Tag Archives: hostels

Things I learned In Ireland

I’m home. It’s taken me a week to feel like a human again, but I’m home.

Let me be clear: I did not think I’d survive this trip. I never think I’ll survive anything that’s outside my usual routine, so this trip was huge for me. I cleaned my car before I left in case I died. I also took my diary because I didn’t want to be remembered by my sad stories and bad jokes. I started my taxes but didn’t finish them, because I can’t afford them. And that was the one thing I felt comfortable burdening my family with.

Self-employment taxes aside, it was a real treat to come home alive.

As anticipated, my journey to the airport was a shit show. I couldn’t find the bus, and when I did, I had to find coins on the ground to pay for it. The bus driver was nice enough to help me. I am, it would seem, officially out of money.

This didn’t stop me from buying a grilled cheese, coffee and two scones at the airport. I am grateful for my credit card, though I fear it will be my undoing.

While at the airport, I reflected on my trip and found myself surprisingly sad to leave. Certainly, I missed my kitties, my roommates and my weekday sobriety. But I had an amazing time. And I’ve become addicted to the record-breaking likes on my Instagram photos.

I did not write every day as promised. But I did take notes of things I learned. Thus, I give you a rambling list of Things I Learned In Ireland:

Never ask for a “ride.” Ask for a “lift.” Apparently, asking for a ride is like asking for sex. Lesson learned.

Irish people are incredibly accommodating. When I met my friend Tony’s mom, she offered me some tea. I turned it down to be polite, and somehow ended up with tea, a plate of scones, cornbread and two shots of Poitín (Irish moonshine). The next day, Tony’s sister drove me — after having just met me! — to Derry because she is amazing, and –

Easter Monday is a thing. And everything shuts down, buses included.

Guinness really is better in Ireland. Something about pasteurization, idk. But you better believe I’m gonna brag about it every time you see me. “Ummm when I was in Ireland…”

In Ireland (see? It’s happening already) you don’t order drinks for yourself, you order drinks in rounds. This was a particularly hard rule for me to follow. I hate when people buy me drinks, especially men. I like to assert my dominance, and I don’t want anyone to think I owe them a ride. But I swallowed my pride for the sake of tradition. I don’t expect it to happen again.

Converters turn hairdryers into flame throwers.

Moms are amazing. I knew this already, as I love my mom to pieces. But seeing my friend Megan in mom-mode was something I’ll never forget. Kids are insane. They ride waves of manic elation and utter despair all day, every day. One moment, they’re laughing like crazy at “rock, paper, scissors, poop!” The next, they’re sobbing because they didn’t want sausage for lunch. At one point, Owen (Megan and Tony’s youngest boy) turned to me and said, “Jojo, I like you,” and I swear to God my heart fell out of my body. How anyone rides these waves is beyond me. But Megan does it without even batting an eye. She is unreal. I’ve always said that she hit the jackpot with those kids. But after this trip, I think the kids hit the jackpot with her.

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Baby sheep look like cats from afar.

 

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I like traveling alone. I was nervous to do this, but I’m so glad I did. I met a lot of great people and I never once felt lonely. I saw what I wanted to see, ate where I wanted to eat, slept when I wanted to sleep. I spent a lot of time sitting at bars, trying new beers, listening to music and eavesdropping on locals. It never felt weird. The only time I felt unsafe was my last day in Dublin, when some strange man approached me to tell me he liked my style (first red flag), asked if I was alone (second red flag) and kept following me after I brushed him off (all the fucking flags).

I like eating alone. I’m a monster when I eat, so it’s better this way. But I really enjoyed my fancy solo dinners.

I like being alone. Which bodes well for me, as I will be dying alone.

People hate Americans. Or maybe just me. Or maybe just Trump. Either way, next time I travel internationally, I’m wearing a Democrat lapel pin. Or Friend of The Pod shirt. Trump is the laughing stock of the world. We are the laughing stock of the world. And we should be ashamed. I know I am.

I don’t have a top lip when I smile.

