“Why is this so important to you?” Asked the Irishman, dressed in informal military clothes.
“I feel he should be recognized for his life. He was never name or awarded anything, and for my family, before he dies, he should be acknowledged.” Replied the elderly Irishman.
I’ve never been able to sleep longer than four hours at a time, and even with a ten hour plane ride and time change, that was still the case. I kept waking up throughout the night, until finally after being awake from 2am to 6am, asleep again y 630, I decided to get up by 830am or 9am. It’s not jet lag, it’s just how I’ve always slept.
There are three things I recommend to anyone traveling anywhere new: find a cafe, find a museum and walk. That’s how I always start my trips. If you prefer to be somewhere in the middle of a tourist and a local, those are my suggestions.
Luckily for me I found all three in the same area – actually I found a whole group of museums all with cafes, and all at least a mile and a half away. I win.
As I stepped down from the townhouse-esque apartment, people were walking all around and cars were everywhere. It was a noisy street but I couldn’t tell from inside.
I turned left onto the street and headed up north towards my destinations. Of course, no one was following the red and green signals for walk, don’t walk and drive or don’t drive. I must just be too American?
(I should note that I’m typing on a train right now, and the table too far away for me to easily reach and my elbows are on the edge to try and stabilize my hands so that I can type. This is ridiculous. This is not designed for people who are short … Then again, what ever is except for maybe airplanes? I never hit my head there, and I always have plenty of leg room even with a bag under the seat in front of me.)
As I walked down the streets, crossing randomly and of course looking the wrong way for cars but trying to consciously remember to look the opposite way that I normally would, I noticed a lot of businessmen. Seemed like I was heading through a business district of sorts, some offices were next to hotels in the same style brick townhouses as the apartments were. I passed a lot of other cafes, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop yet. Streets all seemed a little narrow, always curving, and always busy. No joke, I saw an electric box paired as R2D2, not far up from where I was staying.
About 10 minutes into my walk towards the first Museum, the National Museum of Archaeology, I found myself headed into St. Stephens Green. The name sounded like a golf course, but I also golf on the brain so maybe that was it too. Anyway, it’s not a golf course, it’s just a giant park in the center of the city. It had multiple paths coming from all around its block, and a great little Snow White – type house at the corner where I entered. There were small bridges and large ponds with in it. Several stone areas with statues and plaques dedicated to many Irish writers. A lot of the city had sections dedicated to the Irish writers of its past. I took my time in the Greens, reading a few plaques, watching all the crazy birds wandering around the waters. I finally found my way diagonally – sort of – at the other side, which was almost a new city. Buildings looked newer but still somehow old, but definitely cleaner than the street I was currently living on. Don’t worry, it was still just as busy, and had construction so I felt right at home (as most of home is always under construction).
By the way, it should probably be noted that I couldn’t tell you the names of most of the streets I’ve been on. It’ll take me another day to realize that the street names are not on street signs at the corners at intersections, but on select buildings, way above normal eyeline. Also, everything is in Gaelic and English. The only thing that was helpful were the random signs that pointed in the direction of select locations and buildings, such as the sign that read ” National Museum of Archaeology -> “. That was a helpful sign to see as I walked up to a corner where a very fancy and expensive looking hotel/restaurant/spa/shop was located.
So up the somewhat less busy street, with a few trees, and came to an archway of what seemed like an old palace or at least some kind of royalty’s vacation home. In I went. Up some steps, passed a few students, and into a mosaic floored building with tons of people wandering, I found myself in the gift shop. Well that’s one way to start a trip to the museum. I walked straight across, random gift sections split on either side, and through another archway, and into the very high ceiling center of the building. The center was square, exhibits like any museum would have, except there were also steps that led down to another square section. Large columns at four corners of the center-center lower square area, and the very decorative mosaic floor continuing from before. It was barely after 1030, and the museum had opened at 10. It was ridiculously crowded for only a half hour so far on Wednesday morning, but I could be used to the late start crowds of LA who don’t get anywhere till after noon. So much for beating the rush of tourists??
I didn’t head to the lower area of the room just yet. I decided to work my way around in a spiral. I went right, looking at some history first of Ireland, some old tools, old swords etc. After viewing all for upper level walls, I went down to the lower level square, and read about the gold hoard. There were lots of jewelry, mostly necklaces and bracelets that had been created. Lots of historical talk about melted hoards. Is it weird that I had a flash back to a video game I used to play, “FOR THE HORDE!” My friends will understand that one. It’s a different kind of hoard… But.. Anyway, moving on.
Now, the museum had its typical medieval history, the relationship of religions, the written pieces and elements of wars. It also had a giant boat. So, if you’re keeping track, the museum in New Zealand also had a giant boat. That’s 2 boats, in 2 museums in my first 2 countries outside of home. Let’s just think about that for a minute, because they were both long, very long, narrow, and looked very much alike. Both used for similar reasons as well. Go ahead and ponder that one.
I’m going to skip right to the weirdest, morbidest part of the whole museum, and something I haven’t seen at any others before, at least to my memory. Ready? Nope, you’re not ready.
Okay, so there were three, not one, not two, but THREE, petrified and preserved bodies. I took a photo and if you want to see, you can ask me later. There was an entire room in this beautifully architectures building of detailed doorways and doors, that contained three human remains. One, nearly full of all its limbs, the other two, not so much. One was just the torso with only one arm, no head. They were twisted, leathery, dark reddish brown and reminded me of jerky. You could see where they had been killed in battle. I’d seen skulls in other parts of the museum but I love skulls, human body parts – that’s a new one. Of course, I’m not disgusted, just in awe that there’s a museum that can actually show that. There are museums that never let you see the mummy in the sarcophagus, and those are wrapped up.
