Travel Log: Ireland Trip 2019

Here’s a new goal: I plan to keep a journal of my Ireland trip this year here, on the blog. Partly because I deleted my social media, but still want to keep folks updated, partly because I think it will help with views, and partly because I need to practice writing daily. If I’ve got a place to put daily thoughts where people can follow up and hold me accountable, maybe it will help keep me practicing. I struggle with daily writing and I always, always have. I love writing, but for some reason making time for it every single day never sticks.

I’ve created this page a few days before my vacation in the hopes of holding myself accountable while I’m gone to make this a daily ritual. Please check back for updates every day from September 3rd – September 12th. (=

Day one: flight from DFW to NY spent day with Natalie and saw some New York shit.

On my first day of travel, I arrived at the airport at the ass crack of dawn. Accompanied by one of my all time favorite books, I waited my obligatory two hours after security to board my plane. Two hours is my time table, that’s not a real rule: I love airports and all the weird stuff they make people do, so I like to arrive hella early. I saw yoga, shoeless folks, people talking in all different languages and listening to all types of weird, loud music with no headphones…

Girls in White Dresses is the book I brought. This was my third time reading it and I loved it the most this last time. I plan to leave it somewhere along my route home with a note that says “Free Book! PICK ME UP!” Hopefully someone will love it as much as I do.

So on the three hour flight to NY, I peed three times. Thank goodness for aisle seats because the people next to me slept the whole flight. I nearly finished my book, there’s no time for readers to sleep on planes, people!! My favorite and least favorite part of flying is the take off. When I feel that rumble inside, I know my trip has begun, but also the rumble makes my stomachs drop with fear of the unknown and the possibility of dropping right out of the sky. I’ve mentioned before, but I will briefly mention again how wonderful my new medicine is. This time at take off, I felt nothing but the rumble of the engine deep, deep within me humming with excitement and energy for my latest trip.

Once I arrived, I took an Uber to Natalie’s apartment in the city! Along the drive I was again hit with rush after rush of excitement. I saw so many beautiful buildings and was struck by the architecture of fire escapes. I don’t have one and I highly romanticize the idea of sitting outside, watching the city below. I yearn of a fire escape, I yearn for a place to sit and just be and be above everything, removed enough to watch. At the time time, to be literally part of a building and be so close to the action that it’s tangible.

At Natalie’s apartment, she finished up her day of work and I nearly finished my book! She took me to Little Italy for dinner and I was so excited to be there that I took silly photos of random things to remember. A passerby took pity on me and asked if we’d let her take some photos of us instead of just me. We did and I apologized both to her and Natalie profusely because I’m sure locals of anyplace hate when you come in disrupting their normal, every day streets with your chaotic, uncontainable excitement.

After a huge dinner of wine and some of the tastiest pasta I’ve ever had, we went to a rooftop bar to see the sights. It was breezy and beautiful and I felt so fancy and high on gin and tonics. I was in a lovely new place riding the subway and j-walking like I owned it, (also taking photos as if I’d never seen a brick wall, taxi, plate of spaghetti, or pit bull and never would again.)

Day one was a massive, massive success. I did a few new things alone and a few new things with the gentle hand-holding of my local guide/wonderful friend. I felt part of the heartbeat of a city, but also new enough to truly look around and see all of it. Nothing was escaping me. Not the weird outfits, the music, the street stalls, the trash, the dogs, the roach on the wall. I wanted to see it all! Vacation mode has been activated.

(Please excuse typos and run on sentences, also the photos will be worse than ever! I will edit the spacing better on a computer when I have one! This is a journal for now.)

Day two/ Getting ready to leave and overnight plane ride to Ireland.

I went to sleep my first night in the spare bedroom of Natalie’s apartment. There was no furniture, only an air mattress. There was no air conditioning unit, so I had to open all the windows. Honestly, this was the best part. I looked out onto an adjacent building’s fire escape and an empty alley. I was in heaven. This felt like New York to me; narrow streets, fire escapes, crowded buildings, relentless cars. The sounds were so loud that I couldn’t tell what insect noises were coming from outside and what was coming from my phone as I had outside night sounds on my sleep app. I was surrounded and cocooned by this white noise of crickets and wind.

