I’ll be honest and say that I was really heavy-hearted as I left America. It sounds silly, but after a year apart from my family, I felt that I really knew how long a year could be. I dreaded the 7th, even as I looked forward to it because of my reunion with Shane. I was excited about our vacation, but Ireland has never held the charm for me that it has for many other Americans. Certainly I appreciated pictures of the landscape and (in the right mood) the traditional music. But in general, my mood was gloomy as I left America that day.
The flight from New York to Ireland was only about 5 hours, and I managed to sleep. I landed in Dublin around 6am, but it was closer to 7:30 by the time I had made it through customs and immigration and finally, after almost 5 months, saw Shane face-to-face again. How to describe it? It was…different. For one, his brother was there, and I was meeting him for the first time. And secondly, we hadn’t even seen each other’s face in well over a month! It was surreal.
Shane and I dropped our stuff at the hostel and quickly began walking to the first site on our itinerary: Áras an Uachtaráin, the house the president. On the way, we stopped and he got me a breakfast roll, which is basically several kinds of pig meat: sausage, “pudding” (again, ground pork), “bacon” (ham), and I think hash browns. It smelled good, but was actually almost tasteless. This was to become a theme of the first few days of our trip: food that looked good or smelled good, but had almost no taste. I quickly found that if I asked for very spicy food or food flavored with lemon that it helped tremendously.
On the way to the president’s house, we got a ride in a horse and carriage! But when we got there, the ticket office wasn’t set to open for several more hours. So we simply snapped a picture and moved on.
From there, we headed to Kilmainham Gaol, a historic jail.
The Guinness Storehouse was next, and it was around this time that I realized just how walkable Dublin really was; Shane had told me before that it wasn’t a metropolis, really (at least not in terms of size) but I think that I had been expecting it to be a lot more industrial and forbidding, and definitely larger, if only because it is such a hub. But walking around it was really very manageable. Soon we were at the Guinness Storehouse, where we both learned the pull the perfect pint.
From there, we were off to Dublinia, which was a sort of museum experience focusing on viking and medieval Ireland. It was actually pretty empty, which was fun because so many of the exhibits were hands on.
Our tour included a visit to Christ Church Cathedral and crypt, so we headed over there next.
We did a bit of shopping and walked around Dublin after that, including taking in Trinity College and the book of Kells. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed.
That night Shane had booked us tickets to Dark Land, a short show at the Leprechaun Museum. There were only two other people at the show, but that actually made it better. It was an interactive play where the story was this: a man meddles in fairy business and it is more than he can handle. I won’t spoil anything in case any readers want to see it.
The show was only about 45 minutes, and after that we walked around the Temple Bar area until we found a pub playing trad music, so I got seats and Shane got drinks and we settled in. It was a great first day!