goodness

Ayr to Dublin (to home)

Who in their right mind wants to get on a plane piloted by someone just as tired as you are at 5am?  I don’t understand the logic of early morning flights.  My body feels weird, and the pilots probably take turns taking naps.

zobo apocalypse practice grounds

The Preswick airport was completely empty.  I wandered around for a good half hour before I encountered anyone who didn’t work there.  The flight on Ryan Air was pretty bare-bones, but also cheap.  I landed in Dublin and wandered around trying to find where the free shuttle to my hotel was.  As I waited for my ride, a couple of  American tourists asked if I knew where the “paddy wagon” was picking up/dropping off.  I shot them a confused look.  “We were told to take the paddy wagon,” they explained with alarming detail.  “Isn’t that something that carts off criminals?” I asked.  Their sober exteriors melted instantly; “That’s what we thought!” the other one blurted out, laughing.

My shuttle came soon after.  I got the the hotel and paid ten Euros for an early check-in.  I rode up the elevator and saw horses in a neighboring field.  I dropped my stuff, sat on the couch in my very nice room, and began to mope.  I couldn’t find a bus into Dublin from the hotel.  I missed Scottish Friend.  I missed boyfriend.  I was ready to go home.  But it was 10am, and I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t take full advantage of being abroad.  “What makes me happy?” I thought.  “What will put me in a good mood?”  The answer was, of course, animals.

I have a child-like love of animals, especially otters.  It’s a common source of jokes for Boyfriend.  I have to pet every dog I see.   My voice raises a full octave when I talk about any baby animal.  Luckily he finds it cute.  When I have trouble waking up, he has taken to asking me what an otter does, at which point I smile sleepily, grab an imaginary clam, and pat it against the (also imaginary) stone on my tummy with reckless abandon, at which point I am more or less awake.  That’s what I love about Boyfriend: he takes the weird parts of me, and makes them useful.

two beds, a couch, table, desk, chairs… i was ready to host a conference on napping

But where to find animals in Dublin?  Why, the Dublin Zoo, of course.  So I took the free shuttle back to the airport, caught a bus to the city center, then wandered around and got some bad directions from a couple of people, got on another bus, got off at the last stop, and wandered around Phoenix Park until I came up on some men tending to the grass.  I asked them where the zoo was.  “Here I’ll show ya,” one of them seemed to say, and got up and walked me back the way I’d come, across a street to another park, and pointed me in the right direction.  Despite his unintelligible accent, I managed to catch that he used to go to to the zoo as a kid, and has been living in the area more or less his whole life.  What a nice guy.

The zoo was expensive (€15!), but I had it almost all to myself.  The lionesses were dozing by a back wall, a tiger was hypnotizing to watch as it paced back and forth along a side wall, then perched itself up on its hind legs to get a better sniff of the food truck.  The snow lion was grooming its tail and taking refuge from the light rain in a small cave, the ring tailed lemurs were awesome and very agile, and there was a baby monkey with a red butt that was just bounding all over the enclosure (falling often and adorably).

no photo i took does it justice

The were oryxes (super long horns), elephants (very dexterous trunks can pick up bits of carrot from the ground), ostriches (fluffy and haughty), hippos (their fat bellies jiggle when they walk!), rhinos (one of them chased a smaller one away from the food), tapirs (they squeak!), penguins (so small!), sea lions (they played underwater), giraffes (so tall!), and they all improved my mood markedly.  I was sad to be there alone, though.  Zoos are perfect for sharing.

I grabbed a bus back to the city center, walked to a good fish and chip place, sat down and had a huge piece of fish, some fries, and tea.  Another bus took me to the airport, and the free shuttle took me to the hotel.  I took a bath, showered, played Draw Something, set out tea for the next morning, arranged for a wake up call, Skyped with Boyfriend (bragged profusely about all the cool animals I saw that day), and hit the sack.

ironically, he was irish

There’s not much else to tell.  I woke up too early the next morning, took the shuttle to the airport, flew to JFK where I met some really nice guys, one of whom just started playing ukulele like me.  When I sang, “My dog has fleas,” he came right back with “Goats can eat anything” to help remember the tuning (thanks!).  So we sat around and chatted for a while, and played songs and learned how to play Leaving on a Jetplane (makes me cry every time).  When I finally got home, Boyfriend picked me up, we got pho, and went to bed.  I woke up too early and had plenty of energy for work the next day (surprisingly).

