Someone has been a busy bee recently! After returning from Harrogate I spent about a week doing some obligatory tourist stuff (going to Howth and nearly getting blown away), some celebratory stuff (NYE in Dublin!), some school stuff (term essays, why, oh why?), before finally jaunting off to England for a couple of days to scare the wits out of one of my friends who was not expecting to see me, in the least.
It’s been very windy here recently, and the day I chose to go to Howth ended up being the least so of all the days that week. I took the bus instead of the DART for a lark and subsequently spent more times on the bus than I did actually in Howth, but I got the front window seat of the upper salon both times, so that was interesting enough in itself. I went out on the piers, strolled around town a bit,and then went back home. I thought I’d do one of the hiking trails, but it started to rain a little and I wasn’t having it (my umbrella seems to have a curse on it which makes me unable to remember to bring it with me.)
New Years Eve was something of an adventure. I went to a friend’s house for dinner with her, two of her friends from back home (Germany), and two of her flatmates (French). We originally intended to avoid Temple Bar altogether because we knew it was going to be a tourist zoo; we thought to go to one of the local pubs on the north side to hear some live Irish music, but even though we left around eightish, most of the pubs we went into were already crowded (or alternatively filled with a crowd that we were, at least, fifty years younger than). Instead, we ended up going to MacTurcaill’s pub, which is near Trinity at the corner of Townsend and Tara street. We stayed there until a little before eleven, when the rest of the crowd started to clear out, and finding no other option we made our way to Temple Bar, which was, as we had predicted, packed. After wandering lucklessly around for a pub or a club that was still letting people in, we were approached by someone who was giving out wrist bands for a place called Bad Bobs, which is where we ended up. We stayed there for the countdown, but I ended up leaving around one-ish to get the Night Luas back home because I really did not fancy paying for a taxi on New Years.
I spent from the second to the sixth trying to get work done and kind of succeeding. Spent some time in the library working on term essays, all of which are due this upcoming Friday. Term starts on the 13th. Yikes! Where did vacation go?
On the seventh I packed my bags up and headed to the airport where I fly Ryanair into Gatwick. One of my friends from home is dating a Londoner and he and I plotted together for me to go over and surprise her. An hour and twenty minute bus ride later, I was in Victoria Coach Station — which is not the same as Victoria Station, to the knowledge of neither myself nor my friend’s boyfriend — and after twenty minutes of wandering hopelessly around trying to figure out which Victoria station I was meant to meet them at, I finally found them and was subsequently nearly hugged to death by my friend.
The eighth was my only full day in London and we spent it doing some sightseeing, starting at the Tower and hitting Borough Market (where I bought £20 worth of roasted pecans and almonds, I regret nothing but the ridiculous prices in London, oy vey), the Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square (featuring a Giant Blue Chicken), St. James’ Park, Buckingham Palace and the British Museum. We didn’t actually go into anything requiring payment (which included St. Paul’s, but the museum was free) — all of us being broke students — but just walking around was nice. We had a lunch of my very expensive roasted nuts and fruit cider in a pub in the west end, which may not have been incredibly healthy but it was delicious, and we spent a lot of time in St. James’ Park narrating the lives of squirrels and various types of waterfowl and pigeons, all of which were very, very saucy. We saw a woman on a park bench with a hamper full of peanuts and squirrels were quite literally climbing all over her to get them, very trusting, taking them from her outstretched hands, while pigeons kept trying to land on the shoulders of the men she was talking to. My friend almost got landed on by pigeons a couple of times as well.
For dinner we went to a London thai food chain called Thai Square (ha ha) and got some pretty fantastic food for a good price (for London) although we did wait so long to actually get it served that a waitress asked us for our desserts orders, not realizing we hadn’t actually eaten yet. I left early on the ninth — it took approximately two and three quarters hours to get from where I was staying in Redbridge to Gatwick, first via tube and then via National Express. I really wish Ryanair would fly into Heathrow or Stansted. Really.
London was great, seeing my friend was great, but I was also reminded of why I like Dublin better than London. For one thing, it’s smaller. You can walk across the length (east to west) of “city centre” in about a forty minutes (maybe more, depending on how fast you walk) and the same for the width. London’s so big that you have to take a twenty minute tube ride to get from the middle of city centre of the outside of it. Dublin is also much flatter than London, in the sense that you don’t find yourself constantly having to go up and down stairs and escalators. I guess what I like better about Dublin, too, (aside from the fact that it’s cheaper, and lord knows I never thought I’d be praising the prices here) is that it has more a personal feel. London is massive and confusing (I’ve been there before and I didn’t even recognise some of the places I’d apparently already been) which is exciting, but Dublin is compact and complex, and it feels like home even if it’s a city. I dunno. I’d go to London for a visit again, sure, but if I had to choose, I’d rather move to Dublin permanently.
Well, I have to go finish writing term essays now. Wish me luck.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hannah Vose is a University of Rochester junior, majoring in English with an interest in literary translation studies. When not burying her nose in whichever book has most recently been plucked from atop the dangerously tall pile on her desk, she can be found obsessively learning new languages, squinting through her (very stylish, thank you!) bifocals at someone else's writing in her job as a Writing Fellow, drinking stupid amounts of tea, squinting through her bifocals at her own writing in her job as a scathing self-critic, or dreaming of living somewhere which gets even less sun than Rochester. Born in England but having lived most of her life in Endicott, New York, she has traveled back to the Land of Her People twice and visited Dublin once on the way over. She considered applying to Trinity College as an international student, but was deterred by tuition costs (yikes!) so she's absolutely 100% thrilled to be living in Dublin and taking classes at Trinity for an entire year (and only about 34% of that is because she might get to take a class on Patrick McCabe -- will it happen? Stay tuned!)</span></p>