Friday, September 28, 2012

Ireland, Part 3: Cork/Blarney to the End

I'm sitting in the Chicago airport right now, waiting for my final flight home. While I had an awesome last couple of days in Ireland, I'm having trouble coming up with a cohesive way of summarizing it all, probably because, guys, I'm going home! In the interest of finishing what I started in blogging this trip (don't worry, there will be at least one more sappy blog post to come), here's a list of the post-Galway highlights:

  • Saw gorgeous and very green Irish countryside, only occasionally getting lost on the tiny country roads.
  • Sights seen and appropriately gaped at: Cliffs of Moher, beginning of the Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle, Cahir Castle, Rock of Cashel, and some awesome caves. Deduced that man giving tour, while fascinating, probably spends way too much time in said caves.
  • Toured the Jameson whiskey factory, and got to do a whiskey tasting between Scottish, Irish and American whiskeys. Cheat sheet on the differences: Irish and Scottish are made of barley, American is usually maize. Scottish malted barley is dried with peat smoke, lending the smokey flavor. American is distilled once, Scottish twice, and Irish three times. Irish aging casks are often old sherry or bourbon casks, whereas American ones are oak and are legally required to be changed yearly. Whiskey primer complete.
  • Watched a movie! This was a complete impulse move, and it was 100% worth the 8 euros.
  • Bridget's cousin Niamh takes us out for one crazy night in a small town Irish nightclub. We survive the challenge and have a fantastic time dancing with the locals.
  • Shop more. Eat more. Generally enjoy life.

And that takes us up until today (Sept. 27th), which is a total of 17 hours in transit on my way home. It's real. It's happening. We're really going home.

I just hugged Bridget goodbye (Vicky had a different transatlantic flight this morning)...a weird feeling. We just spent 2+ years of our lives together, balancing each other out through highs and lows. It's going to be strange to know I won't see them in two weeks in Cotonou. I couldn't have had better travel mates, though, and i've been consistently amazed throughout this whole multi-continent adventure at how seamlessly we've worked together.  There are very, very few groups of people who could travel together for a month and not really be tired of each other afterward...we're lucky, I guess.

Anyway, so that's the end of this trip. The adventures and mishaps, the stories we'll tell and the ones we'll pretend to forget. Bridget and Vicky, thanks so much for the last month, or the last two years, really. It's been amazing. You've been amazing. Now let's go home.

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