UK Trip- Day 5: BookCrossing Convention Begins

April 13, 2012:

Due to my inability to sleep through snoring, I only got about 2 hours of sleep; it was a miserable night. But we met up with Ixion in the morning at breakfast and FINALLY spotted our first non-BCinDC BookCrosser: CaterinaAnna! I was seriously beginning to think that this was all just one big joke on BCinDC and there wasn’t actually a convention at all in Dublin. I approached her during breakfast (I wasn’t even wearing my friendly introvert button–go me!) and we got to talking about books and NaNoWriMo, as you do :-)

Ixy, FURBALL, and I walked around Dublin and snarfed a bunch of things along the way: Oscar Wilde’s statue & house, various James Joyce sites, the Spire (it was just being built when I was last in Dublin; I was not thrilled with it now), the G.P.O. (fangirled it hard, went inside again, and bought some stamps there), and many other places. I also saw the BIGGEST SEAGULLS EVER. Dublin seagulls are literally the size of small dogs. I’ve never seen such big seagulls. Incredible!

While out walking, we actually ran into two different BookCrossing books in the wild: Solar & The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy! I LOUDLY announced to every stranger around me that there was a free book lying there, waiting for someone. heehee I snapped photos of the BCIDs of each one but left them in the wild. One of them was actually caught! It was so great to see that Dublin was becoming a city full of wild books even before the convention officially started.

We headed back to the river so that we’d have time to walk back to the hotel to meet 6of8 and her niece at 1PM. As we stood across the river, walking toward the Ha’Penny Bridge, wouldn’t you know that I spotted ANOTHER Forbidden Planet (remember: I’d been to the one in Cardiff)? So I literally ran on ahead and got 10 minutes to play in the geek store before the others caught up to me. And, yeah, I bought some things… including something from a Harry Potter vending machine. Squee!

We made it back by 1:05PM and collapsed into chairs while waiting for the others. 6of8 arrived with an awesome Snoopy birthday card and two books for me–my very first birthday presents! Awww! And her niece is a completely awesome fangirl (anyone who listens to Chameleon Circuit and loves Supernatural is instantly my new best friend; that’s really all it takes, people. My friendship is so easily bought). We ate lunch at O’Briens, which was the go-to place my best friends and I kept running into when we were in Dublin 10 years back. Prices have gone up a little bit since then, but I had a bag of cheese & onion potato chips and completely fell in love. That was my first bag of four during the course of my travels in Dublin.

We snarfed a bit on our way to Trinity College (found a statue of Burke!). Ssnarfing with mascots is always best done in large groups, to detract from the crazy, but one Dubliner told us everyone in the city was crazy and we were in good company! We literally ran into a graduation at Trinity and tried to avoid getting caught in photos taken by proud family members as we walked about, missing every sign possible for the Book of Kells. LOL

We finally found the Book of Kells, paid, and went in. I knew a bit about illuminated manuscripts, but I quickly realized how little I actually knew. I’m still not sure I buy the connection between peacocks and God, but the details and illustrations were indeed amazing. They used elements like lead and arsenic to color the pages; no wonder people didn’t live long back then. There were large blow-ups of pages so you could inspect them closely and there were other books on display so you could see techniques and art side-by-side with explanations . Two pages of the actual Book of Kells were on display and it was amazing to see such a famous and beautiful book up close.

My favorite part of the visit was by far going into the Long Room. I didn’t realize this was part of the package but I would have paid just to see it and not even the Book of Kells. There were more than 200,000 books on display in two stories. There were busts, shelves organized by SIZE of book, sliding wooden ladders, and a spiral metal staircase. It was Heaven. There were also books and artifacts on display. I teared up to see one of the actual 1916 Easter Proclamations; that took my breath away. There was also the oldest wooden Irish harp–made of willow, my spirit wood!

We walked back to the hotel, snarfing along the way, of course. Right beside the hotel was an Irish pub called The Bleeding Horse. I am still amused by the “Probably the Best Lager in the World” motto. I like to say it as “Probably the Best Lager in the World?” instead of “Probably the Best Lager in the World!” heehee Well, if they haven’t tried EVERY lager, at least they’re being accurate.

We checked in at the BookCrossing Convention registration desk and got our badges and programs. We had enough time for a quick dinner, though I kept botching the sandwich, drink, & chips for 3 Euro deal at the Tesco. Though, in my own defense, I bought this deal another 2 times during my UK trip and every other time that exact drink I wanted was accepted by the cash register and is, in fact, pictured on the ad in the store. I don’t know why it wouldn’t take it at the register that time (probably because I had people waiting on me).

The BookCrossing fun began at 7:30. The Icebreaker was super fun, though it drained my energy and I’d left my Ibuprofen up in my room. Anyway, we had to guess each other’s mixed up book titles. For example, mine was: eth tsmhcliea. I couldn’t figure mine out; FutureCat had to tell me mine. LOL I tried to have everyone I met sign my program. And while I didn’t get to about half the people there, I did get to meet a TON of BookCrossers, including one who I’d sent a RABCK to years ago and one who’d seen I released a book in Cardiff 3 days back and was sorry I hadn’t said I was in town so that the local group could all meet me. Awww. There was also a present waiting for me on the NSS pile! I hadn’t wrapped mine, because I took them on the airplane and one of the organizers forgot the wrapping paper, but later that night I wrapped it in a Dublin map and it looked pretty neat, I thought. It was so great to get little presents from people, too. Once again, I’m reminded of how BookCrossers are the most generous people I have ever known.

It was also pretty freakin’ neat to be in Dublin, Ireland, and spot a bag from the place where I work:

There was a band playing Irish folk music (and, yes, I did clap proudly from the book buffet all the way across the room during several of them). There were also some Irish step dancers on hand to teach us dances. I missed all of the instruction and then was thrown into the circle to try to dance. I gave up after a minute, as you might imagine. But it was wonderful to watch everyone trying the different dances and watch the dancers up close as they demonstrated different kinds of dances, including a broom dance. And, of course, there was the book buffet to sample.

There were also beverages available, thank goodness. I didn’t stay to watch much of the Father Ted episode, because I was exhausted. I went upstairs to bed to journal books I’d picked up.