No language on Earth has ever produced the expression “As pretty as an airport.”
–Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
An overseas trip always starts as an adventure when you lock your house and put the suitcases in the taxi, but something about the McDonaldness of airplane travel sucks some of the fun out it. As we embarked on this 16 day tour of Ireland, carefully gathering boarding documents and strategizing about packing, hopes were high. However, the ten hour flight from SFO to Heathrow, enduring rude seat recliners, bewildering instructions for which line to stand in for transferring planes, and the ever-desperate search for phone charge plugins had no unique Irish flavor to it.
My biased ignorance about the Emerald Isle consists of leprechauns, shamrocks, and “How Are Things in Gloccamorra.” All of which I know has as much to do with the culture of Ireland as Fisherman’s Wharf does with San Francisco. But I am ready to be a model tourist; I am prepared to look and listen and absorb.
Dublin: Live Music, Golden Torcs, Flying Pigs, and Guinness
Excited to finally be touring Dublin, we checked off several musts. We stood in the queue to see the Book of Kells, that medieval hand-painted biblical text at Trinity College. The exhibit and explanations were elaborate and somewhat more impressive than the faded book itself. Scribes who worked on different parts were identifiable by the artwork they chose to illustrate letters. The elaborate symbols which cover the full-page drawings that have to be explained to us moderns were code to the pre-literate population, who would know full well that peacocks meant incorruptability and grapes referred to the blood of Christ from the Last Supper.