We got home yesterday, after a long, long trip home. I really hate flying now, and don't want to see another airplane or airport for a long time.
I'm recovering and organizing and really don't want to spend the ENTIRE day in front of the computer, so here's a few initial thoughts.
Some things I love about Ireland:
1) Sweet, sweet Guinness. Plus:
-Irish coffee at the Old Jameson Distillery
-A new love - Bulmer's hard cider. Where have you been all my life?
2) Seafood: fish & chips (sooooo good), fresh salmon, and mussels. I really can't explain how good the fresh cod is for fish & chips - you just can't get it in Arizona.
3) The people - everyone is very friendly. We talked to people on the trains, in pubs, at restaurants, B&Bs, hostels, etc. The Irish are VERY interested in our upcoming elections, and most seem to be Obama supporters (at least the ones we talked to).
4) The landscape - green, green, green. The forests have so much undergrowth that we now understand why wooded areas have a movement penalty in DnD. Even the STONES are covered with growth. Hills, farms, rivers, lakes (loughs).
5) Sheep. I love sheep.
6) Biking on winding, narrow, deserted country roads.
7) The full Irish breakfast: eggs (sunny side up), sausages, rashers, tomato, black pudding and white pudding. With fresh Kerry butter (soooooo good) and soda bread. This breakfast made me gain 5 lbs (well, the fish & chips and beer probably helped, too).
8) The smell of turf fires. And flowers, and fields, and livestock. Thank god for Claritan.
9) The sun doesn't set until 10 PM. It's not full dark until midnight. I'm actually not sure if I love this, but it's a weird novelty.
10) The language - accents, slang ("veg," "mash"), Irish (Failte!, An Tra, Slainte!, Cil Airne)
11) The soaps: gotta love Fair City!
12) Irish newspapers. Hilarious. They call their Taoiseach (pronounced "tee-sitch", the Irish president) "biffo", which stands for "big ignorant fucker from Offaly". And we though WE were critical of our leaders.
Things I don't love so much about Ireland:
1) Cold and wet. It was an unusually rainy June, the high the ENTIRE time we were there was about 60. Rain really put a damper on our cycling plans. Can't complain too much, though - it's why it's the Emerald Isle, after all.
2) It's really hard to get a drink of water - this was the same in Germany. Even if you ask for it, you often don't get it. Drinking fountains are rare. This is a difficult concept for this desert rat.
3) My hair - if I lived in Ireland, I'd shave my head. Seriously. My hair was a frizzy disaster the entire trip.
4) Biking on narrow, busy, hilly, rainy, windy highways where huge buses whiz within inches of you.
5) Nothing ever dries. If you take a shower and hang up your towel, it's still wet the next morning. Same with laundry.
6) Beds in B&Bs and hostels leave a lot to be desired.
7) Nothing opens until after 9:00 AM, except maybe the news agent. Not even the petrol station. Not even the coffee shop.
8) The coffee. They don't drink it. It's either NesCafe (instant) or cafe americano (watered-down espresso). Can't get a good brewed cup anywhere. It's a little better from our last trip 7 years ago, but still not great for this coffee addict.
9) Food is really expensive, even without the weak dollar. Fish & Chips at a chipper (like a fast food joint) are about 9 euro. The exchange rate while we were there was about 1:1.6 (euro to dollar), so a cheap dinner was still about $14.40. Pub food averaged about 15 euro, and a nice dinner was 20-30 euro. Woof. Yeah, we're broke now.
I'm organizing and uploading pictures today. Will post trip details probably tomorrow.