Please excuse my delay in posting this; the past two days have been a mixture of equal parts unpacking at one home after a long vacation, and packing to go to another home after an even longer vacation.
See? That sentence was completely convoluted, but I don’t even feel like changing it. So, there.
Anyway, Marcus and I spent the last leg of our trip in Dublin, Ireland, and I felt quite at home there. Much less touristy than the other places we visited, Dublin is wonderfully rough around the edges. It still holds all of the history of a typical European city, but it also somewhat Americanized and isn’t quite so chic as certain other cities. I loved it.
We spent one morning taking a really neat historical walking tour of the city, in which we discussed the creation of early Ireland all the way up to the beginning of The Troubles. It was a good refresher of what I’ve learned in the past, but I would have loved to learn a bit more about the Unionist/Nationalist struggle from someone who actually lived through it. Alas, it was not to be, but I still really enjoyed walking all over the city center and having its major government and education buildings as the backdrop of our tour.
Just 20 minutes outside of the city, the cliffs of Howth peer over the Irish Sea, and that’s where Marcus and I went that afternoon. The peninsula of cliffs is easy enough to walk alone, so we strolled through the hills at our own pace and took in the beautiful views. I sat in complete silence for quite some time, just marveling at nature. I’d never seen such quiet, humble beauty. It rained most of the time, but by the end of our day, the clouds parted and a true Irish rainbow appeared. I was all for running after it and finding a leprechaun, but we decided to leave it be and head back to town.
The next morning, the rain was coming down in sheets and no umbrella could keep us dry as we scurried to the National Leprechaun Museum to (hopefully) catch a glimpse of the pot of gold from the day before. Unfortunately, we weren’t very successful, but we heard some fun stories and learned a lot about how the Irish have continued the legends of the wee folk into the present day.
That afternoon, we headed toward the business district of town to learn all about the porter production process (unintentional alliteration) at the Guinness Storehouse. What an experience! The original Guinness factory now includes a museum that shows all the steps of how the beer is made, as well as the story of how Arthur Guinness began such a company. It was fun to see, and even more fun to drink. We learned how to pour “The Perfect Pint” , which I will be happy to teach you for a small fee of five euro, and saw an amazing view of the city from the panoramic bar at the very top of the Guinness tower. We ended our journey on a literal high note! (sorry, couldn’t resist)
Marcus and I parted ways at the Dublin Airport, and I made my way back to Tours for the last time.
I’ve spent the last two days in a bit of a trance, trying to soak up as much of my host family and France before I leave as I can. Yesterday, we rode our bikes to Château Villandry and made a last little cultural tour of the area. We’ve eaten all my favorite meals this weekend, from crêpes to l’eau de menthe. My host family even gave a goodbye present-a French cookbook for students. At this point, I haven’t fully processed anything yet and I don’t quite know what to say. I’m sure it’ll hit me tomorrow morning at 5:27, when I hop on the train to Paris.
For now, I must keep packing and keep moving. I’m excited to return home, but I’m also hesitant to be leaving Tours already. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.