The hubby and I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Ireland (with a stop in London). We drove on the wrong side of the road, enjoyed great craic with the locals, and survived St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. We also happily discovered that Ireland does not deserve its reputation for bad food. Sure, there’s still greasy, bland pub food to be had, but we had great food pretty much the whole time! Here are the highlights from the trip:
Most eaten meal: Soup with brown bread. Served seemingly everywhere, this lunch and dinner standby is seriously amazing. Hearty, satisfying, warm, and cheap (always a plus when on the euro…particularly since Ireland is pricy), this is what I miss most about the food in Ireland. Add to that the scrumptious homemade brown bread that every kitchen had on hand, and I was in heaven.
- Soup with Brown Bread
Best fish and chips (thick fries): Another classic Irish fare, as much as I hate to admit it, the tour book was right: Mc Donaghs in Galway serves the best. Period.
- Mc Donaghs Fish and Chips
Best way to celebrate a birthday: In a non-touristy Irish pub, listening to sessions of traditional Irish music and toasting with Jameson. It made turning the dirty thirty bearable. That and the fact that the hubby turned thirty-one that same day (yes, we have the same birthday….I know…awww).
Most used word: “Terrifying.” Always in connection with driving.
Coolest “old thing” seen: Besides myself turning thirty, the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum (which, by the way, was FREE).
Biggest Disappointment: The Conrad in Dublin. Our serious splurge of the trip, both because there were hardly any hotel rooms left in Dublin over St. Patrick’s Day weekend and because we figured we needed a safe haven from the celebrating whippersnappers (we figured correctly). Our room was uncomfortable, we were nickel-and-dimed for everything, the front desk was rude, and the toilets didn’t even flush. For a 70 euro B&B, I would not have been as annoyed. For the Conrad (and prices we paid), I frankly expected much more.
Second Biggest Disappointment: You know those iconic red telephone booths in London, the ones that would make a perfect picture to bring home? Well, apparently hanging porn in them is now a sport, because they are all full of smut. Time to put my Photoshop “skills” to work.
Most used phrase: It’s a tie between my husband’s “I’ll have a Guinness,” and my “hug the left curb!” as the hubby heroically navigated the Irish roads.
Best foodie city: Kinsale, Ireland. The secret is out. The food in Kinsale is excellent by any standard. We were only there one night, but we had the most amazing meal at the Blue Haven. The hubby had fall-off-the-bone lamb shank served with chunky smashed potatoes and sweet carrots, and I had a beautiful filet of fish accompanied by nourishing lentils and a leek puree.
- Lamb shank from Blue Haven
Best dessert: Sticky toffee pudding cake. I had never heard of it, but the hubby insisted we order it. Good thing I always listen!
- Sticky Toffee Pudding
Best chocolate shop: Butlers’ chocolate in Dublin. Wills is right. Biscuit cake (think a heavenly cookie of chocolate mixed with biscuit) is ridiculously brill. Their dark chocolate mint bon bons are pretty damn good, too.
Best parade: The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin. I was particularly proud of the American high school bands that marched proficiently down the streets of Dublin. I was less proud of the sloshed 40-something-year-old American women who chanted U-S-A, U-S-A every time one of the bands marched by.
- St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin
Best way to exercise off Ireland: While the food was good, our eating habits were not exactly healthy. Fortunately, we walked a lot. Still, atonement must be paid for the many cream-based soups, chips at nearly every meal, and nightly Cadbury eggs. Thankfully, I have some very persistent friends who have been trying to get me to sign up for a half marathon for some time now. I’m in! And I have definitely have the motivation.