I’ve been in Waterford, Ireland since the weekend through this coming weekend. I’m over here with my roommate Jayme and her boyfriend Keith who is from Waterford and back for the week for work. I’m functioning as a combination of third wheel / daytime entertainment for my roommate. It’s a role I’m happily embracing.
We left on Friday evening from Boston and arrived in Shannon around 5am. Couldn’t sleep on the plane like I had planned so I was happy I bought Watchmen to read while in the airport. It was then a two hour drive from the airport where I again had planned on sleeping. Instead I spent the entire ride like a dog staring out the car window. This was mostly due to the fact that I was scared. Two-lane highways with walls on either side and tons of rotaries. Wow. (Though it wasn’t until about the sixth rotary when I figured out that’s what they were and it wasn’t just that no one felt like paving straight roads.) Along the way we stopped at a gas station for some coffee which was where I first felt like a stranger. Man in front of me as I waited turned to joke with me and my face just dropped as I realized he spoke English and I had literally no clue what he had just said and wished not to sound impolite. Keith stepped in at that point fortunately. Still think that man must’ve thought I was a tard. Now I realize why I sometimes have to speak slowly to Canadians.
Eventually we made it to Keith’s sister’s house where we met the family and had some breakfast. White pudding… Actually not bad. Still haven’t experienced black pudding however. My favorite is still the breakfast sandwich. All I can picture is Homer telling Bart to butter his bacon. Take some bread, slather butter on it, then throw some bacon on top. Of course it’s pretty awesome but as I noticed later so few fat people and I’m amazed how that is possible when they butter their bacon. (Tried to buy shirts some days later and I’m a large or extra large in the US while a double extra large here. I happen to be reasonably slim in the US and of course don’t butter my bacon.)
We hit our walls after breakfast and made our way to Keith’s place then for a relatively short nap at around 11am. Just four hours since we had to make our way out to the pub for the Ireland vs. Wales rugby match. An Ireland win would clinch the Six Nations tournament as well as be their first grand slam (beating every team) in about sixty years. I spent a little time having Keith explain the game to me during the England vs. Scotland match beforehand at his place and then we made our way off to the pub. Was feeling still a little sleep deprived but maybe eating while we were out would pick me up slightly. Need sleep or food in order to drink. Ended up at T&H Doolan’s in Ciddy Center around 4:30. Back home I once went to my local bar and found it closed only later to find out it was because of a kitchen problem and serving alcohol without being able to serve food would just be irresponsible. (This attitude doesn’t apply in Pennsylvania where I hear even serving peanuts would just encourage you to drink more.) Learned quickly that pubs don’t really serve food. Drinking, tired, and hungry at 4:30pm.
T&H is about the oldest pub in Waterford and the crowd was interesting. Half Irish and the other half Welsh transplants. Interestingly while a little tough at first I found the Welsh the easiest to understand after a short bit. They sounded like my old neighbor. (If you know the story, yeah, THAT neighbor.) Let me first start by saying that the Guinness in Ireland DOES NOT TASTE AND DIFFERENT. The difference is you’ve probably been drinking bad Guinness from lines and taps which haven’t been cleaned enough. It tasted no different than a good Guinness that I’ve had many times in Boston. Granted, I’ve drank a lot of bad Guinness in Boston too. Got into the rugby match after it started. Possibly because of the excitement surrounding me. Possibly because of the drinking, sleep deprivation, and hunger. The bar has about three parts to it. One side is the “tourist” side. A dollar bill with my name and cell phone number may be tacked to the rafters. Next there’s there middle third and then finally the third we were at. I ended up really getting into it. The bulb on the TV kept overheating, typically during tense portions, and I would end up running with everyone to the middle third of the bar to watch the TV on that side. Ireland ultimately one and I celebrated. Things at this point started to get hazy. Keith made sure to give me a piece of paper with his address just in case. Drinking, tired, and hungry at… *shrug*
Spent sometime drinking and talking with various folks. Both Keith’s friends as well as other locals. Eventually we ended up at McLoughlin’s down the road a short bit. Had a shot of whiskey there. Didn’t vomit which is typically a good sign. Unfortunately it convinced me I was invincible at this point. More talking with the various locals. Eventually learned that “Colleen” is both a proper noun and an adjective. Up till that point I just thought half the girls of Waterford had the same name. After sometime there we walked back up the road to Harvey’s. Keith’s friends were there to take care of me at this point. Nearly didn’t make it in but managed to answer the bouncer’s question correctly. “Yes sir, I am still alright to drink.” Went downstairs and was greeted by lots of people, loud music, and flashing lights. Pretty much like every club in Boston I try and avoid. I grabbed a beer and made my way around with the guys. Not a lot made sense to me but I kept going. I think a few times I was told to, “Stand right here,” but I don’t like standing still too much. Especially not on a night out as I wanted to meet new people. This however proved a little tough. People liked my American accent but my ability to hold a conversation was fairly impaired at this point. I think I could still speak fairly coherently as evidenced by the fact that people recognized my American “twang” (Teaxans have twangs, New Yorkers don’t thank you), I just couldn’t think of what to say at all. Eventually I found myself with Keith’s friend Jimmy and two of his lovely friends and we hung out until closing. As we walked out of Harvey’s we made our way back down the block into a sea of people. Entered a fried chicken fast food place called Hillbillies at this point. Finally maybe I could eat… Unfortunately I could not figure out the menu. Where was the #1 or the #5. Maybe a #4 with a Diet Coke? I tried asking the girl I was with how I was supposed to order but just managed to confuse her. I decided to just go outside and skip ordering. (Now I know to just say “snack box”.) As a consolation I did receive an onion ring from my new friend for which I was very grateful. Drinking, tired, and hungry at about 3am.
Ultimately I did end up making my way home. Had perhaps one of the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had. Also had one of the best nights of my life. Not sure how to possibly top such a long night.