Here it is, as promised: my journal of me trip to Ireland. Delayed (almost a year!) but now finally here for you all to read :)
Or: The Arrival
(Writer’s Note: To all who did not know this before: I love Ireland. Ever since I was little I’ve loved the music and the scenery, later on I learned the myths, legends and history… And I had been longing to go there for years. This year, I finally went…)
Graz, September 12th, 13:50
I’m about to board. Said goodbye to a tearful Mom and family and am now sitting on a poofy yellow sofa-thing in front of gate 5.
Now that I’m alone I begin to realize this is really happening. I’m going to Ireland. The tingling excitement has finally kicked in, so strong it’s making me queasy. What will happen when those gates open? Well, I pray to heaven that all will go well. I’m starting to tremble with anticipation. Maybe I should continue writing this later on.
[Now playing: “Viva la Vida – Coldplay“]
-Epic music for an epic moment. Just got in the airplane. Strings fill my ears, joy fills my heart.
It’s amazing how loud my family can scream hahaha I knew they’d be waving from the terrace. I just had to take a picture of the plane first, before I waved to them. I’m glad I got a window seat- although I always seem to look out on the wing when I do…
Here comes the elevator feeling!
I see my family from the runway, but I know they can’t spot me here. I send them a kiss anyway.
The clouds have covered the land below. We break through the air loudly and all I see is white. It seems I only fly on cloudy days. I hardly see the wing now. Oh, turbulence: I need to stop writing now.
[Now playing: “Walk On – U2”]
Turned my phone on flight mode and my Walkman on shuffle – it selected perfectly :)
“She’s packing a suitcase for some place none of us has been. A place that has to be believed to be seen…”
Above the sea of white the sky is a beautiful shade of light blue. It always seems like you could walk on that dense curtain of clouds…
“Home, that’s where the heart is,” sings Bono. Where is my heart? Well, right now it lays spread all over my insides. It exploded a while back ;)
I’m going to nap now to avoid headaches. I woke up at 6am, after all…
Frankfurt, September 12th, 15:00
About to land. Couldn’t sleep after all, so I read. Realized Sophie is great company :)
It took me half an hour to get from the airplane to the next departure gate on foot, walking quickly. The walking did me well after sitting for so long.
I freshened up and am now sitting at the Goethe Bar/Café in front of the gate. Corny, but nice. Although the statue in the centre could be any man in his 30s.
The more I think about it, though, the more fitting this café is. Goethe was born in Frankfurt, after all (okay, I admit, the back of the menu helped out there ;) ) but there is also a quote by Goethe at the beginning of “Sophie’s World”… I’m on Plato now. I never really understood him, even in class, so I’m reading every paragraph two, three times. In a way the book reminds me of past Philosophy lessons and refreshes details I had forgotten, but in another way it annoys me; it’s all written in a very childish way, sometimes. Although that may be the result of translation… Makes me want to learn Norwegian just to read it in its original version!
Plato is difficult, but Aristotle is a pill! I need to take a break. As soon as I pay my bill I’m taking a walk. I still have more than 2 hours to kill, and I’m feeling really cold. I should have brought a sweater in my hand luggage… or at least not have sat directly under the air conditioning.
I walked up and down the B area. Passed an aquarium of smokers… Since Frankfurt is a smoke-free airport, they put up glass boxes about half as big as our winter garden for people to smoke in. The one in my sight right now has about thirty people crammed into it, filling their lungs with tar and their brains with nicotine…
What else did I see? A waiting room filled with sleepers :) There must have been nine or ten of them…
And yes, I’ve already heard Portuguese being spoken :) I knew I would, I always do, here. Brazilians, too…
I’m feeling much warmer now, but my neck is still stiff from the flight. Plus, I found another reason for why I’m excited about Dublin: the bed at the hotel! LOL
No, really, they could totally offer beds to wait in, here :)
Oh, one more thing for now: Every now and then, I have to fight the urge to wave at the cart people, like Jimmy hahahaha
Oh, and there’s a man over there wearing a medal. No joke. Who walks around wearing a medal? And a gold one, too! Weird…
The screen above the boarding place turned to Dublin a little while ago. In about 10 minutes I can go through the gate…
-“Lordy Gorgeous”!! (As my little sister would say) I almost had a heart attack just now! LOL I just checked with the woman at the counter if everything was okay and all. Then I sit down, start writing, and suddenly the lady on the speaker phone says “Meine Damen und Herren, Ihr Flug nach Dublin ist leider ausge-“ -and I swear I almost fainted, thinking she was going to say “ausgefallen”! -but she said “ausgebucht” instead haha… Whew! That sure wakes you up! LOL -Imagine if they had cancelled it! Heavens…
I’m feeling kind of sick right now. Can’t tell if it’s the spaghetti I just ate or anxiety…
I’m in the airplane. Just before, in the bus, on the way from the airport to the plane, I was so excited I nearly passed out. Honestly. I’m feeling dizzy. Anyone who saw me probably thought I was terrified of flying haha but, really, I was almost hyperventilating. This is the last step before arriving there, in Dublin.
“Lordy Gorgeous” again…
The flight takes 2 hours, and I’m kind of travelling back in time now.
The anxiety passed now, and the machines feel like they’re warming up.
Oh, I’m so glad I got in early, ‘cause there’s a mess with everyone crowding the hall now. Okay, nervousness now nearly gone. But it may come back… The pilot just said that it’s really windy in Dublin and that “we’ll see what happens when we get there” …. Hmmm… Oh, well, I’m still going to Dublin! :) What would be the odds of something happening, huh?
Oh me, oh my! :)
Here goes. Safety tips, engines on,… there’ll probably be lots of turbulence so I’ll only continue writing when we get there. Going over water and stuff…
Had to fight back tears a second ago. Not there yet… But taking off now :)
We just left the mainland (of Europe). Really awesome view. The city lights just ended. I suppose we were over the Netherlands, or France or something. Hard to tell. Now outside is basically black, except for a few lit buoys. My stomach is doing tricks here. I have to force myself to sleep, otherwise I might feel sick. Really was a bad idea to eat when you’re not hungry and when you know you’re going to be excited later… :P
We’re about to land. To my right is only darkness but no clouds. It could be the Irish Sea. We had no turbulence or maybe I slept through it.
Dublin, September 12th, 22:40
We made it.
I’m in Ireland!!!
I was right, before. I had seen the Irish Sea. I recorded my first impression of Dublin: lights around the bay area, and the moments before and during landing Thank Heavens we arrived safely! But I see by the people and vehicles outside the plane that it’s still windy.
In the Metro Hotel. I feel really welcome. The shuttle bus driver was super friendly and talked non-stop :D I guess you don’t necessarily need to kiss the Blarney Stone to get the gift of the gab: you just have to be Irish! :D
His accent was really cool :) but sometimes just not understandable hahaha
I’d love to continue writing but I have to sleep now. I’ll write more on the bus to Galway in the morning :)
….But OMG I’m in Ireland!!!!!
Ok, I give up. I can’t sleep xP There’s too much to be excited about! The bed is okay, the pillow is too hard, though. Otherwise great room. What to do to fall asleep??
Maybe I’ll watch some TV. They have channels in Irish :) Their news channel is Sky News, and they also have France 24, but the rest is like RTÉ & RTÉ2 and the “Late Late Show” was on before :)
Oh, there’s a guy speaking Irish on TV!!!! :D –and the commercials are in Irish, too!! :D ok, some of them are in English… :)
Dublin, September 13th, 07:15
I woke up with Irish music :) Programmed the alarm clock on my phone to play a jig from Capercaillie. My hotel room cooled down a bit, but during the night I was warm.
I couldn’t help smiling the moment I woke and realized where I was. Dublin ♥
And in a few hours I’ll be in Galway… (I can’t believe it! :D)
It took me such a long time to fall asleep, and for some reason I woke up for a moment an hour ago, but I feel entirely rested… even though, if you think about it, I only got 5 hours of sleep. Well, it’s time to start my day :)
It’s breakfast time in Ireland! Hahaha
Not so hungry at all, but it will be a 3-hour bus ride. Got myself an Irish yogurt and some toast. Didn’t think beans would be a good idea ;)
My Goodness, this yogurt is fantastic! It’s really creamy and vanilla-y and at the bottom there are creamy bits of fruit: strawberry and peaches :)
Sky News is more Irish here :D I guess it’s not the one we get at home.
