Olivia's Trip to the Capital

Trip Start Apr 11, 2007
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Trip End Apr 25, 2008


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Flag of Ireland  ,
Sunday, June 17, 2007

Just another update from your kiwi corkonian in Ireland. Have now been
to the great capital - drove up on Friday night straight after work,
decent 3hr drive, got to see some of the beautiful countryside on the
way.

As soon as we arrived in Dublin we realised we've been out of a city
for quite some time - I know for myself I definitely felt like a
country bumpkin! Big intersections, crazy drivers, loads of traffic
lights, trams, roadworks, big buildings, construction, tourists
everywhere and masses of people. And that was just on our way to find
a carpark.

We went to stay with John's friend Maya, a kiwi girl from Nelson who
has been living in Dublin for the past year as a medical doctor at
(Mater?) in the Emergency Department.

Her one-bedroom apartment in the city was a far cry from what we are
used to. The tour consisted of entering through the front door and
turning around in a circle to the small number of doors which lead to
the different rooms. Luckily the bedroom and lounge are decent size -
just the kitchen and bathroom that are a bit cramped. Considering its right in the middle of Dublin its a pretty sweet place though and pretty spacious for a one bedroom.
We had a 'beautiful' view of Talbot Street below (a one way side
street off O'Connell Street - a main street in Dublin).
We spent the night chatting away and hearing about all the gory
details that Maya deals with everyday at the hospital. I am in awe
that any person can actually deal with that everyday...add the long
hours and shifts and its incredible.  Completely inhumane and wrong
but incredible. We heard all about how Ireland is 20 years behind in
the health system and shocking stories of how doctors end up not
caring about the actual person at all - due to specialising in one
area, the long hours with no breaks  - as in 10 and 12 hours straight
- eating before and eating after etc etc. (I'm summing up hours of conversation)

Ended up going to bed around 3am fully prepared with my nightshades
but not prepared for the amount of noise. Unfortunately the many
drunken voices (often singing), traffic and other noise pollution
competed with the tissues I had stuffed in my ears and won
unabashedly.

Needless to say my amount of sleep was incredibly minimal.

Getting up around 12pm half the day was already gone and we were
desperate for breakfast/brunch/lunch = anything edible. Walked through the City towards
Temple Bar and were delighted with the amount of Cafes and Restaurants
on offer. I never actually saw "Temple Bar" so i'm not sure when/if we
were actually there but I guess the surroundings count for something.
John had no idea what Temple Bar was. I threw the Lonely Planet Guide
book at him to catch up.

We ate at a little cafe - clearly a capital city as there are
tourists/foreigners everywhere. You basically never see Asians in Cork
so when we do see one its a complete novelty. Not so in Dublin. A
large number of times I kept thinking we were in London - even to the
point of saying "ooo we should look in the health food stores here
since we can't get stuff in Ireland" which received complete blank
looks. The rare occasion I heard the Irish accent I'd remember I was
actually in Ireland.

We walked through the crowded cobbled streets of shops - the north
side basically being identical to the south side but the south being
more affluent. The weather was horrible - grey and a constant drizzle ("gentle rain" they call it)
that didn't constitute the need for an umbrella or a jacket but after
a while you realised you were actually wet. It didn't hide the
cuteness (for want of a better word - i'm stumped) of the town although I'm sure it would have been a lot nicer
on a sunny day. They had flower stalls with beautiful flowers selling
cheaply (which i had considered buying but then didn't want to take
them back on the "plane" with me...duh), cute store fronts and lots of
hole in the wall places which you could see from the window as opening
up to much more.  Having lived in Cork for so long the amount of great shopping around and selection of food and restaurants to eat was phenomenal.  Now THIS is living.

We walked to Merrion Park where an International Buskers festival was
on for the weekend. We sat down at one that was already in performance
and were throughly entertained by a spanish group who were doing
gymnastic tricks - 2 guys and 2 girls but 1 girl would be the dunce -
basically act like the stupid one. Sounds weird but it was very well
done - she had the best facial expressions and all of them were very
entertaining.

There were a few stalls - would have expected more - and feeling
peckish we went in the search of getting a snack. We stopped at a
fudge place where there were stacks of different types of fudge - the
different colours and textures made them look like soap. Or maybe I've
just been in Lush too often.
Typical conversation with an Irish fudge man:

"Hi there, just wondering if you have any Russian fudge?"

"No, I don't sell any russian fudge, only irish fudge, this is all irish fudge."

"Uhh...no...thats not what I mean. Its a type of fudge...it has sugar,
condensed milk-"

"I don't use any condensed milk in my fudge, its not good enough, I
only use the best ingredients I do."

We left the stall without russian fudge.

They had a crepe stall - why can't they have more of these in NZ?
where I got a massive crepe with maple syrup - ALMOST as good as mum's
but they were 3 times as big. Soooo divine. The maple syrup dripped everywhere and made my hands all sticky but it was totally worth it.

