All I can say is, man, what a grand adventure we had! That's why I’ve decided to break away from my standard blog fare and share the whole thing with you. Over the next few weeks I will post a series of reports detailing our journey full of facts, experiences and little Irish tidbits I learned along the way. I’ll be honest, this is just as much about me as it is about you. I want to write down as much as I can so I don’t forget anything. The posts may be long, so if a topic or place doesn’t interest you don’t feel bad if you just choose to skim and view the pictures -- and, boy, do I have pictures. Still, I'm warning you, there’s sure to be a lot of gratuitous historical content so if you’re more interested in my crazy mom stuff come back later and I'll try not to disappoint. However, if it is later and you’re only here because you googled “trip to Ireland,” I strongly suggest you don’t read any other posts on this blog. Why? Because the woman who writes them is a total nut job. Take it from me.
Now before I start, I must say there was one big thing that stunk about our trip. My beautiful niece broke her femur at the last minute and couldn’t go. My brother-in-law also stayed behind to play nurse. Our merry band of thirteen got knocked down to eleven, a sad situation if there ever was. But as the Irish say, “It ‘tis what it ‘tis” and as my father said, “The trip is paid for.” So the rest of us hopped onto the jet and -- sorry Megan and Dave -- managed to have the trip of a life time.
We arrived at Dublin airport and met our driver/tour guide, Martin, a cool dude about my age from the coast of Connemara. As soon as we took off on the bus, we hit him hard with burning questions enquiring minds needed to know:
- What are the most popular souvenirs people buy in Ireland? (Aran sweaters, Celtic jewelry, and Claddagh rings)
- What are some classic Irish foods? (bacon and cabbage, Irish stew)
- Has he heard of Lucky Charms cereal and, if so, is he offended by its characterization and exploitation of Ireland’s leprechauns? (Never heard of it and doesn’t think he needs to.)
When it came to questions, we had a lot, which is why each post will end with an “Irish Culture” section that discusses interesting things we learned about Ireland and the Irish people..
But now it’s about the journey. Our trek began by driving south to County Wicklow, the area where the Irish TV series Ballykissangel was and Moone Boy are shot. We stopped at Powerscourt House and Gardens and, man alive, was it gorgeous. Let me tell you a about it.
Here are some photos:
That night we ate at Kyteler’s, a great family-friendly place with reasonably priced and tasty food, incredible atmosphere and (at least on the night we were there) a hilarious musician who gave volunteers a lesson on playing an Irish instrument called the badhron, much to everyone else’s delight.
And that was our first day. Read on if you’re interested one of my Irish cultural observations. The first topic:
Ireland’s Roads and Driving
If you ever want to experience abject terror on the road, Ireland is for you. To call the roads narrow is to call Einstein kind of smart. I’m talking narrower than a Westboro Baptist’s mind. Get a load of this:
On that note, I learned that Irish folk also walk on the left-hand side of trails and sidewalks instead of the right. It’s one of those things you don’t really think about but, when you do, it makes sense. It also makes it a little crazy. There are a lot of tourist who, like us, walk on the right. There are a lot of Irishmen who are used to these tourists. So when someone is approaching you head on, it’s hard to know if you should veer left or right. In deference to the Irish, I usually moved left…and ran into people.
Since we’re on the topic of roads, I thought I’d mention gasoline – which is a fortune by the way. That price on the right is in liters, people. And I thought it was interesting that all the gas stations I saw had different names – none were the same -- at least on the smaller roads. My favorite station name is Emo. We were going to stop for there for gas but decided to pass because we'd heard the workers there were moody. :)