The time Erin and I recently spent in Luton was awesome to say the least!! We were spoiled incessantly with food, fun, and drinks by our hosts Aunt Pat and Uncle Donal and the other family we met. I enjoyed meeting and getting to know cousins that hadn’t made it to Kathleen’s wedding. After arriving early Tuesday, we took a nap and later had dinner with all the family of their kids and grandkids! Wednesday, we went into London with Tim and used a bus tour to get to Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and Parliament, and rode the London Eye at sunset!! Last time in London, I’d seen the bird’s-eye view during the day, and it was awesome to go up at night, even though it was sprinkling a bit.
It was a fun day walking around and we had a nice dinner that evening also. We thought Wednesday was our last day with my family, but 5AM Thursday morning after groggily rolling out of bed at 4, a quick breakfast, and being dropped off at the airport, we realized our tickets were actually for the next day. Whoops!! After freaking out momentarily, then regaining my seasoned traveler experience composure, I phoned Uncle Donal to turn around and recollect us. Being the insanely generous great-uncle that he is, we were on our way back to his house in no time, only to be spoiled for a whole extra day. Another day in London was an unplanned surprise, and Erin and I made the most of our day mastering the tube, crossing Tower Bridge, visiting Christmas markets, boat tours on the river, etc.! Another fantastic meal and time with family topped off our (real) last night in England. We didn’t get out of the country as easily as anticipated, because a half-inch of snow put the runways at a stand still. For over an hour, we napped on the Ryan Air plane until they defrosted the runway!
We arrived in Dublin at the awesome hostel I’d researched just in time to catch the walking tour! I’d already done it another time I’d been there, but a different energetic guide made adding to my Irish history knowledge worth braving the cold. We then made Uncle Donal proud by taking a tour of the Guinness brewery and pouring our own pints!
That night Erin experienced her first guided pub crawl (run by the same company as our walking tour), and needless to say it was a fun success! We were up early to visit Croke Park, where soccer and rugby, but most importantly where the Irish national sports Gaelic football and hurling are played. We got to walk through the locker room, players lounge, corporate boxes, and on the field level! It was an awesome tour, and I’d love to go back there for a game! We also visited Kilmainham Gaol, famous for its inhumane treatment of prisoners, and where the famous rebels from the 1916 Easter Monday Rising were executed (creepy, but interesting). A walk through the Christmas lights and festivities on Grafton Street ended Erin’s first and sadly my last weekend in Dublin for the semester before we headed back to Limerick. So great to have another great friend to travel with, seeing as Amanda and many of my friends have flown home already =(