"We've always wanted to go there."
At least that's what most people say when I tell them Family Kunkel recently retuned from our first visit to the
Emerald Isle of Ireland. The difference is we finally did it, and it was fabulous.
Our trip started and ended in Dublin. We found it full of great history, good food and a lively street scene.
Leaving Dublin, we rented a car larger than most that shouted "Look out for tourists." At half the price, we took the
manual shift. At twice the price, we took the maximum insurance. Let's see: driver's seat on the right side, six-speed shift knob on my left side, clutch brake and gas on the right side, drive on the left side. (I'd recommend
circling in the fenced-in Hertz parking lot until your palms stop sweating.)
Once out of the city, Ireland's country roads are mostly two narrow lanes, quite curvy and built to accommodate only
two passing sheep.
Instead of a gravel shoulder, you'll find ancient stone walls with shiny rear-view mirrors of rental cars hanging
from them. Remember to go left around round-abouts while braking for sheep, cattle and bicycles.
We visited busy seaside resort towns of Kinsale and Dingle, toured the impressive Cliffs of Moher and spent time in
charming Kilkenny. The Irish people are easy-going, warm and welcoming with a great sense of humor.
The predominant form of lodging found everywhere in great quantity was the bed and breakfast, which fosters
international warmth and hospitality. Public places, restaurants and bars all are smoke-free. We found a wide variety
of foods on all menus, and the beer was dark and cold. Every dish ordered came with potatoes; even potatoes came with
potatoes. Tipping was appreciated, not expected.
As I always do when traveling, I make comparisons to our community and way of life.
Based on the crowds of people out socializing and shopping, their economy seemed to be doing well, although price
points for goods such as clothing were noticeably lower than at home.
They understand conservation and practice sustainability better than we do. The standard is small houses, small shops
and small cars. They gather nightly in the pubs to get their news and listen to traditional Irish music.
To a visitor, national pride is evident in their historic preservation of structures and places, staunch patriotism
and modern culture.
Lessons learned? If travel is on your wish list, plan to do it sooner than later. It never fails to refresh and
As a community, perhaps we could be more conscious about what our visitors take away from their visit to Durango -
like keeping the place cleaner and safe, treating the uninitiated with patience and respect, learning more about our
own history and living with less consumption.
As for the four chaps from Europe I met while visiting Durango over the Fourth of July holiday, I'm sure they are
sharing similar stories and observations back home about the wonderful little town and friendly people in Durango.
firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Kunkel is special events and business coordinator for Durango's Central Business