1) all of the cool greetings/introductions are already taken, and
I cannot believe how quickly these two weeks have flown by. It feels like we just arrived in Dublin yesterday (well to me at least). Before anybody gets too choked up though, you should know we already have a 5 year squad reunion tour planned for 2020. Right now we are thinking Nashville, but I guess we have a little bit of time to figure that out.
Our last two days in Galway, which I believe turned out to be the squad's favorite city by unanimous decision, were fairly laid back and not scheduled. Everybody kind of did their own thing. We started out the mornings right eating the most important meal of the day together at our bed and breakfast. Every little thing seemed to be talked about/remembered as the last time for something. So these were our last full Irish breakfast meals that I'm sure everyone will miss having every morning back home (I am really going to miss the tea). After breakfast on sunday, most of the group besides Cierra, Carissa, and I went to mass at the Galway Cathedral at 11. The other three of us got ready and then set off to explore the city a little and revisit some places we wanted more time at. The main place we went to was the Prom (no, it's not a dance but that confused us at first too), and we took the long path along the seaside to enjoy the beautiful view and take pictures. After this, groups of us just explored Quay (key) Street and the local market to try to finish up most of the shopping/gift buying we wanted to do. Sadly, for all of the girls, this included making our final pilgrimmages to Penney's.
In the evening, we all met in the lobby where we were staying to go out to dinner and explore and conquer the night life in Galway/Ireland for the last time. We ate a great dinner at Daile's (a number of us enjoyed a steak special) and then some of the places we went to after dinner included the Quay's, The Front Door, The King's Head, Skeff's, and Karma.
Despite our late night on the town, everybody still made it down for our final breakfast by 9:30 Monday morning. We did not want to waste away our last day in Ireland. After breakfast, we again set off for Quay Street to pick up final things that we needed and either didn't have time to get or couldn't find on Sunday. For AJ, this included mailing out a million post cards. Meanwhile, Jaclyn, Carissa, and I gave in and treated ourselves by each getting one of the famous Claddagh rings that originated in Galway. The squad ate at The Front Door for lunch, which was both tasty and reasonably priced(:
After lunch, those of us that didn't revisit the Prom on Sunday went there. When everyone was finished with their sightseeing and shopping we went to the hotel so everyone could strategize their packing before we had to meet for our farewell dinner at 6. This took some serious skill and for some (namely myself) this included exploring the definite possibility of needing to buy another bag to fit everything. In the end, we all persevered and found a way to make it work. For a couple of us that even meant having American Airlines staff on our side this morning to let bags that were a little too heavy through without charge, but still it all worked out!
Our farewell dinner was at Monroe's Tavern, and we all got to enjoy an appetizer, main course and dessert (I think most of us tried the Bailey's cheesecake and icecream. YUM!). Everything was delicious and a great start to our final evening in Ireland. After dinner we hung out at a pub for a little while and then ventured back to the hotel for a more relaxed night of playing cards and hanging out as a #squad for the last time! (it was a little disappointing that Jaclyn did not put on a concert of her newly acquired tin whistle playing skills as promised, but she brought it in her carry on so she might still break it out on this 7 hour flight).
This morning, we had to meet in the lobby at 7 to start our long travel day back home. We traveled to the Shannon Airport, and everyone made it through security and customs with no problem (though we had a couple law breakers sneak some food through). Now, we are midflight headed to our layover destination in Philadelphia. Hopefully, there are no complications and everyone makes it home safe and sound tonight(:
I know I speak for all of us when I say we are so blessed/thankful for the opportunity to have embraced and experienced all that we have these past two weeks!
Cheers (to an absolutely incredible trip) and Happy Days!