Travel

Where I’ve Been: Ireland Edition

What’s the German word for expressing profound sorrow for having disappeared for two years, only to appear out of the blue at the start of August 2020 to wave hello, announce a pregnancy, and regale one’s audience with stories of (somewhat) recent adventures?

Linguists of the world, get back to me, would you?

The answer to the question of where I’ve been is both simple and multidimensional. But then, what in life cannot likewise be summed up in such a manner? As Whitman said, we do indeed contain multitudes. In fact, the entire poem from which that quote was boosted is perhaps fitting for this moment.

Song of Myself, 51 (Walt Whitman, 1819-1892)

The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I concentrate toward them that are night, I wait on the door-slab.

Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

So that clears that right up.

The tale is more than can be contained in one quick blog post. So, instead of untangling the long narrative thread of the past two years (gulp) in its entirety, I shall today relate the story of the five days we spent in Ireland in November/December 2019.

The date: December, 2019. The location: Ireland. The players: Me and Dan. We were there for something called a “vacation.” What is a vacation? Well, it’s a little difficult to explain in September 2020 to a modern-day audience, but I’ll take a crack at it. A vacation is when you leave your house….OK, I can see that I’ve already lost some of you. Stay with me on this. You pack a suitcase of belongings (preferably your own), utilize some sort of transportation (often public transportation, such as a commercial airplane), and travel to another location that is not your place of residence. You see new things, eat delicious food prepared by others, meet new people, tour historical sites, and generally explore a place surrounded by strangers while you enjoy experiences that are not at all familiar or routine or, you know, in your own living room. (But really, who missed me? ….*crickets* ….Roger that.) (You can now blame all this wackiness on the pregnancy hormones.) (I don’t know what we were blaming it on prior to that, but send in your theories.)

As was our custom pre-2020, we decided to take an international trip late in the year. In 2019, that trip took us to Ireland and Portugal. I know this is an uncommon combo and we were indeed met with a fair number of quizzical expressions when we shared our itinerary, but it turned out to be a winner. We’ll cover Portugal next time, but for now, Dublin!

We started the venture on Thanksgiving Day, which meant a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade viewing care of the in-flight TV selection, and turkey sandwiches in Dulles during our layover. (We briefly considered crashing the holiday banquet set up for airport employees that we stumbled upon while searching for our connecting gate, but we refrained and carried on as model citizens.) Not quite a traditional holiday, but Ireland awaited

I was more than a little enamored with the colorful doors we found while walking around Dublin. As we slowly dip our toes into real estate here in Colorado (that is a whole other story for another time), I am always drawn to the places that have fantastic, bright doorways. Dan meanwhile has to keep reminding me that when we do buy a home some day, we can paint the door whatever color we want, and hence it shouldn’t be a deciding factor in our purchasing choice. He clearly doesn’t understand such things.

It doesn’t matter what new place I travel to, if there is a university nearby, I will endeavor to tour it. I just love being surrounded by academia (nerd alert, nerd alert), and feel such inspiration visiting these institutions. Even better if it’s a historic institution of some renown. I think it’s a clung-to hope for an osmosis effect to kick in. Let me soak up the energy of keen minds and inquiring spirits.

Trinity College in Dublin (established in 1592…I mean really) was no exception. Some notable alums include: Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde. I’m sure several other notable students did other notable things beyond authoring books, but I wouldn’t really be the one to ask about that racket.

Trinity College is also known for housing the Book of Kells,—a circa 9th century illuminated codex containing the four Gospels,—as well as 200,000 other volumes you see displayed in the Long Room of the Old Library above.

Though we primarily stayed in Dublin whilst in Ireland, we did take a jaunt across the country via train. The country is just beautiful, and next time we visit we want to be sure we spend more time outside the cities. If you get there before us, take note of this advice and plan accordingly.

Yes, there were many, many sheep in the countryside.

Like…a lot of sheep.

And this dog named Saoirse. An Irish gentleman had to teach me how to pronounce this name properly. If you can guess without looking it up, I will send you a postcard.

And classic little pubs at which we ate hearty stews to fend off the cold December air.

We then went to the Cliffs of Moher, which were simply amazing.

Please take note of the many layers we bundled into for this adventure.

Then it was back to Dublin for a little whiskey tasting and city walking. We always have our best talks while walking around, whether it be in our own Denver neighborhood, or a brand new (to us) European environment. It’s one of the things I love best about traveling, lots of opportunity for exploration and long chats.

That’s it for now, team. If you’ve been to Ireland before, or plan to go there once the world re-opens a bit more, please share with the class all about your favorite pastime in such a splendid country.

SIGNED, anya elise

3 Comments

  • Marianne

    I can’t share just one favorite pastime! Wandering streets. Eating at local cafes. Visiting churches and museums. Shopping at local boutiques. Mostly, though, just soaking up the beauty and wonder by simply being there. So maybe my favorite pastime is wandering the streets and countryside by foot or car.

    • Marianne

      By the way, I’ve not been to Ireland but WANT to visit there, especially after seeing your pictures above. Also, on another note, I totally agree that the best conversations take place while on walks!

      • Anya Elise

        All of your favorite pastimes are mine as well! Good thing we are planning a trip to Ireland, Oxford, Portugal, London, probably France is a good idea, sometime soon. 😉

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