Back to reality after a four-day long weekend in beautiful Abruzzo- photographs to come, I'm going to continue with Ireland musings. This is probably the second-to-last post with photographs from the trip. As mentioned previously, we opted to stay in a little town on west side of Ireland, aptly named Westport. I regret to say that we didn't get a ton of time to explore the quaintness of the place, having chosen instead to do the Wild Atlantic Way drive our first day there. We managed to pop out in the evening to peruse the shop windows (everything was closed by the time we got out and about) and settle in for fish and chips at a local pub. Initially, we had claimed bar stools at the legendary Matt Molloy's (last two photos) but had to leave when rumbling stomachs won out over our hope of hearing some live music/running into Bono (who has been spotted here in the past throwing back a pint or two). Westport is like a doll-house town, it shouldn't even exist in real-life but it does. The shops are impeccable, colorful, and cute; the streets perfectly clean and flowers (almost) more numerous than the meticulously-placed stacks of empty beer kegs that somehow also look cute even though they should really render the place a bit unrefined. Westport reminds me of Victoria, British Columbia in many ways, but mostly due to the style of the shops, the colors, and the cleanliness. Be wary that this is certainly no Dublin, the streets were fairly deserted once we finished our dinner, the only sign of human life comes from the warm, musical invitations of the numerous pubs. This is, after all, Ireland.
If you know me at all, you'd know I love books. If wine is my drink, books are my sustenance. My mother famously once had to refuse buying me more books one family vacation in Hawaii because I had devoured five books in seven days and she was absolutely opposed to using up precious luggage space to take these books home. I still bring up this story when making fun of her parenting techniques, nudging her belly and exclaiming 'what kind of parent denies their kid the chance to read? oh wait, that was you.' All in good humour naturally. This isn't a book review as I'm only a quarter through reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, but I was especially struck by a quote from one of the characters, Karla, who says that sometimes you have to surrender before you win. The author reflects on this during an uncomfortable cultural clash when he is asked to pat the tummy of his Indian guide's father who he has just met. He writes: Surrender is at the heart of the Indian experience. I could easily say the same about Italy, that surrender is at the heart of the Italian experience which I think is why I took the extra minute to highlight this quote on my formerly-loathed Kindle. It speaks to the expat experience and the reason why some fail and some succeed- you have to let yourself surrender to the culture of your adopted country and believe me, it's not as easy as it sounds. I have heard my own voice complain over plates of pasta, rejecting the way of doing things as something beyond absurdity, and I have been on the receiving end as well, nodding with earnest understanding while fellow expats in Italy fueled our own crippling fire. I should guess it's taken all this time to learn how to surrender, but trust me, the winning feeling awaiting on the other side is remarkable.
Honestly, I can't think up more commentary for these photographs as they are simply more from our drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, a continuation of my previous post from the other day (scroll down to read it); I was trying to avoid bombarding ya'll with Ireland's sheer beauty at once. I would like to further emphasize that these are just a smackling of photos that we took during the day and choosing them took me exponentially longer than it's taking me to write this. Uffa. In retrospect, the ideal outfit for this scenery would have been a billowy, cotton dress and a straw fedora, don't you agree? I was decked out in full city-girl mode with high-heeled boots, jeans, and even a leather jacket. Note: high-heeled anything is not a good shoe choice for adventuring on Ireland's coast, it's extremely steep in some areas and you will inevitably at some point step in sheep poop. Yipee! (but seriously, be careful...!). The third photo from the bottom is actually quite a popular surfing beach and I know I've become too used to living in Italy because I sat there frozen (in my leather jacket), teeth chattering non-stop, while all the Irish folks were playing in the water. I promptly went for an Irish coffee with extra Baileys afterwards, or perhaps I should be honest and describe it as Baileys with a dash of coffee. Luckily I'm headed home to Canada for Christmas (whooooo!) and hopefully in that time I'll be able to get back some of my Canadian-ness. I'll keep you posted here, of course.
