I intended to write, or at least to begin to write, this post yesterday, but was obviously distracted by sleep deprivation and a beautiful independent bookstore. I had so many experiences from my return to Edinburgh fresh in my mind that I couldn’t wait to share them, but now I’m rested and ready to share my weekend.
A good friend of mine from Ithaca, Kaylea, is studying in Dublin for the semester and we’ve been wanting to meet up. I had a full week off, and even though she didn’t I decided that would be the opportune time for travel, seeing as I wouldn’t have to worry about course-work, and could sleep for an entire day once I got home.
I considered flying out on Friday, but I love my creative writing class and didn’t want to miss it, and unfortunately it runs from 4 to 6 in the evening. In order to take full advantage of the weekend I booked an 8 AM ticket because whatevs, right? I was up at 5:30, fully packed, cheerful, and with spare cash ready to go. I lucked out with a cab parked right where I needed it, and early morning traffic was negligible. Edinburgh airport was nearly emty; I breezed through check-in and security. Everyone was pleasant, and I arrived at my gate with more than enough time to enjoy my breakfast of a chai latte and an almond croissant.
The flight lasted half an hour, and it was a half hour of absolute misery for me. See, we were with the wind, but it decided to smack us around a bit, just to express that while we may be going the same direction it’s not as if it like us or anything. Combine that with my illustrious history of airsickness, and all together I was given all the misery of a transatlantic on a second-rate airline squashed forcibly into a very brief span of time. Ten minutes of air-time were spent either gaining altitude in violent, stomach-bending sprints, or descending in admittedly reasonable ways. Writing this, days later, still makes me feel a little nauseous at the memory. That breakfast I had enjoyed so thoroughly only an hour or two before began to express great displeasure at it’s current port of call, and our fortune of not having to circle before landing was all that prevented things from coming to blows.
I did spend the rest of the day sick to my stomach, although that hardly stopped myself from eating until I was several steps beyond full multiple times that day. I regret nothing.
Well, I arrived in one piece by mercy of the gods, and went to find the bus stop that would take me near to Kaylea’s apartment. Well, the helpful woman outside informed me I’d need the 16 bus, and upon finding the proper lot I discovered unlike every single other bus stop, this was not a bus stop. If that was confusing to you, good, it was supposed to be. Every other bs had a clear arrival place, and a steady stream of buses. I was in a car park, full of cars, without even room for a bus to enter. But I waited. I had faith in that bus, and it failed me. I got a cab.
Kaylea’s campus is in the suburbs just outside the city, so the drive was quick, and upon arrival the river asked for a not-terrible £15. I stared blankly when he said that, because he did not ask for £15, he asked for €15. Now, before I left I had the foresight to search what currency Southern Ireland used. See, I was even culturally aware enough to know that North and South Ireland were very much in different places emotionally. This did little for me though, apparently, because I still managed to somehow glean from my search that southern Ireland was on the British Pound, despite the fact that Northern Ireland is the one that’s part of the UK.
I feebly lifted a £20 note and explained I had been misled.
He settled for me paying £15 and told me to get out. He was not amused by my charming foreign confusion, even though my superior currency would actually convert to a 25% tip for him. Some people in this world just want something to get upset about, I guess. It was resolved without me being deported though, so it’s really a victory in the end.
I met up with Kaylea and her roommate, dropped my bags, caught a bus into the center of Dublin. Kaylea kindly lent me bus fare, and a currency-exchange was our first stop. The city with bursting at the seams with people. Pedestrians, fighting for sidewalk-space were regularly knocked into the river, lovers of rival families swallowed poison in intersections, French revolutionaries swarmed through the streets, singing songs of opposition. Oh yes, I had forgotten it was Valentines day. It was also the day of a major rugby game between France and Ireland, so my understanding of the city may have been influenced slightly by these anomalous microcosms. Hyperbole aside, I swear to have seen two men in blue and white faux-dreadlocks, wearing Asterix and Obelix costumes and strutting down the sidewalk.
On the bright side, my speaking of English, even with an accent, already made me significantly less-conspicuous than the French, so I was able to take photos with less fear of judgement.
The only specific place I knew I wanted to see was a bar my Scottish Lit TA (a German who had studied at Trinity) recommended I check out. It was a small place, on the second level of a hotel I cannot afford to stay at. It was a striking room, nearly empty due to the earliness of the day. Full of stuffed armchairs, old bookshelves, and hunting paintings. It felt like where the men would go to drink and smoke in a Regency novel.
I tried my first Guinness here on a virtually empty stomach, but hey, I wanted to fully enjoy the ambiance of the place, and we do what we must. It was pretty spiffy, but I dare say we managed to hold our own.
Brunch came next, because while we were technically operating in the middling-to-late-lunch period, we were on a roll. We strolled through the city, taking in the sights and dismissing several places as unworthy. I shamelessly took constant photos.
Brunch was delicious. I’m living in campus-housing in Edinburgh because I’m incapable of feeding myself and wanted a meal plan. Honestly, with two provided meals a day I’m still really bad at eating well. Visiting a friend in a new city though was a situation where I could guilt-free buy three meals a day and actually enjoy myself.
The rest of the day was spent walking along the waterfront, enjoying a dinner of fish and chips, and getting lost for a while around St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
We ended the night with a brief stop at the Bleeding Horse, which, with that name, can only be a pub. It was huge, two-storied, and full of crooked staircases and winding hallways to rooms and balconies. I failed in my attempts to document it, managing only a few confused shots and a sight of the soft red of the lights.
Sunday I wound up sleeping in. I had been up since 5, walked seventeen miles, and consumed my weight in delicious oils, meats, and potato-byproducts, so I barely managed to be up before noon. It was a shame to waste the morning of one of my only two days in the city, but being a functioning person is necessary to enjoying walking around a city.
The highlight of Sunday was Kaylea and my visit to the National Museum of Ireland. It took us a while to find since it wasn’t in the center of the city. We passed signs for other attractions as we went, and joked that we should go see The Leprechaun Museum. Then we both grew grave, shuddered, and whispered “never,” under our breaths. We found it further west along the River Leffey, and its distance from center-city became understandable.
It had originally been a barracks, and was converted into the Decorative Arts and History section of the National museum in the late 90’s. They actually had several men in costume running drills in the courtyard.
Anyway, I won’t take you on a room by room, but rather just include some of the pieces I most liked. I will also apologize for the reflections of me and my camera in almost every glass case.
The rest of the day was more minor explorations, more tea, and much more walking. We stopped in a cafe, and looking out the window I found this staring back.
And for the most part, that was my trip to Dublin. We got lost around St. Patrick’s Cathedral again, this time circling it thrice in the gathering darkness, searching for a library that we never found. There wasn’t really time to explore the countryside so I’ll have to explore the coast one day in the uncertain future. Kaylea plans to visit Edinburgh sometimes soon. I’ve already made it very clear that while Dublin is nice, it is nothing compared to here. She doesn’t believe me.
I still have just under a week before classes resume, and as I said, I intend to explore the new town a bit. There are some things, including a mythic statue of Abraham Lincoln that I want to find. I might also take a train into the highlands for a day or two, although I don’t have a destination in mind. Maybe Inverness, I hear it’s lovely.