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The Sheep Survived, But My Mirror Got Mangled - Crazy Mina's (Mis) Adventures In Southwest Ireland (pictures two...and TAKE TWO!)

The Sheep Survived, But My Mirror Got Mangled - Crazy Mina's (Mis) Adventures In Southwest Ireland (pictures two...and TAKE TWO!)

Old Oct 18th, 2002, 08:44 AM
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The Sheep Survived, But My Mirror Got Mangled - Crazy Mina's (Mis) Adventures In Southwest Ireland (pictures two...and TAKE TWO!)

OK, here is the report. I have made some revisions in the hopes that nothing is offensive to anyone. I have no idea why the first posting was deleted in the first place. <BR><BR>It was mentioned in another post that maybe it was because I mentioned my nationality? I'd hate to believe that, but I have put "---" where I have mentioned it. You only have to do a search on fodor's on my name to figure out what I am. <BR><BR>I hope posters don't mind that I reposted their replies as well. I was in the middle of responding to many of you when it went on the fritz. I have responses until this morning some time.<BR><BR>Thanks everyone for your support.
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 08:45 AM
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Author: Mina ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 05:14 pm Message: First, let me apologize for the length of the report. I have used this forum for years, but have never posted a report. The Fodorites have never led me wrong, and I would like to contribute something to this site. If you find it long, perhaps it would make good toilet reading? Please do read with the lighthearted tone that was intended.I was often asked by the Irish “Why did you come here, if you’re not from Irish Ancestry?” They were curious as to why a Korean gal would roam around Ireland by herself. I really didn’t know how to answer the question at the time. (I did tell a few of them I was half Irish, and got some perplexed looks in return). Ireland simply called to me.What follows are two “experience” stories…more of a narrative than an informative report. The resources on this board are so wonderful that everything you need is right here…therefore I have opted to report via this fashion instead.I wrote a series of stories while I was in Ireland to friends back home. There are two posted here. I will start off with one story, then add a section of “useful things to know” and post the other story. I hope you won’t think me too self absorbed. My thanks to several people are at the end of the report. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. =P I will post hotel reviews on another thread, so someone who is seeking simple information does not have to weed through all this.Photos can be seen at: http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=8191706...&n=1069842491I traveled solo, as I usually do. I hope you enjoy the report. Ireland was a place that warmed my heart to no end.
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 08:49 AM
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<BR>NEAR DEATH, THEN A TRIP TO HEAVEN<BR><BR>I have been having nightmares about Ireland. When I got up early in London to take my flight to Shannon, for the first time that I recall, I did not want to continue with my vacation...I was absolutely terrified of driving there.<BR><BR>Time has an irritating habit of moving, so before I knew it, I was face to face with the beast I would be driving for the next 11 days. <BR><BR>I took a deep breath. This wouldn't be that bad, I thought to myself. Just keep left. Keep left. And with those thoughts I promptly went to left side of the car, opened the door, and genuinely froze when there was no steering wheel there. And I KNEW that, but habit had triumphed over head knowledge, and the first real feelings of dread washed over me.<BR><BR>In no hurry to leave, I packed my things in the car. Then repacked my things in the car. I walked around the car a few times and took photos of it. Figuring I should depart at some point over the next millennium, I climbed in the drivers seat. Easy, I encouraged myself. No problem. You've driven in Boston. This will be a piece of cake. I reached over to strap myself in, but only caught air…I had reached towards my left.<BR><BR>For the first time, I was faced with the very real possibility that I would have to spend my vacation in the Dan Dooley rent-a-car parking lot. I wondered if there was a bar in the airport that served Guinness. <BR><BR>But I had paid a lot of money to get here, so it was with the greatest trepidation that I started the engine and with my left hand, put the car in drive. Then I put it back in park, as I realized I hadn't adjusted my mirrors and figured out the radio stations. It was actually any excuse not to move! The mirrors were actually difficult to adjust, as everything seemed backwards. Even my eyeballs would have to be trained to shift to the left to find my rearview mirror. I cursed my decision to come to Ireland.<BR><BR>A K---- w---- driver driving on the other side of the road in a foreign country is inherently a bad idea, but finally, I put that damn thing in drive and stepped on the gas. Right then the deejay announced the next song. "And now, here's (some band I had never heard of) with their hit 'Dead'." (I'm not kidding you). I glared at the radio…it was messing with me!<BR><BR>I really can't describe to you how it felt the first few minutes I drove on the left. What I can tell you is that I promptly went the wrong way in the parking lot, had to do a three point turn, came face to face with another car doing the same three point turn (had to be Americans…they had the same expression of fright on their faces), and finally made my way out of the airport. <BR><BR>They really f@*%! with you at Shannon airport. Traffic moves really slowly for the first mile, as tourists try to tame the beasts they've rented. There are signs off to the side of the rode screaming at you "Drive on the left!" When your breathing finally calms down a notch, you get thrown into your first roundabout…not even a half mile from the airport.<BR><BR>Roundabouts (or as I've now named them, "freak-you-outs") are not anything I've ever had to drive in the states, much less Ireland. I think it was in this first roundabout where I screamed the first of many screams.
