Ireland! And London!

I think I’m heading slowly toward a blogging break, just like I was last year at this time. Maybe it will become a yearly April/May/into the summer thing? I’m riding more, I’m busy at work, and I don’t want to give up reading time. So posting might slow around here a bit. This year things are complicated by the fact that I’m leaving for Ireland in the middle of May and won’t return until a week into June. I’ll have internet access while I’m gone, at least part of the time, but I’ll have to steal Hobgoblin’s laptop away from him if I want to get online, as I don’t see the point of hauling my own around. So, blogging break.

And yes, I’m very excited about Ireland and our week in London afterward. Our plans are slowing coming into place, such as they are. Fortunately, Hobgoblin and I travel in a similar way, which is to say, we don’t make detailed plans. We both like to show up some place and figure things out from there, if possible by throwing our things in the hotel and setting off on foot. This sometimes backfires (we’ve ended up walking into the wrong part of town before), but mostly it’s fun and a good way to get our bearings in a new place. We did buy some travel guides, but we haven’t opened them yet. The plane trip is a good time to read over travel guides, I think.

We will probably buy some theater tickets, but other than that, I can’t bear to make any decisions. My problem with planning, I think, is that it makes the time away feel limited and too short. I don’t want to know what I’m doing every day, or even what I’m going to do at all, because I want to keep the illusion that the vacation will be endless and we will have time for everything. So why plan? We’ll get to it all eventually.

I don’t think I’ve written about why we are going. Up until this point in our lives, Hobgoblin and I have not been able to/not been the type to take off to Europe for a vacation — and we still aren’t, really. We are taking this trip because Hobgoblin will be teaching a two-week course in old Irish literature (that’s all I know about it — something about myths and legends — it’s a class I need to take) for his university. I’m going along for the fun of it, and because it’s relatively cheap: Hobgoblin’s university will cover his airfare and also provide a cottage for us to live in. We figured since so much of the trip is already paid for (and he will be paid for the class itself), why not add on to the trip by going to London? One of the best parts of the whole thing is that we may be able to do the trip again in two years, when it will be his turn to teach in the program again. We’re thinking of going to Paris next time.

But back to this trip … the other thing I’m bad at when it comes to travel is reading books about the place I’m going to visit. Most respectable readers and book bloggers would probably have made up a list of books by Irish authors and books set in Ireland to read in the run-up to the trip and on the plane. But that just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m more likely to read Irish books after the trip, to remind me of the place I’ve just been. For right now, I prefer to keep the whole thing promisingly vague. Don’t tell me what I’m going to experience, other than that the landscape will be beautiful. People have told me that many times, and I was very glad to hear it.

16 Comments

Filed under Books, Life

16 responses to “Ireland! And London!

  1. Ooooh how exciting, you’re going to be over here!! I’m with you on not stressing about Irish reading beforehand and using it as a sort of souvenir. Looking forward to hearing more about the trip!

  2. Enjoy your trip — and your blogging break.

    I’ve just spent 9 days hanging out in Dublin, after spending 10 days in Ireland in March. (Yes, I went to Ireland twice in a month, I think I was born in the wrong country.)

    Dublin is a bibliophile’s heaven — there are book shops, museums, libraries, walking tours, bike tours and literary statues aplenty. Get your mitts on a copy of the UNESCO City of Literature brochure/map (available from Dublin Tourism office) and take it from there.

    Oh, and when you get back home and want to start exploring Irish literature, my list of 75 books might come in handy: http://kimbofo.typepad.com/readingmatters/2011/03/75-irish-book-reviews.html

    Finally, if you’re in London and fancy catching up please do drop me an email…

  3. So exciting that you get to visit Ireland and London!

    I’m the complete opposite when it comes to trip planning—I just LOVE to plan trips. I sometimes plan ones I don’t evn have any immediate plans to take. Spending all afternoon looking at train and ferry schedules for a place halfway around the world which I may never see is my idea of heaven. The mundane details somehow make the place seem tangible and real to me in a way that reading typical guide books really doesn’t. Even though I love guide books as well.

    But I’ve always admired people who are more spontaneous about their travel; it seems the more romantic and free-spirited way to be. I’m reading Simone de Beauvoir’s memoirs about all the fantastic trips she and Sartre took in the 30′s, and that’s the way they traveled: just took off on foot with backpacks and slept wherever they ended up.

  4. That sounds like my kind of travelling. Have a wonderful time! And enjoy the blogging break.

  5. I admire your not wanting to plan, so you can be open to trying anything on a moment’s notice. Being OCD myself, I’m always worried with a far-away trip that I will, upon returning home, discover something I would have loved to do had I only known it was there. So, while I don’t plan the days, I do keep a short list of “must-sees” to keep the OCD in check. The literature guide that kimbofo suggested sounds like a perfect compromise.

    I’ll look forward to your posts on Irish authors & literature. There’s so little I know about it; the only name I know is Maeve Binchy, so I’m off to check kimbofo’s list.

  6. I love planning my trips and reading about where I’m going. I went to London in Oct 2009, and one of the nicest things I found was “London Walks”–just google for them. These are guided walks, many with literary themes, and one of the best things about them is that you don’t book them in advance. If you want to do the walk, you just show up at the appointed starting point, pay the guide (relatively low-cost, too), and join the tour. We only squeezed in one, but it was great fun, and we went through lots of little streets, and even public gates that I wouldn’t have found (or dared open) on my own.

    Have a great time!

  7. When I came back from my first teaching trip to Ireland I told my mother three things. “We don’t know the meaning of the word rain. We don’t know the meaning of the word wind and we don’t know the meaning of the word hospitality.” I hope the first two are not true for you – and you will be further south than I was, but I’m sure the third will be true wherever you are. I have never been so well looked after in all my life.

