Into the Mystic…
My body was still fighting all of the sleeping pills I took for my flight over the Atlantic when the adrenaline kicked in as the green isle appeared through the plane’s windows. Like a cliché, Ireland was shrouded in mist along its coast, and I could make out small towns and villages nestled near the shore as we made our way towards Dublin. My legs tapped together uncontrollably while the couple next to me talked about the preparations they needed to take care of before they got back to their house. A few minutes later we were on the ground.
Going through security and customs was unbelievably simple and easy, with the officer at immigration displaying the overly nice Irish temperament by cracking jokes and telling me what a “brilliant time” I would be having. Shortly after, I had my luggage, went out the front doors, and got onto a bus to take me into Dublin’s city center. When I stepped on the bus the radio was playing Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” and I thought there couldn’t be a better way to welcome me to Ireland than that. Once I arrived in the city center, right at Trinity College in fact, my attempt at trying to navigate through local and tourist-filled streets with two large pieces of luggage being dragged behind me was not the most engaging task, especially since I got off at the wrong stop and thus I had to walk an extra fifteen minutes past Trinity to Butler’s office on the other side of Merrion Square, but still I endured.
After a few small adventures on my part, the people at Butler’s office took me over to my flat on Whitefriar Street, which to give a perspective is just about a block from the beautiful Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. I can’t begin to describe the joy I felt when I saw the flat I would be spending the next seven or eight months in. Right next to a number of run down and beat up apartments, my place was quite modern in style and came complete with its own concierge and electronic security gate to the outside. Inside it was just as marvelous, if not even more so. It wasn’t huge by any means, but for just two people it was clearly more than enough. Said other person in the “we” there will join the story a bit later. Two bedrooms, two complete bathrooms, a living room with a television, two couches, wireless, a small dining table, and the most delightfully cute kitchen that has just about anything one could need or want as a college student, except for perhaps a device that magically creates pizza.
I spent the evening with two friends from high school who were in Dublin for a few days. We caught up over dinner, bangers and mash for myself, and Guinness at the Brazen Head, which claims to be Dublin’s oldest pub. It isn’t. It was great fun though. The following day I was on my own, running around trying to find grocery stores and build up supplies for the next few days, and for the year as well. To say my flat is in a wonderful location is an understatement, by about a hundred fold. A seven or ten minute walk from campus means I can get back and forth whenever I want without worry or real effort on my part. Most students at Trinity College Dublin, also called the University of Dublin, live off campus, often at home, and are anywhere from a twenty minute walk to an hour-long bus ride or more. For reference, some friends of mine that I met who are going through Arcadia live about thirty or so minutes away by foot. I do believe I win in this instance.
In five, ten, or fifteen minutes I can get to about a half-dozen different grocery stores, music shops, restaurants of every variety, movie theaters, drama theaters, concert halls, and more pubs than you can shake a cat at. Old pubs, new pubs, cheap pubs, expensive pubs, good pubs, bad pubs, local pubs, touristy pubs, student pubs, young pubs, old-people pubs, gay pubs, you-name-it pubs. There are even pubs that are old, have been remodeled, cater to an older crowd on certain evenings, and on other nights cater to a young gay crowd. It’s fabulous. It’s also dreadfully expensive, but so it goes. It’s basically a perfect location, and my return to Hartford, Connecticut or rural Minnesota next year is already looming in my mind in a dreadful way.
The day after that, my poor, dear flat mate finally arrived after harrowing experiences with airports for several days and being stuck in one place after another, but she did arrive and arrived alive. Butler gave us a few brief lectures that morning on what to expect, some stuff about safety from police-man Paul (called the Garda here), and a lovely, and quite yummy, cooking session with a delightful woman named Jess. We had two more “Butler activities” the following day, one of which was a terrific brunch with the Butler crew, and then followed by a tour of the Guinness factory.
I have heard many a-story about visiting the Guinness factory while here in Dublin and how it is “a must.” They were spot-on. Guinness did a fantastic job with their museum tour-thing. For the showing and explaining the process of brewing beer, something I wouldn’t think would be all that appealing, personally, they somehow made it rather exciting and interesting. Even if it hadn’t bee, it would have been worth it just for the end. At the top of factory/museum/tour, which is shaped like a pint glass, you enter a 360 bar, where you not only receive a free pint of Guinness, what else, but also the most gorgeous and unforgettable view of the entire city. To one side, you see Dublin’s port and harbor, on another side are open fields, and in another breathtaking hills with clouds hanging just over them. We probably spent a good forty or so minutes just looking at over the city. We found Trinity, and, after a while, our flat too. It gave me an idea of what the city actually looked like beyond just a street-level view, and what its surroundings were. The final touch, were quotes from various James Joyce books, printed on the windows, so that when you looked past where the quote was, you could see the actual place Joyce was referencing. A literary dream.
Coming up soon: things to do in Dublin (so much!), Trinity’s different “Societies” (so many!), and classes (so something!). Same bat-time, same bat-channel.