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Published: August 27th 2008
The view from our dorm window!!!
Irritated Female Passerby: Why is this bus here? It needs t’ be moved!
Our Bus Driver: It has nothin’ t’ do with me, ma’am.
IFP: Where’s the driver of the bus?
OBD: No tellin’. I believe he’s gone inside.
IFP: (mutters as she walks away) You ARE the driver of the bus…
OBD: (looks over at us, laughs heartily, and tells us in a hushed tone) Best to not get into arguments…
That was the first conversation I witnessed between two Irish people. I had just stepped off of our bus that had stopped at a gate into Trinity College. The bus was blocking a lane of traffic, and the 30+ students getting off of it and trying to retrieve their luggage from beneath it were blocking the sidewalk. This was not ok for the city that rarely slows down. More on that later.
Monday’s travel started with being late to the airport. (My father’s fault, not mine… just wanted to make that clear. Love you, Daddy.) While this was nerve-wracking on top of my already fragile psyche at the time, it quickly became a non-issue once I made my way through security and to the E terminal.
I don't know what this instrument was called, but it had about 12 strings.
At the farthest end of this the farthest terminal (Murphee’s Law of Airports), I was greeted by the friendly, familiar faces of my fellow Furmanites. We caught up on each-others’ summers and anxiously awaited boarding the plane. Once the plane took off a few minutes before 9 PM, everyone wound down quickly and there wasn’t much chatter. The flight was uneventful, though I did get a decent airplane food dinner and watch two in-flight films. (Just as I’d hoped, Young@Heart is worth seeing. It has some really profound things to say about the power of participating in performance art, the beauty of friendship, and knowing that the show must go on. Be prepared for a rendition of a Coldplay hit that will make “tears stream down your face.” Just as I’d heard/read, Smart People is not worth seeing. It starts out with a good premise, but eventually the script begins to fail the actors pretty completely. Here ends Mary Beth’s Movie Minute. Sorry about that.) At 4 AM EST, the plane landed. That’s 9 AM GMT. I hadn’t slept a wink. We grabbed our carry-ons, successfully retrieved all of our checked baggage, and made our way to the bus that
This is the violin made from a cookie tin.
was to take us to Trinity College. After a fairly short trip, we arrived to be greeted by the wonderful confrontation that opened this entry.
Our room is a pretty typical dorm (aside from the high ceilings and crown molding). However, the campus of the college is wonderfully historic and spaciously arranged. The view from our window is a beautiful one of Parliament square, right inside the main gate of the university. After catching our breaths from carrying our luggage across campus and up three flights of stairs (by the way, ground floor and first floor are not synonymous in this neck of the woods), my roommate, Elizabeth Ingle, and I went to get some lunch and explore the city. Ashton joined us as we left the campus through the front gate.
First impressions of the city from this first expedition:
1) Dublin is always moving… we decided that there are two speeds for cars and pedestrians: fast and faster. The aimless nature of our awed party was not welcome during the lunch hour. We weren’t treated with ANY hostility, mind you, but we were certainly frequently bumped into and passed. I guess this is true of
This is the entrance to St. Stephen's Green.
any large city, but the nature of Dublin made it a bigger issue. Which leads me to our next observation.
2) Dublin is not spacious. The traffic lanes are narrow, the shops are small and packed in to the streets, and the sidewalks are crowded. This lends itself to the face-paced nature so as not to be in the way of anyone else. This being said, I like it a lot. It makes everything fairly easily accessible and intimate. It is not uncommon for two separate parties of people to be seated at the same table in a restaurant. The streets are full of interesting people to observe and experience.
A majority of the first trek was spent on Grafton Street, a pedestrian-only area full of shops. We liked it immediately because the lack of cars made it much less hectic but still bustling with activity. The street was everything I expected it to be; Grafton Street plays a major role in the Academy Award winning film Once. If you haven’t seen Once, stop reading this immediately and go watch it. I’m serious… step away from your computer, drive to a Blockbuster, and rent this film. Aside from the
fact that I’m going to reference it relentlessly and the fact that it will give you a wonderful picture of the city of Dublin I’m trying to describe, it’s just something that you have to experience. For those of you who have already seen the film (I’m serious), on this first trip down Grafton, we passed a man playing a violin that he had made out of a large cookie tin, multiple guitar players, a living statue in full silver garb, and a clown with a large foam hammer. The musicians are called buskers, and many famous Irish musicians got their start as buskers on Grafton, including Damien Rice and Glen Hansard (the lead singer of The Frames and lead actor in Once). At the end of Grafton, there was a man playing a bag pipe right across from the Fusiliers’ arch, the main entrance to St. Stephen’s Green. We walked past the bagpiper, crossed the street, and Ingle and I promptly reenacted the opening chase scene of Once because it culminates at the arch. When we finished the short reenactment, we realized that we had passed into a completely different environment. It was as if whoever held the remote
St. Anne's Church of Ireland
I knew it was Anglican when I saw the red doors...