I loved Ireland.  I loved Scotland.  I miss it already.  I can’t live in LA my whole life.  I have to get out.  But more of that later.  For now, I’m having fun passing out souvenirs to friends, and looking through photos.

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goodness

Oban to Ayr

Breakfast was at 845 today: Canadian bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg with toast and tea, just like yesterday. I had about an hour to pull my things together and be out by 1015.

the man in the blue shirt and cap is the owner

My train to Glasgow wasn’t until 1, so I meandered down the hill and found a picnic table to sit and enjoy the view for the last time.  I pulled out my ukulele for he first time since JFK, tuned it up, and played just a couple of songs before some happa guy with glasses approached me and said he loved playing uke.  We started chatting and I invited him to sit down for a spell.  Turns out he has the same Lanikai ukulele back home in Atlanta (he was American), and an almost identical case (from this store on Etsy). We talked about what we liked about Oban, Edinburgh and Dublin (he loved Galway).  I asked where he’d eaten (food is an important topic while travelling), and he named a few fish and chips places, but he hadn’t been to the shack where I’d had oysters every day.  So we went and had half a dozen oysters each (his treat).  He was thoroughly impressed, of course.

We found a seat under the clock tower near the bus stop (his bus left at noon), and chatted some more until he left.  While we waited, an old man approached us with a smile and said, “I thought I should know your names since I took a photo of you!”  He had taken a photo of the clock tower, and since we occupied its base, we ended up in the shot.  I offered him a seat next to me, and he proceeded to monologue with pride about his Panasonic digital camera (similar to mine, but nicer), how he didn’t need to add extra lenses (so cumbersome) because of the excellent optical zoom on his camera.  And so on until he abruptly stood, blurted a friendly good-bye, and walked away.

fish stew and “crusty bread”

My American buddy and I exchanged emails; he lives in Atlanta and travels a good amount, so we’ll have to keep in touch.  After he left I went back to my picnic table and had some fish stew from a stand on the bay, so delicious.  I grabbed a good seat on the train, and started reading A Walk in the Woods, a hilarious and fascinating book by Bill Bryson about walking the Appalachian Trail.  I got bit by the hiking bug during my walk around Kerrera.  I’ll have to do some hiking when I get back.

After a transfer at Glasgow I was on my way to Irvine to see Scottish friend, whom I haven’t set eyes on since the 2004 trip to Romania where we met.  She met me at the train station with a hug, and laughed when I tried to get into the driver’s side of the car.  We picked up her cat from the vet, and chatted during the rather scenic drive to her house, where she lives with three very friendly and playful cats, and her boyfriend of several years.  He had food poisoning, and couldn’t come to dinner with us (which I was happy about, actually), poor guy.  Scottish Friend took me to a restaurant called Scott’s (I think?), where I immediately ordered the haggis as a starter, and an enormous seafood platter for the main dish.  The haggis was… amazing.  So delicious.  It was put together with some mashed potatoes on top and a cream sauce over the whole thing (which is typical, apparently) in a somewhat cylindrical fashion.  I was extremely impressed.  I asked Scottish Friend if people there really eat haggis all that often, and she said eats it about twice a week.  I’ll have to find a good place here in LA for it (although it’s such a volatile dish, that should be an adventure).

OHAI I DIDN’T SEE YOU THERE

We went home and looked through her photos of the Romania trip.  She remembered almost everyone’s names (I couldn’t remember hardly any).  She and her boyfriend and I stayed up and chatted about accents (apparently it’s commonly known that Scottish Friend is universally difficult to understand, since she has somehow managed to create an accent all her own), and their burning desire to visit America, bolstered by the boyfriend’s current obsession with Man v. Food, a show on the Travel Channel where some American man with inevitably high cholesterol eats ridiculous portions of enormous foods at diners and the like all over the country.  I told him I would be sure to show him all the best places too eat around Los Angeles: Korean food, sushi, pho (which they had never heard of!), burgers, pasta, sandwiches, etc.  This fanned the flames a good amount until it was time to go to bed.

I slept in their guest bed, which was the softest, warmest, fluffiest cloud-of-a-bed I had slept in during the whole trip.  I was devastated to get up at 5am to catch a flight in Prestwick to Dublin.  Scottish Friend was nice enough to wake up early and take me to the airport.  How do we get along so well after all these years?  Strange how a connection between two people can be so easy.  She is such a blast.  I can’t wait to see her again, soon I hope.

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