Today began with my last opportunity (in a long time) for a traditional Irish breakfast. I will probably miss the black currant jam on soda bread the most. After securing a luggage cart in the hotel foyer, I made the 500 feet trek to the airport lobby. It took quite some time to check in and my bags were so heavy I had to pay extra fees. Strange, since I hadn't purchased much during my stay save about a dozen books -- guess that's where the weight came from.
The flight was delayed three hours because the plane that was slated for our flight had to turn back soon after departing the States and return to Canada. Seems a passenger onboard had a medical emergency. The delay provided me with the opportunity to shop for more books! Unfortunately, the delay caused me (and just about everyone else on the plane) to miss the connecting flight(s) once we landed in Newark. This required us to spend the night (courtesy of Continental) at the Radisson Inn Airport hotel.
Most of the passengers were from Belfast, so on our shuttle bus trip from the airport to the hotel, it seemed as if I were still in Belfast if I just closed my eyes and forgot where I was. (I must confess, I did do just that more than a few times). I found early on in my tenure in the U.K. that Belfast, the city and its people, suited me quite well. Inside of a week, I found that instead of feeling like a "stranger in a strange land", I felt as if I had finally come home after being gone for many years. The weather -- the people -- everything -- seemed more comfortable, more familiar, more "real" than many places I had been/lived over the years. So, I found myself closing my eyes one last time, pushing the reality that I was on a shuttle bus -- (in of all places Newark New Jersey) -- out of my head.
Once we arrived at the Radisson, I lent my phone to several Belfasters so they could call relatives regarding the updated flight plans. Some of their final destinations included Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando -- all of them "vacation hot spots". We spent some time in the hotel lobby while I dispensed tips, tricks and helpful information on how to navigate the U.S. as well as sharing some great spots/attractions available given their final destinations. It was almost as if I were a pseudo-tour guide to this crazy muti-city tour of the States.
In the morning, my $12 voucher covered a breakfast of two eggs, one piece of toast, a small serving of mushrooms, and hot tea. There was just enough left over for a tip! I took the shuttle back to the airport for my flight to Houston, and then on to Tulsa. All in all, it took most of the day to fly from Newark to Tulsa with lay-over time included. Although my body is back in Tulsa, my heart still remains in Belfast.