When I started writing about our honeymoon over a month ago, I had no idea that it would take me so long or consist of so many entries. In retrospect, I should have been prepared to write pages and pages about an experience that was so incredibly rich and special. While we were lucky enough to have five whole days in Ireland (the first of which was basically decimated by jetlag), a part of me can’t help but wonder what other amazing things we’d have done if we only had more time, or if I hadn’t been battling the ominous Foot Injury of Doom.
Army Boy and I made a promise to each other that we WILL go back. A hopeful part of that promise is “before kids,” but we’ll just have to see what life throws us in the next year or so. In a perfect world, there would be new jobs and home improvements would miraculously NOT eat up all our potential extra funds… but for now we’ll wait and see.
Predictably, we slept late after our day spent outside exploring Kylemore Abbey and hiking to the D’Arcy monument. We managed to pull ourselves out of bed, groaning for coffee like a pair of neglected zombies, and stumble to the dining room in time for breakfast. While we didn’t have a set agenda for the day, we at least had to make it into town for a: a real Pint in an Irish pub and b: to buy MOAR of the Things!
After my successful trip out the day before, I felt confident that we’d be able to walk into town without too much trouble for me. The distance really WAS short enough that I could handle it with Das Boot. I grabbed the camera and we hiked down through the gardens of the hotel to get some pictures of the gorgeous property.
Our first stop once we reached down was the jewelry stop from our first day. A ring had caught Army Boy’s eye, and he was on a mission to make sure it became his. Unfortunately, there was one thing that we weren’t counting on- in addition to having a more relaxed opening/closing schedule than shops in the US, some stores actually observed the “day of rest” and weren’t open at all on Sunday!
At that point, we actually needed our umbrellas for the first time since we’d arrived- the weather had determined to set our itinerary for us, and we ducked into an open pub to have some lunch, get our pints and get out of the rain. Nothing’s better with a beer than fish and chips, and that’s what we both decided to enjoy. All of the rumors are true- Guiness is FAR better in Ireland than anywhere else. It’s practically a meal in itself, and finishing mine was a challenge. One I was more than willing to accept, of course.
Unsure of the Sunday hours of the other local shops, we decided to make our priority getting the whiskey that we’d promised to family back home. We stood in the liquor aisle, surveying the impressive selection of whiskeys, and realizing that we hadn’t the faintest clue which of them were actually any good. I decided to avoid any of the names that I was familiar with back in the US, so my first pick was a bottle of Crested Ten. It’s made by Jameson’s (yes, THAT Jameson), but you can’t get that particular variety over here.
After that, we were stumped. I hit on the bright idea of asking one of our fellow shoppers for recommendations- a trick that’s worked well for me in the past while traveling. If the locals enjoy a certain place/shop/food it’s probably going to be good. I looked up at the tall gentlemen browsing to my right, and inquired as to whether they had a particular favorite whiskey.
You would think that browsing in an Irish store, looking at the Irish whiskey while standing next to gentlemen with accents would guarantee you an Irish recommendation. I’m ashamed to admit that the sweet young man smiled and said, “I’m sorry Miss, we’re from Holland.” Diction-recognition FAIL. We ended up grabbing a bottle of Jameson’s 12-Year Reserve and another of Connemara (this one WAS recommended by a local) before heading to the supermarket for MY last shopping requirement.
We’d made fantastic work of our stash of Cadbury, and I’d managed to narrow down the choices of treats we’d be bringing home. I adored the Crunchie bars, and something about the simple sweet Dairy Milk Buttons made them a perfect treat. The thing I didn’t get nearly enough of?? Lemons Iced Caramels. Oh good lord, they’re amazing. Chewy soft caramel surrounded by a crispy icing shell?! So far, I haven’t had luck at finding a way to get them over to the states yet, but I’m still trying. And by “over to the states” I mean “in my face,” because I’m selfish like that.
A check of the time revealed that the day was getting away from us far too quickly, and we took the scenic route back up to the castle to finished our packing for the next day. Our 7am flight out of Shannon would demand that we leave the hotel at the ungodly hour of 3:30 in the morning (10:30pm EST) to make the drive from Clifden. Our evening’s activities would have to be greatly abbreviated, in order to go to bed and try to get a little sleep.
