Aer Lingus jet courtesy Google Images.

“Thank you very much, Love,” “There you go, Love.” “Sure, Love” …the warmth of the Irish people softens the blow of a long, exhausting trip across the pond via Aer Lingus’ cramped seating, distracted, less-than-attentive flight attendants and unappetizing food, followed up with the trauma of driving a stick-shift rental car on the left side of the road from Dublin Airport to Bewley’s Hotel at Newland’s Cross, where we fell into bed and slept for several hours. Now, having showered and enjoyed a delicious meal in “The Brasserie” downstairs, we’re back in the room with the tv on, where Eoin, like a good Irishman, just finished watching Ireland lose to Italy in the football match everyone was tuned in to in the hotel pub downstairs.

The weather here is lovely and fresh after the sweltering heat we left in Chicago and everything is both familiar and strange. Eoin agreed with me during dinner that it feels like ‘home’ to be back. But at the same time so much is different that it takes some getting used to. The signs, the roads, using the Irish debit card with its pin number, and even the light switches in the hotel room, take an extra effort to figure out. When we finally arrived at our hotel, with the aid of directions along the road from two men in a truck sitting next to us at a traffic light, I was so relieved that I would have punched my fist in the air and shouted “yes!” if I’d have had the energy. But my last bit of energy was required to figure out how to open the “boot” of our Volkswagen rental car so I could remove the one large suitcase we were able to fit into it. This effort took around 10 minutes – partly due to my brain having already thrown in the towel at that point.

So, tomorrow we will wake up early and head out to The West with a wish and a prayer that I quickly get used to the car and the roads and that, with Eoin’s help reading signs, we arrive safely at our little cottage in the bog …and that it has not become too wild while we were away!