Friday, May 20, 2016

Diary of a World Traveler

Dublin Day 18: "The snot green sea."

Our final day in Ireland was bittersweet—many people have gone home over the past week, but we stayed until the very end. We did as much as we possibly could in the time given, and I think we have done a pretty good job the past three months. To close out our trip, we had a nostalgic visit to St. Stephen’s Green for lunch, then took a trip out to Dún Laoghaire to visit the Joyce Martello tower and museum. A beautiful day for the beach and a wonderful way to say goodbye to this amazing country.

The day started off horribly. It was pouring rain and nothing was walkable for fear of drowning on land. But by lunchtime, the rain had gone away—even if the clouds remained. We walked one last time to Grafton Street and picked up some Thai noodles. I chose the red curry as a mild reintroduction to spicy food. Then we took our takeout boxes over to St. Stephen’s Green and had a final sit on the benches there. We ate, watched the birds fly, and the people walk by. Though it wasn’t sunny, it was warm. And the food was absolutely delicious.

After our short picnic, I made a quick stop at Butler’s to grab some chocolate to take home to my friends. I probably bought way too much and looked like an idiotic tourist, but that’s what I figured would make the best gift! Then we made our way back down Grafton Street and then onto O’Connell, where we stopped in for a last gelato. I got hazelnut and something called cupcake, which was really just a really sweet chocolate. They did not have the dark chocolate I had the last time, which I was very sad to see. But I was glad to get one last taste of Suso gelato before leaving it behind.

Once we returned to the hotel, I quickly stashed my chocolate in my room and then went straight back down to meet my English professor in the lobby. We had planned a trip to James Joyce’s Martello tower—the home of Leopold Bloom in his famous novel Ulysses—out in Dún Laoghaire. That is the opposite side of Dublin Bay as Howth, where we were the other day. It was awesome to not only go by the Dart train instead of the ferry, but also to see the other side of the bay, looking out onto the peninsula area of Howth. I got to see a different side of Dublin that we hadn’t really gotten a chance to explore.

The train ride itself was non eventful, though cool. We saw Sandymount Strand at low tide, which went out seemingly for a mile before it hit ocean. To avoid walking further out to the tower, we stayed on the train one stop after Dún Laoghaire and ended up just outside town. Once we found the beach again, we started our walk out to the tower, on the tip of the peninsula. It was quite the walk anyway, but we saw so many cool things to make up for it.

First of all, we came across a tree planted to commemorate the 100th birthday of James Joyce. Next, as we continued on to the tiny strip of sand considered the “beach,” we saw this amazing vintage Bug decked out in chrome hubcaps and accessories and an awesome metallic copper paint job. It was a pristine restoration that I wanted to steal, it was so pretty. Then, as our walk ended, we came to the Forty Foot—a small swimming hole where a character in Ulysses bathes and where real people like to take advantage of the deep water to dock their boats and take a dip. The area is called Forty Foot because of the unique feature of the forty-foot drop off directly next to the mainland. Though it isn’t necessarily a great place to bathe, it certainly is beautiful. Joyce called it the “snot green sea,” but I thought it was a lovely little spot.

From there, we walked up into the Martello tower, which was the fictional home of Bloom that now houses the Joyce Museum. We were very warmly welcomed into the tower and given a brief few facts about Joyce. After learning that our professor taught Joyce and that Diana had read it, the guide got very excited and started talking about as much intricate literature stuff as he could.

Since I had never really read the book, I just used the time to look around at all the amazing artifacts. There were so many books, prints, posters, original art pieces, and postcards. I was amazed at the personal nature of some of the displayed items—schoolbooks he owned, handwritten notes, annotated books. These things were close to him, and they now live in this tiny little tower at the end of Ireland. Crazy.

We moved on to climb the stairs, which are very steep and very narrow. Even if we did fall backwards, we would just fall into the opposite side of the spiral and not even make it down. The second level of the museum is a replica of how the interior would have looked when Bloom lived there. There is a bed next to the wall, various books on a shelf, and even a panther to symbolize the panther that a character saw in his dream and shot at in real life.

At the top of the stairs is a door that leads outside, where the cannon would have been during the war. Now, as a home/museum, it no longer has a cannon. But it does still have an amazing view of the bay and of Dún Laoghaire. We could see well into the Irish Sea, as well as Howth and all the way up to the beginning of the marina. The Forty Foot was still visible, as well, as was the rest of the town behind us. It was a great thing to see on the last day in Dublin. Another day, another beautiful view.

After that, our visit came to a close. We walked back all the way to the downtown Dún Laoghaire Dart station via the coastal walk. There was a strange but really beautiful sea urchin statue, cormorants drying their wings whilst sitting on rocks, lots and lots of dogs, and lots and lots of graffiti. Some of the most prominent graffiti was a Joyce quote: “The first faint noise of gently moving water broke the silence, low and faint and whispering.” This comes from A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, another one of Joyce’s famous works that has some of the same characters as Ulysses. There were also come really cool carriage booths with murals of early 1900s people painted in them, to represent what they might have looked like when they were in use.

Soon after, we came to the station. We fed our tickets and boarded the train, making our way back to Dublin. It was great to see and smell the beach one last time before leaving. But it is so close to going home that no matter what I would have done, I would have been ready to pack and get some rest before waking up early to catch our flight. We leave for Southampton tomorrow morning around 6AM, so we should see some more amazing sights in the UK before going home. Though I have had a great three months in Ireland, it is time to see something new and then head back to the States for the summer.  

photo credit Diana Cleveland

No comments:

Post a Comment