Archives For Hugo

French Rituals

December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Just some random thoughts from the past few days. I’ve written plenty more than this, but I thought I would keep it brief and to the point. And also, photos!

Say what you want about the French, but they love the ritual of sitting down for dinner. When you enter a restaurant, or cafe, or brassiere, you are always greeted with a “Bonjour!” You sit, order food, and when it comes, you get both “Voila!” and “Bon Appetit.” Every time. And it’s great, mostly because it’s the only French I really know.

Because I’m in the solo part of this trip right now (in between visiting friends in Prague and meeting up with the Dublin UCD crew in London tomorrow), I sit and write my thoughts down while I wait for my food, or I knock out a story or two in James Joyce’s Dubliners. It also helps to slow down the dinner process; I normally eat quick and efficient-like, as a bachelor often does. But a European dinner can last a couple of hours, so it’s important to sit and relax and enjoy the food and atmosphere.

And as I realize time and again, a book or a notepad is fine, but company is always better at dinner.

We’ll see if all those observations I wrote down make it onto here. I’m heading into the closing stretch of this trip, and London is going to be pretty jam-packed with theatre and (probably) late nights with that young crew from UCD.) But I have more stories to tell, and one last city to visit after London, so as always, stay tuned, dear readers…

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Can I tell you how fantastic train travel is over here? I could do it all day and never get tired. This is the train I took to Paris.

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Oh HI there! Years from now, I’ll want to look back on this trip, and so it’s important to remember what I looked like. Old and bald, yesirree…

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Snowing in the Strasbourg Christmas market.

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The Venus de Milo, in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

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Looking out the window at the Musee D’Orsay, Paris. It used to be a train station. Shout-out to all the Hugo fans out there.

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Haroosh and I at the Eiffel Tower, Paris. He’s afraid of heights, so we didn’t go up to the top.

Also, I need a shave.

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Another picture of the Eiffel Tower. Had to get the light just right.

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Walkway across the river Seine, in Paris. Those are locks on the left and right. It’s become a popular thing for people in love to write their names on a lock then attach it to a bridge. Saw the same thing on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Man, that’s just a fraction of what I’ve seen and done in the past few days. Hopefully I’ll get more up soon!

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Saturday

September 30, 2012 — Leave a comment

A bus.

Let’s head into town today, yeah? We’ve spent the last two days cooped up in the apartment and we need to get some air and be amongst people.

I live inside that.

I live about five miles out of Dublin city centre, and if I want to get anywhere, I usually take the bus. Luckily I live near a major highway, so buses run about every ten minutes and I can get into town within a half hour.

Typical suburban street.

When the weather’s nice the walk can be quite pleasant. I live in a fairly “posh” suburb, from what they tell me, so it’s safe and tree-lined and quiet.

If I want to take a shortcut to the bus stop I DO have to walk through this, though:

Creepy viaduct.

It’s not as bad as it looks. You’re through it in like, ten seconds.

Anyway, on Saturday I went into town to see another play (surprise!) There is a famous Dublin writer named James Joyce*, and recently his novels came out of copyright, so that means anyone can adapt them for plays or films and no one has to pay any royalties. Dublin is about to be hit by a huge wave of Joyce-based works, and the Corn Exchange’s adaptation of Dubliners is one of the first.

I met up with some friends at the Gaity Theatre, but I had to sit by myself because we had all bought our tickets separately. I was up “in the Gods”, as they say, which is a nice way of saying I was up in the cheap seats. (I’m going to a LOT of shows and have to budget accordingly.)

Top of the Gaity, Ma!

The show was very good, although being so far up meant that I wasn’t as engaged with the stories as I would have liked. (Dubliners is a series of short stories.) It didn’t help that I hadn’t read the book beforehand; I bought a copy last month, but I just couldn’t find the time to get to it, what with all the homework and all. So instead I tried to focus on the staging, the technical side of things, and Corn Exchange’s use of Commedia dell’Arte.

Afterwards we all gathered in Neary’s to dissect the show and have a bit of fun. (Oh, and we also saw this guy outside the theatre. McNulty!) After a few rounds we grabbed some pizza to fill our very-empty bellies. The rest of the party said their good-nights, but my friend Donal and I stayed out for more discussion and general catching-up. Donal and his wife are new parents, and so a night out for some fun is a rare occurrence in their lives. I, of course, was happy to stay out as long as possible, although I did go past the pumpkin hour.

What’s that, you ask? Well, those buses that get me here and there stop running around 11:00 or so, and you’re stuck with taxis after that. (There is some sort of Night Bus that runs, but I don’t know the routes or where to pick it up. And it’s not as cool as this, anyways.) By the time Donal and I wrapped up our night, the streets were filled with them; apparently there is a glut of taxis in Dublin at the moment.

A taxi home costs around 20 Euro, but since I’m spending so little money on transportation, the occasional cab isn’t going to kill me. (Except when I consider that I can buy a train ticket to the other side of Ireland for the same price. Student rates rule!)

And that was Saturday. A great day overall, and one of those I’m Really Loving Living Here kind of days. Gotta enjoy those while they last…

 

*I thought I should remind my readers that I’m writing this primarily for my students to read, lest people think I’m talking down to my audience. Most fifth graders haven’t heard of James Joyce, but if they watched closely during Hugo, they would have spotted him hanging around the train station.