Waiting for the shuttle bus… It sure takes a while to get back into their accent hihi They just talk so quickly!
In the bus to Galway! :)
Got here right on time with the shuttle bus. The driver didn’t talk at all. He also was much older than yesterday’s driver.
The two-language signs everywhere are great, especially since I can pronounce some of them :) But last night when I watched the weather report in Irish I only understood the words “and”, “here”, “there”, “day”, “night” and some numbers. If there had been no picture I wouldn’t have known what she was talking about, though^^ The best thing about the signs is that the first language, on top, is Irish :D
I just turned the radio on through my phone, on a really Irish station :) They speak Gaelic and play folk music: perfect! :D
[Now playing: Kate Bush on 90.3]
Okay! So, to get to what happened yesterday: I arrived at the airport and felt that our flight had been the last one of the day. It was basically empty. After passing through the immigration thing, where I had a friendly little chat with the guy at the desk (he asked me where I had learned my English and stuff) I walk down the hall where I passed a leprechaun pillar hihi the airport is small and clean and friendly-looking.
Right now the bus is driving down some streets in Northern Dublin. It’s really pretty :) There are two people speaking Gaelic on the radio now, and every now and then they say something in English. And right now they’re playing “One Love” by U2, but with a woman singing with Bono in a duet.
Anyway, yesterday: As soon as I got to the arrival place and had my bag, I called the hotel. The guy directed me to the shuttle bus area, where I called Mom. The bus was there, but it was empty. The driver of the Carlton shuttle bus asked me if I needed help and when I told him I needed to get to the Metro Hotel, he said that the driver was “back there, yapping up some rubbish” hahaha Surely enough, when the driver got in the bus, he apologized for “yapping” :D I was the only one on the bus. The driver asked me where I was from, and when I said Austria he started talking about how he had gone to Vienna twice- once to a wedding- and he told me all about his rich friend (the groom). Then he apologized for driving within the speeding limit hahaha and explained that there was a policeman in front of him. And then he told me why the police was there: Well, it seems the young students of Dublin like to get together to watch airplanes… The driver said that they’d be like “Let’s go to the airport!” and everyone would be like “Yeah, the airport!!” Then they’d watch planes take off and smoke pot x) haha…
Then the driver told me I’d love Galway because it’s beautiful and they always have live music. He also said that the hurricane warning was over. And when I told him that it was my first time in Ireland he told me “Welcome to Ireland” with his great accent :D He then proceeded in telling me why the Metro Hotel was called Metro Hotel, and explained the difference between Northern Dublin and Southern Dublin. He also pointed out the brand new 24hours McDonalds, in case I was hungry :)
He also told me to stay away from the Temple Bar if I want to really enjoy “Irish-ness”, but he wouldn’t tell me to go anywhere, because if I thought it was bad, I’d be like “it was that driver who told me about this place!” hahaha… So the short ride over to the airport seemed to take a lot longer because of the sheer amount and velocity of the driver’s talking :D I had a great time. The reception at the hotel was really friendly and the people who work there wear name tags with only their first name on them. The room was great, too. The only problem was that I was too excited to sleep ;)
I found RnaG! :D It’s the Gaelic radio station I listened to back home, on the internet.
Dublin’s riverside area was really pretty. It’s awesome to hear Gaelic being spoken on the radio constantly *-* We left Dublin already, but I don’t see much out the window because of all the trees. We’re on a motorway, crossing the country. Another two hours until we arrive, according to the driver. The sun is shining, but it’s cloudy and the wind wasn’t so bad at the airport.
County Westmeath; trying to get a picture of the motorway sign that says Gaillimh, but I’m sitting on the wrong side of the bus.
[Now playing: great Irish music on RnaG :)]
I need to stop writing now: my hand is killing me^^
…They have ploughing competitions here^^ And I’ve seen a bazillion cows and sheep. It’s really really green here :) My radio connection keeps breaking. Bad reception… And it started to rain. Okay, I lost all signal now. Good thing I brought my own Irish music ;)
[Now playing: “Four Stone Walls – Capercaillie”]
It stopped raining. I’ve already seen 2 rainbows :) I wish I had a map of the island with me. I don’t know exactly which counties I’m passing. Roscommon? And did I just cross the Shannon?
Oh, the sky is so blue now and the grass is so green ♥ 14°C and everywhere there are those typical stone wall fences. No mountains in sight.
I’m pretty sure we’re in Athlone now. On the one hand I don’t want to take too many pictures, but on the other hand I don’t dare put the camera down for fear I’d miss something great.
It rained briefly, but now the sun is shining again. They didn’t lie about Irish weather^^
Now all I see out the windows is green fields, stone fences and sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. I’ll be darned if I haven’t seen 2000 already hahahaha
Make that 3000 sheep. Maybe 2000 cows, 800 horses… Uncountably many stone fences….
Galway, September 13th, 13:30
After arriving in Galway I went straight to the tourist office, got a map of the city and asked how to get to my B’n’B. Then I crossed Eyre Square/JFK Park and picked up some cash before heading to the bus stop. I waited for a few minutes, eavesdropping on others’ conversations, trying to figure out what language they were speaking hahaha
The Western accent is heavy. Really, really hard to get into. Most of the time they spoke so fast that I only caught a few English words. I console myself with the fact that they do, in fact, use Irish words every now and then, just like any bilingual person does. The bus fare to Merlin Park was only €1.60 and the bus driver was really friendly. I got to Woodhaven just in time for my room to be ready at the Branches (my B’n’B). There’s only one man working there right now. It’s small and cosy :)
After freshening up and dressing appropriately for the crazy weather (the only thing that works is a T-shirt, boots, thick jacket, scarf and arm warmers^^) I walked down the road, as I was instructed to by the gentleman at the Branches, to the hotel restaurant in which I’m now sitting. The only thing vegetarian is risotto, but it looks great :)
Okay, if you add a lot of salt it’s great^^
I got a pamphlet at the Tourist Office for a Celtic storytelling session that they have here every Wednesday. I’d love to go :) But now I’m not sure whether to book “Trad on the Prom” for tonight or Thursday. I need to get to the Tourist Office a.s.a.p.
Either the time passed slowly or I was quick today :D
I went to Eyre Square and shopping centre, bought hat and gloves, walked up and down High Street/Shop Street/Quay Street (which are all one and the same street, but the different sections have different names), bought books and CDs, took lots of pictures and booked “Trad on the Prom” for tonight. I know my way around now :D I went back to the B’n’B to shower and dress, now I’m going back to Eyre Square to pick up money, then it’s on to Salthill :)
Oh, before I forget: “Footpool” :P hahaha… It’s a place in the mall (!) where you can sit, put your feet in an aquarium and let little fish nibble on your toes! x) Weird thing to have at a mall…
Salthill, Galway, September 13th, 19:30
I bundled myself up, somehow managing to fit all my hair into my new hat- and went to the bus station. From Eyre Square I then took a cab (with a friendly woman driver) to Salthill Hotel. I bought the ticket, then went straight to the waterside. I took a long stroll down the coastal road. The weather is perfect. It’s not cold, only windy, and before, the sun was at just the right angle to make all of the coast glisten like gold.
The smell of saltwater filled my lungs and I listened to the waves. The weight of the promise I made was washed off my shoulders. Nature takes promises very seriously. When you swear to the ocean that you will see her again in two years, she binds you to it. Last time I saw the Atlantic was in Brazil, in 2009. Back then, though my plans were different than they are now, I looked out to the ocean and swore I’d return in two years. Here I am. Only now it’s from Galway Bay, not Natal.
I could see the Aran Islands from where I stood. Next time I come here I shall go to them. For now the sight of them should suffice.
