[Written while in Ireland. Posted after I’ve left Ireland.]
Today was a unique, successful, rewarding travel-in-Ireland day.
Where did I go?
Mostly I sat at a table in the common area of a hostel in Dublin.
What did I do?
Mostly I sat at my computer and read email, then wrote up or posted reviews for TripAdvisor and this blog. But that’s now what was special or notable.
What sights, scenery, buildings or landmarks, did I see?
None. I saw the kitchen, the dining, and sitting tables. When I went out to the supermarkets I didn’t veer right to admire the huge old train station. I didn’t take photos of the beautiful pub next door. I didn’t see any of Dublin’s cool Talking Sculptures.
So what made this a great Irish experience or travel day?
The answer to that is… a conversation with a security guard who wouldn’t even tell me about a coffee cup size at first.
“Do I detect an American lilt,” he asked.
I replied yes, “I’m from New York and then LA.”
He then told me he’s not really from Dublin, but from a town called Bray. I’d heard of it. A traveler had taken a bus there, then hiked back to Dublin. (I may have actually been there. I’d walked in the Wicklow Mountains on my first travels around the world.) As this man described Bray to me this evening, his eyes lit up with admiration and amazement of the walk he described to me.
You walk along the path, he said, and there’s the place at the top where there’s a cross. You stand there and you look out and there are seagulls flying above the sea and you’re as high as they are — or are looking down at them. You’re as high as they are, you’re looking down at seagulls, he repeated. It’s amazing, he repeated. His picture made me sorry I’d not worked out doing that hike.
The conversation continued. About living in a tiny town and what he thought Dublin City Centre to be. About coming here and getting to know for himself. About how he found it wasn’t all bad and that there were good people there as well as the bad sorts he’d been warned of.
The conversation continued. About people. About humanity. About what we can learn from one another when we give each other a chance.
The latter wasn’t new to me — but coming from a Wicklow local who found this from his own perspective, his own experiences. Hearing those experiences and how the realizations came… that’s travel gold to me!
After a while, I had to get this diligent man get back to his work. (Not that he ever ceased to stop watching what he needed to see as he talked.) I needed to buy my food — a nice creamy yogurt called Onken — and get back to the hostel to do some more writing.
This is a great thing about the way I travel. I said it before when I was in Riga in 2014. I’ve said it to people in person so many times…
Even when I’m stuck inside doing my writing all day, when I go out to get food, I’m in a new supermarket with new foods. I’m walking a new road in a new place. I’m reading signs and food labels in a new language. And to me, that’s all a great part of travel.
So now I’ve written this for you (and to remind myself). In a few days when I’ve left Dublin, I’ll post it.