[Rule #1: this is going to be long, and you're not going to care. Rule #2: I'm not going to proofread, and you're not going to care. There are better ways to spend my time abroad than making sure I used the right form of "your" ;-)]
The next leg of our tour, I have dubbed as follows:
A New Mexican Meets an Umbrella
Why? Because we're in Dublin, Ireland, and it's been raining.
But let's start from the beginning, shall we?
Back in Keflavik, our hosts were awesome. I mean, freaking awesome. I'd highly recommend any of you to stay with them, because they're great. We stayed up far later than we should've done, just by talking to them. They were going to go out and take pictures of Aurora Borealis, and we REALLY wanted to go with them, but our flight out in the morning was far earlier than we liked to admit. But our hosts were nice enough to call ahead and get a taxi for us, since we had no idea how to go about doing that. Before Iceland, I'd never taken a taxi in my life. I've now taken two. I digress.
The Keflavik airport suggested being two and half hours early for our flight, so like the newbies we are, we listened to it. Don't do that. Seriously, don't do it. Especially if your flight leaves at 6:20 in the morning. Yeah. We left our host's house at 3:50 in the morning, and it sucked. We did not sleep that night. My best estimation is that I slept for two hours, but I reall don't know. Every time I closed my eyes I found them snapping back open, just in case I might miss my alarm. The moral of that story is: don't listen to the airline's website. Also, Keflavik Airport didn't open our section of the terminal until an hour before our flight was supposed to take off, so we ended up sitting around for an inordinate amount of time. On the bright side, it gave us plenty of time to research our destination and figure out how we were going to get from Dublin Airport into the city itself.
If I had to give a review of Wow Air, it would be that they really need to learn to better communicate with the people taking their flights. Our flight out of Keflavik was delayed, though they told none of us anything about it. Apparently they had some unscheduled maintenance that needed to be done on the plane. None of us would've complained about that. Seriously. Please make sure my plane is in working order before I get on it. Please. Anyway, they didn't tell us anything of what was going on, and we all stood in line for a very long time waiting to get on the plane. I was so exhausted that I actually have no idea what time we got on the plane. All I really know is that I had a hard time sleeping there, too. *sigh*
I didn't sleep on the plane, try as I might. My head kept bobbing. Not cool, head. Not cool. But the flight was really very decent. Wow is annoying in that they make you pay for every little extra thing. There are bag fees, seat fees, and fees for things I didn't even think there could be fees for, and they push products during the flight, but the flight itself was actually pretty great. Especially for the price, even with the extra fees, I'd recommend it. Just be sure to pay ahead for your bags, to cut down on some costs.
After a fitful hour of head bobbing, we landed in Dublin. Mum's first phrase upon our arrival? "Oh look! Cows!"
To which I chuckled. The cows didn't seem to mind being so close to the airport.
Getting through customs was a breeze. I think they looked at the two of us and thought we were just two more American tourists here for the weekend. Which was what we were. So they were right. We easily retrieved our bags, made a quick pit stop, and headed outside. Since we'd handily figured out what bus we wanted to get on ahead of time, we had an approximation of where we were going. So we bought two way tickets at a kiosk and boarded a bus into the city.
I should mention that this time we were well aware that we would have a jaunt to our host's house. We knew it. So we had time to prepare. We haven't gotten lost yet, for which I'm quite pleased! Having a river in the middle of the city helps keep things nice and organized. Find the Liffey, and you'll easily figure out where you are.
I've digressed again, haven't I?
We had a twenty minute walk from the bus stop to our host's house. That meant another twenty minutes pushing a bag and lugging a purse and a carry-on. It wasn't half bad though, aside from the surprisingly chilly wind that kept trying to push us the other way. I swear, my left hand was not strong enough to push a suitcase for very long. (Another side note: if you have a walk like this, and your suitcase is on wheels, you should push it on all four wheels. Pulling it expends a lot more energy and tires you out faster, while pushing it is as easily as pushing a cart around the store).
Twenty long minutes later, we reached the apartment. Only our host wasn't home. The janitor let us into the building and the cleaning lady let us into the apartment, only to tell us that our host was in the hospital. Neither of us had any idea what to do. Seriously. What do you do if you're staying at someone's house, someone who you've never met, and they're in the hospital? Plus, we had no idea why he was in the hospital. There wasn't much we could do, but we hadn't eaten yet, so we quickly cooled off (a twenty minute walk is enough to turn an icy breeze into a sauna) and went out for lunch (it was two in the afternoon, but we realized that we hadn't yet eaten or drank anything all day long). I messaged our host on the Airbnb app and let him know we'd gone out and taken the key from the cleaning lady, noting that we really had no idea how to get back in the building, since it was the janitor who'd let us in in the first place.