It’s dreamy here. I’m sitting in the Prom Restaurant, listening to a beautiful arrangement of piano and violin, watching the ocean from the window. The food just arrived and looks wonderful. Canelloni- one of the only vegetarian dishes here…. Amazing food ♥ And I recognized one of the songs :)
[Now playing: “Caledonia – Instrumental”]
Woodhaven, Galway, September 14th, 00:00
I just got back from the show.
It was unbelievable. I can’t begin to describe the emotions that gripped my. I couldn’t find the cause. Happiness, love, amazement, respect… are just some that come to mind.
I cried. I wanted to the moment they started, but held it back. But the Uilleann Pipes tore at my heartstrings so violently that I couldn’t stand it any longer. By the time Marc Roberts started singing “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore” I was overthrown. When the song was over, the Japanese woman sitting beside me looked into my tear-stained face and said, “You are so moved.” I nodded, analyzing the tone in her voice. The sentence itself stated the obvious, yet there was something else. A feeling I can find no name for. Some form of amazement, or surprise, mixed with either compassion or confusion… (Name that emotion! :P)
After the break I felt- well, I would like to use the word “better”, but that wouldn’t be right. I did not feel bad at all while I cried; that had different reasons entirely- but I did feel different after I drank some water. Maybe it helped that the second half was funnier^^
All in all the performance was the stuff of dreams. To put together that arrangement- all Irish artists, champions, performers- and the choice of music… ♥
Plus, it was my first real day in Ireland. And I was watching that amazing show in Galway, the city that I had dreamed of seeing/being in for years.
-Overwhelmed! That’s the word I was looking for!
It reminds me of the time I got a music box with a dancing ballerina inside, many, many years ago. It was so beautiful and perfect and lovely that it made me cry…
When it was over I got on the Tour Bus like the man at the Tourist Office had told me to. My driver was the loveliest man :) He was in his fifties or something; all white, and was so kind and helpful. He took a huge group of Americans to their hotel (spinning 6 times on the roundabout on the way hahaha) then took two ladies to another one, then me to the Branches :)
I got to sit in the “shotgun” seat of the bus :D and at one point, he stopped at a light, got out of the bus and helped a man whose car had broken.
When he dropped me off he waited until I reached the door of the Branches before he drove off. I’m impressed^^ Plus, he told me that since I booked tours with the Galway Tour Company, I should have been picked up directly from the B’n’B and taken to the show- and I will be picked up for the other two tours, tomorrow and the day after :)
So, in conclusion, this has been the most perfect day :) And a wonderful way to start my “big adventure”…
Woodhaven, Galway, September 14th, 09:15
I woke up this morning with the sun rising. The bed here is much more comfortable than the one at the Metro. After calling Mom, getting dressed and tidying my room, I went downstairs to have breakfast. When I finished, the host (whose name I realized I do not know!^^) called the G.T.C. and reminded them to pick me up. Right now I’m sitting here on the bed of my room, waiting to be called downstairs.
It looks like it will be a nice day. The sun is shining and skies are blue- no sign of the rain they keep announcing. Unless they mean the 20 second showers that start every few hours. Yesterday I juggled hat, gloves, umbrella and sunglasses, trying to cope with the all-too-sudden temperature and weather changes.
The Spanish Arch, Galway, September 14th, 12:30
I decided to have coffee before lunch today. So I’m sitting here by the Spanish Arch eating an apple crumble :) Lots of people sit here: mostly students, so I fit right in. There’s a seagull sitting beside me, complaining that I’m not feeding him. I’ve always wondered at how white their feathers can be…
The reason I’m here is because so much happened in the last three hours that I’m afraid I might forget^^ so I’m writing it down now:
I was picked up by the bus and taken to the Coach Station by mistake. The Walking Tour usually starts at the G.T.C. Office on High Street, where I was yesterday. But since I was the only one who had booked the tour today, it wasn’t a problem. The guide came to get me where I was and we started the tour there instead.
We walked the short distance to Eyre Square and the guide (who speaks Irish) told me why the park was called JFK Memorial Park: President Kennedy had taken a 3 day tour of Ireland just months before he was killed. During this tour he spent one hour (!) in Galway. The people of Galway were so excited that he had visited that they were still celebrating when he was killed. The news of his death shocked and saddened them so deeply that they dedicated the green area of Eyre Square to him.
We then walked up the steps to the Hooker Statue. I was explained that the Galway Hooker was an Irish fishing boat used in Galway Bay, and why they had made the statue out of metal (so that when it rusted it looked like the original brown sails of the Hooker boat).
He then showed me the old gallows, which is now the bus stop from which I take the bus to Merlin Park. He told me that in 2003 a group of archeologists (including himself) dug around that area and they found 35 skeletons without their heads. The heads had been removed after the bodies had been hung, boiled in saltwater (to preserve them) and erected upon long spikes in front of the city walls, as a warning against law-breaking. As it were, the city wall was our next step.
We crossed the park and went to the shopping center (Eyre Center) and there- smack in the middle of the mall- was the thirteenth century city wall of Galway! :D He told me that there had been a businessman who did not want to build his shop anywhere else. In fact, he wanted to rip down the wall! Luckily the people of Galway protested and a compromise was made :)
The guide led me to Shop Street, where I walked yesterday, and showed me the most famous pubs, restaurants and the real Claddagh Ring makers. Then we went to St. Nicholas’ Church (the Protestant one). He told me its history and of its connection to templar knights (who are said to have built the church) and the church in Roslin, Scottland. He also told me all kinds of legends involving the clergy and families who played a part in that church’s history.
I was told about the tribes (=the founding families of Galway) and especially about the Lynch tribe. He showed me the Lynch Memorial Window, on the outside of the church, and told me the story of how Lord Mayor Lynch invented the verb “to lynch” when he killed his own son (by throwing him out of said window). He also showed me Lynch’s Castle, which is now an AIB. We went down High Street and the guide showed me some excavations and another wall of Medieval Galway City. We concluded our tour by the River Corrib, at the Spanish Arch, where I am now sitting. Across River Corrib is Claddagh, a village in Galway City. Beyond it lies Salthill. In the past, the river separated Gaelic Irish and English Irish people. They spoke Irish there and even had their own laws and lord mayor. Nowadays they still elect their own lord mayor, but it’s only a formality: he has no power.
So my plan for the afternoon is to go see the NUI Galway, the university that I would like to do an exchange year in, once I’m studying medicine. It’s one of the two universities in this city- the GMIT is near Woodhaven- but Galway is seen as a major student city. Of its 75000 inhabitants, almost 40% attend one of the universities! Anyway, I’m also going to St. Nicholas’ Cathedral (the Catholic one) and might take a look at the museum if I have time.
After the tour (which only lasted 2 hours) I walked on High Street, listened to some street musicians and started looking for souvenirs. I went into 3 different shops but only the third had something that caught my eye. While browsing in this particular shop, I heard the man who was working there say to some tourists that he doesn’t drink- at all! :) When I was paying for my things I told him that I had overheard him and we got to talking. He was really friendly and was surprised when I told him that I knew Leitrim, the county where he’s from. He gave me a discount :D Really nice… :)
The weather has been holding up, by the way. Before, I even took off my jacket. But now it seems like it will indeed rain.
Galway Museum, Galway, September 14th, 16:00
Just sat down after a 3 hour walk. I went back up High Street, then went into a side street to get to the famous Charlie Byrne’s Bookstore. I found the mythology book by Lady Gregory that I had wanted and a the complete collection of W.B. Yeats’ poems. I then walked to St. Nick’s Cathedral. It was really impressive. Awesome architecture and beautiful windows… After a picture-taking session my feet led me through side streets to the NUI. It’s so beautiful ♥ Looks like Hogwarts, only smaller.
I continued down small roads in a residential area and wound up in Claddagh. I walked along a street, then cut through a huge green area. There I was, walking down a path between a sea of green, when suddenly, right before me, the ocean horizon and a sandy, seaweed beach appeared. It was terribly windy, but so beautiful ♥ ♥ ♥
I collected a few seashells and sat down on a bench for a while. Following the Quay, I walked all the way back to the Spanish Arch, where the museum is. Now I’m in the restaurant beside it. They have lots of vegetarian dishes here. When I finish a dish that they call “Veggielicious”, I’ll go to the “Músaem” :)
The Cottage Bar, Salthill, Galway, September 14th, 19:00
Hmmm…. I just realized that I’m here an hour early. Oh well, at least I’m here. For a moment I wasn’t sure if I should come at all, since m phone didn’t make any calls before, and I couldn’t confirm whether they’d have a session here tonight or not. But more to that later.
