Ireland Firsts

Things I’ve seen in Dublin that I’d never seen before:

– Advertising signs with a measure of humility, “Probably the best coffee in Dublin.” And subliminal truth in advertising, like placing the “cereal bars” right alongside the candy bars:

– Ketchup in tomato containers:

– They don’t offer you bags for small purchases here. I bought a juice box, an apple, and a yogurt this morning, and the guy just gave me change and turned away.

– Giant golf umbrellas are totally acceptable for use on city sidewalks, and indeed seem to be preferred:

– Ashtrays with chimneys:

-This miserly toilet paper dispenser, which distributes a single square at a time from the center of the roll:

Top 10 Things to Do and Taste in Jamaica

Maite Velez-Couto, Tara Berger, Lauren Marino, and Me at Dunn’s River Falls. (Note to self: Avoid posing next to smokin’ 20-somethings in bikinis.)

1. Climb a waterfall at Ocho Rios.

Climbing Dunn’s River Falls is one of those magical experiences that I recommend adding to your life list. I climbed the falls as a kid, and it was so epic I was anxious the return wouldn’t live up to my memories. It did. Your tour group links hands and climbs a sort of natural stairway up the side. It’s a little rigorous, but it’s one of the lovliest natural settings I’ve ever experienced. Click this link and you’ll see how gorgeous it is. See? You must do this.

2. Try the Jerk.

Scotchies boasts some of the best Jerk chicken and pork the island has to offer, prepared at a grill behind the counter. Vegetarians, you might want to avert your eyes for this next photo.

If you’re gonna go, go whole hog.

3. Swim with dolphins.

We didn’t have time to stop at Dolphin Cove, so I need you to do this for me. Dolphins! Unfortunately, no pregnant ladies or under-eights allowed. Everyone else? Get in the water.

4. Have a Ting!

A refreshing local grapefruit soda that’s my new favorite. Even better with a little vodka or rum. And while we’re on the subject of rum…

5. Sip some local rum.

Appleton is a Jamaican rum that’s been around for nearly 300 years, and the Appleton VX is delicious. Nutty, creamy, soft, but not sweet. If you’re looking for more of a dessert beverage, try a Rum Cream on the rocks, which is like Bailey’s but slightly boozier and hence better in coffee.

6. Go horse swimming, ziplining, dogsledding, or four wheeling .

I’ve already told you about the snowless dogsledding at Chukka Caribbean Adventures, but you can also do an ATV Safari or go on a horseback ride/swim where the horses head out into the ocean with you still on their backs. Yes to that.

7. Take in some history.

Rose Hall Plantation is an old plantation that offers historical tours with a twist. Legend has it the original mistress of the plantation killed all of her husbands and lovers. Now they host weddings on site! I mostly enjoyed it for all the gorgeous objects on display in the mansion.

8. Have a Jamaican Patty.

A patty is like a savory turnover, and is among the most popular fast food in Jamaica. The meat and veggie filling is spiced with cumin and curry. Tasty.

9. Go dancing.

Pier 1 was my favorite of the clubs we visited, and currently Friday is the best night to go. The locals mingle with tourists, and the vibe is very, very laid back. Street vendors wait outside, grilling jerk chicken to stave off your hangover or satisfy your munchies.

Jamaican blogger Corve DaCosta.

10. Take a Catamaran and take a leap.

The catamaran to Rick’s Cafe to see the cliff divers was one of my favorite parts of the trip. You dock at Rick’s for a meal and a swim, or to take a dive off the cliffs yourself. It’s a 40-foot drop, and a few in our group made the leap, but I stayed on the boat and danced. Someone had to guard the rum.