We walked down the stairs, and as the door closed behind us and we looked out the window, we realized it was raining. And we'd left our umbrellas on the bed upstairs. The bed that we didn't know how to get to, because all we had was a key, and we needed a fob in order to get the front door to open.
Not much we could do about it, and it looked like it was only drizzling, so we put our hoods up and went outside.
Now, being from New Mexico, neither of us are used to seeing a lot of rain. Any rain that lasts more than ten or fifteen minutes is a lot of rain, for us. So when it sputtered, started and stopped, went between drizzling and pouring, it seemed a normal thing. And we soon found ourselves walking along the Liffey, taking in the sights, and forgetting about our hunger. Only to have it rear its head when we read a sign for Guinness stew. Yummmmm... Except it seemed that was what everyone was serving. So it took us a while to find a pub we wanted to go to, and eventually we ended up at a place called Fitzsimons. We each ordered our own beer and a bowl of stew, mine Irish, Mum's Guinness.
Stew in Ireland is not like the stew I make at home. I'm used to soup being runny and stew being thicker and creamier. Stew here is like a soup with giant pieces of stuff in it. I had a piece of celery in mine that was as long as my thumb -- and I have long thumbs. But oh my dear goodness gracious was it delicious. Especially on an empty stomach. Only trouble was, that stomach hadn't eaten anything in such a long time that it'd shrunken, and they served us portions worthy of a lumberjack during logging season. I'm a tiny little woman. I couldn't have eaten that much on a good day.
As for the food, I'll just say this: get it. Eat food in Ireland. I've not had anything that wasn't absolutely delicious. And I'm a bit finicky with my food. I know what's good. Trust me. Eat in Ireland.
While we were there, our host thankfully messaged me back and let us know how to get back into his apartment, and informed us that he was okay. He'd injured his leg on a run, and had to see a doctor to make sure everything was okay. *whew* We could get back to our bags!
After having to hang out in the pub an extra half hour or so just to have enough room to finish our beers, we decided that from here on out we should just split something and order something else if we're still hungry, and we proceeded to continue exploring. And in our exploring we realized we were in the Temple Bar area. Oh, and a little thing called Dublin Freaking Castle! (I may have adding the "freaking" part myself). Mum's been wanting to see castles for eons, so we had to go in. She tried to look like she didn't want to right away, but I knew we had to. Like a good daughter, I ushered her into the courtyard. It's beautiful. Seriously. I have pictures, but they don't do it justice. At all. It's beautiful, and if you're ever in Dublin, you should go see it. Definitely.
When we finally tore ourselves away, we wanted to go to bed. But it wasn't late in the day, and we knew we'd likely be hungry again later. Logically, we went to the only light food that could possibly serve as an alternative to an actual dinner:
We found this cute little place called KC Peaches, which I thought was cute because Dad calls Mum KC all the time. We're not entirely sure why, but he does. So we went in and got a slice of chocolate pear tart and another of this chocolate ganache mousse crisp rice light sponge cake thing that looked so amazing we couldn't help but get it. We ordered them to go, along with a cup of coffee for Mum and another of chai for me, and started the trek home.
It rained again.
We thought it might stop, so we went on. But it just kept raining. And raining. And the poor paper bag holding our pastries was ripped from the wetness, and our hoods were soaked through (because, of course, our umbrellas were still back at the apartment), and our pants were covered in dark speckles and our hair was blown to high heaven and dampened by heavy rains. By the time we made it back, all we wanted to do was get out of those clothes. We hung up our things, put on our pajamas, stole some forks from our host's kitchen, and ate our pastries on our bed.
Especially after being caught in the rain, those things were the most delicious treats I could've possibly tasted. The pear tart only had the sweetness of the pears, paired with the bitterness of chocolate and buttery tart crust beneath. But the cake! Oh, the cake... I know a lot of Americans like sweet foods. The more sugar, the better. I'm not one of those. I like sweets, but in moderation. I'd rather have something delicious and slightly sweet, light enough that I feel like I can still stand, and that was exactly what this cake was. Layers of the lightest white cake you've ever tasted with chocolate mousse and chocolate covered crisped rice in between and chocolate ganache and toasted coconut on the outside... I could've eaten the whole piece myself, but I was nice and shared. :)
The rest of our first night was spent laying in bed reading, getting a phone call from family back home, and charging every electronic device we brought with us. And then it was off to blissful sleep.