There was only half an hour left until closing time at the museum, but it was enough to see the entire museum. The coolest thing there was the suspended Hooker boat in the middle of the building. It didn’t have brown sails, though. The rest of the exhibition wasn’t that exciting. Most of it was filled with paintings by Charles Lamb. It was cool to see the 88th Regiment stuff, though, since I had learned about their history in the morning, during my tour. In any case I took a lot of pictures^^
From there I went to the Branches. It seems like ages ago. Weird… Well, I took the bus back to Eyre Square and walked down High Street, trying to make my mind up about going to Salthill or not. After talking to Mom I decided to go for it and grabbed a taxi. The driver gave me a discount :) He was Swiss (not that that’s the reason why hahaha)
Well, now I’m here. I paid €2.50 (!) for a glass of coke and am waiting here, writing… Still half an hour to go. They’re not playing Irish music :( Maybe I should have stayed on High Street. They were playing live music there all day long. But I’ll do that tomorrow night, since I have nothing planned. Maybe I’m lucky and not only old people are going to the Cliffs tomorrow, then I’d have someone to go out with^^
What I find really great here- oh, sorry, I mean grand ;) – is that everyone here is so polite :) They say thanks to the bus driver, they greet you on the streets, and when you’re not smiling they ask you if everything’s okay! I don’t know what it is, or why people aren’t like this everywhere. I just know that I’ve felt really welcome here. It almost makes me sad that I’m leaving this city the day after tomorrow, but I’ve done all the tourist things, so there would be no reason to hand around… :(
Oh, I would love to go to the NUI, though… I love this city :) It’s so beautiful and alive and friendly… and they have a great bus system! :D No, really, I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a bus here.
The music in this place sucks. The stories better be good, otherwise I’ll be pissed :P
This place is also a restaurant, so there are lots of families here. Not many tourists; at least I haven’t heard any other languages being spoken^^ Oh! Speaking of other languages: I heard one girl speaking Irish on the phone :) The first person I heard really speaking it! My tour guide threw in some Irish words every now and then (some of which I understood, like craic and céilí), and read the Irish signs out loud.
I’m bored now. Any my hand hurts^^ Should have brought a book… Like the Little Prince :D I bought one in Gaelic (for our collection) – then I could pretend that I can read and understand it haha
15 minutes to go… I just hope I can get a taxi later… There’s a painting of George Bush on the wall… Or at least it looks like George Bush^^
I saw a lot of kids today, walking on the western side of Galway (in the area around the NUI). Over there people still stare at you if you suddenly pull a camera out of your pocket. In the East that’s normal ;) It’s a residential area, full of schools. The kids were all wearing school uniforms. Really cute :)
The Branches, Galway, September 15th, 09:30
Yesterday was not what I expected. At all. When I saw the pamphlet for “Celtic Storytelling” I admit I imagined a room like Bilbo Baggins’ living room^^ And a really old, serious man, sitting by the fire. Like in that Jim Henson TV series! Well, it was nothing like that…
The storyteller, Rab, was about 50, had a few streaks of gray in his hair, and was very… energetic. He is Scottish-Irish and has so much lilting in his speech that at times I couldn’t understand him. There were only a few people listening- I was the youngest- and everyone came from a different country: Canada, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Switzerland,… Rab asked us all our names (and where we came from) then lit some candles and had the lights dimmed down.
Then he started telling us a story…
It was hilarious!! He told it with background noises and making voices and throwing his own opinion in, here and there… Sometimes he’d have the characters speak in a sarcastic way, and he made faces and moved his arms and legs… Not what I expected, but still great :)
He told us a Scottish legend of a fisherman and a mermaid, then told us a silly fable in which he had us make different noises when he said certain words (e.g. howl when he said “coyote”)…
I’m on my way to the Cliffs of Moher.
The driver is really old. Older than one would expect a man who still works to be. But he’s friendly and silly, making jokes and telling us things… While driving he explains the roads and sights. He just said that the large roundabouts are named after the tribes. –Oh, I had wanted to write about them anyway, so I’ll just put it in now:
The roundabouts (and all the streets, for that matter) are very wide, presumably because of all the busses. Everyone rides the bus here. I guess it’s more convenient. Galway isn’t so big (I could compare it to Klagenfurt) and the busses pass every few minutes, going to and from Eyre Square. The whole traffic seems to move quicker than in Austria; the busses race around, flowing by the cars on their separate lanes. And I haven’t seen any motorcycles! I only noticed this today, when I saw one parked in front of a house…
It’s beautiful here. When the driver isn’t telling stories, he plays an Irish music CD. Oh, W.B. Yeats lived around here! (Clarinbridge) ♥
Getting back to yesterday:
The third story Rab told was about how one man became the best fisherman in all of Scotland. It had fairytale aspects and just felt really European. We then had a short break and I spoke to Rab. He thought it was really cool that I am here alone and said that Mom was really cool for letting me :) Oh, and he likes Capercaillie :)
The second half was the best. He told the epic tale of Oisín, son of Fionn MacCumhaill and the last of the Fianna warriors… Legendary!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
County Clare, 11:25
Here’s where Lady Gregory and W.B. Yeats had the idea of the Abbey Theatre :) Oh, wonderful area, perfect weather… ♥
After the epic, Rab told a few little stories about St. Patrick. When it was over I bought his book, which he signed for me – Oh yeah, did I mention? He’s a writer :)
The couple who sat beside me (he was from Dublin, she from Canada) helped me catch a cab, and when I arrived at the Branches I immediately started reading, despite the late hour :)
So that was Day 2… It was grand :D
Well, here we are now: driving through Clare. I’m actually feeling really warm here. The weather report changes every day. I don’t think they’re too good at predicting it here ;P Altogether I’ve experienced about 80 seconds of rain! But you know what they say about Irish weather… Well, I’m glad the sun is shining :) It makes everything greener *-*
Kilfenora, Co. Clare, 12:30
We stopped for a bit to see some High Crosses. I went into a gift shop and finally found a dog for Myah (my little sister), and a little leprechaun playing the violin for myself. I had been looking for one yesterday, but only found them playing flutes… I still didn’t find any statues/icons of Aine or Lugh. I was sure I would find some in the West… Maybe by the Cliffs, or maybe only in Dublin… It’s really warm now!
[Now playing: “Galway Girl” – Steve Earle !! :D]
I’m sitting here, sleeveless and wearing sunglasses! I never thought I would^^ The driver just said that he won’t change the CD until we all sing along :D Alright by me: I love this song!!
LOL the CD seriously only has “Galway Girl” on it! xD Too bad I only know the chorus… Well maybe by the end of the day I can sing the whole thing ;)
Rolling into Lisdoonvarna, the “matchmaking town”… According to the Irish I still have 7 years before going “on the shelf” and so, becoming an old maid. I have to watch the movie “The Matchmaker” when I get back home- it plays here :)
Doolin, Co. Clare, 14:00
We stopped for lunch- vegetable soup with homemade brown bread ♥
I’m pretty sure the Japanese girl sitting behind me is the very girl who sat beside me at “Trad on the Prom”. Speaking of that, “Trad” does stand for traditional (folk music)…
Not to sound like every single person here, but WOW! *-*
Sooo windy! Soooo majestic…. ♥
For a few minutes I just sat there. Staring into the West. Imagining I could see Tír na nÓg… After some time you don’t feel the wind. Sitting there: One with the rock. Listening to the howls of the wind and the clashing of the waves… it almost seems like you can hear strings in the Nature.
Then, when you move again, after sitting there so long with the rocks, you feel an icy heat rush through you. And staring down at the water, the wind at your back, threatening to tear you off the face of the earth- what an exhilarating feeling! I trekked for more than an hour. There was a museum, but why waste my time in there, when Nature had provided with something so spectacular?
