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.
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.
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).
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.
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.