Not across the pond, but across the Channel. Roughly 36 hours in Dublin for a campus tour; Anna Grace has decided upon Trinity College (School of Physics)!
On the way home we dropped in on Londontown for a few days so she could visit friends at ASL and ICL, and Tony and I could find new things to explore in one of our favorite favourite cities.
There is a Vienna ex-pat on social media who has as his tagline, Vienna is like an IKEA sofa. You know you should upgrade but it’s just too comfortable. After a week spent in the British Isles, where English (even if it’s not “proper” American English 😉) prevails; the people are remarkably cheery; and the stores, particularly the groceries that are open at night and on the weekends, this all felt like a much welcomed upgrade for us from Hoch Deutsch Vienna, with its staid citizens and archaic shopping hours.* Perhaps The World’s Most Livable City feels not so livable to us anymore?
*A half-Austrian acquaintance once commented to me that his father, “hoped to be in Vienna when the world ended, because Vienna is about six months behind the rest of the world” and therefore he would have more time on the planet. Humorous, and quite on the mark at the same time.
On this simple journey we also discovered that we are not conditioned for flights at reasonable times. The Oh-Dark-Thirty departure for America? We’ve got that drill down. The middle-of-the-night return from Asia and the Middle East? A no-brainer. But a 1700 departure with just an hour time change? We were awake at 0600 and packed by 0900. Clayton Theodore spied the cases and spent the remainder of our time at home making us feel guilty for leaving him with his sad Hound eyes.
The departure lunch was at the Johann Strauss Café at VIE. Just couldn’t do the Schnitzel; shared a half-decent burger with Anna Grace instead. Maybe should have done the Schnitzel, for the burger was enhanced with something like a salsa, emphasis on the something like.
Aer Lingus to Dublin. Built by and for Leprechauns, but we knew that from our city break to the Emerald Isle’s capital in 2017. Muggles must pay extra for legroom. And food. And water. Might as well be Irish Ryan Air. Considering this will be our 2-meter tall daughter’s airline of choice for the next four years, we’re digging deep into the sofa cushions for the “Exit Row” seat charges ahead of us. #NoPenaltyFeesForTallPeople
Our flat was in the Grand Canal Dock area. Google HQ was across the street; lots of hipster-ification underway in the neighborhood. The grocery near the apartment building had the all important prepared meals from their “Bombay Pantry” collection: “Handmade with Love in Ireland” Indian cuisine, just what we needed after what seemed like a long travel day in what turned out to be possibly the worst-stocked kitchen we have ever encountered.
Our AirBnB kitchen was as ill-equipped as our check-in host was friendly. That there was a kitchen at all was the flat’s saving grace. No cutting board. No cooking utensils (Tony turned the Rashers over for breakfast the following morn with a cake fork. Yes, there were cake forks but no cooking utensils). No kitchen towel and no dishwasher tabs, either. Worst of all, no water kettle! This last offence has to violate some section of the Magna Carta.
Anna Grace walked into the kitchen just as breakfast was being plated. She took one look at the Rashers and remarked, “No thanks, I don’t do bacon that looks like ham.” “Too bad,” we countered, for over the next four years we expected that she would likely not find anything resembling real American bacon. (The grocery in our ex-pat district in Vienna sells Bacon nach Amerikanisher Art so we have not had to suffer* much over these seven years.)
*There is a product here called Frühstück Speck, which resembles American bacon but is so thin that it sublimates in the pan faster than a year one Chem titration lab gone awry. Not the best analogy but you get the idea. (The arrival of American-style bacon a couple of years ago brought collective weeping of joy in the ex-pat ‘hoods, in the event you wondered.)
Back to the story. With the campus tour not until 1100, we took the occasion to wander about on our own after breakfast, stopping in at the book shop so that Anna Grace might purchase a TCD hoodie. We had visited Dublin on a city break in 2017 and walked about the campus and toured the Book of Kells as well, but now we wanted a more thorough look at her soon-to-be new home.
After the tour, celebratory pints of Guinness and three orders of quite good fish and chips at a pub near the campus.
Anna Grace returned to the flat to study (IB exams await!) and Tony and I decided to take the train to Dún Laoghaire. On our previous visit the three of us spent a glorious partial day in Howth, beachcombing at low tide and walking along the cliffs, so we though Dún Laoghaire might be worth a quick peek instead. Dull. And. Boring. We should have returned to Howth. Next time, because now there will be quite a few next times.
More prepared food for dinner (See, Kitchen Lacking above), and a couple episodes of The Great British Bakeoff to pair with. We are woefully (or perhaps not) behind in television viewing; two decades of child-raising will do that to you.
With a partial day remaining before crossing the Irish sea, Anna Grace returned to her studies while Tony and I took in the EPIC Irish Immigration Museum. Did you know that nearly 25% of felons sent to colonize Australia were Irish? Or that there are more persons of Irish descent worldwide than there are Irishmen in Ireland? We left after almost two hours with an enhanced appreciation for Tony’s people.
Anna Grace heroically dragged our two cases to the train station to meet us, and from where we would catch the bus to the airport. Lunch was the recommended Cod Bites (a great choice) and a final round of Guinness for everyone. A short hop of 55 minutes, and we were landing at Heathrow.