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 08:54 AM
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Miraculously, I shot off the right exit on my first try. Believing that I might make it to Galway, I began to relax. Right then I saw a sign that says, "In the last 4 years 145 people died driving in County Clare. Don't speed and drive safely." Of course what the sign doesn't tell you is that 143 of those 145 people were s%@*head tourists like me who dared to drive the Irish roads. Do you know that Visa/Mastercard platinum cards will give you primary collision coverage anywhere in the world EXCEPT Ireland and Italy? Says a lot, doesn't it?<BR><BR>But it was a beautiful day, and I really saw what lay ahead of me: Ireland! I was driving in Ireland! Only a couple miles outside the airport, I passed by a herd of sheep (incidentally, I now believe the tourist board planted those sheep there, as I didn't see another herd all the way to Galway), and it was hard not to grin from ear to ear. I whooped out loud. Ireland! Wow!<BR><BR>And all was OK in the world. Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman" blared on my tinny, crappy speakers, and I truly felt free and independent of everything. Ireland is as green as they say. It's like they laid Astroturf everywhere, and there's this amazing crispness in the air. There's no clich&eacute; I could use that would do it justice. <BR><BR>I made it to Galway, and helped myself to a drive tour (i.e. I'm really bloody lost). I kept getting more and more lost as I didn't understand the flow of the streets…sometimes taking the street I didn't want to take because the one I WANTED to follow was potentially a one way street, but gave no inkling if it really was so. I will also tell you that Galway (and I understand Ireland) has an INFURIATING lack of street signs.<BR><BR>I checked into my B&B. The hostess, Braeda, give me a much bigger room than I had reserved because it was a slow week. Dumping my stuff off in a room that could have slept three, I made my way to Eyre Square…the town center. <BR><BR>I must tell you that Galway is a must-see destination of Ireland. But despite that, since there is a university in town, it's also heavily populated with locals. Young locals. Young, strapping, good-looking Irish laddie locals. <BR><BR>But I had pressing priorities at the moment, and on the top of the list was the reason I came here: Guinness. <BR><BR>Some of my friends asked me "Why Ireland?" Ask the average American to name three cities in Ireland, and the answer will be "Dublin, Belfast, and err..Dublin." Before I came here, I knew unbelievably little about the country, including the fact that Ireland is divided into the Republic of Ireland, the independent country where I am now, and Northern Ireland which is part of Great Britain. When I had to make my choice for my vacation destination, I only had three criteria: to have no agenda, to forget about work, and to drink lots of beer. Ireland had my name on it. <BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 08:56 AM
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So, with some timidity, I stepped into my first Irish pub (or just "pub" as they call it here. OK, corny joke, I know. Sorry.) As soon as I walked in, I was greeted with several hellos. Shyly smiling, I walked over to the bar and ordered my first Guinness.<BR><BR>Let me tell you about the Irish and Guinness…they take that stuff seriously! They pour the glass partially full and let it sit for half of eternity…I could have run out of there, made a souffl&eacute;, cleaned up the kitchen mess and given myself a pedicure…and they STILL wouldn't have finished pouring the Guinness.<BR><BR>I have been told that the Guinness is different in Ireland. When I asked "what do you mean by different?" the usual answer is "it's hard to explain…you have to just see for yourself." Therefore I took my first sip slowly, savoring the sensation with great concentration so I could faithfully describe to you the difference between Guinness in the US and in Ireland.<BR><BR>It's hard to explain. You'll have to try it for yourself some day.<BR><BR>But really. There's a fullness and depth that's hard to describe. Nectar of the gods…I am convinced! Plus EVERYONE drinks it here. Back home a girl drinking Guinness is a bit of an anomaly, but here it's ubiquitous. I think I even saw it in a baby's bottle.<BR><BR>I leaned against a wall, drinking my beer, as the bar was full. A young man at the bar looked at me, stood up out of his chair and put it in front of me. "This is for you," he said with an Irish accent, and went back to conversing with his friends. I was shocked…that kind of chivalry is long dead in the bars I frequent.<BR><BR>The was a traditional jam session of Irish music going on, and I had died and gone to heaven. Within minutes an older man approached me and asked me to dance with him. Nobody else was dancing, and I was way too intimidated to dance (not enough beers in me yet) and I protested saying I didn't know how to Irish dance. I really don't think K-----s are born to jig.<BR><BR>However, he would not take no for an answer. "There are no steps," he informed me "Just hear it in yer heart and make it move to ye feet." There was no denying that my feet wanted to move to the music.<BR><BR>And so, within 15 minutes of entering the pub, I found myself down two Guinnesses (the second the older man bought me) dancing the Irish jig with a stranger in a crowded bar with everyone watching me. "That's it!" he exclaimed, encouraging me, "Ye got it!" I was positive my dancing resembled the 90's dance move, "electric slide", than anything remotely Irish, but I was having great fun doing it. <BR><BR>His friends cheered me on. They were all older, wearing Aran sweaters (those off-white cable-knit fisherman's sweaters) and one of then was missing his top two teeth. They spoke Gaelic amongst each other. It was such the stereotype of the Irishman, that I almost couldn't believe I was experiencing it live.<BR><BR>They invited me to go on a pub-crawl with them. "We'll go dancing some more," my dance partner told me "I can't believe that such a beautiful woman would dance with me." (evidently, if men drink enough Guinness around here, a gal such as myself who would normally barely make the "cute" category can become beautiful. I'm moving here). <BR><BR>"Ah, but I shouldn't say things like that," he continued, "Ye'll think I was tryin' to seduce ye."<BR><BR>"Oh no," I assured him, "I just think you're being flattering."<BR><BR>"Well, no. I'm actually trying to seduce ye."<BR><BR>My god, Irish men are funny. <BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:01 AM
