Ireland (ft a mention of London)

I had intended for my second post to be about Bruge and Paris but I’m realizing that was almost 5 weeks ago and so instead of writing a full post for them, I’m going to have a separate portion on strictly the logistics and planning of them. This post is instead going to be directed at the past 2 and a half weeks (essentially Ireland). Which have been rocky at times to say the least, but also filled with lots of good things too. I’ve realized that everything I thought I knew about myself is probably incorrect or at least doesn’t apply to me when traveling solo. I encourage anybody who is thinking of traveling solo to complete forget any ideas or thoughts you had about yourself. They are probably wrong. Other important revelations I’ve made are that my Mom is undeniably the best being to ever walk the earth, Ireland should be visited with friends, and spanish canned mussels are delicious, despite the unappetizing resemblance to rotting genitals. There is simply no better way to describe them, see picture below for reference.

Irelands best (and some of its worst) parts

Prior to being in Ireland, I thought I Lily McDonald love the rain. I can fully indulge myself in days of clouds and rain without any bit of unease. I was sorely mistaken. Past me was so far off, you wouldn’t believe it. On September third I left the southern sun and wine in Bordeaux and smacked myself right down in dreary Ireland. To say it was a shock is an understatement. For starters, I was welcomed to Ireland by possibly the only grumpy man in all of Ireland, the border control man. He grilled me with questions for 15 minutes on exactly what I was doing there and then continued to demand that I prove to him that at some point or another I would be leaving his precious country. So be wary of Irish border control, they’re very protective. I also made the mistake of saying that I would be “working on a farm”, note to self: never say the word work in front of border control. Rather tell them your in Ireland for the guinness and nothing more, others have had better luck with that one. I headed from the Dublin airport to a town called mallow on a bus (because irish trains are terrible, so always use the bus system). In mallow I was picked up by the farm manager Maria, and her beautiful brown lab Lola. The next three days were the worst I’ve had since traveling so I’m going to skip over the painful details and just give you a summary. The accommodations: muddy, cold, lonely, and no wifi. The farm: absolutely beautiful, every shade of green you could image. and the yummiest of vegetables. The people: In the “volunteer house” (intended for 15 people) there were two french boys around 22 who rather disliked having to speak english and me. There was Maria, who lived next door with Lola, and finally in a gigantic farm house was the family – Patrick, Judith, and their three kids. It could’ve been perfect, except, the family spent no time with the volunteers, my phone didn’t have any service or wifi, and my only company were two sausage obsessed, french speaking men. I have never felt so alone and heart broken in my life. So after spending three days crying until my body ached I found a pub, called my mom, and immediately booked a plane ticket to London for the following morning at 6 am. Fortunately for me, Irish people in pubs are the world’s kindest grouping of people, especially when it comes to directions. After much discussion, it was decided, a man named Pat who drives a concrete pump truck would pick me up at 4 am and drive me an hour to the Cork airport. So that’s that, I will spend more time on London later but for now fast forward a week to saturday, September 14th. I’ve traveled back to Ireland, to stay at the same farm, but only for a week. The universe is on my side this time, the sun is out and will stay out for almost the entire week I’m at the farm, and a french girl has also just arrived. We become close fast, mostly out of a shared homesickness and desperation for company. we made lentil soup for dinner and went to bed, eagerly awaiting the arrival of two spanish girls on Tuesday. That was a truly fantastic week, I worked hard every day, picking tomatoes, and scouring fields for lost onions. The best part though, was the cooking, I had access to any vegetable I wanted and had hours upon hours to cook. I even made an apple and blackberry crisp one day for an after lunch treat. The spanish girls were amazing, they instantly brought energy and warmth into the house and each night I laughed, like I really really laughed. Something that is hard to achieve when traveling alone. I had such a good week, that by the end I was even a bit sad to leave. A massive difference from my initial experience on the farm. It’s amazing how good company can completely alter an experience. A week after my arrival, I headed to Galway, Ireland. Which is where I am now! I will start out by saying it is sleepy, and would best be enjoyed if you had somebody traveling with you. That applies to all of Ireland actually. The weather is rainy and cold and there’s lots of time for reading, sleeping, and most importantly, drinking beer. Galway is filled with two things, wool shops, and pubs, both of which are best enjoyed with money and friends, two things I happen to not have with me at the moment. so to say the least, Galway is beautiful, as are the surrounding parks and cliffs, but to really truly make the most of it, go with friend. Making friends in hostels is not as easy as you’d expect (although I did go get a pint with two swiss girls last night). If you do decide to go alone, here are my recommendations: a long run along the coast, fish and chips at Mcdonaghs, buy a book from charlie byrne’s book shop, go to a pub (but go on the later side if you want more people and live music), take the ferry to the aran islands, check out the Irish craft market during the weekend for giant warm crepes, and lastly, Galway is a perfect place for a rest day – read, write, clean your suitcase, cut your toenails, etc. If your traveling alone, enter Ireland with caution, it can be extremely gray and extremely lonely, so try your hardest to find people to go with. I have not tried it, but the app couch surf seems to connect a lot of people wanting to travel around together and I’ve met a few people in hostels who found each other through the app, so give it a try! I leave Ireland tomorrow, and although parts of it were wonderful, I could not be more excited to be back in the french sun. I’m going to try to get a logistic post out soon for those of you wanting to know about accommodations, transport, food, etc, but that’s about all for Ireland! If I do come back, it’ll be with friends, a hat, and wellies.

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