We woke up early on Independence Day, were greeted by the usual brilliant blue skies and bright sunshine☀️, and started getting ready for our day in the Irish countryside. I was happily sipping coffee a little before 7:00 when the phone rang. The phone ringing that early is never good, and when I looked and saw it was the lead sister from the Fab Four I got a sick feeling in my stomach.
To make a long story short, the lead sister thought she “might” be coming down with something, so she was going to stay back. It gets better…her husband was also going to stay back to take care of her. I did some quick calculations in my head and figured the cost wouldn’t be too bad with three couples. I told her I hoped she felt better and we’d see sister #2 and her hubby at 7:45. It gets better…sister #1 said sister #2 wouldn’t go anyplace without her! In other words, a 60 year old woman refused to go on a tour she was obligated to because her sister thought she might be getting a cold!😳 I was furious! For starters, even if they decided not to go, they should have still paid. You can’t drop out of a tour less than an hour before departure and completely shrug off your obligations! Secondly, I had said no to lots of people for the tour because we were full. To have four spots go unused at the last minute really bothered me. Even though it cost us a lot more (€225 per couple instead of €112.50), I was angriest about their total lack of consideration in not letting me know until it was too late to find anybody to fill the spots.
My gut feelings about Fab Four from the day before were right. I now think they missed the Meet & Greet on purpose, because I don’t think they made name tags for 80+ people. I think they just made a few as they went along for the people they knew they would see. To top it all off…they did this again to another group a few days later. Just incredible. I’ve planned excursions with strangers for years and I have NEVER had anybody completely dump on their fellow roll call passengers like this.
I really enjoy the trip planning process, including finding and booking great tours. This experience has made me a little more cautious. I don’t want to handle other people’s money, but maybe I’ll have to look for companies that will take payments in advance directly from the participants. Tuesday was paid in advance, and the Fab Four showed up. Wednesday and the other private tour they skipped out on were “pay the day of” and they backed out. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I can tell you that if they ever showed up on another roll call I’m on I would run as fast as I could.
The AWOL couples aside, we had a FANTASTIC day with our Beautiful Meath driver, Martin. The trip was an excellent choice, and since there were only four of us (me, Jim, Bob, and Cathy) we had plenty of room to spread out!😂 We started with a drive out of Dublin through the Wicklow Mountains, where we saw the rolling hills of Ireland, Guinness Lake with its black water, and lots of wildlife.
You could tell how little rain they’ve had, because the views weren’t nearly as green as I expected. In fact, Martin said they had been having some trouble with wildfires in the gorse. Some tours had needed to be rerouted, but we were lucky and everything went as planned.
Our second stop was at Glendalough — probably my favorite stop of the day. Glendalough is the site of the remains of an early Medieval Monastic settlement in a beautiful valley. I really like old cemeteries, and this one was a great one!
Hunger was setting in by this time, so we went to our next stop, Avoca Weavers. In addition to the mill and gift shop, they have a small café with a selection of hot and cold sandwiches and salads. These cafe and food pictures are from the Avoca website:
The weaving facility originally started out as a cooperative for area farmers in the 1700s. They could grind their corn and spin and weave wool for clothing. Today, Avoca produces fine woven products, ceramics, and gourmet food in 12 locations in Ireland. Our tour through the weaving facility was very interesting, and of course we couldn’t resist a trip to the gift shop! The products were beautiful, but a lot of it was way too heavy for Houston. Cathy and I both chose brightly colored scarves with sheep on them, to remind us of all the sheep we saw driving through the Wicklow Mountains.
Our final stop of the day was at Powerscourt Estate. The gardens were beautifully laid out, and reminded me a little bit of Peterhof with the terraces and fountains. Unfortunately, you could really see the effects of the drought…the grass was brown! We strolled through the flowers but probably didn’t stay as long as we would have if the dry weather hadn’t had such an effect on the site.
Back at the ship, we got cleaned up and met Deedee and Chip at Crooners for some refreshments before dinner.
While we were sitting there lo and behold who walked by looking perfectly healthy but the sisters! They were all decked out in Flashy-Blinky 4th of July shirts, and appeared to be headed to the blow-out sale on Deck 7! I thought the most ridiculous thing was sister #1 saw me, pretended she hadn’t seen me, and then grabbed sister #2 and steered her away from the area where we were sitting. It was just like junior high! I hope they had fun at the junk sale and bought lots of worthless things with all the money they saved skipping out on the tour!🙄
We ate in the dining room again, and had a nice, relaxing meal. It was pretty late when we finished dinner, and I spent a little time in the casino before I called it a day. We had great plans for Belfast and the coast of Northern Ireland, but that also meant another early start to our touring day.