I woke up with the sun as the window has no blinds. I finished my book in bed and watched my private slice of the city wake up. There were workers next door, sanding a window, I think. It was loud, but also a wonderful noise that made me feel part of the city.

The first thing we did this day was get a bagel and cream cheese. This was the largest and fluffiest bagel I’ve ever had and also the biggest dollop of creamy creamy cheese cheese of my life! If I could eat this bagel each morning, my life would be complete.

A quick trip to bed bath and beyond was next on the list. No matter how prepared I am, there’s always something I miss getting before a trip. With baby powder and vitamin c chewy candy purchased, we set home to pack!

Packing is stressful, but also quite fun. I had everything ready, but I repacked while Natalie packed. We walked with our massive, heavy bags to the bus stop next and set off to the airport.

The airport was the best part of the day. Thanks to our two hour delay, we had time for a sandwich, a candy bar, a cocktail, a perfectly executed Instagram boomerang, some phone charging, some knocking down and dropping of products throughout the convince store, no less than four bathroom breaks, and many a loud laugh due to utter exhaustion and complete delirium. Natalie knocked over a cocktail on the carpet and I sat in it about an hour later. We watched children do a coin trick for about 45 minutes, (the same coin trick) and only nail it a few times. We sat at the gate convinced the flight had left without us because there was no announcement about a delay, just the beginning of boarding calls two hours late. We still have no idea why.

Once in the plane, tears rolled down my face at the mention of a YouTube video in which a man pretends to be confused once his plane takes off. He thinks his plane is a bus and is shocked when it starts flying. We re-enacted his surprise and burst into fits and fits of giggles. Delirium is the best kind of drug, I think. The moments when you have had so little sleep and are so excited for something coming up, that there’s no way to rest or relax until you burst into that waited-for experience.

The whole day was one, big belly laugh. One huge guffaw. One beautiful, crazy moment in time before the adventure really started. We were on the edge of something great and it was tangible.

Day three / Overnight flight and overtired first day in the city.

I slept for basically the entire flight to Ireland. Which is surprising considering there was no legroom and no air conditioning on the plane. I was bundled as could be in two sweaters, a jacket, jeans, boots, and high socks since planes are always, always freezing. My jeans and my boots were too tight and my legs got restless and anxious. However, with my delirium at full blast, I slept for about five hours and arrived in Dublin seemingly only 30 minutes later.

The airport was also horrendous just because they always are! Long lines and tired, cranky folks always make for a shit first few minutes. We made it through and barely made it to our Uber because we were supposed to be picked up at lane 18, but the numbers went from the high twenties, to the teens, to the low twenties, and then from 16, 17, to 19! It was the most confusing line of lanes I have ever seen. Our driver found us, wandering aimlessly among the number 16. We had him take us to a cafe which looked lovely online and so Dublin began!!

First stop: White Moose Cafe. With a doorway that boasts a sign that read, “no assholes” we knew we were in a salty little breakfast nook. After trying the place’s namesake drink and scarfing down pancakes and a full Irish breakfast, all while trying to keep our massive travel bags out of the aisles and legroom of other diners, we attempted to contact another Uber. Natalie’s phone was dying, I don’t use Uber, we had little WiFi anyway, but our Airbnb host said we were to arrive promptly at his apartment at 1:30… do not be late, he said. We were under the wire and stressing. However, taxis are easy to hail and often have very, very lovely drivers. We got one right away and set off for our temporary home.

We were deposited at the double doors of 16 Warrington. Immediately we set about taking pictures of home, while unknown to us, our host watched from inside. I have a photo of me waving and laughing as Natalie tried to lower the camera. It was too late though, we were caught. Our host was super lovely and showed us around the apartment and left us with the keys, a few jokes, and his goodwill. We set out to explore soon after.

Food is always the first thing one must do, but since we just had brunch, we went shopping for food instead. Wine and cheese are a girl’s best friend and some creamer for morning coffee too. We needed a converter as well though. Word from the wise, check very closely your converters. We bought one for Europe in NY, but got here and realized we needed and Ireland one specifically.

