Best Latte I’ve Ever Had

It’s from a chain called Costa, by the way.  I decided to try it after we made (another…) last minute trip to buy rain boots and better fitting gloves.  I had a splitting headache after going a long day without the first drop of my precious caffeine, so  I ordered a soy latte with vanilla and paid substantially less than I would have in America (remember how I said they don’t charge for soy milk here? I’m never coming home! Sorry mom and dad).  I then tasted the nectar of heaven that was the best coffee I’ve ever had.  It was the perfect amount of creamy without being overpowered by the sweetness of soy milk, it was bold without being bitter, smooth but not watery.  I immediately wished I had ordered the largest size but it was already 6pm and even I, a champion coffee consumer, knew that another shot of espresso was not what sleep and I had planned for that evening.

Beyond all of the unavoidable occurrences that come with traveling, however, hands down the most difficult thing to adjust to is managing caffeine headaches on a tourist schedule.  Back at our apartment, I have a routine.  I wake up at 8:30 every morning, put on my granny slippers, and shuffle mindlessly to the kitchen where I push the Keurig button and wait until the glorious sound of my dark roast ground coffee drips slowly into my favorite Anthropologie initial mug.  I’ll add my creamer, a teaspoon of turbinado sugar, and wait until the magic happens and I can function as normal 21 year old humans should be able to do naturally.

I would get my second Costa latte (this time iced!) after we visited the National Botanical Gardens.

At this point, you’re probably wondering where all of the photos are.  And I promise! They’re coming.  But the thing is, at the Botanical Gardens, a photo of one flower turns into another, turns into the entire cactus hothouse, to the rose garden, to a beam of light through trees, until you end up with five grainy, zoomed in Live photos of a bee pollinating some purple flowers in your camera roll.  So I’m just warning you ahead of time – flora pictures are coming.

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See?  I couldn’t stop.  But the good news is, hunger pulled us away from the gardens before I really did some damage to my phone storage.  Just around the corner was a restaurant called Tolka House, that advertised a carvery lunch on Sunday’s.  What’s a carvery lunch, you might be wondering?  Well, as it turns out, so were we.  It was set up like a regular pub on one side with seating and a bar, but on the other was a cafeteria style line up where the chef had laid out slabs of the day’s meat selections – roast beef, roast turkey, lambshank – and then sliced and diced them onto a plate right in front of your eyes.  I chose to accompany my roast turkey with some delicious steamed carrot slices, mashed potatoes, a “muffin” (which turned out to be a deceptively fried potato ball, but I can’t pretend to be surprised), and stuffing.  Thanksgiving in Summer was a roaring success, kept me full until dinner, and lead into another beautiful sip of espresso and soy milk.

Afterwards it was time for me to be dropped off at the bus station, among goodbyes and my green polka dot suitcase.  My archaeology adventure was finally beginning, after a week of exploring Ireland and eating some pretty amazing food.  I met my roommate for the homestay, Cara, and settled in for the hour bus ride.  We checked in with the coordinators for the IFR at Trim Castle Hotel, and were later picked up by our homestay family and driven back to where we would be living for the next month.

Sean and Caroline, our homestay family, are as welcoming and generous as ever.  They had a big dinner prepared – chicken and vegetables with mashed potatoes, and an incredible homemade rhubarb crumble for dessert.  I unpacked my suitcase into the wardrobe, laid out all of my toiletries in the shelf on the bathroom, and made myself a nice cup of tea.  It’s going to be a great month.


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