Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Dublin or Bust

Dublin or Bust

It will be different saying good-bye to Patty, the B & B owner. She was more than accommodating with her time and in trying to make us feel at home and comfortable. She is a wonderful host. One thing about B & Bs, when you really like the people running them is that I feel like a guest in someone’s home to a greater extent than I do in a hotel. That may be the point, but what I mean is, I almost feel a sense of obligation to do my dishes, make my bed, and clean my room just to be a good guest. Ron does that too. When he gets up in the morning he straightens his bed. When I see him doing it, I think, “Don’t do that. We are paying for this service. We don’t need to be doing it”, but then I catch myself in the same mode.

Our original plan was to take the local bus to the bus station and catch our bus to Dublin from there. The weather had other ideas. The rain was coming down with such force it was like the sky was taking out a grudge against the earth, whipping it with belts of water. In a matter of seconds, we would have been wetter than if we showered with our clothes on. Although being a no, no in the Budget Traveler Handbook, we called a taxi. Arriving with a half hour to spare before the bus, we would probably have missed it if we took the local bus and the next one was an hour later.

Going to Dublin seemed like a much more sane trip then coming. The bus did not rattle us like milkshakes and we were actually able to read without nausea. I was able to finish the book “Fugitive Pieces” by Ann Michael. This is a book that is recommended for those of you who have a bad case of terminally happy and no other. This book is a real downer, albeit well written. If I tried to claim that I did not wish to be as proficient a writer as she is, I would be lying, but the story was odd to say the least. It seems she went into overenthusiastic detail where it should not have been necessary and ignored the areas where it would have added to the story. However, she won multiple literary awards for the book, so who am I to judge. It is the type of book that you know from the beginning that you will hate, but you continue reading it as penance for the greater glory of intellectualism, especially when it had received so many awards. Ron, is reading “The Butcher Boy”, but an Irish author. It was recommended in the second hand bookstore as being especially popular.

The directions that the Tourist Board gave us for finding the Guesthouse was to take the DART for two stops and the B & B was only a five minute walk from there. Ron called to confirm the directions. It seems that the Tourist Board omitted that we would need to take a bus after the train. This was not looking good. DART is the acronym for Dublin Area Rapid Transit. Ron and I renamed it DAST or DATT, Dublin Area Snail Transit or Dublin Area Turtle Transit. The train is so slow; I could run along side it. Well, my endurance may not be as persevering as the train, but I could run faster for at least the distance between two stations. I, who conned the doctor to write me notes to get out of physical education class for years, because I thought sweating was undignified, could run faster. That should give you and idea of the speed of this train.

When we reached the street at the DART station, mercifully there was an elevator so we did not have to lift luggage for two flights of stairs. The local bus stop is right outside the door. No, this is not the right bus for where you want to go. The right bus stop is a block and a half away. The bus stop is on the same road as the B & B, how far could this place be? Maybe we should walk. At the bus stop, the house number was twenty-two. The house numbers in Ireland run consecutively and do not alternate across the street the way they do in the States. The B & B was supposedly two hundred and thirty-two according to Ron, but something told me that was not correct. I did not question it and make him confirm it. My mistake. We took the bus to the two hundreds and as I was approaching two hundred and thirty-two, Ron was pulling the address out of his pants pocket. The correct number was three hundred and twenty-three. The irritation was building inside of me since I had wanted to book the hostel with private rooms in the city center before we left. We didn’t because we were pressed for time to catch our bus to Galway. Now we were out in a Dublin suburb where public transportation ends at ten at night. By the time we get into town in the morning, the sights will be closing for lunch. Well they don’t really close for lunch, but you understand where I am going with this.

As we approached the correct address for sure, I turned to Ron and said, “If you hear me lying, don’t contradict me.” He promised silence with a smile. Our room is a third floor walk-up with a sloped ceiling that could be dangerous to either of our heads in the middle of the night bathroom visit. It is small, barely fitting two twin beds and the television on receives one channel. The gentleman carried one of the suitcases up to the room when he brought us to it. At the doorway, I said, “I am sorry to have to tell you this, but we have had an emergency and will only be able to stay one night. We have left our other luggage with friends in Wales (Sorry Anne and Bruce for moving you without notice). Our friends e-mailed and they have to leave town and we need to get our bags back before they go.” Our friendly greeter turned into the older brother of Mr. Personality from London. My theory is a lie begets a lie. He told us we were within five minutes walking distance from the DART station. We could not do this in five minutes if we were Olympic Gold medallists. The bus takes longer without traffic. This is one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t situations. If you had a car, this would be accessible. If you had a car, you would be fighting for a parking space all of the time and would waste just as much of your day as taking public transportation. So now, we didn’t have a place to stay for the next six nights. Sometimes you just need to gamble.

We dragged our butts out to the bus stop, took the bus to the DART, went two stops and forty minutes later, we were in the center of the city. We found our way to the hostel that we had checked out on the first time around here and were able to book every night until Saturday. They are booked solid for that night and that night only. We secured the room. The worst that could happen is that we would have to leave town for a night. The clerk was generous enough to give us a list of hostels in Dublin and those that she recommended. We walked to the next one. Nothing for Saturday night. The next one on the list was too far from where we were to walk to so we decided to call instead.

The first payphone I tried held my coin captive and would not swallow it or spit it up. Having limited small denomination coins between us, I needed for that coin to have a purpose. After hitting the coin return several times, the coin came flying out with a vengeance hitting the curb two feet from the phone booth, rolling down the street into the darkness never to be seen again by us. We switched phone booths. My coins were being used up faster than straw burns on a bonfire. Thirty pence is the minimum amount, but you barely get beyond the greeting before the warning comes that you are about to be disconnected unless you feed the blaze more fuel.

Call after call we found that Dublin is a very popular place on Saturday nights. We struck out at four places before we finally hit the jackpot at one on our list. They can keep us warm and cozy for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights. We just have to switch rooms each night. I did not ask why. It would seem so ungrateful and switching rooms seemed like a lot less trouble than leaving town for the night. This new dance is called the Dublin shuffle. How many different places can you fit into one week without straining your back or your mind?

Having secured our lodging we found a lovely authentic Irish fish restaurant for Ron’s dinner. It was started by a Russian immigrant in 1913 and continued by his children. The kitchen help spoke Swedish and the person mopping the floor was Asian. Just give me the chips!

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