When it comes to Ireland I don’t really know where to start.
It is, or was, my home. A place I still call home even though I only make appearances once or twice a year. And a place where I could be called more of a tourist these days than a local.
On these visits I tend to take it slow. I used to arrive with very little or no plans, yet these days the plans are often preset. Weddings. Next it will probably be babies.
If I can, I make these celebratory visits last a bit longer to have time to see friends, travel a little, to try out some of the new cafes that have popped up in the last few years (or make it ten) of my absence, and to empty my bank account at the Patagonia Outlet store.
The concept of traveling slow for me means staying just a little longer in one spot. Taking it easy and soaking in the atmosphere, instead of running after all the must-see sights that look just like the must-see sights in that other “what was the name of that place again” destination I visited a year ago. Or maybe a month.
This time we also had a different reason to take it slow. We explored the island in a borrowed camper van and even my husband’s heavy accelerator foot was not heavy enough to get the rig going fast. To tell the truth, this was great as the scenery slowly slipped past, I did have the time to shout orders at him to stop, reverse or take it even slower so that I could take a picture through the dirty windows or run outside to capture bit of bog or a cute cow.
I’m kind of ashamed to admit we didn’t sleep a night’s sleep in the van though. It ended up being our choice of vehicle that took us from one spot to another, and we were quite happy to park it in front of a friend’s house, jump in a hot shower and cuddle under warm duvet for the night.
To live up to the “I am a tourist these days” label, we did do some touristy things and as my friend exclaimed “you are doing it the wrong way around Satu!” as apparently I had the authentic Ireland experience first, what with living there for almost five years. And now I was visiting the sights and driving across Ireland with Irish music blaring from the stereos. But when it comes to road-tripping in Ireland, there is nothing better, really, than driving through Lisdoonvarna singing “Lisdoonvarna” together with Christy Moore.
Yeah. We had been driving for a while at that point.
Not too bad a tourist sight, the Cliffs of Moher. I did think we’d arrive there and have a private experience of nature’s wonders but it was not to be. Fully packed car park (mid-week off-season!), visitor’s centre and paved paths for easy viewing were the magic words of the day. At first the 6€ entry-fee seemed bit ridiculous (remember, I was expecting only nature), but it was money well spent.
So even though I can’t really call myself a local in Ireland anymore, I do have my moments of glory when it comes to my Irishness. On the way to Dublin, at the airport in Brussels I got talking to another lady with a baby and she was surprised (dare I even claim extremely surprised) to learn that I was not Irish. All this based on my lovely Irish twang. I was quickly brought back to the ground at the wedding though by a friend I hadn’t seen for a long time who claimed that “your accent is much more sophisticated these days”. A polite way of saying less Irish, maybe?
But as the father of the beautiful bride said at the wedding, may all your troubles be little ones. To me, these troubles seem to be smaller when you travel slow. You don’t have a schedule to keep up with, to start with.
And for our stay in Ireland, instead of following a rigid schedule for the week, we relaxed with friends, ate loads of banoffee pie and even surfed a little. I might think of leaving my day job and become a pro, what do you think?
Since Ireland we have slowly progressed to the UK (haa! The last but not least mystery destination number three), and to continue with the theme of taking it slow, I seem to be slowly eating my way through the local coffee shops.
More about that, and our time in the UK next week!