Real food was next and we googled a place close by. Walking around a new city is so exciting to me. I love to try and learn the layout and street names and bus patterns. We walked to dinner in chilly weather at dusk and it was mesmerizing. Dinner was supposed to be at one place, but upon arrival there were way too many people out front. We picked the next place, which turned out better anyway. Another word from the wise, this is the best part of vacation. Plan B always turns out better than Plan A. Go with the flow and the possibilities are endless. Rigid travel plans make certain you see what you want, but fluid travel plans make for low stress and surprises every day which in my experience turn out more magical anyway.

Dinner was phenomenal. Like truly. We were in a proper Irish pub with a football game on television and real people there after their real jobs just hanging out. Fish and chips is of course what we ordered and also the buffalo chicken spring roll. Which turned out to be one massive loaf of a roll. The fish and chips though, best we’ve ever had. Watching the game we wanted to cheer and be part of some excitement. No one scored while we ate though. We will try to find another game soon in the hopes of cheering on Ireland against all competitors!

The full bellies were walked home and the rest of the night was spent killing our bottle of wine and eating all our cheese. More delirious laughs were had from bad plane sleep and immediate bustling about once landed. First real day down. Ready for more!

Day Four: Lay of the land and random tours.

We awoke super duper late on our first full day in Dublin. Staying up until 2 a.m. drinking a bottle of wine after a day of travel and no sleep was not our brightest idea. No matter, having absolutely zero plans makes for an easy vacation, so we just set out when ready to a cute little breakfast place called High Nelly’s.

We didn’t know it was a Christmas-themed restaurant, but that only served to sweeten the pot. I sat down and asked for porridge only to be told by our server that it was a little late for that meal. Who knew coming from America and our all-day-breakfast/breakfast-for-dinner obsession that it could ever be too late for some oatmeal? Ultimately, I was gifted the gift of sweet, brown sugar and raisin-flavored porridge and Natalie had something akin to a full Irish breakfast. We sat for a while trying to figure out how to pay. Europe is different like that. The point of restaurants is not to turn over tables fast and make big tips. It’s to hang out and eat and enjoy food and company. Waiters don’t drop off checks ever or until asked. And sometimes you don’t even pay at the table. So we sat, paralyzed and embarrassed about ordering breakfast too late to admit confusion surrounding how to finish out our meal. Table after table got up and seemed not to pay at all. So we waited and watched some more until we finally spotted a couple at a hidden register. We walked over, paid, and walked out to continue the day!

Our first stop was a surprise museum called The Little Museum of Dublin. It was a 30 minute tour through two rooms filled to the brim with lovely artifacts from Irish history. Too many things to even remember or try to name, the walls were an overwhelming assortment of photos and knick knacks. There was a loud and lovely man who took us through 1,000 years of Irish history and pointed out seemingly random items on the wall to talk through big points in the country’s lifetime. It was really the best way to jump-start our stay in the country. I am so glad we didn’t have a plan and stumbled upon this museum at the very beginning. I probably would not have ever planned a trip to a 30 minute museum that’s only two rooms. But it ended up being a truly wonderful and charming experience.

Haunted places around Dublin are something of great interest to us, so the night prior we had looked up the scariest places in Dublin. Among them was a church with the full congregation buried underneath, Dublin castle, and a jail where many political prisoners were held and a few were even executed. Unconcerned about which site we visited first, we simply set out in the direction of all of them. Dublin Castle appeared in our path first, so we ventured inside. Guided tours were available and we were 9 minutes before the very last one of the day. A quick ticket purchase was secured and we headed off to the underground ruins of the original castle structure. We got another history lesson, similar to the one from the small Dublin museum, which was very nice because hearing many of the same facts again solidified them in my memory and I had an easier time following the tour.

The ruins were my favorite part for the history, but inside the castle as it stands now was amazing because of the silliness that ensued. We were in a functioning castle for goodness-sake, and we are not castle people. We pretended to sit on the clearly roped off throne, I took “sexy” pictures on a couch in a sitting area, we took mirror selfies and pretended to fix our long ball room gowns (jackets tied around waists) in the gilded mirrors. Perhaps our antics would have gotten us kicked off a guided tour, thank goodness our tour guide left us to explore ourselves once in the modern part of the castle.

