I woke up feeling beyond refreshed. Although it’s only been a few days since my last good night’s sleep this one felt different than the rest. I was finally feeling like myself again ready to take on Europe, specifically Ireland. It also helped that I had been up for 45 of the last 48 hours since waking up for my plane flight.
It’s about 6 am and I am slowly putting my clothes on to head downstairs for breakfast. I expected to see no body in the lobby at this time but it was oddly packed. There was about three people on the couch to the left and two people on the one to the right. Meanwhile two more backpackers were just checking in and one was on their way out.
I looked into the dining room expecting to see a smorgasbord of food but it was empty. Confused I looked at the time. I was still a little too early, it would be about another 10 minutes till it opened. I disappointedly sat down and attempt to read The Little Prince, a book a good friend of mine recommended.
Although it was written for a younger crowd it was too early for me to wrap my head around what was being said. I stare aimlessly at the hostel door completely zoning out my surroundings. When I came to the breakfast doors were open and people were heading in. This wasn’t a full on breakfast, it was exactly what I expected it to be—toast, cereal, juice, and coffee.
I sat down at an empty table and began to eat my food. Slowly herds of people dragged their rag doll bodies into the room. Everyone could have fallen into one of three categories. First one was hungover. It was clear and obvious who was hurting by their squinting and bags under their eyes. The second was exhausted from what seemed like excessive travel. Slow zombie like motions that were too mechanic to be accidental. It was almost as if they had their own personal formula for survival. The last category is the worst category for the other two. It was people like me. The new birds who are up, excited, and cheery.
Eventually my table filled up and a conversation started across from me. I slowly jumped into it and so did another person. At this point it was the four of us talking about who we are what we are doing and where we have gone or going.
This was my first real conversation since stepping foot in Dublin. Isnt that weird? I went a whole day without truly talking to someone. You don’t realize how easy it is to be okay with being mute until your half way across the world.
Although I spent about an hour talking to them I can’t seem to remember a single persons name. Maybe it’s because I knew it wouldnt matter or maybe its because I can never remember anyones name the first time they tell it to me anyway. But I do know that one was from Europe and the other two were from the states—Massachusetts and Missouri. They were all ironically at different points in their trips. Mr. Missouri was just starting out his 6 month journey while Miss Switzerland was in the middle of her four month adventure and Mr. Massachusetts was leaving tomorrow to end his one month trip.
Miss Swiss was telling me how exhausting traveling can be. She is at the point now, where I will be ending my trip in two months. She warns me that traveling so often can be immensely draining. It’s hardly past day one and I am already second guessing the amount of time I actually have to see all the places I would like too but that’s what makes it an adventure right? I knew coming into this that it would not be a walk in the park nor a vacation. This was going to be a challenge and I was finally realizing that.
After breakfast we said our goodbyes and I headed up to the room to shower. This shower was a pain. It reminded me of the showers at campsites. You have to press a button and have about 20 seconds before the water turns off and but as long as you press it again before it stops it will continue being hot. This is a frustrating process because just as you are getting into that euphoric shower mode it shuts off on you. You press the button again and it spits out ice cold water followed by hot water. This is gives whole new meaning to Icy Hot.
I make it down to the lobby where I wait for the free walking tour guide to start. I assumed that this tour would be a quick little walk around similar to the one I did yesterday. I was wrong. The lady at the front desk told me that it goes on for about 3 hours and we will be meeting up with four other hostels. What did I get myself into?
Our guide Rory, who was a native from Ireland, was hysterical. The first stop we went too was a brilliant coffee shop that looked like I couldn’t afford a single thing there. Good thing the tea and coffee was free for us.
After getting hot drink I awkwardly find a seat to sit. I found an open chair and place my cup down but something seemed off. After years of people watching I learned to be a great judge of body language. Something about the person I was about to sit next to giving me the idea that it was taken. However she didnt say a word, but to save us both the hassle I decided to ask the girls to my left if this seat was taken. Luckily it wasn’t and I sat down to enjoy conversation and drinks.
I found out they were from the states less than 5 minutes into our conversation. Not only did they have no foreign accent, which confused me since I had yet to hear a single American they even had a southern drawl! I found out they were both from Virginia and had just came from visiting a friend in Iceland.
I stuck near Eleana and Kaitlyn for nearly the whole tour. Afterwards I joined them to get some food at a local pub. Three hours of walking on a toast and cereal breakfast can kill a man. At least that’s how I was feeling. We actually were joined by two more people. Juan who started conversation with me earlier in the tour and Rory our hysterical Irish man. He was the one who recommended The Hairy Lemon for a traditional Irish meal. Never have I ever had such a delicious stew. This was stew brewed with none other than Guinness!
Throughout the day the girls mentioned how they had plans to adventure off after the tour. These were the first people I really met and my first opportunity to go somewhere. I told myself coming on this trip I would have to change a few things about myself. One of the biggest things I needed to learn was to seize an opportunity.
It’s funny to me when people tell me how amazed they are that I can do all these things and I am always doing something or multitasking a million things. I once had a friend tell me “you really don’t miss anything do you?”. Boy were they ever wrong. People only see the aftermath, nobody ever knows the struggles to get there.