It’s raining now. My lungs feel like they are filled with an icy gel. My head is spinning. The rumble of the motor lulls me to sleep while a fury of strings screams at me from the speakers.
One woman isn’t here yet. Two of “us” went to look for her.
So many people die here, whether by accident or on purpose. I was told that people travel here from all over the world just to die here. Seems fitting, being the entrance to Tír na nÓg and all… But you can’t just barge into the Land of the Young… If you aren’t welcome you won’t get in; you can’t force them to take you.
Reminds me of Oisín and Maeve from yesterday’s story… He didn’t even realize how the time had passed in Ireland. He was forever young. And if it wasn’t for Patrick he could have gone back… Politicians… -.-
The woman still isn’t here. The driver is going to report her missing. The people who went to look for her came back without her. Her friend is staying behind to wait. A bad feeling creeps through the bus like fog. These cliffs are so big. You can walk around for hours- and lose track of time. It’s 16:25 now. We have to leave her behind.
We hesitate to go, all eyes glued to what little of the cliffs we can still see. From here all humans there look the same: Tiny.
On the road. The driver put on a DVD. I recognize the male dancer from Trad on the Prom. The scenery and music cut into my heart. Do I really have to leave this place tomorrow?
The driver just got a call. The woman arrived at the entrance. We’re too far away now to go back and pick her up. She’s an hour late (we had agreed to be back at the bus at a certain time) Good thing she’s alright, though…
The bus jumps up and down on this bumpy road. The ocean is breathtaking.
Galway Bay ♥
We passed a film crew. Only the driver called it “fillum” xD
A French filming company. I saw a Viking! :D Desmond, the driver, says it’s Asterix.
We just stopped at the Fairy Fort. I’m dazed with the amount of energy pulsing though that circle. I feel a bit dizzy. I touched trees and moss and kept my eyes open for fairies… I’m positive there are nymphs there… But I was rushed. If it had been up to me, I would’ve sat down in the center and meditated. For a really long time. But the tour didn’t allow more. We already are running late because we waited for that lady, and there are roadworks everywhere so we had to take a huge detour…
One word comes to mind when I look around: vast.
This land is so vast and covered in rocks – thus the name “Burren” which means rocky land. And everywhere there stand stone walls.
The Portal Tomb which we just visited was erected in the middle of nowhere. Really. This uninhabited land is as gray as the sky. Shrubs, ivy and ferns grow between the stones, then suddenly the gray ends and it’s green fields as far as the eye can see…
Looking at the Portal Tomb you begin to wonder… Where does it lead to? Who is buried beneath it? And you wish there was some way you could find out… Too bad the Celts did not write down their secrets… Oh well, leaves more to the imagination :)
The tour should have been over an hour ago. Now all the shops are closed :P and I didn’t get any Galway postcards or t-shirt yet. I’m going to have to get them tomorrow morning.
The best way to do that is to have an early breakfast, quickly head into town, get the stuff, go back to the Branches, pick up my bags, pay, then go back into town and grab the bus to Baile Áthe Cliath… Yeah. Should work. I’ll be in Dublin in time for lunch.
We’re almost in Galway now. I got a relieved feeling at the thought :) Beautiful Galway ♥
Woodhaven, September 15th, 23:00
My last night in Galway…
I was dropped off here by the bus, I changed my shoes and bag, then went into town. I’ve strongly come to believe in the luck of the Irish, by the way: I always get to the station in time to catch the bus^^ Works out wonderfully, their system. I walked down Eyre Square and High Street with a darkening sky, enjoying the playing of the colorful street musicians.
While deciding which restaurant to eat in, my feet led me to Wolfe Tone Bridge, where I couldn’t help but take a picture of the Spanish Arch by night. I went all the way back up High Street and sat for a while in The King’s Head, but it felt awkward and it took so long to be waited on that I left. I went into the pub across the street. It was crowded and there was live music. I stood and listened for a while; then an old man started talking to me, out of the blue. He was really friendly and told me all about Gort, the “Brazilian capital of Ireland”. I had heard about it before from three other people. Every time I mention that I’m from Brazil they tell me about Gort^^ I really have to go there next time…
I left the pub when I found out there was no food (I mean not even a sandwich? Come on!), and walked all the way back down the street. I ended up eating at the Spanish Arch restaurant. I had an awesome, but spicy, quesadilla- and they played live trad there, too :) When I left (around 9:30 pm) the street was completely illuminated and different Irish songs drifted out of the pubs and into the street and jumbled as I made my way back up to Eyre Square. I feel proud of myself that I got the hang of things around here so quickly, and really enjoyed my time here.
It’s with a heavy heart the I look to tomorrow… But enough of that now; Day 3 was wonderful, even if it was the last Galway day…
Galway Coach Station, September 16th, 10:00
Mistakes cost you. And getting late is a mistake :P
I had an early breakfast and head into town, where I had to wait until the shops opened (9am). I hurried and bought what I had wanted, then went to Eyre Square. It was only a few minutes until the next bus to Merlin Park, but it was at the other side of JFK Park and I wasn’t quite sure where. I crossed anyway and foolishly waited until I realized that my plan was stupid. I got on a cab instead, and had him take me to Woodhaven, where I paid for my stay and retrieved my luggage. He brought me to the Coach Station, but it was too late. My bus had left two minutes before. The next one leaves in an hour. That would mean arriving in Dublin in 4 hours… and waiting around for an hour, stuck in the Coach Station with my luggage, without being able to do anything here. So I got a ticket for the CItyLink Bus… I’m kind of pissed that I had to waste some money (I had bought the return fare for Bus Éireann…) But whatever. No luck of the Irish for me today. Sure, I could’ve waited around, in Galway, but not able to do or see anything… but as of now I’ve reached the “point of no return” in my trip: Midweek.
Half of my trip is over. So, no, I don’t want to waste any time. Saddened as I am that I’m leaving Gaillimh, I try to think of the positive aspects of going to Dublin. I cannot deny that I’m more nervous at the thought of being in Dublin than I ever was about being in Galway…
10:15 – Getting that sinking feeling…
Slán, mo Ghaillimh… Goodbye, my Galway… Goodbye, Western Ireland… Until we meet again :)
Rathgar, Dublin, September 16th, 14:25
That’s a big city alright. The contrast to Galway is enormous. So many cars and people and busses… Even in the outskirts of the city, where my guest house Abrae Court lies, you can hear and smell traffic. I imagined it smaller, to be honest. Even though I slept ¾ of the journey over, I’m still exhausted. It took my almost an hour to locate and arrive at Abrae Court. Now I’m sitting here, trying to summon up the energy and courage to explore this country’s capital…
When I left the guest house, I walked up the street the taxi had come down when it brought me here. It’s a pretty area, actually. I followed up the street, walking and walking… (Rathgar is not on my street map- it’s too far away from the city center :P) I asked a garda and he assured me that I was headed towards the city center, so I walked some more. Sure enough I soon found myself at the most southern of my “points of interest” I had pre-marked on my map: Shaw’s Birthplace. After a quick photograph (I never read Shaw, so I didn’t see a need to linger^^) I walked up the avenue- taking lots of pictures- and headed towards another marked point on the map. Only problem was that I marked lots of things, but didn’t label them all, so I didn’t really find anything there^^
I managed to get to St. Stephen’s Green after an odd episode.
It had started to rain and I realized that I had forgotten to pack the umbrella in my purse. So I headed into the nearest shelter: a fish’n’chips place. Since I was hungry I decided to buy some fries to go (they were out of onion rings -.-) But I didn’t realize how big their portions were- and they were homemade, so they were really thick, not crunchy, and not salty enough. So I was basically walking around town with a bag of cooked potatoes under my arm x)
The rain got stronger, so I went into a small shopping center next to the fish’n’chips place to look for an umbrella. Finally I found one, bought it and went outside only to find a beautiful blue sky and shining sun. Very funny :P
The bad luck of the Irish continued, unfortunately.
I was taking pictures at St. Stephen’s Green when suddenly I notice this dude staring at me. I ignored him, thinking nothing of it, but every time I glanced at him he was still staring- and smiling. Always the same smile, like a puppet. As he was starting to creep me out I changed my course through the park. A few minutes later I noticed he was following me. Every time my eyes fell on him he wore that creepy smile. I tried to walk faster without it being too obvious. I looked behind me at one point and he wasn’t there anymore, then I turned a corner and there he was, smiling again.
