The stars aligned in 2018. Finishing work on Thursday, I hopped on a direct flight to Dublin the very next day. After years of early morning trains to Málaga, I didn’t think twice at stumping up the slightly inflated fee the Dublin-Seville flight now commands at peak travel time (thanks Game of Thrones and Lonely Planet Best Places to Visit 2018!).
Mam messaged the Tuesday before, asking what I’d like to have the evening I arrived. I mustn’t be the only one asked in the run up to Christmas, and this particular novelty has yet to wear off. Four years ago, it would have been Irish butter, rashers, sausages, the works! This time, I only really wanted one thing following months of trying to make my own using makeshift buttermilk out of old lemons – soda bread!
Dublin Airport at Christmas remains just as fun. From the moment you disembark, you are greeted by cheesy welcome home advertisements from Brennan’s and Barry’s tea, desperately trying to serve as a reminder that whatever you had been eating abroad will never be just as good as what you used to have. Walking out in to the arrivals hall, you feel like a celebrity coming home after a hard-earned success with the the scores of people and the camera’s flashing, . I even managed to spot some TV cameras too, which surprised me given they’ve until now preferred to camp out in Terminal 2 amongst the long haul emigrants, some of whom are back for the first time in years.
The week was surprisingly mild, with temperatures getting no colder than it is during an early morning dog walk in Seville over winter. Id often pack my hat and scarf, something I rarely need in Seville, but this time. I barely needed it. ‘Sure ye must be freezing’, is the usual comment. ‘No, actually. Would ye believe it was just as cold this morning taking the dog out!’
The pints came and went. Guinness at Christmas remains the standard bearer, and you go out at night wondering how many are still drinking it just for show. Ah there’s nothing better than a pint o plain in a warm pub at Christmas! I got a little too excited on the 23rd and consumed way too much than my 28 year old body could handle. At least I knew when to give up, and saying I’m out when it was time for another round (it would have been my 8th) spared my blushes of a raging hangover on Christmas Eve.
And then there was the food. I’d love to see how much weight I’d put on if I were to have a diet similar to Christmas week year round. A week of mince pies, fish and chips, spice bags, meat, cheese, chocolate and alcohol. I’ve seen documentaries where people eat this week in, week out. After one week, I was happy to see that my body was ready for healthier, more natural food.
‘Did you have a good time back?’ a friend asked not long after returning. Don’t get me wrong; I always enjoy returning home, but after 4 years of making the trip I’d be lying if the thought of spending one Christmas without travelling or plane chasing has crossed my mind. Dublin, despite being the place where I grew up continues to change and move on without me. One year not being in Dublin for Christmas wouldn’t be the end of the world. Rathfarnham would survive, Dundrum too. Even Grafton Street would return a year later with the same light display as before.
‘I had a great time, thanks for asking! It was fun…until the money ran out!’