Dublin. Oops. (2004-03-20 - 6:49 p.m.)

Oy, just when I think I know what's going on, something always seems to get screwed up. This was explained to me last night by Bee, one of John's roommates. I was saying that I hadn't really figured out how to get back to London yet, and she told me "Never make plans. Plans always get screwed up." Which actually would be really good advice, except that I really need some sort of a plan to start off with or I'd never get anywhere.

To back up for a moment, I'm in an internet cafe in Dublin. I'm in Dublin by accident, as the PLAN was to take the early train to Dublin, then catch the ferry to Holyhead (Wales) and the train to Bangor. Then I would stay at the hostel in Bangor and head out on a bus or train in the morning, having a nice leisurely journey back to London. HA! The first part was fine, as I found the train station and bought my ticket. The lady, who was in a hurry, pointed out the platform and said a train would be along in 2 min. So I caught that train, despite the fact that it didn't seem like it was going in the right direction... but what could I do? It was what the lady told me. Finally the conductor came along and mentioned that the train was in fact going to Bangor (Northern Ireland, not Wales) and therefore I had to take a train BACK to Belfast and make the connection that the person who sold me my ticket neglected to mention. In retrospect it makes perfect sense that you would change trains at the main station to go to Dublin. But without knowing that in advance there's no way I would have known to get off!

At any rate, I had long missed my train. So I waited around for an hour and a half and caught the next one. I went from Connelly Stn in Dublin to the bus station and asked if they could get me to the ferry terminal on time - they basically said probably not, I would have to take a taxi etc etc. So then it was decision time. A). Try for the ferry, then try to figure out where the train stn in Holyhead was in the dark, then get to Bangor and find the hostel (which I had been warned was 20 min walk from the station). Or B). Find somewhere to stay in Dublin and take the stupid coach in the morning, thus avoiding any walking around Wales in the dark, and avoiding changing trains (which at the moment was sounding very good!) After some deliberation I went with B. Unfortuately Dublin is packed, apparently because of a rugby match, and so most of the hostels are full. But I found a relatively cheap one, close to the bus station, and packed with Canadians. That will have to do.

After this I will head back to the bus station and hope to heck I can get a ticket. I don't like coaches much and hoped to avoid another huge long journey, but this is cheap and the train (I just checked) would involve three changes. I'm feeling stressed and just sitting on a bus is sounding okay right now. Plus I will definitely make it to London this way! Important, as that interview is Monday at 11. I have also booked me a private room for Sunday night. Expensive but I want to be decently rested on Monday and have time to go over some practice questions. I hate interviews and therefore do everything I can to make sure I'm prepared prior to them.

Anyway, speaking of Dublin, back to St Patrick's Day. Man, that was something else. I said I would go down with the Americans, Kerry and Keely, since they had rented a car and a place to stay and then someone had backed out on them. John was going to go by train with Lior the guy from Israel and a bunch of French girls. As it turned out, I think he made the wiser decision. Kerry was of course late to meet me with the car, and despite the fact that she was doing really well considering she was driving on the wrong side of the road, it took us a while to get out of Belfast. By the time we made it to Dublin the parade had started, and we still had to park etc. We rushed down to where John said he would be and found he was directly across the street from us, and we couldn't get across to him because of the parade. So we decided we would try to find a place to see and meet up with people later.

That turned out to be easier said than done. There were people EVERYWHERE, all wearing green, white and orange stripes and stupid hats. There was no way I could see over them, and they had a lot of the Dublin streets blocked off so it was hard to navigate. We ended up walking probably 20 or 25 blocks before we found a place to stand. Luckily it was a good place, and I had an amazing view of the parade! It's just really too bad we missed most of the first half. What we did see was incredible, though. Not so many floats but a lot of sort of giant marionette things (monsters, trolls, polar bears) and tons of marching bands (which, sadly, all seemed to be American! We saw two from Texas which made Keely happy.)

So the parade was definitely worth seeing. After it was over, I ended up playing a very annoying hide-and-go-seek game with John as we both frantically texted each other to try and meet up. Actually it was more like playing "Hot and Cold." He'd start with "I'm across from the Olympia." Then two minutes later, "I'm at the corner of Wicklow and whatever street at the sushi place." Then, "Okay, we just moved but you should still see us." After a long morning of racing to find a place to stand, I was not in the mood.

However, we did meet up and I took the opportunity to forsake the North Americans to hang out with the Europeans (and John), who were MUCH more laid-back. The change was remarkable. No more rushing, no more having somewhere to be. We just kind of drifted from pub to pub. It was actually pretty fun, although I have never seen so many dead-drunk people so early in the day! (Not us: it took us so long to decide to stop at any one place that we had maybe three drinks total over the course of the day).

Anyway, it felt very "St. Patrick's Day in Ireland"ish, which is what I wanted, so it was all good. The main downside was John and his STUPID smoking, which I didn't take well to. Well, actually I didn't take well to anyone blowing smoke at me, but John got ranted at because he'd suddenly taken it up. It sucks too - I haven't been sick since last time I was in Belfast and now I have a cough again. I think I have a pretty strong sensitivity to smoke or something.

