Friday, April 13, 2012

Things I've Learned About Ireland

We're enjoying the Kenmare Druid Circle
I'm vaguely uneasy that we're not having the "ideal vacation", whatever that means. I've *still* got a cough and the second round of antibiotics is making me nauseous so I'm not feeling as enthusiastic as I should.

But part of what I wanted to do is just hang out and "absorb" the culture. So that could be as simple as having lunch at the pub (check!), walking around the city of Cork (check!) or wandering through the grocery store and marveling at the box of "man-sized" Kleenex (check!).

First, things are ridiculously expensive here. Everything is in Euros, which is about $1.30. So I see the price and think "oh, that's not too bad" but then realize I am thinking about it in dollars rather than actually converting it. We spent around $70 on *lunch* the other day, and it was just in a pub.

There is no fountain diet Coke here. All diet Coke appears to come out of a bottle or can (usually 200ml, which is not very much), is really expensive, and is served lukewarm, with a few ice cubes if I request them. And of course, there are no free refills. One could argue that I shouldn't be drinking it anyway, since I'm pregnant, but it still makes me sad.

People are kid-neutral, not friendly or actively unfriendly like many places in the US. But there are a lot of little kids everywhere, including at the tables in the pub.

The roads (and cars!) in the country are really, really small. In some places a two-lane, two-way traffic road is about as wide as a one-way street back home. In a few spots, we actually had to pull over to let the other traffic come our way before we could cross the bridge. You also have to watch for sheep that have wandered onto the road. I'm regularly carsick here and that's rarely been an issue at home.

I think I might be the only brown person in all of Kenmare. OK, that's probably not true since there is a combo Indian/Thai takeout place and a fair number of tourists, but I forgot what it's like to be somewhere with so little diversity. Cork had more people speaking different languages and visual diversity, and I suspect Dublin is very different (we'll find out next week).

The countryside is crazily picturesque. It's like driving through a series of postcards. Lots of mountains, forests, bright green fields, cows, horses, sheep, cute houses here and there. And the other day we drove part of the Ring of Kerry and saw amazing bright blue water on the coast. My photography skills are nowhere near good enough to do this justice.

"Hot" salsa is maybe mild, at best. I had a craving for Mexican-ish food so asked TJ to pick up some tortillas and salsa at the grocery store. Which they had, in Old El Paso brand of all things. He bought the HOT salsa and I was worried, but it turns out I shouldn't have been. It's not even remotely spicy. (And I'm a spice lightweight.)

The BBC thinks children should be in bed by 7pm.  They have a kids-only cable channel that T was settling in to watch yesterday, but they stopped programming at 7pm and told everyone it was time for bed (!).  T's Ireland bedtime is around 9pm, and she's still waking at least once at night.  Sigh.

We have a week left, and are planning a visit to a petting farm, and to Dublin as well as exploring the town of Limerick on our last evening.  And there will probably be more Guinness in pubs.


  1. I was drinking a cold-ish Coke Zero last night (it hadn't been in the fridge long enough). We also had fully cold diet Dr. Pepper. David prefers COLD but my preference for Coke Zero had me drinking that even though it could have been colder. I told him I was being "European" - I remember from when I visited that ice and very cold drinks were rare, and you always had to ask. Why don't they use ice in Europe? One of life's mysteries...

    1. I wonder if ice makers are expensive or too energy-hogging or something. For upset stomach, I definitely want it as cold as I can get it.

  2. Oh - and I totally understand the "ideal" vacation thing! I plan-and-research-and-plan-and-research-and-plan (even things we probably won't do!). Actually, it sounds like you're having a lovely, relaxing time. It's hard to remember that you can't plan *everything* but you can set yourself up to have a good time if you're ready to roll with what comes. I think you're doing a fine job. :)

    1. Yeah, I didn't really plan much before we left, which maybe I should have. I think TJ is starting to get a little frustrated that we aren't seeing enough or don't have enough of a plan, so our Dublin outing will need to be a bit more structured...

  3. So sorry you haven't been feeling well, but it sounds like you've accomplished a lot of what you wanted to. And have a guinness for me please...YUM...

  4. I remember visiting London and seeing roughly 20 oz. bottles of Coke for £2, which makes me glad I typically do without it. Last time I was there was during a snowstorm, which meant most of the pubs had no food. The only place I managed to find open was an upscale Indian place, so I wound up spending £70 for dinner that night by myself.

    I find it really tough to let go of that when travelling in Europe (the whole two times I have done it). Somehow, I don't mind in the US (which meant we survived our extended trip to Disneyland) and don't mind so much in Canada (although we do have a small pile of Canadian currency we use when we stop at Tim Horton's).

    1. OMG, 70 POUNDS for dinner?!

      And yeah, I should really let go of the diet Coke but when I'm nauseous it's one of the only things that helps.

      Also, this whole trip made me realize how freakin' CHEAP food is here.


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