It is a wonderful thing being a teacher. I develop young minds, bring positive change to our society, and get vacation time. A lot of it. While this is a great blessing, and I am certainly not complaining, there is a slight catch to having these predetermined vacation blocks: no one else is on vacation when I am. When I decided that I wanted to do some traveling, I realized that my friends who could afford to travel with me couldn’t take the time off to do it, and those who had the time off (i.e. were un/underemployed) couldn’t afford to go anywhere. My first reaction to this discovery was pure disappointment. I was itching to travel and didn’t want to spend my breaks sitting at home watching re-runs of the Real Housewives. After some contemplation I realized that I shouldn’t let a lack of travel partner keep me from traveling. For the average 20-something, I had a lot of experience traveling. I’d been to 15 foreign countries, some of them multiple times. I’d traveled with family, friends, and my choir. The logistics of travel weren’t intimidating to me. The solitude, I wasn’t so sure about. Which is what brought me to Ireland. As a first time solo traveler (female I might add), Ireland seemed to be the perfect place. Ireland is safe, the people are friendly, and I speak the language. And I’d never been before. I bought my ticket to Dublin.
Witnessing a prostitute getting arrested as I stepped off my bus marked my arrival into Dublin. That makes it sound as if I was staying in a questionable area, but my hostel was in the middle of the Temple Bar area, walking distance from Trinity College. There were more pubs around than anything else (and obviously the occasional prostitute, but think of it more like Times Square than Skid Row).
See? Not so bad?
That evening I went directly to sleep and slept very deeply, apparently, because when I woke up I saw that the man in the bed next to me was completely naked, passed out face down on his bed. I did not wake up for his naked arrival nor did I remember being in a co-ed room. It/he was not a pretty sight, so I got out of my room right quick. I was not entirely sure what to do with myself, despite my absurdly detailed itinerary I compiled months earlier, so I decided to try and get a feel for Dublin. First I went to the National Museum of Archaeology, but it was closed until 2, then I went to Trinity College’s library, but that was closed until 12. I forgot that in Europe things are actually closed on Sundays for church! I mean seriously, who goes to church anymore? So I ended up just walking around the city, mostly along the river, taking pictures and asking people to take pictures of me. It was my goal to avoid having every picture of myself on the trip look like a MySpace profile picture.
Myspace in Ireland. Yeah, there will be a lot of this
Next I went to the Trinity College Old Library where there is a bible that is 1,200 years old AND they filmed scenes of Harry Potter. (Can you guess which fun fact I was more excited about?) The librarian there turns each of the books of the bible one page every night, so if I went back the next day if would be a different page than the day before. Very considerate of slow readers. I wasn’t there for very long but luckily I did not have to pay the 9-euro admission. I asked a tour guide standing in line behind me if I already needed a ticket and he offered to have me walk in with his group for free. I wasn’t sure if I was posing as a high school student or a teacher, but I was grateful nonetheless.
After sneaking into the library I walked down the main touristy shopping street, Grafton Street, where I ate lunch and saw a puppeteer have his marionette dance to house music. I found that to be very entertaining. Across the street from Grafton is St. Steven’s Green, a smaller and less crowded version of Central Park, where again I took pictures and asked people to take pictures of me.
St. Steven’s Green
I then went back to the Archaeology Museum and went to the Viking and Ancient Ireland exhibits. I loved seeing the ancient side of European history, since most museums in Europe focus on the Renaissance or after. And Vikings are badass. Did you know that Vikings popularized the modern form of the shoe, with the sole separate from the rest of the shoe? They spread the awesomeness of the shoe through their plundering. They also introduced the ax as a weapon, making the ax wielding very scary when they fought the Brits.
After my history lesson I headed to the Guinness Storehouse, ended up getting lost, and then was assisted by some friendly older pub goers. The Irish really are nice. The storehouse is basically a shrine to Guinness and while rather masturbatory, I still really enjoyed it. I made some friends in the tasting room as well as the Gravity Bar, which has a 360-degree view of the city and is probably the best part of the tour. Not sure if it was worth 17 euros, but I lied and said I was a student, so it was only 10. I decided I liked paying discounted prices and vowed to continue to try and get out of paying full price for things.
For dinner I decided I should be Irish and get Fish and Chips. I could have gotten a little more adventurous, but I’ve had rough times in the past with German and Czech food, which in my mind are pretty much the same as Irish food. I brought it back to the hostel and ended up meeting some American girls who has been living in France for 6 months. They were very glad to be done with their 6 months, saying that while they loved France, they hated the French. The European travelers in the hostel kitchen began chiming in about how they too, hate the French. It is the one consistently common belief I have found throughout my travels in Europe. No one likes the French. After sharing a bottle of wine, I left the girls and went to sleep to prepare for a 6 am wake up call. I was relieved to see that the Naked Man had checked out.
1 day in Ireland and there wasn’t rain yet. As far as I can tell, Dublin has the same weather as San Francisco. True story.