What I’d like to do, if you want to know the truth, is sleep away the afternoon on my purple bed in The Fitzwilliam Hotel but I know that would only make my jet-lag worse. Better to go for a walk, get a little fresh Dublin air. And I know just where to go. First to visit James Joyce in St. Stephen’s Green and then on to Davy Byrne’s pub for a beer.
Tony, the concierge at the Fitzwilliam, intercepts me before I can make it out the door. “You’d best be takin’ this wid ya,” he says, handing me an umbrella. I protest that the sky is blue.
“Sure it is,” he says. “But this is Dublin. The weather will change in an hour.” So I take the umbrella, though I’m sure I won’t need it.
The bronze bust of Joyce is no more than a block away. I approach the old man with a smile, happy to see him again. “How are you then?” I ask.
It seems to me that Dublin could do better by Joyce than the modest little bust that goes mostly unnoticed by strollers in Stephen’s Green. You can’t help but feel Joyce is getting a little shortchanged here, particularly when you admire the brilliant slumping figure of Oscar Wilde not far away. But maybe Joyce would prefer it this way. At least they don’t call him the Fag on the Crag.
From here it’s just a few block up Grafton Street to Davy Byrne’s where Leopold Bloom dropped in for a gorgonzola and mustard sandwich in Ulysses. The place has changed, obviously. They’re no longer serving the gorgonzola sandwich and the long wooden bar is long gone. I order a smoked salmon sandwich and a Smithwick’s. The beer is thick and creamy and goes well with the smoked salmon and dark crusty bread. The perfect start to a stay in Dublin.