Today, I’m at Jansen Art Center in Lynden, Washington on a writer’s retreat with 11 other writers. We’re all sitting in the library upstairs, sipping coffee and tapping away on our laptops. I’m pouring through photos of Ireland and trying to gain inspiration to finish writing the final chapter of my book. Yes, the FINAL chapter! And as I wrap up my thoughts on my journeys through Ireland, I find myself missing it again, longing for the rain slicked streets in Dublin, the perilous country roads, the rainbows springing up around castle ruins, and talking with boys in bars. Maybe one day, after my book is published, I’ll have the opportunity to go again. One, twice, three times – with some places, it’s never enough.
When I visited Dublin in 2010 and 2011, The Temple Bar (within Temple Bar) had two painted panels flanking the front door, one of Lady Martha Temple and the other of Sir William Temple. I thought they really brightened up that stretch of road. Sadly, when I returned in 2012, the bright, colorful paintings had been replaced! I prefer the original, but I also don’t deal well with change…
I actually made a print of the original, and it’s hanging in my dining room. I had wanted to return and get a picture of Sir William Temple without a man standing in front of it so that I could have a matching set. Alas, that will not happen. Although, the man by Sir William does add a little charm to the photo.
I had been concerned that my Irish luck had run out (given the changes of plans with a certain boy and all of the added expenses), but I’ve been pleasently surpised so far.
To start, the flight from Seatac to Amsterdam had been overbooked, and I got a boarding pass without a ticket number. I was instructed to see the attendant at the gate for my seat assignment, who later told me to wait until my name was called. After hearing a dozen other names called to the desk for their real tickets, I began to worry. But, a man who had been on the shuttle from Bellingham assured me that they were simply upgrading other passengers and that I’d eventually get a seat. And he was right. I actually ended up with one of the best seats on the plane outside of first class. I was in the exit row right behind first class, right next to the flight attendent station. WIth plenty of leg room and easy access to some friendly attendants who knew how to pour a glass of wine, it was a great flight! Not only that, but the man sitting next to me, who was going to Spain for three weeks, has a daughter teaching photography to kids in India. Well, if you know me, you know that sparked my interest. He gave me her contact information so I could ask her about her work there.
After deboarding the plane, I spoke with the man from Bellingham a little more. It turns out, although he’s going to Italy to teach a class on counter terrorism (there’s a good chance I’m making that part up) for a week, we may actually have the same return flight out of Amsterdam next Wednesday! We both thought that was a big coincidence, so we also exchanged contact information. I lost both of my new friends, however, when we separated at the different security checkpoints at Amsterdam to our respective gates.
The second flight into Cork wasn’t nearly as interesting, and since I was still upset about the whole situation I kept thinking “fecking Cork” the whole way there.
I was scheduled to take the train from Cork to Dublin, but managed to get lost despite receiving very clear directions. Luckily, I stopped a little old man to ask where I was, and he was so incredibly sweet – even walking me to the train station. He told me that Dublin was just a big city and that I should come back to Cork to visit, because it’s a “town” and there are plenty of good pubs at which to meet people.
I managed to actually get a train an hour earlier than the one I’d scheduled and arrived in Dublin early. Exhausted, I managed to walk right past The Clarence and get lost again, kind of. I stopped to ask a Leprechaun where it was (I’m being serious), and he took off his spritely head, pointed at his mouth, shaking his real head and said, “Croatian”. A Croatian Leprechaun who doesn’t know where The Clarence is? Interesting. Well, needless to say I found it.
Dublin fits like a glove. Despite being a big city, it’s been comfortable and welcoming. After hanging out with Paul’s buddies, I ended up meeting two new girlfriends last night who are going to take me out to some traditional pubs for my birthday this evening. I’m really excited about that, but before that happens, I’m going to see the Steve McCurry exhibit and hit the Guinness Brewery. More tomorrow! Here are some pictures from my first night back in Dublin…