If you have Facebook, you may have already seen the albums, but now you can read about a highlight of my time abroad: James came to visit me!! After my parents came, I had about two weeks to rest up and get ready for round two of hosting in Ireland. James made his first trans-Atlantic flight and arrived in Ireland on April 11th.
I took Dublin bus in the morning to go pick him up from the airport, and had jitters the entire way there. It was really strange to see him in person and not behind a computer screen after such a long time! We headed back to UCD, so that he could drop off all of his belongings and relax. However, we had to be careful because jet lag hit him hard. First, I walked him around campus. Then Ali and I pulled our mattresses into the kitchen to make the floor more comfortable for James’s favourite card game, Pounce. Jelly left to go to the “Bouncy Ball” for trampoline club, so then it was down to Ali and I to keep him awake.
We made him eat food, watched a movie, and were able to successfully make it to around 9 or 10 when it was safe to let him sleep. Jet lag still didn’t treat him well even after he went to bed. At 2 in the morning, I found James awake in the kitchen. By 3, I was asleep on Ali’s floor, but he apparently woke back up around 4 am went back to the kitchen where he talked with Kelly and Ali, who were still up.
On Sunday morning, I had to literally drag James out of bed, and then we headed into town for church. Afterwards, we headed on to the farmer’s market in Dun Laoghaire. It was a little rainy out and there weren’t a ton of vendors. We still got lots of bread, lemon poppyseed muffins, a falafel wrap, and lamb kebab! We walked over to the pier with our wraps and sat on giant rocks overlooking the water. The weather cleared up beautifully, and we ended up walking along the pier to the lighthouse and back. The rest of the day we spent relaxing back at my apartment because it got a little chilly, and James was still tired.
Monday, I had class and a field trip, which occupied me until about 5pm. However, when I got back, James and I walked to “The Goat Bar” for some food. It was here that we first discovered that people in Ireland can’t understand James when speaks (a trend that continued the rest of the week). As we were leaving, we saw a wallet laying out open in the middle of the intersection. James ran out and picked it up to see if we could find identification. It turned out that belonged to an elderly lady living in Dundrum. I knew that it wasn’t much more than a 25 minute walk to Dundrum, so I plugged her address into my phone and we set off to return it. We had difficulty finding her exact house. We finally knocked on a door and was told by a lady that the woman we were looking for was just next door. We knocked on the right lady’s door a few times before we finally got her to open the door. We returned the wallet and she said, “Here I thought you were coming here to steal from me!” She offered to give us a reward, but we declined and headed back to UCD. We treated ourselves to ice-cream, and then tried to get to bed at a decent time since we had to be up at 4 the next morning.
Getting up was a struggle, but James and I headed back to the airport to hop on a flight to Barcelona. James has a goal of visiting every Spanish speaking country, so I agreed to help him knock this one off his list. When we got to the airport everything was a blur because it was way too early in the morning, and my eyes did not want to stay open. I was able to get some sleep on the short plane ride, and woke up in time to see the beautiful mountains and water as we were flying into Barcelona.
When we got off, James and I could not find each other because I was way in the front of the plane and he was way in the back. After passport check, I tried waiting for him, but somehow we missed each other. After watching the last person get through passport check for what I later found out was two flights worth of people, I left the arrivals. I think it was about 45 minutes of looking around and trying to message James, who hadn’t been able to figure out the wifi airport, before we finally saw each other. I am pretty sure James was more worried than I was. He told me he just kept thinking about how I didn’t know Spanish, but I have enough travel experience that I am sure I would’ve survived 😉
I drank some coffee and somewhat woke up as we waited for our shuttle into the city. We were dropped off on Las Rambla, where we strolled down and back. We made sure to watch our belongings closely, because pickpockets are notoriously everywhere. Las Rambla was beautiful, with huge trees lining both sides of the sidewalk, street vendors, and performers. We spent a little bit of time watching the statue people, who had painted themselves all over. They were supposed to do something when given money, but one of them just sat completely still as a group of frustrated guys tried everything to get him to move. I don’t know how he never busted out laughing.
We walked through the narrow alleys and then were going to try and find the Gothic Quarter, when we got hungry. While we stopped to take pictures, I overheard a private tour guide say something about food to an old couple from the U.S. that he was with. So, I told James we were going to follow them since he would know where to eat better than us. They unknowingly led us to a place that I quite enjoyed.
This is where I learned that James is a pickier eater than I am… I just really like food, weird or otherwise. I had a sample platter and James was able to get seafood paella like he wanted. The problem was that he didn’t much appreciate the complete shrimp and oysters they put in the dish. I found the shrimp with it’s antennae quite entertaining– I ended up being the one to peel it for him to eat. In James’s defense, the oysters were gross looking, but I am glad I got to try them! His meal also came with creme brûlée, which I was happy about because it meant I got to eat some! I was appalled to learn that James does not like the caramelized top layer. Not okay, but I still like him 🙂
After eating we took a quick look at a church near-bye, and on the side of another building found water spigots that people drink. Of course we drank from them as well!
Afterwards, we set off for our next stop. James perked up at this point because he was super excited to be seeing La Casa Mila. We started with audio tour guides, but quickly gave up and wandered along without them. We found our way to the roof, where we spent some time exploring. There were pretty good views of the city and lots of towers, stairs, bridges, and nooks to roam around. At one point, I crawled in a cubbyhole, and when I came out, I scared two poor women walking up the steps next to it. The rest of the house was fun to explore and was much different than any other building I have seen.
