Thursday, September 13, 2007

Whistle-stop touring

I am not given to coach touring: I tried it in my twenties, and I think I am neither young nor old enough to find it enjoyable. I found that all the destinations, in-between places and toilet stops merged into a homogeneous mass. Nonetheless, I have just spent the last week on a frantically-paced road tour of Ireland, in particular Dublin, Cork and Kerry and the Wicklow Mountains. The trip was arranged by our very kind London-based friends, who came with, of course!

I found (again) that sitting in a car all day leads to all manner of discomforts for me, not least of which are seized-up hip flexors and, unfortunately, a bladder infection. Not great to need toilet stops every ten minutes when there is A Schedule! So again, I was reminded that it is good to know what manner of beast you are (a non coach-touring kind), and also to be reminded that sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone. Just as we do with our asana and pranayama practice, we slip into life ruts too, and having someone else in charge of the travel plans (or the yoga practice) can shake things ups a bit, remind you that you can in fact be flexible, if you just allow yourself to be! Note to self: you can be flexible, you can be flexible...

Ireland is a pretty place, even more prosperous and tourist-ridden than when I was last there eight years ago. The cities are teeming with foreigners working there, foreigners visiting, and a few actual Irish folk. The outskirts of most cities and towns are turning into McHouse paradise - a sign again of the economy's prosperity.

The countryside is for the most part still quite pastoral, cows and sheep everywhere and cute little villages, especially in the Ring of Kerry, which we completed in one day, whistle-stop style. It is weird, though, in Ireland and the UK, how as the population becomes more varied, with people from every corner of the globe moving there, the shops become ever more homogeneous. It was really quite unnerving to see the same window display (exact to every detail) at four branches of a chain store in four different cities, as we whipped past. The portion sizes, for example of coffee, are also insanely large. What happened to a small, or for that matter a medium cup? Who needs a tankard of coffee? This kind of consumerism, which must be mindless, since people are buying the over-sized coffee, worries me. I have been eating starter portions because the main meals are, as a rule, too large, even for someone with as healthy an appetite as me!

We are back in London now, for a few days, and hoping to catch up with friends and family and see a few sights before we head to Paris and then home.

Hope you are all well!

1 comment:

Meg said...

I have enjoyed reading about your travels, particularly about Ireland, as my family is from there, and my now husband proposed to me in County Kilkenny. Anyway, so interesting to read your comments about portion size - one of the things I remember distinctly about visiting the countryside was how SMALL the portions were compared to the US, and it really opened my eyes to how gluttonous the US was in comparison. I remember how even the bananas were about 1/2 the size. This was about 7 years ago, you said, I suppose the country's newfound wealth and stronger economy are having a rapid impact...kind of sad really. Ireland's charm is, well, it's charm!