First stop was Dublin, where I had my first head-banging at a
hostel. Well, not quite true. I was broken in at the exceptional
Northwest Portland Hostel, but I was spoiled and had my own lovely room in one of their Victorian houses. I slept like a worn-out kitten and woke every morning to a few yoga stretches and a barefoot pad down to the main kitchen, where I realized I've become a social animal. The rush for a piece of multi-grain bread and peanut butter! and a cup of hot water with a splash of real decaffeinated coffee while playing dodge-car with international folks of all ages highlighted my day.
Yet, sharing a room with other people was a major concern and anyone who is familiar with my Crazy Lady travel books knows I am not a savvy luggage traveller. I came to Ireland ready for three months of digging in and an embarrassing amount of space was taken up with my ten furry friends--well, my colorful long-snouted Scottish Midge is not furry but he makes up for it with the affection of any one of my bears. My three days at the Dublin International Hostel were filled with a lot of begging the harried staff to let me into the storage room for this and that.
The hostel is a labyrinth of hallways, doorways and stairs in what used to be a convent on Mount Joy The adjoining church serves as breakfast kitchen in the chancel and holds refectory tables in the nave.
My first experience in a dorm was a six-bed (bunks) and bless them, even though I was told the hostel was full, I was alone after a grueling 19-hour flight. Once I realized I was alone--and this was naive, because roommates can show up at any time to bash about the room with luggage, toothbrushes and door slamming--out came my furry children for company.
My second night was mostly sleepless. I encountered a roommate in the early eve and when I entered the room later, she was asleep in a bottom bed near the door. Now, I am going into my Crazy Lady travel mode, so if you are squeamish, exit to the right. I have this thing about movies where King Henry and Elizabeth the First never go to the bathroom. Well, I do! My travel chamber pot is a large yogurt container and it is a life saver on the road in a car, in non-ensuite lodgings and in freezing weather where I don't want to traipse to the loo.
Remember that I have never slept with strange people since the late sixties and tonight, I get shy about having to get up in the night to relieve myself. I lay forever in a self-conscious nervous state, because after some hours of listening to half the population of hostelers coming home drunk and shouting below in the street and doors slamming all over the large building, I was desperate to go to the bathroom. I didn't want to disturb my roommate because she was tossing and groaning--meaning she was not sleeping--so I prayed that she would have to go potty so I could grab my chamber pot and go.
Finally she rolled out of the bed and slammed out of the room. I leapt out of my bed naked--yes, always and forever when I sleep--and rushed to my locker to get out my chamber pot. I couldn't find it and I was swearing and fussing and almost crying to get this deed done before she came back. Yes! here it is thank the great spirit...all the while I am being extremely vocal. Fit the top on it and shove it under the bed--here she is. I jump into bed and cover up, catching my breath in relief.
A few minutes later, someone climbs down from the bunk above her and goes to the toilets. I almost die of embarrassment and shock, then get a fit of laughter that almost knocks me out of bed. Have you ever laughed hysterically in silence? Since then, I nonchalantly do whatever I need to do after lights out.
My first walk along the Liffey turned up some sculptures representing the potato famine of 1845-49 and I grabbed a shot of a Dubliner on the quay who was more picturesque than the photo I managed to take.
There is some intriguing architecture in Dublin--bridges, leaning buildings, lots of modernity camouflaging the leftover bits of history that nationalists and politicians took the trouble to remove, before the conservationists stepped in, around 1990.
The bells rang out all over town at five p.m. on Sunday--what exaltation. Above, the bridge attached to Christchurch. Afterwards, my favorite tearoom in the medieval town.
|The pretty bridge leading to Old Town's Temple Bar.|
My favorite gem was Marsh's Library, the library of the early enlightenment. Founded by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh in the early 18th century, next to the palace of the archbishops of St. Patrick's Cathedral, it houses rare books, and research still carries on, with Marsh's ghost approvingly turning the pages. I took a tour with the keeper and got to practice my quill writing, which could use some help from Archbishop Marsh.