Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ireland: The Friendliest Place in Europe

This is what you think of when you think of Ireland right? Well, let me tell you something. If you ever want to visit Ireland, or Europe, for that matter, go ahead and do yourself a huge favor. GO IN THE SUMMER. Joel and I arrived in Dublin with okay conditions...a bit cold for the end of March but nothing to worry about. Well the next day, we woke up to torrential rain pour and ice. It really changed the Ireland experience for us because we didn't get to enjoy the outdoors much. But anyways, I'll start from the top.

Joel and I left for Dublin on Sunday. We arrived Sunday night and had food at the touristy, Irish bar called Gogarty's. We went ahead and ordered "traditional" Irish food, even though we had heard that it was bad. Well, uh, it was. BAD. Joel ordered Irish stew and I ordered trout. Oh boy. My fish had the skin on all over it, with tiny bones in every bite, and Joel's lamb in the stew was made up of all kinds of parts... The only food we enjoyed from the meal was the brown bread and Guinness! In fact, that's about all I ate of that meal.

Monday we woke up at 6 AM for our grand tour of the countryside of Ireland, including the acclaimed Cliffs of Moher. HA. HA. We walked out of our hotel and immediately got side-swiped by the wind and rain. We were so hungry from not eating the night before that we looked up a McDonalds to eat at for breakfast. We ran to the McDonald's in the rain, got some egg mcmuffins, and ran to find the tour place. We got lost for about 15 minutes but found it and climbed into the mini bus.

Our tour guide was great- charming, old little Irishman. But then as we went along with our tour, he didn't really give us many facts as much as tell us about his mother's sayings. "Like my mother always said, it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it..." Haha, he just would go off and tell us little ideas he had about how he was an atheist but that we should pray for better weather if we had any influence in that department. Oh dear. Why couldn't he have been the Irish Catholic stereotype? Come on...but he was a very nice, witty old man.

Our first stop- the Cliffs of Moher. It took us about 5 hours to get there from Dublin. LONG bus ride. And then we got there and it was a freezing hurricane. Joel and I trudged up the cliff to get to the top and we got soaked and scraped in the face with ice. Not to mention, the wind literally burned our faces. Pleasant right? Well, you know me, I defied the weather and got up there and put on a huge smile for a picture. And then ran down the cliff, arms flailing, crying from the cold and my face about to fall off.

The rest of the day we pretty much were in the bus. It made me SO MAD that the weather was so bad because we passed the most lovely scenery!! We even were supposed to stop at the Burren, a cool rocky landscape where tons of flowers grow. But I, and the rest of our brave tour companions, could only stand about 5 minutes outside of the bus. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do, and our tour guide did his best. But all in all, it was a disaster. I want to go back to Ireland when the sun is out because it would have been an entirely different experience. We arrived back in Dublin at 8 PM.

That night, we had dinner at an Indian restaurant called Jaipur. It was EXCELLENT! My appetizer and entree was not too spicy at all! Great flavors! But Joel ordered an entree that looked like a bowl of fire. We made a stop at the pharmacy on the way back and got some antacids. GREAT call. :)

The last day in Dublin, again, was freezing rain. It was so sad. I wanted to do a free walking tour of the city, but it was literally impossible. Or, you would just catch pneumonia after doing it. So, we had a late lunch and went to Gogarty's again.
This is going to sound weird, but I think my favorite part of our Ireland experience was our 30 minute cab ride to the airport. We talked non-stop with our driver, and it was the most wonderful thing ever. I felt like he was a long-lost grandfather or something. Hands down, the nicest person we have met in Europe. As for all Irish people, Joel and I both agree that they have the friendliness and charm that their stereotype gives to them. What a great stereotype to have!

Ireland, I loved you. Even in your absurd weather. But please know, I will be back. And I am bringing my family next time.

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