It has been said that marijuana is considered by some to be a gateway to harder drugs. What does that have to do with visiting Ireland?
Well if ya ask me, Ireland is the marijuana of European countries for us Americans. It’s exciting and unique enough to give you a travel high, but still comfortable enough that you don’t feel like you are on a cultural overdose. It’s an English speaking country where friendly faces gather in quaint pubs to drink a pint and enjoy traditional Irish music. Aside from the whole driving on the “wrong side” of the road thing, you will find many of the comforts of your American home (aside from flavored coffee creamer – 7 months into my travels and I’m still pining over damn hazelnut coffee creamer!).
Ireland is a country polka-dotted with charming villages offering local pubs and shops which are surrounded by lush green fields. It’s pretty freaking beautiful and a must see if you are on this side of the pond.
Considering a trip to Ireland? Here are 5 little bits of info to give you an idea of the surprises and experiences this country has to offer!
1. Are you speaking English?? – I quietly had this thought countless times throughout the course of my stay. Depending on where you are in the country, the accent can be nearly impossible to understand!! I was taking the cable car to Dursey Island (in the southwest of Ireland) and on the return trip two worker men joined us and said a few things making small talk. I seriously thought they were speaking Gaelic – it wasn’t until I asked the person I was traveling with and he politely laughed and told me that NOPE NOPE that was not Gaelic… they were in fact speaking English. In my experience, it was as if people were mumbling and I just couldn’t understand them. Just embrace the mumble and accept the fact that you may need to ask someone multiple times to repeat themselves even though they are speaking English (add in their phrasing and vocab and you can get completely lost – visit my American English to Irish dictionary (post to follow soon!).
2. Bipolar Weather – Those green grassy fields are super vibrant for a reason… the copious amounts of rain Ireland gets. The saying is that you can experience all 4 seasons in one day in Ireland and I’m here to report the truth – YOU DO. It can go from dark and dreary, to pissing rain, to brilliant sunshine, to crazy wind, and back to rain in the matter of an hour. The weather seems confused with its true identity… dress for every condition and you are good to go!
3. Is this a two way street? – Just as the grass is super green for a reason… there is also a reason the cars are relatively small: SUPER NARROW ROADS! You really can’t drive anywhere in the country without your daily dose of playing chicken with an oncoming car. For the most part drivers are polite but there was a few times when I was a passenger that I felt like even a piece a paper would barely fit between the side mirrors. If you take on the task of driving (which is usually in a manual car – and drivers sit on the right and drive on the left side of the road), be cautious… but also enjoy the awesome winding back country roads! It’s the stuff car commercials are made of.
4. DO NOT EVER make a night of drinking Bulmers – This tasty and crisp cider is the perfect thirst busting drink after a day of exploring. You can get a draft or a pint bottle – locals recommend the pint bottle because it’s “better”. I couldn’t tell the difference but what I can tell you is keep your consumption to 1-2 pints. I had two nights at the pub where I “stuck to Bulmers” and I wanted to rip my stomach out the next day. It felt like it burnt a hole through my stomach and left me with a lingering and nagging hangover. I even had to get a McDonald’s Happy Meal after my first “Bulmers Night Out”… and we all know how gross (yet delicious) McDonald’s (or MACDonald’s if your Irish) is.
5. Hurling, Rubgy, and Football OH MY! – I grew up going to NFL games and have many friends who are enthusiastic about American sports. I’m not one of those people but I do love a live sporting event. Therefore when I first arrived in Ireland and was notified it was the “hurling championships” I thought WTF is that? I also went to a Munster Rubgy game where I spent the whole match not having a CLUE what was going on. At least football (Soccer) is pretty straight forward. To “be in the know” of Irish sports consider checking out:
- Hurling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgEMvRrOCRI
- Rugby – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke4XcnbulT0