Ireland – impressions a month on

It’s been about a month since we moved to Ireland, so I thought I’d take a page from a writing style from a sports column I read (you know, since sports commentary is where all the best writers end up ;-)) and post the 10 things I now know, think I know, or just maybe have made up about what’s it’s like moving to Ireland.  Executive summary is so far so good for being over here and adjusting – in general I’m enjoying it and appreciate it over here.

 

Before I get into it – let’s start with the beautiful sunrise I saw over Sandymount Beach a few days ago…

 

Now on the 10 quick hits list :).

1. I appreciate how much people walk here – both frequency and distance.  I’m willing to concede this might be colored by the fact we’re in a major city, but it seems like the Irish that I’ve come across think nothing of walking a kilometre or so to a shop or bar or bus stop or whatever.  Even though there’s a high probability that it’s going to be a) cold, b) windy c) raining or all three.  I’m also willing to concede this could be related to the high expense of cars+insurance+fuel and difficulty parking.

2. I really wish the US had actually embraced the metric system and Celsius temperature scale, or at least that I’d learned them better before moving over.  This can also be thought of as the ‘what the @#!?”$% clothes map to 5-7 degrees for the high???’ item.  At least I have a rough ability to map distances from starting to run in the last year or so and using the km – mile conversion associated with a 5k run, otherwise I’d have no idea how to convert distances :).

3. Public transportation.  At least here in Dublin it’s pretty good and I’m happier with it and more of a user of it than I ever was before.  Not 100% reliable unfortunately, as Clodagh can attest being stranded both trying to get to work and return from work :(, but it still seems more comprehensive than what we had in the Seattle area.  If it wasn’t for dublinbus.ie and how it’s starting to map realtime GPS based data though, I’d be totally lost.  The traditional system was that the timetables told you when a bus left the starting point.  And you were supposed to just understand how long it would take to get to your stop and then know when to expect a bus.  Seriously.

4. Redmond has one of the best off-leash dog parks that I’ve ever heard of in Marymoor Park’s off-leash area.  Based on reaction from our dogs Double Bluff beach on Whidbey Island beat that.  Neither is a patch on the Sandymount beach when the tide is out – I’ve never seen something as good for letting dogs out and run around.  Suffice it to say, Shay and Rascal may think they’ve found heaven here in Ireland :).

5. There’s a very nice ‘local’ feel to a lot of things here, and once you’re talking with someone they’re generally extremely helpful and friendly.  Between our new vet here, the orthodontist, the local ophthalmologist, the folks I’ve been dealing with are fantastic and spend as much time with you as needed.  I haven’t gotten the feeling they have to rush off and minimize time-per-customer/patient/whatever.  Same thing with a lot of the restaurants and pubs around – you feel like the businesses are local family sorts of things and both that you’re keeping money in the community as well as that they genuinely are looking out for you and giving you the best experience possible.  I’ll also caveat this one with dealing with large companies here can be a complete nightmare (this might be it’s own post later) and you can definitely end up in soulless tourist traps easily enough.

6. Being here is a weird mix of things being harder and easier – though I’m sure a lot of it is down to just familiarity and expectations.  Things that I would have expected to go very smoothly in the US take multiple calls or follow-ups here.  And some things that are a serious hassle in the states are just a snap over here.  It’s like you’re throwing dice each time you try to set something new up…  Which experience will I get this time??? 🙂

7. The weather.  It had to be talked about at some point, both because it’s the stereotypical thing people think of as well as the fact that it’s one of the first things people ask me how I’m adjusting to when learning I’ve moved over.  The weather here really isn’t that bad.  Then again, I am coming from Seattle which if you ask 99% of the US population, spends 364 days a year dealing with cloudy rainy weather.  Since we’ve moved over we’ve experienced beautiful clear cold sunny days, snowy flurries, massive gusty winds, the standard rain showers you’d think of, and everything in between.  Will Rogers once said about the Oklahoma weather that if you don’t like it you should just wait five minutes and it’ll change to something else.  Lengthen that to an hour and he may also have been talking about Ireland…

8. I have this idyllic vision of global systems being interconnected and having mappings for equivalence.  Not that they necessarily have to be unified into the exact same system where the Global Government with their black helicopters rules the world, but that having no insurance claims in the US should be able to provide proof in a manner Irish insurance companies understand and accept.  Or drivers licenses.  Or banking systems and credit histories.  Sadly this vision is very far from reality.  Le sigh.

9. Initial trips to grocery stores here are like an exploratory expedition – finding out what exists here, what doesn’t, what’s an equivalence, what new things I’ve never seen or heard of before :).  And which products and brands, like Special K, have the same name and are similar but not the same.  I’m all for tweaking products for local markets, but maybe they should get a new name then, eh?

10. Small cars can be fantastic.  I think a few people I’ve talked to, both here and back in the states, expected me to try to find a large American-style car when we got a car here.  I’m not sure if that’s a commentary on my driving style or a commentary on me, but either way I’ll let it go :).  On the other hand if you’re driving on the opposite side of the road from what you’re used to, and on fairly narrow roads at that, with cars often parked half on the footpath / half in the road, then having a smaller car might just be a godsend.  I’m just saying.  Oh, and the price of insurance is astronomical so its definitely tiny car and tiny engine FTW.

 

Bonus point:

11. I’m planning to post more as I adjust to life over here noting down a bit of my experiences covering a bit of the good and, well, the bad.  Also planning to get back into highlighting some of photos that I’m taking around – particularly as I get around the country a bit more.   Of course that’s what’s planned and I’ve planned that before :).

 

Bonus photo for getting this far – the very cool looking Aviva Stadium:

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