Ethan Mitchell

I want you to imagine every tasteless stereotype you possibly can about Irish people.

Now imagine making those sterotypes even more tasteless by slapping cartoonified versions of them on shot glasses and charging $10 a piece.

If ever you’ve dreamed of   1,000 sq. ft. of four leaf closer merchandise, then the luck of the Irish is smiling upon you. There is such a place.

It’s in Dublin.

I suspected before I ever packed my suitcase that Dublin would be my least favorite part of the trip.

About the time I walked past a drunk man peeing off the steps of an abandoned children’s hospital, I realized I was right.

This place had everything: suffocating foot traffic, historical sites that required you to book tickets three days in advance, an 18+ after-dark tour of the National Leprachaun Musuem.

I had a much better time in Wexford, where I spent my other free day.

“Why’d you go there?” Dr. Arbor asked after the fact.

Her question was valid.

If a European tourist stopped a whirlwind tour through America’s national parks to visit Waycross, you’d probably raise your eyebrows too.

Still, because Wexford was so normal, it was a good chance to see what Ireland is like when it’s not dressed up for the benefit of foreign vacationers.

Its layout was similar to many of the other towns we passed through on the bus.

Constructed on a hill dipping down to the river, all of its shops, restaurants, churches, et al. were clustered together.

Ireland is a walking country. You drive around or park on the outside of a town and get wherever you need to go on foot.

Wexford’s stores and shops were old, but taken care of.

They shared the same basic design and size, but brightly painted store fronts and window displays separated them one from another.

Dublin’s pubs also separated themselves one from another, but there were identical Spar convenience stores and dimly lit Tesco quick-marts on nearly every corner.

Dublin was also the only place in the whole country we passed any new construction or development properties. Scaffolding crowded some of the sidwalks.

Cranes  stabbed into the skyline all across the city.

Wexford’s brick and cobblestone roads wind between the buildings, occasionally interrupted by a car-lane cutting through in case emergency vehicles  need access.

Dublin’s roads were more chaotic, splintering in three different directions at any time.

Concrete medians served as islands for pedestrians who couldn’t get across the street fast enough to beat the DO NOT WALK sign.

Cars were everywhere, aggressively trying to elbow and shoulder their way around each other until everyone got pushed out of the way by the bright green and yellow double-decker buses prowling the streets.

Food delivery workers on bikes zipped past on the outskirts of the road. One nearly ran me over.

The only bus in Wexford was the one dropping off and picking up my groupmates and me.

In fairness to Dublin, the Wexford bus almost abandoned me after my phone died and I couldn’t prove I’d bought a ticket.

Then again, Dublin was the only place I witnessed a man having such an intense argument with the voices in his head that he picked up bag of trash and chucked it into the middle of traffic.

The driver of the Wexford bus didn’t throw anything, he just looked the other way while I sat in the back.

We ate outside in Wexford. At one restaurant our table was under what looked like a repurposed greenhouse. Vines wound up, around and through large square panes of glass.

Somewhere in the alley there was a fiddle player performing.

The waitress who came to our table was shocked that American restaurants don’t have guests pay at the table.

“That’s sketchy,” she said when we told her your card gets taken to the back of the restaurant and returned later in the U.S.

“This feels sketchy,” said Phoebe when we were eating in the basement of Appache Pizza in Dublin.

“I feel like a kidnapper would keep victims here.”

At least the two cities had book shops in common: mom and pop, four-story, fresh paper smelling towers of everything under the sun except what they’d sold already.

I’ve been harsh to Dublin, but it wasn’t totally miserable.

Still, my groupmates’ favorite part was waking up before 5 a.m. to take a bus to another country for a tour of natural landmarks that culminated in them going cliff diving.

And if someone thinks throwing themselves into the ocean is more fun than being in your hometown, I don’t know what to tell you.

            To be continued...

   *Names changed for privacy

•Ethan Mitchell is a staff writer for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at emitchell@blacksheartimes.news.