Friday, September 30, 2011
Currently, I am on the 11th bus of our journey-- backpacking through Ireland. Yes, it seems just as surreal to me. We started planning this trip about two or three weeks ago, when we found out we had a fall break from friday to tuesday. We knew such a long break deserved a far away destination-- there was no way I was going to spend this break lying around the house. So, I found a group of Vines people who all wanted to go to Ireland. Almost immediately, I hooked up with K, and we seemed to have almost the exact same ideas on where we wanted to stay and places we would like to see. No couch-surfing, or antique-Roman villages for us. We are all about cute Ireland B&Bs, and luxurious ferry rides to coastal island towns.
But the planning always seemed so far off. We’d be going to Ireland eventually. Or we’ll worry about that next week. But it just hit me Wednesday night that we’d be leaving TOMORROW! Totally crazy. We’d all been so busy writing our case study papers for the British Landscapes course that the reality of vacation hadn’t set in.
So, Thursday morning, we went on a school field trip to the Imperial War museum in London. It was a pretty impressive place with so many artifacts like uniforms and letters soldiers wore during the world wars. The holocaust exhibit was most memorable. They had so many graphic pictures of the atrocities committed against the Jews, and testimonial videos taken by holocaust survivors. I almost cried when one Jewish man spoke about how he had lost all faith in prayer because no matter how hard he prayed, none of his family or friends were saved. It was such an unexplainable tragedy. None of our hollow reasoning can make it any better.
After that exhibit, I was pretty drained, but I tried to absorb the museum and accept the message it wanted to give, and then move on.
Once we’d finished touring the museum, our director dropped us off at Victoria station so that we could head out more easily. (awesome!) and then we made our way to the Victoria coach station. We had some time before the coach left, so we walked/intenselypowerwalked down the Thames to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. I was sacked out by the time we made it back to Victoria.
We met back up with A, who had wandered off, back at Victoria coach station, and boarded the neverending train to our ferry. We left around 6 and got into P-Dock around 2, so I was wrestling around unsuccessfully trying to sleep on that coach for over 6 hours. Upon reaching the dock, I thankfully received a renewed burst of energy as we played cards and drank hot chocolate before boarding the ferry. And this ferry was no tug-boat, my dear, this was a legit cruise liner with seven decks full of amenities. We then proceeded to run all over the place-- exploring the game room, the movie room, and the upper deck which was perfect for viewing the twinkling harbor lights and the bright Welsh stars.
I was too over-tired to sleep after we finished exploring, so I took my laptop over to a quiet nearby deck with lots of tables, chairs, and outlets to read some of the Nathaniel Hawthorne short stories my tutor suggested I brush up on before our first tutorial next week. It was around 3:30 when my eyelids began to droop and I headed into the next room and sacked out on one of the coaches.
So that was the two-and-a-half hours I have slept in the past 30 hours because at 6 am, we got off the ferry and on a coach headed to Cork. C and I are coach buddies. Since I opted not to bring my ipod in lieu of saving space for my mac, she has been sharing one ear of her music with me. That’s one of the quickest ways to ensure my affection, let me tell you. After transferring at W-, we arrived in Cork and hopped on a bus to Blarney Castle (but not before promptly losing A again). That place was absolutely beautiful! A thick fog hung over the deep green marsh land surrounding the castle and gave the area an air of mystery-- of magic. We climbed the moss-covered spiral staircase up to the top where we bent over backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone, which supposedly gives you the gift of eloquence. An area I particularly liked about the castle and the surrounding grounds was an area called the Poison Garden. It was a beautiful little plot which grew only extremely deadly flowers and plants-- one was a common plant found around Ireland which caused many infant deaths, most being intentional because the plant was given from mothers to their children. Such a terrible, yet romantic garden. I don’t know why, but I was struck by the irresistible poetry of the poisonous beauties. The whole area seemed to radiate an aura of goblin faerie dust. The rain began to get heavier and heavier and I wondered if I might drown under my purple rain coat and lie for ever under the moss and the deep blue hydrangeas.
After finishing up at the castle, we headed back to Cork and (after finding A again) boarded a bus to Dingle (subsequently losing A again). And this bus connected at a little town of which I could never find the name. We wandered around aimlessly for a while, and I finally found a cash machine which would let me enter my pin number and take out some euros. And then, after much indecision, we decided to grab a quick bite at a local grocery store and head back to await our connecting bus to Dingle (where we found A again). I bought a loaf of bread, cheese, and digestives, and was delightfully satisfied with my dinner. I also felt strangely delighted with this backpacking across-the-country situation. Normally I would have expected myself to balk at the thought of such a venture. Carry all my stuff around with me everywhere? uh, no thanks.. But I’m actually really enjoying it. The whole experience is so.. liberating. I have all I need on my back, so if I feel like hopping on a bus to a new town, I just hop on the bus. Nothing holding me back-- tying me down. I feel so confident, like I could do anything or go anywhere now. so freeing
So after arriving in Dingle, K, C, H and I began to wander around looking for our B&B (Emlaugh Lodge). We got dreadfully turned around, so K called Maggie, the B&B owner, who was sweet enough to drive over and pick us up (or “collect us” as she called it. We haven’t been able to see much of Dingle, since night fell before we arrived. But the air of anticipation is almost as good as, and maybe better than, seeing the place that is supposedly the most beautiful place in the world. We’ll see in the morning.