THE TRIP THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING – WANDERING THE EMERALD ISLE

26 Aug

474Once you set foot in Ireland, and after spending some time in the land of the leprechaun, you will trace back your lineage to the farthest point to try and find even the most minute possibility that you can claim to have some Celtic ancestry.

Trust me. I’ve tried, but to no avail, dammit! Guess I’ll have to make do then with the Dutch and Scottish and some Asian that are in the mix, and I like it, I must admit, got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Gregarious, easy going, amiable, always singing, ready for a good time, all-in-all just plain likable folks. Yes, you’ll get the odd ones out that make you wonder if they are truly Irish, but there’s that brother and sister and uncle and aunt in every family, yours too.

The Emerald Isle welcomed me with open arms and generously hosted me not too long ago in what I can describe in no other way than ‘The trip that changed my life’. And I will have to be and I am indeed forever grateful for the most glorious seven days. Way too short, I know, guess I’ll just have to go back then and pay my proper respects.

If I say life changing, I mean l-i-f-e-c-h-a-n-g-i-n-g. In the sense that it reminded me once again why I love traveling and exploring so much and how I’ve missed it and that “to travel is to live” (Hans Christian Andersen).

Now I can’t do anything else other than to “start living life to the fullest, and on my terms. It’s my life and I am doing it my way!”

(Read http://wildwordsandways.com/2013/08/25/to-whom-it-may-concern-why-i-dont-fear-turning-40-and-why-you-shouldnt-judge-me-for-it/)

For most it may seem like just another whirlwind trip, in a hop on-hop off kind of way, in this castle, through that museum, snap-snap, on to the next. You are sadly mistaken.

Read between the lines and I trust that what I’m trying to express comes across, and in the only why I know how – with words straight from the heart. Sometimes in grammatically correct sentences, sometimes just words strung together, but always honest.

25 July

Ready or not, here I am Dublin!

It took me 24 hours to get here (cheapest ticket, what more can I say) but it was so worth it. Already had my first Guinness (I like, I like, cheers to the first of many!), bangers and mash and mushy peas and get this – Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream, oh, how I’ve missed you, it’s been way too long.

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Earlier…

Waiting for my room at the guest house to be ready, I wandered into a curio shop and with violins and banjos and harmonicas blaring from the loudspeakers, couldn’t help but bust out a few dance moves. Not even the curious looks from the shop assistants could make me stop, “you’ve gotta dance like nobody’s watching”, right?

Strolled thru the streets of Dublin – River Liffey, Famine museum, Trinity College, Molly Malone statue – all the way to the Brazen Head, officially Ireland’s oldest pub, and had my first Guinness. Didn’t know what to expect, so ordered a wee one, had that first sip, got hooked, and immediately ordered a proper pint. And it didn’t feel weird or awkward or odd at all to do it by myself, had a nice time with some locals, felt right at home.

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Now lying in bed, beyond tired. Hope to have a proper snooze tonight, it’s Guinness Storehouse time tomorrow.

By the way – listened to The Boss while waiting for the connecting flight to Dublin in Abu Dhabi and starting to get in the mood in a BIG way!

26 July

Dublin Castle – Some or other important library – Christ Church Cathedral – THEN – Guinness Storehouse – WOW!  Not normally one for overly touristy attractions, but well worth it, surely one of the best I’ve ever decided to cross over to the dark side for.

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And I don’t know their names (can’t remember actually…), but meet two Americans from Phoenix and share a pint of Guinness that I pour myself (and get the certificate from the Guinness Academy to proof it). It’s a truly live-in-the-moment experience, wonderful!

Have a delightful chance encounter in the rain waiting at a robot (or is it a traffic light?!). With the cars and buses splashing away, I giggle and talk about the weather with an elderly Irish lady. It’s just one of those precious moments again.

Feet totally and utterly busted ‘cause of all the walking today. Don’t care if I didn’t get to see the P.S. I love you and James Joyce pubs, some other time then.

