Before I went to Chicago to be with Mom, I can't remember the last time I didn't have a trip planned, with tickets bought for somewhere. I always enjoy having something in the calendar to look forward to and plan. But when I went to Chicago, I didn't have any idea how long I'd be there, and there was a bit of a mental block, too; it was hard to think about after, and making plans would acknowledge that there would have to be an after. Then when I first got back to London, being grounded - at home, in London, with my friends and routine - was comforting.
As 2013 moved on, I got my feet wet with UK city breaks, Manchester for a boys' weekend, Liverpool with Dad and Mary Keany. Last weekend I went to Ireland with Rachel for a wedding, which has set the ball rolling: Brittany, Dorset, Tunis, Vegas/SF/Vancouver and India will roll me out of 2013 and put a happy ending on a year that sorely needs one. It feels really good to have these trips on the books.
Ireland was great, as it has been each time I've been there. I grow more fond of Dublin each time I visit. It's an understated city, not much to see or awe, but the people are golden. Everyone is so friendly and warm, outwardly optimistic, and number one on everyone's priority list is to enjoy life - my kind of people. We saw the sights and drank the beer, and then my heart was broken: Siam Thai, which I've plugged before, has closed. It was my favourite thing about Dublin and was honestly reason enough to go back. But, fortunately, it turns out it hasn't so much closed as undergone mitosis - the owners parted way, each taking one of the three locations. The one in central Dublin, Red Torch Ginger, has stayed faithful to the old menu and was sublime - the best Thai food I've had outside of Thailand. It was so good we went back for dinner again the very next night. It's the one must-do I tell everyone who's going to Dublin. I need to get that return trip on my books...
Rachel enjoying the six-hour stay at Gatwick Airport that RyanAir so lovingly bestowed upon us
Irish sunshine in Temple Bar - it's even stronger than British sunshine
Me, after Jameson, on the famous Ha'penny Bridge
Lots of stoic grey stone in Dublin
Rachel in a cell at Kilmainham Gaol, the prison where Britain kept, and executed, several IRA leaders
The core of Kilmainham Gaol
Proclamation, by Rowan Gillespie, a memorial to the executed leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916. Ironically, the weight of Irish opinion was not behind the IRA movement, especially after the damage inflicted on their capital by the revolution. The executions, however, enraged the populace, and turned the tide towards the independence movement.
O'Connell Street, Dublin's great thoroughfare
Jesus... in a glass box... in a traffic island...
Reminder in the car, in case you forget
The view outside our hotel in Killarney, where we went for the wedding
Killarney's quaint downtown
Wedding bus selfie!
Dingle Peninsula, where the wedding reception was held, and where the Atlantic Ocean meets Ireland
Me, Dingle behind
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