When one thinks of Ireland, images ranging from a pint of Guinness to men with scraggly red hair in kilts immediately come to mind. While Mel and I saw both of these things during our four day exploration of Galway, Belfast, and Ireland, our experiences cannot fully be understood through mere pictures or words. To best communicate our Ireland experience, I will try my hardest to sum everything up through the senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.
A smiling stranger (sight). The Irish people are some of the most outgoing, social people you will ever meet. Meeting up with someone for lunch often ends with “3 hours and 4 Guinesses later…” Every shop you walk into or bus you sit down on is full of people who are eager to chat your ear off, learn about who you are, and show you a good time just for the hell of it.
Fast-paced pub music (sound). The pubs in Ireland are open every night, no matter what the night. On a Sunday, Mel and I were wandering through the cobble stoned streets of the Temple Bar area (highly concentrated with bars and nightclubs) when we saw an irresistible sign for “Traditional Irish Music.” Upon entering the quaint wooden building, we were greeted by intensely coalescing notes of a guitar, banjo, drums, and a male singer’s accented voice intertwined in a crazy melody that literally made me want to do a jig. Mel was bursting with excitement when they played “Galway Girl” from the film “P.S. I Love You,” while I enjoyed a Mumford and Sons cover.
Thick slabs of smoked salmon and capers on hearty Irish bread (taste). Irish people know how to make a meal! Upon my first bite of soda bread, I lost all appreciation for bread made in America. Real bread is moist, dense, and thick with wholesome seeds.
Salt water and wet grass combined with the smell of the sky after it rains (smell). Ireland has an incredible concentration of gorgeous landscapes. Try to imagine the overpowering Cliffs of Moher, the rugged rocks of the Burren Hills, and the bizarrely octagonal juts of rocks that form a beehive-looking pattern at the Giant’s Causeway. However, these pictures only come to life once you associate them with their unique essences of the land.
A crisp wind at your face and hard cobblestone at your feet (touch). The cold weather is part of what makes every quaint storefront feel so inviting and every pub feel so worn and home-y. And the cobblestone at our feet represented the fact that Mel and I truly walked the streets of Galway and Dublin. A good traveler keeps their feet on the ground, always exploring and always heading towards another memorable interaction. Till next time!