After this, we got an amazing, amazing dinner of bangers and mash and garlic bread. The best food I’ve eaten in a long, long time. Natalie did feel a little under the weather nearing the end of the day, so we visited a clinic for a check in and some medicine. The doctor very kindly took us to an exam room and did a quick, visual strep screening. Sending us on our way with a clean bill of health, we hopped around shop after shop on this busy evening in the city.

It was a perfect full day and though we promised to go to bed earlier than last night, we still stayed up very late giggling. #vacationmode

 

Day Five: Bouncing around day.

This day we woke up to a sad surprise. Natalie had gotten sick. Sore throat, tired and achy body and no energy. She soldiered on and we went out and about. Our first stop was a wonderful breakfast cafe called Lemon Jelly. I, of course, got lemon crepes here, and as the name would suggest, they were divine. We had good coffee too and lots of fun taking pictures.

The best part of brunch though was the random running, tackling, and yelling that we saw when a man tried to steal beer from a near by shop. We heard the running, turned just in time to see the rugby tackle, and then watched full on and the shop owner slapped the thief silly! He was clearly still drunk and kept shouting, “Why you giving me slaps!?!” It was over pretty quickly and all the onlookers nodded their approval to the store owner and we collectively chuckled. For the rest of the trip, one of us would say, “Why you giving me slaps/any other word?!?”

My sick companion needed more rest than just brunch, so we immediately stopped for coffee at Insomnia, a chain we had been meaning to try every time we passed one. What better opportunity than a much needed pit stop? insomnia is lovely and it was the first place to have Natalie’s sought after iced coffee.

After this we did some general sight-seeing and passed some beautiful bridges which we struggled to take photos on, a gorgeous bookshop in which we spent all our time joking and not any time reading. There were some historical sights like the post office where you can still see bullet holes in the columns from the rebel uprising! We also got our first rolling donut. This was pretty much the only thing we went to Ireland knowing we wanted to get. They did not disappoint. Caution to would be rolling donut eaters, each donut is five euros.

We had a delicious dinner of pizza, (pizza, right???) on the canal where our home was. This was some of the best food we had so far. Not a single meal was bad, but man, can they do pizza! We were chilly and bundled and again, took silly photos for no reason other than the joy of being silly.

Speaking of being silly.. on the way home we sang songs to an Irish drinking tune, stole lavender from a garden, and pretended to be statues on the sidewalk. I was scream-laughing, which we call my Julia Roberts laugh the whole walk home. We decided to stop being childish and try to be adults by doing some laundry. This proved EXTREMELY difficult because the washer was like nothing we’d ever seen. It was back in the corner and we barely got it open. Then there was a cage inside and we couldn’t open it. Then it wouldn’t turn on. We bought fabric softener instead of detergent earlier in the day. It was a mess. We did figure it out, but I’m not sure how clean our clothes really were after that.

We ended the day with more cheese and crackers and Natalie braiding my hair.

Day six / bus tour and colorful doors, then a park!

Today we embarked on our bus tour of Dublin. Though we’ve been walking around for a few days and know the location of everything we want to visit, the bus proved a fantastic way to gain deeper knowledge of Dublin. Though nerdy and extremely touristy, the ‘hop on hop off’ bus idea is fantastic. There’s no way to blend in and pretend to be a local while on a huge, green bus; which I find embarrassing – (although no one is a local anywhere they travel and that’s not embarrassing in and of itself.) I just like to blend and become part of a city. However, this tour was particularly enjoyable!

We waited for about 15 minutes at the wrong bus stop, which turned out to be fantastic! We waited on one side of a rectangular park while we unknowingly needed to be at the opposite side. This day at the park, local art was strung on all sides. We walked up and down waiting for our bus and looked at beautiful watercolor paintings, glass work, pebble work, and acrylic. When we realized we needed to wait elsewhere, we walked along two more sides of the park which also held art on all the fences.

Of course, one on the bus, we sat at the top so we could see better. The wind was in our faces and the day was so cool and chilly. It was a beautiful ride through the best streets of Dublin. Many a times I closed my eyes to better feel the air run over my face and the sounds float up and past my head. Each rider is given a headset and the ability to listen to the tour guide describe the history of the streets traveled down. At any point riders hop off and can explore wherever they are. We willy-nilly hopped off at the train station to but a ticket for the next day to Galway. Then we ran to hop back on to the next bus of the tour, almost missing him as he pulled away.

