- The beer. They drink good beer over there. Dark, rich stouts, smooth lagers - no crappy Bud Lite. Q and I had a beer at the airport in Chicago on our way back, and the first thing we noticed was how sad the taps were. Bud Lite, Budweiser, Sam Adams of some sort or another - nothing remotely good. In Ireland, their taps are filled with greatness. Not only is the Guiness remarkably good (and found on every tap in the country, I'm sure), but their microbrews (Porterhouse and Messrs Maguire) are also exceptionally great.
- The buildings. Everything in the cities is old. The pubs seem small from the outside, but then you go in, and it's three floors of rambling, sprawling rooms, all covered in dark wood and dim lighting. And they're always full - all three floors. And you can't smoke inside anywhere in Ireland, which is nice. They're very accommodating towards smokers though, and usually have a smoking deck. I don't mind that people smoke - not at all. But I also don't like smelling like an ashtray, especially when I'm on vacation and have limited clothing.
- The food. Delicious. Seriously, we only had one mediocre meal, and that's only because it cost a shitload to eat there. If it'd been reasonably priced, we'd been raving about it. Or at least I would have been. We ate in small towns and big cities alike, and loved all of it. Irish beef is wonderful. I ate so much beef - I worked on the assumption that they treat their cows better than we do. Don't tell me if I'm wrong. I won't do the research unless I go back, which I very much hope to do in the future.
- The scenery. Every way you turned was gorgeous, bright green, and ruins of some sort or another. It's amazing to me that you can just plop down a house right next to the ruins of some medieval castle. And some are literally being eaten by the earth. It's like nothing I've ever seen. I could not get enough of the castles/ruins.
- The general feeling of patriotism. This is a patriotism we can't comprehend in the USA, though we tout being good patriots all the time. I suppose it's because they won their independence so recently, with some of the fighters alive to this day. Old, but alive. These people have seen struggle, they've seen death and horror, and if they haven't, their parents or grandparents surely have. They get it. They take such pride in everything they do. Pride over there takes precedence over greed, and to me that's incredibly refreshing. A pub will serve you a fantastic meal at a reasonable price because they take pride in doing so. They won't cut quality or quantity to save a euro or two. To me this is the most glaring difference between our two countries. We'll screw you left and right to make a dollar, and for the most part, we'll take it, though we know it's bad for us. We're fucking suckers. The feeling is so obvious over there. They don't need a magnetic support ribbon plastered on the back of every car.
- I got to see the hometown of my father's family, Castleconnell, in county Limerick. It's a tiny little town, but gorgeous, of course.
- We got to spend time with our good friends, N8 & MT, also our gracious hosts during our time in Dublin. I'm sure they have some other things to say about Ireland after living there for a year and a half and having time to see some of the bad side.
Okay, that's my wrap up of the trip. Pictures to follow. Q took something like 400, and it was mostly sunny the whole time, so there are some great ones.