January 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Dublin on the final leg of Eurotrip 2010/2011 with no working phone, a pounding headache and seven hours to go until I get on an overnight ferry to Liverpool. It’s maybe a little lonely, and I’m so tired of travel that I can hardly manage wandering around my favorite city of the whole trip for more than two hours without becoming exhausted. Such is not the glamorous life of the world traveler. The hotel manager just told me I wasn’t allowed to eat my scone while sitting down in the hotel, which I think is a bizarre rule, and, as protest, I will not be purchasing the cappuccino I was thinking about ordering. This hotel is one of the most bizarre places I have ever stayed, a building caught preserving old-school charm without the renovation and management to make it enjoyable. My room had to be inspected the first time I took a shower because apparently, if you don’t properly close the shower door, which doesn’t actually fit the shower wall, the water drips through the floor into the lobby. The fire alarm went off by mistake my first night here, followed by a loud and continuous ringing that woke up everyone in the building.
Sure the Library Bar is charm itself but when someone stands in the way of me eating Guinness bread and butter, I have a major problem. Nevertheless, whenever I tell a local where I’m standing, I automatically gain “posh” status. I automatically become an art history major with ripped tights, sitting in the dimly-lit bar, sipping an espresso and reading La Chute by Camus. Opps, I actually am reading that. The thing about traveling alone is that you instantly become a philosopher, your people-watching becomes more in-depth, often involving more analyzing, more eavesdropping, I am never forced into restaurants and thus end up eating mostly scones and butter. I can take only 10-minutes for my 11 euro ticket at the Guinness Storehouse, because let’s admit it, it’s a Disneyland centered around the famous beer and more than a little tacky. I took one look at the top-floor bar of the window-encased tower with views of the entire city and headed back down the nine flights of stairs.
But despite all my complaints — really I have become very critical as this trip has progressed — and no matter how many museums and old churches I just can’t bring myself to visit anymore, I can picture myself living in Dublin as I could not in any other city I have visited, save Paris. It is rustic, with an eye to preserving Irish tradition and history — not European, World War II history — and while it is not the postcard-perfect Vienna or the bustling metropolis London, its rougher edges seem comfortably livable. It seems fitting that I would end here, after trekking across thirteen cities, when the edges of my journals are worn and torn and losing color and all my photos seem to blur together into outlines of rooftop views and butter. When I’m watching the sunset at 4 p.m. instead of 8 and I’m somehow still smiling when random people approach me on the street, even though Paris has taught me better than that. It’s funny that in a city whose center has been overrun by foreign chains, the Irish character still dominates one’s world view, that this country, which has failed in so many nationalism movements and rebellions against the British, really restores your faith that national identity still has a place in a world that is becoming more and more globalized.