This is the first in a series of posts I’ll write while in Ireland, which I’ve titled as ‘Miriam In Ireland, 2017’. Not an original series title, but at least you know what you’re in for. I’m not actually in Ireland yet, but the preparation stage is an important one in any holiday, so I thought I’d talk a bit about how that’s going and some of the things I’m looking forward to about the trip, as well as some of the things I’m afraid of.
My suitcase is almost packed now. I hate packing. Even with detailed lists to tick off, I still find it overwhelmingly stressful. I know there’s something I’ll forget — in Cornwall, it was some vital medication, which would be even more problematic in Ireland where I won’t be able to go to the nearest pharmacy and get hold of some emergency supplies. Then there’s the stress of whether or not everything will fit, and whether it’ll be too heavy.
It… sort of is. While well within British Airways luggage limits (only 17kg of 23kg), I still can’t lift my case, mainly because my right shoulder has chosen this week to be a piece of crap, so this is more than a little concerning. Travelling alone means I need to be able to lift the case onto buses and carry it up stairs by myself, and I’m not sure how I’m going to do that. I think this is going to be a trip where I rely substantially on the goodwill of strangers.
It’s not my first trip to Ireland, so I’ve learned from past mistakes: I know to pack for good weather (as it was in 2013) as well as awful weather (as in 2016), and to have a rucksack and raincoat that are actually waterproof. I’m not planning to do any three-hour walks in driving rain this time, but it’s good to be prepared.
To lighten my suitcase as much as possible, I’m not taking any paper books, just my Kindle. So I need to make sure I’ve got all my e-ARCs downloaded before I go, as well as a few other books. Hopefully, it’ll be a productive couple of weeks for reviews.
It’s hard to pack light as a coeliac, of course: in my suitcase I have various tupperware pots containing cereal and lentil pasta, as well as a pack of pitta breads and scotch pancakes. There’ll be more food in my rucksack. It’s not that I think Dublin doesn’t have any coeliacs; more that I’m not sure of my ability to get to a large supermarket under my own steam, without a car, and so I need to make sure I have enough to keep me going until I can track down adequate food.
There are still things to pack. Items of clothing that aren’t fully dry. Medication and technology I’ll be using tonight and tomorrow so can’t pack until I’m finished. Support bandages I need for dance tomorrow night. And I haven’t got my euros yet, because when I went to the Post Office yesterday they’d sold out, something I didn’t know was actually possible.
But it’s mostly done. I’m almost on my way.
I’m excited, because I’ve never been to Dublin before. Having read so much about it, both in terms of the modern-day city and its history, it’ll be exciting to see it in person. I’m planning to visit several museums, which will hopefully give me the chance to see items I’ve heard about in lectures.
I’m scared, because I’ve never been to Dublin before. I have no sense of direction and as far as I can remember, it’s going to be my first time visiting a totally unknown city by myself. I’ve always been with friends or family in the past, and my mapreading skills leave much to be desired. Fortunately, my phone data now works in the EU, so I’ll be able to use Google maps, but I still foresee spending quite a bit of my time panicky and lost.
I’m excited, because I’m going on a course where I’ll get a flying headstart on learning modern Irish, which will hopefully motivate me to continue in my own time. I’ve tried to learn modern Irish in the past and failed to stick with it, but hopefully a week’s intensive course will get me past the boring beginner stages and into learning it properly. The course also involves ‘cultural’ aspects, and I’m psyched to finally get a proper lesson on the tin whistle, because I’m self taught and really not that great at it.
I’m scared, because I have no idea what the course will be like or what the other people will be like. Will I be the youngest there? Will others have tons of Irish experience? Will it be hard on my hands, which have been hurting a lot recently; will I actually be able to participate? Will the accommodation be nice? Will I be able to get hold of enough gluten-free food to keep me going for a week?
I’m excited, because I’m seeing multiple parts of the country in one trip, including a visit to Bru na Boinne to see Newgrange and Knowth. I’m going to places that I want to see, at my own speed and under my own steam.
I’m scared, because this means taking multiple cross-country buses, and I don’t handle travelling well — especially alone and with a heavy suitcase. Not to mention the fact a lot of these buses are the two-a-day, miss-it-and-you’re-screwed type; my anxiety goes through the roof with that kind of thing. Plus, I’m worried that pain or anxiety will prevent me from enjoying the things that I’m so looking forward to.
I’m excited, because travelling alone is supposed to be a great way to ‘find yourself’, or at least to find ideas, which I’m short of these days.
I’m scared, because travelling alone means relying on my body and brain, neither of which work brilliantly well and which might leave me in the lurch at any moment.
I’m excited. I’m scared. And I really, really hate packing.