Back from Dublin

We’re just back from Dublin today, quite exhausted. As I’ve mentioned, HWMBO has gotten a new job; thus, we had to take a short holiday before he starts. We settled on Dublin because (1) it is not in the UK, and (2) neither of us had ever been before.

We took BA from Gatwick, which airport I swore I’d never use again after my last trip to the US, where the train trip exhausted me before I actually got to the airport. However, HWMBO and I met at Victoria after I’d gotten the tickets, and we had a trouble-free ride to Gatwick, used the small people mover to get to the North Terminal, and got on the plane. As we’d expected not to be fed on such a short flight, we ate a small dinner before we emplaned. Wrong! They fed us a chicken salad sandwich and some other stuff. The operative word for this trip was food, from the very start.

After we got through immigration (they detained me not at all, and WL only for 30 seconds or so), and got our bags and got a cab, we discovered that the hotel was only about 13 euro away and relatively close. However, the hotel (name not mentioned to protect the gulity) was only 3 star, which didn’t include such luxuries as: air-conditioning (yes, it was very hot in Dublin Friday and Saturday!), noise-free nights (Sunday morning I was awoken by someone from an adjoining room shouting out the window, repeatedly), breakfast included (10 euro a pop for an OK breakfast), a tub that could easily be stepped into and out of (I kept banging my shin on the toilet), easy chairs (there was only one chair in the room, and it was a desk chair), decent beds (they were Murphy beds, fergawdssake! I suppose one has to expect such things in Dublin, but really…I haven’t seen a Murphy bed outside a lame slapstick comedy in my life.), and polite staff. When we started out on Thursday morning, we read in the hotel guidebook that bus schedules were available at the front desk. When I enquired, the polite, red-cheeked, jolly young lady moo’ed “No, we don’t have any.” and went back to her crossword puzzle or whatever. Quite annoying.

We managed to get into town, and found Dublin to be very like…London. Some of the same chain stores, most of the street furniture (the postboxes were green, but some still had George V’s or Edward VII’s cypher on them), and the left-hand driving were all the same. It’s a bustling city, with horrendous traffic jams around its central river, the Liffey, on which we saw only two boats while we were there, one a Duck tour and the other a moored barge. One chain hasn’t yet made it to central Dublin: Starbucks. However, before you Starbuck-haters rejoice, a permit was seen on a building next to the Bank of Ireland building that will allow Starbuck’s (Ireland) to build a branch there.

Trinity College and the Book of Kells were our first formal stop on Thursday. The tour is 10 euro, and was worth every euro-cent of it. Not only did we get a tour, with a young student whose wit and story-telling ability were exceptional, we got to see the Book of Kells (ancient Gospel book) for no extra charge. I gave him a 5-euro tip at the end and said, “Forget the student stuff, stick to the standup comedy and tour-guide business.” We also saw the College’s modern art museum, which had some interesting and innovative works. We then walked around and took the tram line. It doesn’t go anywhere interesting, but ran OK. We came right back, and then went to the canal.

We walked along the canal, which was very pleasant and serene with the exception of some of the characters on the banks. One tried to offer HWMBO a phone for sale, but he looked more likely to take HWMBO’s phone than to sell him one. A swan preened by the side of the canal. Goths preened on its banks, drinking some type of brew while doing so. The luxury apartments a-building along the river and the boat basin would have done London proud.

When I told people I was going to Dublin, almost everyone said, “Have a Guinness for me.” Now, I don’t really love the stuff, but we did want to go to a bar to drink in the ambiance. So we went to one right on the Liffey at O’Connell Bridge. I had a pint of Guinness and HWMBO had a latte and then a sparkling water. The air inside was breathable, thanks to the new no-smoking in pubs laws in Ireland. What a difference! I do wish they’d hurry up and get one here. The only thing we noticed was that there is a lot of smoking on the streets and outside buildings because the law forbids smoking inside. This is mildly annoying (having to walk through a cloud of smoke) but we managed.

