Sunday, March 17, 2013

Elsewhere, A.K.A. Ireland

I grew up and lived here, right in the south of the great phallic-shaped state of Florida.

I then lived here.

I now live here.

But, occasionally, I like to take trips elsewhere. "Elsewhere," in this case, turned out to be Ireland.

Allow me to tell you how travelling abroad inevitably leads to some eye-opening soul-searching.

But first, here's a sampling of eye candy from last month's trip to the Emerald Isle.


I started my journey by doing the most stereotypical thing a tourist does when they first arrive in Ireland: I had a pint of Guinness.

The actual first picture I took from the entire trip. (Seriously.)

Or, rather, I tried to have the pint. I barely made a dent in the dense stout before I called it quits after feeling sickly after a few gulps.

Dublin's famous doors

The Six Nations rugby tournament was also in play

Trinity College

O'Connell Street, with the Spire

Night-time stroll by the River Liffey (rhymes with "jiffy")

The Harp bridge

It was cold and I needed some Irish coffee from Temple Bar
The Ha' Penny Bridge

The Temple Bar area

The River Liffey

James Joyce statue

Christ Church Cathedral

St. Patrick's 

Belfast (transportation thanks to the Éirann buses)

On the drive...

So peaceful

Belfast Epcot?

Things I immediately noticed that were different in Belfast from Dublin: 1) The flags and 2) the signs were no longer bilingual in English and Irish

Titanic Memorial

Let it be known that Waldo lives in Belfast, along with his wife and kid

The River Lagan

Samson and Goliath, the two ship building cranes of yore

Look. Proof that I was there.

Believe it or not, this is the entrance to a mall. Wut?

On the drive back to Dublin, the bus passed by this sign: "The Brontë Homeland." Seeing as how Jane Eyre is my absolute favorite novel OF ALL TIME, I freaked and vowed to return to Northern Ireland to visit this place someday! 

I quite like Irish accents and find them rather, well, sexy, but the smattering of English that I understood in the garbled Belfast accent made me seriously question whether or not I spoke the language fluently.

Galway (transportation thanks to Éirann buses as well)

JFK commemoration

Friars River

The Cathedral

The Spanish Arch

Of the three cities I visited, Galway turned out to be the one that captured my heart with its port, dockside, the familiar briny aroma of the sea, street musicians, colorful buildings and cafés. It was also the coldest city I visited in Ireland, which, under normal circumstances, would be a major deterrent for me. Go figure.

Random Barb the French Bean fact: I like sheep.

They are number one on my list of my most favorite animals in the world, coming just before tigers, ducks and dogs. Coincidentally enough, Ireland seems to be sheep-crazed as well, which meant that every time I passed a cobble-stoned field corralling a flock of them, I squealed like a pre-tween at a Justin Bieber concert.

Oh, and all of the Irish souvenir shops happily catered to my wallet with their cutesy sheep paraphernalia...

I *finally* found a salt and pepper shaker set that pleased me. My life is now complete.  (And, yes, I use a red stool as a table.)

I nearly bought a flock of these babies.

If it weren't for my Doctor Mew and my "I See Dutch People" shirts, this would easily be the best shirt I EVER bought.

(By the way, if you too want your own snazzy "I See Dutch People" t-shirt, go here to get one. While supplies last!)

Remember the Sheep Mug from the previous photos? This mug, I am sad to say, is no longer with me. Merely five days of using it, I clumsily kicked over the table-stool hybrid that sent my Sheep Mug flying straight to the ground.

Let's have a moment of silence for our fallen mug.

Welp. Guess this means I'll have to go back to Ireland to get a new mug.

On a more serious note:

I thought that I had been feeling at home in France, but this trip has certainly brought into question whether or not I should experience other cultures.

Ireland felt different.

If I were to go back to Spain, it would be to visit the people I know. If I were to return to Ireland, it would be to fulfill something in my life.

On my last full day in Dublin, I decided that the first thing on my list would be to visit the long-awaited Writers Museum.

I won't lie: walking in the quiet rooms and gazing at the excerpts of letters crafted by Ireland's most well-known wordsmiths evoked emotions of going back to my calling. What if one hundred years from now, museums put up my stuff on display for others to see?

It may not happen; I'm not conceited enough to claim it so. But thinking about that possibility certainly doesn't hurt to make me dream of accomplishing bigger things in the brief time I have on this Earth. I won't delve on the matter for long because it evokes a twinge of sadness that I can't quite understand.

For now, though, I definitely want to return to Ireland and stay for more than just the contributed week. I envision obtaining a degree in Trinity College and building a better tolerance for gulping down entire pints of heavy stouts.

Barb the French Bean

Joyeux Saint Patrick!