Monday, May 16, 2005

Eric in Dublin

Oops, I was bad. Very, very bad. I said I would be visiting another member of the United Kingdom when I went to Dublin and that was wrong. I feel like it’s extra bad to make a mistake like that when there’s such turmoil surrounding the division between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The worst part is that I realized this just as I left the flat to go to the airport, and I thought, I am going to get some emails about this one.

Now that that’s out of the way, Dublin. It was awesome, of course. It’s a great city, albeit one that evidently does not believe in street signs or having streets names remain constant for more than a few blocks. This would normally have made the city a nightmare to navigate for visitors like me and American Laura (who met me there), but luckily the River Liffey runs right through the middle of the city so we could always use that to orientate ourselves.

Dublin, for some reason, was one of those cities that instantly made me think I would have enjoyed studying abroad there. I felt that way about Germany as a country, but none of the specific cities I visited there appealed to me in that way. Maybe I just really liked the Irish people. For a start, they were weirdly helpful and offered me and Laura directions whenever we looked lost or confused. And the barmaid at the Guinness Storehouse spontaneously offered to fill our water bottles. Hey, it’s the little things that count.

Speaking of which, the Guinness Storehouse! That was some fun. It was basically a museum/shrine devoted to Guinness. A seven-story museum/shrine, yo. And there’s a bar at the top with glass walls and a spectacular view of the city, where you can enjoy your complimentary pint of Guinness (if by “complimentary” you mean “included in the ticket price,” but still).

Laura and I tried to see most of the city on foot, and hit the major points of interest on the tourist map, such as Oscar Wilde’s house, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Guinness Storehouse, St. Stephen’s Green, and Dublin Castle (although we didn’t actually go inside because we both hate guided tours and they wouldn’t let you walk around and see it on your own. Damn you, Dublin Castle!). Through it all, I couldn’t help noticing that Irish guys, and their accents, are super duper sexy. I’m just letting you know in case you’re a filthy, filthy whore like me.

Laura had arrived in Dublin a day earlier than me, and I stayed a day longer than her. Surprisingly, I spent my day solo at the National Gallery of Ireland, of all places. I wouldn’t really call myself an art lover mostly because the only sedative more powerful on me than an art gallery is church. But I spent about three hours in this one without feeling the urge to do something else. I also went to Trinity College and saw a cricket game, and the outside of the building where they keep the Book of Kells (I couldn’t afford the €6.50 entrance fee even if I wanted to -- in fact, I was so strapped for cash that I could only afford digestives to eat all day).

That night, instead of going out on the town by myself, I hung out in the hostel with a bunch of Australians. It reminded me that I actually do like meeting and getting to know new people no matter how convinced otherwise I am. They had been hanging out at the hostel for two weeks -- they were originally only going to spend a few nights there, but their wallets got stolen so now they couldn’t afford to do anything but kill time until their flight back to England (they were studying abroad as well).

In fact, there was something of an epidemic of thievery at this hostel. Laura and I had two jars of sauce and six cans of beer stolen from us, and everyone we talked to seemed to have a story about their valuables being stolen while staying at this hostel, an alarming number saying they had been sleeping with their valuables in bed with them at the time they were stolen. The night I hung out in the lobby with the Australians, a group of kids from Poland who had arrived that night were freaking out because their passports and wallets had been stolen by someone who snuck into the building. Scary stuff.

I was very fortunate and had nothing stolen from me during my stay in Dublin. The trip was a really nice way to reward myself for finishing up the semester as differently as possible from last semester (i.e. not failing my ass off), and of course I got to see my beloved Laura, so that was all good.


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