Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

IMG_6204I used to be intentional about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 each year. I learned to travel solo in Ireland and I love this celebration of all things Irish. While I don’t like cornbeef and cabbage, I do love Irish stew and Guinness. So any excuse…

Learn more about St. Patrick–an Englishman called to save the Irish after his Christian conversion–by reading Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization. If you are traveling through Ireland, stop in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland and check out the St. Patrick Centre.

If you can’t get to Ireland, never fear. Several Irishmen have shared over a pint that the best St Patrick’s Day they’ve ever had was in Chicago, New York or another US city.

IMG_6208Raise a pint and toast the man and the saint! “Sláinte,” (pronounced “slawn-cha”) and translates to health or cheers.

Peadar Kearney Quintessential Irish Pub

My very first solo trip overseas was to London and Dublin. London was a tough slog as people are just not very friendly. I treated myself to the Royal Mews and all the other things that previous trips I’d been deprived in the negotiations with friends over itineraries.

When I arrived in Dublin I immediately felt welcome and relaxed. I would order my half pint of Guinness at the bar and someone would hear my American accent and start a conversation. I had an absolutely fabulous time. I really loved the Irish peoples love for group singing in pubs. It doesn’t happen every time. Every time it did happen I would sit  grinning and join in if I knew the song. At that time in the mid 90s the Dubliners I met LOVED John Denver so we sang a lot of “Country Roads.” It is an uplifting experience and that is not the Guinness talking.

When Tevis and I got to Dublin he confirmed a meet up with a friend who he met when working in Mountain View. We met up at a pub on the edge of Temple Bar in Dublin–Peadar Kearney. It is smallish, even so we were able to grab a table. Deeper in the bar a live band led the crowd in a sing along. I smiled wide. I love Ireland.

Quirky & Fun Irish Stuff

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I know, I know. It implies they don’t charge fees for withdrawing cash, although your bank will charge you. Still I posit that this is misleading. I didn’t get any extra cash that wasn’t fully represented on my bank statement!
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Before we left for Ireland my Auntie J shared an article about the popularity of Krispy Kreme donuts in Dublin. I couldn’t quite figure it out. The drive-thru Krispy Kreme was causing such a disturbance to the neighborhood that they shut down for a time. Then when I was at the Christmas Fair at Belfast City Hall and I saw these treats. OMG! So much sugar.
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Retail is suffering in California and stores are not making as much of an effort with Christmas displays. So it was delightful to see these fun window displays in Dublin. Plus it is Harry Potter!
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It is a penguin! Naturally this little figurine caught my eye at the Guinness Storehouse.
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I have so many questions. I just missed it, damn. Are they telling stories with yarn? Or are the stories about yarn? 

 

 

Brilliant Idea: Airport Customer Feedback

Aer Lingus is a no-frills airline and my ticket to London was cheaper if I stopped in Dublin. I had enough time between flights to buy a pair of Guinness socks and eat the best yogurt parfait I’ve ever had and drink a decent flat white from the Chocolate Lounge.

IMG_1052No more time to browse and time to get to my gate. As I passed out of the main terminal I saw a brilliant small kiosk asking for customer feedback with just 4 quick options. I pressed full smiley face because the customs process and overall airport experience was terrific. The airport is compact and clean with great signage.

I am standing in line for boarding and see another feedback kiosk expressly for the restrooms. I decided to use the facilities. Imagine the worst scenario: trash on the dirty floor, messy sinks, toilet paper stuck on seat. Okay, that was LAX Terminal 2. The Dublin Terminal 2 women’s restroom was beautiful, very clean and fully functional. On the way out there was a further kiosk to allow customers to alert them to any problems. Clearly they will receive prompt attention. Simply brilliant. IMG_1053