On one of those freezing mornings in London, I departed early from my hotel in Leicester Square to the airport. I took the tube hoping to save some on transport as taxi in London is so costly. I struggled to carry my baggage up and down the station staircases. Terminal 5 was different from the impression I had compared to other airports. It was relatively orderly, which British Airways use primarily for domestic and European flights.
It was a mini Airbus 320 with one aisle and four seats abreast on each side. My seat was far right at the end which I chose deliberately to be closer to the crew as I wanted to see how they worked. It was only a one-and-a-half-hour flight, so there wasn’t much inflight service. Youngish flight attendants came out with carts loaded with drinks and snacks that you could purchase upfront. I couldn’t help stopping myself from focusing on her facial expressions and how she interacted with passengers. Not bad at all, I have to say. Casual but helpful. Found it difficult to catch up with some of their accents, though.
A Novotel hotel downtown that I picked. Standard Novotel style suits my budget, let alone the location. The first thing I did was look for food. It was already dark out there and cold. Colder than I expected, with the relentless wind blowing from all directions. I settled at a café nearby. Nothing fancy but filling and delicious. I didn’t plan what to do when travelling, mostly impromptu and spontaneous. Soon after finishing my food, I returned to my hotel to rest, feeling satisfied.
On the following Monday, I took a leisurely walk around the city to feel the vibe and get familiar with the surroundings after a quick breakfast at the hotel. Dublin is a pretty small city, but everything is there, and the transport is efficient though one could easily reach where he wants to go on foot. Without knowing it, I got to the entrance of World known prestigious University – Trinity College. I was lucky to be there on time when a free local tour of the campus was about to begin held by the PhD students. He was a young Irish guy who majored in Divinity studies. A small group of tourists of different ages and cultural backgrounds were together. A lot of history and introductions of the campus, but I always got carried away by the architecture and buildings of the campus. Simply breathtaking, like the Main Building, the Long Room of the Old Library where the Books of Kell is kept, the oldest book in the World.
After visiting the College, I continued onto the city centre, a bit of window shopping without any intention of purchasing anything but I ended buying an Irish merino wool scarf which I am still using today. A bit costly and heavy to carry but it certainly comes in handy under frigid weather. Here I am still using it.☺️
Shameful to admit that I still loved my booze back then, so a visit to the local pubs was inevitable. I usually would walk into those where only the locals would visit. I settled down on one of those high stools by the bar table and ordered a Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, a classic ale with a creamy texture and definite flavours of roasted nuts, toffee, and caramel. A bit too sweet, so I ordered a pint of Guinness afterwards (lol). A middle-aged couple was sitting nearby, chatting away aloud with an accent not quite the same as I expected. They waved and smiled at me now and then to be friendly. I grabbed my beer and joined them, introducing myself without being invited. They were impressed by my name, Desmond, wondering why a Chinese man would have an Irish name. Well, I didn’t pick my name; my High School teacher did for me. One day while we were reading the South China Morning Post, the teacher asked us to choose an English name from there to use, and I read an article about Desmond Tutu. “Found one, Miss,” I said, but then she asked me to tell the class something about Desmond Tutu the next day – a big mistake I made. Anyway, back to the couple, they could drink and at the same time continue carrying a decent conversation. They were very friendly, and we took a picture together. They even invited me to visit them one day in Belfast. No wonder their accent was somewhat different to others around. I could only understand about seventy per cent of what they were saying (lol). It was a brief visit to Dublin, but loving it despite the weather. The next stop should be Paris; I guess if I am not wrong – one of my favourites, other than the UK, Portugal and Australia.