10 years ago today I arrived in Dublin for my big six-week trip to Ireland and Great Britain (and spontaneously, Paris as well). I was a shy and anxious 24-year old yet somehow still bold enough to travel on my own in foreign lands. Granted, most Americans who do the backpacking thing do it when their 18 and travel the length & breadth of Europe so I was behind on both age and ambition.
All the same it was a life-changing experience for me in ways I didn’t expect at the time. In some ways that trip is the beginning of my adulthood. In the ten years since then I moved on my own to Boston (despite having no prospects here at the time), changed careers, attended grad school, fell in love, got married, and had a baby. Ten years ago I thought 6 weeks abroad was a once-in-a-lifetime splurge, but since then I’ve traveled outside the US ten more times (5 times to Europe, 4 times to Canada, and once in Mexico), although that’s probably going to become less frequent now.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years, especially since I’ve always intended to write a book about my travels. I’ve written some chapters but I haven’t gotten too far. So what I’m going to try to do to commemorate this tenth anniversary is to write a short post and maybe post some photos of what happened ten years ago today. Hopefully this will jump start more writing offline.
On 20 January 1998, my overnight flight from Washington on Virgin Atlantic arrived at Heathrow where I encountered a nasty customs agent. Then I flew on British Midlands to Dublin where there was no customs agent at all. Arriving in the city, I wandered aimlessly until I finally found a place to stay at ISAAC’s Hostel, right next to the elevated DART tracks. I visited the amazing Book of Kells display at Trinity College Dublin and the National Museum of Ireland exhibit “Road to Independence.” Having not slept for 36 hours, I turned in at about 7 pm. Frothy pints of Guinness would have to wait another day.
The first hostel I ever lodged at, with the railway that served as my alarm clock. I have no idea who that man is in the street.