"If only it weren't raining," bemoans my travel companion. I'm in total agreement. Over the course of our travels, this phrase grows into a joke between us. Ireland is a lush, green place. As we quickly discover, this is due to the huge amount of rain that dumps on the land. In the summer months. To our disappointment.
Coming from Los Angeles, the land of perpetual sun, we are two sun-babies looking for a cloudless sky. Especially in June - I mean, c'mon. This is why I left my hometown of Seattle, Washington. Sunlight and warmth are necessary for the health of our psyches. We both tend to get a bit town it the dumps when the sun goes away. My travel companion is even more sensitive to sunlight, because he need it to do his photography.
So, through the course of our time in Ireland, I learn that weather is the number factor in our travels - it determines everything we can and cannot do. It is important to accept this fact, because you have no control over it. And I want to share some ways we found to amuse ourselves in the rain.
Napping in the car is a good one. How often in your adult life do you get the opportunity to take a nap midday? When it's raining outside and there's nowhere else to go for cover, take the opportunity to indulge. It is quite rejuvenating.
Stay in your car and keep on driving. Put the windshield wipers on full blast. It is exciting to navigate those tiny, windy roads, especially with diminished visibility.
Go underground. There are lots of caves to tour, especially in areas of limestone rock beds, such as The Burren. The heavy rains make the underground rivers surge.
Get out into the rain - feel it. Go to the beach and watch the stormy waters - the wind may evens stir up a sandstorm on the beach. Hike to a waterfall and see the sheer magnitude of water coming over the edge.
Duck for cover. Hit the museums and heritage centers. These are educational places to stay dry. Tour the inside of a castle or a fort - bunkered in from the rain, you get the true feeling of just how sturdily constructed they are..
Do a sun dance. And do it with some real feeling. The more of yourself you put into the movements and artistry, the more likely the skies are to clear.
Chill out in your car with the heat on the and radio up. RTE Lyric FM is a great station; we got to know all the programs. The JK Ensemble is excellent.
Caffeine always helps lighten the mood. It is a poison in the bloodstream that quickens the heartbeat, which forces blood to coerce more quickly through the veins to disperse it from your system. Neveryoumind this, the quickening feeling is good, and I think it has an antidepressant effect, at least on me. This could be why Irish people drink more tea per capita that any other country in the EU. So, when the rain is coming down, duck into a café or pub or hotel lobby, and share a pot of tea for two.
The same is true for alcoholic drinks, though they have the opposite effect on the body, slowing it down, mellowing it out, numbing pain caused the wet coldness. Drink a glass of Irish whiskey to warm up your bones. Sip a cold pint of Guinness. Irish coffee is another good and confusing one for the system. Duck into a pub until the rain cloud passes.
Start writing - a letter, a journey entry, a novel. Nothing like a little time in doors to focus your thoughts.
Beware of the midges. They are tiny, biting mosquitoes that come out after the rains, especially in woodlands and near lakes. Vacate the area if it looks like the rain is about to stop. They've figured out a way to get inside your locked car, so don't think you can outsmart them this way.
Don't let the rain scare you. After all, a little water never hurt anyone. Do what you'd normally do. Camp in the rain. Set up your tent. Just don't set it too close to the shore of a body of water that might grow under heavy rains. We ran into a problem with this in Killarney.
Go with the flow. Sure, you've arrived at a gorgeous sandy beach, just perfect for sunbathing, but the rains are pouring. So accept that you cannot run around in your swimsuit, and move on. Keep driving. When the rain stops, you just might be in a place that is more spectacular.
Written by Liz O'Malley - Summer of Travel 2007