Tag Archives: Nostalgia

Not the Dublin I First Visited – Mostly for the Best, But Not All: Thursday 6 August 2015 (Day 74)

Thursday 6 August 12:40 pm – Umi Falafel

I fear I’ve been pretending to be a normal tourist – more flush, short-term. I’ve been getting coffees, eating out, paying entrance fees for museums. I’m a little scared to add it up and convert it into Australian dollars.

This morning I was meant to join a free walking tour of the city but the crowd was large and the guide too bubbly for my mood so I wandered off before we even got going.

Instead I visited the Chester Beatty Library. Admission was free and they have a pretty interesting collection of manuscripts and religious artifacts collected by … Charles Beatty.

Now I’m having lunch at this smashing falafel and hummus restaurant – this is not the same Dublin I first visited all those years ago, that’s for sure. Seriously, if you are ever in Dublin: Umi Falafel.

I’ve decided I can get through all I want to see and do in Dublin today so I’ve arranged a lift back to Kilkenny from the airport for this afternoon.

I’m thinking ahead to my return to France – I booked my ferry to Cherbourg. Right now I’m planning on turning  left out of the port, follow the coast of Normandy for a bit – not worry about visiting Tom in the South of France or seeing the Vuelta Espana. I feel due for a nice long run of just being on the bicycle day after day after day.

2:35 pm – Busy Bee Cafe

When I first visited Dublin in 1988 I went looking for U2’s studio in Windmill Lane. I found it on the back streets of a drab working-class residential neighbourhood a few blocks back from the dying quayside with its little used or derelict cranes.

Fans had scrawled graffiti on the front of the building with messages for the band and notes about where they had come from to make this visit.

Windmill Lane Studios, 1988
Windmill Lane Studios, 1988

Seven years later, in 1995, on my next visit to Dublin, things were much the same. The graffiti had spread and the neighbourhood seemed a bit changing but all was recognizable.

Windmill Lane Studios, 1995
Windmill Lane Studios, 1995

I’ve just come from there now and I walked around several blocks trying to sort out where the offices had been. Windmill Lane is a construction zone – well – a destruction zone right now – Wikipedia warned me. They said the wall of graffiti has been saved. But was not, presently, on site.

Windmill Lane, 2015
Windmill Lane, 2015

The neighbourhood is now full of new apartment complexes and office buildings housing things like web designers and McCann Erickson.

I know that, on balance, this is a good thing. Good for Dublin. Good for the Irish economy. But it’s another mark of how every city becoming more and more just like every other city with old, close in districts, being remade from homes for low-wage workers in nearby jobs to homes and offices for the “creative class”.

As Paul Kelly has put it … Every Fucking City’s just the same (okay, his story isn’t really about gentrification but still …).

Dublin: I’m done.

The museums were good and some of the wandering but … cities … meh. Looking forward to riding through the countryside again.

4:50 pm – Airport

I feel like I’m just here and time is whizzing past – there’s truth in that but maybe I’m being harsh on myself as well.

Maybe I need to be a little more focused and a little less wandering. Focus on the Jewish stuff, on the learning German. These are shaping ideas. I think maybe it’s time for more shaping ideas.

What would that mean?

D-Day Beaches. Find a German course I can do. Identify Jewish sites/museums I want to visit.

Yes, maybe this needs to be a little less organic.

Weeping for What Will Come and What Will Stay Behind

The tick-tock of time passing is getting very loud. Today is my Going Away Party. As I write I await the first of my guests. I feel anxious, nervous, excited and sad.

When I planned for a prologue ride in Australia, which begins next Sunday, I was thinking of it as a test of my bicycle, my gear and my physical readiness. I’ve realised this week it will also, and maybe most importantly, be a test of my emotional readiness.

I’ve been a bit sad all week. I love Sydney; I love my mates here, my life here and as much as I’m looking forward to my adventure I am also looking forward to coming home at the end of it. I know I will be changed – if I’m not I haven’t done it right. So, perhaps some of the sadness is in saying farewell to the me I am today, the me that my friends here know and the bit of trepidation around what I will find out there, and what I will find in myself as a result.

This past week I spent several days on Queenlsand’s Gold Coast for the baseball Junior League Nationals. For 15 years I have handled media and public relations for Major League Baseball International’s office in Sydney. I thought a few days of watching Under 14s playing baseball would be a good point of departure. It was lovely in many ways. What I hadn’t anticipated was the ways it also eased me toward life on the road and travelling alone. I was away from home and when the day’s playing was done I was on my own to make what I would with my evenings: dining alone, befriending the man at the gelato shop and going for walks.

On my Wednesday night flight home the moon, red and three-quarters full, hove into view drawing my attention to the window. The lights of Sydney slowly filled the space beneath us. The confused roadways of the northern suburbs sparkled like luminescent tracers with streetlights and headlamps. I was seated alone in my row but on the aisle so the view was perfectly framed by that familiar oval – and into that frame came the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then the Opera House – for it seemed nearly a minute there they were. The iconic symbols of my city, of my home.

I wept.

I was listening to Jim Moginie’s Alas Folkloric:

And we live in stolen moments … solitary moments of truth sometimes shine through

The first time I flew into Sydney my flight came in over the city and my first view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House was also from the sky – but in daylight.

The next time I fly into Sydney will be in May 2016 at the end of this particular road I am about to set off to follow. Whoever I have become, whatever I have experienced, the Harbour Bridge and Opera House will welcome me home and so too will my friends – just as today they will gather to see me off. I will weep – probably with a mix of joy at being home and nostalgia for the journey just finished. And I’ll be that little bit more Australian for having been away and for having made the long journey home again.