My first day in Dublin, I spent the morning exploring downtown with Lennie and New Zealander Malcolm Hicks, visiting the Temple Bar neighborhood and exploring the Guinness factory tour. I spent the rest of the day walking from the hotel provided by the Morton games to a bed and breakfast near the downtown area. I thought this would be a great way to see the city, even while carrying my 35 pound hiking backpack and 20 pound school backpack. The walk was supposed to take an hour, but ended up being more than three. Apparently it is well known that Dublin is not a well-marked city, but I had no idea. I set out a happy camper with directions written down from Google maps, thinking the way to the B and B would be self-evident. However, I was quickly lost. Between a large shortage of street signs, curving roads, and streets changing names once or even twice within a few blocks, I got very lost and very grumpy. Luckily for me, I just walked in the direction I thought the B and B was located, and I eventually came across one of the streets on my list of directions.
For dinner, I decided to walk to a restaurant recommended by my hosts. Not wanting to make the same mistake, I wrote down directions, studied Google maps, and brought along a general tourist map. This time, Goggle led me astray. The streets were better-labeled in the busy area of the city, but I was told by my computer to take a right, when I should have stayed straight. My map did not show enough detail to give me much help, and I ended up walking another couple hours and never finding the restaurant.
I did have a great experience the next day visiting Dublin’s Modern Art Museum, Natural History Museum, National Gallery, and National Library – and they were all free.
The next day I flew to Paris, and followed some complicated directions to get to an apartment I had found through Airbnb. The couple I stayed with very sophisticated; the husband worked in the film industry and the wife worked in the fashion industry, specializing in designer children’s clothing. They had a three year old daughter, who made me feel silly that night when I happily retired to bed at 11:00 while she still bounced around the house, excited about the opportunity to watch ‘The Flintstones’ after an evening spent out with her parents. I spent the evening running to some of the major city attractions in Paris – Notre Dame, Louve, Eiffel Tower, and Arc de Triomphe.
The following day, I eventually reached Lyon, where I got to stay with my college teammate, Feli, who is working on her Ph.D. in engineering. She amazes me. She moved to France without knowing the language. I couldn’t get around the country without being overwhelmed, and she came here, got an apartment, started school and her research, and had to teach a class.
The first afternoon, we went on a bike ride with her boyfriend, Etienne, and had a picnic around a lake a few miles outside of Lyon. We swam, caught up, and took a nap. After dinner, we met up with her neighbor and visited a couple bars, which was fun when Etienne was there, but was a lot less fun after he left. A weird old French man kept trying to hit on me. My reaction: ‘No. I still don’t know French. I didn’t magically learn the language between now and the last time you tried to tell me something. And I still don’t want to go to a club with you. And I’m still not going to give you my number, least of all because I still wouldn’t be fluent in French by the time you called me.’ And another Scottish dude decided he should feel how muscular my thighs are after I told him I am a runner. I know how to find the good ones.
Feli took the next day off of work, and we went for a run, walked around the city, and did some shopping. Nothing too exciting, but I had so much fun catching up with Feli.