Hello, readers! I do apologize for being dreadfully silent on this blog. I think I have a pretty good excuse.
I'm in Ireland!
(By the way, I'm writing this on my smart phone, gasp horror glug glug die, so I can't post pictures, but please feel free to find me on Instagram at aruvidich and follow along with the pictures there.)
For my 18th birthday, my parents said, "Our gift to you is a one-week trip to anywhere you want."
They were surprised when I said, "Ireland!" The trip was hastily amended to "anywhere in the continental US."
But I can be a pretty stubborn cookie when I put my mind to it, and I had my heart set on the Emerald Isle. So I invoked a higher power: my grandmother.
(My grandmother is a beautiful, 100-pounds-when-dripping-wet, southern lady, whose righteous fury can be as fierce as her homemade chili when roused. She told my parents, "If you only want to pay for one ticket, why don't I go with her?"
And they agreed. (I don't know how she does it.)
As you may recall from my last post, I recently got a job serving ice cream. Because our franchise just opened, I had to log a lot of hours the first few weeks. So even as the day of travel approached, I had yet to put in much effort. (My grandma pretty much solo- planned this trip, because she can wrestle tigers and bake date nut bread and stuff like that.)
My plane left at six PM. By noon, I had still not packed.
Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA
Ahem. Where was I?
Suffice it to say we were only fifteen minutes late on our way to the airport, by the grace of God. Really, the hard part was choosing which books to bring. I finally settled for "The Host," by Stephenie Meyer; "The Truth," by Sir Terry Prachett; "Clockwork Prince," by Cassandra Clare; and "The Screaming Staircase," by Jonathan Stroud, a re-read.
The flight from North Carolina to New York was short and sweet; it barely took an hour. Then we had an hour or so to piddle about the NY airport before the really hard flight: a 6- hour overnight to Dublin.
The flight was every bit as enjoyable as you can imagine. The giggles began at around ten o'clock, when, while dozing off to sleep in the comfortable contortions one associates with the possessed, I heard the girl behind me order a double whiskey. I cannot testify to the amount of whiskey consumed because I fell asleep shortly after, but believe you me when I say that she was the only one on the plane who slept soundly that night. (She was also the only one who felt obliged to give, at full volume, her full and unflinching opinion of her employer. But I digress.)
Astoundingly, I awoke refreshed and bursting with energy, ready to face Ireland and all it offered, before I realized I had only been asleep for an hour and we were still ages away from arrival. So I went back to sleep.
In true airplane fashion, I finally awoke an hour before I had to, with a crick in my neck and a weird taste in my mouth. I blearily stared at the ocean for a while before the girl behind me, reprising her role as Official Jerk on Plane, who had slept all night with her feet propped on my arm rest, reached forward through the gap between the seats and closed my window because it aggravated her hangover.
I took great pleasure in opening it again. And again. And again.
We arrived in Dublin at 9 AM. For the mathematically enterprising among you, because Ireland is five hours ahead of the east coast, it was 4 AM North Carolina time. I was so tired that I barely noticed that our driver spelled my name wrong. (Ravidich. That's a new one.) He gave us a highly informed and interesting summary of the Irish political situation, but I was pretty fixated on the fact that he was driving on the left side of the road and didn't absorb much of it.
Our rooms at the hotel were not yet available, so we dropped off our bags and headed to the National Museum of Ireland. Ireland celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising this year, so the entire exhibit was dedicated to it. This was embarrassing because I knew positively nothing about it, and even more so because my grandmother evidently did. She kept making intelligent comments while I was mildly surprised to realize that Ireland had (technically) lost.
Then we had lunch, which was amazing because the breakfast of yogurt on the plane + my lactose intolerance means that I was not wildly in the mood to tour more of the museum. I had cottage pie. It is ground beef and vegetables topped with a beautiful mashed potato dome. As a complete non expert in either food or Irish culture, I can affirm that it seemed Very Irish To Me.
After this, we met with our local host to discuss our plans for the rest of the trip, but because of the good food and lack of sleep and whatnot, I sent most of the meeting starting fixedly at a map of Dublin. My only impression of our local host is that he was very nice and Very Irish. All of Ireland so far has been Very Irish.
It is worth mentioning that A.) in North Carolina time it was still five in the morning, B.) because of the overnight flight and lack of hotel room, I had not brushed my teeth in over fifteen hours, and C.) none of those facts have really changed by the time I write this blog post. So that may have been coloring my judgment, both past and current.
I perked up a little after the meeting because we got to take the tram to Trinity College, and we used beautiful, sparkling euro coins to buy tickets, and they brought me a terrific amount of joy. And all this before I even clapped eyes on the Book of Kells.
For those of you who don't know, the Book of Kells is a beautiful illuminated gospel painted on the Irish isle of Iona, then relocated to the monastery of Kells as protection against the Vikings, then somehow smuggled into Dublin, unless I am misremembering this, and, let's be real, I have now been awake for over twenty four hours and probably am.
Suffice it to say it is a very old, very beautiful book that inspired an awesome movie (the Secret of Kells) (yes, I know, that movie is true except for the characters and the plot and stuff!!!). It is heavily tied to a semi mythological monk's cat named Pangur. I bought socks with the freaky medieval illumination of Pangur in the gift shop. I cannot tell you how much joy they bring me.
We then got to tour the Long Room in Trinity College's library. As an author, I frequently try to describe the intangible, to pin down the indefinable. I give up here. Go look up a picture. It's too beautiful for words.
Our local host had recommended a pub for us to try, so we tromped off there when the your finished, because three hours after the giant cottage pie I was starving again. The pub was founded in the 1600s and was as unbelievably precious as you would guess. I ordered Irish stew before I realized I'd forgotten my magic lactose intolerance pills, behavior which some people call Stupid but I call the Spice of Life, unless of course the Spice contains dairy, can I see the nutritional information please? But I gobbled down the stew anyway without asking if it contained dairy. It felt like playing Russian roulette. Sometimes I need to remind myself what a thrilling and dangerous life I lead.
(It did contain dairy. Ouch.)
(Did I mention I work in an ice cream store? I need to review some of these life choices.)
(But we do have awesome sorbets, just saying.)
We returned to our hotel without incident, barring three quarters of an hour wandering around the seedier parts of Dublin clutching our purses and saying, "Excuse me, but is this Abbey Street?", escaping robbery only by being so conspicuous that thieves automatically assumed there was a catch. Our hotel room was ready. (They left little packets of short bread for us. My grandma let me eat half of hers. Love you, grandma.)
Then we settled down for the evening at 6 PM Dublin time, like the hard core adventurers we are. I think I'll wash my hair now. Goodnight.