Discovering London and Ireland

Until two years ago, I had never been out of the United States beyond a sojourn to Ensenada, Mexico, and to parts of Canada, which in my mind don't really count. In 2012 I went to Costa Rica and stayed at my cousin's beautiful home on the northern Costa Rican coast for a month. It was there that I finished the first draft of my memoir, which I've been excerpting in posts on my blog (here is Part One, if you've missed them).

So I was literally giddy last fall when Rob and I traveled to London and then to Ireland for three weeks. Our transAtlantic flight felt like Christmas Eve to me, and the stewardesses and stewards must have sensed it because they presented us with a bottle of champagne upon our arrival at Heathrow. Everything seemed magical to me. I loved London. Loved its energy, its people, the Tube, the lovely little boutique hotel in which we stayed, the vintage double-decker bus tour we took, the theater district play we saw, the vast historical sweep of the buildings and monuments everywhere one looked. In just the few days we were there we shopped at Harrods, saw a Shakespearean play at the Globe Theatre, took a boat trip up the Thames, and visited the new Tate Museum. And it didn't rain a single time, despite all the rain gear we took along. We were in Europe from late September through mid-October; the weather was cooler, but the crowds were almost nonexistent. I would go back to London in a heartbeat, because there was so much we didn't get to see. But the purpose of our trip was to see Ireland.

The London Eye

The London Eye

The Cheesegrater

The Cheesegrater

When we flew to Dublin on the fourth day, it was sunny and in the low 60s, a harbinger of the weather we encountered throughout our time there. Dublin is much smaller than London, but has its own charms. Our hotel was on the edge of the Temple District, which is the hot nighttime place brimming with bars and music venues.

The most impressive thing about Ireland is every corner has a pub, and every pub (almost) has a live band singing traditional music. We LOVED the immersion into Irish culture and music, and relished it as we traveled south and then up the west coast of the country.

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

At a pub listening to traditional Irish music.

At a pub listening to traditional Irish music.

On the Jameson whiskey tour.

On the Jameson whiskey tour.

Next, Waterford and Kinsale.