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I told him I might meet up with him and his friends later, and he didn't push me further. I made my way down to the Quays, a happening spot in town where my friend's boyfriend happened to work as a bartender. I knew Jeremy was off that night, but I figured the Quays was a good a place as any to throw down some money. That night the bar was littered sparsely with men who were watching a soccer game. I sat down next to two younger men. I got the usual look of curiosity, but they all returned their attention to the TV.<BR><BR>I must have sat for 10 minutes or so, pretending to be enthralled by soccer. Feeling a bit out of my element, I decided to retire for the evening, but I went to the toilets first. I left my jacket on the stool, as well as my partially drunken Guinness. When I returned, there was a fresh pint of Guinness next to my glass. Confused, I stared at it for a few seconds when one of the men next to me said nonchalantly "there's a pint for you."<BR><BR>Again, this strange chivalry I wasn't used to. Resigned to staying a bit longer, I thanked him, and they went back to watching the game. It wasn't until an older man asked me 10 minutes later if I was enjoying my pint that the two younger men talked to me.<BR><BR>William, the blonde Englishman, ended up being very talkative. John, the Irishman who bought me the beer, was still focused more on the game than me. As is my luck, I found myself more attracted to John than William.<BR><BR>The game ended, and they got up to leave. They were going to another bar, they told me, and would I like to join them? Oh what the heck, I thought...sure. <BR><BR>So what was supposed to be an early night ended up going for hours longer. They continued to buy me drinks (it's very hard for a woman to pay around here!) and at some point in the evening William abandoned us to go back to his wife and kids…but not before he pushed John and me into a dance club and told me I was going dancing.<BR><BR>At two thirty, we stumbled out of the club, pooped from trying to keep up with all the young college kids (John, as it turned out, was much older than I initially thought at 39). He told me to call him the next day, as he would take the day off to show me around town, but I would have to call him before 8:30 if I wanted him not to work. He then put me in a cab home and wished me goodnight.<BR><BR>The next morning, I woke up at 8, and agonized on whether I should call him or not. I don't know enough about the Irish to figure out if they say things just to be nice, or if they really mean it. I really didn't want to put him on the spot…what if he didn't remember me? <BR><BR>At 8:27 I decided to call, at least to thank him for the night before. My gut instinct told me John was a good person, who wouldn't say anything he didn't mean. After several rings he picked up. I didn't even have to tell him who I was…he knew. Relieved, I thanked him for the fun evening. He asked me if I still wanted to see the town.<BR><BR>"What about work?" <BR><BR>"Oh," he scoffed, "F@%*! work."<BR><BR>I grinned. It was raining, and I didn't know where to go, so I agreed. He asked me where I was staying. "I 'll call on you in about an hour," he told me.<BR><BR>"Oh, ok. Do you want the phone number here?" I asked.<BR><BR>"No, I don't need the number, I'll find the place. I'll call on you at 9:30," and hung up.<BR><BR>I realized that "calling on me" meant he was coming over. In Ireland, if you want to call someone on the telephone, you "ring" them. <BR><BR>I sat still for a few minutes. Here I was, in Ireland, in a lovely bed and breakfast…and John was going to come "call on me." I had a gentleman caller! I didn't budge for a while longer, smiling stupidly to myself. A caller.<BR><BR>Now that alone, was worth risking my life in the beast for.<BR><BR>*****<BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:02 AM
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A note on John:<BR>John was very prompt at 9:30. He told me he would show me West Galway, which I was assumed was the west side of town. I started to grow slightly alarmed when I realized we were driving out into the city into the countryside. I stared at him for several seconds, trying to discern if this was the type of guy who would slit my throat and dump me off into some remote corner of the country for sheep to s@*# on.<BR><BR>As you can see, I am well and alive. What I thought would be a couple of hours showing me the city turned into 6 hours driving through Connemara on gorgeous country roads (barely wider than the car) I would have never found on my own. We went fishing for a while, stopped for tea at a clubhouse on a golf course overlooking the sea, and visited a centuries old graveyard in the middle of nowhere. John was very knowledgeable about the area, and had traveled extensively all over the world. He was a most enlightening tour guide.<BR><BR>But here's the most interesting thing I discovered about John: He has a longtime girlfriend. She happened to be out of town (long story). He talked about her, and it became very evident he had no ulterior motives about me. <BR><BR>Which is the most amazing realization. This man had taken a day off from work (he works independently, so I guess it's not too big a deal), driven me 6 hours around the countryside, which is no small thing if you consider it costs about $50 to fill up a small gas tank here. He hadn't allowed me to pay for tea, or for anything else. When he dropped me off at my B&B, he told me to ring him in a day or two if I needed anything, and that he would be happy to lead me out of the city with his car when I left so I could take the scenic route to my next destination.<BR><BR>He did all of this simply to be kind to an American tourist, and I had experienced Irish hospitality firsthand. It truly is unbelievable. <BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:04 AM
