prelude to a new adventure
The trip we took to Austria a few weeks before our departure from Moldova was a fitting epilogue to our European tour. More important than the festival D attended and the stunningly beautiful Wachau Valley we visited was the opportunity to spend some time with close friends whom we might not see again for several years. In the same vein, our stopover in Ireland en route back to the United States can be accurately described as a prologue to our home leave.
We kicked around a number of ideas of places to visit before heading home. Prior to moving to Moldova, S bought about a dozen Lonely Planet guidebooks for various European countries, and most of them went unused during our two years in Eastern Europe. In the end, the decision was made for us by S’s parents. Her dad had a conference in London, after which S’s parents and sister planned to take a trip around Ireland. As neither of us had been to Ireland before, we decided to have a family reunion there.
The dates coincided well, but we ran into a bureaucratic impediment. Because home leave can only be taken in the United States, D needed to schedule vacation days at the end of his tour for this trip to happen, a request that was sadly denied. Despite this setback, we saw no reason for S and Munchkin to miss out on the opportunity to spend time with family and see a new country simply because D’s management chose to be intractable, so they left Moldova a week earlier.
Traveling frequently with a small child, we have grown accustomed to lugging heavy suitcases wherever we go. Munchkin requires much more stuff than the two of us together. This time, was slightly different, however. In addition to the trip essentials, S was bringing back several duffel bags stuffed with the things we will need during our six weeks of home leave. Even with Munchkin riding on her back in a carrier, she did not have enough hands to handle all of the luggage and baby items on her own. If she had not enlisted the assistance of a luggage handler at the Dublin airport she would not have made it out into the arrivals lounge where her parents were waiting.
In addition to her parents and sister, the trip also enabled S to catch up with a Dutch exchange student who had lived with her family in high school. S had last seen Julian two years ago in the Netherlands. Knowing that we were leaving Europe, Julian also flew to Ireland to spend time with S and her family. S stowed the extra luggage at an airport hotel and spent a week road tripping around the south of Ireland.
One week is a pittance when traveling around Ireland, but it did suffice to give S a good taste of the Irish countryside. It also gave her some good ideas for the following week when D joined her for a few days before we headed home together.