Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sticker Shock in the Emerald Isle

So, other than the sticker shock with $8 soups, here’s a run down of the other shocking prices:

Taxis starts at £3.00
Appetizers are about £4.95
Entrees are about £14.00
A simple rain coat cost £70.00
A linen bag for groceries is £12.00

The exchange rate is about 1 USD to £2.00

Monday, October 6, 2008

Spending pounds in the Emerald Isle

I suppose I should have better checked the weather before I left. I was thinking that the weather should not be too different than Chicago. Of course, now I realize that Northern Ireland is a little further north than Chicago. I didn’t pack an umbrella or a sweater. I did have my sport coat and I could have sworn that I packed my rain jacket. In any case, it rained almost every day while in Ireland and it was much colder – hovering around high 40’s to low 50’s. I had my sport coat on everyday and for the most part, it was sufficient since it was just a short taxi ride to the office. However, the sport coat was not enough for Saturday. It started raining on Friday night and lasted well into Saturday. I decided to take a walk and I was drenched through the coat and all about 15 minutes into the walk. On Saturday, I had to break down and get another rain coat. And what a sticker shock that was when I checked out the prices. The cheapest rain jacket I could find was about £70. That’s $170 USD!!! OMG. That really made me appreciates the shopping scene in the US. Most things are expensive in the UK. We go out to dinner and the prices on the menu seems pretty normal until you remember that you are actually seeing the prices in GBP (£). So, a £4.95 bowl of soup is actually like an $8 bowl of soup in the US. I guess it is possible to eat cheaply but as a visitor without a car, it would be quite difficult to know the cheaper places to go. The front desk at the hotel is no help at all when it comes to asking for restaurant recommendation or anything like that. In fact, my first shock came from the hotel when I had breakfast on Monday morning. The breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn in Belfast charges £18.95 for breakfast alone!!!!!

To the Emerald Isle

Saturday 9/27 to Sunday, 9/28, 2008.

The flight to Belfast was quite enjoyable. It was not as long as the flights to Asia – that’s for sure. I even got upgraded to Business Class at the expense of 15,000 miles but I guess that is what Premier status on United is for. The whole business class experience is quite different than economy. The seats are highly configurable – the incline, the leg rest, the head rest, reading lights, and on and on. United Airlines still really needs to up its antics on their entertainment system as so many airlines are now on the entertainment “on demand” standard. The United Airlines model offers multiple channels on a regulated start schedule. The meals in business class are a totally different experience. The flight attendants actually offer courses starting out with appetizers and salad, entrees and then dessert in three separate trays with real silverware and porcelain plates. Hot towel was served before meals and unlimited alcoholic beverages – not that I drink or anything. I actually got some sleep and rest on the flight and was none too worse for the wear of flying across the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Belfast quite refreshed.

Had heard some horror stories about Heathrow Airport but I guess if you arrive at 5:30 in the morning and that there aren't too many other flights arriving that you should be pretty safe. The airport is quite big and so it took quite a while to get from the terminal where the flight arrive to transfer to the domestic terminal where my connecting flight to Belfast would be. The gate at Heathrow was quite perculiar in that there really wasn't a counter or anything and I started to worry about 20 minutes before the flight departed. Just as I was getting up to go check, the announcement came that the flight was boarding. I guess I am still TYPE A!