James had planned to have us sit in a cafe next, because even though he hates coffee, he continues to support my addiction. We found our way to a cute place, which had donuts shaped like little men and women! James used his Spanish skills for ordering, and I was pretty impressed!
After hanging out and cooling down from the warmth outside, we decided to navigate ourselves to La Sagrada Familia. We walked, talked, and even took time to sit on a park bench for a while, and we still made it there ahead of schedule. Until we could go into the building, we sat in the park near-bye and ate popsicles. The outside of the church, is still under construction, even though it was started in 1882. Elaborate design and lack of funding don’t make for a good combination apparently. Walking inside, you are immediately struck by all of the colors from the stained glass reflecting off everywhere. The ceilings were incredible as well. We went up the tower during our time slot, and were able to see out over more of the city.
We walked around another park and then decided to start finding our way to the airport. Figuring out the taxis was a disaster, because we hadn’t seen anyone else hail one in order to know the proper procedure. As we were walking, there was a taxi pulled off to the side and the driver was talking to a woman standing just outside her car. I told James that it looked like they were saying goodbye and we should wait to catch him because that would be our best shot. He wouldn’t listen to me, and as we continued walking, the taxi I had pointed out passed us. At this point it was going too fast and was on the opposite side of the road, so we couldn’t get to it.
I convinced James to go into a hardware store to ask for help. The guy told us we were crazy for getting a taxi because buses are cheaper. He gave us bus directions, which I realized would take us too long, and after convincing I was able to get James back on the taxi idea. By some sort of miracle, James hailed a taxi. We made it to the airport and the price was exactly what I had told James that it was going to be when we were planning for Barcelona. It really wasn’t expensive at all (definitely cheaper than a Dublin taxi)! As we were heading back to the airport I said, “So what lesson have we learned today?” to which James responded, “Listen to Mallory.” 😉
We flew home, and by the time we landed were exhausted. Then we hit passport control…. I have an Irish immigration office card, so I was fine, but they questioned James a ton. They even went so far as to find a charger for his phone so he could pull up the flight itinerary saying he was leaving the next Sunday. After a long time, they gave up and let him go with a valid visitor stamp that said he had to leave by Monday.
The next day, we slept in a little before I started studying for an exam I had that night. After my exam at 6 pm, I went back to the apartment and got James motivated to get up and moving so we could go into Dublin and eat. We ended up at Jo Burger, where James discovered his love of Irish beef. The next day we went into the city again and started with Little Ass, my favourite restaurant in Dublin. We took our burritos and ate them on the lawn at St.Stephen’s Green because it was a beautiful day! After eating I took him to the Chester Beatty Library, Temple Bar Area, over the Ha’penny bridge, and onto O’Connell street. We walked on to the Garden of Remembrance where we sat and relaxed for a while. Then, I made sure we hit the donut shop on the way back 🙂 We took our donuts and sat in the lawn area at Trinity College before heading home. That night, after my Skype interview for a job, we ordered pizza and then decided to end our day with a movie.
The next morning we had to get up early and head into Dublin with Ali and Kelly. There, we boarded the Paddywagon for a Cliffs of Moher tour. When they let us off at the baby cliffs, we headed straight for the edge. James decided to run over to a far away corner. As I was yelling at him to be careful, he yelled back, “Natural Selection!” Eventually, I too found my way over to where he was. When we got back on the bus, the tour guide stopped at us and said, “You two are crazy, just thought you should know.” When we made it to the actual cliffs, I wouldn’t say we were any more careful. The heights were insane and the fact that they didn’t gate it off was even crazier. I really enjoyed hanging my feet over the edge. Ali, Jelly, and I, made a Jelly Sandwich by squishing Kelly in between us as we laid next to the edge, soaking up the sun. James and I made it back to the bus area early enough to stop in for ice-cream. He got Bailey’s and Schnapps flavour, which was fantastic! The bus driver referred to James as spiderman multiple times over the intercom.
When we finally got back into Dublin, we stopped by for more donuts, and then tried going to the Brazenhead pub so that James could have a pub experience. However, they were too busy, so we settled for a pub next door. It was here that James was able to try the Irish specialty: Guinness. He doesn’t like beer, but handled it better than my family and I did!
The next day, I took him by train to Howth. When we got there, we ate fish and calamari next to the water. As we were sitting there, the wind was blowing my hair around so much that I could hardly see. However, I did look over just in time to notice a sea lion staring right at me! It was huge and had to have been no more than 10 feet away!! I got so excited and pointed at it trying to get James to look. As he turned, the sea lion huffed and flopped sideways in the water. After finishing up our lunch, we walked over to Howth market and along the way saw a lady doing water color paintings by the water. We bought little Vanilla cupcake bowls and ate them outside, and then walked down and back along the pier. We eventually made our way up to the cliffs overlooking the water, where we hiked along the trails and admired the yellow flowers everywhere.
We finished our hike with soft-serve ice-cream, of course 🙂 Then we headed back into Dublin, where we once more ate at Jo Burger because James was hooked.
The next morning, I had to take James back to the airport. It was really hard and really sad because I had a fantastic week. It’s back to video chat until I go home in a few weeks and we are next door neighbors for the summer.