never planned on being in France for more than an hour, so I never went out of my way to find a French electrical adapter. I have enough adapters for Ireland than you could imagine but nothing for France. This is relevant only because the keyboard I am using has the layout of someone who hit it with a hammer several times and then randomly replaced the letters before he or she was caught.
This might not be the best story, but I wrote it on little sleep and while completing the American Ninja Warrior of typing.
Good news though, the next update will football related, and that is why we are here in the first place
It's time for some driving. Headed to Washington DC to take a late afternoon flight to Paris for a layover. See you in a few hours. Penn State is currently loading up 9,000 individual items and around 20,000 pounds of equipment at the Lasch Building in preparation to ship everything over for the game. My suitcase is much lighter.
The drive was a pretty easy although the drive south through PA is kind of like a perpetual drive to and through Bellefonte. Which is fine because Bellefonte is a nice place, but they don't let you drive very fast for very long. I also learned that you should get a health check before going hunting and that you can also buy camo wedding bands. If only we were to all be that lucky.
Anyway the flight doesn't take off from the good solid ground until a little after 4, but if you'd like to pretend to be a reporter chasing after coaching search rumors I am taking this http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AFR39 I recommend pizza as a companion to the search. Don't worry though, I'm not just pretending to go to Dublin, I just have a layover in Paris at some unspeakable hour in the morning.
A short bit about the flight too, the Airbus A380 is the world's largest passenger airline and a double-decker at that. I however will not be enjoying the benefits of the upper deck though as I --like most of the passengers on the flight-- are in economy class which is the equivalent to the people who got locked in the bottom of the Titanic. Apparently the A380 goes just over 587 MPH at top speed so if we hit an iceberg I like our chances.
That's all for now, time to eat.
*It also turns out that there have only been 138 of the A380 ever made, so here's to that. (Picture here). I don't believe in magic, but this getting off the ground is going to be a close second.