It’s been over 24 hours in Ireland and now that jet lag has subsided, excitement has set in. After a bit of a bumpy start, today has been a gorgeous day in Dublin – a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit and not a cloud in sight. We’ve learned from a number of different locals that this type of weather is a welcome change from the usual rain, and I can only hope (however naively), that it lasts the next four weeks!
It was the perfect day for some exploring, and, as always, last minute errands due to lack of foresight. Our first stop was to the Dundrum Town Centre on the outskirts of the city, in need of a pair of Vans (grey Authentics, of course). Even after breaking them in beforehand, my Birkenstocks failed me after walking what seemed like 5 miles at the Atlanta airport, and I spent yesterday treading lightly on some pretty nasty blisters. Since the only other pair of shoes in my suitcase are for the dig (both fashion and practicality wise…), it was clear that something had to be done.
Afterwards, we headed to the heart of Dublin to inquire about my bus ticket for Sunday’s journey to Trim. There, I’ll meet up with the other program members, my instructors, and my host family. I’m glad we rented a car for the time being though, because that gives us the opportunity to explore farther out of the city while my parents are here, and now they can easily drop me off at the bus station before they fly out. That will save me from having to deal with hauling my huge suitcase and backpack in and out of a taxi, or dragging it through the Dublin streets!
The highlight of the day was to come at the next stop. After finally getting the hang of the road system (with help from a GPS, naturally), we headed north-west towards Trim, the city where I’ll be helping with fieldwork from Sunday onward. The drive was absolutely lovely – very few bits of traffic, easy to navigate, and charming as ever. You’re greeted almost immediately by Trim Castle after passing the welcome sign, and it’s a huge, dominating piece of history that’s flanked by a lot of flat greenery, making the remaining structures look huge compared to the houses and shops around it. One of my favorite things I’ve noticed about Ireland, from our first trip 6 years ago and still today, is the fact that the Irish are so used to seeing medieval architecture remains that it becomes commonplace in the everyday aspects of life. I suppose coming from America, where castles and looming ancient stone structures are a rarity that one can live a whole lifetime without seeing in person, it seems hilarious to me. Considering the Blackfriary dig site is flanked on three sides by neighborhoods and on one side by a SuperValu supermarket, I guess remnants of the past can make their place beside necessities of the present easily here in Ireland.
We stopped at The Castle restaurant across from…any guesses? Through one door was a sit-down area, and through the other was a place for takeaway. I ordered a delicious plate of fish and chips, very fresh and battered perfectly. After paying, we spoke with a woman there named Paula, and as I told her I would be staying there for the next month come Sunday, she welcomed me, asked who I was living with (in case she knew them), and told me all the secrets of getting to Dublin on the weekends and some awesome activities that the town will be having while I’m there. She, upon noticing I was also wearing a FitBit, asked me how exactly to work it, how to fix the time, and how I got all those icons on my bracelet. We had a quick lesson of navigating the app and syncing it through Bluetooth, and I promised her I would stop in again in a few weeks and ask her how her FitBit knowledge was coming along.
I should also mention our first pub meal yesterday afternoon, after a long flight and being awake more than 24 straight hours considering the time change. It was at John Kavanagh, “The Gravediggers” Pub. Located right next door to Glasnevin cemetery, it’s been in the family since 1833, and we were served by none other than 7th generation owner, Alfreda Kavanagh. She was extremely friendly, and the food was absolutely delightful. I ordered the chicken curry on naan, mum and dad the Parmesan risotto with mushrooms and smoked bacon. For drinks? A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon for me, straight whiskey for mum (what else?) and a Bulmer’s cider for dad. The atmosphere was exactly what you’d expect, the food was generous in portion and incredibly good, and the service was impeccable. We’re definitely planning on going back.
And one final discovery for the day – Starbucks doesn’t charge an extra .60 cents for soy milk, so as long as there’s still money on my gift card, I’ll continue being my basic, Starbucks loving self. Even 3000 miles away from home.