All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Leg #3 - Dublin

I hate to say this...but I'm not a fan of Dublin. I've been hearing that word my entire life so maybe my expectations were a little high. I carved out 6 days of this trip to spend in this city and the verdict is: I don't like it. It was like a giant fraternity party and my hostel was smack dab in the middle of it. Needless to say, I am writing this without having slept through the night in about a week. #cranky
Still feeling a little under the weather, I arrived in Dublin and walked from the bus station to the area of the city called "Temple Bar." I think it should actually be called 'Sigma Pi' because it is a giant Fraternity House. I checked into the hostel and was in a room with 9 other people. I was happy to get a bottom bunk and it being by the window since the room was a bit stuffy and at least I could get some air. Threw all my stuff down and decided to head out into the city. I hadn't eaten all day so I just stopped at the nearest place I could find. 
Stopped by the info desk at the hostel...needless to say they weren't as 'warm' as the folks in Northern Ireland. The guy basically gave me a map and said "good luck." Strike one, Dublin.
Just kind of wandered around the city. Tried to go to sleep early but my room's window literally overlooked the most popular bar in Dublin. I felt like I was lying on the floor of a fraternity house. The bar closed at 4am...then a dump truck pulled up to pick up the trash and the smell made my eyes water, the truck idled for what felt like an eternity. I fell asleep around 6am. 
I woke up around 11 the next day. Still pretty cranky and the thought of sleeping here for 4 more nights was not pleasing. Honestly, if I didn't have friends meeting me, I probably would have ate the cost and checked out. 
So I decided to make the best of the day. I found a movie theatre as I wanted to see "The World's End" since it opened here and doesn't open in the U.S. until late August. The movie theatre was about a 30 minute walk along the River Liffey. I was like 2 hours early for the movie but I wasn't going to walk back so I just hung out and wandered around the river's edge. It was actually quite nice. 
The movie was great as I expected and I wandered back into the city. I located the tributes to Oscar Wilde. He's one of my biggest writing heroes. Last spring I saw his grave in Paris, so getting to see his birthplace and memorial in Dublin was a great full circle moment.

Memorial in park.
I got hungry for dinner and was wandering through the city. Every place seemed to be packed. And then I saw a Pizza Hut. Normally, I wouldn't care but it wasn't crowded, and a taste of home right about now sounded great. Plus? FREE REFILLS! I had almost forgotten.
I was super tired so I went back to the hostel by 10 and threw in my headphones and tried to fall asleep. 
Fortunately, I was successful. I know it was just as loud but the headphones definitely helped.
Walked around the city again and found Trinity College. It was a beautiful campus and very relaxing. 
Trinity College
Wandered further down the road and found St. Patrick's Cathedral. I was inexplicably moved by the interior. Not usually being affected by religious sites, it was just incredibly nice and peaceful inside.
St. Patrick's Cathedral

The tomb of Jonathan Swift.

St. Patrick

The organ. Yes, I am my mother.
I headed back to the hostel as I anxiously awaited the arrival of my friend, Thomas. I sat in the kitchen for a few hours people watching (always fascinating) and then he walked in. Man, I love traveling alone but sometimes the site of a familiar face is SO awesome. I mean it had only been 10 days since we said goodbye in Moldova but still. It was great to see him. We walked around and found a burrito bar for dinner, yes only recent volunteers would search out a Mexican place in Ireland. But it was pretty good. We were both pretty tired so we just wandered around and found a small pub and had a Guinness, my first one. Not gonna lie, I didn't hate it.
We agreed to meet in the kitchen again the next morning. Thomas's best friend from back home, Drew, would be meeting us too. After an on again/off again night of sleep (sigh), I met the boys in the kitchen around 9. Drew was pretty jet lagged and the hostel breakfast of well, bread, wasn't very desirable so we ventured out and found a nearby cafe. The three of us decided to go to the Guinness Storehouse to take that tour.
I honestly wasn't all that impressed. The Bushmills tour had been so informative and interesting and seeing things in production was really cool. But Guinness, as impressive as the building was, was more like a museum and you watched videos on how things were made instead of watching things be made. 

Thomas and I posing in an old ad campaign.

Me learning how to correctly pour a Guinness.

I mean, that's a pretty damn good pour, no?
Learning to pour Guinness was actually pretty cool. Not worth the price of the tour, but still.
From there we walked through the Viking section of the city where we got to see the Christchurch Cathedral. It was where Handel's Messiah originally premiered. Yes, I am my mother's daughter.

From there we found the oldest pub in Ireland, circa 1198!!! Had a fantastic Irish lunch as we wandered around. I found a lot of things exciting that the boys didn't but they indulged me.

Drew and Thomas at the Brazen Head

Me and James Joyce

Everyone was really wiped out so we all made it an early night. 
The next morning everyone was a little bit more refreshed. Although the noise level wasn't as bad as it had been previously, someone in my room had closed the windows which made it unbearably hot. Just can't win in this place.
We decided to venture out and have brunch. (Their idea). Found a famous Irish cafe and had a lovely brunch overlooking the city. 
I found another landmark that the boys couldn't care less about.

After a few hours walking through the city, we located the one place I had heard about beforehand and was dying to go to. Jo Burger. I was very happy. And it was without a doubt, one of the best burgers I have ever had. 

Everyone still tired we went back to the hostel to get a nap. Midday was actually the best time to sleep. So I did get in a few hours nap. We wandered around, still pretty full from those burgers just found a quick snack for dinner.
We again found a pub and listened to some Irish music and enjoyed our last night in Dublin together. They boys both had one more day in Dublin and I tried to convince them to go west with me to Galway. Thomas was actually pretty tired of traveling at that point so he decided to stay but Drew decided to come with me. He booked a room at my hostel.
One last miserable night in the hostel and we woke up the next morning for breakfast. Had to say goodbye to Thomas. A little bit harder than the last time as I didn't know when I'd see him again. He and his girlfriend (another PCV) live in Kansas City so I do hope I'll be able to visit them at some point.
Drew and I got on a bus to Galway. And here we are. (Relax, he has a girlfriend too...)
So yeah, Dublin, not my favorite on the trip this far, but Galway so far? Unbelievable.
Quick story. In my tired state, I left my point and shoot camera on the bus. 
Got to the hostel and it is amazing. Everyone's nice, it's big and spacious and clean and airy and just great. So while checking in, the guy at the hostel asks me how I am and I say "well, I just left my camera on the bus from Dublin so not great..."
That's ALL I said. 
I took my stuff to my room and Drew and I went and grabbed lunch. There was a thunderstorm so we were trapped in the cafe for a while. Afterwards, Drew took off on a tour and I headed back to the hostel. I walked in and the guy said "Oh, Jennifer? Is this your camera?" I stared at him in disbelief. It was.
He said he made a few calls, found which buses came in from Dublin, they found a camera, someone ran it over to the hostel and said if it wasn't mine to just return it to the bus station lost and found. I just stared at him. 
"What?" he said. 
"I just can't believe you did this."
His response?
"Why wouldn't I?"
Point one, Galway.

(P.S. Thank you, Juli Jones for this little travel diary. It has been a godsend)

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