Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ireland Trip: A Few Observations

I just returned from a weeklong excursion across Ireland with my girlfriend. We rented a car and drove from west to east, with several stops in between. It was quite nice, except for the weather. It endlessly pissed rain. Despite the extraordinary amounts of precipitation, I found the country to be warm, friendly, and full of beer. That's also an apt way of describing myself during the trip. Except for the warm and friendly part.

A few observations from our jaunt through the Irish countryside:

1) Water pressure is excellent - Clearly, they have plenty of water to go around. It is, after all, surrounded by water, dotted with lakes, and crisscrossed with rivers and streams. Bar none, the toilets had the most powerful flushing systems I've ever seen. I'd estimate the toilets at 8-12 gpf (gallons per flush). And I'm not exaggerating. It was insane. I think you could flush a cinder block if you wanted to.

2) Sheep everywhere - This probably comes as no surprise to most people, myself included. But you have to see it to really comprehend the magnitude of the sheep population. They're everywhere. Look at those rocks up on the hill! No, actually those are sheep. Looks at those funny dogs crossing the road. No, they're sheep. What a massive beard the bus driver has! No, again, it's a sheep.

3) Police are a nonpresence - The "Garda" as they're known in Ireland, don't make a habit of appearing very often in public. I saw 2 of them the entire time we were in the country. And that includes 2 days in Dublin (which is where I saw the Garda). This would lead me to believe that Ireland is either an extremely safe country, or an extremely dangerous one. I made it back with barely a scratch, so I'll let you be the judge.

4) No fitness centers....anywhere - The average Irishman eats about 1.5 times the daily recommended calories. At least that's what we read somewhere. But still, the populace did not strike me as particularly overweight. I'm pretty sure all of those fat people we saw were American tourists. So the lack of gyms or fitness centers is completely baffling. It's like an episode of 'The X-Files' or 'Lost'. I'm not sure how they stay fit. More research is needed. I may not be able to sleep until this one is solved.

5) Sun does not set until about 10:30pm during the summer - Now, if I had noticed the lack of fitness centers, the absence of police, and the late night sunshine all on the first day we were in the country, my mind would have officially been blown. We took a redeye into Shannon airport, and were totally exhausted when we finally arrived at the first bed 'n breakfast in the evening. I was basically going on 1 hour of sleep, and so was more than slightly delirious. I crashed at around 7:30 and fell asleep for 2 hours. When I awoke, it was still light outside. I dozed off again, waking in another half hour or so. Still light out. Again, dozed for another 30 minutes. Still light. It was crazy. No one had warned us about that, and it really threw me off kilter. That being said, I thought it was pretty cool once we got used to it.

6) Keys go into locks upside down - Not even sure this one's worth mentioning. The keys need to be inserted into the door locks with the smooth side up, ridges facing down. Not a big deal, or all that interesting. But it's a little like them driving on the other side of the road: it just doesn't work at all if you try to do it the way we do in the USA.

If I think of anything else, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll be collecting my thoughts on the trip itself.

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