The tour is great because we not only hopped off unexpectedly, but also took notes of places we wanted to go back. Once on from the train station, we rode the tour in full until we were back to where we had taken note to get off. The hunt for wool gifts was on and we were in dire need of a shop. We hopped off at a shopping district and tried in vain to find the sheep stuff. We failed, but we did find amazing bangers and mash and some rolling donuts!! So the night was not in vain.

Also making the evening one for the books was our visit to the colorful doors. We took loads and loads of photos by the famous doors. People laughed at how touristy we were, we laughed at how touristy we were, but mostly we laughed in complete joy and silliness.

Thinking the evening was over we set off for home, only to see a beautiful park and detour inside. Here we took portrait photos of pigeons and swans while singing to them. The landscaping was perfect and we toiled away on the paths and grasses until the police finally kicked us out. This truly was the end of the evening and we finally turned in for the night.

Day seven / Galway Day

Today was our day trip to Galway! We wanted to catch the 730am train to the other side of the island, but as is the custom on this trip, we took it easy and slept in. We did get the 935am train and that worked out better anyway. Again, as is usual with our plan b. Insomnia coffee was our first stop so we could get our morning pep and be better able to find our way to the train station. We got there on a tour bus the day prior, but had no idea how to get there by city transit or walking. Luckily, we were nearly run over by the very bus that would take us there. We settled on walking a bit of the way and then hailing a taxi, but we just magically passed a bus stop as a bus for the train station was pulling in. We finally figured out this bus thing!

Once at the train station, we got some snacks and headed onto the train. We did run to the train, because we were cutting it close. No idea how close, but as we were finding seats and still standing up, the train pulled away!!! The ride was beautiful and I alternated reading my romance novel and trying to get slow motion videos of the scenery. Everything f was green and beautiful and there were so many sheep. (:

Two hours later, we were in another world. It hadn’t rain the whole time we had been in the country, but the second we stepped off the train, it poured. Soaked to the bone we took our second jog of the day into another coffee shop. We sat by a huge window upstairs drinking coffee and tea and watched the rain pass. Feeling the ocean breeze was the first think on the bucket list once the sky was clear.

We walked forever to get to the sea. Past beautiful houses and rock shores. I sat on the grass near a mini cliff and let the beauty sink in. I wasn’t even at the beach yet, just a dock really. Still lovely. As is everything while on vacation. We stopped at a tiny house for lunch and had literally the best buttered bread I have ever had. Along with mulled wine and tomato soup. The perfect meal for a cold and rainy day at the beach. There was a pumpkin in a chair for reasons unknown, but the whole place was charming and delightful.

We walked more and more around curves and crevices trying to find the way to open water. A playground came into view and distracted us for about an hour. Children we turned into, as we swung and jumped off the swings over and over. Swinging with the ocean in full view is a beautiful feeling that can not be overstated. I felt very much like what I imagine a seagull feels.

All the jostling of bodies made for the instant need to pee. There was no more time for ocean research. So with our third run/walk of the day we hurried back into town to find a potty. A bakery served as stop over and refuel in one with a much needed pee and a macaroon. Not at the same time. Since we were here, we decided it was time to shop. Woolen gifts were still required, so that was our aim. Great success was had not only there, but at various book and candy stores and my usual test drive of foreign McDonald’s. It’s always better in Europe. That’s a fact.

The day in Galway was glorious. I wish we could have stayed forever. The beach, the quaint buildings, the slower pace, the wool… my gosh the wool!!! I’d come back here for my next vacation and take a day trip to Dublin.

The train spit us out back on the streets and now we had the problem of getting home. Feeling confident that we’d figured out the bus situation, we stood for a long while under a stop. When the bus arrived, we checked to see if it was going home and were told that bus was on the other side of the street, he was going another way. As the driver said this, we saw our bus across the street pulling away. Embarrassed and rejected, we slumped over to our proper bus stop to await the next round. However, we danced to keep warm and talked about scary movies. Once we studied the bus routes on this side, we really truly think we figured it out. Too late to use it this trip, but so well prepared for next time!!

Last Day // Jail birds and back to the beginning.

This day we woke up a tad too late. Per the usual. Tickets to Kilmainham Gaol jail were burning a hole in our pockets, and we had to be at the jail for a tour at noon.

