I stopped for a bit in the bus station before starting my search for a place to stay. A man clad in nothing but denim, with a shaved head, and spiderweb tattoo on his face stared angrily at me. I was 21, had never been away from New England on my own, knew nobody in Dublin, and was getting the evil eye from a stranger who knew I wasn’t from around these parts. I decided to move on.
I had all of my possessions for the four-month-trip split between a giant backpack and my camera bag. The weight got to me quickly and slowed my exploration of the city. I rented a room at the first cheap place I could find. The Chelsea Hostel sat under a set of elevated train tracks on Lower Gardiner Street, just a stone’s throw from the bus station. I checked in and was ready to sleep. But what’s this? I wasn’t allowed to check in? Instead I was told I’d have to wait in the lobby (the nerve – it’s like I had just walked in off the street!). I slept sitting up in an armchair in the shabby lobby with fellow 18 to 30 year olds buzzing around, speaking a variety of languages I couldn’t understand.
The weekend of my arrival coincided with the yearly music event at Slane Castle. Artists like David Gray, Happy Mondays, Stereophonics, and Robbie Williams were all there, along with approximately 100,000 audience members. In hindsight, I was lucky to get a room at all. Over the course of my short stay at the hostel, I watched the room price rise from £8 to £10 to £15.
On my first night I was awakened by the sound of someone entering the room, quite obviously drunk from the concert. The bed, however, was not his first stop. Despite the presence of bathrooms on each floor, my bunkmate chose the window to relieve himself. It should be noted that our room overlooked a large stone patio for use by guests. He apologized the next morning, realizing what he’d done in his post-concert stupor.
That morning I took a shower, making my way to one of the previously mentioned shared bathrooms. I quickly discovered that, like my roommate, the shower also relieved itself onto the back patio. In the place of proper drain was piece of PVC pipe that emptied outside through a hastily-chiseled hole in the building.
I’d spend the rest of the day attempting to sort out money for my stay. All would not go as planned.