the fourth stamp

The last leg of Kara and I's great adventure was Dublin!

While we were both crazy excited about Dublin, by the time we arrived Kara's cold had intensified and she was miserable. Thankfully, though, we were staying with family in Dublin.

A few years back Mom decided to join a local DAR chapter. In order to join, she had to do a lot of genealogy research. Through her continued research, Mom became friends with her mother's cousin, William. William splits his time between Dublin and Pennsylvania and he kindly agreed to not only pick us up from the airport & show us around, but to also give us a place to stay for the night. 

William and his friend Cormac met us at the airport and whisked us into the city center for a little sight seeing. Kara, William, and I popped out at the Ha'penny Bridge while Cormac took our things back to his house. 

We wandered across the bridge and down towards Temple Bar.

One of the nice things about having a local contact is getting a free tour. William is extremely knowledgeable about Dublin, and about its churches so wandering around the city with him was quite the treat. 

The Temple Bar area was packed with all sorts of fun bars and shops so people watching was top notch. I especially loved the mounds of petunias cascading over windowsills and on light posts. They added a much needed fresh, green touch to the city. 

The city itself was  big change of pace from Abu Dhabi, Hua Hin, Bangkok, or Delhi. The weather was one of the most noticeable differences. Everywhere we visited was face-meltingly hot. Whereas India & Thailand were sticky hot, Abu Dhabi was a dry desert heat. Honestly, the desert was preferable to the humidity, which tarnished my silver bracelet the one day I wore it. 

Dublin however was cool. I'm talking 60's cool. It was sunny and breezy and just plain beautiful. From talking to William and Cormac I understood that's rather rare for Dublin so I felt especially grateful for the perfect day. 

We looked for a cafe without success for a little while after wandering through Temple Bar. It was a bank holiday so a lot of places were closed, making the pickings rather slim. 

While we were out, we wandered into Dublin Castle. Once inside, we were pleased to discover that there were the beginnings of a sand sculpting display in the main courtyard. What we could see of the sculptures was amazing! 

After the castle we made a quick pit stop for some medicine to help with Kara's sore throat before moving on to Trinity College. Again, because of the bank holiday we weren't able to get in to the library or to see the Book of Kells. Even without seeing either of those, the campus was still beautiful to amble around. It's amazing how many influential individuals have walked those same cobblestones. 

Leaving Trinity College, we finally stumbled on a coffee shop that was open so we went in for some lattes. By the time we were done, it was close to dinner time and Cormac was almost back in the city. Since dinner was back in the Temple Bar area, we walked slowly over to the restaurant. 

The four of us enjoyed a delicious dinner. It was wonderful to sit around and chat over some delicious food. After dinner, we naturally had to visit a pub for a drink. Once again, the bank holiday interfered: the pub was packed and deafening so conversation was a bit rough. There was a group of young, college-aged kids at a few tables near us who were quite amusing. During the short time we were there, they managed to break 3 glasses while singing along with the live music rather loudly. 

After drinks we headed back to Cormac's for an early night, where Cormac was kind enough to make Kara a hot drink to help her feel better. Both Kara and I were absolutely exhausted so we were happy to head back, shower, and join Cormac & William for a little TV in the living room. That was another nice thing--all the channels were in English haha. 

We ended up going to bed a little on the early side in an extremely comfy bed. 

By the time we showered and headed downstairs in the morning, William had generously put breakfast on the table. 

Throughout my travels, I've noticed that Asian countries don't really do breakfast in the way Western countries do. Whereas we have a whole separate class of breakfast foods, everywhere we visited on our trip seemed to eat the same sort of foods for breakfast that they did the rest of the day. 

Since we're both big on breakfast, by the time we got to Dublin we were really excited for a Western-style breakfast. We were treated to toast, yogurt parfait, and fresh fruit to go with our coffee. With our stomachs full, we hopped in the car with Cormac to head to the airport. 

The Dublin airport had another wonderful surprise: TSA pre-clearance. About 45 minutes before your flight, you head down to pre-clearance. You do have to go through regular security (heads up--they're crazy strict about the liquids rule in Dublin) beforehand. Once you go through pre-clearance, you're on American soil. That means when you land, it's like a domestic flight so you can just grab your bags & go. As convenient as pre-clearance was, the customs agent who checked my paperwork did not trust me at all. I spent 15 minutes being grilled about who I knew in Abu Dhabi and why I'd visited that many countries in that short period and what exactly the blanket I bought in Delhi was made out of. She even made me take the blanket out for her to touch. I can't say I was entirely surprised--every time I travel internationally without my parents, at least one custom agent decides I look shifty and stops me. I'm not sure what makes me look so shifty to customs agents but I don't care for it haha.

Needless to say, Kara and I were extremely grateful for Cormac and William's hospitality. They were more than generous to two weary strangers. 

Travel is a beautiful thing and while I may have been sick to my stomach for 4 days when I returned, it was worth every penny, every drop of sweat, and every sacrifice. I will admit, traveling internationally while holding down a full time job is difficult unless you're making tons of money. 

It's difficult. But it's not impossible. It takes sacrifice but I promise you, that sacrifice is worthwhile. 

So pick a destination. Start putting aside a little money each paycheck.

And go see the world. 

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