control to the city had suddenly pressed play to end the fast-forwarding when we passed under the arch. St. Stephen’s Green is a gorgeous park: trees, flowers, ducks, fountains, ponds, etc. No one was bustling to be anywhere at all. It was such a Narnia-esque experience to stumble into this opposite setting so suddenly. After strolling in the park for a bit, we made our way back to campus for a meeting.
After receiving some general information from Dr. Barrington and Dr. Menzer (during which I became fully aware of how exhausted I was and how little my brain was usefully functioning), we were free for the rest of the day. Most of us went to the computer lab on campus to contact our folks for the first time since we’d arrived to ensure them that everything was going smoothly. A group of about eight of us then explored the city a bit more and purchased some food stuffs for making lunches. While we were stopped in front of St. Anne’s Church of Ireland, I saw someone who looked just like Glen Hansard (hey…it could happen... he lives here…I’m still not sure if it was actually him or not…). While
I just thought it was cool.
trying to get a better look, I bumped into a tree, tripped as I turned away from it, and grabbed Ingle as she was the only thing in front of me. This caused both of us to tumble to the ground in an extremely entertaining display of grace, and a perfect example of how exhausted we all were. We soon returned to campus to drop off our things before dinner.
As enticing as it was to go to bed, we instead decided to go ahead and leave again so that we could get back and sleep ASAP. A group of seven of us reconvened on the steps of the girl’s dorm, House XXX. (Don’t get any ideas, that’s just 30. The guys are in XXVIII.) At this point in the evening, things weren’t nearly as crowded and hurried as we’d found them to be earlier in the day. We ended up eating at this great enviro-friendly café called Nude. It is certainly somewhere we all agreed that we would be returning to. I had some delicious Thai Chicken soup. Before we got our check, I literally fell asleep at the table. We somehow stumbled our way back to XXX, said
Scoot was a juggler from Australia. He was hilarious. Accoring to him, the world without comedy is Germany.
goodnight to the boys (at 8:30), and went up to shower and sleep. The shower was entertaining: it’s only about a foot and a half wide on each side, so I actually started to laugh at myself while trying to figure out how to wash all of my extremities. I think I laughed even harder when I imagined someone like Ben Montague trying to do this: if it was that difficult for me at 5’2”, imagine someone who is 6’3”. Despite the size limitation, it was quite possibly the best shower I had ever taken. It was one I had been looking forward to for the latter half of my over 30-hour day. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was dead to the world for nine hours.
I woke up at seven when my body turned itself back on. Thirty minutes later I actually got out of bed, dressed, woke up Ingle, and went down to the Buttery (or the Butt as someone else on the trip has decided to coin it). One continental breakfast later, we made our way to our history class with Dr. Barrington in the classroom building where our meeting had been held
Just a cool shot down a busy street.
the previous afternoon. The title of the course is England and Ireland in the Long Eighteenth Century, and I can already assess that Dr. Barrington is an awesome professor. I haven’t taken a history course since my Irish history independent study with Dr. Hendrick at GSSM, but this was a great return to the subject. I was also presently surprised by my grade on the paper we’d had to turn in over the summer on Austen’s Northanger Abbey. All in all, a good morning.
I almost forgot. The weather. It’s great. A little chilly, but long sleeves are sufficient. Perfect for me. The skies have been pretty grey, but I can already tell that’s pretty typical and expected. Also, I wanted to mention that every road sign is in Irish and English, even though everyone speaks English. I love that they still keep this tradition. I haven’t talked to any locals, but I know that will change soon.
And now, I blog. I’m new to this arena, so if you have any suggestions on how I can improve my entries, feel free. I don’t know if I’m being too detailed or too vague, so give me a heads
up if you have an opinion. Obviously this is the first update so things won’t be as this-is-everything-I-have-done-today in the future. Just so you all know, I am loving this already, guys. Everything.
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