If Ireland didn't exist, a writer would have to create it.
Ireland is a fairy tale and a bucolic daydream breathed into life. It is a land of blood and stone, iron and fire. It is a land where the drums of history play steadily against the blaring horns of ships and buses.
Ireland is the beating heart of humanity and our indefatigable hope.
But this whole thing about Ireland being dreary and rainy and cold all the time?
I think it's super bullshit, guys.
I think it's just something the Irish say to prevent people from moving there and ruining everything. Kinda like in Austin where everyone's all, "Yeah. Austin is amazing. Please don't move here."
I mean, look at this place:
I was lucky enough to spend nine days in Ireland last week. Nine sun-splashed days filled with castles, cathedrals, cobblestones and such immense kindness.
The Irish want to talk to you. They want to share their stories and hear yours and if all of this talking can happen over a pint, well - even better.
As most tourists to Ireland do, we spent a significant amount of time in various pubs - drinking, personally lamenting the fact that more people didn't give a shit about the World Cup and eating.
Woe betide the idiot who claims the Irish can't cook for they are a lazy bastard falling prey to a lazier stereotype. Irish food is good. I mean, they've got fresh seafood, fresh produce, truly excellent and hearty bread and some of the best dairy in the world. How could it not be good?
One of the best meals I had in Ireland was the most simple.
Homemade brown bread, thick slabs of Irish cheddar, a sweet onion jam and a lightly dressed salad made with the freshest produce.
Oh and tea. Oh my God, I drank so much tea and all of it was so good. Strong and sweet and served in proper, steaming hot pot as opposed to the American way - a cup of tepid water with a porous bag of pencil shavings served alongside. Apparently, the Irish are among the top tea consuming nations in this world and it's easy to see why because Irish tea is delicious.
Indian food, though? Eh, not so much. The last night we were in Ireland, my body needed spices. Without turmeric and cumin and chili powder, I'm pretty sure my body goes into shut-down mode.
So, we went to a lauded Indian joint where the samosas were made of spring roll wrappers and the korma was cashew-less.
To all my Punjabi peeps - Ireland is the land of milk, cream, cheese and pissing off Englishmen.
These are your people.
You belong where the grass is green and the air smells like rosemary and salt. I have no doubt that in a few years, y'all could switch the national dish from Beef and Guinness Stew to Saag Paneer. I mean, it's bright green, so the branding is right. After all, aren't bakwas and blarney pretty much the same thing?
John and I have been traveling since we met five years ago. Our first trip together was to New York and started off as a joke - "Hey! Kings of Leon are playing a free show in Central Park. Wanna go?" and ever since then, we've been wandering hand-in-hand - Austin, Nashville, Asheville, Boston, Germany, US Virgin Islands, Colombia...
He is my favorite person to travel with and one of my favorite things in life is sitting next to him on a plane, sliding my hand in his and knowing that when we land - an adventure awaits. Regardless of whether we're arriving or departing.
Wherever we've gone, we've realized one immutable fact. That despite religious, geographical and cultural differences, people are pretty much the same the world over.
When we travel, we see the world but we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of people who, despite their differences, are actually just like us.
All we want is to share a good meal and our story. We want to teach and learn. We want to listen to good music as the sun sets and then, we want to go home to a warm and safe bed. We want to know that no matter where we go - people are like this. Warm and friendly. Hospitable and kind.
Bourdain said it best.
Bourdain always said it best.
Travel isn't easy and it's certainly not cheap but it's worth it. Whether you're leaving the county, the state or the country - the journey is worth the time and effort.
The world is wide and wild and beautiful.