( I left the UK in June 2014, but here’s one more blog about my experience there.)
I just had to travel to the Emerald Island, Ireland, while I was in the United Kingdom. I finally understood what was not the UK-pretty much the Republic of Ireland-while Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England have grouped themselves
We arrived at the airport in England, I couldn’t find the parking I had paid for online, and when I pulled over to ask an attendant, he tried to help and then finally took me out of view of a camera and gave me a parking pass. It was an incredible gift, worth close to $80.00 in parking fees. I hugged and kissed him on the cheek while and he said something about playing the ebony and ivory keys of the piano together to make a harmony—Oh, well, uhm, sure…
The Irish were amazing! They are possibly the friendliest people ever, and that may explain why Southerners (who have very strong Scotch-Irish roots) are so friendly as well. They are a petite and handsome people, well-dressed, lively and open. Even the tour guides would stop, take notice, and chat. People look you directly in the eyes. They are used to foreigners because the island is full of them, but they don’t seem irritated by us at all.
The host family I stayed with was awesome! They sometimes dropped me off near bus stops and helped me plan my days. A student from China was staying at the same airbnb.com home I was, and she was so sweet. She was a vegetarian, and she would share her healthy food with me. She told us her name literally meant “sparkling dew drop”. Our hostess took us down to the Howthe Peninsula where we looked out at the sea from a cliff and ate fish and chips on the wharf. We visited a pub and it was so warm and friendly. There were different rooms where people watched TV, ate food, ordered drinks, even played games. Most pubs seem a lot like what we’d call a sports bar or a bar and grill.
Next day I went to a place called Dublinia, which chronicles the history of Dublin from the Vikings era. I loved this! I have discovered a love for history as I grow more…mature. Indulge me for just a few moments, will you?
So, the Vikings were very interesting, but some of the things I had learned about them previously were simply untrue. For example, they didn’t wear horned helmets! These were worn by Scandanavian religious men probably before the Vikings era. The Vikings weren’t all out warriors, either. They were usually farmers who went on surprise raids during the summer when it was warm. They returned in time to harvest their crops before winter.
(I wrote my name in runes)
I went on a Literary Pub Crawl, where you go to places famous Irish writers hung out and actors tell you stories and recite pieces from their works. I met some fun people on this tour, including a handsome teacher from Tulsa. We chatted and hung out together during the walks between pubs. I also met other American women traveling alone and made quick friends. Great trip!