After planning for months, Brian and the kids and I were excited to finally kick off our 19-day European vacation.
We were right on time leaving Paraguay and had about six hours at the airport in São Paolo waiting for our next flight to Madrid. We walked around the terminals, getting something to eat (at about four different restaurants), watching the planes, and visiting the shops. The time passed quicker than we thought it would, which was great.
We boarded our flight to Madrid and the pilots shared some interesting statistics with the passengers before takeoff: the 11-hour flight to Madrid would average a speed of five seconds per mile, the plane weighed 231 tons, and would consume nearly 100,000 liters of fuel on its flight to Madrid or almost 372 liters for each of the 269 passengers.
The flight was long but the kids did well, spending much of the time on the overnight flight sleeping or watching movies.
We arrived in Madrid around 7am and with our luggage checked straight to Dublin, we took a taxi to a hostel near the Plaza Mayor. We had reserved a family room with three sets of bunk beds and a crib. We left our carry-on bags in our room and headed out to explore the neighborhood a bit.
We walked around the plaza stopping for breakfast at a place I had visited during my time in Madrid after hiking the Camino de Santiago last year. I ordered churros and chocolate and no one but me seemed interested in eating them. I was fine with that!
There was a lot of activity in the plaza. The boys especially liked seeing the colorful goat that excitedly danced every time he received a coin from a visitor. Danny and Patrick were both thrilled to give the goat a few coins and watch him dance!
One of the plaza highlights was “Gordo” or “Fat” Spider-Man who encouraged plaza visitors to do a bit of play acting with him, alternating between bad guys who Spider-Man had apprehended and good guys who aspired to be just like Spider-Man pretending to shoot webs and climb buildings.
After lunch, we took a taxi to the airport for our quick flight to Dublin. The Madrid airport even had a playground not far from our gate and the boys loved it.
The kids were all exhausted and by the time we arrived at the hotel, all three were asleep in the back seat. It was dinner time in Ireland and about 38 hours after we had left our house in Paraguay. We checked into our rooms and the boys were excited to find gifts from the hotel of teddy bears and fresh cookies in our rooms. We ditched our bags and enjoyed a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant. Brian and I each had a delicious and well-deserved Guinness with dinner.
With the kids exhausted and Brian getting a cold, everyone went right to bed after dinner and I had to drag them all out of bed the next morning at 10:20 so we could make it to breakfast before the restaurant closed ten minutes later. The boys, in their matching monster jammies, loved riding in the elevator with its mirrors and leather bench.
After breakfast, we did a Viking-themed duck boat tour around Dublin. Boarding for the duck is in the order in which the tickets were purchased. Since we only bought our tickets the night before, we were the last to board and the only ones sitting in uncovered seats. It was pretty wet and rainy. We got drenched!
Kev was all smiles at first but quickly fell asleep and took a nice nap under a rain poncho and curled up on my lap.
We saw the highlights of Dublin.
Patrick and Danny had been very excited about traveling in a vehicle that can go on both land and water and they loved watching the duck head down the ramp and enter the water.
On the boat ride we went past U2’s recording studio and saw the new one they’re building.
After we got off the duck boat tour we were all cold and wet and went back to the hotel to change into dry clothes. Once we were warm and dry, we went to a pub for lunch where Brian and I enjoyed Guinness and beef stew. The boys love chicken but since there was no chicken on the menu, we ordered them fish and chips. The breaded fish looked just like the breaded chicken that the boys eat all the time in Paraguay. After Danny and Patrick sampled the fish they said it tasted funny. We told them it was “special chicken” and encouraged them to eat the rest.
This We walked around the city and did a little shopping.
At the end of the day after having toured all over the city, Patrick’s main observation was, “Why does everyone here speak English?” That night we got Burger King for the kids and left them with a babysitter. Joanne – the niece of Rita who works for my parents – watched the boys so Brian and I could go out alone without the little darlings. Leaving the boys in the capable hands of “Aunt Joanne” as they called her (confusing the babysitter’s name with that of my mom’s sister, my Aunt Joanne), Brian and I went to McDaid’s for a Guinness, to a Mediterranean restaurant for dinner, and then to O’Donoghue’s for some Irish music and one more Guinness.
On Sunday morning we headed to Dublin’s Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.
The Book of Kells is an incredible Latin manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament along with related texts. It was created in a monastery in Ireland around the year 800 A.D.
We visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Danny had a bit of a meltdown perhaps caused by jet lag combined with frustration over the large number of things named Patrick (everywhere we looked!) and the lack of things named Daniel.
On the grounds of the church we saw a marker reputedly near the well where Saint Patrick had baptized local inhabitants in the fifth century. Baby Kevin took a good stroller nap as we walked around.
We visited the Molly Malone statue. We heard her referred to as “The Tart With The Cart.”
We went back to the hotel, checked out, and loaded up the car. We drove past Guinness brewery and saw more stuff named Patrick (don’t tell Dan).
We started our drive to Northern Ireland, which Kevin was really excited about.
Up next: our adventures in Northern Ireland!