“Who here likes crack?”
These were the first four words of spoken by my tour guide. Curled sleepily (but anxious) in the back seat, I swore I didn’t hear him correctly. I began to wonder just what kind of tour had I just signed up for when he explained: craic (pronounced ‘crack’) is what the Irish use to encompass everything about a good time: drink, conversation, fun, dancing, etc… It’s used like, “How’s the craic?” or “Was it good craic?” (basically, a typical conversation on East Hastings). Apparently, there are varying degrees of this craic from just regular type all the way up to savage craic. If it got turned all the way up to 11, well, chances are good you don’t remember most of it. He must have been foreshadowing.
He then announced we would be doing our tour in reverse: Dublin -> Galway -> Inis Mór -> Ennis -> Killarney -> Dublin.
Unfortunately, I have a train to catch in about 30 minutes, so this needs to be quick. In order to speed this process up, I’m going to give you my trip at a glance with some of the most memorable moments.
#1) Australia is home to some of the most dangerous animals in the world. The most dangerous of which being the Aussie’s themselves.
They tell you it’s a dangerous combination to drink with antibiotics, so it was a cruel fate that my prescription wouldn’t be finished until the very last day of my trip to Ireland. It seemed sacrilege to go to the Emerald Isle and not have so much as just a half pint Bulmers. So…I gambled a little. Unfortunately, my tour group was made almost entirely of Australians. My liver was doomed from the get-go.
#2) Work off those fish and chips with push-ups on the beach, in the kitchen, on the dance floor, at the pub, on the street….
Throughout our trip we ended up playing a few memorable games:
1 – Rate My Date
We had a saying, “Look for love on the bus, but elsewhere for lust.” and let’s face it, those Irish accents can be pretty charming (amiright, Colin Farrell?). The game was this: if you met a lady or gent at the club/bar/pub restaurant, and you hit it off, regardless of where the night ended up, what counted was the morning after: you had to get them to the bus. Before we would leave in the morning to our next destination, they were supposed to come stand before the bus and together we would rate them from 1-10 (I didn’t say it was a nice game). Harder said than done, it would seem. While I unfortunately didn’t find myself a date (turns out good looks are a zero-sum game in Ireland, and Colin Farrell took the lion’s share), some of my group members got a bit luckier. However, we never actually managed to convince anyone to wake up at seven in the morning to get to our bus in time.
2 – The Souvenir Game
In order to win, we had to get ourselves the best souvenir we could possibly find. The catch, however, was this: you couldn’t buy it, nor could you steal it. Otherwise, you could get it by any means possible. Every morning we’d do a triumphant show-and-tell of the items we’d gotten which ranged from a broken (and signed) drum stick from a band (that was mine, thank you), several student IDs, a photo of some man’s kids (creepy), beer glasses, banners, you name it. One of the two winners at the end of the trip were an INCREDIBLY nice soccer jersey which was given to one of my groupmates on our way back from a club by a man so drunk he walked into a wall. It was a Tuesday night. Gotta love Galway. The second winner was probably my favourite: the souvenir that she got was a ginormous goose-egg from smoking her forehead on the Blarney Stone.
3 – The Ban On Selfishness
This was a game brought to us by the Aussies. If someone ever asked some form of the question “Whose is this?” you could not say “Mine,” or “That’s mine,” or anything that involved the word “mine.” For if you did, you had to drop and give ten push ups no matter where you were. We had people doing push ups on the beach, on the bus, on a cliff, in a bar, in bathrooms, on city transit. By the end of the trip, I racked up about 6 sets of pushups.
#3) Maternal instinct or have I watched too many episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos?
I’m not scared of heights, per se, I just have a rational uneasiness that’s been passed down by my ancestors who avoided cliff-related Darwin awards. Naturally, when I see people I know teetering on the edge of a 300 ft. cliff, I think it’s perfectly normal that I be doubled over with fear that they’re going to tumble into the Atlantic if they don’t PUT BOTH THEIR FEET ON THE GROUND AND COULD YOU JUST TIE YOURSELF TO SOMETHING, PLEASE?! IT’S WINDY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I am in no other ways maternal, but I think that’s about as close to the “Soccer Mom Arm” that my parents’ generation learned as I’m going to get. Everyone in my group thought my agony was beyond hilarious and began prancing along the cliff edge or leaning as farrrrr over the side as they could. Look, guys, it only takes one slippery rock, okay?
#4) Fairies. They’ll getcha.
Ireland is an incredibly superstitious place from their leprechauns to their fairies. It’s to the point that there can be a major road that runs perfectly straight until there comes a completely random and unnecessary traffic circle. Why? Because they had to reroute around a fairy circle. I can’t fully explain to you what a fairy circle looks like, because I know if I didn’t have a guide I would trip right into one but that would be to my peril! Why? Because those fairies are feisty SOBs. According to our guide, in a previous group, some idiot decided to thumb his nose at the rule that no one is allowed inside a fairy circle, so he walks right down the centre. DUMB IDEA. Not only did three of their busses break down in only two days, but after a few amazing photo ops at a few landmarks, when they returned to the bus, their photos were missing. I’m not particularly superstitious myself, but I know better than to mess with things I don’t know.
#5) The Irish are lovely, I just wish I could understand them
As previously mentioned an Irish accent can be quite attractive. Sometimes, however, it’s such a garble I stare at them as blankly as I do here in Austria. I really do know they’re speaking English, but…come on, there’s just no way. Before we entered the city of Killarney (where the guy to girl ratio is about 3:1), our tour guide pre-translated for us a conversation he knew we’d be having at the bar that night and it went a little like this:
Killarney gent’: Mmmmsdsmsmdmhrgfhdbdhgdgd
*translation: How’s it going?
Appropriate response: Great, t’anks and yerself?
Killarney gent’: mmmmAHjdfmsdfmsf. Mmsdmdsm?
*translation: Jus’ fine. Where’re ya from?
Appropriate response: Canada. (although not necessarily the correct one, let’s face it, it is ALWAYS the appropriate response)
Now at this moment, our newfound friend is going to sit and think. And he’s going to think about it some more. He’s going to sip from his pint several times, deep in thought. Then finally, after much consideration he will say:
Killarney gent’: MMmasdjadmddsfhhsd.
*translation: ’tis far…
And I kid you not, I had just about that exact conversation with some guy at the bar.
#6) I kissed the Blarney Stone…that was completely unnecessary
The last the thing I need is more “gab.” This blog is a testament to that.
And now I gotta run, as my train leaves in 15 minutes and it takes me 20 to get there. Too bad there’s nothing to kiss to give the gift of timing.