Ireland is Wet and Other Obvious Observations

If there were one adjective to describe Ireland, it wouldn’t be “green” — it would be “wet.”

The Emerald Isle, the land of my bloodline, is a green, damp country. From the moment I landed in Dublin, the sky was grey and full of heavy clouds.

And boy, did it rain. Everyday it rained, and the one day it didn’t rain (inKillarney), it snowed. The two pairs of tennis shoes I’d packed were waterlogged within minutes. It’s a known fact (well, I didn’t know at the time) that Wellies are a quintessential piece of any Irish wardrobe. By that time I’d decided to head over to Penneys, the Irish equivalent of K-Mart, and buy myself a pair of the rubber boots for about €15.

What I should have packed all along. Photo courtesy of Palmer Stores.com

What I should have packed all along. Photo courtesy of Palmer Stores.com

The next morning I set out to Cork, the land of my ancestors. Though not the sole purpose of my trip, my grandfather came to New York City from Skibbereen, a pretty town in southwest County Cork, close to the sea, and just under two hours from city.

Cork City is a smallish, walkable city of under 200,000 people and the second largest in the Republic (Galway is third.) I used it as my homebase for a few days go exploring on day trips. Many places in Ireland are only accessible by bus, but Cork is fully equipped with both a bus and train station. If you know me, you know I love a bus, train, or plane excursion (in fact, sometimes even more so than the actual destination.) My love of train rides was the catalyst for my impulsively buying a ticket and hopping a train to Cobh late one afternoon.

I regret arriving earlier in the day to take photos. Photo courtesy of anotherheader.wordpress.com

Cobh (pronounced “Cove”) is a village on the coast, just a short distance from Cork City. A colorful town, St. Colman’s, an imposing church sits on the hill above neat lines of houses. As dusk set upon me, I found myself in a hotel restaurant where I ordered a full Irish breakfast. Wasting no time at all, I scarfed down the plate.

Afterwards, what seems like just moments later, I stumbled upon a small bar. Not one to let an opportunity pass to consume a national, if not cliched, beverage, I ordered a night cap: an Irish coffee with Irish whiskey. As I chatted with some of the local men, I admired a curated bulletin board of photos.

The board depicted different eras in the town’s history. Maybe it was sentimentality — or maybe it was the whiskey, but it dawned on me that my own grandfather had boarded his own ship here, New York-bound, decades before, as most Irish did. It left me a bit bit teary-eyed in considering what life was like here in the late 1920s, when my grandfather left Ireland.

The locals were very friendly and eager to chat with me, but it was getting late and I needed to catch my train back to the city soon. But first, I needed to hit the head. Everything was going just according to plan despite there not being one.

Then I got to flush the toilet. That’s where it went downhill fast. I notice that my phone is missing, but quickly locate it…in the toilet bowl. Completely submerged.

Well, isn’t this grand?, I thought. Unlike some travelers who invest in a new SIM card, allowing them to use their phone abroad, mine served as my watch, calculator, alarm clock, and with a WiFi connection general gateway to the world. This was the beginning of 2012, so it was a Blackberry (don’t laugh.) I’d gotten rid of my landline years ago and relied heavily on that phone for work for texts, calls, and e-mails. Now I couldn’t even turn the phone anymore.

After a day it eventually did turn on, but acted up and was never the same. Like my two pairs of musty tennis shoes, my phone was permanently wet…like Ireland.

30 Things Travelers Must See and Do Before They’re 30: My Score

As you’ve probably guessed (!) already, travel is one of my biggest joys and where I spend most of my disposable income. It’s true: the best time to do it is when you are young and have no children. I thought the list in this article, “30 Things Travelers Must See and Do Before They’re 30,” by Lacy Morris for Huffington Post  was worth posting and seeing how I measured up (I achieved all those crossed off by the time I was thirty.)

Some of the commenters say that it is not possible to do this without being rich or going into debt. I say this is definitely not true and depends on what your priorities are (i.e., fancy designer clothes and $14 cocktails while cabbing it home or saving for a few months.)

Below I’ve listed Lacy’s list items and crossed out the *things* I’ve done complete with commentary. How do you add up?:

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