Day two in Dublin started more slowly, blessedly. We even woke up late. It took us nearly two hours to get ready, and when we finally left our room, our host was waiting for us with pastries on the table. He hobbled to the kitchen (which we told him he really didn't have to do) and make us a cup of coffee and tea (Mum says his coffee is the best in Ireland). He sat down with us while we ate, and we talked about our plans for the trip, before the two of us finally made our way outside, this time with umbrellas in our purses.
Now, something I should mention, is that the day before, while we were on the bus from the airport, they were playing a video about all the different bus tours you can take in Dublin. And they played one that looked like a lot of fun, called the 1916 tour. Mum and I don't know that much about Ireland, and we really wanted to get to know as much as we could. This tour was historical, talking about the revolution, and so when we left the apartment we went in search of where we could take this tour.
We took our time finding the place. The Liffey is so pretty, as are many of the buildings that line it. We stopped many times along the way to take pictures (don't worry, I'll post them en masse as soon as I can) before we finally reached a vistor's centre. The lady inside pointed us in the right direction, we went to the bus station and purchased our tickets, and had a couple of hours before the tour began.
Once again, we walked. Up and down O'Connell Street, along the Liffey, across any cool looking bridge we happened upon, all while trying to remember that traffic is backward in this country. Look left, not right. Left, not right. It's only just starting to settle in my head! Like the good little tourists we are, we found a souvenir shop and got some things for ourselves and some friends and family (something we had sadly not had time for in Iceland), and meandered through various streets until we felt certain that our feet could use a rest. Please.
When we had less than half an hour before the tour, we stopped for fish and chips. Grease has never tasted so delicious (aside from a need for salt, which I've noticed in all of their food, but could just be a matter of taste). We snarfed it and went straight across the street to the bus stop.
The 1916 tour is a dramatic performance on a bus. There are two actors, one male and one female, who play four characters each in order to depict the happenings of the Irish Revolution. It was utterly fascinating. They explained how the revolution began, things that were done in it and what went on around it. They depicted soldiers and women who assisted them, all fighting for the cause of Ireland's freedom. I felt like it was a much better way to go about explaining everything, rather than just telling us. Everything sat with me, and really still has. I would go on it again, on another trip, if the opportunity arose. I enjoyed it that much.
Remember to tip! We did, thankfully, before we got off the bus. The performance was spectacular.
Afterward, we went back to what we'd done the rest of the day: we walked. This time, down Henry St. It's a street that's just for people, filled with shops and a few eateries, along with various street performers. We walked up it and down it, and ended up at a chocolate shop, where we picked out the four kinds that sounded best and continued our walk.
I have never had a mango chocolate so delicious in my life. Seriously, you have to eat everything in Ireland. Maybe my stomach is growing back to normal size by now.
Walking, walking, walking.
Raining, raining, raining harder... Umbrellas?
Being from New Mexico, our instinct is not to use them. See, in NM, when it rains, it's only going to rain for a little while. In Dublin, apparently, that's not the case. I put my hood up. Mum caved first and got out her umbrella. Eventually, I did the same.
The rain got to our heads, both figuratively and literlly. We walked around in a fit of confusion, not quite knowing where to go or what to do in this weather. We tried ducking into stores, only to find that they were already packed full. We walked on the streets, but it was hard to stand close enough to hear each other while we each held an umbrella. *sigh* I don't think New Mexicans are meant to carry these things. They're a nuisance, aren't they? But I suppose they do the job.
It was a little early for dinner, even though there was nowhere else to go, and after a quick stop for some chai and coffee and looking at more menus than I care to remember, we ducked out of the rain into a restaurant for which we hadn't read the menu. What can we say? It looked cute.
If you've never had a boxty, you really should. They're delicious. And if you've never had a charcuterie plate, you really should. They're fun and delicious. We had both, along with a beer flight to share. Seriously, I'm going to say it again, eat food everything in Ireland. Bring an extra stomach if you have one. Mum says, "If you don't, buy one while you're there." Dinner was followed by Irish Whiskey for Mum and something called A Perfect Ending for me, which our waiter kept calling a happy ending and saying he shouldn't say that. Either way, it was delicious and our waiter was a lot of fun. Gallaghers Boxty House was the name, and you should go there if you're ever in the area. Deliciousness all around!
We walked home in the dark, in the rain. Not something two New Mexican women are used to doing. Ever. For one, we don't walk home alone at night. For two, we don't walk in the rain. That night, we did both.
I'll say this though, the streets of Dublin feel very safe. I didn't once feel strange or remotely nervous. It's a very walkable city, and the people are very friendly.
I'll say this too, just for giggles: walking home in the rain, while having badly to use the restroom, will make you walk ten times faster.