IrelandTravel Writings

Hitchin’ for a Shave

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Every person has a mental list of certain goals they’d like to achieve before they die: visiting Machu Picchu; climbing Mount Everest; witnessing the Northern Lights. Regardless of what your goals are, there are few things more satisfying than checking one off your list. Today I had something very special happen to me; I was able to both realise I had a goal and then check it off my list, within moments of each other. Today I had my first Turkish Hot Towel Shave. There is nothing in the world quite like having an unenthusiastic man from Istanbul take a straight razor to your face and neck after attempting to smother you with a hot towel. It makes you feel ALIVE, goddamn it! Although parts of my face are probably the smoothest they have ever been, the man’s lack of pride in his work resulted in me being left with a few rough patches along my jaw and one of my sideburns half an inch longer than the other.

Truly though, on Thursday I did have one of the most amazing experiences thus far on my trip. I was staying in the beautiful medieval town of Kilkenny when I heard about Kells Priory, the romantic ruins of a 12th century monastic castle. Kells is about 13km out of Kilkenny, and since no buses really go there and I’m terrified of driving on the opposite side of the road, I had to hitchhike out to the site. My first ride was from an old man who told me that the only time he’d been to the US was for one day in New Mexico. Since he didn’t elaborate and he let me out shortly afterwards, I’m still completely puzzled as to how one comes all the way from Ireland just to spend a single day in New Mexico. The next car that picked me up was driven by a Romanian man whose job it is to travel all over County Kilkenny teaching children to play chess. He was able to drive me all the way to the elementary school in Kells.

The Priory was absolutely awe inspiring, and the best part about it was that I had the site completely to myself. Well, completely to myself and the sheep. There were loads of sheep just hanging out, doing their thing, being sheep. I hung out there just taking photos and walking around and thinking how cool would it be to have a giant broke-down castle, next to a stream, right across from your town?

I hitched back into town with a sociology professor whose work focuses on the changing nature of Irish society with regards to the Celtic Tiger. She was wonderful and dropped me off right at my hostel where I grabbed my gear, got on a bus and headed for Cork where I’ve been ever since. Cork is a lovely town which I’ll tell you about later. Wish you were here.

Goin’ to leave this Broke-down palace

On my hands and my knees I will roll roll roll

Make my self a bed by the waterside

In my time – in my time – I will roll roll roll

-Robert Hunter

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.