May adventures : a five-day trip to Wales and Ireland with the boys. So very wet and windy, colorful and breath-taking.
Flew into Dublin and spent the night in Temple Bar, at the Barnacles hostel. I prefer hostels to hotels because it's easier to meet people, not to mention they are often cheaper.
Downtown Dublin is mostly pub, with the occasional cafe. Brick Alley was my favorite. We went in twice, and the second time I ordered a pot of their Bad Weather Tea, made with wild strawberry, orange peel, anise, and apple pieces. I want to have this tea in my someday-coffeehouse.
This man saw me holding my camera and posed for me, jokingly - I don't think he expected me to take him up on it. It was so spur-of-the-moment I didn't get it in focus, which is a shame. He was completely adorable.
The following morning we took the rental car on the ferry to Wales. We got off at Holyhead and spent the day driving from north to south along the western coast, stopping off at little towns along the way.
I liked Newport best. It's a small village with coast and castle, a sweet lineup of stone buildings and a one-room boho cafe where we had amazing scones and jam.
Wales reminded me of the states, with a countryside not unlike Pennsylvania, a coastal region comparable to Rhode Island, weather exactly like the Pacific Northwest, and cuisine of the deep South. And more sheep than I have ever seen.
Snowdonia was incredible.
We spent the night in Aberystwyth (tongue-twister), and drove to Fishguard the following day to meet the ferry : back to Ireland.
The ferry dropped us off in Rosslare, and from there we drove to Lisdoonvarna (detouring all the way to Galway and back, lost). Isaac is a natural at the roadtrip thing, which is good because this won't be our last (or our longest).
I loved Doolin. It's a coastal village near the cliffs of Moher with a bit of a creative vibe.
We started our morning at the Doolin Cafe. If I lived near this cafe, I would love breakfast. It would be so much more than just coffee. The cafe walls are covered in beautiful color linocuts by local artist Michael O'Connor. I also want these in my someday-coffeehouse.
Next we hopped a ride on The Happy Hooker ferry-meets-fishing-boat to the Aran Islands.
We stopped off at Inis Mór, the biggest of the three, and took Noel Mahon's bus tour around the island. This was perfect for two reasons: we got to see the entire island in just a few hours, stopping off at Dún Aonghasa to visit the cliff-side stone fortress, and we were able to hear the history of the island in Noel's beautiful Irish accent, with his humorous side-commentary. In short: approximately 900 residents; three churches, three schools, three graveyards, six pubs, one grocery store, and one bank open on Wednesdays for three hours only (including a one-hour lunch break); seals, kelp, thatch rooftops, 10 million rocks. The oldest islander, Bridget Dirrane, lived to be 109 (and would you believe it, Noel said she was JFK's nanny).
I bought these tribal-inspired guardian prints on the island, for a keepsake. I don't know why, but I kind of love them.
We took the ferry back to the mainland, picked up hitchhikers from Chile, France, and Canada, and then saw the cliffs of Moher.
Stunning, yes, but I actually liked the South Stack cliffs of Wales better.
In the evening: McGinn's Pub (Doolin) - Irish stew and a Guinness (or several), because the ferryman insisted that an island Guinness is superior to all others. He's right; I loved it. I also loved the stew. And the ale. And the local Irish-folk band.
Everybody thought Isaac was all Irish, with his red hair, chilling at the pub listening to the band after 10 pm. He kept walking up to people and saying, I'm Isaac, I speak English, I'm five, I saw a castle. ♥
The next day we explored by car, making our way through the County Clare on the way back to Dublin. It was simply beautiful - pastureland and forest, castle and cave, all those complimentary colors.
County Clare actually reminded me of Georgia, and I kept thinking we were almost home. It's little wonder that so many people of Irish decent live in the southern Appalachians. And to think in eight short days I will be there with my family!
In Ireland, you go to someone's house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you're really just fine. She asks if you're sure. You say of course you're sure, really, you don't need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don't need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn't mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it's no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting.
In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don't get any damned tea.
- C.E. Murphy, Urban Shaman
(... Except in the south, where they don't even ask if you want tea; they just give it to you. This is a different kind of tea though.)