(Alternately titled, “Rolling Hills and Fuzzy Cows” because I thought that sounded really cute.)
My brief conversation at the information desk in the Dublin airport with a tall, red-haired Irishman marked an important milestone – my first interaction outside of Spain.
When I went to Dublin, Ireland during Semana Santa (our spring break during Holy Week) I visited for a brief three days. I certainly wish I could have stayed longer. Aside from my short experience with extremely friendly people and costal cliffs dotted with fuzzy cows, I felt like I was in the movie Once, which made everything that much better! (If you haven’t seen it, you should.)
It was also my opportunity to witness how varied the culture is in the geographically small area that is Europe. Here’s a few things I noticed:
1) Spanish and Irish culture are both “warm” and “kind,” but in different ways. The Irish people I met at the theater, the pizza restaurant and on my day trip were all very welcoming. Almost everyone smiled and said hello to me. This has not happened as often for me in Spain, but people will greet you with a kiss and a hug. In both countries, I have gotten the feeling that I’m welcome, but the feeling was different. You’ll just have to go to see what I mean!
2) The night life is … not the same.
In all honesty, I was walking around Dublin at 11:30 p.m. my first night, and almost everything was already closed. Coming from Spain, where the night is just getting started at 11:30 p.m., this was an adjustment. The nighttime in Dublin starts earlier but it has the energy I was hoping it would have; pub music and laughter float out onto the street and people don’t mind walking out into the rain because they’re too busy enjoying themselves.
3) The expression of history in both countries is captivating. The Cliffs of Moher and Trinity College have a quiet beauty unlike the more outward elegance of locations I have visited in Spain like the Royal Palace or the Prado Museum.
I also loved attending the Irish musical The Train at the Abbey Theatre. The person sitting next to me greeted me with a warm smile and pleasant conversation, while the play itself was a crash-course in recent Irish history. I now know about Irelands recent evolution and controversy related to contraceptive use in a predominantly Catholic society.
But the traditional Irish pub is far from quiet! I found a stool right in front of the musicians playing at The Celt and soaked in the violin and guitar as it mixed with the clatter of dishes and people shouting to each other across tables.
I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure outside of Spain, and I look forward to making more international comparisons in the very near future.
Here’s a few more pictures!