Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Soggy Emerald Isle

"How was Ireland?" Everyone keeps asking me.

"Wet." I reply.

The plan was conceived months ago, around the time Jason and I realized that his birthday, St. Patrick's Day, and our ridiculously close proximity to Ireland coincided. Our friend Liz enlisted for our weekend of Guinness drinking, birthday celebrating and leprechaun chasing.

A quick rundown of the highlights:

- Meeting up with this dashing fellow, who you may recognize as Mr. Oscar Wilde, the most witty gay playwright Ireland has to offer. He is my favorite of the many writers which came out of Dublin (Including James Joyce, JM Synge and WB Yeats). I had to break into a park and scale a pretty large rock to get to him, but hey NOTHING comes between me and a witty gay playwright.
-The Jameson Whiskey Distillery Tour. We opted to do this instead of the more touristy and expensive Guinness Brewery Tour. They don't actually use the distillery to make whiskey anymore but the tour was pretty interesting. At the end the guide picked several participants to be whiskey samplers, and I was one of them! Got to try several different kinds of Irish whiskey and compare them to Scottish and American ones. The Irish were definitely the best in my opinion (it didn't help that their selection for "American whiskey" was Jack Daniels). Also we ate whiskey fudge which was delicious!

-Howth. After a day of mucking around Dublin in the cold and drizzle, Liz had the brilliant idea of leaving town! So we took a train out to Howth, this sleepy little fishing village just forty five minutes from the city center. It was the best decision we made all weekend. It was still cold and damp, but while Dublin was a smaller, paler version of London, Howth was everything I wanted Ireland to be; lush, misty, a little mysterious. We walked winding roads of cute (probably multimillion dollar) cottages up the hill, hopped a fence and found ourselves in a brambly field overlooking a vast expanse of the Irish sea. In the middle of the gray waves was the green island called Ireland's Eye. As we wandered down the hill we passed some ruinous stone houses and found ourselves at the edge of great ragged cliffs. It seemed so perfect it was almost mythical. Later on we decamped to a tiny little ice cream shop called Maude's for the most delicious ice cream I think I've ever had.
I never thought I would find a city more expensive or more rainy then London, but Dublin has certainly proved me wrong. 6 Euros for the cheapest beer made my eyes bug out of my head like some freaky cartoon character, and going out in the constant downpour gave me a nasty cold. Still Dublin was not without it's charms. The accents for example--amazing enough to give the English a run for their money. The Irish people were pleasantly outgoing and friendly, especially compared to the cold reserve one usually encounters over here.

Overall I would give Dublin lukewarm ratings, but I'd love to go back and visit the rest of the country. With a change of scenery, some time, and maybe some nicer weather, I could fall hard for Ireland.

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