The plan was initially to walk there .. but with Natalie’s illness rearing it’s head anew, we decided to taxi. Our wallets begged us not to though, so we then settled on walking halfway and hailing a taxi the rest of the way to cut costs. With a later start than our initial late start, we ended up grabbing a quick coffee and hailing a taxi for the whole ride. However, as is the case with our back up plans, this ended up being more magical that we could have predicted. Our driver was an older man, who we have adopted in our heads as our Irish grandfather. He was charming, funny, talked about smoking pot and giggling too much, talked about his home, his wife and so many other amusing things. I just loved him. We joked about booking him for our return trip, because he was one of the best things to happen to us during our stay.

Initially, the jail was of interest to us because it is supposed to be haunted. When we got there though, we were overwhelmed with history, strife, and sadness. This jail housed political prisoners whose main crime was wanting freedom from England. It held thieves and law-breakers during the potato famine who only wanted to feed their families and were willing to steal instead of die. Seemingly every prisoner had a story far beyond just being a bad person. Someone got married in the jail one day before he was executed and a lock of his hair still remains in his wife’s locket inside the museum portion of the jail. The older cells are well-preserved and offer a glimpse into the isolation and darkness prisoners endured. A newer portion of the jail, constructed during a prison reform movement that noted people need light and air in order to be happy and ultimately rehabilitated was also on full display. Walking into the brightly lit main room was like walking out of a movie into the sunlight, but more surreal. My breath left me and I was in awe of the high ceilings and the wash of sunlight that touched the main floor and staircase. The cells here were in little cubes off the main walk, so they were not directly in the light. We were able to walk in and out of them and each time I walked into the main space again, my heart would lift. It was sad and somber, but beautiful like I never imagined.

There was no joking on the tour, there was not rude patrons. We all shuffled along looking into cells, at beds, and at places of execution with heavy hearts. This was not at all what I was expecting, but it was a beautiful experience. Our tour guide told us of the revolutions that took place and once Ireland had it’s independence from England, they started fighting each other about how to handle the independence. Civil War broke out almost immediately. He said that all these men were fighting for literally the same thing. They just wanted to be free… to be happy and Irish. I wanted to weep, but held my tears back. Just barely.

After this, there was really nothing we could do but sit quietly. We went home and reflected and napped, we packed a little bit. We made tea and turned on the television for the first time.What we saw broke my heart in an entirely different way. A show about restoring family artifacts restored my mood and my spirit instantly. There’s a sweet-looking barnyard on a huge area of land where people bring their destroyed and abused family heirlooms for some fixing up. This episode had an old theater chair without fabric or hand rests and broken springs restored perfectly to what it would have looked like when the theater first opened. There was a locket with a woman’s grandparents from WWI which had a broken clasp, bent rings, and no chain. It was polished and reset and I did finally cry with the woman who owned it now, their granddaughter as she witness it restored for the first time. My favorite items were these stuffed dogs that a pilot had with him during the war as his mascots, his good luck charms. One had a broken neck and they were dusty and dirty and windblown beyond recognition. Even they were able to be restored with a bubble bath, a vacuum, and an extremely gentle brush. Natalie and I have made it our mission to have a marathon of this show somehow. I think it could heal many, many hurts to see so much beauty given back to hurt or lonely families.

Since we were now in the twilight hours of our final day, we decided to head back to the first pub we visited for one last fish and chips dinner. It was more quiet tonight than the first night. Less going on, less on tv, less men from work ready for the weekend. Just us in the front room, in a long booth all our own. Natalie’s voice was gone by this time, so we had no choice but to play charades over dinner. This is one of my favorite memories of the trip. I’m sure my constant guffawing could be hear echoing throughout the pub all the way downstairs in the bathrooms. I had a tremendous time and I partly wish we could all lose our voice for a while to constantly communicate with broken, fake sign language and giggles.

 

3 thoughts on “Travel Log: Ireland Trip 2019

  1. Meeeeep!!! I want to read more and more! I think all of your trips should be documented this way.. this is so lovely! My maw maw used to do this same thing in family trips. She would write everything down that happened and the share with the rest of the family when they got back all the funny things and all the twists and turns💕 I love you and I can not wait to read more!!

    Like

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