It’s been almost a year since I visited Ireland. Now I’m just over 30 days out before I venture out to explore 2 new countries. So before the memories my travels get all muddled up together I want to look back and remember what my experience on visiting Ireland for the first time was like.
Before I get too far along I want to take note of some random things that consistently stand apart from others. There is no rhyme or reason other than they just resonate with me in a peculiar way. I remember feeling perplexed to find a tea-pot & tea bags in lieu of morning coffee in the hotel, Cadbury Wholenut was delicious, how wonderful the small Tesco grocery stores felt as opposed to the American SUPERmarkets, enjoying friendly conversations with strangers, surprised every time I heard someone use the word “feck” in normal conversation because it sounded so much like f*ck to me, curiosity as I wondered how to successfully shower with the half glass shower wall and not flood the place (where was the other half?), how delicious the best white peaches I’ve ever had purchased from Tesco were, feeling amazed at the number of “hen parties” that took place in Temple Bar. There’s plenty more to add but at the moment this is what I remember most.
My belongings were packed neatly and orderly in the my new fashionable hard shell Calvin Klein suitcase that I bought especially for the trip. I love to travel and it was time for a new one so after weeks of looking online and in brick and mortar stores I found my suitcase. It was bright white and had 4 wheels that could turn in every direction. I packed my suitcase methodically and patted myself on the back when I checked in and the suitcase was underweight. No extra fees! Yay me!
Weeks of careful planning, pairing shoes with outfits and deciding which outfits would be worn in each city I had it down. I even packed an always in season scarf printed with the world map because I read an article claiming a scarf was an essential fool-proof accessory to always be packed when setting forth on trips abroad. My travel outfit to fly from the US to Dublin were skinny jeans, white ballerina neck 3/4 sleeve fitted top, baby blue loafers and my scarf to accessorize. I read that scarves are not only fashionable but serve the purpose of shielding unpleasant smells.
After an overnight flight from Newark, NJ I peeked out the window after hearing the captain’s announcement that we were on our final descent in preparation for landing in Dublin. The emerald isle was even more beautiful from above than my imagination could have painted it. Later on when telling my mother of my travels I described seeing Ireland from above for the first time and thinking it looked like the most gorgeous handmade quilt of countless shades of green you could imagine.
As the ink from the Ireland stamp dried in my passport I headed to luggage carousel to find my suitcase and believe it or not I was surprised to find the pristine white and perfect suitcase I had checked in was now battered and riddled with scuff marks. I laughed at myself to think for a second that I really believed that it would stay perfect forever. Maybe white wasn’t the best choice but who notices these details anyways!
I quickly realized my cell phone didn’t work properly in Ireland unless I was connected to wi-fi or was lucky enough to find a 3G signal that could support me. I don’t think I ever found a 3G signal so needless to say I gave up on trying to connect to the Uber app to arrange for a
ride lift. Instead I made my way over to the regular taxi line outside the airport. I met the cab driver and asked him if he knew where the Temple Bar Hotel was. As the words left my mouth I thought what a stupid question that was. He assured me he knew where it was and we were on our way. The cab driver was amazing! The man was the king of ice breaking conversation. The conversation just flowed so effortlessly from his mouth. Now that I think of it I’m not even sure I understood everything he was saying or if he was even paying attention to my responses. He asked if I voted for Donald Trump and was relieved to learn that I didn’t. In the midst of driving quickly on what I think was a highway a rock came out of nowhere and hit the car somewhere making a loud sound upon impact to which the driver said “WHAT THE FECK WAS THAT!? IS MY WINDSCREEN STILL ON? SETTLE DOWN BACK THERE!”. I knew he was joking when he said it but hearing the almost F word threw me for loop. I wasn’t expecting that. He laughed with me at my reaction, explained he was joking then we all laughed together. He was a jokester and made it feel like we had known him forever.
I had my first real Irish Guinness in a restaurant located in the Temple Bar area and I had my first Irish meal, french fries. I know that’s incredibly lame but I wasn’t very hungry and wasn’t up for trying foreign meats considering I don’t eat a whole lot of meat anyways. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but as I walked up the stairs there was a painting of Bono on the wall. After my meal I decided to not let jet lag get the best of me so I wandered around Dublin in search of Dublin Castle that is located in the center of town but I never found it. It gives me a reason to go back so all is not lost.
I did the touristy hop on-hop off bus and learned lots of history and important places around the city. Of course I had to visit the Guinness Storehouse and have a pint so I did. I even went full tourist and purchased a Guinness Irish hat. I saw the Celtic Nights dinner show at the Arlington Hotel and even bought a copy of the DVD (yes, I was the tourist again). I took a day trip to see the Cliffs of Moher in all their splendid glory. THAT WAS AMAZING! I watched in awe a whirlpool in the sea caused by the force of the tide crashing into the cliffs. For a girl from the desert or maybe for many this was mind-blowing. I was also fascinated by the cows and bulls nearby who were sporting what looked like nose rings. I unsuccessfully tried to photograph one wearing a nose ring so that way the next time I heard of someone wanting to get a septum piercing I’d show them a picture of the Irish livestock who had already taken claim to that trend.
In my imagination before actually visiting Dublin I imagined bar hopping in Temple Bar wearing my coordinated outfits and cute heels or high-heeled booties but I did not expect the streets to be cobblestone. Considering there are times when I’m not the most graceful person I opted to wear flats which I hardly ever do. I only stayed 3 nights in Dublin but I covered a lot of ground. I saw the pock-marked general post office on O’Connell Street a reminder of the Easter Rising of 1916, I visited the emotion filled statues of the Famine Memorial, took in the statue of Oscar Wilde in Dublin Park, took a drive through Phoenix Park, took shelter under a tree from the rain at Trinity College, I crossed the Ha’penny Bridge at dusk as the lights were aglow. It’s impossible to take everything in but I feel really fortunate to experience what I did. I’ve left plenty there to still explore or to exchange stories with fellow travelers who’ve seen different things than I.