Saturday, January 12

In which the shy bookseller goes to Ireland

My aunt was stationed in Germany, but was moving back to the states within the year. If we were ever going to go see her, it had to be THEN.

I still think the reason I got to go was because my parents didn't dare leave me at home with the bad boyfriend. Subliminally I suspect they hoped I'd drop him like a hot rock (or vice versa) when we left.

I was out of high school, but still seriously enamored with all things Celtic. So I scraped my meager bookstore shekels together and paid for a solo ticket to Ireland (from London) for three days. Our arrival in London is a story for another day, but after a day to recover, I waved goodbye to my parents and hopped on yet another plane.

In hindsight, that was a terrible plan. I had never traveled to another country WITH my parents, let alone without them, and I would have done things differently had I taken my solo trip at the END of our adventure.

I may as well have had a "Tourist" t-shirt printed up. We were traveling carry-on only, plus a fanny pack. I emerged from the airport in Dublin with the address of the tourism board clenched tightly in one hand, my bag in the other. I decided I was not ready for a bus, so I timidly climbed into the taxi and read off the address.

"hzze Bzz areee ween?"

Crap. I could not understand anything he was saying. His accent was glorious. I could have spread it on toast and eaten it up, but my dreams of being worldly and urbane were crushed as I had to ask him to repeat himself over and over. I think he was more excited about my first trip to Ireland than I was. We finally fell into a rhythym and he dropped me off with a big wave, and I probably tipped him waaaay too much, but what a sweetheart.

I wasn't sure about hostels(again, things I would have done differently...), so I opted for a bed & breakfast that was supposed to be just a few blocks away. The girl at the tourism office gave me a horribly xeroxed map and off I went.

To stare in horror at empty corners. There were no street signs. I finally stopped dead in the stream of traffic, dropped my bag, and ta-da!

I'm not even sure my bag had hit the ground when a hand took my elbow and a man asked where it was I was trying to get to. He pointed out that the signs were posted on the buildings themselves every other block, gave me some terrible directions to my destination, and hoped I had a wonderful trip. I floated up the street...

For a pathologically shy, (in my mind) chubby nineteen year old, the friendliness of the people combined with with the frenetic vitality of a large city were intoxicating. Did I got out to a rocking pub and meet a charming Irish lad? Good lord, no. I wish!

I was smiley and happy and still pathologically shy. But I had scheduled bus trips to see the sights for the next day, and spent the rest of that day wandering the streets of Dublin on foot, just soaking it all in. I found the backside of Christ Church Cathedral, which was amazing to a girl from California where every church was a ranch style stucco thing. California history didn't really take off until the mid 1800's where I grew up, and it was more saloons and courthouses than epic monuments to the lord built over time. If there was one thing that I brought back with me from that trip, it was that we need to tear down the churches here and demand that they be built with the blood and sweat equity of the faithful. Just breathtaking stuff.

I carefully set my little travel clock so that I wouldn't miss breakfast, as I was not a morning person, but had worked my included breakfast into my budget.


1 comment:

gretty said...

More of the story, NOW!