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Old winery near the north italian border

© Sven Fennema
Just picked up this online tonight…

Edinburgh is real

Edinburgh in a way reminds me of Chicago. It's populated with real people, it's not Disneyland. There are tourists but they're not calling all the shots as they are in many of the exquisite places of the world. The city is tough and ancient and deep. There's a distinctive culture. The real thing.

Godfrey Stephens, Thickness of Guinness, and Brendan Behan

Godfrey Stephens has roamed all over the globe, armed only with a sketchbook and carving tools. He was in Europe in the beatnik years. When he heard I was in Ireland a few days ago, he e-mailed me a typically rambling message that contained the following (edited):
"Yeah Ireland! Man, I walked across to Galway from Cork, drank Guinness so thick a spoon would take 5 min to fall against the side.…was in a bar in Galway , and drew a Portrait of a famous Poet named Brendan Behan, who gave me all the money he had in his pockets for it then invited us to Ballsbridge to visit, what a guy what a drinker…"
-From Edinburgh on a sunny afternoon

Lamb and beer on a rainy night

Edinburgh: we wandered around for several hours this afternoon, parka-clad, in the afternoon drizzle, went to the hilltop castle, walked through the old town, finally found a good-vibes pub called Whisky. I had a hot toddy (damp and rainy, you know), then meal of lamb, new potatoes, local vegetables. Plus a pint of Caledonian 80 draft Scottish beer. Edinburgh is a very fine town.

Edinburgh on a rainy day

Another view of the Gallarus Oratory in Ireland (see below).
Yesterday we took a train across Ireland, from Gallway to Dublin. Then caught an early morning flight across the Irish Sea to Edinburgh, and here we are. We lucked out, as pretty much throughout this trip, by finding a nice B&B. It's an old Victorian building with a big park out in front, and right now I'm looking out the window into a quiet cul-de-sac. We're going to spend two or three days here and then head south in a rental car.

I haven't really had time to write about this trip yet. The last two weeks have seemed like half a lifetime of adventure. Coming back to Ireland for the first time in 35 years, I found the country much changed in standard of life, but still the same in spirit and beauty. 35 years ago, in a pub, I saw a twinkling light in an old Irishman's eyes. I realized that leprechauns are not really flesh and blood humans, but mischievous spirits that reside in many of the Irish.

I'll try writing about the trip sometime in the next few weeks.