Forgive my nerdy reference to James Joyce in my title, but I would be remiss as an English teacher not to allude to one of Ireland’s premiere authors & the title of one of his most famous collections of short stories & his place of origin.
It’s 7p.m. Dublin time and I am done for the day. I arrived in the city at 6:30 a.m. & got to the hotel around 7. I couldn’t check in until noon, so I had to check my bags at the hotel & figure out what the hell I was going to do with myself for 5 hours! The first thing was to locate an ATM because I had spent all of my Euros I had converted in North Carolina on the taxi ride from the airport to hotel. Dublin isn’t cheap, and Euros are deceiving. The prices seem so Americanized but are higher than US dollars. I think I better find an Euro converter app on my phone otherwise I’m going to be guesstimating how much I’m spending daily the I’ll overspend & won’t be able to buy my mom & sister these ridiculously funny black sheep & shamrock key chains & magnets. Nor will my dad get his Fathers’ Day present of Irish whiskey.
Once I got cash, I spent way too many Euros on the hotel’s continental breakfast. Being a self-proclaimed cheapskate, I decided to take them for all they were worth & loaded up on everything offered on the buffet, regardless if I liked it or not. Soggy cornflakes in lowfat milk? Sure. Sour grapefruit with apples, pears, grapes & melon mixed in? Of course. Croissant? Oui Monsieur. Greek yogurt? Scoop that on my plate, please. I would like weak coffee (2 cups please) & yes, I’m going to wash it down with tart orange juice, too.
Satiated & satisfied I ate my 8.50 Euros worth, I headed out to St. Stephens Green Park. The desk clerk recommended it & it was a brisk and beautiful sunny morning. I wound up meeting a nice young woman from Lithuania who is working here in Dublin. She helped me navigate the tricky street crossing (look right first, not left because of the reverse way of driving) and showed me around the park telling me that I will love Dublin because of how friendly the people are. She was right. It was fun to talk to her & throughout my morning I had brief conversations with Dubliners who were happy to point me in the right direction or tell me there are no toilets in the park (in which I had to race back the mile to the hotel due to the coffee, water & orange juice I drank at breakfast). My only regret while in the park was that I didn’t strike up a conversation with an elderly man who had the quintessential Irish look: beautiful, ornery smile, tweed jacket, fedora & hiking boots. Guess I will have to kiss the Blarney Stone & acquire the gift of gab.
To end my first day in Dublin, I walked down to the shopping square near Trinity College. This area is where tourists & Dubliners converge to eat, shop, listen to & watch street performers. I thought maybe I would go to a pub & eat a sandwich & drink a Guinness, but I was feeling too tired & a little overwhelmed & intimidated to mix with locals in that way just yet. Instead, I opted to go into M & S department store & eat at the small cafe that sits on the corner & has big glass windows & seats that look out onto the square. I ate my grilled chicken & cheese on hot Texas toast & drank my chai tea as I read a newspaper, listened in on the locals’ conversations (ah, the lovely Irish brogue), read a local newspaper & sat & people watched. About an hour later, I felt my second round of exhaustion kick in so I trekked the mile or so back to my hotel in need of some rest & relaxation before a full day tomorrow when I meet my touring companions. Today was a great introduction to a beautiful & charming city filled with equally beautiful & charming people.