Soaking me very tired modes of transport in a very tiny dustbin (room is sans bathtub, only shower), contemplating on what to do tonight and the journey south tomorrow.

I decide to venture back out again; after all, you only live once, so Temple Bar here I come. And what a good decision it turns out to be.

Steak and Guinness pie (what else?!) for dinner, then off to Gogarty’s pub for some live traditional Irish music. And this is where things turn surreal, strange, simply sublime, especially given my main reason for venturing to these foreign shores.

The first set finishes, there’s a short break and then, by some kind of intervention, you can even call it divine if you want to, Dancing in the dark, Pay me my money down and I’m on fire one after the other – enough said, hallelujah, amen!

But wait, it ain’t over yet…

On the way back to the humble abode for the night (after contemplating taking a taxi and then deciding against it, blisters despite), almost literally bumps into Amy from New Jersey, wearing a Bruce Springsteen/E Street Band/Wrecking Ball Tour t-shirt. And the conversation goes something like this:

“Are you going to a concert, or have you been?” “Yes, we (Richard standing close by, pulling a suitcase with a Vivienne Westwood dress in it, don’t’ ask…) have been to Leeds and going to Kilkenny on Sunday.” “No way, me too!”

Could this day end any better?

27 July

One more sleep.

Just to illustrate how truly living fully in the moment can change EVERYTHING – wanted to buy a ticket for the 09:30 shorter route to Waterford – then told that bus doesn’t run on weekends – The next one leaves in 3 minutes – It’s longer, but more scenic – This is what my gut initially told me anyway.

And the Bruce sightings continue! Waiting to get on that bus that leaves in a couple of minutes, the following announcement is made: “It seems The Boss is also getting on the bus leaving from bay number 5”. Looking over, I spot a woman with a big card board cut-out of the man himself. Turns out she came over from the Land of the Brave and the Free, been to a handful of concerts in England and Ireland, and now also going down to Kilkenny.

Sitting on the bus to Waterford (no rooms available in Kilkenny, wonder why…), just taking in the Irish country side rolling by through the window, rain splatters at times and then again rays of sunshine streaking through.

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I don’t mess around when I get to Waterford; it’s straight to the Portree Guesthouse as this is where my precious is waiting. And then I have it in my grubby little paws – the pitch standing ticket to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny on 28 July, and that’s tomorrow – YEAAHHHH!!!

A bit of sightseeing in Waterford – quint little town – MORE blisters – hope I can stand it tomorrow – AND – that I can sleep tonight…

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28 July

BRUCE THE BOSS SPRINGSTEEN RULES!

I’m too tired to think, can’t properly put into words what went down at Nowlan Park tonight, just going to let it all sink in and try to hold onto this most magical of nights for as long as is humanly possible.

(And this is what it was like – www.rollingstone.co.za/opinion/item/2726-fans-like-us-baby-we-were-born-to-follow)

Oh, yes, almost forgot (can you blame me?) also went around to the Kilkenny castle, but couldn’t actually go anywhere and not be confronted by the man, as the whole town was dressed to impress The Boss.

 

29 July

Off to Killarney via Cork. Wanted to swap the bus for the train on this one, but if you are doing things on a shoe string and on top of that have to convert rands into euros, then there is actually no choice, the bus it is therefore again.

My senses are overload at this point. And suspect tomorrow’s Ring of Kerry tour is going to make my cup runneth over even more so.

 

30 July

Ring of Kerry – Breathtakingly Beautiful – Truly the Emerald Isle.

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And I realize something yet again – “The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.” (Amelia Barr)

I now know, more than ever, that I’ve got to start living, in the moment, as if every day is the last, because there is no guarantee that you’ll have tomorrow.

 

31 July

512It’s the last evening in Dublin and I finish it off properly and in true Irish fashion – with a Guinness and more merry music.

What a week it was! I have a hunch, but I don’t think I can actually fully comprehend what transpired, not yet anyway.

If there is one thing I do know for sure, is that life is never going to be the same again.

Let the journey begin…

 

(All images copyrighted: LIRYN DE JAGER)

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