Returning home from Ireland was like returning from a different world. A world where the hills are always green, and the people are always kind. A world where a pint and a conversation were always within reach. I knew I would love this country, but I don’t think I was prepared for how much I would love it. The land, its people, everything was wonderful. Because there is so much to say about the trip, I’ve split this blog into a few posts. This is the first of the set.
Our trip to Ireland actually started in New York. We had a bit of time to spend in the city, so we took advantage of that. Here’s the breakdown of our time in New York, and our first day in Ireland.
Thursday, March 16th
Kyle and I set our alarms for 3:30 a.m., which is about as terrible as it sounds. Chris and Kayla picked us up and we headed to the Charleston airport for our 6 a.m. flight to New York. After we landed, we heard that Joe Biden was on our flight, and I’m forever sad that I didn’t see him!
We got to our hotel around 1 p.m., and had lunch at a little hole in the wall place across from our hotel called The Burrito Box. We just needed something fast to get going with our day. We visited the American Museum of Natural History, and were there for nearly 3 hours. None of us had ever been there, which is crazy since Kyle and I have been to New York several times. I specifically loved the mineral section of the museum, and got to look at incredible amethysts and crystals. We also visited a presentation about space, and all four of us fell asleep in the dark theater. Oops!
Later we had dinner at Joanne, the Italian restaurant owned by Lady Gaga’s parents. We didn’t see Gaga, but I definitely saw her mom there working. The food was delicious and the restaurant was perfect cozy after a chilly day in the city. We all crashed pretty hard by like 10, because we’d been up and traveling for so many hours.
Friday, March 17th
After sleeping in a little, we all headed to breakfast at French Roast, one of my favorite spots in New York. The vibe is wonderful, and the food is delicious. We also visited Greenwich Letterpress, another favorite place in the city, and walked around Greenwich Village for a while.
We went to the 9/11 Memorial, as well, which Kayla and Chris hadn’t seen. This place always makes me emotional, and I was glad we made time to stop there on our trip. Next, we visited the new Oculus train station, which is huge and full of shops as well. It is truly a beautiful piece of architecture, and Chris wanted to take some film photos of it while in town. We grabbed a juice at Juice Press for a little pick-me-up, and then headed to The High Line, which is essentially an urban park above ground. It’s near Chelsea Market, so we stopped there and at Whole Foods to get snacks for our upcoming long plane ride.
After grabbing our bags from storage at the hotel, we headed to the subway to head toward JFK. Taking luggage on a crowded subway, and then the AirTrain was the worst. Thankfully, we all packed pretty light, but it was nonetheless pretty terrible. A man who was either wasted or just exhausted was literally falling asleep standing up and leaning on me, so there’s that. Fun times. BUT – we survived! Although our bodies were super sore from carrying those bags for so long.
We had a boring dinner at the airport and boarded for Ireland around 9 p.m. None of us really got much sleep on the plane. I watched some of Titanic on the TV screen, and tried to nap. I drank some wine, but that didn’t really help me sleep either. My back was just in so much pain after carrying the bags so far and being stuck on a plane for so long, that I just couldn’t get comfortable really. But I suppose that’s a part of traveling and a sacrifice you have to make if you want to see the world.
Saturday, March 18th
This day actually still feels like it was Friday, because we didn’t sleep. It all starts to run together when you’re awake for so long.
We landed in Dublin around 7:30 a.m. their time, which was 3:30 a.m. in the US. Once in Dublin, we had to get our rental car taken care of, but we actually just took a cab into the city to avoid having to park, which was the suggestion of the people there. Just through the first few minutes of being here, it was clear that these people are among the nicest I have ever encountered in my life.
Once into the city, we walked around Trinity College. The line for the Library was very long, since it was Saturday, and it was raining, so we actually didn’t get to go in there, which I’m a little sad about. But that just means I have to go back! The grounds were completely perfect, though, so I was happy to just be there.
Because we arrived on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, everyone was partying it up. All the pubs were hopping by noon. We had brunch at Boxty, which was actually a pretty “American-ized” place, but it was good and Kyle and I ordered our first Irish drinks there.
We shopped around a bit, even though we all felt dead on our feet. We got coffee and chocolates at a little corner shop in town, which were nice pick-me-ups for our long day of travel. We grabbed a cab after getting these coffees, and our driver was so forlorn that he didn’t have a coffee of his own, that he literally pulled over by a cafe, stopped the meter from running, and got out of the car to get a coffee of his own. It was hysterical and he was a crazy driver, but I loved it.
After getting our rental car, we drove to Kilkenny for our first hotel stay. Yes, they drive on the opposite side of the road, and use a LOT of roundabouts, rather than stop lights. So driving was a bit of an adventure throughout the whole trip, but thankfully, we lived.
We had been awake and traveling for so long, it’s a miracle we were even living at this point. I finally got to take a shower in Kilkenny, and I could have cried it felt so good.
We got cleaned up and headed to a European fusion restaurant called Petronella. It was hidden down a little side street, called the Butter Slip, and a really wonderful environment. The best thing about this restaurant, though, was the owner, Frank. This man was a chubby, kind-faced Irishman who reminded me of Neville Longbottom if he was in retirement from magic. He was jovial, kind, and endearing. We were all smitten with Frank, and talked about him fondly for the rest of the trip. “I wonder what Frank is doing?” we’d say.
The food could have been shit there, and we still would have loved meeting Frank. But thankfully, the food was great, too. Frank very excitedly promised to tell us the history of the building, but got distracted and never finished the story. Luckily, the internet exists and I found this little bit of history.
When we checked out at dinner, we asked Frank for a recommendation for a local pub, and he not only gave us a name, he walked outside to the street with us and showed us the way. He suggested Andrew Ryan, and it was a perfect first pub stop. It wasn’t touristy at all, so I would venture to say we were the only ones in there who weren’t locals, which I LOVED. I don’t want to feel like a tourist ever, so this was perfect. Kyle and I finally had our first official Guinness and we played checkers at the table with Chris and Kayla.
When we arrived back to the hotel around midnight, we had been traveling and awake for 36 hours. That’s a real number. So needless to say we all crashed hard that night.
To be continued.
The second part of the trip will follow in another blog later this week, which will cover the rest of our time in Kilkenny and part of our time in Galway.