We walked around the park some more and picked up a free "emergency
rain poncho" that was very reminescent of our Thailand elephant trek.
Luckily the weather wasn't as humid so it didn't cling to our skin but
they're definitely not the most comfortable or attractive "clothing"
in the world.

We soon gave up when we were at the back of performances and there was
nowhere to sit and eat with it raining so we went in search of a
cafe/pub. Same things here mostly. I love how you go through a small
door here and then it leads on into a bigger room and seems to be so
many hidden corners, steps and niches. We found a pub - or maybe it
was a cafe with a big bar... which was toasty warm - the first I've
actually been in here (most are as warm as the outside) and had a
drink of hot chocolate to warm up and plan our next move.

By this time the day was almost well and truly gone and we were sick
of walking around everywhere but how can you be in Dublin and NOT do
some exploring so we went to the National Art Gallery in search of a
Caravaggio...I didn't see one but I saw some Irish fantastic work (in the real sense of the word fantasy)
which was mostly amazing and followers of Caravaggio and mostly dutch
artist work which was very cool. We had time to look around maybe 2 -3
rooms and then we were shunted out since it was closing time.

We then went back to the apartment completely sleep deprived, Maya
cooked us a really yummy dinner as we couldn't even think about deciding where to go
out. After much persistence from John that we couldn't come all the
way to Dublin and not go out for a drink at a pub we headed 3 doors
down to The Celt. A small irish pub completely crowded. Mostly of
foreigners as we found out when we asked for empty stools that were
not taken for more than 15 minutes. We eventually got some - the place
was full of stool hogs - empty chairs for their "friends" that were
quite happy obviously not sitting with them and standing outside
having a smoke. People were drinking in Guinness glasses but not drinking Guinness which I
thought was blasphemy. I was so confused by the amount of Guinness
glasses with a golden amber liquid in them - i thought maybe Guinness
had come up with a light coloured stout "Guinness Lite" but I was
assured it was just that all drinks were served in them. Apart from
mine. I was disappointed.  I was actually looking forward to having a
vodka, lime and lemonade in a Guinness glass. Guess I was the only one
in the place drinking spirits.

They had live Irish music which was fantastic. The first song almost
had me and John running out the door - a lady singing this slow, sad
country type song which ruptured my eardrums through the speakers.
John was actually grateful for his hearing loss. But then it picked up
a bit and she disappeared and the music was fantastic! The pub was
truly authentic with their own resident drunk who's last skills to
lose in complete inebriation was the ability to ask for another drink
and that to think that he could irish dance to the music. Bless him
for trying though. He was entertaining and i'm sure many of his moves
are recorded on cellphone videos.

The big scary musician lady all of a sudden turned up again but this
time right in front of us jingling a Guinness glass in one hand and
her smokes in the other. I'm not sure which one she was shaking more
but two things were clear: we were to give her money. and she was
desperate for a smoke.

She stood there bearing over us in our little stools while we all
searched for coins and once she was satisified she promptly left us
for the next group of people and was bearing closer to the outside
door to smoke.

She was gone for quite a while but did prop up again on the microphone
to order drinks.

We stayed for awhile until John was satisifed he had something to
write home about and then we went back to the apartment where I
honestly don't know if I slept any better than the night before. But I
did learn to roll up tissues tightly so they fit better in your ears.

Most of Sunday was gone by the time we got up especially since we only
had 2 hours before we planned to leave to arrive back in Cork before
dinner time.

After breakfast/lunch at a crepe place - although had spinach, feta
and olives when really i should have just stuck with maple syrup - we
walked to Trinity College to hear our very first pretentious irish
accent. i had no idea they even existed! And pay money to see the book
of kells - although we both didn't actually see it - and the long room
which was worth it.

The Long Room is the old library so the ceiling is incredibly high and
on either side are bookcases that go all the way full of big old books
with ladders to access them. The musty smell is pretty overwhelming
but its an incredible room. It felt very "Harry Potter" which a lot of
my experiences have been like but apparently it was George Lucas which
ripped off the look of the room with his Jedi Library in one of his
new Star Wars movies. They actually filed a lawsuit against him but
when the tourist numbers increased dramatically because of it they
withdrew.

We finally headed out of Dublin around 3pm once we eventually got
through the roadworks and the crazy roundabout that had traffic
lights all around it and I'm sure we stopped at every single one. Well maybe
not all of them 'cos then we would have got back to where we started
but just to dramatise the point that it took a L-O-N-G time.

So that basically sums up our weekend in Dublin. Keen to go there
again sometime - hopefully in the summer - although I don't know if
I'd be able to cope with the big tourist/stag/hen night numbers.
Soo wish we could go on a summer road trip around Ireland so we can
see new places and more of the country but with John working Fridays
and Saturdays it doesn't leave much time in a weekend to go away. And
he can't afford to take them all off. Bugger.
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