The first stop on my journey was Ireland — a country which I had honestly never had a huge desire to visit, believing that it would only be foggy farmland with not much to see or do. I’m fortunate that the airline gods chose Dublin to be the most cost effective city to fly in to, because my ignorance otherwise may have prevented me from seeing some fascinating landscapes and enjoying Irish hospitality.
After spending one night in Dublin I headed to the southwestern part of the Island by train to meet a friend of my father, Ogie, who was kind enough to host me for the day. From Tralee, he and his wife gave me a scenic tour of the Dingle peninsula – a coastline that rivals Malibu with its beauty without any of the traffic or commercialization – and with many more sheep.
We stopped in the small harbor town of Dingle, which is a colorful village of fishermen. We settled into a beer garden for some fresh fish and chips. Once the restaurant became a little busy, the older gentleman who owned it actually shut the gates to the entrance in the interest of not being too busy – seeming to value a calm and relaxed lifestyle over a busy business.
After a few pints along the coast, we headed to Ballybunion, a small Irish coastal town, and ate dinner at a steakhouse while watching the sunset over the cliffs and the sea around 10pm. Afterwards, we walked to a pub which had a local musician playing cover songs of classic American rock and pop songs. I have been a bit surprised by the ubiquity and popularity of American pop culture – in Ireland alone, I heard “Sweet Home Alabama” covered by three musicians at three different pubs. As the night wrapped up around 2am, both of the local cab drivers were busy (yes, both) so the musician ended up giving us a ride home.
Ireland provided me with some perspective on lifestyles around the world. I often get entrenched in the Los Angeles bubble, thinking that buying a house is insanely expensive; living in a small town means living in midwestern America; and that productivity is a key contributor to happiness. To see small towns on a beautiful coastline full of kind people who enjoy a slower pace and know nearly everyone they encounter was to expand my horizon of how one can choose to live.