Mike & Kath Go International Part 1: Piggies in Ireland

A year ago, Mike and I took the trip of a lifetime to Ireland for our friends’ wedding and we had an absolute blast! Weather was a bit chilly but that didn’t stop us from having a very memorable and fun trip with our friends. We often talk about that trip and laugh at all the memories we made and fun we had. I kept a journal of our adventures during the trip, so in honor of the “one year anniversary” here is a little throwback to our Ireland adventures back in November 2021:

We left on a Friday in November, so the day before we were both rushing around trying to get packed up and do some last minute things around the house. Of course when I say “we” I really mean “I” because Mike had his suitcase packed up and ready to go with ample time to lounge on the couch. Honestly though guys have it so easy when it comes to packing. A couple of pants, shirts and a pair of shoes and they are done. While he was downstairs lounging on the couch all ready to go, I was trying to figure out which shoes would go with what outfit for what day. We would be gone for 10 days, attending a wedding and then doing traveling on our own after so it was a lot to consider! Even as Dad’s Taxi, aka my Dad, picked us up in the Honda Mini Van with 16 cupholders to take us to the airport, I was still shoving last minute outfits in my suitcase, just in case. If there is one thing I am good at it’s overpacking, so I couldn’t disappoint my fans now.

The whole week leading up to our trip people kept asking if we were excited. I said “yes” but secretly I was very worried. Was I worried about traveling to a different country during a global pandemic and possibly getting sick? No. I was extremely worried about whether or not my suitcase would make it under the weight limit when I checked it in at the airport. Mike kept saying it would be ok if my suitcase was over the weight limit, that I should just pack what I needed and we’d just pay the fee. But he didn’t know the charge was $100, and I wasn’t going to tell him. I was worried he might have a heart attack if we got to the baggage check and my suitcase was over the weight limit. The night before as he was downstairs watching TV, I was upstairs secretly trying to lift my suitcase on the scale in our bathroom. But you know what? Human scales are not made for suitcase. I also had trouble lifting my suitcase so I thought I might be in trouble. There I was at about 11 o’clock at night trying to wrestle my 50lb suitcase onto the scale. Every once in a while Mike would hear a loud thud and yell up and ask if I was ok and I would just yell down “Yes! Everything is fine!” At this point I don’t remember if the thuds were me falling or the suitcase. It’s all a blur now. On the ride to the airport in Dad’s Taxi I shared my concerns with my friend Maura, who was also going on the trip:

Luckily, when we got to the bag check, my guardian angel must have been looking our for me because my suitcase made it under the the weight limit! Watching my bag go on the conveyer belt to be sent to our plane I felt as if the weight of that bag was finally lifted from my own shoulders. I was so relieved. It was then that I became excited and was ready for a pre-flight cocktail to begin our festivities.

We met up with our friends at an airport bar, having a grand old time but then ended up having to run to our gate because they mislabeled our boarding time for our plane. We thought we were going to miss our flight but we made it! Running through the airport I felt like I was in the scene from “Home Alone” when the McCallister family missed their alarms and had to run to make their flight. Because we were rushed I did not get to stock up on water for the flight and Mike did not get to do his “pre-flight routine” so we were both uncomfortable. This was the first time Mike and I were flying outside the country together and poor Mike had no idea how much water and liquids I need on long flights. I tried to warn him, and so did my sister Jane, who traveled to Italy with me, but Mike didn’t know what he was in for. “Oh my God I’m so thirsty! When are they passing out the drinks!” I said to Mike, “I’m turning into a raisin here I’m so thirsty! I need water!” “Kath, we haven’t even gotten to our seats yet!” he said back. “Well since they closed all the water fountains because of COVID, I wasn’t able to fill up my water jug, so maybe they should pass out water or something as you get on!” I was very distraught not having any water.

Once we found our seats and settled in, Mike and I immediately started looking at the various movie options. One of our favorite hobbies to do together, besides drink alcohol at bars and other locations, is watch TV, so we were anxious to see what options they had available. “Oh my gosh look at this Mike!” I yelled excitedly. He turned to look at my screen to see a movie called, “Kathleen Was Here.” He looked back at me very unimpressed, asking “What about it?” “A movie with my name in it?! This is so exciting! My name is never in movie titles! HOW THRILLING!!” I replied. (I was extremely excited about this.) My excitement drained a little when I read the synopsis of the movie and it was actually a very depressing storyline about a girl who was “18 and alone” (Classic middle child Kathleen I’m sure). But it was still very exciting nonetheless.

I decided to save this movie for the flight home-it was very depressing.

We took off and they began passing out PATHETIC sized waters and soft drinks so the whole time I was extremely thirsty. “These are shot glasses of water and Diet Coke!” I said to Mike, “Are they serious with this right now?!” But other than feeling like I was going to keel over from extreme thirst, the flight was great.

A “One Sip” Can of Diet Coke
I felt like a giant with my tiny Diet Coke and tiny bag of pretzels. I practically needed a tweezers to get the pretzels out of that coin purse pretzel bag they gave me.

