Sometimes it’s ok to just be a tourist. I’ve literally been traveling now since last Friday the 14th nonstop. I got into Dublin that day at 7a.m. & couldn’t check into my hotel until 12. I had arrived a day earlier than the rest of my tour group, so I was all alone in an unknown city with literally no place to go for 5 hours & I was jetlagged. The hotel staff did allow me to store my luggage in their back room, and I did take about an hour eating breakfast there to waste time, but I had to amuse myself and also make sure that I didn’t fall asleep on the park bench in St. Stephens Green or get run over by traffic coming at me from the opposite direction when I failed to look right instead of left.
So, today I gave myself a day off from being a traveler and experiencing the culture first hand and drinking Guinness, Irish coffee or Bulmer’s cider with the locals as we talk love, music, art, politics & exchange favorite curse words. (I started a very funny & most likely bad habit in this guy Noel by teaching him the phrase “Fuckin’ A, man” in which he started saying it, and then yelling it, the drunker he got.) I also stopped worrying about having an authentic Irish experience & cultural exchanges like most travelers do. I let Trafalgar Tours do the work for me today.
And work they did. Pat, our bus driver, & Ann, our tour guide, took all 50 of us in the big ass coach bus down winding narrow roads in the country. We stopped at a small seaport called Yaughal (pronounced ya’ll) & had 30 minutes to take pictures, secure our line in the bathroom (or as the Irish say “toilet”) & buy souvenirs. I did all those things.
Then, they drove us towards Cork & the Blarney Castle so we could kiss the Blarney Stone. That was fun yet a bit overrated like many tourist destinations can sometimes be. I’m not going to lie though, I’m glad I can now say that I kissed the stone & have the pictures to prove it.
Afterwards, our driver took us along a scenic route where we drove over stone bridges that crossed rushing streams, cruised over & through rolling hills that were covered in a lush & vivid green & scattered with lazy cows & cute wooly sheep. We drew near the mountains & saw the coastline & then followed it into Killarney. It was breath-taking.
I opted not to do the optional tour of an Irish music & dance performance with dinner included. I already felt that I had experienced a beautiful & fun musical performance by a local the night before (read Day 3). Plus, I’m a cheapskate & if I would’ve signed up for all the optional excursions that are additional prices to the already pricey tour, I wouldn’t have enough money for more souvenirs (which I bought quite a few & will worry about how to pack all of them later). Instead, I had a nice dinner at a local pub with a couple I met a few days before. Then, after I asked the owner where he suggested we should go for music, we headed over to the Grand hotel for more Irish music, song & a pint of Guinness (after we did more souvenir shopping, naturally). Turns out, locals go there to listen to beautiful music, and to sing along & enjoy a couple pints of Guinness as well. Guess I got my authentic Irish experience after all & that’s more than Ok with me.