11 full days of exploring the Irish countryside are in the books, and while we’re flying home I wanted to reflect on our fun times here and offer my list of the six things that I’ll miss most about this amazing country.
6. The Hospitality
When we were on our Music Pub Crawl, the host joked that “Irish people aren’t friendly, they’re nosy.”, saying that they reason they make conversation is to figure out where you came from and when you’re going to leave – but the people here couldn’t be more hospitable. In a region with countries that are notorious for not taking kindly to Americans, there was never a moment where we didn’t feel welcome. I had even had perfect strangers saying hello to me in the bathroom. People were always happy to answer our questions and make conversation with us. The Irish have definitely earned their reputation for friendliness and warmth.
5. The Accents
Irish accents have to be one of the coolest accents around. They are always so soothing and rhythmic. I could go on listening to people with that accent for hours. Even them reading the daily lunch specials sounded like a beautiful poem. I’m going to miss the joy in just hearing the way the Irish talk.
4. The Heritage
As a student of history, when we go to the East Coast, I marvel at the heritage that exists in some of our 300 year old buildings, but there’s something to be said to be inside structures that are nearly 1,000 years old. There’s something to be said with the way Europe is able to preserve their history. I think unfortunately, much of the pre-US history has been lost by our sins against the Native Americans, as well as our culture propensity to tear down and rebuild aged structures. One of the things I enjoyed was standing in these old places and putting myself in the thoughts of the people who built it and who used these structures each day.
3. The Green
The weather in Ireland would equate best to Seattle. It rains pretty much every day and with it everything is green and lively. There is vegetation growing all over the place, covering buildings, creating tunnels around roads and creating a beautiful pallet of color for the country.
2. Teach Ai Bhrian
As you typically do on vacation, we ate dinner at restaurants pretty much each night, and instead of taking opportunities to try new places, we chose to come back to this place two more times – the food was just that amazing. We stumbled on this place accidentally, as we wanted to try the pub in the closest town to us. When we walked into that place it turned out they didn’t serve food, but recommended this place 5 minutes down the road. We had no idea what to expect walking in, but were blown away. Each time we went back and tried something differently and it was better than the last. If we ever make it back to Ireland, we’re definitely going to mix in some meals back at this place.
Anyone who has had Guinness in Ireland will tell you that it’s just not the same in the States. Before I came here, I was not a big Guinness drinker, but something about drinking this beer in Ireland – whether it’s the scenery, the freshness, the fact that you’re on vacation – it’s just different here. Guinness in Ireland tastes great, but it’s even better when you’re drinking it in Dublin, and especially from that fresh tap at the Brewery. In terms of national brand and a love affair with a drink, we have nothing like that in the States. People don’t have the large-scale affinity for Budweiser the same way they do Guinness. For the record I did try a few other beers while out here, but I kept going back to Guinness. I know it’s funny to put a beer at the top of my list, but I think that experience around enjoying a good beer – being with friends, not having anything to worry about – is what really makes the experience.