It has official been three years to the day since I got on a plane from Newark, New Jersey set for Rome, Italy to begin my semester abroad. Feel free to insert any cliché about time flying, because wow does it ever! I was extremely fortunate to be able to travel within Europe a lot while I was there, but there are still some major destinations I haven’t seen yet, mostly because I felt that a quick weekend getaway wouldn’t do them proper justice. I haven’t been back toEurope since 2009, but I’m getting the itch again, and have been torturing myself daily by viewing travel deals through Living Social and Groupon. One of the (many) places I’ve yet to visit but definitely have near the top of my list for European destinations is Ireland.
While my family is mostly Italian in background, there’s enough Irish there to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with an annual traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner! My aunt has recently become very involved in researching our family’s genealogy, so since we’ve already made contacts with relatives in Sicily, I think Ireland is definitely the next stop for a family trip! (Although the fact that my family from Irelandwas named Murphy might make them a tad more difficult to locate!)
Naturally, Dublin is a major destination in Ireland, but a lot of the other popular tourist destinations – the Cliffs of Moher in Shannon and the Blarney Stone outside of Cork, to name a few – are located in other regions in Ireland. Luckily, countries in Europe are tiny compared to the US – Ireland is roughly the size of the state of Indiana, and travel by car is fairly easy, if you can remember to stay on the left side of the street and navigate the narrow roads! There is also an extensive train and bus system.
Like eating pasta in Italy or drinking champagne in France, a must for a trip to Ireland is to sit in a pub and sip a Guinness with a big meal. Whether or not you want to go to the factory in Dublin is up to you – I hear it’s awesome, but obviously it wouldn’t be nearly as authentic an experience as going to a local pub. Traditional Irish cuisine is best defined as hearty – there’s a lot of meat and starch, and the food isn’t exactly the healthiest – but isn’t it always the least healthy foods that taste the best?!