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Hostels aren’t so bad. I did not – and will not – publish a sequel to Hostel –Night 1, as the details of what followed are unfit to print. I will say, though, that I met a lot of cool people from all over the world. I made a friend from Holland, an enemy from Russia, a pub advisor from Dublin, and a whiskey tasting/donut eating companion from D.C. I met a German guy who offered me a ride (no, a lift! Dammit a LIFT!) to Dublin, and a welder from I forget but somewhere in England. The three handsome Lebanese men (who were delighted to hear themselves described as such) and my two girl roommates – Lauren and Shannon – were among the highlights of my trip. Like a Week 6 Bachelor contestant, I didn’t come to make friends, but I left with some nonetheless.

 

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Miriam, a new friend from Holland.

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Sweaty Galway hostel friends in Dublin.

 

Scones are the shit. I could (and did) live on scones.

People think American girls are bitchy and elitist. An Irish girl told me I was “so normal for an American.” When I asked what she meant, she said a lot of people think we’re like the girls from The Hills and Laguna Beach. I laughed and assured her that I wasn’t. But deep down, I was flattered. Part of me has always wanted to be a beautiful, snooty socialite. So this was quite pleasing to hear.

Craic (pronounced “crack”) is everywhere. Good gossip is good craic. Good fun is good craic. Good sex is . . . a craic ride? Who knows. But if you want to know where the party is, you ask, “Where’s the craic?” This does not translate in America for obvious reasons. Which is why I often worry for the reputation of our dear Tony Kelly.

My hands look dead in photographs. 

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From the Game of Thrones tour pamphlet: Coldhands drinks at local pub.

To tell 24-hour time, you just subtract 2 from the second number. I am impressive, I know.

All in all, it was a life changing experience. Something I never thought I would or could do. And I can’t wait to do it again in 40 years when I’ve recovered.

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Hostel – Night 1

I survived my first night in a hostel. I did not sleep well, but I did sleep.

My prep began hours in advance. I tapered my dairy intake, and I treated myself to two glasses of wine at dinner to assist my descent into unconsciousness. I claimed the top bunk, thinking it’d have better, cleaner air flow. This was my first mistake.

My second mistake was putting on my PJs at 8:30. My roommates, who turned out to be quite lovely, invited me out with them. I, however, being the curmudgeon I am, wanted to make it clear that under no circumstances was I there to socialize. So, on went the Kanye tankity top, off came the bra, and up I climbed to my sleeping perch.

Not 5 minutes later, more roommates arrived. Three men. Handsome men. From Lebanon.

The girls left to go out and I hung around and talked with the guys. We got along really well, which surprised me. I hardly ever enjoy talking to strangers.

They asked why I was in bed already. I told them I was tired. They told me I was lame. I told them this was not news.

“Why don’t you want to go out?” They’d ask.

“Because I don’t want to,” I’d respond.

And so on and so forth.

Eventually, they convinced me. I buttoned my pants (I’d undone them at dinner), threw on a hoodie and joined them for some beers.

Which brings us back to my first mistake. As you may recall, I’m strictly an aisle kinda girl. This is because I like to have easy access to the bathroom. The top bunk does not allow this. And at 4 am, full of Guinness, I had to pee.

The panic began when I couldn’t find my socks. I normally sleep with them on or nearby, just in case I need to make an emergency toe touchdown. But they were nowhere to be found. I couldn’t imagine traipsing across the hostel floor barefoot. So, I sat there for 30 minutes weighing the pros and cons of a foot infection vs. a bladder infection.

How many times have they cleaned this carpet? Is there a 5-second rule for foot fungi? Is there an OTC medication for UTIs? Or would I have to go to the hospital? And if so, would my health insurance work in Galway?

I decided to brave the floor. I saw my Keds not too far from my bed, so I figured I could jump and land nearby. The trick would be landing softly enough as to not shake the floor and wake my bunk mate.

In the end, I nailed it. If my bunk mate were awake, he’d have seen a flash of a gray sweatsuit leaping from the heavens. It was some of my best work.

Night 2 was #lit. More to come. Now, I’m in Dublin, blogging from my phone at a pub some dude on the bus told me to check out.