It Doesn’t Always Rain in Ireland

Case in point, today, my first day, the temp was topping 17 C, which is, um…62.6 F. OK, that doesn’t  sound hot, but it really is. It was a lovely, sunny day for exploring Dublin on foot.

Flower vendors on Grafton Street enjoyed a sunny June day in Dublin. ©Marcie Miller

Flower vendors on Grafton Street enjoyed a sunny June day in Dublin. ©Marcie Miller

As my funds are extremely, extremely, extremely limited on this trip, I’ve decided to make a game of it called “Ireland on the Cheap” (Look for the book on Amazon soon).  I’m starting with Dublin, which is known for being a pricey city. I’ve been compiling a list of things you can do in the city that are free or low cost. Some of those things today included sitting on a bench in Saint Stephen’s Green, watching the gardeners put in the first flowers of spring and the ducks paddling along on one of the many ponds; strolling through the grounds of Trinity College, trying to find the exit, then ending up down in the docklands at the Famine Ship and Memorial—sobering and beautiful; sitting in Bewley’s Oriental Café on Grafton Street, lingering over a pot of tea and reading the real estate ads (or adverts as they say here) while admiring the stained glass; walking some more, and sitting in the lobby of the fancy Gresham Hotel on O’Connell Street. That last one, I figure that as long as I look like a tourist no hotel staff is going to harass me for sitting in their lobby, “waiting for my husband.” Hey I could be…

The Famine Memorial sculptures were presented to the City of Dublin in 1997 by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie. ©Marcie Miller

The Famine Memorial sculptures were presented to the City of Dublin in 1997 by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie. ©Marcie Miller

Tomorrow I think I’ll take the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) for a ride along the coast south of Dublin to see the James Joyce Museum at the Martello tower featured in the opening of Ulysses.  It’s an inexpensive commuter run, and the views over Dublin Bay are stunning. There are also numerous beaches to stroll and hills to walk up with panoramic views over Dublin. Although, I probably won’t feel up to that yet.

Food will be a large part of my budget, as it’s always more expensive to eat out every meal. Today I ate lunch at Subway, and before you say yuck, the tandoori chicken on flatbread with mint raita sauce was pretty darn good. And cheap at €5 including soft drink. Now to find the cheapest Guinness in Dublin…

My Dublin home—Mount Eccles Hostel. It's a big old beast of a building. ©Marcie Miller

My Dublin home—Mount Eccles Hostel. It’s a big old beast of a building. ©Marcie Miller

One reason I chose to stay in Dublin for seven nights is that I found a hostel for €20 a night (about $26),  on a quiet street lined with red-brick Georgian houses. Turns out it’s also one block from the Dublin Writers Museum and the same block as the James Joyce Center. And Bloomsday Week starts on Monday. Bloomsday, June 16, marks the day that Joyce’s classic novel Ulysses takes place, as the protagonist Leopold Bloom wanders Dublin with a non-stop stream-of-consciousness narrative. I’ll miss the actual day though, as I’ll be on the west coast at an Irish folk music festival in Doolin.

The hostel is pretty bare bones, and my six-bed all-girl dorm room is on the second floor (that’s the third floor for Americans), so I’ll be getting some much-needed exercise. I already made four trips just getting my laptop set up in the common room where there’s wifi. I would have posted this sooner but I forgot my camera patch cord and couldn’t face another climb. So far there are only two other bunkmates, both young Asian girls who are staying for a month. As long as a party group doesn’t move in this weekend I’ll be good.

One trick I’ve learned for creating some private space in a hostel situation (haha) is to bring a sarong to hang as a curtain from the top bunk (yes, bunks). It’s lightweight, colorful and clearly marks your territory. I’m actually using a kanga that I got in Tanzania in 1995. See, Mom was right: never throw  anything away.

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