Monday, April 12, 2010

Dublin, a Chill in the Air and City Streets

The English guy behind the hostel desk shakes his head: “You’ve asked the wrong guy.” I’m looking for a 3 mile run in Dublin. He pulls out a city map and we bend over it, almost knocking heads. He traces a few routes, trying to estimate the distance, and I set off. It’s cold outside –-- somewhere in the 30s –-- and I’m amped up by the chill and the city lights.

I run for probably five minutes without taking a proper breath. I’m now at the Grand Canal and, after several days of wandering around Trinity College and Grafton Street, it’s refreshing --- the canal is pretty and quiet. I follow the riverbank for a few minutes, but, when the crowds start to thin out, I swing left, due north.

And I get myself spectacularly lost. I head past a tiny square, now locked for the night. I love Dublin’s green spaces, always to be found at the most unexpected times. Is this Fitzwilliam Square? I’m weaving through small residential streets, still lost and headed east-ish now, but I pick up a boulevard and I figure I’m okay. I pass the Shelbourne Hotel, a Dublin institution all lit up, patrons and cocktails visible through the windows, and I arrive at the iron gates of St. Stephen’s Green.

I’ve got my bearings, which, in itself, is an amazing thing. Dublin is mine. I zip up Grafton Street: I’m running fast, faster than I meant to, faster than I should be, almost an all-out sprint. I find my way back to the hostel and, as I blast through the cloud of cigarette smoke and French teenagers at the front door, the guy manning the desk instinctively looks up and gives me a thumbs-up. Breathing hard, I nod quickly. Yeah, it was good.

1 comment:

  1. Your writing is so vivid--I can feel the chill, smell the cigarette smoke, remember what it's like to get lost while running in a strange city. Keep up the great work!