Call it reverse reverse culture shock.

A lovely, lovely departure sunset from Washington, D.C as we headed to Dulles.

We did not notice that the outbound was not operated by Aer Lingus. Instead the IAD-DUB leg was operated by United, and oh, did it disappoint. An old and sad 757 (3-3 configuration) for the 6+ hour hop. Whoever made the go-ahead on using these planes for transatlantic crossings must also hate puppies and small children. Thank the Leprechauns that there was no one in the middle seat so we could pretend to sleep.

And I needed to sleep. In the week leading up to our departure not only were we checking and double checking that Anna Grace had all of her papers (medical and immigration) in order, but we were also coordinating with the Relocation Team to “pack and load” our items in storage (from 2012), held by Company A along with our sea freight items in storage with Company B. Plus, we needed to have our little flat packed, as Tony’s colleagues were eager to get him on board and asked if he could start a week earlier than we anticipated, that being six days after I returned from Ireland.

Two days before Anna Grace and I departed “The Plan” was confirmed, wherein we learned that one of us would have to be at each of the storage locations in order to inspect the boxes and thus transfer insurance liability to the Relocation Team.

No problem. We had it all planned.

Day 1. Tony would manage our 2012 storage location (Company A) on the day I was flying back from Ireland.

Day 2. He and I would be on hand the following day at the sea freight location (Company B).

Day 3. Our flat would be packed (Relocation Team).

Day 4. We would depart for Knoxville.

Day 5. Settle into our Airbnb for two weeks until we closed on the house.

Two days before departure I realized I had “nothing” to wear in Dublin because all of my cool weather clothes were in storage with Company B, and Dublin’s forecast was calling for rainy days and temperatures in the low 60F. I mad dashed-it to Nordstrom and overpaid for a pair of jeans and a cashmere sweater, the color of which I am fairly certain matches one such sweater in Box 158 of Location B, and threw all of the layering possibilities I had into my case. Case weight for 6 days: 12lbs, including extra toiletries that did not fit into Anna Grace’s at-weight bags.  I told myself, “I can always shop in Dublin.”

One day before departing with darling daughter the inspection report on the house came back, identifying a “concern” with cracking in either/both the brick fascia and the foundation.  We quickly arranged for a structural engineer to assess the house that by now I had completely fallen in love with (though I still do not know how, and with what, I am going to furnish an even bigger house than the one we sold.)

Let’s just say, plastic screw capped-bottles aside, I enjoyed that glass of wine on my flight.

With a 2200 flight we were not expecting a meal, but sure enough, just as I was nodding off along bumped the food trolley and the drone of, “Chicken, Pasta, or Vegetarian?” to wake me. I overheard that the “Vegetarian” option was “Rice and Chickpeas,” something that seemed calming at this late hour. And indeed it was, a mild Chana Masala.

I finished my wine and meal and attempted to snooze, until the flight crew flicked on the cabin lights and started passing out Chobani Peach glop in a cup before landing. So gross and so not breakfast. Good thing we had eaten our Chana Masala.

Moving along. The Student Visa stamp securely in her passport, Anna Grace and I collected our three bags, two totes and one violin and joined the chorus of parents and students loading massive amounts of “stuff” onto the AirLink bus that connects Dublin Airport with the city. The porters had it all under control, welcoming us to Dublin and making certain we were all going in the right direction. Even though this was now our third visit to Dublin, the most recent being in April, the friendliness was as welcome as the whipping wind was not. But hey, the sun was shining!

Just 8 weeks and change in from returning to the U.S. after 7 years in Europe, AG and I both felt like we were returning home when we landed in Dublin. Is that reverse-reverse culture shock? But ah, Dublin…

I checked in with Tony to learn that the structural engineer found no foundation issues to sink the contract; and that the sellers, engineers like Tony, were willing to make the necessary upgrades. Yay, we are on our way to becoming big-house owners again?

At Connolly Station we caught an Uber to the Airbnb, and an adorable grandfatherly type driving a late-model Beemer picked us up. Go, Gramps! We think he misunderstood, “third” for “first” when he asked us whether we had visited Dublin before, and for the entirety of the drive gave us a visual tour of everything noteworthy that we passed.

The Airbnb was in the North Strand area, a neighborhood that seems to be upgrading; a cool quarter of a million Euros will get you a 750sqft place “in need of modernization.” Still, our grandfatherly Uber driver dished out that we, ”Girls should take necessary safety precautions.” He even waited until we were inside the bungalow before he drove away. The world needs more grandfatherly Uber drivers.

We dropped the many bags and took a few minutes to refresh ourselves before tackling lunch (sandwiches at a café); obtaining Anna’s student ID and transit card; and doing a bunch of shopping for spiritwear at the Trinity bookstore. By this time jetlag was wrapping itself around us and we needed a nap, so back to the bungalow for a little shuteye.

With too little time remaining in the day for a major activity we thought a visit to the National Gallery would be in order. Compact and with a modest collection, visiting was an ideal fit for the balance of our time; Anna Grace was impressed with the number of female artists on display, and even purchased a student membership to the museum. Good for her.


An early dinner at a pub followed (Fish and Chips and Guinness, of course); a quick stop at Dunnes Food Hall for breakfast provisions, and then back to the bungalow. Lights were out around 2100.

I naturally awoke early (waking to the sound of squawking seagulls is so lovely), made a cup of packet coffee (Nescafe Cappuccino, heavily diluted with milk) and settled into what began as an email shitstorm but had a happy ending.

Company B’s “Relocation Coordinator” had messed everything up while I was in flight, but thankfully Company C had taken charge and set the course straight; and somewhere along the way the incompetent “Relocation Coordinator” had been replaced.

Phew. The carefully crafted relocation Cirque du Soleil had gone back on track while I slept. I joked with Tony that I should travel overseas every time we have major situations going on at the homefront. He laughed, but it was a cautious, “Please, no” kind of laugh.

With the morning and at least the early afternoon at our disposal, Anna Grace and I caught the DART to Malahide Castle. The forecast predicted light rain which never came to pass, though the brooding clouds and light made for gorgeous castle photos.  We stalked the (lone?) peacock in the garden around a bit and then walked into the village for a look-see and some lunch (Baked Cod Special of the Day. Y.U.M.) before collecting her belongings and heading to her dormitory for check-in.


The “Fresher” Hall for TCD is a fenced campus of a dozen buildings, each with apartments for 4-6 students with a shared kitchen/dining/living space. Anna Grace’s particular roommate is a young woman with an EU passport; hope she has plans if/when the Brexit hits the fan. The others in the suite include two young Irish men and two young women from Japan. Should be a fun year, especially in the kitchen!  Oh, and did I mention that the student apartments come with housekeeping? There is weekly cleaning service, save for any dirty dishes. Coeds these days.

Anna Grace reported that on this first night, they all agreed on making spaghetti for dinner, her least favorite meal. Having attended an American School for the 7 years we lived in Vienna, whenever she and her peers traveled for sports or academic competitions, families from the host school “housed” students to help keep travel costs down. We ourselves housed over 100 students (with enough stories to fill at least a book chapter!).The common fail-proof first night dinner was almost always spaghetti, so she now has a natural aversion to the tomato-y pasta dish.

We think she’ll be just fine.