Seriously freaking out by then, I pulled out my phone and wrote an SMS to my Irish friend, who I had wanted to meet while in Dublin, asking if he was available. I wanted to give my pursuer the illusion that I was not a tourist by texting (although the taking pictures of every single statue had probably already given that fact away). I heard footsteps behind me while I wrote. I walked faster and the steps got faster, too. I slowed to a stop and I noticed the pair of feet slowing down, too. I turned right around, abruptly, and walked back in the same direction I had come from, trying to give the guy a hint. But suddenly he cut across the grass and was beside me. He said hi. I looked up, one hand on the pepper spray in my pocket, the other hand with my thumb ready to push the speed-dial key I had set for the Irish police (gardaí). He asked me my name. In my fear and surprise I couldn’t lie, and so, said Lily. He told me his, which I don’t remember, and he said he was from Egypt. I nodded and said okay :P By then we had reached one of the exits from the park. I held up my phone and dismissively said, “Sorry, but I have to be somewhere.” He then said, “Oh, you’re busy.” I turned and walked away, my heart in my throat, sure that he was watching me. At that moment I called Mom and just started talking, on the one hand still trying not to look like a tourist (or at least not a solo tourist), on the other hand trying to calm myself down. I rambled on about the potato and umbrella incident until I was far enough away from where we had parted ways. I must have looked behind my back 300 times throughout the rest of the day, to make sure I wasn’t being followed. The guy had been on the phone for a while, during the time that he was following and smiling at me… and in my paranoid head (that had seen the movie Taken a few weeks ago) I was positive that he had arranged with someone to come and get me after he had talked to me… In any case I did not have the guts to return to St. Stephen’s Green for fear he might still be there.
My feet led me to Merrion Square. And through Merrion Square. And around Merrion Square. And through it again. Yes, I admit, I was lost for a little while^^ The thing is, that all the Merrion Streets (North, East, South and West) look exactly the same! So I was pretty upset right then. That guy in the park totally “threw off my groove”. Thank Heavens he was harmless…
I finally managed to get out of Merrion “Bermuda Triangle” Square and walked around, trying to get to Trinity College. Not so easy. The park incident had really shaken me and my feet were killing me… So I decided to postpone the rest of the sightseeing to tomorrow. What I then did, was I went to the tourist office and bought the Dublin Bus Tour ticket for tomorrow, then went to the station I had waited at earlier today (before I decided to take a cab to Rathgar) and got on bus 74A.
When I got out I decided it would be good to eat something, so I went up Rathgar Street looking for food. I found some in the shape of a 9’’ freshly baked vegetarian pizza, which I ate while lying on my bed in the guest house, watching TV. Fed and warm I fell asleep and woke up an hour later. I then turned off the TV, took a shower and brushed my teeth. And now I’m writing.
Looking back it doesn’t seem so bad, but I wasn’t too happy today. But tomorrow will be better, I’m sure :)
Oh, my Irish friend isn’t around, by the way. Funny^^ Last year, when he was in Austria, I couldn’t meet him. This year, when I’m in Ireland, he can’t meet me. Maybe next year hahahaha…
Well, I’m beat. Day 4 wasn’t so great, but it’s over now…
The Fontana Café, Dublin, September 17th
My Goodness I’m tired! >.<
Today was much nicer than yesterday. It started out with a nice chat with Monica, the Romanian owner of Abrae Court, and two other guests, a father (from Dublin) and son (from Manchester). For breakfast I had a toasted bagel and tea. The chat lasted for a long while, so breakfast took longer than planned. Monica told us why she had moved to Ireland and how it was keeping a guest house, and about how she had been on the news when her son was born. She had travelled by ferry to England, since she had been too pregnant to fly, and halfway there her water broke. They had to get a helicopter to take her the rest of the way, and the whole thing was in the news the next day^^ She said that that was the reason why her son was not very calm hahaha
Today the luck of the Irish was with me once more… meaning that I got to the bus on time ;)
Once in the city I used the “Hop On- Hop Off” busses (and my feet) to get all around. It took a while to find some things, but I found three of the things that I’d wanted to see the most: The Children of Lir statue, the Writer’s museum (♥♥♥!) and the Book of Kells. It was great.
The Writer’s museum was awesome!!!! So great, the idea of making a museum for great minds: Writers! ♥ Simply wonderful…
The Book of Kells was more breathtaking than I had expected. It’s absolutely beautiful!
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful :)
And the Long Hall was magnificent! The smell of old books… ♥ busts of great people… (the three great philosophers, Cicero,…) and today they had a medieval medicine exhibition! Perfect timing :)
What was less awesome, though, was that I didn’t notice my bag ripping (my paper bag). I noticed it when my camera fell out and onto Grafton Street. I don’t know how much had fallen out before that, but I’m not missing anything… Good thing I had my valuables in my purse and pockets. One thing I’m sure II lost, though, is the umbrella that I bought yesterday :P (Oh well… Good thing it was that one and not my other, more expensive one ;) haha)
I just now stopped for a coffee (with a shot of hazelnut syrup, which makes it awesome!!) and muffin, and to relax my legs a bit. When I’m done, I’m going to the Abrae Court to drop off my shopping bags ( I bought some more souvenirs) then I need to get to Duke’s Pub for the Literary Pub Crawl! :)
Playing games with a group of Germans I “found” ;)
What a night!
The Pub Crawl was genious! :) The two guides (professional actors) told us fun facts and anecdotes about Irish authors and some history and acted out bits of famous plays (with singing!). At the end they asked us questions – to which I only knew one answer x)
It was really fun :) During the tour, one guy (from Switzerland) talked to me. He is about 30, and is also travelling alone. We talked about literature and stuff^^ – all in English because I was afraid that I wouldn’t understand his German :D
After we left the third pub in the tour (there were 4 altogether) a group of Germans that I had noticed before – partly because they seemed the most pleased with the tour in comparison to the others, and partly because they were amongst the younger half^^ – started talking to us, and as we all spoke German we stuck together :)
I spoke with one of the guys during the last bit of the tour, and he introduced me to the others and invited me to join them after the tour to go to another bar. They invited the Swiss as well to be polite ;) (he turned out to be very dull later on^^)
We went to a rock/metal bar that was basically empty except for us. I sat beside the guy who had planned their trip. He gave me tips and told me how he had managed things, then I showed them all my pictures of the Cliffs of Moher since they had not been able to see them (on the day he had planned for them to see them, they were closed due to the hurricane warning). One of them had a deck of cards with him, and since I had my diary and a pen with me, we played a game called “Hühnern” – the German version of “Oh Hell” or “Stiche Ansagen” :)
At first nobody quite got the rules and we all played somehow hahahaha but after a while we got into it :D In the end I shared 3rd place with 3 others^^ It was really fun :)
We left the bar and walked down O’Connell Street, where I got a cab. They went on to Temple Bar. I would have gone along, but Mom was almost freaking out because I was hanging out with strangers, so I decided it was best to go back to Abrae Court…
They were really nice :) I had a terrific time. And I asked some of them for their Facebook contacts :) so we might stay in touch. They leave tomorrow night so we won’t meet again here, but they live somewhere around Köln, so maybe we meet sometime back home :)
I’ll write what else happened today tomorrow (as far as I can remember^^) but right now I’m going to sleep…
Day 5 was great!! :)
O’Connell Street, Dublin, September 18th
I’m sitting in the bus to Malahide Castle. There aren’t so many people here, but then again, I’m sitting in the top, so I don’t know how many are sitting downstairs.
