17 Mar My First Day In Ireland | Travel Journal from 2000
Here is an excerpt of my travel journal. I went to Spain and Ireland back in 2000. I hope to go through my journal and publish it as an e-book. The following is the account of my first day in Ireland. I was not the greatest writer back then and this is unchanged from when I first wrote it. I did have it all on a blog once. Enjoy!
My First Day In Ireland
I left Barcelona at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday to arrive in Dublin around 11:45 A.M. There is an hour time difference, so the flight was actually two hours and forty minutes. I took a shuttle bus into the city center to then look for the youth hostel I was going to stay in. Finally, the first hostel I looked into had a bed for me. There was a Canadian working the front desk and he just had tons of personality(sarcasm). He showed me where I could put my backpack and laptop while my room wouldn’t be ready until four that afternoon. This kid looked normal as I looked at him wearing a hat, sweatshirt and jeans, but as my eyes went all the way down to his feet I noticed that he had these pink flip flops on with a little flower on the top. Something my 4 year old niece probably wouldn’t wear. What people do to be different.
I gathered the few things I would need to walk around Dublin: camera, journal, and book. I began to walk down the street where there were many stores and loads of heads moving up and down like ripples of water. I just walked and observed their stores, listening to their accents as I strolled by conversations. I was hungry so I went into a pub/restaurant called O’Shea’s. I sat down looked at the menu. Meat, meat and more meat. I ordered some roast beef and potatoes, and a slickly smooth Guinness. I’m in Ireland. I already felt that I belonged here much more than Spain. I think I felt invisible in Spain not being able to speak with whoever. I wanted to learn their language, yes, but the thing that I enjoy the most when traveling is speaking with people, learning about their lives. Everyone has a story to tell. I’ve always wanted to come to Ireland and while I was in Barcelona I just felt this beautiful green country calling me into it. As I sat there drinking my Guinness, hearing Irish accents, and knowing where I was, I had a feeling of excitement.
I left the restaurant and walked over to Temple Bar, where there are supposed to be a hand-full of pubs, and stores, and artists performing in the streets. I crossed the River Liffey by a foot bridge and Temple Bar was on the other side. I walked around the cobblestone streets looking into pubs, trying to decide which one to hit. Temple Bar is what they call the area, which is pretty touristy, but there is also a Temple Bar pub. I happened to walk right up on it and heard music with people singing along. It was American music being played with an Irish twist. I walked in, ordered a beer, and found where the musicians were playing. The bar had several different sections and they were in the one that was like a glass porch. They were in the corner with just a banjo player, guitarist, singer, and a drum player that has a certain name. They were singing great American songs that everyone there knew and people were singing along with such passion. It was the best experience I’d had since I’d crossed the Atlantic. I had caught the back end of their performance and they finished around four in the afternoon. Poop. I wanted them to go on forever. Actually, I wanted to grab a guitar and join them so badly that I didn’t know what to do with the excitement in my belly. So I just sang along as loud as I could with everyone else. The Irish are the greatest.
After a couple more drinks I went back to the hostel to get into my room and feel somewhat settled. I arrived at the hostel and pink-flip-flop boy told me which room I was in. I went downstairs to where my room was, walked in, and nearly choked it smelled so bad. See, I have super-hyper sensitive olfactory nerves, and me smelling that room would be like rubbing poison ivy on someone deathly allergic. I walked up to my bed and put my things up on the top bunk. There was a guy standing there rolling some hash and I complained about the smell of the room. He agreed and said he was about to change that. He lit up the hash and smoked it for a bit, then passed it to me. I took two hits and told him that was enough. He was Scottish.
I lied in my bed just resting, trying to concentrate on anything that would take my mind off that horrible smell. It smelled like they stored dirty socks in that room. While I was lying there a Japanese fella got up from his bed and asked me if I was from America. Then he proceeded to tell me that he wanted to speak English as good as me, and that he was studying it right now. He wanted me to pronounce some words for him so that he could get them right. He had an English to Japanese dictionary with little yellow pieces of paper marking tons of pages. Many people from Asian countries just amaze me at their discipline and desire to learn. This guy was sitting on his bed studying English by reading cut out directions to microwavable foods, asking me how to pronounce them, while sitting in a room that smelled like complete shit. Determination. Impressive.
I eventually had to get the hell out of that room. I walked out to the lobby to go eat dinner and go out for the night, but stopped to explain to “pinky” that my room smelled like shit. “Yea, that’s because you’re in with the workers. That was the only bed available,” he said to me. I left the hostel, found another one and booked a bed for the next night. I found something to eat for dinner and felt satisfied to go out for the night. I tried finding a place that someone told me about earlier in the day, and while I was trying to find it, asking people, this guy my age told me of a better place to see good live music. So I went there.
The place was called Whelan’s, and it’s a music venue/pub. Very cool. I got to talking to the doorman and he said it was a good night to be there, that the performers were good. He had been going there for awhile and eventually got a job out of it. I sat down with a beer, not too far from the stage. I sat there for awhile and finally the first act came on. It was a very cute Irish girl about my age playing alone. She played all finger picking songs with great precision, and her voice reminded me of Patty Griffin, an artist I enjoy from the States. There was a male drummer who played for some of her songs, also singing harmony. The next band was sort of a progressive band using computer generated sounds and a normal band. They were sort of like Portishead with more of an edge. They had two women singers who had fairly good voices, a guitar player who also ran the computer generated sounds, and a bassist and drummer. I enjoyed the experience, but that’s normally not my kind of music.
After they were finished, for they finished early in the night, I went up to the girl who performed first to tell her that she sounded like Patty Griffin and that she should check out her album. She sounded interested and I told her she sounded good. I walked back over to where I was and smoked. I looked over and she was standing there by herself. I walked back over and asked her what part of Ireland she was from. The south. I told her that I had ancestors from somewhere in Ireland and she said all Americans say that. She was very cute and I enjoyed listening to her speak. Her friend came up to her and said they were going to go upstairs. She began to say goodbye and I asked if I could join them, I was traveling alone. She said, sure, why not. I then asked her again saying I didn’t want to step on her toes. She said that her boyfriend, sister and sister’s boyfriend would all be up there, but I was more than welcome to join them. I left.