I alluded to my brief trip to Ireland in a previous entry, but never really talked about what happened there.
Ireland used to be my pinnacle country, my number one destination in my travel Bucket List (now replaced with Greece). Why? Newfoundland and Ireland have extremely strong ties. According to the Ireland Newfoundland Partnership, about 50% of my province’s population is of Irish origin. We share striking cultural bonds, and even noticeably similar accents. We both have histories of fighting for independence, and struggles with poverty.
We also share a love for the drink. Next to Quebec, Newfoundland sells more beer per capita than any other Canadian province, despite the entire island’s population being just 500,000. It’s no wonder I fit in here.
I was ecstatic about my four days in Dublin. I thought I’d feel a connection to the country unlike any other travel experience I’d ever have. Instead, I spent my trip cowering from the heavy rainfall, miserably cold and wet, and suffering from a bad case of gastroenteritis. Almost every Irish person I met was incredibly rude, and the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth. (Ironically, my first night out in Dublin was the most fun I’ve ever had abroad, but that’s a different story.)
I realized too late my problem was that I stayed mostly confined to Dublin, with a brief trip to Cork (by that point, I was already suffering from the virus). At the time, Dublin was an extremely rich city, with minimum wage being a whopping 8 Euros/hour. Others in my group did a four-day Contiki tour around the countryside and other cities, and they all had the time of their lives. You live, you learn, I guess.
There are few places I really, really want to revisit. I’d do anywhere twice, but Ireland is somewhere I need to return so I can find the real experience I was looking for. Nothing excites me more than hearing Irish music flowing out from a pub, and I’m never having more fun than when I’m linked arms with someone and dancing a reel around the dance-floor.
So now with my roommate Matt gearing up for a trip around Ireland in 2011, I’ve decided to consider the option too. It’s insanely cheap to fly there from here, and we’d have couches to crash the whole time. Plus there’s the whole redhead thing, I mean, I’m practically Irish by default, right? Irish people might welcome me into their homes and attempt to adopt me.
Have you ever been to Ireland? What do you recommend?