The people were very cosmopolitan. There were many Chinese/Japanese, some of whom were not tourists, lots of people-of-colour of many other origins, and lots of bi-racial couples (beside us)! We had lunch on Thursday at a local sandwich chain and it was very good. We had dinner with a former workmate of mine at Quantime, Graham. It was at Tante Zoe’s, a Cajun restaurant on Crow Street in the middle of the Temple Bar district. It was delicious.

Friday we had breakfast at the hotel again, and discovered the charge (no one charged us for Thursday’s meal). So, we went out full but unsatisfied and made our way to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. This is housed in a Georgian building and was originally an old soldiers’ home. After Irish independence it was turned into the HQ of the national police force, the Gardai, and then abandoned. The government restored it and put a very creditable museum inside, as well as magnificant grounds and a formal garden outside. What a lovely spot! They concentrate on Irish art, but have other examples of art. Their cafe is first-rate too, and we then contentedly made our way back to Temple Bar. Here’s a picture of the bell tower over the chapel (which we didn’t get to see, unfortunately, as they only have tours in the summer, usually starting in June but this year in July…):

HWMBO in front of the steeple at the Museum of Modern Art

We did a lorra lorra walking; my feet were killing me. We had two lattes and two tiramisus at a coffee shop on the corner of Crow Street. The tiramisu were HUGE! Had we known, we’d only have ordered one. As it was, we managed. then some more shoeleather, and a picture of the “Elephant and Castle” restaurant (gay-owned, I’m told, by a couple who have the same name), of which more later. Then to The Juice, a vegetarian restaurant, where we met our friend Stephen and ate and talked until much too late. It’s so nice to know people in the places you go to as a tourist.I had tabbouleh and a canneloni, along with some very nice wine. Back to the hotel.

Unfortunately, the hotel has entertainment in the evenings, and on Friday night it was “Tina and Tony’s Italian Wedding”, with much feasting and booze. The music and shouting went on until the very wee hours. I wanted to shut myself up in the Murphy bed. Saturday night it was a “Christmas party” with some fake rip-off band. The drunks in the next room were shouting until 5 or 6 in the morning. Horrible.

Saturday was our quiet day. We decided to skip the 20 euro breakfasts and made our way to Bewley’s Cafe, a Dublin landmark that has fallen on hard times and been sold to new owners. I had two poached eggs and bacon on a bagel. It was delicious! We did some shopping, had lunch at Elephant and Castle (I had a Stiltonburger where the cheese was somewhat dry and under the burger, which didn’t help much. However, the fries were good. HWMBO had Buffalo-style chicken wings and couldn’t finish, there were so many.

Dinner was at the Bad Ass Cafe, still in Temple Bar. One of its claims to fame is that Sinead O’Connor once waitressed there. The food was good but I was bloated from all the eating and couldn’t finish the fajitas after a lovely vegetable soup and bread. No dessert for me.

The boys and girls of Dublin are really good looking. There was lots of skin on show all weekend, and even some bears for HWMBO. I got my fill too.

Oh, here’s a tip. Don’t use Dublin Airport on Sunday morning. It’s mobbed, why, I don’t know! We were in a queue for about 3/4 hour, with lots of families who seemed to be moving all their earthly possessions in a multitude of suitcases that weighed a ton. We did get on the plane, and got back to London and rested for the rest of Sunday.

Here’s another tip: get familiar with euro coins. I was forever scrabbling in my coin purse for the right coin or two and ended up using notes instead. We found lots of euro cents and 5-cent pieces on the ground. People actually don’t think they’re worth picking up. I will do my homework next time (if the euro is still in existence by then…)

One last thing: Dublin needs a gay and lesbian and bi and trans area. That would make it a really lovely livable and open city. We’ll definitely be back.

2 Responses to “Back from Dublin”

  1. phornax says:

    What, a post about Dublin and no mention of vomit? :^)

    Sorry to hear you didn’t like your hotel. If you’re back some day and can afford more than 100 euro a night, we highly recommend the Herbert Park Hotel.

  2. chrishansenhome says:

    There was one puddle. However, you see more vomit at the Elephant and Castle on Saturday and Sunday morning than we did in Dublin.

    We will take your advice on the hotel. Anything would be better than what we chose, blindly. Our friend Stephen may also put us up on his futon.