First of all: By now, we have returned home safely! The final chapter of this amazing Family World Trip was Ireland, the land of St. Patrick. It was quite a change from bustling and exciting New York City. The first couple of days we spent in the capital Dublin. After some weekend sightseeing there, we rented a car and embarked on one final road trip. From Dublin we went to Kilkenny then close to Limerick and until Galway before making our way back to Dublin. The time in Ireland was definitely more relaxed, which was exactly what we needed. Everybody was a bit exhausted, especially after the time in New York City.
Boeing’s Problems affecting Us
Our flight from New York (better Newburgh) to Dublin should have been operated by Norwegian Air. However, ever since all Boeing 737-8 Max are grounded, Norwegian has a huge problem, because their fleet consist majorly of this airplane type. Over the last months I watched this topic carefully. As nothing changed until August, Norwegian hired some low-cost Spanish airline to cover for them. I cannot recommend either one of these airlines. It was the first time I have seen all passengers waiting for the crew. They just were not at the airport, but arrived around 1.5 h late. When they were finally onboard there was another problem with the fuel gauge. For us that meant keeping two kids entertained for almost 4 h on a very small airport with just 5 gates. Instead of 9 pm we started only around 12:45 am.
First Hours in Dublin
We arrived in Dublin around lunch time. The up side was, that we did not have to wait long for our hotel room to be ready. The hotel was close to the city center, but I cannot state any other positive fact about it. However, after the apartment in Montreal everything felt comfortable. In the late afternoon we went to Dublin center where we reached Trinity College. Unfortunately, it was too late to get into the Book of Kells exhibition, which I wanted to visit. Instead, we walked a little more around Dublin center. After two to three hours, still jetlagged, we went back to a playground nearby our hotel. After an afternoon in the car, and evening at the airport and a night in an airplane, the kids needed to release some energy.
Patrick meets St. Patrick
The following Saturday was a fully packed Dublin sightseeing day. We started with breakfast at the Temple Bar Food Market. It was much smaller than I expected, but the food was delicious. A very good start into the day. After that we explored Dublin Castle. Actually, no Irish royals ever lived in the castle. Instead, it was only used for the British royals during their visits. Last time I was there, there was an extremely interesting exhibition about the Irish independence. Unfortunately, that exhibition has been moved and instead we saw some art not worth further mentioning. From Dublin Castle it is only a short walk to St. Patrick’s Park and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Obviously, I had to visit both! The cathedral is stunning from the outside and the inside. There is even a little book corner inside with many books for children. Patrick meets St. Patrick…
Being lucky at the Guinness Storehouse
From St. Patrick’s Cathedral it is a 15 minutes’ walk to the Guinness Storehouse. Upfront, I told Leandro that he can learn about the brewery process and even smell the different ingredients. Hence, I was not the only one excited to get in. When we reached Guinness Storehouse there was a huge queue and we were told, that we had no chance of getting in anymore. Suddenly, when they saw Diego’s stroller, we were shown a different entrance by a guide. He took us directly to some other cashier and before we knew it, we were inside. Luckily, Diego was still sitting in the stroller. Even though I do not like Guinness as a beer very much, the Storehouse is very interesting. On several floors not only the brewery process, but the history of Guinness as a company and Ireland as a country are explained.
Saturday Night Irish Dance Show
Shortly before 6 pm we were called into a large room for beer tasting. As soon as I got my share, an Irish dance show started. It was amazing, because all the waiters were dancing. Not only on the central stage, but also on the tables right within the crowd. The atmosphere was hilarious! It was definitely the highlight of our visit to the Guinness Storehouse. After that, we went to the smell room where all the ingredients are vaporized and can be smelled intensively. The roasted barley was my favorite. Last but not least, we learnt how to draw a perfect pint of Guinness. Now we are officially certified to draw pints of Guinness. I liked the experience in the Guinness Storehouse. Even without being a beer drinker it should not be missed when visiting Dublin.
A little Pirate and a little Spiderman
Sunday, we had planned to visit the Book of Kells at Trinity College. It was our second attempt after we were too late two days before. When we got to Trinity College, we learnt two things. First, Sunday is the day everybody wants to go there and the queue was insanely long. Second, one can purchase tickets online upfront and skip the queue. We decided to do the latter and bought tickets online for our last day in Ireland. It was a good decision, because outside Trinity College was a nice street festival with several activities for kids. The most amazing of them was probably the face painting. Afterwards we were protected by a little pirate and a little Spiderman. For lunch we went to a nice pub near Grafton Street.
