Saturday, March 18, 2006

Weekend in Dublin

Me and a Guinness, right before I gave up drinking it

Last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday meant Dublin for me, and, as we landed on the Emerald Isle, I spotted the prettiest patches of endless green fields, and many sheep, for miles around. My friend Allison came to get my at Dublin's airport, where it still had yet to rain that day, and we greeted each other with warm smiles and hugs. Soon, we were at our little hotel to meet Allison's friend and colleague, Emily. Immediately, we gasped at our tiny hotel room ("did it really look like this on the website?"), grabbed our purses and guidebooks, and headed out to find lunch, and to meet the graceful city. Our Dublin adventure had begun.

Allison, Emily, and I take a break for a milkshake on Sunday

The weekend flew by--it was really just 48 hours afterall--and we saw as much as Dublin as was possible in that limited amount of time (Allison tightly scheduled our Sunday, since Saturday evening we had wandered aimlessly in the rain). From a whirlwind tour of the National Gallery of Ireland--which was supposed to feature a wonderful Caravaggio painting that had somehow been summoned to Amsterdam for the season ("But, have you seen our Picasso?" the docent asked, as if the rest of the museum were just a waste of time) to a 7-story-tall self-guided walk through the famous Guinness Brewery, we stayed indoors as much as possible. Still, however grey and rainy the city was, there were plenty of things to enjoy. We scheduled a quick visit into Christ Church Cathedral while the choir practiced in front of the church, we visited St. Patrick's Cathedral and admired its flying butresses while I tried to remember singing evensong in the same Cathedral some ten years ago, and we took a 1 o'clock Sunday walking tour of Trinity College (rain-free, luckily) and her green, green grass, which ended in a visit to Trinity's museum to see the famed Book of Kells.

Peeking out of Trinity College

Despite all of these things, though, one of my best memories was unscheduled: a quick walk down Grafton Street (Dublin's classy shopping district) in search of last minute gifts on Sunday evening led me to a starlit view of St. Anne's church, whose charming facade and beautiful rose window stopped me in my tracks. It was only a moment, really, but I was able to shrug off the cold wintry weather and continue on, content to find an unexpected gem lost between the folds of our busy day.

And only a few hours later I found myself on the plane again, heading back to Rome, and, eventually, to Antonello. I had logged in so many travel hours--long train rides, plane rides, even bus rides. But the actual time spent in Dublin, quick and fleeting, seemed almost as if I had dreamt it all. On the train ride home, I took out my camera and skimmed through my memories: placing things, conjuring up the color of the green grass, the bright red buses, the sea of mismatched umbrellas under light grey skies.

I sat there with my photos, remembering, as if to make the weekend last just a few more moments before I was really, truly, home again.

Thanks, Allison and Emily for the nice weekend away!

Temple Bar on Sunday night