I don’t know what happened to me last week. Andy went out of town, and apparently I decided that meant I could do none of the things I usually do. I didn’t blog (though I did post an article here about a festival in my neighborhood), I didn’t exercise, and I hardly cooked. Then on Thursday night Andy and I met in Newark, NJ to continue our trip together into the weekend. So anyway, all that to say, here I am, and here are some pictures.
Outside the iconic New York Public Library at 5th Ave. and 42nd Street.
My friend Kaleigh, whose wedding is what brought us to the northeast. It was a fun, brightly colored affair that fit her personality to a T.
Congratulations to the bride and groom!!!
Back in NYC on Sunday. We met my step-grandmother for brunch at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and checked out this rooftop art called Cloud City.
The rooftop affords beautiful views of the city!
We walked through Central Park and passed by the boat pond where Stuart Little valiantly raced.
And then we flew home, and I almost ran over this guy on the sidewalk with my rolling suitcase.
This weekend I’ll be trekking westward to visit some friends, and I am so excited! I once remember taking a personality test that had you look at pictures and pick the one that most appealed to you based on a given word, and the one I chose for “freedom” was the open road. I love getting in my car and just going, and then being somewhere else mere hours later!
I’ll be spending tonight in Tuscaloosa with my college roommate and maid of honor, and hopefully also catching up with another college friend who’s also there in grad school. Then on Saturday I’ll head another hour west, along the route I traveled oh so often throughout my years in Birmingham, to visit some high school friends who are just about the best a girl could ask for.
We don’t really have specific plans, other than time frames of when I’ll be seeing certain people, and I’m looking forward to eating food that I didn’t have to cook, watching girly movies, and talking until our heads fall off. I don’t feel like I’ve been on a trip without a real “purpose” for awhile. I’m just hoping I don’t hit horrific traffic trying to get out of Atlanta this afternoon!
What are you up to this weekend? Any fun travel plans in the works for you?
Since we were in Ireland visiting family, we got to experience some things that the average tourist might not. And, conversely, Andy’s family got to do some touristy things that they might not normally do as residents of Dublin!
This past Saturday night, we all piled into cars and headed up into the Dublin mountains to Johnnie Fox’s, “the highest pub in Dublin.”
We had reservations for their renowned Hooley Night, a multi-course meal of traditional Irish fare followed by live music and a set by some Irish dancers. We sat crowded into long tables in a room with tourists from all over the world! The experience was what we might call “hokey” over here, but since it was unique to me I enjoyed it (though the show went on rather long!). I branched out and had steamed mussels for my first course (I wonder if they bought them from Molly Malone?) and then lamb stew for my main course. For dessert I tried the Whiskey Gateaux, and lemme tell you, it had some whiskey in it! It was fun hearing some of the traditional songs that I knew and others I didn’t. In one song in particular I could really hear the influences that led to the creation of bluegrass and the likes. And the dancers were fabulous. I don’t even know how anyone can move their feet that fast! My seat was right at the front of the small stage and I think I flinched every time they did a high kick! It was a fun experience all around.
The next morning we headed out to a Dublin suburb of sorts to watch Andy’s cousin’s boyfriend (whew, that’s a mouthful!) play in a hurling match. In my mother’s words, “What in the heck is hurling?!” The best way I can think to describe it is that it’s kind of like lacrosse, only you’re balancing the ball on a wooden paddle instead of in a net. It’s a pretty rough game, and helmets have only been compulsory for the past year or two!
Here’s a video that explains it a bit:
There’s a well developed club sport system in Dublin and surrounding areas that people are very into, so a lot of the guys on this team have been playing together for awhile. There was a wicked cold wind the morning we went, and I hadn’t exactly brought clothes suited for standing outside watching a sporting event, but it was fun nonetheless. Since you’re just standing on the sidelines, not sitting in bleachers or anything, there are times when the players and/or the ball are coming right at you! I definitely didn’t really understand what was going on most of the time, but I felt like it was an “authentic” Irish weekend experience.
We went to a restaurant afterwards to warm up, and I discovered the concept of a “carvey.” It’s basically like the concept of Sunday dinner after church here: many places have a buffet with multiple kinds of meat (the carvery) and a big spread of sides. They even had dressing with cranberry sauce! While none of us went whole hog and had the carvey, I did have the vegetable plate, and it was reminiscent of a good ole Southern plate. The tea was also free-flowing, brought to the table in big pots that allowed each of us to have several cups.
That pretty much wraps up our trip. We were up way early the next morning to head home. We were so efficient in getting to the airport and getting checked in that we were waiting outside customs before it even opened for the morning! Our flight was uneventful–I watched way too many movies–and we had the afternoon on Monday to begin getting back into the swing of things. It’s been just a normal week, making it kind of surreal to think that just a few days ago I was in an entirely different country. I am again just so thankful that we were able to go!
While our recent trip to Ireland was obviously not a pleasure trip and it had its somber times, our hotel was in a great location so as to be conducive to some sightseeing. We were within walking distance of most of the major attractions of Dublin, so amongst the planned family events we were able to slip out for some “touristy” action. I unfortunately didn’t start taking pictures until our second to last day, and these are all just with my iPhone, but they’ll get the point across!
