I wake up this morning to rain, lots of rain. I believe the Irish term for this would be “pissing down rain.” I can’t complain as I’ve have incredible weather thus far. Everywhere I go locals have been commenting about the wonderful, yet too hot, weather (too hot! Bahahaha!). As I’ve decided to spend this final day in Dublin wandering and enjoying the city, I suppose enjoying some typical Irish weather just adds to the experience.
Following a lovely Irish breakfast from the restaurant downstairs, which is included in my room rate, I gather my umbrella and my courage, and head out into the storm. First stop, a stroll down O’Connell Street. Arguably the main shopping street of Dublin, O’Connell Street is a wide avenue that has been compared to the Champs Elysee in Paris. Even if you’re not into shopping, it’s a place to see and take in the hustle and bustle, as well as the beautiful architecture of the buildings lining it. I’m not into shopping, yet, due to the fabulous weather, I take advantage of the opportunity (turning the negative into a positive) and duck into a department store where I purchase a scarf and a hat because, well, it’s August in Ireland. As I depart the department store (hmmm, if I were them I’d look into a new marketing plan and maybe call it an arrivement store. Seems a bit more welcoming) I walk a block down and pass the National Leprechaun Museum. I’m sorry but I just can’t enter. I don’t enjoy wax museums and this place seems like it could be along those lines. Unless there’s a pot of gold waiting for me at the end of the museum, count me out. I could be wrong and, if you go to Dublin (or have been) and visit the museum, please feel free to tell me I’m an idiot and spending the day with little green people (are leprechauns green?) was the highlight of your trip.
Soon enough, I come upon the General Post Office, which houses the An Post Museum. It’s a small museum explaining the history of the Irish Postal Service including old uniforms, stamps and information on the role played by the post office in Irish society. The exhibition is called Letters, Lives and Liberty and the concentration is on the little known story of the staff who were actually in the GPO on Easter Monday, 1916, when it became a key positional point for the rebels during the Easter Rebellion. The video on this in which actors portray the scene is fairly interesting and, at only a €2 entrance fee, it’s a nice stop if you have an extra 30 minutes.
Next, I head out into the rain and towards the Writer’s Museum. “What?” you say. “Didn’t you already go there?” Why yes, yes I did. But, do you not return to Disneyland, even though you liked it, simply because you’ve already been there? Well, there you go. As my bus pass has run out and I now know the general area in which most things are located, walking to them is pretty easy. And really, getting lost is half the fun.
I arrive at the museum and, even if it wasn’t such a great museum, I’d be happy to be here as, well, it’s dry. I, once again, explore the lower floor while listening to my audio tour. A few new things catch my eye that I hadn’t noticed before – some letters written by some of the authors, first editions of books, and stories of friendships and rivalries between some of the writers. After a visit (and a purchase) from the gift shop, I stroll outside into the slightly drier weather (it’s stopped raining for the moment) and stroll past the Garden of Remembrance to head back to the Old Jameson Distillery. “Um, haven’t you been there too?” you ask. Why, yes I have. But again, today is about absorbing the Dublin atmosphere and, as the rain has once again begun, I’m absorbing a lot of it. Besides, I must pick up a prize for our Limerick Contest winner, and maybe a little something for myself.
After finishing up at the booze factory, uh, fine Irish Whisky Distillery, I make contact with Min who happens to be sitting at a café around the corner. We have a coffee, catch up on each other’s adventures and decide to bring her bags to my hotel to store as she departs tonight and had to check out of the hostel this morning (note, they have baggage storage lockers downstairs but there is a charge by the hour).
We drop her bags at my hotel and, as the weather is just fantastic (especially if you enjoy watching your curly hair grow bigger by the minute), we decide to stay close and explore the Temple Bar area. As luck would have it, on Saturdays there’s an outdoor food market in Temple Bar. We sample cheeses, jams and olives before finally settling on some freshly made juice in order to counteract all of the well, crap we’ve been eating. After sampling the goodies at the market we decide to take refuge from the rain in the National Photographic Archive. They’re showing an exhibition on the Limerick Milk Market by photographer Gerry Andrews. While we’ve never heard of Mr. Andrews, I’ve been to the Limerick Milk Market and well, it’s dry in there and there’s no admission. To say we are pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. The photos are striking and the accompanying stories of the subjects are beautiful and incredibly well written. Min and I decide we might collaborate on a stage play based on the stories in this exhibition. Two inspired writers wandering the rainy streets of Dublin.
Soaking wet and wandering the streets we decide to stop in the Queen of Tarts as I love the name and Min wants a tart (oh, and it’s dry). It turns out we’re not the only ones with this great idea and, as the place is overflowing, we’re directed around the corner to their larger location. We sit and enjoy a pot of tea in unmatched, fancy teacups (Min also enjoys a tart) while appreciating the warmth, dryness and new friendship we have found.
We go back to the hotel, pick up Min’s luggage and she’s off to the airport. I bundle up, grab my umbrella and head over to Dublin Castle to enjoy a night of Shakespeare.
I noticed the sign when I visited the castle two days ago that there’s a ten-day run of Midsummer Night’s Dream being performed in the castle garden, and I purchased tickets online for €6. This is the joy of unplanned travel as it allows you to take advantage of things you discover along the way. I arrive at the castle during a particularly heavy period of rain. As I walk through the gate, I’m pointed to a newer building on the left where the performance has been moved due to the weather. I’m very disappointed as the location of the castle garden was half the fun. Still, I can’t complain as I’ve been so very lucky with the weather up to this point. I take my seat and, as the performance begins a man comes out on stage in jeans, a t-shirt and round sunglasses while carrying an electric guitar and singing a song about not texting during the show. I immediately know that this is no ordinary performance of Shakespeare. Soon enough, onstage there’s a woman in jeans with flower patches and a guy in a satiny green jumpsuit. This is a 1970’s updated version of Midsummer Night’s Dream. The show is enjoyable and if you have trouble understanding Shakespeare this version helps immensely. Still, not being in the garden it’s missing something – location, location, location.
Tomorrow – trains and buses to see my new Irish family.