Note: I wrote this while still in Dublin but have taken a week or so to edit and polish it, so this all actually took place May 24-28, 2015 in spite of when I'm posting it. So much to catch up on! A lot has happened since my last post and I haven't even had the time to slow down and just write. I'm still in Dublin, but I have seen and learned tons in just a short few days.
Once I bussed into Dublin from Swords I trekked to my first Hostel and the experience was everything I could need to give me the best impression of hostel living. The place was an old renovated music studio geared towards musicians and artsy types with comfy beds, clean bathrooms and delightful staff. I was the only girl in a room full of foreign guys my first night. I didn't make any new friends there as they mostly kept to themselves so I went out on my own around Central Dublin and the Temple Bar District. It was of course packed with tourists. Not feeling satisfied at the idea of drinking a pint with a bunch of Americans (I can do that at home anytime) I wandered the streets peering into countless pubs, hoping to sense a vibe that drew me in. Several British guys came pouring out of a bar at one point and seemed interested in my joining their group until they realized I wasn't drunk and not up for getting into trouble; I safely avoided that little field trip but found out I was "a lovely American lass".
Around midnight, feeling a little disappointed but mostly content with how much I had seen walking around, I was heading back to my hostel when an Irish band (here called a "trad") in a pub was playing music so lively that I couldn't walk away. I went into the place and found a crowd dancing heartily to a guitar, banjo and hand drums. I didn't even need a drink, I was so happy to just dance alone and feed off the energy of the group. After an hour I was jumping around and laughing with several Irish girls when a British fellow approached me and offered me a beer. I was all too happy to accept and closed out the night with a few more dances and my lovely new group of British gentlemen walking me safely back to my accomodations. I got to know them a little on the walk, but let them down gently at the door as their drunken attempts at flirting were low on my list of activities. I was in too good a mood to spoil things with something as silly as drunk boys.
The next day I toured Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells and The Long Room, which in simple terms are a really old book and a really old library with more really old books. This description should not be taken as me selling the experience short, as I spent a long while sitting alone staring up at the ceiling of the Long Room just soaking in the beauty and history of it all. I find myself so like my mother at times, on the verge of tears whenever I see something historically important or architecturally beautiful. It is as though the magnitude of its importance threatens to break and overwhelm me. People rushing around me taking selfies and only winessing the Long Room through a camera lens eventually faded into the background as I allowed myself to meditate a little and appreciate how far I had traveled and how much it has already affected me.
I later found myself out with a handsome Irish gentleman who took me all about Dublin on what felt like a private historical mini tour. We talked about culture and politics and life and I had moments where I looked at myself from the outside and realized I was right in the midst of the exact moment I had pictured in an ideal dream. The man was charming, kind, brilliant and very attentive to my stories and opinions; a true gentleman and scholar with no pressure for anything but lovely company. I hardly recognized the scene or myself; all of it had me at what I feel is the pinnacle version of me. Nothing fake or put on, but a girl I have lost touch with in my day to day life of habit at home. I have been so wrapped up in grieving, or pretending not to grieve or working or trying to maintain my adult life that I had potentially lost touch with who I really want to be. It has nothing to do with the guy really, he was just kind enough to really see me as I am and I'm finding myself in new found joy. When I connect as that girl, I feel brilliant, fun, vibrant and kind; the woman I want to harness and be as much as possible.
Staying in the room at my second hostel for the next few nights (located in the heart of Temple Bar directly next door to the namesake) I met Patrick from the west coast of the States. He was planning to visit the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery so I siezed the opportunity to have a buddy for those trips. I was already planning on going but I couldn't have wished for someone better than Patrick to join.I think for the historical stuff, I am finding I like the solitude and ability to sit and take it in at my leisure, but for drinking the company is perfect. It turns out that the day we went to Guinness, Patrick was celebrating his 40th birthday and I made it my personal goal to jam pack every minute with fun for him. We had a natural, nice back and forth as we both brought out each others goofy side. We laughed so much my core hurt by the end of the day in the best way possible. I told everyone we spoke to about Patrick's big day and we ended up getting special treatment all throughout the Guinness facilities. With our special widowside table at the top of the giant pint glass we overlooked Dublin and the landscape beyond while I feasted on the best mussles I've ever tasted. Our waiter Antonio continually brought special reserve recipes of newer brews, not yet released outside the city and we ended up committing our entire day to that venture. We finished off his special day at a perfect Irish dive, Dice Bar, joined by what I would call a devistatingly tall and handsome local who asked not to be named. I would call the whole day a complete success.
The next day we kept the trend of combined travels going with an Irish breakfast and my first Irish coffee of the trip (but far from my last) at a pub that claims to be the oldest in Ireland. Then Patrick and I ended our time together after a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery. We were both about 3 Irish coffees and two Jamesons into the day so our parting was fittingly sentimental. It is rare to find a friend you are so comfortable with so quickly but I suspect we will be friends long past this trip.
My last full day in Dublin was today and I have made the most of it. I visited the Kilmainham Gaol (their spelling of "jail") and saw a lot of rocks and a lot more rocks where people were apparently executed. Also, more rocks.
They love that sort of thing here, rocks and history. I'm beginning to have an appreciation for it myself, and I love how much I'm learning about their history, gruesome as most of it is. Next I rode the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus all over the city to see parks and monuments and hear a more detailed history of each. I visted the National Gallery, which boasted Picasso and Monet. I'm sad to say I think they shouldn't advertise that because based on the two pieces in their collection they might have been the selections even the artists mothers felt "weren't their strongest efforts". Between that and the fact that only two rooms were open (one of which was Modern "art" color slabs on walls with titles like Raindew and Yellow Feelings; nothing makes me angrier except maybe Jackson Pollock) and I found the six or so remaining wings closed for renovations. I felt free entry was pushing it in terms of getting some culture for the cost. They should have paid me for time spent, or at least offered wifi so I could have googled "hamsters hugging other hamsters". I looked it up now and it turned up some incredible stuff.
Now I am enjoying a Guinness in O'Dohrety's Pub waiting for a handsome Dublin fellow to show me his local haunts. I'm hoping to find a place with all Irish folks and less tourists. I'm optimistic about my final evening wandering this city with my guide.
Tomorrow I head south to Cork where I hear the accents are a little different but charming as ever and the scenery is supposed to be breathtaking. More adventures to come.
Things I've learned:
- Irish guys are total gentlemen almost to the point of being a bit passive. It's lovely.
- There are no fruits or vegetables in this country; they will tell you potatoes are vegetables and they are all you need.
- Irish people don't want to serve you water, they want to serve you pints, and I'm either dangerously dehydrated or adapting as a lizard would in drought.
- If you think about it (and I have) Guinness contains water and hops, which are green plants; thus I deem Guinness to be "salad water". Problems solved.
- Guys take more time in hostel bathrooms than girls do. I mean a LOT more time; I assume they are choreographing Irish Step dances because I don't want to think about other reasons why they are in there.
- The statues in Dublin can be a little wild.
- "Cockles and Mussles" are what Molly is pushing in her cart in said statue. A British couple who saw me taking this picture simply said "cockles and mussles" to me and I asked them if that was how they referred to lady parts in the UK. It is not. That is what she is pushing in her cart.
- Thankfully the British find me charming enough to laugh off my being an idiot. The jury is out on how the Irish feel, they either think I'm adorable or a lost cause.
- Irish Breakfast every single day was my best idea ever and I would guess I've eaten all the pork products.
- Black pudding = awesome and anyone who told me I shouldn't try it is no longer on my trusted "life advice list".