Hello, World!

So Hobgoblin and I are home again; in fact, we’ve been home for five days or so, time which I have spent settling back in and trying to feel normal again. Coming home from travel is always hard for me (for most people?), and jet lag does not help. But I’m beginning to feel more like myself, and it’s high time I say something about my trip here.

But how to write about three weeks of travel without being uselessly vague? I admire Emily’s regular posts on her trip to France, but I didn’t have the energy or the reliable wireless to do something similar. So, the vague statements first: we had a wonderful time. Things will inevitably go wrong on any trip of that length, and it’s impossible to walk around in a state of bliss the entire time, but I think this trip was about as good as it’s possible to get.

The thing that I loved about being in Ireland was that we were in one place for two weeks and had time to settle in and get to know the place well. As I described in my last post, because we settled into the community a bit and had people to guide us around, we got to see things and interact with local people in a way most tourists don’t. One of the highlights of our time was going on field trips to beautiful places along the coast and to see historical and archeological sites, each one led by local guides who are experts on local history, archeology, theology, and culture. These trips were part of the classes the students took, but I was invited on all of them. This is a picture from a trip to Brandon Bay:

Here is a shot of part of a beach walk we did at Smerwick Harbor:

Me on a windy hillwalk to see a lookout tour built to watch for Napoleon (who never arrived, of course). It was a very, very windy day, as most days were during our trip:

One of the archeological sites, Teampall Mancháin or the Temple Geal Oratory:

The view partway up Mt. Brandon, the second highest mountain in Ireland, which we climbed, and which left me sore for a couple days. It was a gorgeous hike, but by the time we got to the top, the clouds had moved in and we didn’t have a view.

We saw a lot of sheep, all looking just as content as this one does:

And then there was Killarney National Park and Ross Castle:

I don’t happen to have a great picture of the town, but it was cute and colorful with lots of shops, restaurants, and pubs. It has two small bookstores, one a very good general-interest store, and the other a tiny but excellent shop that specializes in books on Ireland, in both English and Irish. The town is small, with maybe three main streets full of businesses, but it had enough variety to keep us occupied, and we didn’t have time to visit all the places we wanted to.

I don’t know how Hobgoblin had the energy to teach a class as well as do all the touring around we did; I spent the class time reading, walking, napping, and exploring town, and it was great to have some quiet. We had a pint with the other instructors every afternoon and dinner with the students at a different restaurant every night. Our lodgings were excellent: a two-bedroom apartment right in the middle of town (paid for by Hobgoblin’s university, which was totally awesome), so it was just a few steps to the school, the grocery store, etc. We took only two bike rides, largely because the weather was so difficult, but those two rides were memorable — one for the rain, and the other for the wind. But were beautiful, though.

You can see why I didn’t want to come home?

I think that’s enough for now; perhaps I’ll come back to write about London in a day or two.

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Hello, World!

  1. Welcome home! Sounds like a lovely visit!

  2. Oh yes, I totally understand how you didn’t want to come home. I could very happily live there! It sounds like you had a great time even with a few wrinkles–always to be expected when traveling I think. I was lucky when I was there, too, as I had a reason for staying in one or two places so you get to know the people and the surroundings–it makes it much more memorable and enjoyable. I’m so glad you had a great time. Did you buy any books? Am looking forward to hearing about London, too! And isn’t it totally hard to get out of vacation mode?

  3. I’m very much in favor of staying in one place for a vacation, even if it means you miss some things. You often end up seeing some of the more unusual sights when you’re able to concentrate on one area (and especially when you have local guides).

    Can’t wait to hear about London. I adore London!

  4. Welcome home… even though you’d rather not be. With all these wonderful sites, of course you’d rather be still out there, travelling in that beautiful country. I’ve been to England and Scotland several times, but never to Ireland. Guess I must plan a trip some time… Thanks for sharing your travel experience. I look forward to your London posts.

