Well, the last few days have been quite a challenge to adapt to a new life in Ireland, but we’ve made many good inroads, thanks to plenty of information on the Internet, and helpful relocation consultants who’ve helped with immigration issues.
The first day was a complete blur due to jet lag, and just finding food among other things. The second day we started to get on our feet. I washed laundry finally, but I accidentally ran the clothes in the dryer first then the washer. Because I put powder detergent in the dryer, the clothes (after being properly washed) really have a strong detergent smell.
Since coming here, food has been a challenge simply because we’re not familiar with where things are (as well as what brands are good), but at the same time, we have to keep Baby well-fed. Dublin actually has lots of good restaurants and grocery stores nearby, especially around the Grafton Street, St. Stephen’s and George’s Street area (all one area south of Temple Bar). Temple Bar is definitely more for tourists whereas the Grafton/St. Stephen’s area is more for day-to-day Irish shopping, eating and scenery. It’s a pretty nice area and we spent a long time walking up and down. Earlier in the day I walked to work for the first time and got royally lost, but did finally get there 30 minutes late. Between walking to work (and back), and then walking with my wife and daughter near Grafton/St. Stephen’s, I’ve developed mighty blisters on my feet.
That’s one thing I’ve noticed about Ireland, or Dublin at least: you can get along pretty well without a car. If you live outside of Dublin, driving is more necessary, but I noticed that Dubliners tend to do a lot of walking, or just take the local bus. My wife also noticed that people were pretty fit and trim in Dublin as well, especially compared to the US where obesity is rampant in some areas (not so much Seattle, but other areas I’ve seen). There are a lot of shapely women and men in Ireland, but it’s much more an attractive-shapeliness than what I am familiar with in the US. I think a lot of it is due to the better quality of food, but also due to the amount of walking people do. Already my wife and I have started to slim down just from 3 days of walking (plus the hectic flights to Ireland), and adjusting to European style meals.
Speaking of food, we love organic food, and in Seattle, you had some really great options for food co-ops, farmer’s markets, etc. PCC was always our favorite because unlike Whole Foods, it was local and the atmosphere was more hippy than snobby.* We were very pleased to see that Dublin has a venerable organic co-op called Dublin Food Co-op. It’s currently on 12 Newmarket Street, which is about 10 minutes from where we live near St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Co-op is very much a volunteer effort, but when we visited there, the staff was really friendly and passionate about animal rights and organic food. My wife and I really had a good time there, and we were amazed to see that many of the same products we’d buy in the US were sold there too. But then there were really excellent organic products there that are European only. If you ever get a chance, definitely, definitely buy Sojade brand soy-milk. The vanilla flavor is amazingly good, and no chalky taste.
Meanwhile on Day 2, while at work, I heard a great Gaelic joke: It’s ok to have “crack” in Ireland. Apparently “crack” is really the Irish word craic (same pronounciation), which means “fun” or “amusement”. Speaking of which, someone explained to me that although you don’t have to learn Irish (that is “Irish Gaelic”) to live in Ireland,** you will miss out on the culture if you don’t learn a little. Of course if you go visit the Irish-speaking-only parts of Ireland, called Gaeltacht, you will need to know at least survivial-level Irish. But even in a place like Galway, which is mostly English-speaking, the Irish influence is strong, so that surnames and place names all sound familiar, but have Irish spellings, not English ones.
Day 3 has been hectic as we had to register ourselves*** with the local constabulary, the Garda, which meant standing in line (or “queue” as they say here), before getting a number, then standing in another line. This is pretty much universal bureaucracy in any modern country. The process wasn’t too bad, and we got nice little ID cards in the process. However Baby had a meltdown near the end due to sleep deprivation and jet-lag. She’s sleeping peacefully now though as we speak.
Tomorrow will be much more laid back and we hope to sleep in. This will be the first time I’ve slept more than 4-5 hours at a time in over a week!
* – This delightful article on organic food shopping eerily fits our shopping experience in Seattle. The behavior described also fits my wife and I a little too well.
** – To clarify, the word “Irish” here means Irish Gaelic, as opposed to Scottish or other dialects, so people here seem to just call it Irish a lot.
*** – Technically you have up to 30 days to register with the Garda if you’ll be living in Ireland, but people have told me a few times that sooner the better. I can see why. Having the ID card is pretty handy, and much better than toting my passport around. For €100 it’s not a bad deal.