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Ireland Day 5: Freaks in tombs and multinational barbeques

Posted by jana on August 29, 2004

A friend who I didn't even know was still reading this thing told me today how much he liked reading about Ireland and then flattered me a bunch about my writing, so I decided to give in to demand and get another trip post done even though I can't put any pictures in it. My mom's computer (the one I've been using all summer) is fucked up, and mine is fucked up even worse, so the pictures will have to come later. Hopefully not too much later. I should try to get them all online next week when I'm housesitting and will have not only a good computer at my disposal, but a good computer with DSL. Hell yeah.

This is the point where my journal entries start to get a lot more rushed, skipping details and whatnot, as the days I spent with the Freaks tended to end too late for me to want to write about them, so I ended up playing catch-up after most of my friends left Ireland, several days later. I'll be working from the entries, but adding in remembered details as I go. I'll forego the italics, as it'll be too much of a chore to distinguish between what I wrote then and what I'm writing now.

Shared a taxi to the airport with my gracious roommates (Jennie and Jani) to meet Alle for the rental car. We had some trouble finding her at the car rental counters, and she had some trouble renting a car. Took some level of freaking out on her part to get one, but get one she did, and we even all fit into it (there was a possibility that I might not have fit, in which case I would have taken a bus up with Mark). It did take us awhile to figure out how to get into the car, however, and we had to enlist the assistance of a helpful Avis employee to solve the problem (there weren't any keyholes in the car...on the key there was one button to lock it and one to unlock it. We found the lock button just fine, but unlock was a few steps beyond our comprehension). I called Mark when we were sure I would fit....unfortunately due to all the problems with getting the car, this was at noon, about an hour after I said I would call him, and the only buses left at noon and at three. I hope I wasn't the only thing that kept him from getting on the noon bus, heh.

We met up with Julie and family in a small town near Dublin called Drogheda. We tried to see the head of St. Oliver Plunkett, on display in a cathedral, but were thwarted by a wedding being held. Thought it might be rude to interrupt the union to see some guy's severed head. (I never did get to see that head, although I guess Julie and family fared better.) We had lunch in a cafeteria type place and left for Newgrange instead. By the time we got there the tours to Newgrange were all booked up, so we opted to see Knowth instead. I guess the tombs at Knowth were discovered later than Newgrange, so they're still working on getting much of the inside open to the public, which is why Newgrange is more popular, but we were assured that Knowth is actually the more interesting site. Although it would have been cool to get to go in further than we did (we only got to go into a spot right near the entryway, with a tantalizing glimpse at the corridor into the rest of the tomb), the site itself was awesome, with the one huge mound surrounded by several smaller ones (pictures will come when I can get them up, though the ones I have don't really do it justice).

By the time we were done with the tour it was probably close to 5 or 5:30, when the wedding barbeque was slated to start at 6. We'd given up hope at getting there on time awhile earlier, but decided that it wasn't really crucial. The drive up to Armagh was fairly uneventful, though being in the car with Alle, Jennie and Jani was a lot of fun just by itself. We mostly managed to make it all the way without any drastic wrong turns. There was one fairly amusing episode in which, after leaving the Newgrange/Knowth visitor's center Jeff immediately managed to follow the signs pointing back south to Dublin instead of heading north towards Belfast. We were following the Miller car, because of a slightly embarrassing wrong turn our car had made in Drogheda, but we very quickly decided that it was not in our best interest to follow them if they were just going to head back to Dublin and managed to get back on the right track quite soon thanks to the handily placed roundabouts that seem to show up every few miles or so on Irish roads. The ones we used (probably used at least three altogether just at this point) were placed considerably closer together than that. Besides that, the drive was pretty easy. We were stuck in traffic for awhile in the shabby looking town of Louth, leading to many jokes over the next few days about the louthiness of Louth--have I mentioned we tend to be rather easily amused? There was really no way to tell when we passed from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland. Eventually we noticed that advertisements were marking things in terms of pounds rather than euros, so we figured we'd crossed the border. Over the next week we actually passed between the two countries at least a couple of times without ever really noticing.

