(Note: I wrote an entry for each day that I was in Ireland, but I haven’t loaded up the pictures/videos to those entries. They’ll be up soon! But they’re gonna be backdated.)
I’m glad I had this weekend to decompress! I’ve been jet lagged and emotional. I want to be back there, but I’m happy to have a job I like and get into a sort of routine.
Now that I’ve had a little time to think about the trip, I present some musings – stuff I’m glad I traveled with, stuff I wish I did, things I wish I left behind, etc…
Things I’m Glad I Brought
I couldn’t have been bappy with this outerwear duo. First of all, I don’t know what I did before my Uniqlo. It’s so small, so thin, yet so warm, yet I don’t overheat when indoors. It is a WONDER product, and I urge all of you to get one immediately. IMMEDIATELY. I got it last May on sale before driving cross continent. I’ve never looked back.
My best friend encouraged that I get something waterproof. I thought the Uniqlo might be, and it sort of is! But not to the degree that was necessary the night we were in Temple Bar. I spent a good amount of time at REI trying on different jackets (as it’s basically the only place in drought-ridden California to get any rain-worthy garment) and found this guy. I wanted something that could handle the elements but wasn’t gonna look super tourist-y. I love this jacket. It’s thin, it definitely kept out the rain, it has an interior pocket that I kept my money in, a hideaway hood, and sleeves that tightly button around the wrists.
Between the two jackets, I was grand. Sometimes I just took the Marmot out, sometimes just the Uniqlo, sometimes both. The Uniqlo is so tiny that I could fold it inside itself and tuck it into…
I found this little lady on a lark while at Target. It was $30. It harkens back to a era in which mini backpacks were new and exciting, yet it’s chic and it didn’t look like I was trying to be trendy (which is what happens any time a trend is anywhere near me).
This gal carried my DSLR, two additional lenses, purse standards (lip gloss, hand sanitizer, lotion, etc), gloves, a tiny umbrella (Also essential, but DUH), and change in the front pocket. If it didn’t have such a sturdy zipper, I wouldn’t have gotten it…but I trusted my senses enough to know when shady people were behind me and would shift my weight back and forth. I’d definitely travel with it again.
I also brought boots from Target that were fine for city walking, but MAN I’m glad I lugged the Bean Boots. They weathered the Hill of Tara and Newgrange, Dingle, and the harsher days in Dublin. My friend urged me to buy the Donegal Socks early on in our trip, and I’m so glad I heeded her advice. The one pair got me through – I wore a thinner sock underneath.
I searched high and low for the right adapter, and I’m so glad I found this one. It’s got a mini USB cord attached that I used to charge my extra battery pack (which I’d include on this list, but that sucker isn’t a travel accessory so much as it is a LIFE accessory). The two USB ports meant my friend and I could charge our phones at the same time, or I could charge my phone and Apple Watch in the same spot and not have to look for another outlet.
It’s got all of the accoutrements for outlets in other parts of the world, so I’m glad to have this on hand for future travel.
My phone ran out of it’s two-year contract just before the trip, so unlocking it was a breeze. I cannot believe how cheap phone plans are in Ireland. I paid €15 for a plan that included 10gb of data. (WHAT.) I used 2GB while we were there, called my parents a couple times, texted friends like normal, and I still had €13 left on the plan when I left. Insane. Service was 3G but it didn’t feel like that. Coverage was spotty out in the country, but duh. Wifi exists nearly everywhere you go, but it’s inconsistent.
It was a little difficult to set up the phone because the fellow at the kiosk didn’t help us (topping up is such a foreign concept) but we got it figured out by the end of the first day. Should you travel internationally and do the same? I would strongly suggest going through your address book and adding “+1” to all of your American contacts. My iCloud account freaked out for a second because it didn’t know what to do with an international number, but it sorted itself out. I would think in 2016 that iPhones would add country codes to American phone numbers if you’re adding them in America, but like…sure. Fine. Whatever.
