Craic : an Irish term for fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Not to be confused with the illegal narcotic crack.
On Valentine’s Day, I met up with 2 friends from high school, Mikey and Eric. They are doing a month long back packing trip around Europe, and asked if I’d like to meet up with them. You really can’t pass up an opportunity like having a high school reunion in Ireland; obviously I was in.
This trip to me was probably the easiest trip I’ve had, mostly due to the English speaking factor, as well as having two really great, laidback travel partners. We stayed in hostels, but they weren’t the worst, and traveled to both Dublin and Galway.
Starting with Dublin, shall we? As a forewarning, Irish culture is based around drinking, so at no point during this trip was I sober or well rested. The return of Paris Hilton if you will.
Well, Friday was walking around, seeing some sights, and doing a tour of the Guinness brewery. The tour is cool because you end up at this bar 7 stories tall with glass walls. Otherwise, the whole experience is way overpriced. Glad I did it, but wouldn’t do it again, I’m not made of money.
After that, we walked to the Jameson Distillery thinking we would tour there as well, but instead we just had a drink at the bar and figured that it would count.
After that we walked to the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland, and had a pint there as well.
That night, we went to a nightclub called Copper Head Jacks. Pure ridiculous insanity. I did not fit in there in the least, being 25, not dressed like a crazy slut, and able to handle my alcohol, but the guys loved it because 19 year old girls are attractive to them, so I let them have their fun. I danced like a fool anyway, even though this place played the most horrible music. Lots of One Direction, they even played a song by a band called B*Witched that was very popular on the Disney Channel scene in the late 90’s. I think we went to bed around 6 am, it was out of control.
The next morning, being completely wrecked, we got up early to check out of our hostel and had a nice Irish Breakfast.
To me, Irish breakfast seems very random. But the combination of different kinds of meat, excluding the black looking one, baked beans, eggs, and toast is really quite lovely. The black looking thing is called black pudding, and is made out of cow’s blood and has little weird bits in it. It’s quite strange. But overall, Irish breakfast is delicious. Baked beans for breakfast totally make sense now.
Before moving on from Dublin, the Temple Bar area is amazing. And The Temple Bar, while a bit touristy and expensive, is very fun and has great live music.
We then got on a bus and went to Galway, which I personally liked much more than Dublin. It’s a small town, mostly students, on the west side of Ireland.
We were only supposed to stay 2 nights and then head down to Killarney, but we ended up staying until Tuesday morning. I can’t even begin to explain how much fun I had there. But here are my observations and tales:
- “You Can Call me Al”- Paul Simon -I’m not sure what the significance of this song is to the Irish people, but this song played without fail every single night at every single pub we went to. Sometimes multiple times. Every time I hear that song I will most definitely think of Ireland. If any Irish people are reading this and have any explanation for the popularity of this song, I’m all ears.
- Supermacs- basically the Irish version of McDonalds, and they are obsessed with it. I think it sucked, although helped while drunk. If any Irish people are reading this and have any explanation for the popularity of this restaurant, I’m all ears.
- The Front Door- A pub in Galway. The first night out in Galway we ended up here, and it was soooo jam packed that you couldn’t even move. Sometimes you would get stuck in these spots where you never moved, just bounced off everyone around you. It was like everyone was swimming upstream.
- It was at The Front Door that I had a very strange moment. This is both a long story, and related to men, so if you are my grandmother or father, feel free to skip over this bit. I was trying to get to the bar, and was stuck in the current of the people. I was rescued by a good looking guy, maybe the only good looking guy I saw in all of Ireland, and we talked for about 20 minutes. His name was Mel, he had very nice eyes, and he was from Galway and just couldn’t believe that I was from California and he was so fortunate to meet me. Then, out of nowhere, he says, “Okay, well have fun in Galway.” I was so confused, I thought he was interested in me, but he just let me walk away. Weird. Later in the night, I was trying to get back to the bar when I met a different gentleman and begin chatting. Suddenly, Mel shows up and tries to talk to me again. I say, what the hell was before, he apologizes, saying he got nervous. Anyway, come to find out that Mel is a farmer outside of Galway. He has cows that he raises for beef and is working on planting a vegetable garden. What a funny coincidence, I tell him, I’m farming in Italy. Long story short, at some point he fell in love with me, and asked me to marry him. I wish I could say I was exaggerating but I’m really not. When I told him, no, I think my father would kill me (more like he’d kill you) if I ran away with an Irish cow farmer, he actually teared up, and told me I was breaking his heart. I apologized, and said, come on now, you barely know me. He said, I think you think I’m joking, but I wanted to marry you the moment I saw you. Now, I understand this whole thing sounds terribly cheesy, and it is…but throw an Irish accent on it and maybe I was just stuck in a romantic comedy, no? Anyway, Mel the Cow Farmer took me to disgusting Supermacs for our first date, and then while I was in the restroom disappeared. Now I’m sure I’m supposed to be upset about this whole thing, or embarrassed because honestly who gets left in a fastfood restaurant? What kind of guy spends all kinds of money on a girl with drinks and food, and then vanishes? But I find it hilarious, and honestly, he made it easier by just leaving then by me making him leave. Maybe he just couldn’t take the heartbreak of not marrying me anymore, and he just had to leave? I guess we’ll never know!
- My favorite night in Ireland took place in Galway. We went to a pub called the Quays (pronounced keys) and ended up getting a really great table right in front of the live band that was playing that night. THEY ROCKED. The girl singer sounded a like a happy Florence from Florence + the Machine. They played old stuff, new stuff, Irish stuff- it was 2 hours of really great music and drinking beers! Then we went to another pub called Busker Brownes, and they had a live band as well (Galway is known for their live and traditional Irish music). At this point, the guys are kind of hanging back, but I’m in the sweet spot as far as being tipsy goes, so I throw caution to the wind and start dancing in front of the band with a big group of other people. A girl named Colleen introduces herself, and then introduces me to all of her friends. I was so grateful for being brought into the group, and I danced with them for the rest of the night. She was so kind, telling me I was so pretty I could be the next Rose of Tralee, which is kind of like Miss America plus you have to actually have a skill like singing or dancing really well. Unfortunately you also have to be Irish… strike 1. I will always remember that night for the 4-5 hours of pure happiness and joy that live music and dancing can bring, and for the huge smile on my face every time I realized that I was in Ireland dancing all night brought. Life is so cool.
The Cliffs of Moher really deserves its own post, but it’s pictures more than words. We were kind of forced to take a tour bus there, mostly because it’s the easiest and cheapest way to get there. But after 5 days of heavy drinking and little sleep, I mostly slept through to tour.
But once we got to the cliffs you can bet I was awake. Now I don’t know many facts about this place, except that it was awesome, and some of the drops on those cliffs are like 300 metres and at some points I was inches from death. Pure exhilaration.
Ireland was definitely an amazing trip. A vacation for my brain constantly trying to translate. A break from the very difficult (but rewarding) life of living on the farm. The Irish are crazy friendly, and I love listening to them talk; Irish may be one of my favorite accents. It was comfortable. A lot of my other posts have been what I learned about myself on this trip, but honestly, I didn’t learn a lot about myself, I just had a lot of fun. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just a bit a good craic!