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USEFUL THINGS I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD KNOW.<BR><BR>IRISH LINGO:<BR>If someone says to you "How's the craic?"or "What's the craic?" (pronounced "crack"), do not be alarmed. They are not asking you if you have excellent quality drugs you can sell them. Instead, they want to know how the fun is going. You'll hear this often if you're in a pub and an Irish person walks in; they want to know if people are having a good time and if it's worth sticking around. Likewise, if you had a blast the night before, you can say "Ahhh…that was some good craic." Guinness is always better laced with craic.<BR><BR>The second word you must know is "Slainte!" Pronounced "schlancha", it is the Irish word for "cheers", and as pubs are a normal part of life around there, should you visit Ireland, you will find yourself saying it to every man, woman, child, and granny. When I first arrived in Ireland, I was very relieved that an old man raised his glass to me and said "slainte" because I learned the correct pronunciation early in my stay. This saved me the embarrassment of accepting a pint from a stranger, raising my glass and shouting "Slanty!" At which point, I would imagine he would lean in, peer at my eyes for some time and admit a bit reluctantly, "Well, they are a bit slanty, yeah."<BR><BR><BR>DRIVING:<BR>It’s not that bad. Really. However, get the most super duper deluxe insurance you can get. In fact, if they have an option where you can bet you will return the car missing something, take it…you will make money! I paid extra for the zero deductible. It made hearing the continuous “GA-DONK!” as I landed in potholes or hit a hedge much easier to bear. I came out way ahead of the game since at one point while driving I looked at my passenger side mirror and noticed it was skewed. I tried to straighten it with the controls, and it became unhinged from its frame and just teetered there for awhile. I could only watch in helpless dismay when it blew off with the next gust of wind. <BR><BR>At least I didn’t run over any sheep (and there were plenty of them around.)<BR><BR>Also, get a good map. I really like the Michelin spiral bound for Great Britain and Ireland. Bring a highlighter…it makes seeing where you’re going a lot easier. Signs are decent for main roads. The problem for me was finding my B&B once I GOT into town. If you have set destinations, do ask the proprietors directions before you leave for Ireland. <BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:06 AM
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STINKY, SKANKY, MORNING AFTER CLOTHES:<BR>I packed light…only brought three pairs of pants for 15 days (I know…disgusting!) The smoke in the pubs wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I did reek. So bring Febreze! It will save you! Towards the end of my trip, whenever I tried to pull on my jeans, they shrieked and dashed around the room trying to escape me. They clung to the bedpost and begged for me not to put them on. Only the Febreze was able to coax them. Travel sizes are available for a couple of dollars at your local store.<BR><BR>A NOTE ON PUBS: <BR>Pubs filled with tourists can be fun. But see if you can find one that has some locals in it. Part of the fun is hearing them sing along with the music (they seem to know the words to everything). I was very fortunate being alone that a lot of the Irish approached me (interestingly enough, I didn’t speak to any Americans while I was there). Closing down a pub with just a small group of locals is a priceless experience, and it only happened to me once…all because I spoke Spanish. Don’t ask…it’s another story altogether.<BR><BR>THE MOST USELESS THING I BROUGHT:<BR>Definitely the umbrella. Correction…“portable” umbrella. I was extremely fortunate that it only rained on me 2 mornings out of 15 days. A miracle. But when it does rain, those dinky umbrellas are useless, because the rain is often accompanied by a hearty wind. Then you’re left looking like Mary Poppins on crack. Either bring a good one, or just enjoy the rain.<BR><BR>FOR THE SOLO TRAVELER – TRUST YOUR GUT INSTINCT. <BR>Traveling alone is especially rewarding because of the people you meet. While it is of the utmost importance to be cautious, do allow yourself the flexibility to hang out with “strangers”. One of my most amusing experiences was in Kinsale, hanging out with a group of about 4 lads from Ireland Insurance. They asked me to join their party after the pub closed. It turned out to be a private party of 80 people associated with Ireland Insurance…ALL MEN. I was the ONLY woman in the room…I didn’t know whether to sing praises to the Lord, or run for my life! The night only got better as they sang and had a merry time…culminating in half the group dropping their trousers (again, don’t ask). I couldn’t click my camera fast enough. Another priceless experience that money can’t buy.<BR><BR>For more information on planning, you can check the thread where I asked for help, or do a search on Ireland. People were entirely selfless in assisting me. I will post hotel reviews and other small reviews separately. <BR> http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=1363714&numresponses=41&s tart=0&searchText=mina<BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:07 AM
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Yeah!! Mina!! <BR>It is just as good the second time<BR>Here's hoping this one stays!
