Sunday, September 12, 2010

Craic

Craic: (pronounced "crack") A Gaelic term for the lively, witty, relaxed conviviality, gossip and talk that makes life worth living.

Just experienced a week's worth of craic in Ireland. Although I was a bit nervous about going because of some snags in the moving process (maybe another blog to describe those snags), I decided not to back out of this trip, and that a break away quite possibly could be just what the doctor ordered. Now, THIS is the place for me. It is dreary and rainy and overcast all the time, and temperature in the 60s- perfect weather for a jacket and jeans. I've been ready for some autumnal weather for quite some time and beautiful, dreary, green and most of all- wet Ireland quenched my thirst.

My best friend from high school, JoAnn is a flight attendant and the two of us had originally planned to go together. Actually- Dara and I had talked about going last year, but it just didn't work out with our schedules. So the plan was that Dara would meet JoAnn and I there. Then poor JoAnn got a reserve schedule this month, which basically means she is at the beckon call of her airline. Although I was sad she couldn't go, JoAnn encouraged me to go without her and we will plan another trip together at another time.

So off I went! And in First Class, no less. I was so grateful. Here was the menu on my flight:

To begin: warm roasted nuts and white wine
Hot Appetizer Cart: a demitasse of fresh shellfish soup with bay scallops accompanied by wild mushroom and vegetable purse (a "purse" is a satchel-shaped puff pastry)
Salad and Warm breads: hearts of romaine with cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Main Course: Grilled Sterling sirloin steak with garlic and herb butter, Delmonico's original steak sauce and creamed spinach, onion has brown potatoes and fresh asparagus spears
Fruit and Cheese cart: assorted imported cheeses, grapes, and port wine
Dessert Cart: Vanilla a ice cream and choice of toppings and freshly brewed Emilio Cafe' Italian Expresso

And then there was this television with 40 different movies, games, tv shows, and music. You could create a "jukebox" with a play-list of your favorite songs. But after all the wine, all I really wanted to do was just fall asleep. Every time I would start to doze off, another course would come at me!

Ireland was off to a great start. Once I landed in Dublin I was greeted by the most friendly Customs & Immigration Officer ever and upon seeing my address on my landing card, he told me I was staying "right in the heart of it all" and to enjoy his country. We stayed in the Temple Bar district, which is touristy, but very convenient and very fun. Dara had arrived two days prior to me, and I arrived on a red-eye, around 7 AM as her "wake up call". We took a short nap and then we went to Explore Dublin. And to drink Guinness. A note about the Guinness in Dublin: it is creamy and frothy and tastes so smooth. It goes down like root beer and it is easy to lose track of how many pints you've had. Easy to understand why the Irish love their drink!

Slainte'!!!!


To summarize my trip, here are the basic highlights day by day:
Day 1 Visited Kilmainhaim Jail- learned a great overview of Dublin's history, especially the potato famine in 1845 (when many people were imprisoned for begging in the streets, including children) and the Irish revolution in 1916 when the country became free.

Went on a ghost tour. Visited the Brazen Head pub, which is the oldest in Ireland. http://www.brazenhead.com/ Enjoyed many pints of Guinness. Chatted with our tour guide (who happens to be a historian) and our tour guide told me about the surname "McVay", which is my grandma's maiden name. They are from northern Ireland he believes. **Note: once I get this move over with, I plan to do my full-blown ancestry research. I would love for my next trips to be Italy and Slovakia.

I just adore the way Irish people talk. Our historian/tour guide asked us to follow him "oop da stars" to see a part of the pub on an upper floor that is allegedly haunted. (Dara likes to make fun of me trying to speak in an Irish voice- and she believes I sound more like the "Swedish Chef" from the Muppets.)

Day 2 Saw a rainbow (it's faint, but you can see it in the photo below). Got a tour of Trinity College by the cutest tour guide ever, Ceiran and wandered around Dublin





Oh dear- I'm afraid that I appear sideways in the rainbow photo above. I guess that's what all these pints of Guinness have done to me- I can't seem to stand up straight. For some reason I am having a lot of trouble uploading my photos to this blog in general. There were so many more that I wanted to add to this blog. Seriously, being that I've been back for over 24 hours, I am fairly certain all the Guinness is now out of my system.... Go figure. Oh well- I guess I will just keep writing and go ahead and blame it on the Leprechauns like the Irish do.

Day 3 Day trip to Limerick, Galway, Bunratty Castle http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g212526-d214758-Reviews-Bunratty_Castle_and_Folk_Park-Bunratty_County_Clare.html and Cliffs of Moher


Day 4 Leprechaun Museum (a bit kitschy, but really fun). Here I am leprechaun size:

The day ended with an evening visit to O'Donoghues which allegedly has "the best pint of Guinness" in Dublin. Met some cute Australian ex-pats who have lived in Dublin for about ten years. Shared many pints and experienced much laughter and craic. Our sweet Aussie friend walked us back to the hotel at 2 AM and I had to get up to go back to the airport around 5 AM.

On Day 5 I flew back to New York. DUB is such an efficient airport. Security moves fast and they have people helping get you and your items through the ex-ray machines. It is not necessary to remove your shoes. But for some reason they wanted to open and examine my umbrella. They did that with several people. Anyone know why this is?

Fortunately, I got First Class again. This time it was a lie-flat seat. Continental has upgraded half of their fleet with these seats. Another wonderful meal selection (this time I had the lamb), but I was too tired to eat anything else after that course, so I went to sleep and I was completely comfortable. This is what the pod looks like in its upright position:

Thank you, Continental! I love you!

Although I was happy to be flying home in such comfort, I was feeling a little melancholy, as well. Right now I have a bit of a heavy heart. As much as I loved Ireland and greatly appreciated the craic, I don't think it would be appropriate if I didn't end my blog today with a token of my appreciation and my condolences. The date yesterday: September 11, 2010. I landed in Newark airport yesterday, on a morning with weather not dissimilar from the weather 9 years ago in New York city on that tragic morning that so many of us remember so vividly, as it was yesterday. I looked out the window to see the New York City skyline (absent of two tall towers), and as I listened as landing gear go down I said a silent prayer of thanks for my own well-being, and a prayer of remembrance for those unsuspecting folks who died this very morning nine years ago. They boarded a plane just like I did, expecting to land safely just like I did. But their fate was quite different. I am so grateful for the people who work hard to make this world a peaceful and better place. Thank you to all of our military, every single airline employee, and deepest condolences to all of those who worked in the Twin Towers, those on the hijacked flights, and those who had loved ones who died that morning. God rest your souls 9/11/01.

No comments: