Before this year, I’d never revisited any of the countries I’d travelled to. As the list of places I want to go gets longer and sometimes stranger (I won’t lie — Iran is pretty high on my list right now), it’s hard to justify going to a place you’ve already been. Thailand was the first place I revisited back in March, and I had so much fun retracing my steps and finding that one tiny restaurant I had eaten at and that one temple I fell in love with and that one road that was just so picturesque. I revisited Prague with Erin and remembered the first time I had been there, experiencing Europe and my first backpacking trip for the first time. I found a shop I had loved and found the spot I’d had a near-death experience with my travel-mate, Greg, when we almost got pummeled by a tree during a nasty storm. Long story short — there’s something to be said for going back to a place you’ve already been. It’s rewarding in a different way, and certainly not a waste of time. Going back to Ireland, where I’d studied for five months in 2011, almost felt like going back home. Ireland’s charm had faded in my mind a bit in the five years since I’d been there, but stepping off the plane to a rush of cold, damp air reinvigorated all the love I’d had for Ireland when I left (weather and all).
Our little family (my mom, Erin, Gavin, and I) plus my mom’s fiancé, Chris, and his daughter, Gabrielle, spent seven days seeing some of the best bits of Ireland. My mom, Chris, and I fell in love all over again with a country we’d seen and knew, and Gavin experienced his very first trip abroad, which was too much fun for me to watch. Since my mom and Chris will get married in October, this was a special trip for all of us — a “family bonding holiday,” as our driver, Coleman, called it. For me, it was a perfect mix of new and old. I visited old familiar places and fell in love with some new ones. I’ll let most of the photos do the storytelling for this post. Ireland’s beauty is easily seen in the spirit of the people who live there, and in those green hills that seem to follow you everywhere.
Connemara National Park
Cliffs of Moher
Erin and I spent one extra day in Ireland alone when we went back to Limerick, where I lived, and celebrated a successful month-long travel journey together in which we did not kill each other. She has a whole new view on the world that has her talking about all the travel she plans to do in the future, which was exactly what I had hoped would happen after she went on her first trip abroad. For me, boarding the plane in Shannon and flying back to Omaha marked the end of my overseas adventures for 2016 — a bittersweet moment for me, though I’ll admit it’s been nice to be in one place for a little while. Up next, living life in Omaha and sticking to road trips and a couple domestic flights to visit friends and see more of the US. It’s been a hell of a year that’s left me feeling tired and grateful and ready for more.