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:08 AM
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COOLIN’ IN DOOLIN<BR>From Galway to Doolin is 180-degree turn around. Doolin is a little town by the sea (the question is, what isn’t by the sea around here?) It couldn’t even be classified as a town, but is really more of a hamlet. Despite its small size, the Irish have their priorities straight and have managed to keep three pubs in town.<BR><BR>However, there are dozens and dozens of bed and breakfasts, and the reason why is there are so many is that people who come from all over the world to hear music here. Gus O’Connors is the only pub that I actually had heard of before I came to Ireland.<BR><BR>I drove into town, but the proprietors of my B&B had left for a little while. Locked out for the moment I decided to go to the cliffs of Moher (pronounced “more”)…one of the most scenic spots in all of Ireland, and only 10 minutes away from Doolin. <BR><BR>Now, I will tell you that while the scenery in Ireland is spectacular, I’ve seen coasts and cliffs that rival it in my home state of California. I didn’t come to Ireland for the scenery; I came here to see if the people were really as friendly as is rumored, and of course for the Guinness. <BR><BR>Therefore I must admit, I was not overly impressed with the Cliffs of Moher. They were striking and could have been very majestic had not their dignity been compromised by every tourist imaginable littering them. The road along the Cliffs was wide enough to be accessible by behemoth tour buses, and so the buses all stop here and vomit out its contents.<BR><BR>I strolled around, more fascinated by the boorish behavior of the tourists than the cliffs. They would furiously snap pictures of fiddlers and harp players and then run along without throwing in a few cents. One of the musicians muttered “unbelievable.” I smiled at her sympathetically and threw in some change.<BR><BR>With the wind starting to howl with ferocity, I decided it was time to check back with the B&B. Leaving the parking lot at the Cliffs of Moher, you have to pay 2.50. I stopped at the kiosk and handed the old man my money. He looked at me with interest. <BR><BR>“Are you going about Ireland on your own?” he inquired.<BR><BR>I replied in the affirmative, and was about the step on the gas when he spoke again.<BR><BR>“Ay, you’re a brave lass. Where are you staying tonight?”<BR><BR>The line of cars behind me was getting longer, but he seemed in no hurry to let me pass. I informed him of where I was staying, my foot pressing down on the pedal again.<BR><BR>“Oh, will you be going to any pubs then?”<BR><BR>The corner of my lips turned up. The Irish sure don’t rush themselves. I asked for a recommendation, and he advised me to go to O’Connors. “Maybe I will call on you there then.” He grinned, revealing gaps in this teeth. I chuckled, hearing the phrase. “Yes,” I agreed, “Feel free to call on me there.” I waved, and pulled out of the lot.<BR><BR>The proprietors were back and showed me to a lovely room with not one, but two double beds! I have been pleasantly surprised with the quality of B&B’s in Ireland. After the prison cell I had in London, I expected tiny rooms in Ireland as well. Single travelers are notoriously shortchanged in Europe, so I was delighted when I found myself in a room of this size. <BR><BR>“It’s a lot of room for a single gal,” I said gratefully. “Thank you very much.”<BR><BR>“Oh, it’s no problem. Please enjoy it.”<BR><BR>I really didn’t have time to enjoy it, because I threw down my stuff and trotted down the small country road to Gus O’Connors pub.
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:10 AM
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It was early yet, about 7 p.m. and the pub was relatively empty. I began to second-guess my decision in coming here. Doolin was so extremely tiny, I wondered if there would be anyone to talk to. As I made my way through to the bar, the few people in the place stared at me, and my doubts progressed to wondering if I was going to be lynched!<BR><BR>There was no music yet…only the sounds of utensils clinking as people ate in relative silence. Grimly, I asked for a menu and ordered a pint of Guinness…and wondered if I should ask for several shots of whiskey in it! I looked at the menu and noticed a traditional beef stew cooked in Guinness. Guinness for my drink and Guinness for my food? Things were looking up indeed!<BR><BR>So for the next 30 minutes or so, I ate and drank a bit uncomfortably. Whenever I glanced around, I caught the eye of someone, as many were peeking over at me with curiosity. Being a single female in the countryside was one thing, but the thing about being K-----n is that it’s impossible not to be noticed.<BR><BR>“Excuse me, are these seats taken?” asked a voice that was definitely not Irish.<BR><BR>I looked up to find a German man, and another very tall German man. I gestured for them to sit down, which they did, and promptly ordered Budweiser, which amused me to no end. They discussed what to eat, then turned their attention to me. <BR><BR>Their names were Joseph and Frank, and they were taking a long weekend from work in Germany to tour Ireland and camp out in the countryside. They asked me if I had seen in Cliffs of Moher, and what I had thought of it. I shrugged. It was nice, I said.<BR><BR>“See this hat?” Joseph pointed to the weathered Budweiser cap perched on his head, “It’s my favorite cap.”<BR><BR>“Well, yes, it’s quite lovely.”<BR><BR>“I threw it over the cliffs today.” He announced proudly.<BR><BR>My brow furrowed. “Then why is it still on your head?”<BR><BR>Frank hooted his laughter. “It comes back!” he exclaimed. “Throw it over, and it flies back to you!”<BR><BR>“You’re lying.”<BR><BR>“No no,” Joseph insisted, “It has something to do with the wind flow there. We threw our hats, sweaters, and sweatshirts over the cliffs, and they all came back to us. I would have been sad if it didn’t…I didn’t bring any other sweater! We threw our stuff over more than ten times!”<BR><BR>I pursed my lips at them “OK, whatever you guys say.” <BR><BR>“Come with us tomorrow…we’ll show you. And bring your best shirt to throw over.” These were two mischievous fellows. <BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:12 AM