Once we arrived in Armagh we found the guest house that most of our party was staying at with relatively little difficulty. The others went to check in and I set off with my suitcase to find my hostel. From the map it looked like it wasn't far from the guest house, though I couldn't quite tell what direction it was in (I'm not that great with maps). I picked a likely-looking direction, and soon started seeing promising signs mentioning a youth hostel. The roads kind of wind around and change into each other, so even with the signs I wasn't certain of my direction until I finally saw a big sign announcing the location of the hostel itself, but overall it probably wasn't more than a ten minute walk or so. I checked in and saw that Rene the Dutchman had beat me there. I saw his name in the sign-in book and recognized it from his emails, but I really hardly knew who he was. I'm not sure what I said to the guy who checked me in, I think I called him "my, uh, friend," as I really had no idea how to describe his non-relationship to me, but the guy told me what room he was in and said he thought he hadn't left the hostel yet. I knocked on his door on the way to and from my room, but nobody answered. I found out later that he had been down in the TV room, but he managed to make it to the barbeque just fine without me. I headed back to meet the others without him and found a Shaun in the Miller room! Well, I found a guy who didn't really pay any attention to me who I thought could be Shaun (Shaun was the groom in the wedding I went to, for the benefit of the at least one reader who is unfamiliar with my Freak friends). Finally I reached over and tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he was who I thought he was. He was mean and said no. But I was smart enough to figure it out.

Our nearly complete Freak party (lacking only Uli, Mark and Rene at this point) set off for Shaun's family's house, arriving at the barbeque a mere two hours late. Mark had just arrived as well, and a whole horde of Swedish and Irish people had been there presumably for ages. There was a ton of food and a ton of multinational people, and it was in general a ton of fun. I sat on the grass for most of the evening with the Freaks and various others for awhile, after a brief period of sitting in a chair that Uli's father insisted on relinquishing for me when he saw me standing up with a plate of food on the other side of the backyard. At some point Rene found his way over and introduced himself to me. I asked Uli earlier where he was so that I could introduce myself, as we were staying in the same hostel, but he beat me to it. She told me that he'd be the tallest guy there. She was RIGHT. That boy is freakin tall. Eventually somebody else noticed that he was sitting there, probably Julie or Lee Ann (mostly I used real names all through my journal, but with her I vacillated between Alle and Lee Ann for some reason) and made the round of introductions.

There was a tiny little boy there, some relative of Shaun's, who was very cute and very....rambunctious. Julie has been calling him "wee D," so I shall follow suit. Wee D wanted to play with everybody, and evidently also to kill them. For awhile he was running around with a rope trying to strangle anybody. The Freaks were easy targets as we were all sitting on the ground. When he tried to wrangle with Mark, the Bad Man incident happened, but [info]julival has already described that in her journal, I believe. When he left he went around the circle and gave us all kisses. I forgave him for trying to strangle me, because that was just too cute. At some point here Uli's drunk Viking uncle hijacked Julie, but again I refer you to her journal for the full story.

The Freak group left at around 11. Rene and I headed back towards the hostel and went to our rooms, with plans for me to pound on his door the next morning if need be to get him up to meet the group. At this hostel I was in a room with only four beds, only one of them besides mine occupied. Having to share a shower with only one person was heaven after the Dublin hostel! The Dublin hostel was perhaps more fun, but the Armagh one allowed for a little more privacy, which was nice. My roommate was in bed when I came in, but not asleep, so we chatted for a bit. I found out that she had met Rene at the bus station, I think in Belfast, and they had come in to Armagh and found the hostel together. She was the girl that Uli and Shaun had told me they found Rene looking quite...cozy...with earlier in the day (I am merely transcribing the pauses from their speech, that was pretty much exactly how they put it, though I never really did find out exactly what they meant, hehehe). Small world. Or small hostel, rather.

Tomorrow: Phase 10, Chinese food, and a multinational hen night! Except this time the only nations represented are Sweden and the US.