Weeeeeeeeeee’re BACK! (friends & family, you already knew this; internet world, you may not have) Our adventures in Ireland came to an end just over a week ago, and since it has almost taken THIS long for me to reacclimatize to the time zone in California, I have put off writing about ALL THINGS IRELAND until now. Lucky for you, I am MORE than ready to share MUCHO MÁS contigo, including but not limited to: our favorite sights, foods, stories, towns, and even our favorite failures in Ireland (think driving on the wrong side of the road for a minute before the car behind us politely honks to notify us of the cultural faux pas). All in good time, I’ll give you the best information for Traveling to Ireland (in my humble opinion) in a series of blog posts. Since we began our journey in Dublin, I’m going to start there. However, with flight delays and pretty cold and wet weather on our late night arrival, we spent less than a full day in Dublin. I’ll give you the highlights though.
After settling down in our hotel for the night, (which happened to be the Labyrinth of all hotels with flights of stairs going up, long hallways followed by stairs going down, a turn or two and then finally a few more stairs going up… it was kind of an adventure… thank goodness for the hotel clerk carrying the 2 heaviest of our 6 bags or it would have taken us all night to reach our room) we had only one thing on our minds, SUSTENANCE. We asked the hotel clerk for the best place to find food and drink, to which he replied that it was much too late for dining-in anywhere, and that our best bet was fast food.
WHAT? My heart sank and our tummies grumbled in protest. . . our first meal in Ireland is NOT going to be fast food!!
So we did what seemed natural and fitting, we headed to the BAR instead. Bars have food right? And even if the food’s not that tasty, the Beers **ahem** PINTS (in Ireland we’re talkin’ PINTS, drinkin’ PINTS, forget your sad little Glass of beer America!) will wash it down nicely enough. Unfortunately, as we stepped out into the night, we discovered it was either 1°C or zero degrees, give or take with the wind factor
… and bundled as we were, this was our first stroll in Europe together; this lovely Thursday eve, Mother and Daughter ready to see what Dublin could offer us, and wanting to remember OUR FIRST NIGHT and talk about it fondly for years to come. . . and we were FROZEN!!
We were using each other for warmth while we wandered the streets aimlessly, our purpose for even leaving the hotel, forgotten already. What to do exactly? Bear the Cold to make the most of our first night or retreat to warmer quarters, preferably Forever? After walking down a few main streets several blocks away, we lucked upon a cute and lively bar called The Porterhouse. Although it was clear that the kitchen was closed, we got to order ourselves each a PINT and thaw out from the cold we endured outside. Bonus**they brew their own beers!! To our surprise, it was quite a locals hangout, where drinking and bobbing along to American Disco Era hits took place. We learned later in the trip that Irish Top 40 hits (if they exist) don’t get played in the pubs and bars, because disco and American hits reign supreme.
The breakfast gods did shine down on us day two of our trip, as we were blessed to have received the recommendation for Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen from the hotel clerk. Our breakfast was as traditional (AND TASTY!!!!) as it could possibly be for our first meal in Ireland. I ordered the Irish Breakfast, which consists of fried eggs, fried sausages, fried bacon, and a tomato to finish it off. Soda bread with Irish butter, marmalade and Honey were also included.
I died and went to Irish Heaven.
I know now that it was all part of the plan for us to starve last night, so as to have this memory of a perfect FIRST IRISH MEAL forever. No exaggeration here, it was SIMPLY AMAZING!! Momma ordered Porridge. . . also very traditional and about as yummy as my dish for completely different taste buds, taste buds which danced on my tongue when I sampled from her heavenly bowl. A fresh scone was also ordered, because when in Rome, well you know, you have to have TEA & COFFEE WITH SCONES!!!
(Please click above to see LARGER IMAGE!)
After savoring and sharing a perfect meal together, we talked about where we would be heading next. Kilmainham Gaol was on my list because it was described as a place where we could really get a crash course in Irish History. We grabbed a cab and headed to the historic Jail. Quick Tip** Gaol is pronounced like the English word Jail; same meaning, same pronunciation. It’s important that you don’t ask the cab driver where Kilmainham Ga-ol is, because you will feel foolish. (By the way, with no prior knowledge of the Irish language, pronouncing many words/places in Ireland is Tough. Don’t fret though, because the Irish are GREAT! They will help you through it. They are so sweet and genuine. We experienced their kindness throughout the trip, especially when we were having pronunciation troubles) Pronounce it like Jail.** I must say, it was worth the visit. Be warned, both the tour and the exhibitions in the Jail are heavy, we are talking lots of history, some of the hardest times and centuries the Irish people endured. It’s an important part of their history, the jail, for all the people it housed, many of which were just common people like you or me.
If you will be seeing many government sites in Ireland during your trip, consider buying the Heritage Card, just €25.00 for Adults, which gets you into dozens of historic sites throughout Ireland. http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/kilmainhamgaol/
We hailed another cab from the jail, this time to take us to our Car Rental appointment. While our driver made small talk with us along the way to the rental store, what stood out again was the genuine charm and character of the Irish. He talked to us about his camping days with his family throughout Ireland, and he joked with us about how it was Fookin’ Freezin’ right now in January in Ireland. Cold fronts and all, he warned us about most likely encountering snow on our drive today leaving Dublin and passing through the Wicklow Mountains. My jaw dropped a little I must admit.
Snow in Ireland? SNOW? Apparently I didn’t do enough research, because every Book I read and all the Websites I scoured NEVER MENTIONED SNOW IN IRELAND. I didn’t even think to just type into google “Does it snow in Ireland?” because I trusted the research, I trusted the sites. Everywhere said RAIN, everything pointed to WET WEATHER and recommended waterproof this and waterproof that. Boy were we in for it now. . .
Our cab driver, kind as he was, explained and drew us a little map with directions of how to get back to our hotel from the rental place. How we found our hotel from the very cryptic drawing, I will never know. Must have been that good Irish Luck, because when I got in the driver’s seat of our very European car on the Right side of the car, Fear/Exhilaration took over. My co-pilot was just as new to this as I was in terms of maneuvering a vehicle in a foreign country in what seemed like backward conditions to us. Even the co-pilot seat was on the wrong side of the car.
. . See that, that’s the LOOK OF FEAR above, don’t be fooled. DAY 1 OF DRIVING IN IRELAND was full of Fear mostly, and hey, I’m owning this. You will be too when you try it.
But we managed, somehow, as a team, and we hit the Road, saying goodbye to Dublin for open roads and more adventures (More to come on the Struggle driving in Ireland). Cheers to you and yours!! More to come from all the cities and towns, nature & the sights; Endless Sights from our HOLIDAY!!