    Have a wonderful time.

  8. This all sounds very exciting! Being a non-traveller and a geek, the thing that sounds most intriguing is Hobgoblin’s class! I hope he has wonderful students and wish I could take it! Let me know when you’re in London – I don’t often get down to the capital and can’t make promises, but I’d love to know when you’re there just in case.

  9. Oh have a lovely time! Ireland certainly is beautiful and perfect for that kind of wandering holiday where you just wait to see if something will turn up. If I try to do that I just end up doing nothing and wandering aimlessly in back alleys, so I’m glad to hear not planning works for someone else. There’s so much good theatre stuff to see in London as well, that you’ll be spoilt for choice.

  10. Michelle

    This sounds like a lovely trip – so glad you get to go along, and since he’ll be teaching, you’ll probably have lots of time to explore on your own. That can be really fun. I’ve tagged along on a few of my Swiss fellow’s conferences (doing it again this fall in Japan, for the first time with MP in tow) and it forces me to see the city on my own, which I really like, since it’s something I used to do, but stopped once we got together.
    And in two years, if you get to come back, you’d be welcome to try Switzerland – Paris Schmaris, who wants to see Paris? (Just kidding, really, Switzerland doesn’t have too much to lure you away from Paris beside cheese and chocolate and steep hills…but those can be great, right?)

  11. What fun! Where in Ireland will you be? I’ve never been but I’d love to go someday. I have been to London though and loved it. If I could afford to live there I’d move in an instant. I must say though that your lack of planning horrifies me. I am a planner and if I were the one going on this trip I’d have the travel guides memorized by now :)

  12. Nan

    I am SO happy for you, and look forward to lots and lots of pictures and tales when you come home.

  13. How exciting! It’s almost time for you to go–I would be very antsy to be done with work, but it’ll pass soon enough. I’m sure you’ll find plenty to do and there will be loads to explore. Enjoy your blogging break–and you’ll have lots to share later when you’re back!

  14. I seem to take my sort-of blogging breaks on the same schedule as you (I guess end of semester runs up against major religious holidays or something). I’m so excited that you and Hobs get to do the Ireland/London trip this year. Bob and I travel in much the same way. Get there. Decide what to do (often not even having a hotel room booked). I’m also someone who really prefers to read the books about a place once I’ve been there and not before (or to buy them while there and begin reading them). It makes it so much easier to picture a place.

  15. How exciting, I’m so happy for you two that you can make it to London and Ireland! I’m the planner type, but I can understand the charm of spontaneity. I definitely look forward to your next Paris trip, so that we can meet!

  16. Yvann — oh, I’m sure to write something or other about the trip! :) Thanks for the well-wishes. Down to three weeks away!

    Kimbofo — thanks for the link to your list and the information about Dublin — that’s great! We won’t actually be making it to Dublin this time, as we’ll be staying the entire time in Dingle, but we will get there some other year, no doubt. Lucky you to get to go to Ireland so often!

    Emily — I don’t think I can quite do the sleep wherever you end up thing, although I’d like to, or at least I can’t unless I can count on the fact that the hotels won’t all be booked! But beyond ensuring I have a place to sleep, spontaneity is appealing. I’ll bet you see more cool things with all your planning, though!

    Lilian — thanks! As you can see, I’m still blogging a bit, but I’ll be gradually slowing down. I will do my best to enjoy myself!

    Debby — the truth is that as time goes on, I’ll assemble a little to-do list as well, even if it’s only in my head. But I want that list to form organically, rather than sitting down one day in order to make it. I guess I want to keep the fantasy that if I miss something the first time around, there will be a second, so it doesn’t matter much!

    Krakovianka — thanks! Those walks sound wonderful — when I get in planning mode at the last minute, I will be sure to google them! Your description sounds great. We did buy a book on London walks as well, so there’s that to help us when we are there.

    Annie –oh, that’s wonderful to hear! Since we are staying in the same place for two weeks, we will really have the chance to get to know it well, which I’m looking forward to. I’m also going to have plenty of warm clothes and a good rain jacket. Thanks for the warning!

    Litlove — Hobgoblin’s class does sound interesting, right? I think I’ll be too busy exploring town and reading my own books to sit in on it, but perhaps I’ll borrow his reading list. And I’ll go on the field trips! :) I will definitely let you know our dates in London.

    Jodie — we have definitely wandered into the wrong neighborhood before and gotten ourselves lost, but that in itself can be interesting! I’ve heard from so many people that Ireland is beautiful, and I can’t wait to see it.

    Michelle — cheese, chocolate, and steep hills? Oh, I’m there! My favorite things! I’d love to come to Switzerland. You’re right that tagging along can be so much fun; how great that you get to go to Japan!

    Stefanie — we’ll be in Dingle, which is on the western coast, on one of those peninsulas that stick out into the ocean. I’m so glad you had such a great experience in London. I can’t wait! Sorry to horrify you about the planning :)

    Nan — thanks! I’ll have to remember to take pictures, because I tend to forget …

    Danielle — you’re right I’ll have lots to share, although I can imagine it being hard to capture it all. Still three weeks left of school, but it’s already flying by, and it will only get faster, thank goodness.

    Emily B. — how fun that we travel in similar ways! Perhaps I’ll have a summer of Irish reading when I return. Wouldn’t that be fun? I hope you’re doing well and not too overwhelmed with church stuff. But then we’re heading into Easter, so you probably ARE overwhelmed. Next week things will calm down maybe?

    Smithereens — I’m looking forward to the Paris trip too! It will be great to meet you.

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