Don’t Eat the Sheep – Ireland, Europe

As soon as I saw my mom carting three large suitcases, I almost regretted inviting her to visit me in Europe. The woman is barely 100 pounds, so I knew who would be toting all those suitcases around. She had brought more bags for her short visit than I had taken for four months abroad. This is what mothers do. I swallowed my anger and reminded myself that we were in Ireland; she was paying for everything.

The first order of business was renting a vehicle. We were provided with a cute little red one no bigger than a matchbox car. My mom’s luggage was crammed into the trunk and backseat. I’ve always been gifted at Tetris. I managed to piece the baggage together so it fit. Getting everything in was the easy part. Now we had to figure out how to drive on the wrong side of the road. My mom baked out of the parking space without issue, and then pulled out towards the exit. There was a fence on the left side, the five seconds she’d spent driving weren’t enough to orient her because the only thing stopping her from side-swiping the fence was the sound of my screams and motion of my flailing arms. Luckily she missed, and was more careful from then on.

The trip was enchanting. We started in Galway and drove down the western coast, stopping at as many landmarks as we could. What a beautiful place! The countryside is hilly, a mist settles at the bottoms of the lush hills. It is comforting, as if one could jump down and land in heaven. And the sheep. They are spray-painted shades of pink and blue (probably for identification purposes), but the coloring on their fluffy coats makes them look like delicious cotton candy. It was delightful to be surrounded by such delicate surroundings.

Then there are castles. While the larger ones such as Bunratty and Blarney are more than impressive, even the smaller ones lying in ruins are incredible. Standing on ground where battles, hardships and adventures took place is overwhelming. As an American, it is inspiring to be exposed to monuments older than the country I call home.

I was surprised by the quality of the cuisine. Throughout the trip I did not partake in one meal I didn’t enjoy. And I have been known for being a picky eater. I was expecting the food to consist of meat and potatoes, so I was pleased every restaurant we went to had an eclectic choice of dishes. Plus, the breakfasts – Irish people know how to start the day. Each morning I scarfed down porridge, eggs, bacon, sausage, scones, yogurt and fruit. After seeing their breakfast options, I began to understand why all the gentlemen I saw over the age of 30 dawned well-established guts. I suppose a hefty belly and a bad heart is a small price to pay to eat like a king.

My favorite part of the trip was the people. The rumors are true – Irish people have a wicked sense of humor. When I understood what they were saying (about half the time), I found my eyes filled with tears from the preceding laughter.

Ireland is simple, peaceful and romantic – full of charming offerings and adventures.

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