Right after our motorcycle tour of Italy, we slept in our bed in Bergamo for all of six hours before promptly hopping on a plane to IRELAND for my dear friend Beth's wedding. We arrived a day earlier and upon the advice of many Irish expats here in Bergamo, we set up shop in Westport, a small and picturesque town on the west coast (photos in upcoming posts). The day was perfect, a rarity in Ireland which sees so much rain to keep it's moniker as The Emerald Isle. The owner of our bed and breakfast didn't just recommend we drive the Wild Atlantic Way (http://www.wildatlanticway.com/home/), she literally TOLD us to go by shoving a map in our hands and the imagery in our heads. Conveniently, we were also given the name of 'the best seafood' joint in Ireland in case we got hungry on our drive. So that was that, we headed out in the car (Massi driving on the left hand side of the road) and prepared for the wow factor. And....WOW is the only way to describe it. The blue skies, the crashing Atlantic Ocean, the dramatic cliffs and emerald everywhere. It's truly a sight to be seen at least once in a lifetime. I stood on a cliff, on many cliffs, wind whipping through my hair, thinking to myself- This is Ireland. Our lunch break was memorable as well because it's where we inaugurated the start of our trip with our first pint of Irish beer- Guinness for Massi, Smithwick's for yours truly. After a splendid morning driving the narrow roads of the coast, we hunkered down for Atlantic crab legs dipped in butter, seafood chowder, and a topped it off with a slice of warm apple pie. You know me, I can never resist anything edible and I feel like Ireland is the perfect place to get your fix of fish and chips, seafood, beer, and "Irish Breakfast" which has become my new favorite despite having no idea what white and black pudding really are...I should probably Google that soon.
We've launched Dolce Vita Public Relations: Social Media and Public Relations Solutions for Italian Companies
Hey everyone! So excited to introduce this new little project of mine that was basically born out of my personal experiences these past nine months in Italy, working in a variety of positions from a private bilingual school to an advertising agency. Basically anywhere I went, I noticed that everyone I worked with benefited greatly from having an "on-call", "in-house" English consultant. I started getting asked to compose content, proofread documents, and have since been directly involved alongside an advertising agency in creating social media content directed at the North American market for an Italian client. Essentially this is a need that I've recognized is not isolated to one industry. With several "high-profile" cases of English errors (Expo was probably the most recognized), Italian businesses are getting more savvy and are more aware of the effect English content mistakes can have on professionalism and first impressions.
If you are an Italy-based company, group, or even individual looking for consulting services, head over to our website at www.dolcevitapr.com or click here.
Ferragosto takes place every year on August 15th and is probably best described as the high point of every Italian's summer. It's the day that marks the middle of the last summer month and most people spend the day (eating) with their families whether at the sea or in the mountains. We were in Pacentro and, following tradition, headed out into the mountains to spend the day with Massi's relatives who still live in Abruzzo. The men in the family set out early in the morning to lay claim to the best picnic spot and the photograph above is basically what our view looked like. The women followed suit by first cooking up a homemade lasagna in the oven and then heading up as well (with this freshly-baked lasagna in their laps, which I thought was hilarious!). However, this reminded me that the Chinese culture and the Italian culture are not so different because on every family vacation to Hawaii, my grandma would bring us steaming hot bowls of instant noodles directly to the beach for lunch! I'm not sure if that's evidence that our cultures are superior or that we're all just the same level of crazy. When I say that the whole day is spent eating, I mean the WHOLE day is spent eating. The campfire was already blazing by mid-morning and we grilled what was likely an entire lamb (or two) through the course of the day. Luckily, there was also the lasagna, a tomato salad, bruschette, a cake, cookies, and a watermelon to eat, otherwise who knows how we would have survived. You will never face a fate of starvation in the company of Italians. There are a few more photographs below of Ferragosto, as well as what a typical Italian family lunch might look like (we were at an agriturismo just outside of Scanno, a town nestled in the mountains in Abruzzo).
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Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned writer and wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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