Today’s the day of the big game :) Gaelic Football (I think^^)
It’s huge: Dublin is in the finals for the first time in 16 years, I heard- and they’re up against the best: Kerry. People on the street are wearing their colors. Either green and yellow for Kerry or dark blue and navy for Dublin. I bought myself the Dublin colors in shape of a woolen braid :) (people on the streets are selling these braids, hats, flags, banners and other such things since yesterday) According to the tour guide we’ll be back around 13:30, so I might be able to watch the game! :D
The city has been decorated for this big game since before I arrived. Ireland won in rugby yesterday- against Australia- so sports fans are super excited :) Oh, and we passed Croke Park Stadium, where the game will be played…
LOL! We just passed “the biggest Lily in the world” according to the tour guide xD In other words: “cabbage trees”^^ They look like palm trees, but are actually part of the lily family. Their leaves apparently taste like cabbage and they’re native to New Zealand. They grow all along Dublin Bay, which we are driving along at the moment. Unfortunately the tide is low, so I can’t see the Irish Sea water yet…
We passed the cemetery where the singer of Thin Lizzy is buried and we’re now listening to “Whiskey in the Jar” in his honor :)
[Now playing: “Whiskey in the Jar – Thin Lizzy”]
Malahide Castle, September 18th
The castle is beautiful! The style of the rooms inside is Rococo. The furniture, ceilings and paintings were absolutely awesome. But we didn’t see any of the town itself, so that kind of sucked… A movie I like plays in Malahide (Yesterday’s Children), and I really wanted to see the town myself (which is the reason why I booked this tour :P) Darn… Oh well… I’ll come back again someday.
The tour is over. We’re on our way back to Dublin City (An Lár) where I still have a few things to do (last Dublin day…) I did get one worry taken care of already: Monica will let me keep my luggage at Abrae Court as long as I need, so I won’t be stressed about going to the Hill of Tara tomorrow :)
The promised rain finally arrived, by the way. It rained yesterday, every now and then, then more during the night. Today is the coldest day of the week, and it’s been raining for a while now…
Speaking of rain, here’s something that happened yesterday:
I was walking down Duke Street during a short rain shower, making sure that it was the right place (the starting point of the Literary Pub Crawl) – with the umbrella I later on lost- when suddenly who comes down the street but Mario and Luigi!? :D
Yep. Followed by Bowser, Princess Peach, a Sumo wrestler a man in a cardboard box and other such figures. Curious, I walked up to them and asked them why they were dressed up. Since I was then the only one in the group holding an umbrella, two of the guys joined me beneath it and we had a chat^^ I found out that Princess Peach was a groom-to-be and that he and the other young men had come to Dublin to celebrate his bachelor party :)
As I was the umbrella holder I accompanied them to the first pub on their list^^ But I didn’t stay, as I was on my way to Trinity College (which was utterly hard to find, but I later found out that that’s just me and my incapability to read maps^^ :P) I saw the same group later in the evening, after I had joined the Germans, and was rather proud of myself that I knew why they were dressed like that and could tell my new friends about it :)
I went to the Famine Memorial. It was creepy, but awe-inspiring *-*
Then I went to the Bus Éireann headquarters to see how to go about tomorrow. There was a friendly man there who gave me a booklet and told me all about the Hill of Tara. So tomorrow’s all set.
Then I went on a search for food. On the way I stopped at an internet café and picked up some addresses Mom had sent me via Facebook and took the opportunity to add the guys I met yesterday.
Right now I’m inside a little restaurant on the quay where this super friendly guy made me a huge veggie sandwich along with homemade vegetable soup :) really good….
Starbucks Café, Dublin, September 18th
I tried to watch the game, but I couldn’t find a good place. Bars and cafés were absolutely crowded! So I decided to just walk around, take some more pictures and pick up the last of the souvenirs. I got everything except for the stuffed Irish Red Setter my little sister asked me to bring her. I couldn’t find one anywhere. Maybe I can find some Bus Éireann merchandise: their logo is a Red Setter… :P
Why am I in a Starbucks Café you might ask. Well, it’s the only café that I found that’s open until late on Sundays^^ I just wanted to find a place to sit where it’s not loud and windy. I’m actually waiting for the bus to Abrae Court – and filling up my sugar quota ;)
The Dubs won, by the way :) I wish I could have watched… But it’s great to see people in dark and navy blue walking and dancing down O’Connell Street, cheering and singing, and the balloons and flags everywhere make the city beautiful :)
Taxis and other cars drive around honking and there’s a great atmosphere everywhere :)
The bars are still crowded with celebrating fans, and I’ve already seen rival fans screaming and swearing at each other through car windows… xD
The braid I bought served its purpose- for good luck and as a makeshift hairbow ;)
I’m tired… Only one more day in Ireland, then I’m off home… I’m mostly looking forward to giving everyone their presents^^
But I’m having a hard time imagining how the next few weeks are going to be. My vacation was pretty busy, with driving school and planning this trip, then I came here. It’s still two weeks until university starts…
But I’m still here. And I’ve noticed some things. I mean, I’ve been here all alone, except for last night, and I’ve actually gotten to know myself a bit better. I’ve had a freedom I never had experienced before. It’s just been so different than anything I’ve ever done. It’s been great :)
Just me here… No life-changing decisions to make… (The biggest decisions I make are whether to take the bus or a cab! :P) No everyday-life! This week has had such uniqueness! Every day I’ve done something new and absolutely different. No routines. I went where I wanted, ate when I wanted, spoke when I wanted! It was an amazing experience!!
But I didn’t act irresponsibly because of it. Apart from maybe spending more money than needed (rookie mistakes… next time I’ll know better) I didn’t do anything wrong or bad. I don’t think that I abused my freedom… and that gives me an optimistic outlook on the future :) Honestly. I feel like I can conquer anything life throws at me. I’ve acquired a courage I didn’t know I could have…
Ah well… I’m going to the bus stop now… And when I get to Abrae Court I have postcards to write! :D
Dublin, September 19th
I’m on a bus to Tara Cross :)
What luck I’ve had already today! I got to the first bus station right on time, then picked up money and bought my ticket right in time to catch bus 109. Plus, Monica said that I could keep my key for the day (even though I usually would have to give it back at 12) and pay and pick up my things whenever :) So my last day in Ireland is looking very promising.
It took me longer than expected to write the postcards. There were 20 altogether, written in 3 different languages x) So by the time I went to bed it was 01:00! (Okay, I also organized my suitcase and bags, so the actual writing did not take 2 hours…^^)
While I wrote I watched the highlights of the game on TV. Gaelic Football looks really fun! :D It’s a mix of soccer and Quidditch, it seems hahahaha Well, “up the Dubs!” as the supporters say :) Even in Rathgar, which isn’t that close to the city center, you could hear cheering and celebrating on every street…
I’m pretty tired. I woke up at 07:30… but I imagine that the Dub supporters are worse off with their hangovers… I bet lots of them didn’t go to work today x)
Who could’ve guessed that a pint is 580ml?! If you drink 4- like some people on the Pub Crawl did ;) –you have more than 2 liters of beer in you! x) I saw people yesterday walking around town with a pint of Guinness in their hand. Not in a bottle, but in a glass cup! I thought that was odd…^^
One other “thing” I saw yesterday: Daniel! It was a huge coincidence =) He walked by me while I was waiting for the bus and said hi. I guess Dublin isn’t that big after all ;)
Well, I’m going to shut off for a bit and maybe listen to some RnaG. It’s still a fair distance to Tara.
The bus driver forgot about me^^
He was supposed to tell me when to get off, but instead he drove on. I knew something wasn’t right after about 75 minutes- the ride to Tara Cross was supposed to last only 60. Then, when everyone got off (I suppose it was the terminal :P) I knew for sure. I went to the driver and he apologized, then drove me to a bus stop where I could catch a bus to Tara. Upon arrival at Tara Cross, I followed the only sign for Tara.
My path took me up a nice road. It was lined with rock fences and trees and was slightly inclined. I trekked up there, glad about my choice in shoes and clothing as it was very blustery. The higher I climbed the more I wondered what the Hill of Tara would be like. I continued upwards; the only person on the street, left and right wide fields filled with cows and horses.
The road opened to a parking lot and a few houses. I went to the houses and- guessing correctly what they were- entered the gift shop. I purchased a guide to the site, then made my way across the parking lot to the entrance gate. Reading the guide while I walked, I came to the church on the site.