  5. You were both so enthusiastic about Ireland when I saw you that it has made me really want to go back there. Such a great trip!

  6. One of my favorite places in the world. A beauty so idyllic that it becomes surreal in a way. I never felt I could capture it in photos although yours here are lovely. Sounds like an amazing adventure and the realities of home must seem a little strange. Hoped you enjoyed London too. Like Teresa, I am a big fan.

  7. Welcome back! It sounds like such a terrific trip, with a good combination of all the right things. My husband and I are planning a fall bike trip and I thought about Ireland, but have to do more thinking. I don’t mind hills, and gentle rain is okay, but those two PLUS wind seem a little much. Anyway, I’m glad you’re back and looking forward to hearing more about how it went. xo

  8. Bardiac — thank you! It really was a wonderful trip.

    Danielle — hopefully, I will post on my new books soon :) Yes, it’s hard to get out of vacation mode, especially when we were gone so long and had to deal with jet lag. But I think I’m back to normal now, pretty much. We were SO lucky to be able to stay so long — and also possibly to get to go back. That made it a little easier to come home.

    Teresa — you’re so right about staying in one place. We originally thought we might visit both London and Paris after Ireland, but decided to spent a full week in London, for the exact reasons you describe. And now I feel like I saw, not everything, of course, but enough to satisfy me for a while.

    Arti — Ireland is wonderful! But I want to explore England and Scotland more as well. Hopefully I will be able to do that on a future trip.

    Musings — thanks so much for entertaining us last Saturday! We’re definitely enthusiastic about Ireland, and looking forward to seeing more of it ourselves.

    Frances — no, the pictures really don’t do it justice. I found myself taking the same pictures over and over again trying to capture how beautiful it was, but of course they couldn’t do it. Still, they help me remember what it was like.

    Bloglily — a bike trip sounds wonderful! I’d love to do that some day. We were in Ireland during some particularly bad weather, so it’s probably not always that rainy and windy, and I think the wind might be particularly strong on the coast and not the entire country. But yes, I think it makes sense to investigate the weather as thoroughly as you can!

  9. Welcome back! Thanks for the pics, I like the sheep especially!

  10. It’s lovely to have you back and fantastic to see those pictures of Ireland – talk about atmospheric! I really like vacations where you stay in one place and get to know it well. It seems such a profound experience somehow. I am always exhausted when I get back from holiday – it takes time to process all the strangeness (nice strangeness, usually!) and the things that have happened. And jet lag – gah! Take it easy and tell us all about it at your own pace. I’m also keen to hear about London, when you’re ready.

  11. I’ve never been to Ireland, your story and beautiful pictures makes me want to go straight away!

  12. It sounds like you had an amazing time! Love your shots of the mist and the velvety green. And seriously, as much as I’m glad to have the posts from France to look back on, I can really see the argument for a less-examined trip. Blogging that often is a ton of work, especially with photos! Having two weeks in one spot with lots of reading time and locals-friendly touring sounds divine.

  13. Lilian — thanks! We saw sheep everywhere, many of them perched in the most uncomfortable looking places, like the sides of steep cliffs. But they didn’t seem worried about it! :)

    Litlove — there is the possibility of going back to Dingle and getting to know it even better, and I’m very happy about that. I completely agree about staying in one place, and I’m glad I got to do it. Even a week in London seemed like a good amount of time to really settle in (although I won’t pretend to have seen all that much of that huge city!). I seem to be thoroughly adjusted to my time zone now, and am even sleeping in a little — yay!

    Sigrun — thanks, and I hope you get to go one day!

    Emily — there are definite advantages both ways — I have a record of photographs and a list of things we did, but no real detail recorded. I probably would have posted more if we had ever had wireless in our rooms, but we always had to go somewhere else (even if it was just to the hotel lobby) to get wireless, and that made it difficult enough. I really loved seeing all your photos!

  14. Welcome home! When the sun comes out there it sure is a vivid and beautiful green!

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