I meant to post this when I first got to Ireland--these were my initial impressions! July 8, '08
I thought it was very interesting the third degree grill I got when I arrived in Ireland. I don't know if the working New Zealanders have given us all a bad name, but the visa processor didn't look all that thrilled about me. I said I was leaving Sunday, and so he gave me permission to stay until Monday. Is that stingy or nasty or just realistic? I was being honest so it's really not a big deal, but I've got 30 days by right, so it's a good thing that I didn't actually need to change my flight and then have to deal with visa extension issues. [The other interesting thing is that since travelling I haven't gotten any subsequent stamps. Switzerland doesn't stamp NZ passports (it seems), and neither did Austria or Latvia or any other place in the EU. Very interesting!! I wonder if I'll get a stamp going out tomorrow?]
I was amazed in Ireland how prevalent the crime was--how dirty it was, I guess. The busses had drivers enclosed in a secure box, there were fences and guards for parking lots, there were dubious looking men loitering everywhere! A sign of their struggling poverty-ridden past?
It was a bit depressing as well. Cloudy grey colored homes, and of course the drizzling rain didn't help. No wonder so many people left for centuries since they couldn't find jobs either. Apparently the immigration rate is less than the emigration rate for the first time this year!
I love the gaelic everywhere--it was a fascinating sound to my ears--the tones and sounds seemed the same as English (there were no nasal/guttoral/foreign sounds), yet of course I couldn't understand a word. German and French--they sound foreign, but initially, Gaelic doesn't!!
Aer Lingus impressed me as an airline. It was efficient, cheap and good quality. They had one of the best entertainment on demand systems that I've seen. The food left a little to be desired, and was all on disposable stuff (so much for being green!). The one annoying thing, though, was that they kept trying to sell things!! The duty free, a special perfume, a special phone card, the drinks, or other extras! And they kept interrupting the movies I was watching to talk about it--first in English, then in Gaelic (and German for Switzerland). I suppose it only helps them to make money for the airline, but it was not a good thing for me!
The little airport in Dublin (which turned out to be not so little), looked like it was built in the 1960s (or at least the part I arrived in did--the rest, though modern, was still stiflingly crowded in spite of modernity!). It appeared quaint at first, but then I noticed all the dodgy men hanging around eyeing my bag.
The interesting question I had when I was there was whether I would like to live there. It was so dreary, and SO expensive (more so, on retrospection after comparison with the rest of Europe/the EU). But it was so alive and there was English everywhere (which I do miss). I do like pubs over bars (far more social).
The most interesting thing I found while I was there though, was listening to the accent. I was amazed to discover that it has many connections to the American accent. Now this is probably because the American English was sharply dominated by Irishmen. From far, it could have been either accent, though of course, once closer, it was easy to distinguish between them. Just an interesting thought!!
I am ashamed to admit that I ate Burger King while I was there. But, I did look to eat some fish and chips in a pub... they were 11.95 euro, while BK was only 6.85... does that justify it? I was so hungry!! The euro was such a shock though! Maybe it was just Ireland! Changing US$400 and only getting 250 euro, though... now that was painful!!
The jackets in Ireland were something to notice. Not the style, but the fact that people were wearing them. In Canada, the cold didn't seem to touch the locals, who wore t-shirts everywhere. Why were the Irish so wimpy that they needed them? Surely their winters are cold enough that the "warmth" of the summers should ensure they don't need them? :) If there are any Irish readers, no doubt they are insulted!!
Okay, this random assortment of observations is done now. Hope you can make sense of it!!