After paying for breakfast, Armin and I strolled along the south bank, before turning left into Temple Bar. We walked up and down the narrow streets, looking through shop windows and passing cafes and pubs and more shops. I was struck by how much character this area had, with its cobbled streets and old buildings crammed closely together. I loved it, meandering in the fresh air and warm sunshine, and perusing the quaint and tiny shops. We stopped at a café for a drink, but as the time approached midday it began to get busier with tourists; so we left Temple Bar and soon found ourselves in the vicinity of some truly magnificent historic architecture. We saw Dublin Castle, Trinity College, and several stunning churches that took our breath away.
‘I love it here,’ I said. ‘It’s got so much character. And the accent, I could listen to it all day. This is such a beautiful city. I want to live here.’
‘You’ve only lived in Leeds for a year,’ said Armin. ‘Do you want to move again already?’
I shrugged. ‘I don’t know. I wish I could live for a year in each of the major cities in the UK and Ireland. Maybe I’ll stay in Leeds for another year, then move here. Then Edinburgh after that.’
Trinity College appeared in view again as we headed back towards the river. As I admired its beautiful facade, I thought about the Book of Kells, and could feel the excitement building inside of me as I pictured its historic pages in my mind’s eye.
‘Do you miss London?’ asked Armin.
‘No. I loved it at first, but then I couldn’t wait to leave. It’s too expensive and alienating. I didn’t have any real friends there, just acquaintances. Every time I met somebody new, they’d leave. People come and go, and they don’t stay for long. It’s a transitory city. I’m glad I lived there for a while, but after a couple of years I’d had enough. I was very lonely and depressed.’
‘Aww.’ Armin put his arm around my shoulders and we walked on. ‘I’m glad that you’re happier in Leeds,’ he said. ‘Although I’ve lived there all my life, and I can’t understand the appeal.’
‘It’s not as hectic as London. London was crazy. And I love how close Leeds is to Manchester and York and Liverpool. I’m finally seeing more of the UK. When I lived in London, I didn’t go anywhere.’
‘Just to Old Compton Street and the Vauxhall Tavern.’
‘I hardly ever went to those places. I don’t like the scene.’
‘I know, I’m joking. Don’t you miss Italy, though? I can’t believe you’d rather live in rainy England than sunny Italy.’
‘I do miss it, but there aren’t any opportunities for me there. There’s a lot of unemployment. I was unemployed for a year after I finished my Masters. I was doing nothing. It was the lowest point of my life.’
‘Well, things are looking up now. You’ve found employment in Yorkshire! And you’ve met me!’ Armin suddenly gripped me in a bear hug and kissed me on the cheek.
‘Hey, no public displays of affection,’ I said, self-consciously pushing him away from me. I was laughing though, and only pushed him gently.
‘Fuck off, it’s the twenty-first century,’ he said, and he flung his arms around me once more.