Saturday, January 3, 2015

Things I Learned in Ireland

1.  Ireland is full of stairs. Seriously. 

2.  The walk up to kiss the Blarney Stone is 525 steps of dark, spiral, uneven, stone staircase.  Just kidding -- it's only 127.  But when you have a sudden attack of claustrophobia and recurrent nightmares of collapsing stairs that fall into a bottomless void suddenly pop back into memory at once, you might have a bit of an anxiety attack going up.  Persevere! When you get to the top you'll be on the open roof, where it will promptly begin to rain on your head!  Lol.     It's worth it to be able to say you kissed the Blarney Stone.  Really. And the view from up there is splendid.  If I ever go back, I'm going to go visit the Poison Garden, which I missed due to time constraints.

3.  Irish people are NICE. And funny.  And charming.  Even when you're a dumb tourist, if you're humble and polite.

4.  Even in June, a Southerner needs a jacket in Ireland.  It's a wee bit chilly on rainy days.  But it's glorious. 

5.  Irish coffee is yummiest when made with Bailey's and cream, from a pub, rather than a touristy clothing shop or that restaurant at the Rock of Cashel.  The best I had was at the Vixen's Den pub in the Bog Village. Moriarty's was okay, but it was FREE, and my first Irish coffee, so I had no comparison or complaint.  

6.  Pubs are cozy, homey, and friendly feeling.  I wish there were more in the US.  I wish I'd visited more in Ireland.

7.  The Lush bath bombs I bought in Dublin really helped me survive my foot pain and sheer exhaustion.  Ahh....  Great way to get ready for bed, but heavy, so only buy as many as you can use up on the trip.  You don't want to schlep them home in your luggage.  (I love Lush, so I over shopped.  Lol)

8.  Make plans to buy souvenir shirts that you will wear on your trip, and bring even less clothing.  

9.  Stretchy leggings are awesome for travel.  You can always double up if it's chilly, or wear them as pajama pants. They take very little room.

10.  Even though you bought a dual voltage travel hair dryer, set it properly, AND plugged it into a voltage converter, that damn thing won't work longer than ten seconds and it'll be dead weight through your whole trip because you won't even be able to return it once you return home.  Buy a travel dryer for European voltage from Amazon UK long before your trip, buy one there, or just deal with flat hair your whole trip because most hotel rooms won't have hair dryers, no matter what the jet setters say.  

11.  Drink a bunch of water once you get to your room.  Carry water around with you.  Accept that you will walk around having to pee a lot of the time.  Hydration helps prevent exhaustion. 

12.  Twisting turning Irish roads and orange juice are not a good combo on a bus ride and may make someone carsick.  Carrying a few recycled plastic shopping bags on you at all times is wise.  (I didn't get carsick, but someone else became EPICALLY carsick on the bus.

13.  Irish music is wonderful, not matter where you hear it.  Apparently Ireland likes Steve Earle.  It was funny to be in a shop in Blarney and hear "Copperhead Road", which is about a bootlegger / drug dealer from East Tennessee.  Remark on it, and not ten feet away will be another Tennesseean. I kid you not.

14.  In the summertime, it doesn't get dark until about 11 pm.  Trippy but neat.  

15.  You might not want to bother with the paperwork for getting your VAT back. They never honored mine that I sent by post.

16.  Runners and bicyclists are everywhere, and it's inspiring.  I wanted to go running in Phoenix Park, in Dublin.  It's the most perfect park I've ever seen.

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