I’d decided ahead of time that for our last dinner in Ireland, I was going to ditch the flats and dress up for a nice dinner with my new husband. Regardless of how silly it might look to wear a dress (and hose, we were in the British Isles and if it’s good enough for Princess Kate, it’s good enough for me!) with Das Boot, I didn’t want to miss the chance. Even the universe was against me, as the hair dryer in the room (my last resort after frying my adapter and hair straightener on day one) blew, leaving me with a wet tangled mess of hair that was more fit for Connemara ponies to chew than a nice evening. Fortunately, the wonderful front desk staff came to our rescue and I was back in business in no time.
A short time later, we were seated in the dimly lit dining room, at a table for two by the window. Outside, we could see the Irish flag waving in the light drizzle that had rolled in with the evening. As we ordered our first course, I looked around the room that had become so familiar in a short time and felt a lump start to form in my throat. I forced myself to keep it together, but was barely able to hold back the tears as I realized the end of our adventure was so close at hand. After a few short hours rest, we’d be back to life and reality. The months of planning, work, stress and laughs had all boiled down to the last two incredible weeks, and it was…. Over??
Thanks to my internet reading, I knew it was perfectly normal to have a post-wedding “crash,” but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be over prosciutto-wrapped melon in the hotel dining room. Or sitting in first class on the flight home the next day. (I should have known better than to watch “My Sister’s Keeper.” What a loon.) Army boy, who was sleeping like a baby in the amazingly comfortable seats, missed it all. There are not enough tissues in those little purse packs. For real.
We stopped at the front desk at the way back from dinner to settle our account, knowing that doing so at 3am was going to be out of the question. Returning to our room, with the suitcases neatly grouped and ready for our early morning departure, I couldn’t believe everything we’d gotten to see and do in our time in Ireland. We forced ourselves to bed, knowing that our alarm would ring all too early, and we’d have an “interesting” drive through the night to Shannon.
I wish that I had more memory of that drive to report, but the thing that I recall most is laughing hysterically. The wee hours of the morning lend even the most mundane task (driving) an edge of the manic that kept bubbling over in both of us at the slightest opportunity. Of course, it didn’t help that the night was dark and misty, and we were relying on our gps and the glow of our headlights to find our way. The Irish countryside at night is dark in a way that is difficult to find here, and the windy roads even more treacherous than by the light of day. You can only imagine our surprise when we came around a corner to find white cottony clouds blocking our way, especially when those clouds stared at our car and let out bleats of alarm.
“SHEEP! SHEEP IN THE ROAD!!” I cried out before I could stop myself, and then burst into giggles.
“WAH!” was Army Boy’s only response as he slowed and was able to maneuver around the unruly flock.
Just as we’d managed to calm ourselves from the sheep incident, we entered the Galway city limits, and began to navigate the series of six or so roundabouts that would point us toward Shannon. I don’t think that a GPS has ever taken such blistering verbal abuse as ours did that evening, but I comfort myself in the knowledge that they haven’t quite reached an A.I. level of intelligence.
The last moment of levity came as we merged onto a newer highway, and our dear friend the GPS wasn’t familiar with the road. She furiously attempted to “recalculate” over and over, landing our little electronic representation in fields and bogs before finally settling on guiding us along some train tracks.
“You are NOT a train,” I intoned in the dry British accent she used to express her displeasure with us, leading us both to ridiculous fits of laughter. All the excitement served only to tire us more, making our eventual exhausted sleep on the flight home that much more inevitable. Not SO inevitable that we couldn’t grab one last bottle of whiskey at the duty-free in the airport, but just about.
We pulled into the rental car parking as the first light of dawn streaked the sky pink, and solemnly loaded our luggage into the shuttle to the terminal. We had 22 hours of travel ahead of us before we’d pull into the sleepy train station in Central PA, complete with turbulence, flight delays and one more round of Crumbs cupcakes. By the time we entered our quiet house, on our darkened street, we couldn’t have been happier to be home.