26 February 2013

first you have to get there

While we had a stressful beginning to our journey...

...it was a glorious adventure to tell for years to come and ended with us on a plane to Ireland. By that time, I had found myself standing outside a locked London Victoria station at three thirty in the morning listening to the drunken people heading home, stood for hours in a small Cornish Pastry shop to keep warm, stood at a bus stop in the middle of London while my companions looked for each other, and run through Stansted airport in my socks to catch a plane that have left ten minutes before.  Settled in at last in the plane and above the cloud cover, we watched the sun rise.

Then, at long last, I got my first glimpse of Ireland. I am always surprised by how much agriculture and farming there is so close to the large cities here. London has a great swath of sheep and farm land right near it and so does Dublin.

Exhausted from very little sleep the night before, we got through the boarder check and customs and then took a short nap.

 Next we began our effort to walk to Dublin city center from the airport.

We found ourselves in the little town of Swords (or "Sord" in the local Irish) and stopped in at ten for our first meal of the day at a tiny little convenience and bakery shop. That is the most delicious bread, lettuce, cold chicken, and grated cheese sandwich I have ever eaten. It was certainly the most appreciative of food I have ever been. Sord itself was a wonderful town with a little castle surrounded by a public park.

The very first thing we noticed about the Irish is that they looked in our eyes and said "goodh mourning!" None of us had realized how much we've missed that since living in Oxford.

After walking for about two hours through streets and towns enjoying the experience of a different side of Ireland than we expected, we found that we had been walking in exactly the wrong direction to get to Dublin itself. This was easily remedied however as we hopped on a bus and rode it to the end of the line. It was quite lucky that we were going to the end of the line because we all fell dead asleep and would have missed it otherwise.

After walking several blocks through more snow flurries, we finally arrived at our hostel a half hour before check-in. Just as the simple bread and cold sandwich took on an extra wonder, so the couches waiting for us in the common room became the comfiest couches we had ever sat on. I took these two pictures within two minutes of each other:

Once we got into our rooms, we slept for two hours and met downstairs again at five, much refreshed and ready for dinner. As our "eat out" night, we went to O'niell's and got heaping plates of tender lamb, potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. Hot warm comfort food. Melt in your mouth with the added sophistication of the more delicate flavors in the carrot glaze and floating gravy.

It was there that I noticed yet another significant difference between the English and the Irish. England was playing France in Rugby on all the tellies tucked in corners around the pub. Beyond the sports loyalties, the Irish acted so very differently from the English in that they placed their bar stools in clumps wherever they could see each other instead of tucking themselves into the nooks and crannies as the English do.

So that is how we got there, and I wouldn't have chosen to do it any other way. I'll be posting more of the adventure over the next couple days.

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