Saturday, November 03, 2001

Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again

The hostel did not have a room for us for Saturday night, so we booked another hostel across town. This may be fortunate, as this hostel may have turned us hostile if we stayed. We continued to get neighbors that do not know the meaning of quiet after 11:00 pm. Last night at 3:00 am, it sounded like they were throwing furniture around. A room that is meant for two people had at least five voices pulsing through the walls. By the time we were weary enough of the noise to do something about it, they decided to go out again. We left our luggage at this hostel since we cannot check into the other until after 1:00 pm, but the backpack goes with me.

Christ Church Cathedral is right next door to the first hostel, so we ventured over. Again, this is a magnificent looking building from the outside. It was founded in 1038 and guards the tomb of Strongbow, the Norman conqueror of Ireland. We just peeked in the door as there was an admission charge and it did not look much different than St. Patrick’s on the inside, so we decided to pass it up.

Our next thought was to see Dublin Castle. There are only a few rooms that are open to the public, since most of the buildings are now government offices. Since it was Saturday, the tours did not start until 2:00 pm and it was only 11:30 am by this point in time. Back around the corner from the hostel and across the street from Christ Church is the place where Handel first performed his musical piece the Messiah. In an elegant alley next to the building, which is a music store and hotel, there is a twenty-foot long plague, which commemorates this fact.

The next attempt at doing something productive was to go to the Tourist Board and see about booking the ferry back to Wales. They can’t book the ferry, so we will have to call on Monday. With that checked off of our ‘To Do’ list, we went to pick up my pictures. I had them developed onto cd-rom for uploading. I was nervous, as the second roll that I had done in Glasgow was horrendous. The picture quality on the cd was dreadful. My first roll in London was excellent. Fortunately, the shop put them on the computer for me to preview and they were excellent. If I have time, I will have the other roll done again. They are much cheaper here than in the States. It only cost four pounds fifty for a roll of forty to be put on cd-rom. In Modesto, I was paying over fifteen dollars for the cd-rom, plus seven dollars more for the developing.

We shopped around a bit and I found this prayer, which I absolutely loved and had to retype it to share with others. There is no author, so I cannot credit anyone specifically for his or her creativity.

Prayer for Tourists

Heavenly Father/Mother look down on us your humble Obedient Tourist Servants, who are doomed to travel this earth, taking photographs, mailing postcards, buying souvenirs and walking around in drip dry underwear.

Give us this day divine guidance in the selection of our hotels that we may find our reservations honored, our rooms made up and the hot water running from the faucets. We pray that the telephones work and that the operators speak our tongue.

Lead us to good inexpensive restaurants where the food is superb, the waiters friendly, and the wine (or beer) is included in the price. Give us the wisdom to tip correctly in currencies we do not understand. Forgive us our under-tipping, out of ignorance and over-tipping out of fear. Make the natives love us for what we are and not what we can contribute to their worldly goods.

Grant us the strength to visit museums, the cathedrals, the palaces, and castles listed as ‘musts’ in the guidebooks, and if per chance we skip an historic monument to take a nap after lunch, have mercy on us for our flesh is weak.

Addendum For Husbands only

Dear God, keep our wives from shopping sprees and protect them from bargains they don’t need or can’t afford. Lead them not into temptation for they know not what they do when they see a ‘Sale’ sign.

Addendum For Wives only

Dear God, keep our husbands from looking at foreign women and comparing them to us. Save them from making fools of themselves in cafés and nightclubs. Above all forgive them their trespasses for they know exactly what they do.

Can we relate to this prayer? You bet we can and I could add a few verses myself, for sure.

Checking into our new hostel, we found it rather pleasant. The main lobby is the social area. The walls are stone, what else and the room has a number of long tables with split tree benches. We did find out rather quickly that they don’t supply towels or soap like the other hostel did, so we have to go shopping for a cheap towel. The room is in a little alcove with only one other room and there is a shower and bathroom right outside our door. Right outside our window is the DART tracks. DART dies at 11:30, so that is not too terrible. Hopefully, it will be quieter here.

We were able to find a towel for one pound fifty at a bargain store and then walked on to the Writer’s Museum. On the way, there was an organized protest against the war in Afghanistan. Ron had wanted to attend, but I was not enthusiastic about the idea, being American. I did not want to be a target in a mob mentality. His sister-in-law, Mary Ellen, had sent a story on keeping a low profile while traveling and the timing was perfect. I referred back to it several times. Unfortunately, the park where the protest was being held was across the street from the Writer’s Museum. Ron, being curious had to walk through the throngs and see what was stirring. We kept getting asked to buy Marxist and Socialist newspapers, so I had an even greater sense of dread about the whole affair. At the far corner of the park, Ron decided to videotape the goings on. My stomach knotted for fear of who may become inflamed from being on camera, but we were able to get to the museum without incident.

