Ireland Journal: Arrival and Acclimation

6 10 2009

Since Matt and I haven’t had any time or money (Dear Recession: Please End) to go out to eat recently, I haven’t had any new material for restaurant posts (home cooked meals coming soon). Conveniently enough, I found the journal that I kept when I backpacked around Ireland in the spring and summer of 2001 just the other night and it reminded me that I had always meant to preserve it electronically. So–that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to record excerpts from it every week or so (slightly edited because my 23-year-old self was a bit more skittish with her writing). I realize that it may not be as entertaining to everyone else, but it’s the closest I’m going to get to Ireland again in the near future, and it makes me happy to reminisce.

This first excerpt is from my day of departure from University of Delaware, where my brother was at school and I caught a shuttle to the airport (long story) and my arrival in Dublin.

May 1, 2001

Andrew and I were waiting for the Delaware Express Limo Service to pick me up at UD, totally expecting a van, when a real limousine pulls up to whisk me away to the airport. Picture a limo pulling up to a dorm to pick up a 23-year-old in a backpack that’s almost as big as she is. I wish I had been calm enough to enjoy the bar and TV inside but I have never been so nervous in my life, though if I can survive living in Tokyo for two years, I think I can survive 2 1/2 months alone in Ireland. We’ll see.

May 2, 2001

Well I did it. It’s official. I’m in Ireland. I took a cab from the airport and the whole time the driver was talking to me about two gay Irish actors that started a Theater together in Sligo and an Irish poet that he didn’t care for but that “we” (Americans) gave “some kind of prize” to. He did not know the names of any of these people. What a character. [I am assuming that he was talking about the Hawk’s Well Theater and Yeats.] I got to Alpine House, where I was staying for just that night, in Santry, a pleasant, residential neighborhood just outside of the city complete with kids running around with Super Soakers. One of my main goals of this trip was to stay away from cities because I was sick of them.

[Side note: I did the math very carefully back then when I was deciding where to stay.  The average nightly stay at a B&B was around 20-25 Irish pounds per night, including breakfast.  The breakfasts were so large that I usually did not need lunch, and I would buy some light snacks at grocery stores for dinner–hardly more than 5 pounds each night.  So, my average daily cost for food and lodging (beer not included) was usually around 25-30 pounds.  A hostel could cost around 15 pounds, plus I would have to buy 10-15 pounds of food for three normal-sized meals instead of one large and one small, so it was usually just as cheap to stay in B&B’s as it was to stay in hostels and about 1/3 of the price most are now.  And, I got to eat an Irish Breakfast every morning if I wanted to.]

It was a beautiful day in Dublin, and despite what I really wanted to do, shower and sleep, I caught a bus into the city.  Two friendly locals pointed me towards Eden Quay (pronounced “key”), where I had to catch a return bus. I wandered around a bit and finally alit in O’Neill’s Pub where I survived my first lone meal at the bar: a bowl of soup, brown bread, and a pint of Guinness.

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