Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Another Sort of Homecoming

I arrived in Dublin early Friday morning after our flight had been delayed for about two hours for thunderstorms over New York. Great. Turbulance was probably in order, I thought. Aer Lingus planes are small and bumpy. We flew Aer Lingus last year on our way to Holland, and it was bumpy. So was this flight to Dublin.

The older I get, the worse my anxiety about flying. It’s nearly agonizing now. What a relief it is to land, such a relief that I don’t even mind waiting around for checked bags. The airport was empty; there was no line for customs. I guess we got in about 6:30am instead of the original 5:15. Good for me, since I was worried I wouldn’t be able to check into my hotel and I needed to catch some sleep.The flight left at the worst time – we arrived shortly after I would normally go to bed and the day was just starting in Ireland. Sleep was not possible on the plane, especially with the screaming child who wailed for about four of the six hour flight.

There’s a special place in Hell for parents of children who expose passengers to that torture.

I took the bus from the airport into the city and paid for an upgrade to my hotel room because mine wouldn’t have ready. I was struggling. I slept two hours, hardly enough. Then I tried to wander, langidly. Everything was as I remembered it, though maybe a little smaller, and I remembered all the names of things. It wasn’t like when I went back to Luxembourg last year and everything looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t recall even the layout of the city. That had been a bizarre, almost disturbing sensation. I was worried the same would happen in Dublin, a city I had been in love with so many years ago. I was happy to see that wasn’t the case, but I was no longer in love. Not sure how I feel about that. A little nostalgic, I suppose, and a lot older.

The Liffey, actually green that day, and I didn't see any rats swimming in it like I had in the past.
I walked down to St. Stephen’s Green and sat on the grass for awhile. I felt like a zombie and could have slept for hours in that grass. The sun was warm and there were a few people laying out and many people celebrating their lunch break.

St. Stephen's Green, Dublin's "Central Park," named for Christianity's first martyr.

But I couldn’t waste one of my limited days in Ireland, so I got up to look around and see if anything had changed. It had, after all, been seventeen years. I went to see the churches – Christchurch and St. Patrick’s, and walked to the Guinness Brewery, sadly no longer Irish owned, another victim to multinational corporatism. I didn't go in; I've been there three times before.

People kept wandering into this picture so I gave up and took one with them in it. How many other people's photos I must be in!

St. George's Market. I don't remember this. It was a cool little place.

I don't know.

I thought "Blazing Salads" was hilarious.

I liked the sign.

Ath Cliath is the name of Dublin in Gaelic.

The Stag's Head, a famous old pub.

Dublin Castle

Parliament Hotel in Temple Bar

I loved the hanging baskets everywhere. I wasn't into flowers back then, I guess, because I don't remember this being a thing. Though most of the time I spent there was in winter, I guess. These baskets are beautiful.

Christchurch was having some sort of food festival. I seriously doubt that is the "best pulled pork." Seriously doubt it.

Irish cheesesteak. I found this funny.

Handmade in Ireland.

Commemorating the Armenian Genocide. Last time I was in Dublin, I had never heard of the Armenian Genocide. Because I was an ignorant kid. What an atrocity.

Funny plaque.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, still stolen from the Catholics...

The pics I have of Dublin are from a film camera, that's how long ago it was.

Still my favorite writer.

Guinness Brewery

Sadly, the Brewery Hostel no longer exists. I stayed here many, many times.

This pic is too dark. I was too tired to mess with the camera settings. This is my first trip since I took the photography class. I later got out my notes and took pics on manual. This was on automatic settings.

The reason for my trip and the hottest ticket in the land. I am so excited.

St. Catherine's. Why is it not called St. Cathleen's? haha

Robert Emmet, Irish hero. There is also a statue of him in Washington.

This was hilarious. All the mothers gathering at the sweets shop.

Thomas Street.

Medieval junk everywhere.

I don't even know what this means.

Like who wants to see the coffin inside the hearse?

Bowie died and suddenly everyone loves him again.

I wandered around the overtouristed Temple Bar neighborhood trying to remember if there were that many tourists the last time I was there. The sidewalks were so crowded you could barely walk, and every downtown shop was full of tourist junk. Maybe it had been like that before. It had been the first place I had been abroad on my own and my impressions of the city had been made in ignorance. Back then, I hadn’t even spent much time in any city, let alone a world capital. I remember thinking how it was odd there were no “single family dwellings,” as I called them, unaware that row houses were a normal part of any city. 

Funny to think about, now.

There were a few noticeable changes, but really not as many as I expected. The ugly pillar on O'Connell Street. The musty smell that was one of the first things I had noticed upon my first trip was gone, and so, too, was the stench of car exhaust. EU emissions requirements must have done wonders, and people can afford good cars now, too. Some morons are even driving SUVs around the narrow streets. There are a lot more coffee shops and craft beers. And they're selling freaking fidget spinners on the streets. I guess millennial culture transcends borders. They'd never be able to imagine the world in which I lived in when I first went to Dublin, when smartphones and social media didn't exist. Heck, the internet was not yet widespread, either.

I barely remember that time. It feels like a dream. Funny to think about that, too.

Fidget spinners, the millennials' Pet Rock

I was pooped by early afternoon. I had only been walking around for a few hours but I knew I was done. I should have prepared for this trip better by at least getting into some semblance of shape. I stopped in O’Neill’s pub for my first Guinness and flipped through the latest copy of the Irish Times, which featured as its cover story an article on Trump’s Russia involvement.
We are an embarrassment to the world.

One of the bartenders in O’Neill’s was Polish and the other was from Baltimore. I had heard that Polish bartenders are common now, so I was rather amused by having one pour me a pint. (The influx of Polish immigrants is due to Poland’s entry into the EU, where there is freedom of movement, combined with Ireland becoming a rich country thanks to EU structural funds, which transformed it from a third world country. There is some animosity towards Poles now as the Irish forget they were once discriminated against by much of the world. Sad how quickly we forget things like that.) 


Commemoration of the Easter Rising and the start of the fight for Irish independence.

The Irish may be the funniest people on the planet.

To the point.

I had a couple of pints which just put me into a further stupor and I knew a nap was in order. One cannot simply walk around for hours without any sleep. I slept another two hours before wandering out for dinner. I didn’t want to stray too far from the hotel, so I stayed on the north side of the city but ventured far enough away from O’Connell Street to avoid large tourist crowds. I ended up at Ned O’Shea’s, where I ate fish and chips and talked with a Dublin man about foreign policy. He pulled out the latest copy of Foreign Affairs magazine and told me he owns a copy of every one that has ever been printed. I thought his life would end if they went all digital. What a quirky thing. Later some Americans came in and I talked with them until close, which was earlier than usual, and went to bed. The next day would start my driving adventure.

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