It always takes me a little while to “shift gears” when I return home even from a short trip, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been feeling a bit muddled since returning yesterday from my trip to Ireland. I suspect I’ll be feeling the effects of jet lag for at least a couple more days, but I don’t mind. The trip was more than worth it.
This was the first international trip my husband and I have been on that wasn’t organized by someone else, and we were a bit nervous about how everything would go. (Even for domestic flights, we print multiple copies of our boarding passes and tend to show them to every airline staffer we see “just to make sure everything is okay.” One of these days, someone is probably going to lose patience with us and reassign us to permanent seats in the lavatories.) For our Ireland trip, we not only had a long international flight, but we were also traveling around the country by train and had made our own hotel reservations on-line. That’s a huge step for a couple of “nervous travelers” (paranoid travelers) such as my husband and me.
Amazingly, everything went off without a hitch. We visited Kilkenny, Dublin (where we stayed with a good friend who is temporarily living there) and Galway. We used the Irish Rail system to get to each town, and since we stayed in the city centers of Kilkenny and Galway, we were able to walk to almost everything we wanted to see. While in Galway, we booked a day trip to the Connemara area on one of those huge tour busses. How the driver managed to maneuver it down the narrow country lanes, I’ll never know, but he did it expertly, stopping every now and then to let a sheep or two get safely across the road.
Almost everyone we ran in to was both pleasant and helpful, directing us when we made a wrong turn or answering our questions cheerfully. The food in both the pubs and restaurants was delicious, although I was a little taken back when I first saw the baked beans on the breakfast buffet. And after a long day of enjoying the sights, it was fun to sit in a real Irish pub, sipping wine (I know, but I just don’t like beer, ale or lagers) and listening to music. The authentic Irish music was very good, but my favorite performer was the young man with a terrific voice who sang a huge variety of songs. Trust me, you haven’t really heard Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line” until you’ve heard it sung in an Irish accent, with many of the locals singing along.
This trip was a first in many ways. It was my first (but hopefully, not my last) trip to Ireland. It was the first time I have depended on a train to travel from one city to another. It was the first time I saw sheep sporting big dabs of neon paint, used to distinguish which sheep belong to which farm. It was the first time I rode a horse English style, which is something I have always wanted to do. I don’t think I was particularly good at it, but the guide was helpful and the horse was patient, so it all worked out. We even trotted through a rather busy roundabout on our way to the park, which was a definite first for me.
It may sound odd, but both my husband and I are feeling a bit proud of ourselves right now, having stepped out of our comfort zone and still managing to achieve a certain level of success. And who knows? Maybe the next time we fly somewhere, we’ll be daring and head to the airport with only one copy of our boarding passes.