The last time I'd taken a real vacation was to go to Worldcon in 2007 (Yokohama, with a side trip to Hong Kong). After one year of heading back home for Thanksgiving, then 2 years of "I can't plan any sort of trip because the office is on two-hour call for a trial" which meant I had to work half of Thanksgiving weekend each year and then every day for nearly 3 weeks (2009) and nearly 2 weeks (2010) on the same case, no less, only to have it settle right before trial in 2010, then staycations in 2011 and 2012, I decided I'm getting the heck out of Dodge this year, and planned it six months early.
Friday, November 22, I came in early to the office because we needed to get some legal paperwork out but the paperwork, which was supposed to arrive electronically, didn't. It'd didn't arrive until almost noon, and then I got it out. I had hoped to leave the office at noon, which became 12:45 PM, and then finally I drove home, where my neighbor graciously drove me to the MARTA station to get me to the airport (after literally some last-minute packing that couldn't be done earlier, like insulin).
After checking in at the airport and going through TSA under Sky Priority (10 minutes wait), I headed to the business class lounge where I spent over an hour while texting on the phone, over-eating, drinking a lot of tea, just anxious to get underway. When the time came, the flight was called 10 minutes early and I went to the gate. When I boarded the aircraft, I found the seat was absolutely fantastic. See, I was flying business class (saved the miles for the trip) and it was something similar in concept (though not in appearance) to L'Espace Affaires that I flew in on the Air France legs of the 2007 Worldcon trip. After takeoff, I took the time to recharge all electronics, eat some really good food (pictures available) and not sleep. It was an 8-hour flight to Dublin, and was just shy of 7:00 AM when I landed (only to discover I didn't put my travel alarm clock in the luggage). I had to find a taxi to get to the hotel (because the hotel doesn't have a shuttle service - it's a small hotel) and get there at 8:00 AM. I had figured I wouldn't be able to check in as check-in time was supposedly way later, but was able to with no problem. I got a shower, found some of the people I would be meeting up with for the day's activities, had a cup of tea (since I'd eaten on the plane), then met up a bit later and took the bus into town for the day's recording session of two episodes of Star Trek Grissom, where I play "Dr. Michael Liebmann, Ph.D."
The recording session went very well. I was up first and what had been allotted for 30 minutes took 35 minutes. It was then several more hours of other people recording their lines from the 2 scripts, and I noticed I was starting to majorly fade. By the time we walked to dinner, I'd already been up something like 30 hours with no sleep (couldn't sleep on the plane). We went to a Vietnamese restaurant our esteemed Dublin host had recommended, ate a HUGE bowl of chicken pho, and then asked that someone who was staying at the same hotel help me make sure I got back there so I could get some sleep which, it turns out, didn't happen for several hours because I suffered a hypoglycemic attack (thank goodness for glucose tablets). Half an hour after taking them, I was fast asleep.
Sunday morning, I woke up refreshed, had breakfast with those cast members who were staying at the same hotel as me (by the way, if you're willing to stay a bit outside of downtown Dublin, stay at this hotel!) and, after a bit of time making sure all was OK with my stuff, took a taxi back to Dublin Airport so that I could get the bus which would take me to downtown Belfast, my ultimate destination. Since I don't usually travel by bus, I had no idea until I got on that Greyhound-equivalent buses now have WiFi on them, and I was able to check e-mail and stuff on the bus while traveling. Once I crossed the border from Ireland into Northern Ireland, my phone suddenly started to work (I'd gotten an O2 Northern Ireland SIM card to use in my world phone, but wasn't about to pay $2 a minute for roaming charges - I should've gotten a SIM card from Tesco in Ireland instead - next time, I'll know). I waited about half an hour at Europa Buscentre for my host, another gentleman named "Michael Liebmann," to pick me up and take me to his home. He's an actor, a voice actor, and has a voice-over agency. He's originally from Dublin and has lived in the Bronx (brave soul, he), but he lives in Belfast now. He has a house which seemed like a townhouse in size, but it wasn't a townhouse as I'm familiar with the concept in the US. We did quite a bit of talking. It also turns out he's letting out his second bedroom to an actor named Richard who's not from Belfast but who's working in the area. For the week, I saw very little of him as he had a gig down in Armagh, where he is participating in pantomime, which has a different concept there as opposed to what it is here.
Monday morning, I walked to the Tesco about .7 miles from where I was staying and got a new Tesco SIM card, which turned out to be a stroke of luck since it ended up costing me less for phone rates using it than the O2 card I'd bought on ebay. Monday was a day to take it easy and get acclimated to the area where I was staying until Friday.