Funny how when I left this room, I smelled the cafe and got a little hungry. It was about 1130 now, and I decided to check it out. So, I broke out some euros (euros.. What a dumb name for currency… Seriously), and got the only vegetable wrap, along with tea. Seriously, was this place some rich person’s house? I couldn’t find where there was anything written about the place. I should really look online for that info. The cafe wasn’t took large, and most of the tables were full. I hoped that once I had ordered, there would be free one. There was four person table free after I fumbled the order a bit because my accent is confusing it seems to everyone when I order. I don’t think I’m being unclear but again, American, so I’m pretty weird.
After I had sat down at the four person table, a single table opened up. OF COURSE. So I moved. I squeezed but some other very American youth females, all on their cells, taking selfies, talking loudly and giggling in that way that makes me want to throw things at them and tell them to shut up. This would not be the first set of youths I’d despise over this trip. Just wait till Saturday…. I actually may just skip posts for Thurs and Friday and move straight to Saturday because really.. That day is going to take two posts …
Anyway, I hadn’t brought my book to read, so I was a nosey person and listened to the conversation happening next to me. It was between two men, one middle aged military man and one more elderly. Both were clearly Irish, and discussing something that took a bit for me to figure out. It seemed the older gentleman was going to the younger, for help in getting a family member an awards status for services in his prior life. It was pretty interesting, and I even got a few glances are some old pictures of his relative in military dress. Torn, black and white photos. It felt like a scene out of a movie.
After I finished eating, I folded the second half of my wrap in some napkins. I don’t eat too much, and decided I’d want this later. It was pretty great, and the tea hit the spot. I packed up and left the same way I came in.
I stood outside the street archway entrance for the museum. More students and a group of more senior citizens, and large group of, well, Asians were blocking most of the space so I just started walking to the right and in barely a minute or two later, found myself at the National Museum of Natural History. The entrance was similar, a large green area, with a stone archway. I walked the curving narrow path from the street up to a smaller stone building, but still pretty tall like the previous museum. I wandered in and found taxidermy heaven.
So. Many. Birds. Tons of fish, beavers, badges, rabbits, – just seriously every animal & insect you could think of was in this place. Also, I was the only one who didn’t come with kids. There was a giant Shark hanging from the ceiling, and huge bulbous fish in cases. Most fish were casts of the real ones but there were definitely some stuffed land mammals staring at me like I’d done something wrong. My former boss Larry would have hated the spider section, but also loved it at the same time. His wife & my friend, Julia, would have probably run from the rodent section. Now that I think about it, I don’t remember any snakes, so mom would have been pretty good. I just kept thinking about Kerry, Jay, and Leos would have all said. I’m pretty Leos would have come up with some awkward noises and stories, Jay probably would have stayed outside, and Kerry would have make some morbid jokes and come up with things the animals would have been thinking.
I wasn’t in this museum too long, it wasn’t that large. Everything was in one room, and with all the kids running around, it was hard not to be distracted too much. I left out the way I came in again, and continued on the path I had been before. More around the block until I came upon the National Gallery. Score. I crossed the street, and headed out towards the Gallery entrance where people were gathering. I saw a sign for Leonardo Da Vinci, ten drawings or something. Score again. Ready for another one? I went into the large, much newer building, past the fancy cafe on the right, the even larger gift shop on the left, up the two flights of marble stairs, to the ticket section, only to be told I could just go into the exhibit. SCORE. More free things to view. I love free exhibits. The sad part was that the rest of the gallery was closed, but I did get to see a few very awesome paintings.
Even though there were a tong of people wandering around, I was still able to see all ten drawings. Pretty neat, that I was here for those. Before I left people were asking me what I was planning on doing, and what I was looking forward to seeing. I get asked this before any trip. I never feel like I can plan ahead. I never want to know 100% of everything about where I’m going, or things happening in these locations. I like to “come upon” and be surprised, and feel lucky for a brief second that I found something I wouldn’t normally have seen or thought about. Of course, that does mean you can miss things, but that could also mean that you’re not meant to see things or go to places if you don’t come upon them.
Example, I also came up on the National Library, and went through a WWI exhibit, and a very detailed, and well done exhibit for W.B. Yeats. All of these were within the same block or two of each other, so I wasn’t going to miss them either way, but it was definitely fun to just randomly find them. I also learned the 2016 is the centennial of Ireland’s independence. See? Fun facts, right there.
After the Yeats exhibit, my feet were really hurting. I was wearing the same boots I’d worn for three weeks all around Wellington, NZ, but I guess that was three years ago, and my boots have seen better days. I had forgotten socks ,but the airline had given us a small bag of supplies, including socks so that was lucky. Unfortunately they were a little big for me, and in my boots, the socks pulled my toes down, squishing them. My toes and toenails would hurt for the rest of the week, and I wouldn’t be able to wear the boots for awhile.
I walked back around the Museum block, and found St Stephens again. I crossed the construction street, and found a little nook entrance in the side of the greens, and wandered in. It had started to rain and everyone was taking cover. I had worn my hoodie, but of course, it’s rain, and a little rain never hurt me. It rained pretty well all the way home until just the other side of the business park area. Then the sun was out. I headed straight towards the apartment. I went out later and hit up a grocery store for some supplies, but my feet were really hurting so I spent most of the night with them up and reading. Sure, go ahead friends and yell at me for not going out to a pub. I don’t care, I had other things on my mind. Tomorrow was another day, and so was the one after that. Both were pretty quiet. Thursday I found several cathedrals and visited Dublin Castle. I walked through the pain, and found the Guinness Storehouse, some very random fashion districts that reminded me of downtown LA, and went to a very delicious tea shop. Friday was the quietest of days, as I was preparing for the Saturday journey tour of ridiculousness. We’ll get to that one, I promise.