Eventually I met up with Kerry, Keely and Katie (from Toronto, so practically American) again. They had stayed at the same pub the whole time and wanted to stop at the grocery store and go find the guesthouse before going out again. This sounded good to me, so we took off.

This is the point at which things got really strange. Keely had the map, her sister Kerry had the car key and knew the address of the guesthouse. We were wandering down the street toward the car and reached a crossroads. Kerry wanted to go straight, Keely thought we should turn. And from that started the hugest, loudest, most inconsiderate-of-anyone-else-in-the-world sibling fight I've ever seen. Sheesh. They screamed at each other up and down the street. Then they calmed down briefly and looked at the map, until Kerry got pissed off again and threw it at Keely and stomped off by herself while Keely went another direction. Katie and I looked at each other. Follow the map or follow the key? Follow the person we were both nominal friends with (Kerry) or risk being accused of disloyalty and follow the not-quite-so-angry one(Keely)? It was nuts. I decided the map trumped everything else and went with Keely, who promptly decided to go the way Kerry had just stomped off to and try and find her. By the time we had got to the bottom of the hill, she had disappeared. Not much we could do, so we went back to the car. No Kerry. Tried calling her from a phone booth, no luck. Tried texting her, it wouldn't go through.

At that moment Kerry appeared from the opposite direction, having obviously wandered around a bit before finding her way. I've never seen anyone so angry. She started screaming at us and Keely screamed back and people driving by were opening their car windows to see what was going on. Finally Keely said, "Let's just get in the car." So we did, and then they started again - just the most nasty comments, and at one point it sort of got physical. Katie and I just sort of huddled in the backseat. Finally Keely said (in a Texas accent that gets worse when she's angry), "Well, I don't even care anymore. I just feel sorry for these people who have to watch this. Let's just go back to the guesthouse."

I hadn't said a word up to this point, seeing as there wasn't much to be said anyway. But when she said that, I (perhaps inadvisably) said, "Yes, let's just find the place." Kerry turned around, leaned over the seat, stuck her face in mine and screamed "YOU TWO STAY OUT OF THIS!!!" At that point I got mad. Bad enough having to watch a verbal brawl, but to be shouted at with no reason? Grrrr.

But I think that made Kerry realize what she was doing, because she started the car and went to look for the guesthouse. It took us nearly 45 minutes, with Kerry gripping the wheel white-knuckled and Keely using her best teacher voice, pretending she wasn't ready to rip Kerry's face off. I really didn't want to be there and was wishing I'd gone back with John, but the last train back to Belfast had left.

So we careened around the streets of Dublin trying to find this place. We finally did, and it turned out to be the lap of luxury (as far as I was concerned, after two months of hostels). Double beds! Fresh towels! I haven't had it that good since Surlingham. Too bad about the Americans.

We agreed to meet in the lobby again when we'd unpacked. Katie and I did, but Kerry and Keely didnt' come down. Finally we went up to check on them, and could hear the sounds of the renewed arguement from down the hall. There was no WAY I was going near that one, so we just stayed in the lobby. We ended up just going to get some food and coming back. I think everyone's energy was at a low ebb. But, as the final touch to the day, we had another incident. Kerry was pulling up to a curb but she misjudged the distance, and the hubcap went flying. It was sort of the last straw. I decided to just go to bed.

However, as it turned out I'm very happy I stayed that night in Dublin, the expense and the Americans aside. I got eat an Irish breakfast and see the Book of Kells! To be honest I almost skipped the Book of Kells because it cost so much. I'm so thankful I didn't. It was amazing - not so much seeing the actual books (although that was pretty incredible), but they had an exhibit around it detailing how it was made, the inks used, the monks who did the writing and drawing. They had a video on bookbinding that I found utterly fascinating. I watched it twice. I forgot how interested I was in that, but now I'm thinking once I'm settled I will have to find a course or something in it.

We also got to walk through this amazing library. It was everything a library should be, complete with wrought-iron spiral staircase! Shelves and shelves of old books with sliding ladders to get to them. Busts of famous authors etc. all the way down the aisle. A huge, barrel-vaulted ceiling. I saw a student who got to go past the velvet ropes and into the book section and I was so jealous! I could have spent an hour just looking around in there, but Kerry spoiled my reverie by mentioning everyone else was waiting. I think they just breezed through the exhibit and saw the books to say they saw them. They wanted to get going so they could hit the Irish tourist stores and get some Guiness-related crappy souveniers to take back to America.

But yeah, seeing the Books of Kells and Armaugh totally made the trip for me. For one thing, that they're that old. For another, the craftsmanship in the bookbinding, the writing and the illustrating. It was incredible.

But I see I'm out of time. More later, if I can find another cafe tomorrow or the next day. Wish me luck on the interview!

backwards ~ onwards

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Missed anything?
moved! - 2008-05-12
Sunday = time to ramble on - 2008-05-11
apparently I'm doing monthly updates these days. Sorry. - 2008-05-04
watershed - 2008-04-06
end of trip - 2008-03-31

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