Dona and Joe’s European Vacation, Episode 5: A Little Sleep, Two Little Tours, and a Little Pub Tradition

Yes! There was sleep. A cramped, turbulence tossed, and all too brief sleep, but I probably got in three to four hours aboard Delta’s business class flat beds. ’Tis a first for this traveler, and it took a hefty combination of prescription drugs and alcohol that I’m sure broke the law in several states, but sleep it was. I awoke blissfully to the sound of “final approach” from the cockpit, and the sight of Ireland’s truly green spaces.

And so here we are in Dublin, as friendly a city so far as one could hope to find. We’ve heard only one car horn in our extensive travels in and alongside traffic today, in comparison to the literally hundreds that blared in NYC in our three days there. The locals seem quite nice as well, although we are in the tourist area of the City Centre, which may have a bit to do with it.

So far we’ve managed two brief tours. The Little Museum of Dublin is a small place on St. Stephen’s Green, and the tour itself consists of but two rooms, and yet it’s a don’t miss experience filled with photos and memorabilia contributed by many of Ireland’s notable folks. It was made especially memorable because of the remarkable narration by our tour guide, Kara, whose engaging wit brought the story of Ireland (from the 1700s to the present) to life. There’s something infectious about Irish speech, in its patter and lilt, especially when the speaker has the ability to segue into asides that enliven the tale (such as the one about Hitler’s brother, Alois, who worked down the street at the Shelbourne Hotel, married an Irishwoman, and lived in Liverpool.

There are a few other rooms you can peruse on your own, including one devoted to the band U2, one of Ireland’s most revered exports to the world. I can’t help but admire a country that considers writers and musicians among their greatest citizens.

A mile or so away is the James Joyce Centre on Great George’s Street. A trifle disappointing I have to say, considering the impact Joyce had on literature in the 20th century and beyond, and in particular on my own literary path. It’s really just a few sticks of furniture and a few photos, and in the bottom floor room a DVD playing John Huston’s film “The Dead,” which I’ve seen several times—although had Dona not been with me I might have stayed to watch once more. We’ll have to try the Dublin Writers Museum as well, which promises 300 years of the country’s literary heritage.

Had our first taste of Dublin’s pubs too. We stopped at Bruxelles (fortunately before the nightly rock band started up). I had the traditional pint of Guinness and the traditional fish and chips (and not bad, I’ll say). Dona had a glass of Guinness, but stopped short of bar food and opted for a goat cheese salad. We’re workin’ on that.