Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, my Ireland trip is gone with the wind.
Early Sunday morning, I began checking in online for my DC/Dulles to Dublin flight, and saw the dreaded status “CANCEL”. Surely not. Only light rain and breeze were forecast for the Washington, DC area Sunday night, and Sandy’s ETA wasn’t until Monday. Ah well…
Faster than forked lightning, I searched United’s website to re-book for Monday. No luck of the Irish, so I checked Tuesday, or even Wednesday, but all Washington to Dublin flights were cancelled. I phoned the number posted for help with my (international) reservation, while I continued my online search of other airlines.
I held for almost an hour before a human being answered. Begorrah! However, agent Jyoti informed me that she could handle only domestic reservations. Domestic? Jyoti switched me to international reservations, where the estimated hold time was 60 minutes.
Trying not to slam down the receiver, I continued my internet search. Score! Delta DC-Dublin Sunday eve — for a wee $7,029. On the positive (or negative) side, the JFK connection would probably get cancelled as soon as I arrived, and I’d be stranded at the airport.
Four hours and 10 minutes before my scheduled departure, I received a robo-call that my United flight had been cancelled. No news’s good news, but this was no news at all, and obviously wasn’t good.
Moving on to Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, all possibilities on all airlines for all feasible routes were sold out. My Ireland trip, and my patience, were shot. Boo hoo and boo hiss.
But one boon was having a travel agent help with the research — and the refund. Yes, I could’ve left it all up to him, but no, that’s not my way. Alan is getting me a full refund for airfare!
That old tune “Pack Up All Your Cares and Woes” came to mind as I unpacked. Packing is drudgery enough, but not having had to pack at all — and then having to unpack…
My main destination had been Ireland’s Wexford Festival Opera, renowned for offering rare operas and extraordinary talent. I was especially eager to see two soaring US stars, whom I had reviewed in “Hamlet” at the Washington National Opera in 2010.
For his Wexford Opera debut, baritone Liam Bonner — wearing a Speedo emblazoned with a French flag — sang the title role in “Le Roi malgré lui” (“The King in Spite of Himself” a.k.a. “The Reluctant King”), directed by Thaddeus Strassberger. The 1884 comedy was composed by Emmanuel Chabrier.
In spite of myself, reluctantly, the force of destiny kept me from getting there for their October 31 performance. I was not to be the flying Dutchwoman or the flying mouse.
It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings, but she’d just sung, and ‘t ‘wasn’t the “Triumphal March”.
A friend had given me a gift of five nights at Whites of Wexford Hotel, plus tickets to the festival’s other two full-length operas, “L’Arlesiana” by Francesco Cilèa, and Frederick Delius’ “A Village Romeo and Juliet”, and short operas including “A Dinner Engagement” by Lennox Berkeley… Opera is indeed filled with tragedy.
I regret missing an opportunity for Whites Fitness & Cryo club’s Fish Pedicure, in which Garra Rufa fish sorta suck away dead skin. The treatment seemed an apt treat for Halloween.
From the ancient fishing village of Wexford, I was scheduled to continue to Dublin, where The Westin Dublin had offered me a night in one of their rooms dedicated to great Irish writers. The nine newly refurbished rooms honor, among others, Jonathan Swift, Sean O’Casey, John Millington Synge, and Bram Stoker.
Staying in the Stoker might be a bit scary, so close to Halloween. Dubrow does Dracula…
Or maybe I missed staying in the Synge room. Playwright of “The Playboy of the Western World”, Synge was anything but a playboy in Edwardian Dublin. However, the celebrated writer had a forbidden, tempestuous love affair with a teen-aged actress in the last years of his life. Read all about it in “Ghost Light”, or my review of that gorgeous recent novel by Irish writer Joseph O’Connor.
Oh, if only I could’ve stayed in the O’Casey room. I continue trying to follow his advice to writers, not to be “afraid of life’s full-throated shouting, afraid of its venom, suspicious of its gentleness, its valor, its pain and its rowdiness.”
Writer of “The Plough and the Stars”, “Juno and the Paycock”, and other internationally celebrated plays, O’Casey lived in exile, like so many other renowned Irish writers.
Ironic that I might’ve stayed in the Swift room. Gulliver traveled, unlike me — this time.
I will travel to Ireland one day, in spite of storms and other rowdiness of life. Meanwhile, I’ll console myself with “The Tempest”, composed and conducted by Thomas Adès, in the Met Opera Live HD broadcast November 10.
More important, I remained safe, as did my family and friends. My heart goes out to those who have suffered real loss in the storm.