I walked through the graveyard to the ancient “standing stones”. I took off my glove and touched them, feeling the cold, hard surface covered with tiny pores. Leaving the graveyard I found myself looking upon the green field that is the Hill of Tara. Reading the guide, I walked along the four main sites. I touched the Lia Fáil and the sun came out, but the wind did not stop. It howled an screeched, pushing me. It was stronger than the winds at Moher- so strong that I had to stand with my knees slightly bent to not be blown away. Amazing!
Surrounding the site is a moat. One of the trees in it caught my eye: it was decorated in the same way that the tree in the middle of the fairy fort- on the other side of the country- had been. I don’t think I mentioned it back then. The tree at the center of the ring-shaped fairy fort had a lot of things hanging on it. People who were at the fort took little strips of tissue paper or hair bows, or ribbon, and tied them to the branches of the tree for the fairies. I found the same practice at Tara. Upon closer inspection there were two trees, and they had a lot more hanging from them. I saw necklaces, bracelets, scarves, strips of cloth and tissues, hair bows, ribbons, rings and even socks hanging from the branches of the fairy trees. Some people had even jammed coins into the slits in the bark, or laid coins and other items (little dolls, papers cut into different shapes,…) at the foot of the trees. My gift at Tara was the same as at Ballyvaughan: alittle strip of tissue paper. Next time I’ll be more prepared: to give the fairies a proper gift…
Tara was awe-inspiring. I lost track of time and did not care to find it.
I sat under a tree for a long time. Just being there. The Hill of Tara and what it had once stood for, are one of the main reasons of my coming to Ireland. Being there, I knew that I had found what I had been looking for. The whole week had been a confirmation.
Finally, I stood up and drifted back to the gift shop. I wanted some icons of Celtic deities, but they did not have exactly what I had had in mind. Nevertheless I bought a picture of the Mother Goddess and one window sticker of the Green Man. And I wanted a fairy for my collection. But beautiful as they were, none really stuck out. To buy myself a fairy, I just have to see her, and immediately I know if she’s the one.
Led by my stomach I wound up in the restaurant, where I had vegetable soup and a unique home-made bread. After that I had my favorite tea and just enjoyed the moment(s). I don’t know how long I sat there. But it’s there that I saw her: the fairy I had been looking for :)
She was on display in the eating area- and she was lovely <3
After I paid for my food and new fairy, I walked back down the road. It was utterly blissful not knowing what time it was! I strolled down the hill, passing young trees and blackcurrant bushes. It had rained during lunch, so there was a trickle of rainwater down the side of the pavement. I stopped for a while to watch the stream, fascinated by all the colors in the water. At the bottom of the hill I said goodbye to the cows and walked a bit down the road to get to the bus stop.
When I got in the bus it was 14:50. I had had no idea how late it had gotten. It was wonderful. The whole day had this cozy afternoon-feeling. Like in autumn, when you finished school and work, and you just sit in front of a warm fire, waiting for dinner or nothing at all. You drift into the first stage of meditation, where all you hear is your breathing and you feel like you are not really held in your body… Just sitting there, knowing that for today, you have nothing left to do… but the knowledge that tomorrow you will again lingers in your mind… That’s how I felt.
Dublin, September 20th
Waiting in front of gate 303. There’s no denying it now: I’m leaving Ireland.
While at Tara, I made myself start coming to peace with the idea. I said my goodbyes there, but as I drove away from Dublin City yesterday I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. The week is over. It was grand-but nothing lasts forever. There are things I’m looking forward to doing, and people I’m looking forward to seeing again – one week suddenly feels like forever. I’ve done and seen so much it’s as if I had a month’s worth of stories to tell- and I didn’t even get to kiss the Blarney Stone! ;) but then again, neither did Rab and he was wonderful :)
All the people I’ve met, places I’ve seen,… This week has been so full! But there definitely are some impressions that I’ll miss… The sounds of Dublin- traffic and seagulls (and that awesome laser-gun-sound the light makes when you are allowed to cross the street :D), the beauty of the West, Irish English <3, hearing my favorite music every day and everywhere, and just being here… It’s a magical place indeed <3
Sitting by River Corrib in front of the Spanish Arch…
Walking down Grafton Street…
Standing on the grounds of Malahide Castle…
And now going back to where I came from, bags full of keepsakes^^
[Now playing: “Now my feet won’t touch the ground – Coldplay”]
We are all constantly striving. We set ourselves goals and make our ways towards them, trying our best to get to them as soon as possible. When we finally reach them, we stop and smile, basking in the sunlight of our achievement. And when enough time has passed and we must leave the realms of our goals, we regret the time and look back fondly on it at the same time. While we wave goodbye and carefully stow away the memories of that time, we scan the horizon for a new goal. And so we make our way through life…
Due to weather conditions we are going to be stuck here, inside the airplane, in Dublin, for the next 40minutes. Frankfurt limited their landing area, so we have been queued. I don’t think it will compromise my connecting flight, but we’ll receive further information on that when we leave here. Not much to see out the window. Yes, I got a window seat again :) But it’s so foggy…
30 more minutes in Dublin. Why don’t they just cancel the flight and send us all to Galway instead? ;)
I’m going to continue Rab’s book now.
It’s light out, now. Watching the sky grow slowly brighter from the window of a “parked” airplane has something to it^^
Tray table up. Seat in full upright position. Seatbelt fastened. Engines on. Motor rumbling.
Reading a book set in Galway gives me an impression of smooth transition. Like a boat, carrying me from “real” Galway to home. It gives me a pleased- and somewhat relieved- feeling that I’m taking a little piece of Ireland home.
Not only a material piece, though. “You’ll always have Tara” has an all-new meaning for me, now :)
A sigh. Not one of regret… it’s more like one of those sighs you let out after a hearty meal: Full and satisfied.
The sun shines in through my window. Approximately 177 hours in Ireland; 7 full days and a few hours (spent mostly in the airport, though).
We’re crawling onto the lane from which we will momentarily depart from.
Funny how much calmer I am now… A week ago I couldn’t sit still with excitement :D
Not that I’m not a little excited, though. I can’t wait to tell my stories and show my pictures and give the presents I’m bringing home :)
But now it’s time to say goodbye.
Goodbye, Galway <3
Goodbye, Dublin <3
And goodbye, dearest Ireland… We will see each other again, someday… :)
We’re flying in circles over Frankfurt, waiting for clearance to land.
Frankfurt Airport, September 20th, 11:30
After 3 hours sitting in the airplane, I’m now waiting by the gate to get on the next airplane. I’m kind of glad I don’t have to wait so long here, but I was lucky that my gate was so close: we board in 15 minutes.
I passed by the Goethe Bar, where I sat and waited for so long at the beginning of my adventure. As I walked past, I smiled and imagined I saw myself sitting there, in my jeans jacket, Sophie’s World in my hands. A rookie, going it alone for the first time ;)
Going to a place I’d only dreamed about for so many years. And I passed her there, now a week older and full of experiences and impressions. Returning, triumphant, now having seen my personal “promised land”.
Going home to dream about what I’ve seen, look back on my memories nad look forward to the next time I go to the Emerald Isle.
The flight is a bit delayed. Only 15 minutes, nothing too severe. For some reason the rows in this airplane only have seats A, C, D and F. It’s really empty, too.
Reading Rab’s book brings me memories of Galway. I’m looking forward to getting home. I want to shower- and sleep x)
I have one more picture left to take in my camera. According to my brother, I had “freak many” to take xD so “freak many” must mean 1808! ;) Maybe I would have had more space if I had recorder fewer videos… In any case, seeing as I have so much space left in my diary, I’m going to fill the last pages with pictures, flyers, bus tickets and other paper-thin things from Ireland ;)
When I left Galway I thought I wouldn’t have enough space to write^^ But there is a lot I didn’t mention…
Taking off now. Flying home. Finished Rab’s book…
Landing in Graz.
My journey ends here. I’m really tired^^ but, ultimately, happy to be back :)
Lieboch, September 20th, 2011
It seems surreal that I woke up in Dublin this morning. Surreal that just yesterday I was at the Hill of Tara.
Now, at home, it seems so long ago, and so far away.
Like a dream, fading in the first moments of awakeness…