Friday, October 3, 2014

Arina Comes to Dublin.

Two Years. Two years it had been since I saw my favourite Dutch friend Arina. The last time had been January 2012 in London to celebrate our Capricorn birthdays and to send me off on my one-way ticket to Australia. Two years was too long to be separated from someone I lived with for a year. We spent nearly every day doing nearly everything together. After only knowing each other for 3 weeks, we went galavanting across Northern Greece for two weeks; taking every mode of transportation to get there only forced us to get to know each other. The year wouldn't have been the same without her has my roommate, and after only a short plane ride, it was hard to understand how we had spent 2 years apart.

We had discussed all sorts of possibilities of what do to in Ireland: from going up to Donegal to a bus trip to the Cliffs of Moher to the Butter Factory in Cork, but we ended up just staying in Dublin. Catching up was the priority, sightseeing a bonus. I really wanted, and needed, to be around the girl who always has a smile on her face, who has a million ideas, who together we think we could save the world, who took a huge leap to start her own company doing what she loves, who laughs, who lives confidently and fearlessly, and who knows me so well. I felt as though I needed her to visit to inspire me again. I missed the long in-depth conversations we had about absolutely everything and anything. When apart, we talk frequently over various forms of social media communication and emails, but it's just not the same.

The first question one asks is, what do you want to eat in Ireland? And what does a Dutch person think of when she thinks of Irish food? Oysters. Wild, local Atlantic Oysters. So on a cold January day, when all of our unplanned plans blew out the window, we found ourselves on the Dart to Howth. Google had incorrectly informed us that there was a farmers market on that day, but when we inquired about it in one of the open shops next to the empty market space, he told us about some of the other highlights Howth has to offer. We walked up Church Street, a narrow steep road that led us through the quiet old village. As we walked around or back down we found a set of craggy steps that invited us to the Radio Tower, or well technically, Ye Olde Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio. Much to Arina's disappointment, it was closed due to the off season, but we were able to enjoy the hill top views overlooking Howth's piers stretching into the shivering Irish sea. The sight of the sea in front of us and breathing in the fresh air made us hungry for what we came for: Irish oysters and a pint of the good stuff - a classic Irish combination.

We headed back down to the West Pier, home to Beshoff's, Wrights of Howth, and a load of other seafood restaurants offering fresh catches of the day and sea views. We each had an iced platter of 6 Clarendbridge oysters and a cool Guinness. Clarenbridge oysters come from Dunbulcan Bay in South Galway. They are native Irish oysters also known as European Flat oysters which have their own festival in the town of Clarenbridge at the start of every oyster season (September). We sniffed, sipped, slurped, chewed and swallowed whole, sprinkled lemon and dashed tabasco on our oysters. Sitting on high stools catching up on life over good food was exactly what we were looking for.

Our appetites quenched with aphrodisiacs we tipsily went back to Dublin to meet up with Rory at the Porterhouse on Grafton Street to sample some craft beers and what else? Another round of oysters. They were nowhere near as fresh as Beshoffs. More slimy than succulent. Ugly to the point that the quote, "He was a brave man who ate the first oyster" reverberated too true in our heads.

When we were reunited in Ireland, the list of things she needed to see and do here grew. Ireland has so much to offer - not only beautiful destinations but a whole island of food to explore. It has its own language she didn't even know existed. Ireland is also known for its people and as happy as were were together, we spent most of the time properly catching up - she will just have to come back to see, taste, and meet more of the country. 

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