We landed in Dublin and I immediately went on a search for water, with no luck. We got our rental car (cupholders were a little lacking) and we found our way to our hotel. It was early in the morning Dublin time but the hotel people were nice and let us get into our room. Once in we both immediately fell onto the bed and passed out-I didn’t even get to check the brochure to see if our hotel offered a free breakfast, unlimited lobby coffee, or if they gave you a free shower cap in the bathroom-that’s how tired I was! After a few hours of rest we walked to a restaurant to grab some food. We hadn’t even been sitting down for more than a minute and I immediately spilled the Diet Coke I ordered all over the table. It was like watching liquid gold go down a sewer drain. My dehydrated body just needed all the liquids it could get. Once our food came we realized there was a major problem. Extremely small ketchup packets. Mike and I looked at each other and silently prayed that maybe other restaurants might offer the ketchup bottles and this wouldn’t be a theme for our entire trip. Turns out it was definitely a theme in Ireland. Tiny ketchup packets are like our kryponite. Mike can never get them opened, my clumsy hands struggle with them as well, and it’s just not enough ketchup. I don’t like to be limited by how much ketchup I can have with my fries. Please give me the bottle and I will choose how much I use thank you very much. Plus then the empty packets are just on your plate and it’s just a mess. American restaurants started doing this during COVID and it was awful. One of the worst things about COVID, really. Here we were back in that nightmare.

After I made the whole restaurant sticky by spilling my Diet Coke, we left to walk around and explore a little more. It was raining so I was really regretting bringing my athleisure gym shoes because I do not like to get them dirty. The only reason I brought them was because they are lighter than my other shoes and I was so worried about the weight limit thing.

Once we explored a little bit we went back to our hotel, got ready and met friends out for a very fun night.

The next morning we began our drive from Dublin to Donegal. Mike drove and I was “Co-Pilot” as I always like to refer to myself. Any time Mike and I drive somewhere we know it will take WAY longer than Google Maps tells us because of the amount of pee stops we make for Mike and water/drink stops we make for me. At our first rest stop while I was waiting for Mike I was looking at all the gas station merchandise and what do I stumble upon?! A “Dad’s Taxi” keychain! It was fate and I had to get it for my Dad. I was very excited and immediately texted my siblings about the treasure I found.

We hit the road again and I sat back and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I saw some animals in the distance and excitedly yelled, “Look Mike! Piggies!” I got out my phone to take a picture of the Irish piggies. Mike turned to look and said back, “Kath…those are sheep.” I looked again and he was right, they were in fact, sheep. I had been meaning to make an eye doctor appointment for a while because I thought I needed new contacts, but I never did make that appointment. So I just said back, “Hmm you are correct, I guess I really should get to the eye doctor soon.” Also in my defense, and not that I would fat shame any animal, but those sheep were in need of a shave so all that wool made them look larger. No matter my excuses, my mistake became a running joke of the whole trip. Which honestly I didn’t think was fair because Mike accidentally called the shoulder of the road the “elbow” and he didn’t seem to get made fun by our friends of quite as much as I did.

Once we arrived at our beautiful hotel we met up with the wedding party for a delicious dinner. Then we all enjoyed drinks at the hotel and engaged very intellectual conversations which included the awkward “step” in front of the urinals in the boys bathroom and whether or not one was supposed to step up on it. Some thought it was to cover up plumbing, others thought it might be an actual step. To help settle the case the boys brought the girls into the boys bathroom to get their take on the matter. We all decided the step was not for stepping.

The next morning, our friends Mallory and Maura, Mike and I all went on a walk to explore the area. None of us knew where we were going so as we were leaving the hotel grounds my fourth grade Girl Scout instincts kicked in and I knew we should try and look for some sort of marking so we could find our way back. “Ok everyone, just remember where we came out so we don’t get lost on our way back!” I said and looked around for something to use as a marker. “Ok lets all remember that skinny branch up there.” I said with confidence. Maura and Mallory looked up. “Or…” Mike said, “We could all remember that bright red sign right there.” All of our heads turned and about three feet away was a big red sign pointing to a house for sale. “Damn,” I thought to myself. “Maybe this is why my Mom never sewed those patches on my Girl Scout sash-she knew I had no future as a Girl Scout so she wasn’t going to waste her time.” Every Girl Scout meeting I’d show up with my empty brown sash on, patches in a plastic baggie in my hand. Other girls were running out of room for places to sew their patches on their sash. Lucky for me I didn’t have that problem-my mom could always switch from a plastic sandwich bag to a gallon zip-lock bag if needed. Once I got home I’d put my Girl Scout sash and patches right back where I got it before my meeting-on top of her sewing box in the pantry.

Here’s my sash, empty and brown, making the Girl Scouts of America proud I’m sure.
Circled above is the branch I wanted us all to remember.

