LePhare Coffee House, Dublin
It’s a strange feeling, morning in a new place; especially if that new place is 3,726 miles away from the old place, you have not slept, and your body thinks it’s 4:00 p.m. and not 10:00 a.m.
We arrived in Dublin on time and without trouble. Customs was busy but not too slow, and we found the bus easily. Our B&B proprietor, P.J., had given us very good directions, which I had printed out, and soon enough we were on the 16A into Dublin, instead of the 16A into Minneapolis. The bus was just as P.J. had said it would be, and we disembarked half a block from the door of “Tinode House.” P.J. greeted us, showed us where to put our bags, gave us a map of the city center, and directed us on our way. We decided to walk for a bit as we had been sitting for hours, and we wound up walking the whole way. It was not far, it turned out. Google Maps just made it look that way.
Looking at it now, I would have to say that the trip itself had gone very well, its inauspicious beginnings notwithstanding. Even the airplane dinner was pretty good. They did not charge extra for it, which was shocking in this day and age of airline hospitality, but they did charge me for my therapeutic tiny bottles of chardonnay. Our time was passed quickly enough between the ridiculosity of “Talladega Nights” and the pleasant conversation of our row-mate, a Mr. Naughton, who was born in County Roscommon in 1929. One of ten children, he moved to America when he was 18 and lived with his aunt in New Jersey, attending school and then fighting in Korea for three years. His sister still lives in Roscommon, and he was going to visit her. “America has been good to me,” he said. These are the things you learn when you are Pete and you talk to random people. I am always happy for the information, but I am not solicitous. On my own in a strange place, I tend to like to blend in.
It took me awhile to adjust to being here. By this I mean to sink into my “I am a tourist, and I don’t care who knows it” role. I have always hated being a tourist. It’s rather silly, really. I mean, if you are a tourist, it means you are on vacation, and who does not want to be on vacation? But when we get on vacation, we don’t want to look like we are on vacation. When I lived and worked in a tourist town, I had to remember what it’s like to be in a new place and not mock the tourists. I always have to remember what it feels like to be on the other side.
That said, walking in Dublin is like walking at a Renaissance Festival. There are people everywhere, and there is no pattern to either the foot traffic or the auto traffic. Everything is a speedy blur until it stops unexpectedly, right in front of you, for no apparent reason.
We sat in a little coffee shop with our Rough Guide and huge Michelin Map, planning our day. Apparently, Pete subsisted on sausage rolls when he lived in London, so we had a roll a piece. To me, “Sausage roll” sounds like a nickname you use for someone you love, preferably said with a fake French accent (“My leetle sausaahge rrroll”), but it was quite tasty.
We had a little list of things that we wanted to see and do in Dublin and only two days to do it:
The Book of Kells and Trinity College
The National Museum, Library, and Gallery
The above is merely a small sample of Dublin’s offerings. But even that was a lot for two days. We decided upon the Book of Kells as the first stop, and then we would see how things were going. I had consented, for this trip, to be somewhat flexible. As this is not in my nature, I knew that I would have moments of near panic that I would try to keep to myself. Pete had agreed to let me book the first four nights of lodging, as we knew where we needed or wanted to be for those nights, but after that, we did not have a plan, only a general idea of the direction in which we wanted to head and the sights which we wanted to see. It was only our first day, so I was still relatively calm about the fact that I did not know where I would be sleeping five nights from now.