Wednesday, July 03, 2019

leaving Dublin

We wake up to the rare blue Irish skies. They will make the Irish happy. For us -- it's a travel day and this time we're not aiming for a grand adventure: we just want to get home with as little fuss and bother as possible.

I'd been thinking about this day for a long time: how do you make it smooth and easy, given that a one-year-old is with us (and the four-year-old, as it turns out, still has the remains of whatever bug toyed with her for the past two days)... I'd struggled with getting good seats on the long flight: remember? I must have spent five hours on getting the bulkheads for at least two of us. The rest? We're at the mercy of passenger bargaining: would you be willing to trade seats so that the little girl can sit with her family? Same leg room, just two rows back... That kind of thing.

We have a flight that leaves for Chicago at 12:25. That's pretty good: enough time for a regular wake up and breakfast. Enough time to clean the AirBnB. No stress! That's the goal. (Well, at the very least -- low stress.)

Snowdrop bounds into my bedroom a tad too early. She can't sleep anymore. She and I do a pretend sleep for a while and then, with a sigh, allow ourselves to fold into the routines of a departure morning.

I do go out for breakfast breads. Down the Mew, onto the street with all those cafe bakeries, including the one I've been favoring, Voila.


The streets are full of people going about their daily business. I imagine they're rushing to get to work.


Each city looks different to me at this hour. The buses, the crazy cyclists weaving between cars, the cafes filling with people who want a grab a pastry on the run -- they all are country specific.


Back at the flat. Now it's a question of bathing the kids, eating our breakfast...


... and hoping that my online cab booking was successful.

One last photo from our little place above the stables...


Cabs are here! We're off.

At the airport now...

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We're patting ourselves on the back on how smooth it all was: on time, easy check in, easy security clearance. The young family is hungry for something bigger than a baguette or croissant. We pause over a meal.

We pause too long.

What one has to remember is that each airport is different and it treats security issues for travelers going to America differently. I almost always fly out of Paris or Amsterdam and so I forget this. And, moreover, these procedures change over time. In Dublin, you're not done once you've cleared security. You have a second carry-on baggage screening and a line for a passport check. For all these steps, there are lines.

In the end, we run to get to the plane before boarding is closed. Now, I know that the flight would not have taken off without us. If you check bags and the passengers have not boarded, the airline has to first find then remove the bags. And in the end, we are not the very last ones to board. Still, it was a little tight. Note for the future: Dublin airport is more complicated than I remember it being.

The flight itself? Good. There is always work involved with kids, but in my view, the daytime trip is easier: we're not all sleep deprived. We can manage!

And now we are in Chicago.

I hitch a ride with the young couple to Madison. And I think back to the incredible adventure we have just been through. I think of the lowest points: Snowdrop's bug was like a three day see-saw: she's good, she's not good, she's good again. I tend to worry about health stuff, so I worried.  And here's another worry: it happened in Belfast, when suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt faint. I don't know why. I thought: damn! How reliable am I with the kids? It was the beginning of our trip and I did not know if this was going to cut things short for me, for everyone. Eventually, I did stop worrying. And all was fine! And another tough hurdle: when my son-in-law realized that he needed to see a dentist ASAP.

But in fact, these were not terrible worries: we are in Europe. There is help to be had and it's not even expensive help. Because, you know, back home, we are unique in our expensive approach to health care.

Here's one more sticky point (literally!): at least two of us really did not like the dirty carpet in Glasgow!

And another: the ferry crossing to Ireland. Ugh!

I can't think of any other low points. Oh, maybe when I realized I was a tad too bossy at a meal we all shared in Wales: Snowdrop should order this, because I know better. I didn't say those words, but I may as well have. I looked at my son-in-law's face and I saw that I overstepped.

The high points? Oh so many! So many! These are mine -- I'm sure the young family will have their own:

The artwork Snowdrop produced during all those meals in restaurants! All in blue, because these days, it's her favorite color.

Sparrow's newfound love of real food! His sharing of pizza with his sister that night I ate with just the two of them in Wales will always stay in my memory.

The rose garden in Belfast. Period.

The first dinner in Glasgow. Sparrow, poor guy,  was at his worst. We managed, but just barely. Then Snowdrop and I stepped out in the courtyard and I will never ever forget the sweetness of the couple who were having a drink and took note of her wistful craving for the rocking chair that some other diners were occupying. Snowdrop never made it to the rocking chair, but what she got was so much better: the kind attention of these sweet people who listened to her recount of her travels thus far with rapture and such heady smiles, fulfilling all my stereotypical feelings about Scottish people: they are genuinely lovely and kind.

The ship we explored on the rainy day in Glasgow. Snowdrop was in heaven, Sparrow was the captain.

Perhaps our favorite dinner: at the Ox and Finch in Glasgow. It was so perfect! Sparrow finally got the hang of eating out two meals every day. The small plates were memorable!

Without question, up there on the list is our Snowdon ascent (train plus a wee climb) in Wales. So crazy windy! So remarkably beautiful. We went nuts in the gift shop after, probably because no one wanted to forget any bit of that day.

The beach: in Llandudno. Snowdrop's laughter as she "jumped" the wee waves and watched the jellyfish roll to shore.

The beach redoux: that same day in the evening, after dinner, on the sandy shores of the Irish Sea.

Entering the Merrion Square in Dublin with Snowdrop: she had been so out of it with her climbing fever, but upon entering the gardens she insisted on abandoning the stroller. She wanted to be out there, among the flowers.

And the last evening, when the young family brought home a bottle of champagne for me and we stayed up finishing it off and finding humor in just about everything.

The car pulls into the farmette driveway, Ed is there. So, how is everything? -- I ask.
I smile as we go inside.

(My last photo of the trip? At O'Hare airport.)

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