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Published: July 11th 2013
Imagine an excited kid eagerly anticipating what’s ahead. It’s akin to the child-next-door looking forward to the new toy from his mum. That was me, quietly thrilled.
Trying out something new always brings a certain kind of enthusiasm, raising the energy level up another notch. Still, I was a little apprehensive. There was understandable anxiety, being alone in a foreign land and staying with someone acquainted over the Internet; even if it’s just for one night. Nevertheless, I was like, “bring it on, couch surfing!”
I almost gave the idea up, after being turned down for umpteen times. It was luck that my last request for a night was accepted just days before flying. I left the last night of stay in Ireland un-booked and now I have a roof over my head.
“Ta-da! Seems like everything is falling into place!”
So, off I went into the lands of the Irish, wandering around Dublin city first. I joined the walking tour and hit a traditional Irish pub with a live band. The city was unique. Shops and bars were playing lively traditional Irish songs and the folks were casually friendly. The best part for me has to
be the carols playing from shops that easily spilled onto the streets. They were so catchy that I was almost tempted to get a CD or 2. Very lively, easy to hum to, almost nursery rhyme-like. The only dampening aspect of the city would have been the weather (very UK-like), with clear blue skies a rare.
Besides the city, the countryside of Ireland was surprisingly pleasant too. Jumped on a day trip to the Wicklow area (as recommended by a friend) and was introduced to some interesting sights, including the popular Glendalough and the famous Guinness house and lake. The upper lake was especially scenic, reflecting the hills and clouds off the still water. It was a pity there was no time for a hike in the region though (downside of joining a tour). Avoca town was the last stop, with an interesting visit to the country’s oldest mill still operating.
And then I was to meet Eoin, my couch surf host for the last night. The scheduled meeting time was 7pm. At 7pm, I was lost, somewhere. I stopped at the wrong stop, with the bus driver pointing that my stop, Kilpedder, was the previous one before
the highway. With no phone connection and no idea where I was, I attempted to backtrack on the bus route, with my mind already thinking that I just might have to spend the night on the streets!
That’s where a series of fortunate events followed. I met 2 nice young chaps who brought me to a rather secluded bus stop where I could take a public bus to Kilpedder. The bus came just after a few minutes. Up I went onto the bus, only to realize that I have no coins or small change. The bus driver, yet another nice guy, allowed me to ride the bus for free (maybe my pitiful face helped!). He brought me to the centre of the town where I alighted. I ran in the wrong direction in search of the stipulated meeting point, Grove bar; ending up at a convenience store at the wrong end of the road. Time was 7.30pm. The shopkeeper patiently pointed out that Grove bar is on the other end of the road and lent me his phone to ring Eoin. There was no answer. And so, I ran for another good 10minutes with my backpack. Heavy legs finally
brought me to the bar, wheezing.
“Hey, Teo right?”
“Phew, yeah! Eoin?”
“Yup, nice to meet you!”
A simple handshake and thereafter, I was half-panting and half-relating my story to Eoin. The initial anxiety was somehow taken over by the relief and gratitude that he was still there. Thankfully, his work ended late and didn’t have to wait too long for me.
After which, it was pure Irish hospitality from him as he brought me to his cosy home, introducing me to his lovely dogs, Ched and Suzzie, and preparing a simple dinner before bringing me around. We took a lovely evening stroll along the simple beach on the east coast before returning home. The next day was spent in the area, hiking up the great Sugarloaf Mountain that offered a splendid panoramic view of the Wicklow plains, giving me a glimpse of the vast greenery that Irish countryside offers. Along the way we had fun talking and laughing, sharing stories and understanding more about each other.
Though we just met, we could chat about almost anything: our families; experiences; life ambitions and values; epic travel stories; even the girls he managed to hook
up during his travels. Strangers? Hardly so anymore! It was an interesting experience to say the very least, getting to know so much about someone so different, with diverse culture and lifestyle, yet knowing that we have many similarities between us. Different but seemingly the same? We are human beings after all.
Soon, the time came as a simple goodbye and a warm embrace signaled the splitting at the crossroads. We were to continue on our individual paths and who knows, those paths may meet again. I figured that they often do, in different places, for many people, at various times of their lives. But sometimes they don't, and that's alright too.
And now, after this trip, I am just like that child-next-door who'd finished playing with his new toy. Even if it’s just times of having fun and enjoyment, I can actually gain so much out of it.
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