Exploring the City of James Joyce

I spent Day 4 of my trip exploring the City of Dublin. I’ve been waiting to visit the City for several months. After all, I wrote an entire paper in my Irish Writers class about Joyce’s Dubliners, where I discussed the citizens’ utmost desire to escape from the wretched city (they were never able to physically, but as I argued in the conclusion, they did achieve some psychological escape).

I arrived in the City at around 9:45 AM and at first just soaked up the street scene. It was very hustle bustle, dynamic, crowded, fashionable, but not particularly diverse racially / body type / fashion wise. I headed into the tourist office to get a map and help locate the two attractions I wanted to see: The 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour (a two hour walk and talk amidst the historical landmarks) and the Dublin Writers Museum which has exhibits on all of Ireland’s literacy giants.

After locating the bar — where else? — that the walking tour was meeting at, I used the next 1.5 hours to wander some more, buy a sandwich and smoothie, and flip through books at a bookstore. I’ve seen a few bookstores, but not as many as I expected. Moreover, I haven’t seen very many people reading — on benches, on trains, etc. In any event, when I showed up at the bar, I learned the 1916 tour had been cancelled for the day. No prior notice given to the tourist office or web site. Shit.

Minutes after walking disappointingly out of the bar a Dublin hop-on-hop-off tour bus pulled up. My legs were starting to fatigue so I said what the hell and got on, flashed my student card for a discount, and took a seat on the open top. Good move. Informative, relaxing, pretty. Who cares if it was touristy.

I hopped off a stop supposedly near a rail station to get my Eurorail pass validated. I got thoroughly lost. Why don’t big cities all have street signs? After going into a station and getting my railpass validated, my next task was putting my passport back into my money belt. I have been extremely careful about holding on to important documents. Since I couldn’t quite jiggy the passport into the money belt in a few seconds, I firmly gripped the damn thing in my hand and moved swiftly into the bathroom. I try to avoid dealing with that shit out in the open — I always go into a bathroom stall, lock the door, and readjust my money belt. Except this time, after being in the stall for at most 10 seconds, someone started banging on it repeatedly as if he was trying to break it down. I held the door firm with my elbow, finished my security business, then opened the door. No one there.

Next, I tried to find the Dublin Writers Museum. I got very lost. In the end I found it, though, which is all that matters. With a self-guided audio tour, I enjoyed hearing about folks I have read — Joyce, Friel, Yeats, etc. It wasn’t very crowded…True Irish lit fans probably were waiting till today, Bloomsday, where they (and fans all over the world) reenact the scenes of Ulysses. My visit, on the whole was pleasant, intellectual snack food which I followed up with real food in the cafe.

I hopped back on the tour bus and then tram to head over the Microsoft office, where I had a nice little tour which I will write about on my main blog. All in all, I liked Dublin. Friendly people (though not as friendly as in the country side), decent public transit, and of course tons of interesting businesses and literary joints. I would certainly consider studying abroad here or working for a couple years.

Dublin1 Dublin2

2 Responses to Exploring the City of James Joyce

  1. Chris Yeh says:

    Joyce’s grandson, who apparently is a real prick, keeps trying to ban people from reading Joyce’s work aloud on Bloomsday, claiming it’s copyright infringement.
    link to news.scotsman.com

    He’s even burned and destroyed Joyce papers and other materials to prevent Joyce scholars from writing about his grandfather.
    link to boingboing.net

    What an arse!

  2. Tim Taylor says:

    Ben,

    First of all, the comment about street signs is very humorous. Luckily you’re keeping, more or less, to the developed countries. In third world countries it’s as if streets have simply diappeared.

    As for the banging on the bathroom door, that’s one of the stranger stories I’ve ever heard.

    I wonder if you could even guess who it was?

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