I bought this with the intention of taking timelapse footage of our drive (like I did in Alaska) but sadly that didn’t happen (one of my regrets) because we ended up using it as a phone holder for GPS purposes. Normally I use a vent holder in my own car; I intended to bring it with and forgot, but that didn’t matter much because the Jaguar’s vents wouldn’t have been compatible.
If you’re going to be driving and using GPS, you’ve GOT to have your phone up and visible. No question.
Also? Download maps for offline use in your Google Maps app. Like, I said, coverage was spotty. This was a lifesaver.
Imagine my horror when I discovered that neither my straightener nor my curling iron were dual voltage. MOMMA’S GOTTA STYLE HER LOB SOMEHOW and I wasn’t about to buy a super expensive, questionably-constructed converter that may fry my hair tools.
This 2-in-1 was small but not so obnoxiously small that it couldn’t do anything. The barrel was big enough to achieve the messy curl look I’m accustomed to, and the straightener bit took care of the cowlick that drives me bonkers. I’m glad I have it for future travel.
I’ve gotten to an age in which falling asleep in the wrong position is going to cause days worth of damage. I have to fly with one of these guys. I’m glad I found a cheap inflatable one so that I could shove down in my carry-on upon arrival. And the cover? Soooo soft.
Additionally, my friend bought some granola and generic Febreeze. I was glad to have something to munch on when my tummy rumbled and that Febreeze got my sweatpants through the week. I was grateful for it!
Things I Shouldn’t Have Brought
I packed my full sized tripod. Unnecessary! We thought we might take our time on the drives to Boyle and Dingle, but once on the road, our impetus was to just get there rather than take staged pictures on the side of the road.
I keep my passport in a passport wallet which I figured I could take my passport out of and use as a wallet when out and about. Trouble is, it’s emblazoned with the US Passport logo, which is like a neon sign when you’re out and about. Too much! I tried to keep the logo down because I was embarrassed about my own naiveté.
Things I Wish I Brought/Did
I wish I’d thought out my outfits a little bit better. I was wishing I had more leggings and sweaters. If I could go back, my outfits would be more of that with like, short mini skirts.
Also? More time and money would have been great.
When (not if!) I go back,I want to go to Dublinia, the Leprechaun Museum, spend some time in churches, and go to the zoo. Why the zoo? Because I want to watch Irish schoolchildren gawk at animals. I got a hint of it at the Natural History Museum, and I want more.
I think I’ve finally processed the trip. On the plane, I told my friend that I felt like I wasn’t appreciating the things I was seeing fully. Not that I wasn’t paying attention, but that that no matter how much attention I paid, it still wasn’t doing the subject matter justice.
Everything felt so real there.
I had a really emotional night when I got back to my apartment. I’d been up for twenty-four hours, eaten wonky meals, and been through hell with American Airlines. After spending nine days in the constant companionship of another person, suddenly being alone was quite intense.
It’s strange to be coming home to a new job, because typically travel inspires me to change things. But things have already been changed! I’ve done the work! I can relax! Would that I knew how to relax.
I’m glad we did Newgrange. I’m glad the Guinness Storehouse lived up to my expectations. I’m glad we spent an extra night in Dingle and that we took the time to get out of the city and see the REAL Ireland…like, parents walking their kids to school. I’m glad we stayed a night with Chloë. Guys, I slept in a house older than the country I was born in. That’s real.
I just…I want to be back there. Things seem more civilized, people are more polite. They move about the earth with purpose. And no one asked me what my job was; that’s the first question people ask you in Los Angeles. I liked it in the past when I was coming from an ambitious-less environment, but now I’m burnt out. It doesn’t feel like Ireland is ambitious-less in not asking, it’s that there are more important things to worry about – like whether your next drink is going to be a pint or a half pint.
It just all felt so much more present. I’m gonna keep chasing that high.