Please Go Away – part one

Some of the most interesting experiences we had on our recent trip to Ireland involved liars.  The barfly who wove an incoherent tale about “helicoptering” his whole family to Brittany one Christmas.  The pub owner who claimed to be the real Kitty O’Shea.  The very drunk woman who insisted that we had to come home with her and see her “castle.”  The even drunker Frenchman who made up a song about my husband’s PNC windbreaker, and then when he found out PNC was a bank informed us that he would never work for a large corporation and he was actually on his way home to France to start a revolution.

I generally avoid extravagant liars and the noisy, crowded bars where you tend to meet them.   But you haven’t really experienced Ireland unless you’ve spent several evenings in pubs where you hear both wild music and wild tales.  And that’s what I’m advocating for in today’s post:  not so much drunkenness, wild music or wild tales, but the experience of doing what you don’t usually do.

There’s a kind of travel where you see sights that you expected to see and learn the things that you expected to learn and do the things that you expected to do, and feel entertained and satisfied and are never upset or confused or uncomfortable, and that kind of travel is just fine.  But, I’d like to challenge my readers to try a way of travelling that I think is even better.

Packaged tours are expensive and tend to insulate you from the country you are visiting and especially from its people (other than the ones who want to sell you something).  I’m  advocating being brave and going it on your own.  Yes, you will be lost and confused sometimes, but when you are lost and confused, you have to engage with the natives.

Contact with local people is what I‘m most passionately advocating  We went the B&B route for the first time on our Ireland trip, and I will do it whenever possible in the future. Without exception, our hosts were warm and helpful. Our hosts in Kinsale were an elderly couple with two tiny, naughty dogs and a home cluttered with souvenirs of their own trips, photos of their large family, cards from their many guests over the years and ribbons from seemingly every gift they ever received hanging on the doorknobs – not so very different from many working-class retirees in the U.S.  They were happy to share with us the story of their house, its history as a bakery for the nearby fort and their experience in acquiring and remodeling it.

In next week’s post, I will share some additional thoughts on a fully-engaged travel experience.

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