When it comes to travel, I am often last minute in booking my trips. In all walks of my life, I am far from a planner. But with traveling I’m even more last minute. I find it more exciting to only a have few weeks, or days, to look forward to a trip. I booked New Zealand and Fiji at the end of May for a trip on August 6th, and two years ago I booked a cruise for Bermuda ten days before departure. These were among some of the most incredible trips, and I didn’t have to wait long before going on them.
So, when a chance to head to Ireland popped up during the four day weekend I have in a week, I jumped at the opportunity. While it will be my fourth time in the country, the closer I become with my family, the better the experience becomes.
Both of my Mom’s parents were born in Ireland (Kerry and Leitrim), and as a result, I’ve been all over the country. While her parents both moved to America in early adulthood, the rest of their families remained in Ireland scattered all over the country.
Our first journey to the Emerald Isle was in November of 2001. It also happened to be my very first trip to Europe. During this trip, I met family and traveled throughout the country. Along the way, we completed many tourist activities, including kissing the Blarney Stone and visiting Bunratty Castle. It was an overwhelming experience to say the least. Either way, I fell in love with the country and the realization that my family was much more extensive than I had ever imagined.
In July 2006, we made our way back to Ireland. But, not only did we visit Ireland, but also Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Italy. (Although, I promise to venture into that story at another time.) This visit with family was a little easier, as we had already met. We were also allotted more time in each spot, and didn’t resort to the tourist aspects of Ireland like last trip. We spent time getting to know each other, and learning about the similarities and differences between our countries.
The two earlier trips were a whirlwind of getting to know family, and being thrown into awkward pictures with cousins I barely knew existed. It was uncomfortable at times to say the least. However, my cousins made two trips to the States after that, and we were able to bond through many conversations while shopping. We also were able to connect with each other through Facebook, and have built relationships through the Internet and traveling.
During my last visit, in December 2009, I was only stopping over in Longford and Dublin on my way to Brussels and then on to Amsterdam for New Years Eve. This was an entirely different experience, as I was more comfortable around my family, and for the first time I wasn’t with my parents or brother, but instead with a friend. Unfortunately, it was the coldest Ireland had been in years and was covered in frost. After warming up with several glasses of mulled wine and hot whiskeys, my cousins took us out to local pubs, Coppers in Dublin being our favorite. Not only was this bar packed with people our age, but it played music perfect for dancing and there was a hotel located conveniently upstairs. (We booked a room for the night, but only used it to nap as we stayed out until 4am, and had to catch a cab to the airport. Everyone else was heading home, while we were off to Brussels!) Seeing what life was like for people my age in Ireland was something I hadn’t previously experienced and it made me fall in love with Ireland even more.
This coming trip to Ireland is one I am looking forward to the most. I am traveling all by myself to visit spend time with my cousin and her friends. Since my last visit, my one cousin and I have not only bonded over the fact that we are both teachers, but we also realized just how much we have in common during our time together in New Zealand and Fiji. This trip to Ireland will be different because not only will I be visiting family, but the friends I made while away this summer. I am looking forward to the new adventures ahead, and am excited to write about them upon my return. Let’s see what Ireland has in store for me this time!