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They were also two mischievous fellows on a budget. They ordered themselves another round, but didn’t offer to get one for me. I smiled softly to myself. Being an independent woman, I could buy my own Guinness, I reckoned. <BR><BR>I motioned to the bartendress for another one and left some change in front of me. She started to pour my beer and came over to pick up my change. She came back two seconds later and plunked back down the same amount of change. <BR><BR>“He bought you,” she nodded her head to her right.<BR><BR>Taken aback, I looked to my left down the bar. Three barstools down was an older man. His face was thin, weather-beaten, and topped off with a long crooked nose. I thanked him, and he merely tipped his glass to me in cheers.<BR><BR>I was impressed. The German boys talking to me wouldn’t buy me a drink, but the old Irish fellow three barstools down, who I hadn’t said a word to, saw me trying to pay and would have none of it. To my right, I heard Joseph mumble, “I wanna be a girl in Ireland.”<BR><BR>The older man’s name was name Neil, I found out later. He was a soft-spoken musician who played in the area, but was in just to listen tonight. He advised me to stay, as tonight’s group was very good, and would be starting at 9:30. His friend Ken was also a very cheerful fellow, and I offered to buy them both a round. They both refused, and Neil pointed to his glass. <BR><BR>“It’s Becks non-alcoholic,” he told me, “I gave it up alcohol months ago.<BR><BR>I patted his hand in approval. “Good for you. And thanks again for my drink.”<BR><BR>He waved my thanks away, “It’s a token of our appreciation that you’re in Ireland.”<BR><BR>When the music started, the place magically changed! People were tapping their feet, thumping their hands on the tables and whooped and hollered. It also became very crowded! I thought that this town was too small to have his many people! More and more people flooded into the bar, and I shifted to let two girls near it.<BR><BR>“Hello.” I said to them.<BR><BR>“Hello!” They called out merrily, in an Irish accent.<BR><BR>And it was at that moment that it dawned on me how much I missed female camaraderie. I had not had any conversation with another woman for over a week, and felt a sudden, kicking desire for it in my gut. I needed an estrogen fix!<BR><BR>Hoping it would not get to the point where I would fasten myself to their legs, howling “Noooooo, please don’t leave me…I don’t wanna talk to more meeeeeeeen!!!” as they dragged themselves away from me, I did the one thing that would ensure them sticking around: I introduced the two Irish gals to the two German guys I was with.<BR><BR>We made small talk. Laura and Mary were two city girls who were taking a weekend romp through the country. They asked me how I liked Ireland. I declared I loved it! The Irish men were so nice, and wouldn’t let me buy my own drink!<BR><BR>They scoffed. “Irish men are terrible,” Laura told me, “It does you good that you’re not an Irish girl.”<BR><BR>Right then, I noticed Ken ordered me another beer, but didn’t offer to buy for the two girls. I raised my brows in slight surprise. Perhaps there was some truth to this.<BR><BR>“Well, how ‘bout this K----n girl buy a couple of Irish gals a round?” I offered.<BR><BR>And with that, I sealed our friendship for the evening.<BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:14 AM
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I gratefully told them how happy I was to be talking with women. Chuckling, Mary put her arm around me. “Mina, there are some things that a lad just can’t give you. Girls have to hang out with girls once in awhile.”<BR><BR>Apparently, the gentleman who tried to “seduce me” back in Galway was wrong…there are certainly steps to Irish dancing, as Laura and Mary tried to teach me. They held my hands as we hopped around feverishly and spun round and round. They grabbed Joseph and Frank to join in.<BR><BR>So that is how two Germans, two Irish, and one Korean came to be holding hands and jigging in the most famous pub in Ireland. It was wildly exhilarating, and I couldn’t stop the laughter from tumbling out. People were making room for us, as we all sounded a bit like this:<BR><BR>“Hahahaha…whoo hoo….oof, oh sorry….hahahha., pardon me, ouch…hee hee hee hee, sorry, sorry….weeeeeeeeee!”<BR><BR>I have no idea how many toes I trampled on that night. Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance, I ain’t.<BR><BR>All of us, including Mike and Ken, staggered out of the bar at 12:30. I was pooped, but Laura and Mary weren’t done yet. “We need to find somewhere else!” they declared. <BR><BR>I am not sure how this happened, but all 5 of use piled into the backseat of Neil’s car (as he was the only totally sober one). Ken and Neil hopped into front, and we were off to Lisdoonvarna.<BR><BR>Lisdoonwhata, you ask? Another small town…but you may have heard of it as it is famous for the Matchmaking Festival where people, usually older, flock to the town once a year in the hopes of finding a mate. The festival had just recently ended.<BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:16 AM
