March 2003. I had an opportunity to visit Ireland with a group of students from the college I attended. Sure, I had been to just about every Carribean Island and Florida more times than I’d like to admit, but I wanted more!
When I learned of this opportunity, I knew I had to jump on it. A new country, and IRELAND of all places! I quickly applied for my very first passport. As departure day came closer and closer….still no passport. Shit. About seven days before I was set to leave I receive a letter in the mail, without a passport. Apparently my birth certificate was not legit enough to grant me access to leave the country legally. I was so sad, but refused to give up hope. I did so much research and learned that there are passport agencies that can whip up a passport in 24 hours or less if you visit in person.
I grabbed my new birth certificate (which for future reference you need to have a “raised seal” on) and headed to the Boston, Massachusetts passport office. By some miracle, I had my passport in hand 2 days prior to leaving. Note to everyone: leave PLENTY of time to get a passport or renew a passport!
The Emerald Isle was in my grasp! Since I only knew one of the leaders on this trip, I was paired up with a roommate. Sweetest girl, and her very first plane ride if I remember correctly. On international flights, most airlines serve a full meal. This was my first experience getting more than just bag of pretzels and a Sprite. About 4 minutes into dinner, my new friend/roommate wasn’t feeling so hot. Let’s just leave the details out, but neither of us were able to finish dinner. It’s fine, we’re fine. The lovely flight attendants were so kind and let us move seats.
Jet lag was a bitch. I’d like to consider myself a resourceful person, so I was prepared for this. The best advice I’ve learned about switching time zones is DO NOT SLEEP when you arrive. It’s important to get your body onto the new time pattern, and if you nap, you’re screwed. So, I did what you were supposed to do in Ireland, bellied up to the bar and ordered a Guinness.
The people of Ireland are some of the kindest, happiest people. Their night life is a family affair. Young children joining their family in the pubs ’til the wee hours singing and dancing.
What a fantastic trip we had! Our home base was in the cutest town of Killarney. From here we went on day trips to the Ring of Kerry, Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park, Blarney castle, and yes! I did kiss the Blarney Stone with no side effects following.
This may have been my first “solo-ish” trip, but I knew it wouldn’t be my last. The wanderlust bug had bitten. (and the beer in Ireland was fantastic)