Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ireland - 10 Surprising Things that I Noticed

I thought I would see continual grey sky during my stay in Ireland but for the past 2 weeks I have been enjoying the radiating light of the sun. Maybe I'm just lucky.

Beautiful morning scene right in front of my current housing

This is my first visit to Ireland, and none of my direct family member had been in Ireland before. Well, here are 10 things that I find surprising because of the expectations I held about Ireland before I came here:

1. Crossing the road anytime, anywhere is a common thing
By anytime, I mean as long as you think it is safe to cross the road. Most people cross at designated areas (i.e. the zebra cross or where there are traffic lights) but you can see people crossing the road randomly as long as the street is clear of passing cars.

2. It's 5 degrees C outside and ladies wear short skirts and high heels
I'm wearing a pair of jeans and I still crave for a cup of warm hot chocolate. Those ladies deserve a lot of praise. At least from me, who still complain about the cold weather despite wearing a pair of boots instead of heels.

3. Class starts 5 minutes after the scheduled time
Unlike in the Netherlands where classes start on time, you actually have to wait for another 5 minutes before the professor starts the lecture in Ireland.

4. Irish coffee is hard to find
When I was in the Netherlands, Irish coffee (coffee mixed with whiskey and sugar) was served in almost every restaurant. In Ireland, you're lucky if you can find Irish coffee in a coffee shop. Well, not the Dutch "coffee shop". A shop that sells coffee, yes.

5. Hollandaise sauce is everywhere
I assume that the name Hollandaise is associated to Holland, which is associated to the Netherlands. I found no dish with Hollandaise sauce when I was in the Netherlands. How ironic, Irish coffee is hard to find, yet Hollandaise sauce is commonly used in Ireland. And the reverse is true.

6. They celebrate 18th, 21st and 30th birthday
I found this flyer posted on a toilet door in a restaurant close to my housing. I still have no idea what the significance of 18th and 30th birthdays, but the 21st birthday is most likely associated with minimum drinking age.

Yes, I know taking pictures in the toilet is dumb but I still did it anyways.

6. North American food is almost everywhere
Philly cheesesteak, melts, hamburgers, chili fries, subs, burritos... you name it. I walked through the city center and found that there is at least one restaurant on the street that sells these kind of food. There is even one diner in town that has a retro American diner setting:

7. British accent... but maybe not really
It's a little hard to catch the accent of Irish people, but I think I'm getting used to it. I can understand what people say, but I can't reply them with the same accent. God knows what kind of accent I have. It's not Indonesian, not American, not Singaporean (a.k.a. Singlish). My accent is just... my accent.

8. Guinness tastes like some horrible Chinese medicinal herbal drink a traditional Chinese grandma would feed you when you're not feeling well... plus some carbonation.
When you're in Ireland, drink Guinness. Well, I did. I do not like it, and most probably I will not come to like it.

9. Almost all Irish people are extremely nice
But I was warned to be a little cautious about Irish men who are overly friendly to Asian girls in the bar. Otherwise, I think they have wonderful, pleasant, helpful personalities. You can read my previous posts about Ireland about how the I was saved by the Irish multiple times.

10. Horse meat mixed into beef is a very serious issue
We have a similar issue with beef balls mixed with rat meat in Indonesia, and I still think horse meat is better than rat meat even though I don't know how they taste. This issue was raised recently due to the rise in beef price. You'd see signs on restaurants serving beef products saying "using 100% Irish beef". At first I thought there is something special about Irish beef (like Kobe beef, perhaps), but I learned that they put these signs because of the possibility of horse meat being used to replace the expensive beef.

I promised to write a post about my trip to Cliffs of Moher, but I have a handful load of things to do right now and I have to manually upload the photos to Google+ instead of uploading them directly to Blogger because I ran out of space. Let's pray I can remember everything about the trip after 2 weeks.


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