I hope you brought your appetite with you this morning because my second course of all things Ireland is more a smorgasbord than a single serving.
Think ping pong balls dancing right before the next big lottery drawing and you have a good picture of the thoughts bouncing around inside my head when it comes to Ireland. You’d think a country the size of the state of Maine would have less to offer than most of her European neighbors; as if size ever really matters!
I could run through the entire alphabet with points of interest and tidbits of information after my week in Ireland, and that’s no blarney. In fact, I think that’s what I’ll be doing on this fine day.
I realize by the time today's post comes to you, Friday will have come and gone, but it was my intention this post go up on Friday, so I'm sticking to me plan. Irish are known for being stubborn, they are!
With all the excitement of Ireland this week and the chaos of spotty WiFi connections as Jimmy and I made our way around the Republic of Ireland (no Northern Ireland on this trip), I forgot to mention the milestone that came and went two days ago. That milestone calls for a little celebration.
Run and get something to drink (water, wine, milk, a pint, pop, tea, coffee/Irish coffee, etc.) so we can share a toast. Go on with you now (yes, I’ve picked up an Irish brogue. I rather fancy the idea.). I’ll be here waiting for you. I won't be calling it a celebration without you!
A single butterfly flaps its wings and chaos is set in motion; that chaos is currently clogging the WiFi in all of Ireland. Okay, perhaps a wee bit of blarney crept into my story thus far. The chaos has followed Jimmy and me (and the fifty other people with our tour group) from Dublin to Ballina and on to the Connemara Coast, Galway and Killarney. I really can't speak for the rest of the Emerald Isle.
Uploading pictures is out of the question given access to the internet via my computer (and thus access to all my pictures) has been impossible. My cell phone is worthless too. It's 1:45 am in Killarney and the public computer is finally available! So I'll take a few minutes to paint you a picture of a people and a place on the fringes of western Europe where, to quote a young Irishman with a twinkle in his eye (he was boss when it came to a fiddle and a microphone last night) and a song on his lips: "It rains in beautiful Ireland nine months out of the year. The other three months, it's winter!"
What comes to mind when you think of Ireland? Jimmy talked of little else but leprechauns in the days leading up to our departure for the Emerald Isle last Friday. St. Patrick’s Day, Maureen O’Hara (with John Wayne, in the movie the Quiet Man), castles, shamrocks, Catholics, protestants, Riverdance and the Blarney Stone (and those blarney accents) were just a few of the bits and pieces that were grist for the thoughts milling around in my head for weeks prior to our trip. Jimmy keeps things simply; I obviously obsess.
I wasn't sure how to sort through all that obsessing. I was still fighting jet lag. The Irish are not fighting anybody anymore, which was a first for this island country for close to a thousand years. I give these lads and lassies credit; they’d put up with more than their fair share from the Vikings and the Normans and the Scots and the Brits.
But that is a post for another day. Today, like my scattered thoughts, I’m all over the board. After all, me thinks there was a wee bit of blarney that went into my first two days in Dublin, Ireland.
I know, I know. I gotta shorten these posts and work on getting them posted much earlier in the day. Excuses simply come across as lame at this stage of the game, so I'll just skip them in favor of moving to the real deal.
To quote my errant daughter when working back into my good graces: "You know you still love me."
Yes? Maybe? Sometimes?
Jimmy was doing the driving; I was doing my homework. There’s lots of that, now that I’ve become a world traveler and history buff.
Key West was behind us (but you can check out my reasons for loving the Conch Republic here), as was mile marker 0;
the thin ribbon of highway called U.S. 1 provided glimpses regularly of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, beautiful vistas of water that attract 40,000 visitors annually; well, 40,002 as of our three day visit to this island paradise that sits precariously on the edge of the world (okay, on the edge of our world as we know it, North America).
While John Donne would have us believe that no man is an island (does that mean no woman is a peninsula?), apparently man is not above living on said island, particularly if his bankroll runs into the billions; not millions – billions!
In a town where literary giants are almost as common as the gypsy chickens roaming the streets, Ernest Hemingway stands taller than most. Key West, after all, was this Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author’s winter home for eleven years beginning in 1928.
No way Jimmy and I were passing up the chance to tour Hemingway’s Key West home at 907 Whitehead Street.
As much as I like the big city, I’m still a small town mid-western girl at heart, especially when it comes to travel destinations.
I don’t even like to shop at Ikea anymore. All that ‘stuff’ in one building bigger than the Milky Way just leaves me lost in space.
Give me one little shop, quaint and filled with charming artifacts, and I can do some serious damage.
Give me one quaint, charming destination filled with enough sun and fun to melt away the winter blahs (the grind, the monotony, the stress; take your pick) and just enough unique history to make it all authentic, and I can fall in love with the place.
That place would be Key West, the southern most city in the continental United States.
Close your eyes for a minute and just let the soothing image of Maui seep deep into your bones. That moment may be as close to the warm, gentle breeze you’re going to get all day with the temperature outside hovering near freezing in most parts of the country north of the Mason Dixon line (we can hope for a high of 29 today in the Chicago area before the wind chill gets in the last word). No matter; it’s mind over matter for lack of a better option. I have plenty of options when it comes to that mind game.
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