Our hotel, across from Christ Church Cathedral.
The view from our hotel room…can’t complain about that!
The view up Dame Street (a pretty major drag that changes names about 5 times) from outside Trinity College.
The church where the funeral was, which is also where my in-laws got married.
Trinity College, where I went to see The Book of Kells and the amazing “long room” of the old library. (I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside, but I bought a postcard!)
Outside the Guinness Storehouse, which used to be the active brewery. Arthur Guinness had such faith in his product that he signed a 9000 year lease on the building! It’s now a museum and has a circular bar at the top allowing for these spectacular views of the city.
We were incredibly blessed with unseasonably warm and sunny weather while we were there, allowing us to be really mobile in our sightseeing. We did a lot of just wandering around even the first day we landed! The trip was long enough that it didn’t feel like a whirlwind, but there is definitely more to see and do on a future trip to Dublin.
When I travel, food is both the most interesting and the most troubling thing. I am very set in my eating routines as far as times and types of food I like to have. How I feel depends a lot on how and when I am eating. So when I travel, I tend to carry a lot of snacks, because I know I’ll get anxious if I’m trying to be on someone else’s eating schedule. That way I can just know that I’m able to stave off hunger of my own accord. That said, I also LOVE to try new and local things when I travel! I didn’t keep a record of all the things we ate in Ireland, but here are just a few thoughts.
I am one of the few people on the world who actually enjoys airplane food. It’s not necessarily the food itself (which is usually mediocre), but it’s the excitement of all the little packages you get. I have a lot of respect for the creativity of the person who has to come up with meal ideas to make en masse and feed a wide variety of appetites. I love that you get a little individual loaf of bread with butter, and there always seems to be cheese and crackers as well. I scarf down every bite of every meal they bring by on the plane. On the way home yesterday we had a pizza panini and a little tub of ice cream as a snack. How fun!
Breakfast can be the trickiest meal of the day for me because, more often than not, I wake up hungry. I also have learned the hard way that I need protein in my breakfast if I’m going to avoid having a food crisis within a short period of time. Our hotel had a breakfast option, but it was 9.99…EUROS. So, pretty expensive. Rather than try and meet up with family every morning for breakfast, I found myself venturing out to bring back goodies for Andy and me. Two mornings I went to a store that is kind of like 7-11, which I would not normally consider as an option in the States! But I was able to bring back fruits, yogurts, scones, and coffees for around 8 euros for both of us. Much better! I enjoyed trying unique flavors of yogurt like rhubarb and gooesberry. I also checked out a local bakery one morning as well. The last morning was Sunday, so the bakery was closed! But I found “portable porridge” in the grocery store–basically instant oatmeal, but it sounds so much more fun when it’s called portable porridge.
After the removal service on Thursday evening and the funeral mass and burial on Friday, family and friends all had an opportunity to gather for tea and sandwiches. Both places that catered to us provided trays upon trays of sandwiches, most of which were on plain white bread and all of which had ingredients that seemed unique to me! My favorite was the ham…with butter. I would have never thought to put butter on a sandwich!
On the topic of lunches, it was great and inexpensive to go almost anywhere and grab a bowl of delicious creamy vegetable soup, which came with a good healthy chunk of Irish brown bread and, of course, good butter.
Since we’ve established that I like food, and I have gotten a chance since knowing Andy to sample some fun Irish goodies, the vast majority of the souvenirs we brought back were food. Here’s our haul: All kinds of chocolates and candies, as well as some mixes to make Irish brown bread and scones! My mother-in-law likes these mixes, so I feel like that gives them an Irish stamp of approval. A pack of Irish breakfast tea from Bewley’s (a Dublin institution) and a silly Wacky Woolies cup round out the lot. We’ll probably need help getting all this eaten!!
I had fun trying different types of beverages while over there. It seemed like just about every night we were getting together with family for drinks, so I had ample opportunity. I know I like hard ciders, so I was excited to find this Irish brand: And here I am trying my first Guinness while on a tour of the Guinness Storehouse: (I was not a big fan, but when in Dublin you’ve gotta try “the black stuff.) I also had a really odd drink per the suggestion of one of Andy’s cousins called WKD (pronounced “wicked”) Blue. It was like a sugary blue soda with vodka in it. I don’t know what flavor blue is, but it was definitely blue. I rounded out the trip with a good ole Bailey’s Coffee, in its homeland. (I sound like I drank a lot, but these were all on separate nights! Exploratory tastings, we’ll call them.)
Ultimately what I found is that the food is not so different from here! There are, of course, specialties, and I unfortunately didn’t get to indulge in a true Irish breakfast (which I bet I would love), but I had several traditional items like scones and fish and chips. The main difference I noticed was that there were a lot fewer fruits and vegetables included, at least at the restaurants. But when I asked Andy’s cousins what kinds of things they cook, it sounded pretty similar to what I eat here!