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We barged through the door of the only place open in town…and a hundred pairs of glasses stared at us.<BR><BR>“Oh my God,” Laura said, looking over the sea of old people.<BR><BR>Mary giggled, “Mina, this is the type of place our grandparents go to…you’re really in it now!”<BR><BR>But partying with the fogies was fun…Neil waltzed me around the dance floor, and I knocked a few of them over. No worries though…I picked ‘em up, dusted them off, and handed back their canes with a beaming smile.<BR><BR>I weaved my way back to the bar to discover Laura and Joseph locked in a passionate kiss. Boy, those two were giving granddad and grandmum quite a show. Smiling, I turned to Frank, and was startled when he made goo-goo eyes at me.<BR><BR>I glanced behind me to search for Mary. Frank was a very sweet boy (both boys were redeemed after buying a few rounds), but I’ve been a 5th wheel often in my life and know it’s an awkward place to be. I spotted her talking to a group of young men who were in the place because they were in the same desperate situation as we were. I shifted my attention back to Frank, only to see a pair of lips honing in on me. <BR><BR>Oh, what the hell. It’s not everyday you get to come to Ireland to kiss a German. I could practically hear the old people’s tongues clucking, “Kids these days…”<BR><BR>We left Lisdoonvarna sillier than when we had arrived. Stepping out of the car at the B&B the girls were staying in, I leaned over and kissed Neil on the cheek and said softly, “Thank you for being a perfect gentleman, and for taking the time out to drive five stupid kids around.”<BR><BR>He smiled bashfully, wished me a wonderful stay, and drove off with Ken.<BR><BR>“Mina,” Mary whispered next to me, “do you have room at your place?”<BR><BR>I chuckled, “Well, as a matter of fact, I do.”<BR><BR>We left Laura and Joseph to finish their business, and sauntered down the road to my place. Feeling bad that Frank would have to sleep in the tent alone, I offered for him to stay as well, which he readily accepted. Unfortunately for him, the night would not turn out as he had hoped.<BR><BR>Because sometimes, you have to put your girlfriends before a cute boy.<BR><BR>We laughed ourselves to sleep, and woke up miserable. We all agreed to meet in an hour to find sustenance. <BR><BR>It’s a heart-tugging thing to have to say good-bye to people you know you will never meet again. As we sat on a park bench across for O’Connors, we talked and laughed as if we had been friends for a long time. I clicked my camera like a crazy tourist in the hopes of having something to remember these people whom I had spent such a entertaining evening with.<BR><BR>Joseph, Frank, and I said our farewells to the girls. “Call me when you get to Shannon,” insisted Laura. I assured her I would, not sure if I’d do that, or if she meant it.<BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:17 AM
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The boys and I made our way back to the cliffs. It was another stellar day. We hopped the wall and walked past he sign that warned: “Please do not go beyond this point.” <BR><BR>Joseph surveyed the cliffs. Whereas yesterday was visibly windy, today the air was still.<BR><BR>“You don’t have to throw it for my sake Joseph, I don’t want you to lose your favorite hat.”<BR><BR>“Yes, that would make me very sad.” <BR><BR>He took his hat off. Looking lovingly at it, as if to wish it good-bye, he looked out over the sea and threw.<BR><BR>I held my breath, and laughed with childish delight when I watched the hat pause in mid-air, then boomerang back over our heads safely to ground above us. He hooted triumphantly and then promptly took off his sweater and hurled that too.<BR><BR>I was very impressed with the Cliffs of Moher.<BR><BR>I hugged them both back at the parking lot and watched them drive off. Sighing a bit, I drove to the gate to pay. I looked up to see the same toothless man who took my money yesterday. I handed him my change.<BR><BR>“Well, hello!” he said, taking the money. “Weren’t you here yesterday?”<BR><BR>That’s the thing about being K----n...they remember you.<BR><BR>“Yes, I was. I enjoyed it and thought I should take another look before I leave town.”<BR><BR>He reached over to me, “Ay then lass, I won’t be takin’ any more of your money.” His hand squeezed mine warmly as he returned my change. “Have a lovely rest of your journey.”<BR><BR>As I pulled out to the open road leading out to the sea and leaving Doolin behind me, I smiled wistfully and thought, I will.<BR><BR>****
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:20 AM
  #17  
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APPRECATION…<BR>My most heartfelt thanks to all fodorites who take time out to post in the hopes of helping others. There were countless threads I read before I went to Ireland…I read until my eyes crossed! You all helped make my itinerary perfect for me...and no guidebook could have done that. Except of course, a fine Fodor's guide! These marvelous books can be found in your local bookstore for great prices! (Fodor's please don't delete this thread. =) )<BR><BR>Special thanks to: Diane O, Katherine (Katya), cd, Ann, Heather (in Chicago), Mavis, mc, Kathy, Laretha, Sandra, Kam, Carolyn, ml, Frank, Paddy, Danna, Janis (j-jacox), Amy, Jane, David, BB, Joe, Leslie (and everyone who helped me on the Febreze post, which was deleted), M.Giggle, and countless of xxx’s. <BR><BR>It was simply the best holiday I have ever had. <BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:22 AM
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Author: Sheila ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 05:54 pm <BR>Message: Mina. that's the best thing I've read on here in the last 4 years- and it's had some competitition. Wonderful. Just wonderful <BR> <BR>Author: Grasshopper ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 06:03 pm <BR>Message: Mina, Bravo! You are awesome! <BR><BR>Author: Beth ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 06:08 pm <BR>Message: Until now, I really wasn't sure I wanted to do Ireland, despite my 1/2 Irish background. You are too much! What a delightful read. More, more.... <BR> <BR>Author: Art ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 06:38 pm <BR>Message: Mina, that was a wonderful and funny report. What part of Cal do you live in? I'm just south of Los Angeles. <BR><BR>Author: Leslie ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 07:33 pm <BR>Message: Mina, your adventures were absolutely delightful to read about. Honestly, I think you should try to have this published. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be paid to travel and write about such delightful experiences.Looking forward to your next installment. <BR><BR>Author: flygirl ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 08:10 pm <BR>Message: Mina, you kick butt as a writer AND a photographer. I doff my hat to you! (and I just got a brand new one in the mail today - new member of AOPA! so it's a special hat even) <BR><BR>Author: xxx ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 08:14 pm <BR>Message: ?????I really don't get it. You had a great time drinking with some of the Irish people. This is what I read. Was there more? Was drinking and a pary atmosphere what you wanted out of your trip? If so, you suceeded and you are a good writer. <BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:25 AM
