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From the friendly locals to Ireland's storybook scenery, many cross the English Channel in search of greener pastures.
Things to do
If you're looking for postcard Ireland - the brooding coastal cliffs on the Atlantic, the lonely foreboding castles, breath-taking natural wonders and cosy town pubs - you won't be disappointed, they're all here. Historic Ireland is very much still present, and the awe and mysticism that surrounds this magical island are far from extinct in this digital age.
If you're looking to recharge your batteries and rest your wearied bones, a simple life in the isolated Irish country side could be just the remedy. If, however, you want to be part of a vibrant metropolis, there's a place for that too. Dublin is full of jovial Irish pubs, one of the oldest universities in the world and home to the stadiums of the national teams for the three most popular Irish sports - rugby, football and gaelic football.
Dublin is always mentioned for its friendly inhabitants and their accommodating nature. A friendly gesture and a helping hand are always round the corner, and conversations with strangers at bus stops and cash points are a common occurrence.
Places to eat
Like the English, the Irish aren't world renowned for their cuisine - but a growing food scene means there is plenty of choice for foodies. Hearty, home-cooked grub that keeps out the cold better than an Aran pullover is the traditional speciality. Stews, pies, soups and pasties make up the bulk of most pub menus but again, like the English, cakes and desserts come to the rescue. Only in Ireland, there will probably be Baileys involved.
For those looking for something slightly more gastronomic, Ireland does boast nine Michelin starred restaurants, with the majority of them to be found in Dublin. Head to the coast and you won't be far from somewhere serving great seafood. Oyster festivals - most notably Galway's - take place around the country and are well worth a visit.
If food doesn't exactly put Ireland on the map, drinking, on the other hand, makes the Irish world-famous. As the home of Guinness and many a strong ale, pub culture in Ireland is alive, kicking, and a national treasure.
The best shopping in Ireland, like most places, is confined to the major cities and even then, Dublin and Cork are no London, Paris or New York. The high street brands that you see in London and other English cities will likely be making an appearance on those same high streets in cities across the Irish Sea and St. George's Channel. However, the nature of shopping, especially in Dublin's independent stores, is a unique experience due to the renowned friendliness of the Irish people. Shopkeepers are known to make you feel welcome, are open to opinions and as always, are extremely talkative, which is a far cry from what one can experience when trudging round Oxford Circus on a Saturday afternoon. Shopping in Ireland may not always offer the same choice as the UK's major cities, but in terms of the experience, is definitely an activity that one can merrily indulge in.
There are two ways of getting to Ireland from mainland UK; by air or by sea. If you're planning on taking your car, you can take a ferry from Pembroke, on the Welsh coast, to Rosslare Harbour on the south west tip of Ireland. If you're looking to get directly to Dublin, you can take a ferry from Holyhead in Northern Wales. Passenger ferries go from Liverpool and Newport and flights go from a number of English airports to Cork, Dublin and Belfast.
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