Saturday, March 03, 2007

Traveling safely on land...

After the ferry crossing we made our way via land to Wexford. Our first couple of choices for lodging (recommended by 'Rick') were booked up. But we found a the Westgate guesthouse just up the road and got their last two rooms! From our rooms (I think Sara and I were staying in the room with the window that is third from the left on the top floor, pictured at right. F, C and A were in the left most two windows on the top floor) we could see the remains of the toll gate.

Westgate is the only surviving medieval town gate from the original seven which gave access to the town. Built in the early 14th century as a toll gate, the recesses where the toll collectors worked are evident is the lockup which was used to punish "runagates" - those who tried to avoid the toll.

We settled in and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the town, looking for a place for dinner and picking up some fancy Irish underwear for Sara, who forgot to (re)pack any.
In every town we visited there was a Dunnes. It was like a cross between Fred Meyer, with its one stop shopping, and 7/11 with its open 24 hours policy.

Flashback: When we were in shopping Kilkenny, Sara and I went into a grocery store to check out what the market is like in Ireland. Here is a grocery list of observations:

1. BYOB(bags): The Irish are heavily into a campaign of reducing garbage (which makes sense for an island nation) so the grocery charges if you don't bring your own bags. [The is a bit of a disconnect though as there is a huge amount of garbage on the streets and along roads...a work in progress]

2. Get in/Get out: At this grocery, you can register for QuickPay. When you come in, you scan your card and pick up a hand scanner. Then the shoppers place their cloth bags opened in their carts, scan each item as they place in their bags and then hand the scanner to the checker, pay and leave. Thereby ringing up their own purchases and bagging their own groceries as they go (which they do here anyway). I love this!

3. Everything Irish. Irish butter, Irish milk, Irish chocolate (I will come back to this later), Irish tomato sauce, Irish meat, Irish wine (just kidding! not yet) but everything sold in Ireland says that its 'Irish'. There is a lot of national pride in being Irish.

4. Pancakes. They had pancakes in a pile for sale as we walked in the door. In the bakery section, of course. They were priced individually. Pancakes! And if you didn't want to purchase them already made... walk to the dairy section where you can purchase pancake batter ready to pour. And if that isn't enough like homemade, you can buy premix dry components in a easy pour container. Just add milk and eggs!

5. Candy bars. I told you I would come back to chocolate. C told us that everyday, everyone at work has a candy bar during their afternoon break. Everyone. Well, when in Rome... So, Sara and I made a commitment. In order to fit in, while in Ireland, we MUST eat a candy bar EVERY day. After the Turkish Delight disaster, this was not a carefree obligation! And with so many candy bar brands that we had never heard was a little risky. This time we
chose well.

Back to Wexford....That night we had a very good Indian meal at Mukut Tandoori Restaurant which was conveniently located on the ground floor of the same building our Guesthouse was in. The evening was peppered with hilarious conversations with the waitstaff. This is not verbatim...but gives you an idea of what we were up against.

Us: Four orders of rice, please.
Them: Three
Us: Four please (maybe they didn't hear us)
Them: Three
Us: Would three orders be enough for all of us? (maybe its a suggestion)
Them: Four
Us: Can we share three? Would three orders be enough?
Them: Three
Us: Ok, three orders of rice.
Them: Three
Us: Yes, Three order of rice.
Them: Four
Us: Yes

C had been trying to explain to us earlier about confusion during conversations where one wasn't sure if what had just been said was a confirmation or a suggestion. At this restaurant, the aforementioned phenomena was coupled with a language barrier. And while we were there, we managed to stop up one of their toilets completely... the details of which might not be appropriate dinner conversation.

The food was fabulous! We filled our bellies and then went for a walk around town to see if we could find any music to listen to while having beer. The only place we found playing music was an underage dance club and none of really felt up for that. After we had covered the town thoroughly, we returned to the guesthouse so F and A could go up to the rooms to retire and C, Sara and I went next door to the Westgate Tavern for a Guinness!

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