There has been more times I can ever count where I had opportunities I didn’t close on from females to friends. I wasn’t going to allow this to be another. Or was I? To me there is nothing worse than inviting yourself along when there was no invitation. Maybe its how I was raised, maybe its just who I am.
It is almost impossible to tell someone no when they ask “can I tag along?” whether you want them there or not odds are you will say yes. I didn’t want to be that person who was going to be a burden on someone else’s trip. That’s another thing I should learn—to stop thinking I am bothering people. I consider myself to be pretty confident. I carry myself well and I know my worth but there is still that high school self esteem hard wired deep inside me.
Then it came to me, I’ll bring up traveling in a way that I wouldn’t have to ask them directly! Figured leave it to them to invite me if they really wanted me to tag along.
“What time did you decide you’re leaving again?” There it was. Nice and simple. They responded with sometime after lunch then asked if I’d like to join them! Yes, it worked! I completely avoided having to open up and take advantage of an opportunity to seize the moment on my own! I let someone else do it for me! Either way my day is now planned.
Rory recommended checking out a viewpoint near where he grew up. The three of us hopped on a train from Pearse to Bray. This will be my first time taking a foreign subway. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve rode in any other than New York City? I was curious to what this would be like.
Here we go, as the train arrives my eyes dart back and forth attempting to get a sneak peak at what the inside is like. As we step aboard the first thing that catches my eye is the green interior. It seems so familiar but different. The only way I can describe it has what an old cars fabric feels like mixed with an antique shop. However, that was the only retro thing about it. This cart actually had free WiFi throughout the entire train! WiFi on a train?! That is mind blowing to me. If only the city would do this!
I spent the next 15 minutes catching up on all of my posts and comments. I realized that I am staring at my phone while I am traveling through the rural parts of Ireland. What am I doing? I put my phone down and stare out the windows. Green hills and little homes are scattered throughout the scenery. It was truly pretty sight. It reminded me of home in a strange way. Not that Long Island is anything near rural, it just gave me feeling I have when I go back home from the city.
As much as I loved the city it just wasn’t the place for me. At least not then—or maybe it was? It was what allowed for me to come on this trip. Without that none of this would have been possible.
The year and a half I spent there truly did shaped me. It showed me that I actually had the capability to move out on my own at the age of twenty and well, survive. Moving put is something everyone believes they can do, but doesn’t truly know until it happens. It gave me the confidence that I needed to take this trip.
Actually, I didn’t realize how crazy this trip really was until I started telling people what I was doing. To me this just seemed like a reasonable goal and the next step for me. It didn’t seem strange to me until I heard other people’s reactions—especially when I said I was traveling solo.
A conversation came up where I learn that the girls will be traveling the same direction as me up until the first week of July. We won’t always be in the same place at the same time but we should be able to meet up a few more times before we set off on our own paths.
After a few minutes of walking up to Killiney Hill I was already out of breath. It was at that moment I realized how out of shape my cardio was. I ran cross country for five years in high school and had a 6 minute mile time. Walking five minutes up a hill should not be tiring! It reached a point where I even lied to myself saying it must be the altitude (later I learned after that the top of the hill was only 500 ft above sea level ha!). I turned around to see how the girls were doing and I saw that they were feeling it just as much as me.
Although the walk up there wasn’t a real hike, we were walking on pavements and sidewalks, it felt good to be hiking. There is just something about walking and observing nature that really does it for me. It puts me into this autopilot mode where I can just focus on the moment and forget everything else that is going on. Especially when you reach the top. Not only do you feel accomplished you can see your accomplishment unravel before your eyes. Miles and miles of unraveled accomplishments.
This achievement was seen through how small buildings, trees look, and how vast the ocean is. Sights like this humble me. It reminds me that I am not the biggest thing around there are things bigger and more deserving to be than me.
Throughout the entire hike we couldn’t help but notice that nearly everyone who passed us had a dog with them. I felt like I had missed the sign that said “Killiney Hill Dog Park” when I was cursing my cardio.
Eleana and Kaitlyn were behind me snapping photos when I started to round the bend head of us.
An older woman was facing my direction as if she were headed down but she wasn’t moving. Naturally I thought nothing of it and continued forward. The next thing I know my adrenaline spiked and a white blur was moving toward me, very fast. I instinctively entered fight or flight more, and I wasn’t budging.
I’ve seen how fast a Greyhound can run, but never in my life had I experienced one running directly at me. Before I grasped what was actually happening the dog slowed down and darted around me playful to his owner. Everyone including myself couldn’t help but laugh to my fist clenching “oh shit” reaction.
After that we headed back down and made our way back to the hostel. This was my last day in Ireland and it was exactly what I needed to remember it. Again by the time I was heading home I was nodding off on the train out of exhaustion. This is only day two and I am beyond drained. I have flight in the morning at 7:35 am. What crazy person books an international flight this early? By the time I actually go to sleep it is about 11 pm and I have to be up at 4 am to make it there on time. Just another adventure.