**This is part three of our Europe trip, which happened in February, but I am just now getting around to writing about it!**
We landed in Dublin mid-afternoon, figured out which bus we needed to take to get to our hotel, and set off in the middle of a rain storm (it actually snowed for a few minutes too!). This was the last leg of our trip and I had purposefully booked a bougie-ass hotel by the sea, away from the city, thinking (rightfully so) that we might be tired of all the city life and ready to take a few days to relax by this point in the trip. We stayed at the Haddington House, with a view of the sea from our hotel room, and it could not have been more perfect.
The hotel had a restaurant in it so that’s where we ate the first evening and the food was absolutely delicious. My throat had started to hurt earlier in the day, which I was in denial about and would not accept the fact that I might have been getting Kevin’s cold, so I had a few hot toddy’s with dinner and those seemed to help.
Unfortunately, by the middle of the night, I could no longer be in denial about it and was forced to miserably accept that I was now the sick one. Thankfully, we still had some medicine that we’d gotten from my aunt before leaving Exeter. The next day, Kevin was forced to spend the day alone as I slept for most of the day and neither of us felt like going into Dublin to go sightseeing. He left on several errands throughout the day — in search of food, a pharmacy, and a walk on the pier. We had some burgers for dinner that weren’t great but weren’t terrible, and we should have gone back to the hotel restaurant instead. Kevin still wasn’t feeling 100% and I was at square one of the sickness, so we laid low for the entire day. I wish that I would have felt better but if there was ever a place to spend the day in bed and still have an amazing view out your window, this was the place to be. It didn’t feel like an entirely wasted trip, more like a lot more unplanned rest than we imagined.
The next day, I felt well enough to take a walk on the pier. It was cold and windy but the sea was really beautiful. Kevin also made us some espresso and we had a little breakfast coffee and cookies in our hotel room. There was a Nespresso machine in the room and Kevin fell absolutely in love with it and is still begging me to buy one for our house, along with the Nutella cookies that we found at the grocery store in Paris.
We opted out of Dublin but were going to visit a museum that was right next to our hotel, but unfortunately it was not open early enough and we had to get to the airport for our last flight(s) of the trip. We were flying from Dublin back to London and then flying from London back to the U.S. the next morning — early. Due to some weather issues, our flight in Dublin was delayed for several hours and we ended up not getting back to London until much later in the evening than we expected. At this point, the COVID situation was worsening and people in the airport were wearing masks. We were starting to feel some mild anxiety and concern over whether we would be able to leave the country and get back home.
We stayed in a hotel right by the London airport, ordered room service for dinner, and watched one of the Back to the Future movies on tv, which would have been a great night except for the fact that I was in the my nose is so stuffy I can’t breathe point of my cold. At this point, I was on the 4 hour cold medicine cycle and was certain that I was overdosing on the Sudafed nasal spray. I prayed for a miracle to happen and that I would feel better the next morning, but unfortunately I felt about the same. We visited the pharmacy at the airport before we left to stock up on all the drugs that had been keeping me sane for the last 48 hours. We bought a few more pastries from the coffee shop, and boarded our plane home.
The flight was 12 and a half hours instead of 8 and a half hours and leaving for a long flight in the early morning did not work as well for us as leaving in the evening did. We didn’t eat enough for breakfast and the meal served on the plane did not quite cut it. Kevin went and grabbed extra snacks from the flight attendants several times. I spent half of the flight with tissues plugging my nose because I got tired of constantly blowing it, and the woman behind us had a deathly sounding cough so I was certain I was going to recover from this cold only to get her germs. The flight felt like it took several days and we were ecstatic when we finally landed. Our ears were so plugged from being on the plane and being sick that we couldn’t hear properly for a couple of days after getting home. We ended up both being very sick for a couple of weeks but I can’t say it surprised me since we took so many flights during the trip.
We learned so much on this trip about what works for us and what doesn’t when it comes to international travel. This was our first experience so we really didn’t know what to expect. I’m glad that we packed so many places into such a short trip because although it was nice to check off so many things on the to-do list, we realized that we prefer a much slower pace when traveling. Visiting Exeter was the highlight of our trip because we got to spend time with family, which made us realize that we are probably much better suited to traveling in a group instead of traveling alone just the two of us. We didn’t love Paris, but really all we were there for was the Eiffel Tower, and now that we’ve checked that off our bucket list I don’t think we will go back — though there are other parts of France that I think we’d love to visit. We’d like to go back and actually see Dublin, but we loved the countryside and the hotel we stayed in.
The biggest learning experience for us on this trip was that neither of us are really into the traditional touristy things — which also usually take place in the city — and we’d much prefer to have a more leisurely trip in the countryside or less crowded places. The next time we travel internationally, we plan on visiting only one place and not flying to three different countries in a week and a half, and we also plan on traveling with other people — most likely my brother and his girlfriend on our next trip.
We also found that many of the ways we tried to make our trip cheaper actually made it more stressful and knowing that, we will pay more to have less anxiety and stress next time. For example, in London it was very easy to use the tube and the public transit system so we had no issues taking trains and buses everywhere. In Paris, the system was more complicated and there was a language barrier for us, so we would have been better off booking a more expensive hotel in a more central location so that we could have walked to more places easily. In Dublin, because we stayed so far outside of the city, it would have been easier for us and we might have actually made it into the city had we rented a car. Ultimately we weren’t doing an incredibly frugal “backpacking through Europe/staying in hostels” experience, so spending a little bit more money would have been fine.
Overall, we had a great experience and although it was fairly stressful being on so many planes during the beginning of the COVID pandemic, I am glad we got to take this trip as it seems that we will not be traveling internationally for awhile now. The good news is that we have plenty of time to research and plan for our next trip…we are thinking Germany!