I finally finished my Ireland trip journal so you should go check it out! It's a bit long though so you might want to just look at the pictures.
In addition to the trip details I had a couple general thoughts that I'm going to post here.
First, driving. That was fun/special/insane. It actually wasn't too hard once I got used to the narrow, winding, hilly roads, the roundabouts, and the fact that I was DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD. Plus the manual transmission gave me another thing to worry about. As a result I think the driving took a lot of my energy. I would still rent a car if I did the trip again because it seemed like so much of the cool stuff was difficult and/or time consuming to get to by bus. We really enjoyed the flexibility of being able to go wherever we wanted and whenever we wanted. It meant that we could spend as much or as little time as we wanted in any spot. But this flexibility came at the cost of increased anxiousness around driving and finding parking and making sure the car was safe and had gas and hadn't exploded. I really feel like I accomplished something by successfully driving around a foreign country. It's always cool to learn that you're capable of doing new and scary things. But I'm not looking to repeat that accomplishment any time soon.
Next, cell phones. I paid €10 to have a cell phone in Ireland for the whole week. I used it many times to book accommodations or to get in touch with Rob and Patrick. Sure, I already had the actual phone loaned to me by Rob, but I was just so impressed with the ease of getting it activated. The cell phone people didn't care who I was or where I was going. I gave them cash, they gave me a SIM card and then I had a cell phone. Incoming calls on cell phones are free in most of the civilized world (not Canada...) and so I was able to have several long conversations with Patrick. Being able to call ahead to book rooms meant that we never had to commit to a city or destination until we were sure we could make it. And having a cell phone while driving made me feel a lot less concerned about getting lost or getting in an accident. I wonder if Canada will ever stop being a horrible place to own a cell phone.
Something else I liked about this trip was the fact that we were able to see so many of our friends while traveling. Obviously this trip was a special case because of the wedding, but it was still really awesome. I love traveling and seeing new places but I also love sharing experiences like that with the people I care about. So being able to get together with some of my closet friends at the end of the trip made the whole experience at least ten times better. Everyone was excited and had different stories to share and the whole atmosphere was unbelievably positive. Of course being at the wedding of Patrick and Toni probably brought that out in people but it still made for a wonderful feeling.
I had my new camera along on this trip and for the most part it worked out pretty well. I'm still a bit clumsy with a few of the settings which I found annoying at various points but on the whole I was really happy with the camera's performance. However, now that I'm home I have the same feeling with regard to my photos that I get on all my trips. I spend time trying to make "good" pictures because I like to take good pictures. But that time spent on photography means that I have less time for enjoying the trip. It also means that sometimes I fail to take more general representative photos of certain areas that will help me to remember the trip years from now. I think if I had a just a little point and shoot camera I'd take more of those sorts of photos. I think next time we go on a trip I'll make sure to take both my D90 and a smaller camera and so we each have a camera and Kim will be able to make sure that we get photos that will help with the memories.
Finally, I'd just like to take a minute to talk about the wedding. I haven't been to many weddings in my life (although this year looks like it's shaping up to be the year of the wedding) but this was the best by far and I think it will remain the best for the rest of my life. Toni and Patrick put so much time and effort into planning it and as a result it turned out amazing (at least from my perspective). Not only were all the details and practicalities perfect, but they were also able to create such an wonderful atmosphere. It was fun and extremely joyful. I'm so very happy for them to be together and to be moving on to their next adventure. They truly are some of the best people I've ever met and Kim and I will both miss them dearly. But they'll be coming to our wedding in October so we'll get to see them one last time before they leave for Australia.