22.06.2007 12 °C
Day 2 in Dublin and I feel absolutely defeated. The skies, which imparted upon me such optimism earlier in the day, opened up midday, and with it, left me soaked for a second straight day. Didn't help that I spent most of my afternoon lost, failed by my trusty, soiled, tourist map, trying to find the old city jail. After an hour of trudging through the rain - soaked feet are no fun - tired, cranky, wet, and having spent considerable time under an awning on a side street in a distant part of the city center, I gave up. Even more discouraging, further inspection of the map a mile or two after turning away showed that I had just missed it, a few blocks beyond my route. Dejected, I couldn't muster the will to go back, choosing instead to head back across the city - a 45 minute wak - to my hostel to dry off. I made the mistake the day before of comparing Dublin to Seattle in my mind, a city whose famous for its perpetual mist but rarely a down pour. Today, I must recant. In Dublin, it rains both consistently and hard. Perhaps you may be able to sneak from one place to the next and never be forced to bear the brunt of the storm, but in time, it will get you. Needless to say, this hasn't been the most auspicious start to my visit in Europe. Perhaps this is nothing more than a test, a little hurdle sent my way to see if I'm up to the challenge.
At the very least though, it has been interesting to see how locals respond to the rain here. In Seattle, nobody even notices the rain. Nobody carries along an umbrella, they just move on as if nothing has happened. Here, you can pick the tourists out with ease, the one wearing the waterproof jackets - often with hood - like me, and the local, the one carrying the umbrella. Then, there is a third of the population who are so woefully unprepared, somewhat resigned to the inevitability of the rain, accepting their soaked existence, doing their best to rush along during intermittent breaks.
Anyway, though the rain may have put a damper on my afternoon, my morning remained unscathed, spent exploring Dublin's historic Trinity College's campus and in particular, the Old Library. The main exhibit at the library, that which attracts the crowds, is the Book of Kells, an 8th century manuscript of the Gospels written on calfskin. The line to get into the building was more than 30 minutes long, though was worth the trouble as after viewing the book, you can go up into the old reading room, filled to the brim with texts from centuries past. Beyond being a fascinating old place to see, there is currently an exhibit on WWI propaganda (oddly a subject I once studied in depth). As the war had begun during British rule, the arguments for Irish soldiers to join the cause couldn't appeal to same emotions, the same love of their country and desire to protect it. It was more distant, more under the guise of what threat might be posed by a weakened British state, and more so, directly to the needs of the continent. As usual, many of the advertisements had depicted women questioning their manliness, gun in hand looking toward the continent wondering whether they were going to have to go for them because the men were too cowardly. Seeing this at least provided a little more insight to the success of the Irish revolt. Naturally, after years of failed efforts freedom was finally attained during a time when England's energy was directed elsewhere, focused more on continental issues than its little brother to the West.
Tomorrow I bus to Cork, and from everything I've read, am pretty excited to check out this city, even if it continues to rain. Ireland is small enough it seems that no trip can be too troublesome, with great cheap bus links making a cross country trip quite painfree. Back in a few days...