Once our troop established proper markers, we began our journey and walked around the cute little town, admiring everyone’s Christmas decorations. Maura commented how she loved that in Ireland ‘They don’t have Thanksgiving as a barrier in putting up Christmas decorations, that they can just roll right into it after Halloween.’ We all agreed. Who needs to give thanks anyway? After walking through the town we explored a historic fort. I asked Mike if he wanted me to take a picture of him next to the dumpster in the historic fort and he did not. So Me, Maura and Mallory took a picture with the historic dumpster instead.

That dumpster looks so historic doesn’t it?

After taking a photo with the historic dumpster we walked a little more around the streets of the tiny little town. We were the only ones out and about in this town. It was-what we thought-a quiet day. That’s when an old Irish man came out of his house and in a thick Irish broth said “What’s all the commotion about?! Is there a parade in town?!” What’s going on?” We told him we were in for a wedding, he said something else none of us could understand through his thick Irish accent so we did what any polite person would do which was laugh politely and went on our way.

Later that night we had the rehearsal dinner which was a blast and then the next day was the big wedding. Mike, Mallory and I drove to the mass together and in our rental car. We weren’t used to the narrow roads and had a few near accidents where we thought we were going to die a horrific, fiery death but luckily we made it in one piece. The church was beautiful, set on a hill overlooking the water with a little old cemetery right next to it. As we finished parking and walked up to the doors we all admired the breathtaking scenery. “Wow!” I finally said. Mike and Mallory both said the same thing, as we all looked around. I must have still been thinking about our near death experience in the car because while Mike and Mallory were looking at the beautiful church, I was looking at the cemetery. Then I said, without skipping a beat, “What a beautiful place to be buried.” As my eyes continued to gaze over at the cemetery. Mike and Mallory looked at each other a little confused and started laughing saying, “Or married.” “Well of course that too!” I said quickly trying to save myself. I didn’t even realize until they corrected me what I said probably sounded so dumb. But I guess after seeing my life flash before me so many times on those narrow and windy rural Irish roads I was only thinking of my death. My bad. Pretty sure our bike paths in America are wider than some of the roads in Ireland.

Here I am doing my “Take the picture, I’m cold” smile in front of my burial plot.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful and the bride and groom were stunning! After, we headed back to the hotel for the reception and that was so much fun! Mike’s three piece plaid suit really stole the show. It’s like the suit was made for this specific day. We danced the night away and then I got the chance to sit down with the bride, Meg, to discuss car cupholder expanders. I had recently purchased one for my car for my cumbersome 32 ounce water bottle that, tragically, did not fit in standard sized cupholders. Switching to a 24 ounce water bottle was out of the question for me as I am always thirsty and need mass amounts of water at all time. I thought I would be doomed to a life of awkwardly having to balance my water bottle in my lap while I drove. But then I had the idea of investing in a cupholder expander. Let me tell you-LIFE CHANGING. Probably one of my best purchases. Meg was very interested in this item and even suggested we go into the cupholder expander business as it would surely be a lucrative one. We agreed it be future business partners. (Business plans have yet to be drawn up, we are still in the “brainstorming stage.”)

The stunning bride and groom
Mallory slaying it at petitions. When she told us to ‘pray to the Lord’ after each phrase, we sure did! She really captured her audience, looking up and down at all the right moments.
Meg and I got the chance to take a photo with the three piece suit.
And here she is, in all her glory the cupholder expander. Mike hates it but it’s one of my best purchases. It even has a phone holder on the side!

The wedding was so much fun that everyone needed a good majority of the next day to recover. After some much needed rest we all got ready for the wedding after-party at a local bar. Mike, Mallory and myself drove together. It should have been a quick drive to the bar but we ran into some car trouble. Your first thought might be “oh no, they must of had a flat tire or their car broke down on the way.” No. We got in the car and then could not figure out how to defrost the the windshield. We were Googling things, fiddling with the car temperature, I even took out the car manual (THAT is how desperate we were-I was looking through a car manual!) and we had no luck. How many Millennials does it take to defrost a car windshield? More than three that’s for sure. We could not figure out what the internal car temperature vs outside temperature needed to be in order for the frost to go away. Then we started second guessing if it was frost or fog. And was it inside the window or outside the window? I thought about enrolling in Ireland’s nearest school of meteorology it was taking us so long to defrost the windshield. Becoming a meteorologist would have been quicker. We could not figure out what we were doing wrong. Finally we decided to blame the car. “Faulty system” we said to make ourselves feel less stupid about the whole situation. We eventually figured out something and we were able to safely make it to the bar.

After a few hours Mike and I decided to call it an early night as we were leaving early the next morning to continue our travels to Galway. We said our goodbyes to everyone and got back in our semi-defrosted rental car. We were sad leaving because it had been such an awesome experience with an amazing group of people and we did not want it to end! But we still had the second half of our trip to journey off to…Part two of our adventures coming soon. Stay tuned!

Mike did the self timer on his phone for this one-It took us about 20 tries.