On the day that marked the halfway point of our trip, we sat down in a Dublin pub and talked about our experiences so far.
Katie: We’ve been on the road for almost two and a half months, and as of today we’re halfway through. Hard to believe. How’s it going so far?
Sarah: You know, it’s going really good. It’s been amazing. We’ve had some major ups and some major downs. We’ve seen a lot, done a lot—it’s crazy that we’re only halfway, because we’ve been zooming around so much that it seems like we should be more than halfway. But I’m feeling good. I’m feeling really good to be in Ireland, and up next, the UK. It’s very a big relief since we got here.
S: The language barrier was really intense, and it’s just, always there, no matter what. You can’t—like just the most basic little things become a struggle when you don’t speak the same language.
K: Yeah, just things like doing laundry, or ordering food at a restaurant.
S: Or just buying something from any kind of store is always like ugh, a thing.
K: It turns into a thing, that’s the thing.
S: Everything you do.
K: Yeah. You can’t really take anything for granted.
S: Nope. Reading street signs, trying to navigate during rush hour with all of your luggage…Public transportation is amazing, but yet, there’s all these different options, like are you gonna be in Zone 1, 2, or 3? OK, well there’s no map telling me where the zones are, so I don’t know [which metro ticket to buy].
K: Like in Berlin?
S: Just everywhere. You know, it’s…
K: It’s stressful. And just right when you get to know one system, it’s time to pick up and move somewhere else.
S: Yeah, the second you get the hang of one place, it’s time to leave, so you’re right back in the, not knowing where you’re going…It’s really exhausting in a way. But we’ve seen and done some really, really cool things.
K: So what are some of your highlights so far?
S: So far…Our Savior’s Church in Copenhagen, climbing to the very top of that was epic.
K: With Ida? That was fun!
S: Fun and, I’m not scared of heights, but I was shaking.
K: I was terrified!
S: It was intense. Um, I loved Berlin. Berlin was a really cool city, had a really cool vibe to it.
K: Yeah, I loved Berlin. I think it has a really interesting history and a really interesting outlook on the present and the future.
S: Yes. Staying with Sue and Tom [in Prague] was also very fun because, at that point, that was the very first people, like American people…
K: Yeah, an American family.
S: That we had been able to talk to since we left…so that was really nice to stay with them.
K: And they were really helpful and told us a lot of good tips and advice about Prague and the Czech Republic.
S: Yeah, and they made us feel right at home, and it was so nice to have our own space, and all of that. And I think Dublin, you know. It’s just a great city, it feels really small and yet, there’s lots going on, and people here are so nice.
K: I’ll never forget when we got off the plane.
S: Yeah, me either.
K: The flight attendants were just smiling, and saying “Welcome!” And I was like, this feels good.
S: Yeah, after being in central Europe where everyone’s very very reserved. Not cold, but not friendly.
K: Not very warm. Not like what we’re used to in Iowa. I think if you get know them, they probably are, but as strangers…
S: Yeah, definitely.
K: Do you have any regrets or things that you wish you had known before we came?
S: Um…I guess with any big trip, I wish I had known what I was actually going to use, and just packing-wise I would do it differently. By the time you get halfway through you’re a pro and you know exactly what bag would have been perfect, but you’re kind of using the one you have, but I think that goes with any trip. I wish I would’ve picked up some more German before we came.
K: That would have been so helpful. I spent a lot of time trying to learn phrases in Danish, but they never stuck in my head and I feel like that time would’ve been better spent trying to learn German. We were with English speakers in Denmark, but pretty much on our own in German-speaking territory. So going forward from here, with our next 2 months, what do you think is in store, what are you excited for?
S: I’m super pumped for the Isle, in Scotland. I only call it “the Isle” because I don’t know how to pronounce what it’s actually called…so I’m really excited for the Isle, because we’re going to be basically camping, and it’s gonna be awesome. I’m really really excited just to get to Gaunts [House, where we’ll be WWOOFing again], because we’ll finally be able to be in one place for more than a week—we haven’t stayed anywhere for more than a week.
K: Since we left the orchard, yeah.
S: So it’ll be amazing to be able to just like, actually unpack my bag and get comfortable somewhere.
K: It’ll be really nice there too, because a lot our trip will have been behind us, so we won’t have to be planning. Whereas I feel like when we were at the orchard…
S: All we did was plan.
K: All we did was plan and apply for other WWOOFing positions and figure out travel routes and all these kinda things. So it’ll be nice to be able to just be there and then not have all of our backpacker homework to do.
S: Yeah, it’s going to be so nice. I’m just looking forward to that.
K: I feel good about it. I think Christmas in Copenhagen will be good. It’ll be hard to be away, but I’m excited to see some of their Christmas traditions, to be with a lovely Danish family.
S: I feel like once we get to Christmas though, it’s less than two weeks then from when we’ll be home, so we’ll be really excited to get home, it’s gonna be less like missing everyone and more just excited because it’s gonna be really close at that point.
K: Have you been homesick at all?
S: Yeah, I was at first. It was really hard, but at this point it’s just kind of like, I weirdly feel like we’ve been doing this forever, and in Dublin especially I just feel really at home here.
K: Yeah, it’s really homey.
S: Just really comfortable here, whereas in other places I haven’t really felt comfortable. Like, in other cities, I don’t know the language, so there’s always that level of, you know, you don’t always feel safe, necessarily. If something were to come up, you can’t communicate with people, whereas here, it’s just…sometimes I can’t understand a word they’re saying, but they can understand me. And it’s not that big of a city where I feel overwhelmed, versus Paris, which was a tad overwhelming—it was really cool, but a tad overwhelming—so here, it’s just kind of slower paced.
K: I think too, number one having an English speaking country after all this time feels just amazing and comfortable, and I also think that there’s a big Irish influence on American culture, so there are a lot of things that are familiar here, that kind of came from Ireland. Like this pub that we’re sitting in now just looks like Donnely’s in the Ped Mall in Iowa City, it just seems really homey and cozy.
S: I will say though, that I don’t think I’ll ever get used to having to look the other way when I cross the street!
K: Nope! Probably never!