Dear, Sweet God, thank you, thank you for Ireland.
My first time ever in this beautiful, though thinly gene-pooled haven of awesome was on my way back from my first stint living in Germany, in 2006. At that time, my bounding enthusiasm for life itself had been tempered by the somber, smile and sarcasm-inept strangers of Ulm, Germany’s streets. Ireland brought me back to believing in humanity’s potential again. This visit, although only for a day, wasn’t much different.
I went from getting knocked over in Augsburg’s streets and scolded at the Memmingen airport (ok, I deserved it, but still), to “oh, so sorry love”‘s and “I beg yer pardon, dear, how are you there?”‘s at the slightest accidental nudge at overpouring street corners. One of my first phrases in Ireland was “wie bitte?” at a small convenience shop inside Dublin’s airport. Obviously, that was not English spewing from my muddled brain. Yet, the sweet clerk managed to set a smile back upon her freckled cheeks after my confusing speech knocked it off and try to make me feel as least weird as possible.
I fucking love you people.
I took a touristy type bus from the airport to downtown Dublin. I believe it was a 3-day or so unlimited pass for around €20. So that would get me to the airport and back during my 1-day trip– a lot cheaper than 2 taxi rides! Thank you smart phone, for making this possible. It was called the Airlink and picks up right outside the doors of the airport: http://www.dublinsightseeing.ie/airlink/index.aspx
After checking into Eliza Lodge (which I knew was going to be awesome because all things Eliza are awesome), I took a stroll around the Temple Bar district.
This is when a German dude walked up to a jacketed civil servant, who was obviously an Irish citizen, and asked for directions. I was standing against the side of a building waiting for my phone to pick up the free wifi which radiates from certain street corners in Dublin, when it went down. The Irish guy said he had no idea as he only moved to Dublin a short while ago (From Another Part Of Ireland), and then…pointed to me. “You’d probably have better luck seeing if that woman could help ya out. She looks like she’d know a lot better than I would.”
“Uhh.. I … haha… uh.. me? I only got here 2 hours ago! I think you beat me. Really!”
The Irish dude still didn’t believe me despite my horribly nasal ‘Muhrican accent and continued to insist the German dude ask me directions. Obviously, I was a local, whether I admitted it or not.
Damn. I really look like where my genes came from, I guess. Like, a ridiculous amount.
I kept touring around and spotted this building which immediately made me think of my dear friend, Nicholas:
Damn dirty, artsy clove-smoking hippies.
It was at about this point I realized I’d been in Ireland for several hours and was still despicably sober. I sought out to remedy this immediately.
Walking back across the River Liffey, I spotted Merchant’s Arch:
I did not stop. I wasn’t feeling it at the moment. But not to worry! I would be back…
Then through a hole in the wall:
Then to the famed “Temple Bar” bar… I’d read reviews that it was a filthy, noisy, awful tourist trap, but I still had to see the tourist sight. I walked in, and gave the place a walk-through, just to say I’d done it. During my stroll, I heard every accent imaginable (!) except Irish. So I wasn’t feeling that either, and kept a-walkin’.
Man, I was getting thirsty.
I stopped at another bar and found they didn’t have sour mix. And I wanted a whiskey sour. I know, I know, I shouldn’t taint delicious Irish whiskey with syrupy sweet dilution, but I like it! So feck off! And… I kept a-walkin’.
And then, I came across the Auld Dubliner, and decided it would do just fine. I would drink a drank there. No matter what.
A couple guys at the downstairs bar were all-out staring at me with full-power creeper-stare. “No matter what,” echoed in my mind, and so I walked up to the upstairs bar while still watching the creepy gawker men.
And that’s when I walked up to Thomas and finally ordered my first drink. I ordered my shameful whiskey sour and he gave me something with lemons and limes in it and a whole shit-load of whiskey. I was pleased.
Thomas asked me where I’m from. I said New York. “Where in New York?”
“It’s Upstate. You’ve never heard of it.”
“Where,” he asked again, except it was more like a statement.
“Uhh.. Rochester, New York? Yeah, see, you’ve never heard of…”
“I’m going there next May! Really, Rochester? You’re from Rochester?”
“What. The…. Fuck? Uhh.. Yeah. How… how fucking weeeeird.”
And then, me and Thomas became buddies. The crazy bastard will be bartending at Sheridan’s on Mt. Hope and doesn’t have a friend in the region yet. He’s not sure how he’ll find a car or an apartment. Like I said, he’s a crazy bastard. That’s why we’re friends now.
Anyhooters, I’m trying to see if some of my homeboys ‘n homegirls can lead Thomas in the right direction for the things he needs, but if you are sane and awesome and have a room to rent or a cheap beater car he could buy temporarily or know where he could get these things, please do get in touch!
By The Way, this guy helped me do one of the coolest things I will ever do in my life when I got to buy my friends, Zack, Jennifer and Jay a round of drinks via This Guy a month after I left Ireland. Like I’m telling you, Thomas is the coolest bartender…ever. Rock on.
I left the Auld Dubliner, because, as awesome as it was, I only had 24 hours in Dublin, and I still had more to see.
I wandered the streets and saw amazing street musicians perform. One woman was singing with just a man accompanying her on a guitar and managed to charm an entire street corner a dozen people deep.
Earlier, I had walked by Garage Bar, which looked like the divey-est dive bar that ever dived, and decided I should check it out when the sun was down. I went back, and my expectations were not disappointed. I ordered a cider and eventually had to get rid of that cider. The bathroom was a hallway with unisex stalls and unisex sinks and unisex everything. It was… unsettling. Luckily, cider.
Got the fuck out of there and went back toward the action in Temple Bar. That’s when I happened upon a lively, jolly, sing-along time full of youthful, pretty people. “Yes, this will do!” I decided. I squeezed my way into the pub, took a deep breath, and attempted to make my way through the packed crowd of tourist sardines toward the bar. Halfway there, I was stopped. I was stopped by a glass pitcher directly in front of me being smashed into fragments across a young man’s forehead. The music stopped. The crowd gasped collectively gasped. And once again, I got the fuck out of where I was.
Soooo.. I thought I might as well visit Merchant’s Arch, the pretty pub I peeked at earlier while crossing the river!
After just a minute at the bar, my new friend, Gerard invited me to join his table and we had a lovely time! The most amazing band ever happened to be playing — Hot Whiskey (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hot-whiskey/168845386604338) — and they had the entire bar going. There were sing-along, dirty, filthy Irish ditties and cover songs, and everything else good that is song. Here they are doing a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”:
The next morning, somehow, I woke up. I had the breakfast included in my stay at Eliza Lodge at the adjoining restaurant and I died a little due to its deliciousness. I’d already eaten a lifetime’s allowance of pork products on this Euro-trip (normally I never eat them — “pigs are filthy animals,” as Samuel L. Jackson would say), so I figured, “fuck it, I’ll go for the typical Irish breakfast”. And thar ’tis:
The view at the table was fantastic in an of itself — watching the passersby along the river could have occupied me the entire day —
–if not for my afternoon flight.
I got a couple postcards for family members on my way out. And then one blew away. I thought, “well, fuck it, I’m wearing a skirt. It’s hard enough not showing the world my world. The postcard — it was The Thought That Counts, DAMMIT.” That’s when a pedestrian chased after my stray card and caught it. She ran it back to me breathlessly and I found it extremely difficult to say, “oh thank you so very much!” instead of my first impulse of, “holy fucking shit, I love you and your country. Have my babies!”
Oh, Ireland, I hope to see you again soon, my love. Thank you for teaching me hospitality and effervescent kindness and beauty and to alcohol.