The Writer’s Museum is dedicated to the tremendous amount of literary talent from Ireland. The first room begins with the earliest history of Irish literature and continues to the end of the 19th century with the greats such as W.B. Yeats, Jonathon Swift, Bram Stroker (Dracula), George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde. There were a number of women writers whose work did not become as popular on the other side of the Atlantic, but were famous in their own rights. While we were in this room, the window was open and the protesting could be heard from the rally preceding the march. Much of it was anti-American and anti-British, so it was an advantageous decision on our part that we did not attend.

In the second room, the history continues with the 20th century and the development of the Abbey Theater as well as authors such as Synge author of “Playboy of the Western World” which was banned in Boston and O’Casey who penned “The Plough and the Stars”.

There is an interesting history of James Joyce (Ulysses), Frank O’Connor, and Liam O’Flaherty as well as poets Patrick Kavanagh and Austin Clarke. Ireland’s third Nobel Laureate, Samuel Beckett is proudly given prominent notice. For the real literary types, there is a Literary Pub Tour, which takes you from pub to pub where the great writers found their inspiration, shall we say?

On the way back to our hostel, we walked the neighborhood. There was a fresh fruit and vegetable farmer’s market going on. The fruit was incredibly inexpensive with white grapes priced at three pounds for one pound and cauliflower two for one pound. We noticed that there were a number of Black businesses in the area. We passed two Black beauty salons, one Black barber shop, three grocery stores that looked Black owned and all of the patrons were Black, and restaurants that advertised Black cooking specifically. I have to catch myself to not use the term African-American, because they are not American. I wonder if they use African-Irish, African-Welsh, African-Scots and so on. If I can find an opportunity to ask someone in an intellectual surrounding, I will find out.

The kitchen at the hostel has self-catering, so we decided to make tea before the night’s adventures. There was only one cup to be had and I grabbed it. There are four sinks and four stoves along with two microwaves and two large refrigerators. People have crates and ice chests with their food in it and are serious about cooking. This hostel has a much wider range of people than the other one did. There are more families, elder singles here, as well as young people and young couples. When someone set his cup down and left the kitchen we did a SWAT team tactic to retrieve it so we could both have tea at once.

We found a very nice little restaurant a few blocks away and ate there. Initially, I had the bright idea of getting food and cooking it, but nothing sounds appealing to cook in a community kitchen when you can’t taste it anyway. The dinner was filling, satisfied my hunger and Ron said it was very good. They call mashed potatoes, creamed potatoes.

Part of our days search was for an Internet café on this side of town that was as reasonably priced as the area we had left. We were paying two pounds for an hour. We found two and Ron wanted to use the one with the coffee bar since he gets very antsy when I am on the computer for too long. I had the idea of uploading some of my pictures from Scotland and Wales and since it takes so long, I needed at least three hours to do this.

The nicest café with the coffee bar had the worst Internet connection I have ever worked with. It is supposedly high speed, but after forty-five minutes, I was only successful in uploading four pictures. We left in disgust, mine, not Ron’s and went to the less well appointed café. By that time, there was not enough time to upload anything before they closed, so we just read e-mail. We did get a note from our other Nile cruise friends who just sold their home in the Midlands and moved to Bath. We will spend a few days in Bath before leaving the British Isles.

I decided that I am getting tired of Ireland. I am not sure whether it is the moving around, the experiences with the places we are staying in or if it is just the surroundings. I really liked Edinburgh and could have stayed longer. The same goes without saying of London. We were both ready to leave Galway, and Dublin is in that category too. The things here are not that enthralling that they really hold my interest. I think the cliffs, the stones, the stonewalls, the driving, driving, driving did me in. I am tired of green everything and it was once one of my favorite colors. Funny that they have at least six pick-ups a day at the mailboxes on the streets, but the post office is completely closed on weekends. Just an offbeat observance, one of the other reasons for my discontent may be that I don’t think the Irish are as friendly on the streets as the other countries have been. Walking down the street here is like playing human bumper cars, but I mentioned this earlier and will not bore you further with a repeat gripe. I need to keep you fresh for new gripes as they occur.

By the way, I have been very remiss in not reporting back the solution of my swollen feet. It will be on my agenda to have Ron punish me for keeping you in the dark for so long now. The great absence of sympathy had me suspecting that it really was not of utmost concern for you to worry about my podiatric health, but in all fairness, I feel it is time to report back. The solution came when I switched to my $39.00 hiking boots that we purchased from Lands End last year for Egypt. They are without a doubt the best investment that I have ever made. Since I have so many problems with my feet bones, finding shoes that I can wear is a major issue. Wearing a C width in a world of D widths for men is another issue and that is why Birkenstocks are the favored choices. However, with a Birkenstock insole, these boots are glorious in hot and cold weather, plus the ankle support decreased the swelling I was suffering with in a matter of two days. Thank you for your concerns.

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