So Hobgoblin and I are home again; in fact, we’ve been home for five days or so, time which I have spent settling back in and trying to feel normal again. Coming home from travel is always hard for me (for most people?), and jet lag does not help. But I’m beginning to feel more like myself, and it’s high time I say something about my trip here.
But how to write about three weeks of travel without being uselessly vague? I admire Emily’s regular posts on her trip to France, but I didn’t have the energy or the reliable wireless to do something similar. So, the vague statements first: we had a wonderful time. Things will inevitably go wrong on any trip of that length, and it’s impossible to walk around in a state of bliss the entire time, but I think this trip was about as good as it’s possible to get.
The thing that I loved about being in Ireland was that we were in one place for two weeks and had time to settle in and get to know the place well. As I described in my last post, because we settled into the community a bit and had people to guide us around, we got to see things and interact with local people in a way most tourists don’t. One of the highlights of our time was going on field trips to beautiful places along the coast and to see historical and archeological sites, each one led by local guides who are experts on local history, archeology, theology, and culture. These trips were part of the classes the students took, but I was invited on all of them. This is a picture from a trip to Brandon Bay:
Here is a shot of part of a beach walk we did at Smerwick Harbor:
Me on a windy hillwalk to see a lookout tour built to watch for Napoleon (who never arrived, of course). It was a very, very windy day, as most days were during our trip:
One of the archeological sites, Teampall Mancháin or the Temple Geal Oratory:
The view partway up Mt. Brandon, the second highest mountain in Ireland, which we climbed, and which left me sore for a couple days. It was a gorgeous hike, but by the time we got to the top, the clouds had moved in and we didn’t have a view.
We saw a lot of sheep, all looking just as content as this one does:
And then there was Killarney National Park and Ross Castle:
I don’t happen to have a great picture of the town, but it was cute and colorful with lots of shops, restaurants, and pubs. It has two small bookstores, one a very good general-interest store, and the other a tiny but excellent shop that specializes in books on Ireland, in both English and Irish. The town is small, with maybe three main streets full of businesses, but it had enough variety to keep us occupied, and we didn’t have time to visit all the places we wanted to.
I don’t know how Hobgoblin had the energy to teach a class as well as do all the touring around we did; I spent the class time reading, walking, napping, and exploring town, and it was great to have some quiet. We had a pint with the other instructors every afternoon and dinner with the students at a different restaurant every night. Our lodgings were excellent: a two-bedroom apartment right in the middle of town (paid for by Hobgoblin’s university, which was totally awesome), so it was just a few steps to the school, the grocery store, etc. We took only two bike rides, largely because the weather was so difficult, but those two rides were memorable — one for the rain, and the other for the wind. But were beautiful, though.
You can see why I didn’t want to come home?
I think that’s enough for now; perhaps I’ll come back to write about London in a day or two.