When it comes to vacations as a nanny, you are entirely at the mercy of your employer’s work schedule. You can’t very well say “I’m going to head out for a week next month” if you don’t know that they can get that week off, because if they can’t and you go anyway the children will be left to their own devices and will start a cruel and warlike society in your absence.
Instead, I typically take my vacations wherever I can get them, and they’re frequently a surprise. When Mrs. Parent caught hold of me one day and announced that there was a week at the end of June I could take, it sent me into a panicked frenzy because I only had a month and a half to book plane tickets to somewhere, and plane tickets cost lots of money when you order them a year in advance. Ordering them a month in advance means they cost several lots of money.
I was going to fly back to Idaho to see my family, the way I did last year, but it suddenly dawned on me as I was browsing plane tickets that I could go anywhere. Just… anywhere.
So I booked tickets to Ireland.
I’ve always wanted to go, you see. I can’t claim to have more than a drop of Irish blood in me, but I’ve always devoured any scrap of Celtic mythology, history, or culture I could get my hands on. Even those stupid touristy things. I will buy literally anything with some Celtic knotwork on it; if you engrave it on a toilet I’ll take five.
I was going to go on my own, but my boyfriend James has a lovely job that’s highly flexible and pays well, which is what you get when you’re very intelligent and go to college instead of nanny school, so he was able to come along.
I stressed for a good three weeks about all the interesting places I wanted to see, before I realized there was no way to plan it all and I had better just do all the neat tourist destinations my first time around, on the basis that they’re popular for a reason. In the end, I contacted an Irish travel agent, Maria, who set me up with a rental car, maps and guides, and hotel reservations in four different Irish cities.
I highly recommend a travel agent if you’re completely clueless. They’re used to it.
Our plan via the travel agent was to arrive in Dublin on Monday morning, and to go from there to Galway, and from Galway to Kilkenny, and from Kilkenny to Killarney, and then back to Dublin again, for a total of seven days. We would do this all via rental car, which James had to drive because I’m not the minimum age of twenty-four.
James puts up with a lot.
We took an overnight flight out on a Sunday, because my employers had me working that weekend. We flew with Aer Lingus, and while I dislike receiving countless unrelated emails from them, I have to admit that they’re one of the better airlines I’ve flown on.
For instance, we got a real meal while we were on that flight, completely for free, in addition to their later free snack and tea service. This little meal included a roll, a cauliflower salad, a great pasta meal, and a little strawberry cream desert. Having only ever flown on the most terrible airlines, this was incredible to me.
Each of the seats also had a built in TV screen, featuring free movies and games, with an attached remote/controller, and free earbuds. James and I were stunned. We kept expecting a paywall to come up when we selected a movie, but no. Free.
I specifically booked a window seat as we flew in, and it was worth it for the views of Ireland in the morning light. Funnily enough, I don’t think I ever registered just how populated the island is. When I used to speak about living there, my dad said “I think you’ll find that it’s smaller than you realize,” and he was right. You really take the vast distances between things in the U.S. for granted.
All of it’s like this, at least in the middle-south. I don’t think we ever drove through a part that didn’t have at least one house visible somewhere int he distance. It’s fields and fields and fields.
Not that it’s not beautiful. Like the Shire all over. That’s a golf course, but even when it’s not a golf course, Ireland’s a golf course.
I’ll cover each of the cities whenever I can force myself to get around to it; I took a lot of pictures and most of them were terrible, so it requires some sorting. Just know that I highly recommend Ireland, but I also recommend going for longer and speaking to more people and learning more than we did. We’ll do that the second time around.