Seeing Riverdance in Dublin
Grafton Street is colorful pedestrian zone in the heart of Dublin. On one end it leads to Stephens Green, the city’s largest urban park. After lunch we spent some time there and the kids ran around like crazy. It was good for them to blow off some steam, because the day was not over. Near Stephens Green is the Gaiety Theatre and shortly after our arrival I had purchased tickets for what is very likely the most Irish show – Riverdance. The show itself was absolutely fantastic. It was not just about Irish step dance, but it contained a story and included some history. My personal highlight was the New York dance battle between people from there and new Irish immigrants. Mixing these two styles and adding some humor was simply great. It was marvelous seeing Riverdance directly in Dublin.
Deep into Ireland’s Countryside
Monday our road trip started. It was the first time driving on the left side with a manual gear box. It was somehow strange getting used to this gearbox. We left Dublin and drove a little south to a farm B&B near Kilkenny. The farm was in the middle of nowhere and therefore very quiet. The little apartment we had at the farm was very nice. The owner, an extremely nervous or stressed out older woman, was caring a lot about everything. A couple of times we watched the milking process, which was much less romantic than we had seen it in Austria on a tiny farm two years ago. It was highly industrialized and automated. Even the cows knew exactly what to do and when. The first two days we did not do much but relax.
The beautiful medieval Town of Kilkenny
The third day on the farm we drove to nearby Kilkenny and visited this gorgeous medieval town. The city center is absolutely beautiful. First, we went to Kilkenny castle. It is by far more interesting and more beautiful than Dublin castle. The castle park with its rose garden smells very nice. Afterwards we went for lunch to a pub, which was built in 1324! Although the food was not spectacular the armor all around us was. From there we visited the city’s two (!) cathedrals. One appeared to be the oldest we had seen in Ireland and was likely over a thousand years old. The other one was not as old, but nevertheless very beautiful. After a lot of walking we finished the day in a simple café in the beautiful medieval city center. Kilkenny is a must for every Ireland itinerary!
Does that road lead somewhere?
Our next stop was a B&B north of Limerick. This B&B was even further in the middle of nowhere and when Google Maps led us there, we were absolutely not sure whether we were in the right place. Towards the end the street became narrower and narrower. Hardly one car at the time would come through. One day in fact I had to drive backwards for about 300 meters to let another car pass. The owner of the B&B was another lady. She was very, very caring. We got a full Irish breakfast, enough for 6 to 7 adults, every day. She also gave us rubber boots, which proved to be very useful in the Irish countryside and considering the Irish weather. The B&B was just next to a lake and fortunately we were allowed to go kayaking and even swim in the lake.
Superheroes in Wetsuits
Kayaking at the lake was great fun, but best of all the owner had wetsuits in many different sizes which we were allowed to use at our convenience. It was great! The kids did not only look adorable in their wetsuits, but felt like superheroes. We had so much fun, that we went kayaking several times. There was not much to do around without driving for 20 minutes. Hence, kayaking and even swimming was the closest option. From other guests we heard about an international Irish Folk Music and Dance Festival in the next village called Feakle. We went there one day and listened to some local bands playing traditional Irish music in the village square and the village pubs. It was a good coincidence that the we were there exactly at the time of the festival.
Rainy Day in Galway
One day we went on a day trip to Galway. I had heard a lot about Galway, not at last the famous song “Galway Girl“. Unfortunately, it was a very rainy day. We used the rubber boots for sightseeing. Dry feet came over style that day. Even in the rain the town center was beautiful, but very crowded. We had lunch at the Galway weekend market, which was good and healthy. Due to the rain we continued our sightseeing tour with a little train. We saw these trains in many different places and always told the kids, that we will go with it one day. In Galway that day had come. It might be because of the rain, but we definitely preferred Kilkenny over Galway. On our way back from Limerick to Dublin we visited Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. A lovely spot to visit with kids!
Finally seeing the Book of Kells
Back in Dublin there was one last thing, I wanted to visit. As mentioned earlier I bought tickets for the Book of Kells. Hence, we went there on the last day of our Family World Trip. The book is one of the oldest books in Europe and Ireland’s national treasure. Its color and love for details and absolutely stunning. However, there is not just the Book of Kells, but also the historic Trinity College Library. It is the largest Library Hall in the world. Seeing so many historic books in one place is impressive. I am glad, that with our third attempt we finally made it in. For me, it was worth it to be persistent. The rest of the day was about packing and donating a lot of stuff, which we would not need anymore. A very strange and uncomfortable feeling after being on the road for so long.
The Trip is over – what next?
Last Thursday early morning, we boarded our final plane that brought us back safely to Munich. Thanks to all of you for staying with us during the last months. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, for leaving comments, for liking our social media posts and for your questions. Although the trip itself is over, there a still a few posts to write. Many of you sent us questions along the way. I have promised to answer them in a FAQ post. During the trip I did not find the time to do that, but that will change soon. There are also a few funny and interesting stories, which did not make it in any of the posts. Plus, we plan to have dedicated posts for Carolina’s and Leandro’s view. Therefore, stay tuned – there is more to come…