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Author: Mina ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 08:43 pm <BR>Message: Sheila: I have read many of your posts over the last few years, so thank you for the most flattering compliment.<BR><BR>Leslie: I believe it was on the Febreze post you helped me, so I should have thanked you as well. Publishing would certainly be nice, but most publications have sophisticated audiences who probably would not be interested in my stuff.<BR><BR>Art: I live in the South Bay. I believe you live in Long Beach? As I said, I have lurked around here a long time, so I have an inkling of the personalities. Wasn't there supposed to be so cal get together? Hm.<BR><BR>Flygirl: I'm sure you look quite perky in that hat. Thanks for your email support before I left.<BR><BR>Beth: I don't think there's not a whole lot more to say! Glad you enjoyed it though.<BR><BR>xxx: Of course there was more. But don't you think this report is long enough? ;-) When I was in Ireland, I wrote several stories, only two of which are posted here. There were many reflective, solitary days as well, where I just basked in the glory that is Ireland. I just didn't post those stories, because I thought these would be more festive (who wants to hear about my thoughts as I drank in the views at Slea Head? Probably no one.) I even ran into what many believe was a ghost!<BR><BR>But yes, I will admit that one of my goals was to hang out in pubs, drink a bit, and if I was lucky party with some Irish. I'm 29 and stupid that way. A huge part of the charm of Ireland is its people, and I hope you don't begrudge me that. I learned from them just a little about Irish history, pain, joy, and hope. I visited graves in the country where bodies still lie from massive deaths due to the famine...a small stone the only mark that the person ever existed, and my broke.So yes, there was more.Thank you again everyone, for the most kind words. <BR><BR>Author: StCirq ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 08:44 pm <BR>Message: Mina, this was pure pleasure, especially as we are making our maiden voyage to Ireland next summer and will be in the vicinity of Doolin and Galway for two weeks. Thank you!Can I really throw my hat off the Cliffs of Moher? <BR><BR>Author: Mina ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 08:45 pm <BR>Message: Of course that should have read "my heart broke." fingers too fast for the brain. <BR><BR>Author: Mina ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 08:47 pm <BR>Message: St Cirq:yes, I believe you can...but you have to go to a certain spot and throw the hat out and UP into the air (otherwise it will fall back into the cliffs below). However, if you love your hat, I wouldn't do it. The guys could not convince me to throw anything! <BR><BR>Author: Leslie ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 08:51 pm <BR>Message: Mina, I think many publications would enjoy publishing your adventures - Readers Digest and Frommer's Budget Traveler immediately come to mind. It has nothing to do with sophistication when it comes to travel, but more about adventures, experiences and having fun. You covered all of this, and I'd love to read more, even what you consider to be the boring stuff.<BR><BR>Ireland has never been on my top 10 list, but the delightful way you wrote about it has made me reconsider my future destinations.<BR><BR>By the way, I loved your photographs. They would make perfect postcards. And thanks for remembering that I mentioned Febreeze. <BR>
 
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 09:28 AM
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Author: John ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 09:06 pm <BR>Message: Mina:That is a wonderful story! You go girl! When people want to know what is special about Ireland....I will send them to your post. That is why the Irish Pub is like Guinness, you just have to try it to know! .. ah to be young again! sigh( sniff-sniff)JOHN <BR><BR>Author: scarlett ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 09:13 pm <BR>Message: Thank you Mina!!I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. While Ireland is on my list of places to visit, now I think it would be more fun to go with youI can't wait until you take another trip! (I loved the Tea report also <BR><BR>Author: Nutella ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 09:52 pm <BR>Message: Mina, your story is an inspiration to single travelers everywhere! Should be required reading on how to have fun on holiday, Ireland or anywhere else! : )<BR> <BR>Author: Sandy ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 09:54 pm <BR>Message: Mina-I have been visiting this board daily for over a year, and I whole-heartedly agree, your trip report is AWESOME! I think trip reports like this should take you into the realm of feeling like you were there, and you DID! <BR><BR>I loved it! My husband keeps asking me what's so funny, as I sit and read about your endeavors.<BR><BR>Please, tell us more...and include your ghost story...PLEASE?! <BR><BR>Author: scigirl ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 11:58 pm <BR>Message: Mina - Thank you for a terrific trip report! Now I really want to go to Ireland! <BR><BR>Author: Melissa ([email protected])Date: 10/17/2002, 11:58 pm <BR>Message: Mina-You are such a great writer. I hope you will continue to contribute your experiences. I also enjoyed your English Tea story very much. <BR>
 

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