We saved up cash and PTO like crazy to make this bucket-list vacation happen. It was stressful at times, and sometimes we fought over silly things like whether or not spending $2 on an iPhone app was worth the opportunity cost of vacation savings (Ian is a saint for dealing with my frugal/tightwad tendencies). I also watched others venture into home ownership and parenthood while fighting my own battle against jealousy. Making this trip happen had it's challenges, but all that hard work makes us appreciate the reward even more. It was totally worth it. And with that, on with the show!
When we booked our tickets, the cheapest option was Aer Lingus. Since we'd be flying through Dublin, we decided to build in a 10-hour layover so we could explore the city (and get an extra stamp in our passports).
Fast forward to the Friday we left. We were on a 9 p.m. flight to maximize our vacation by traveling while sleeping. Unfortunately, earplugs and sleep masks weren't enough to leave us feeling well rested by the time we landed the next morning. Groggy and coated in a layer of travel grime, we slogged through customs and then headed straight to the Aer Lingus customer service desk to see if we could avoid taking our carry-ons with us as we explored the city.
"Please don't tell me you have checked luggage," the sleek redhead in green uniform said with concern. "If you have checked luggage and you leave the airport, it's considered unattended. If it reaches level four in security, they'll call your name on the intercom. If you don't respond, they will shut down the entire airport and destroy your luggage."
Some of my favorite shirts were in that suitcase. A flight change would cost hundreds of euros. We were stuck in the Dublin airport.
We headed to the food court to at least enjoy a traditional Irish breakfast. Over pudding, which is, in fact, sausage, we discussed our predicament: how to survive the next eight hours. The airport didn't even have chairs that could double as a napping nook.
After a few minutes, I had an idea. Not wanting Ian to miss some of the landscapes he'd hoped to experience, I offered to stay behind while he took the double-decker bus into the city. Ian pointed out there was plenty of time for both of us to take a quick turn in the city.
I planted myself and our luggage in a corner near a large French retiree tour group and pulled out my French study guide to
Ian managed to squeeze in all the locations on his list and still get back with enough time for me to take a turn downtown. With a few instructions and a map, I hopped on the bus.
I am terrible with directions. Before I got my smartphone, I would frequently get lost and call Ian to OnStar me out of trouble: "I'm on Broadway... there's a large glass building on the corner..." On my own in a foreign city without a lifeline to Ian or the internet, I was paranoid I'd get lost and miss our flight. To be safe, I didn't wander far from Ian's recommended Trinity College bus stop. Thankfully, there was no lack of things to see.
In many ways, it felt like I was at Harvard: an old and stately university, buildings facing grassy quadrangles dotted with tourists and students, and just outside the university gates, a bustling square full of traffic, more tourists, and rowdy sports fans. Dublin, however, has greener grass.
After about 20 minutes, my anxiety over missing our flight combined with travel exhaustion took over, and I hopped back on the bus to the airport. After swapping a few stories and photos, we breezed through security, grabbed a bite at Burger King, the only food option past customs that was still open, and then we were on our way to Paris. Stay tuned!
See all of our photos from Dublin on Flickr.
*We turned our celebrity couple name, bestowed by my brother Caleb, into an Instagram hashtag (#iannagoestoeurope) and now it's virtually impossible to refer to our trip in any other way.