Thursday, July 17, 2014

An Irish Year in Tourism

Before moving to Ireland, Cory and I were not completely inexperienced in navigating new places. I wouldn't say that we are worldly or seasoned travelers, but we had some shared domestic and international travel experiences under our belts (including our Farewell to America Road Trip in the weeks before our departure). To quote Rick Steves, our favorite travel writer, "travel is intensified living". For better or worse, you learn a lot about yourself and your travel companions in the course of an extended trip far from home.

I have learned a couple things about myself in traveling, the primary lesson being that it brings my type A personality to the forefront. I am a planner. A spreadsheet-making, travel-book-reading, list-writing, budget-generating planner. I try really hard to roll with the punches while traveling, but for me an hour spent lost in a train station is an hour I won't spend walking through the gardens of Versailles or drinking beer while listening to live polka music or eating gelato while watching gondolas wind through canals. It's an almost unbearable loss for me and it drives me to ambitiously fill our schedule to the brim. Traveling this way is exhausting, but I fear retrospective trip regret far too much to risk missing out on a must-see sight. 

All of that preamble is merely meant to explain why one of my most difficult transitions upon moving to Ireland was actually living in Ireland. For at least a month (maybe longer) I was unable to just be at home on an evening or weekend. We were in a foreign country! There are new and exciting places to see! Museums to visit! Shouldn't we be drinking Guinness or walking up a grassy hill spotted with sheep? Listening to trad music? Touring a castle? We couldn't just relax at home! We were wasting time! 

It's fortunate for me that I brought a patient companion who was able to tolerate my manic bursts of travel-hunger. Someone to talk me down and convince me that since we would be here for awhile we had plenty of time. There was no need to spend every available moment sightseeing, and we should take breaks from the spreadsheets every now and then. It took some time for that mindset to sink in, but fortunately for both of us it finally did. 

Traveling abroad is constantly exciting and exhilarating. Living abroad is not. It can't be. At some point, the surroundings and local colloquialisms become familiar...and thank goodness they do. Don't get me wrong, life in Ireland is interesting. We continue to learn new things about Irish history, culture, and politics while we are slowly crossing off items on our list of Irish places to visit, but I definitely feel like we have settled in. Work, chores, and weekly errands all have to be done. The mundane aspects of life exist here just as they do in the U.S., and sometimes I can spend a weekend at home binging on Orange is the New Black without feeling like I'm losing out on travel experiences. 

"Intensified living" cannot be a permanent state of being. We strive to keep a balance between accomplishing all of the tasks required of us as functioning adults and taking advantage of our location and situation as much as we can. Since moving to Ireland, we have always had at least one trip planned for our near future, and think that if we continue at our pace we will be able to look back on our time spent here without regret. 

For anyone interested in our last year of Irish travels, check out the blog posts about sights around Dublin, Northern Ireland, Cork, Trim Castle, Howth, and Newgrange. For our trips around Europe, see posts about Munich and Prague (and stay tuned for Belgium).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment, we'd love to hear what you think! Comments are word verified to prevent SPAM.