As Robert Burns wrote in “To A Mouse:” the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley. In America, somehow, it’s been changed to plans going awry, but you get the point. I taught that poem–and its companion piece, To A Louse–to my high school juniors back when I was an English teacher and always got a kick out of the ‘gang aft a -gley’ part. It just sounds cooler.
Anyway, here’s the account of my day in the rain after my well-laid plan (or so I thought) gang aft a-gleyed.
Touring a castle is a must-do here in Ireland, so I bought a ticket for a bus tour to Kilkenny Castle for Friday, January 18. I got confirmation and although I am not hooked up to a printer so I couldn’t print it out, I figured I’d show up at the right time and place and that would be that.
So I got up REALLY early IN THE DARK (I know that’s what everyone does who works or works out or has little kids, but bear with me here because it’s not something I do easily), grabbed my umbrella and headed to the bus stop, a five-minute walk. When I got there, I asked the one guy already waiting how long he’d been waiting and he said 30 seconds. Oh, I said, well I usually have to wait at least ten minutes and he said, well, today’s your lucky day because here it comes. Great start, feeling good.
I had caught an earlier bus than necessary because I had to make an important first stop:
In the pouring rain, I headed over to the Dublin Tourist Center a few blocks away, my umbrella blown inside out for the first of many, many times, twenty minutes early for my pick-up. Standing along the gate in front of the closed center were several other tourists waiting for the PaddyWagon to pick them up; problem was, they were all headed north and I was headed south. The young staffer with the clipboard looked for my name but didn’t find it and I said I thought I was on another bus but I couldn’t remember the name of it. This would not be the only time this day that I felt like a complete idiot.
Suffice it to say that no bus ever came for me; that I spent half the time standing out in the rain, my umbrella failing me miserably, looking for the damned bus with no name; that the Paddywagon tour to Kilkenny had been cancelled but nobody told me because I wasn’t on their list even though the charge has shown up on my Visa card. Alone and wet, I head over to McNeill’s, 140 Capel St, Dublin 1, Guinness €4.60 at 8:30 am to wait for the damned Tourist Center to open at 9:00. They do not serve liquor until 10:30 am, but here they were, opened and ready for business:
At nine, I headed over to the Tourist Center to find out what happened to my bus, but no one there knew. They made a few calls to no avail; I was an unknown entity, alone in Dublin on a rainy morning with my plans all shot to hell, but I wasn’t going to waste getting up this early, so I headed over to The Queen of Tarts ,http://www.queenoftarts.ie, a place I’d read about in American and wanted to try:
It’s really the cutest little place, and I got my new favorite breakfast: a homemade blueberry scone with Irish butter, raspberry jam and this awesome real whipped cream they put on stuff here:
Now, if you are aware of the problems of being salicylate sensitive, you will note here that I have already had caffeine, blueberries, raspberries and tea, all of which are no-nos and all of which will converge to cause a light-headed, dizzy headache that I will enjoy the rest of the day. Sigh.
Feeling a little better (the headache not yet begun), I headed down Dame Street to Trinity College and the famous Book of Kells. Now, I had read about this illustrated bible and about the long lines to get in, so I hadn’t really planned on going, but it was an inside activity and I wanted to be inside, so there you go. There were no lines on this awful day though, so I went right in. You can only see four pages of this book at one time, under glass, no photos allowed. The illustrations, made by young scribes with none of today’s technology, are truly amazing, and made me think that after having completed just one of these pages, the scribe probably went crazy and lived the rest of his life in a home. Here is a sample photo:
Upstairs in The Long Room, you can take pictures and look at–but not touch–stacks of books; there are also many, many busts of famous folks like Socrates and Shakespeare and the original Locke (for Lost fans like Mike 😉
Back out in the rain, after spending way too much time in the requisite gift shop, I was in need of warmth and lunch and saw the sign for an Italian restaurant I had heard about, http://pacinos.ie, so I headed over, went in and stopped just inside the door, looking and feeling like a drowned rat. How are you? asked the lovely man behind the bar. Miserable, I said, feeling it. Come in, he says, coming around the bar, grabbing the day’s edition of the paper and taking me to a seat. How about a nice bowl of minestrone? Yes, my white knight. Yes.
And I will tell you it was the best bowl of soup I’ve ever had. EVER. Here is Serge (sergay):
He’s my new best friend.
The last thing I did before heading to yet another bus stop was to go to the Powerscourt Townhouse, an old estate turned into a fancy type of mall. The smell of good coffee was everywhere, but I resisted, what with the headache and everything. It’s a cool place, very expensive, the paperbag I was carrying everything in broke right there in the middle of the place and I was given a better one, so that was nice. I wondered around but didn’t buy anything…nice place to visit though.
When I got home, I put on the warmest, driest clothes I have, turned on the electric blanket and got into bed to watch old episodes of American shows on Project Free Tv. Some things never change 😉 And by the way: these ads that are everywhere all of a sudden (if you hover over words highlighted in blue) are from wordpress and I have nothing to do with it and I don’t make any money so ignore the blue highlighted words EXCEPT for the links: I put in those in case you want to learn more! Thank you.