Yesterday I got back from a week-long, whirlwind vacation in Ireland. A friend from college and I flew into Dublin, she from California and I from Paris, and took a tour that circled the island. Usually I travel independently, and have only taken a few tours in my life. You never know how these things will be in advance and I wondered what our travel group would be like. It turns out that our group of 36 was made up of people with a wide range of ages and compatible personalities. There were lots of hugs and e-mail address exchanges going on on the last night.
Everywhere I went, I saw people who looked like they could be my cousins or uncles. Which isn't surprising, considering I'm about 75% Irish. By the end of the week, I wanted to refer to myself as "meself" and stop pronouncing the "h" in "thanks" or "thirty." I made a new friend named Paddy, who asked why it took me so long to return after my first trip 20-odd years ago. I don't have a good answer for that, I said.
Top left corner, clockwise: Celtic cross in Glendalough, thatched cottage, donkey, Giant's Causeway, Glendalough, Cliffs of Moher, phone booth in Bunratty, street in Cobh. Center: boys in Cobh.
The flight over took 90 minutes, but coming back it was only 70 because of the tail winds. We were lucky with the weather and had clear skies and sunshine. Monday morning in Dublin was sunny with blue skies, but an hour after my flight took off I landed in an overcast Paris. Today, it even rained. It seems France and Ireland swapped weather patterns. What's up with that?
So I left the land of smiling people who go out of their way to help you and say things like "tat's lovely, tanks," and arrived in the land where you have to stand one inch behind the person in front of you to prevent people from cutting in line. Where, when a cashier smiles and makes eye contact with you, it's something to marvel at the rest of the day instead of being the norm. Oh well. I do like the French. They're just not family.