It wasn’t on my immediate travel radar but it happened, thanks to a work trip. And if I were asked to sum up the country in one word, it would be this: GREEN.
Green and how!
First off, I live in a region where sand dunes are your definition of nature and erm, beauty. So you may want to discount me if I go a little overboard over ‘green’. But Ireland (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) is so green that it could put Photoshop and its myriad hues of the colour to shame. To quote the wise words of a colleague, the Irish landscape was green on ‘auto-enhance’.
Enough with green. Over to the weather.
No one travels to Ireland for a suntan! As a traveller, chances are that you could encounter rain no matter which month you travel. However, in the week that I spent between Belfast and Dublin, there was one evening …yes, just one evening of rain. Rather, a heavy drizzle. Of course, it helped that we went in May and experienced pleasant weather and long summer days. I still can’t get over the sun setting at 9.30pm!
Now on to Irish, the people.
It does take time to understand Irish accents – it took me a couple of years at work and a few Bushmills to get there but when I finally did, I concluded that the Irish are a crazy and funny lot, having met colleagues at work, servers at pubs or just bystanders that you ask for directions while strolling arond. Little did I know then that they are quite famed for their sense of humour.
Due to large scale emigration from Ireland centuries ago, Irish festivals like St. Patricks Day and Halloween are celebrated in many countries. As is with every country and community, they are also very proud of their “Irish” heritage and take all effort to promote it. If you are in Ireland, do not miss visiting one of the souvenir shops (Carroll’s seem to be the most popular) – from shamrocks and leprechauns to Guinness and Celtic souvenirs, there’s something in there for everyone.
And finally food and drink.
As a vegetarian, I cannot speak much of Irish food which is predominantly meat based, however I had no trouble finding decent vegetarian options (and even vegan, in some places) at the hotels I stayed in and pubs visited. The ‘drink bit’ of course warrants another post. It would be unfair to the Irish any other way.