Ireland - More Random Thoughts
Finishing up at an Internet cafe in lovely Galway before heading out through the Midlands to spend the night at 13th-century Barberstown Castle. Not a bad way to end the trip. More random thoughts as I nibble on some brown soda bread:
-The Irish version of 7-11 is Spar. The Irish version of Johnnie Rocket's is Eddie Rocket's. The Irish version of Blockbuster is Chartbuster. The Irish version of "Dancing With the Stars" is "Jigs and Reels With Celebrities."
-Ireland is pretty darn expensive, especially given the Euro's dominance over the dollar. Renting a new movie at the aforementioned Chartbuster will set you back £4.75, about $6.50. You can't find coffee for under £2. Extra tartar sauce or even ketchup will cost you at a lot of places.
-Here in Galway you can see the new multiculturalism sweeping Ireland. We had dinner last night at a French restaurant, and the large table across from us had about four different languages going. There's also an Afro-Caribbean-Chinese market called "Ivory Market," whose main stock in trade appeared to be hair extensions.
-Irish radio is interesting (we heard a lot of it on our drive out through the West). They love to hear themselves talk so much that even the music stations have about 30 minutes of chatting between songs. The music features a few contemporary hits, but mainly is stuck about 20-40 years in the past. Every teenager in the pub knows the words to "Take Me Home Country Road" by John Denver, anything by Johnny Cash, and a bunch of 80s hits (including "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles). We heard a song by Long John Baldry called "Mexico" that I'll be downloading the moment I get home.
-The Cliffs of Moher, huge cliffs that look out onto the Atlantic, was well worth a visit. They're building a new visitor centre that will be completely set into the landscape, so it will be even better. Now there's construction all over, but it didn't affect the views too much. The Burren, an expanse of rocky limestone that stretches for miles through back roads, was also quite cool.
-We stopped in an off-track betting parlor, which are ubiquitous here. There was steeplechase, greyhound racing and thoroughbred racing within the space of five minutes. After the end of a thoroughbred race in which the leader bore out and tired badly to lose, the Irish track announcer quipped, "the horse was walking around like a drunkard coming out of a pub."
-Friday was Daffodil Day, a holiday sponsored by the Irish Cancer Society where everyone buys daffodils off the street for £3 to benefit cancer research. We have nothing like that in the States, a holiday designed to raise money for charity. Unfortunately, Friday was very rainy, leading to headlines in the news of "Daffodil Day Disaster!" as the Irish Cancer Society expected to come up short in their expected fundraising by £500,000 because many people stayed indoors.
-The top stories on the Galway news for Friday: 7 townhouses to be razed, local Galway food to be promoted in advertisements, and a woman from the Connemara turns 101. I love local news.
-But the best news story, heard in Dublin, in the front section: students protest for lower taxes on condoms. Now there's an issue EVERYBODY can get behind.
I'll be back with the rest of the world's news on Monday.