Top o the marnin’ to ya! Or afternoon. Or whenever your reading this.
So I just got back from Ireland last week and still have the residual mist of the Emerald Isle charm hanging onto me. I also have the extra pounds from scones, butter and beer hanging onto me as well. The mist will have long dissipated before the pounds will. It was worth it.
Did I mention I love to travel?
This was my sixth trip to Ireland since my first in 2006 so I guess I officially qualify as a Hiberniophile. I keep trying to convince the Tourism Ireland folks that I should be one of their US reps, but so far, no go. I’m thinking of starting a Twitter campaign.
I’m pretty sure that one of the reasons I keep going back is the phenominal pub culture. Great craic in Irish pubs. According to Wikipedia, craic “is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland.” I’ve had some of the funniest, most interesting conversations of my life in Irish pubs. Yes – I’m a craic addict.
Plus, I love Irish beer. L-O-V-E. Especially the stouts. Particularly Guinness. And I don’t care what anybody tells you, it does taste better in Ireland. I can barely choke one down here in the US, but I hear angels sing at that first sip of my first Guinness on that first pub I visit after I land in Dublin. Yeah – that’s right – angels. Or maybe it’s my tinnitus acting up after that long flight.
Fun, disturbing Irish beer facts…. On my first trip in 2006, I discovered that the best selling beer in Ireland is Budweiser. Huh?Then, when visiting the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin in 2009, I found out that the country that drinks the most Guinness is Nigeria. That one left me speechless.
I’ve also learned that the amount of Guinness, Murphy’s, O’Hara’s, Smithwick’s, Kilkenny, etc. I drink on a trip to Ireland is directly proportional to the amount of “crazy” displayed by my traveling companion. Minimal crazy, minimal daily beer consumption. Of course there is ALWAYS consumption because the beer is just so damn good. Angels sing remember? It just tends to be lower because I’m drinking it for the great taste and not to help me stay sane.
The more the traveling companion crazy meter ramps up, the more desperate I become for a pint of the liquid prozac to calm my frazzled spirit. On this trip, there were a number of three pint nights.
I respect a persons right to drink or not drink. Most of the time, I chose to not drink for a variety of reasons. Except when I travel. Especially when I’m in a pub in Ireland. And my traveling companion is an 8 out of 10 on the cray cray scale.
It’s for this reason I give the following advice…
AGMA Rule #1 for Ireland travel: Never, ever, under any circumstances, take a trip to Ireland with somebody who doesn’t drink if you do and/or isn’t able to engage with people in conversation if you are. You will have to work way too hard at not being miserable. Way. Too. Hard.
They will try to fool you. A socially awkward nondrinker will be more than understanding and even jovial during your first pint. To them, it’s an academic exercise to experience the Irish pub culture firsthand. But when you order that second pint (after having first asked “permission”, I might add), the fidgeting, sighing and eye rolling starts. And it continues all they way through that second pint. It has the potential to turn into open warfare if there is even a hint of a third. So the cruel irony is that the more talkative and mellow you get with each pint, the more hostile, sullen and passive aggressive your companion becomes.
What’s up with that?
Toward the end of the trip, I wised up. I started depositing my traveling companion in our hotel room prior to the “cross over” to hostile, sullen and passive aggressive. She had a wonderful time watching TV, keeping track of the weather at home and playing with her smart phone. You know, all those things you come to Ireland to experience…
I had a wonderful time having that third pint, being part of great craic at a nearby pub and not having to endure the “eye roll”.
When we came home last week, we were definitely ready to put a little space between us. Maybe a lot of space. By mutual consent, it’ll probably be a long time before we travel together again. If ever. But, miracle of miracles, we remain good friends. Best of all, we have the memories of a shared adventure to a beautiful, magical country rich in history, myth, wonderful food, great beer, welcoming people and stunning scenery.
Every time I leave, I can’t wait to come back.