There is a scene in Eat, Pray, Love, where they're discussing how every city has a word. I’m not sure if it's that simple. I think cities are like people in that they are far too complex to be defined by a single word. But I think, like the people they are comprised of, they can be defined by several. When you a find a city that feels like home, it's because you share the same words. That's why some places you visit may never feel like home. The city doesn't know your words and neither do the people living in it. You always feel somewhat like an outsider, never fully comfortable.
Dublin, though? That city is speaking my language. I guess you could say all of Ireland is speaking my language. Now, I fully understand that my experience there is limited to a total of 23 days...I didn’t study abroad there, I haven’t worked there, I haven’t lived there (though the last two are a current goal of mine), but sometimes you travel to a place and something just clicks. There is nothing that quite compares to arriving in a city you’ve never been to and feeling this sense of peace and comfort...like coming home. It inspires excitement for exploring and a willingness to meet the people there, believing that every stranger could possibly be a wonderful addition to your story. It doesn't feel like putting yourself out there; it just feels like collecting pieces of yourself you didn't know were missing.
So when I stepped outside the Dublin airport for the second time, it was like receiving a giant, welcome home kind of hug. Two years ago when I traveled to Ireland, I spent 7 days there. This past June I spent 16. But I’ve realized Ireland is not a place that you can experience the entirety of in just one trip, or even two. It demands time. It demands slow and experiential travel and more than anything else, it demands your full attention. Once you commit yourself to this and once you visit again and again, something wonderful I daresay will happen. You will have created travel memories that transcend an average trip into a travel experience that is above and beyond what you ever thought possible.
Ireland is physically gorgeous; there is no denying that. But the travel experience there is about so much more than just pretty coastlines and rolling green farms dotted with sheep and cows. For me, a big part of the travel experience there has always been the people. You will be not find a more friendly and hospitable group of people than the Irish. It’s all a group effort and usually locals aren’t just happy to chat with people not from there, but they want to share everything that makes their corner of the world so very special for them. There have been few places in the world where I feel so comfortable in my own skin than in Ireland. I know if I need help, it will always be given and if I bring up the question of where to eat or what to do, I’ll get more responses than ever seemed likely.
The total number of days I’ve spent in Ireland may only be 23, but I have never felt more at home or more myself in any other place I've traveled to. And if I’m being completely honest, I’m a little nervous for when I go back because I know it’s just going to keep getting harder to leave. But I take comfort in knowing that Ireland will greet me like an old friend, welcoming me home whenever I decide that that may be.