A nice place to stop through....get ready to sing with the locals!
10/01/2008 - 10/02/2008
Dublin Day 1-2, Trip Day 1-2
The flight into Dublin was mostly uneventful, as was Dublin itself. What a smooth ride on the Airbus A330 though, a nice and new airplane, which easily settled my general fear of flying.
Dublin itself is a quaint, old city, teeming with young people day and night, boasting pubs and signs for Guinness and other Irish brews on every block. The buildings are a mix of very old and new, and the city overall is a little bit dirty. People are very friendly when you get their attention, but can be somewhat aloof otherwise. An unplanned layover of a single night, I was only able to take a brief tour of the center of town, and visit the Temple Bar district, which was both the tourist trap and the bustling few blocks where locals and visitors alike come to drink and party. In the middle of the town square, O'Connell Square, sits and amazing and odd needle that is awe-inspiring!
Notice the nice blue sky? Lucky me! Though it did rain during my 36 hour tenure....
Food, Drink, and Consumables:
I was mostly amazed with the sheer amount of sanctioned drinking in this city, day and night. I managed to drink 7 pints of Guinness throughout a day tour, then a night tour there, and I felt like one of the crowd. Mind you, Guinness is not a very strong beer, so there was no stumbling around for me! Wandering around at noon, I decided to take a few beers to help me get a nap in the middle of the day. The pubs were chock full of Irish, drinking lunchtime beers and socializing. After a nice nap, I went out at 10pm, to the Temple Bar area, and it was a party scene despite being a Tuesday night! I settled into a locals bar, where there was live music and a typical crowd. The musicians consisted of a guitar player and a bodran (drum) player. The crowd was 18-70 years in age, and everybody was drinking, socializing, and singing along to the tunes! There were SO MANY pubs just like this in a 4 block radius, it was obvious that drinking is a distinct cultural phenomenon here. Elderly women were meeting for beers like it was tea time in England.
After asking some locals about a "last chance" Irish meal, I made a plan to eat a traditional Irish dish consisting of cabbage and bacon. I was told that other Irish meals were typical all over the world, such as Irish Stew, Fish and Chips, and Bangers and Mash. Unfortunately, after all the Guiness that evening, which cost a pretty penny at about 5 Euro ($8) per pint, I figured my budget and my full stomach had gotten the best of my plan. But being the glutton I am, on the way home from the pub around midnight, I decided on some budget food. I managed to find a Chicken Escalope pita for 6 Euro at a place called Abrakebabra (think Abracadabra, but for Kebobs) which was tasty. After seeing so many ads for the Meat Beast Whopper at Burger King, I had to go in there and examine that just for shits and giggles (had no plans to eat one...).
A simple Whopper meal deal was 8 Euro ($12US!), but I managed to find ribs for 2.50 Euro. Expecting something reminiscent of the McDonalds boneless processed McRibs, I was surprised to find that they were REAL ribs with REAL bones, complete with BBQ sauce. WOW! It was the tastiest 2.50 Euro I had ever spent!
I stumbled upon some interesting bits that I photographed, including a poster found in every men's bathroom I went to, advertising depression as a "Loss of lust for life" and insinuating the cause to be a deficiency in testosterone! I was curious to know what may have been found in the women's bathroom.
The next day I continued to wander around, and settled on a typical breakfast cafe where I discovered what became a common occurence in Europe...a style of bacon that is better than any we have in the US, and it has now become a new love affair. I purchased some post cards, familiarized myself with the post office, and even visited a music store to peruse the bodrans for sale, and purchased a miniature one for my drum collection. Finally, I settled in for my cabbage and bacon meal at lunchtime while waiting for the bus to get back to the airport. This bacon was different than the lunch version, I think it was more like ham hocks, or a fatty, salty ham. A good meal, but nothing to write home about. Well, at least worth a sentence in a blog.
People were friendly here once you took the time to strike up some conversation. They appeared happy to know an american, and it was obvious that the Irish are very interested in American Politics. So started a series of questions from people about whether I was going to vote Obama or Bush.
The hostel I stayed at, Isaacs Hostel, was a youthful and vibrant one, full of young people. It was in a quiant old brick building, and had many nooks and crannies that were conducive to socializing. The basement was great, complete with a pool and foosball table. It was my first hostel experience...sort of. I had a private room as a gaurd against any needed daytime naps due to jetlag. At the end of my night there, I stumbled upon a few people and had a great conversation ranging from politics to philosophy to culture to women, with fellows from Ireland, the US, and Belgium.
The bartender at the pub I sat at was also very friendly, and we got to know each other a bit, as were some elderly English people at the breakfast cafe the next morning. I had the opoortunity to sit next to a Polish gal on the way to the airport, who was living and working in Dublin, and we discovered each other's musicianship and enjoyed the short ride to the airport together. Overall, it was a great start to my trip.