*not to many pictures as I lost the ones on my camera. BACK IT UP PEOPLE! *
**it’s about the memories, not the pictures, and we did have a great time! **
***and it’s a good reason to go back! ***
Sometimes, you just need to book a flight. It’s winter and has been winter forever. Outside the wind is howling, it’s grey and boring and all you can think about it getting away. So you plan a weekend and find an affordable ticket to any random city within a few hours flying distance. And this magical place that is suppose to takes us out of our dreary, end-of-winter-but-not-quit-spring-yet mood, is Dublin.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that visiting Ireland to escape a bout of winter depression is a bit weird. I certainly thought so. But the tickets were cheap, it’s close by and random enough to have a certain kind of appeal. And so it was, that we ended up in Dublin for the weekend.
The trip is not of to a good start. The book I want to read turns out to be horrendously colonial in idealism and after about 20 pages of great white men showing the dumb local natives how to capture animals, I’ve had enough. I hate it when this happens. Even worse is the person sitting in front of me. As soon as the fasten your seatbelt sign is switched off, he dips his chair as far as it will go, and proceeds to bounce up and down in animated conversation that leaves my knees blue.
Breath in, breath out, we are travelling and the nuisances are all part of the fun. To be fair, I didn’t even remember this part of the trip until I checked my diary. The only way to travel happily and keep travelling, is to simply forget anything annoying ever happened, be surprised when it does and realise that you’d much rather be annoyed on the road than back home!
We arrive at our hotel around dinner time so head out to find ourselves some food. Turns out there is a Michelin Bib Gourmand (great value for less than € 37,-) called the Pig’s Ear. We simply have to eat here, so we make a reservation for about 9 o’clock. In the mean time, we find ourselves a pub (the Porterhouse, also just around the corner) and have a pint and some fries to tie us over.
Turns out, we really shouldn’t have. The food at the pig’s ear is beyond what I expect. A simple shepherd’s pie turns out the be the best meal I’ve had in ages. Who needs sundried tomatoes and basil and sun when you can get a stew brimming with intricate flavours. Meat just melting in your mouth and known and unknown herbs dancing with the wine in a collaboration that makes me beg for repeats. Basically, I become drunk on the excellence of the food and I’m nearly gutted to hear there are no more open spots the next day. Completely full and contend, I lay my head on my pillow and sink into dreams of pies.
Today, it rained. It rained like you’d think it rains in Ireland, but like you don’t truly believe it can rain. It rained all day, without letting up until the sun finally broke through. We knew this was a risk we took, but we didn’t let it stop us from coming here and we certainly aren’t going to let it stop us from exploring the city. Even if it does mean we walk from place to place at a run, hiding from the rain in as many arches and coverings as we can find.
In this way we visit the old Library of Trinity College. Or as I like to call it: heaven on earth if it wasn’t for all these other people in here and filled with more contemporary fiction. The smell alone would make me happy and I leave it behind with a little stab to the heart.
We walk to the Powercourt Townhouse which is basically a hipster shopping heaven, make our way to Dublin Castle via all the tiny, meandering, slightly eerie empty alleys and pick up dry socks and shoes back at our hotel. The afternoon is then spent across Hal’ penny bridge (so named because you needed to pay half a penny to cross the river in the olden days) on the slightly edgier south bank. There, we find Mr. Fox, the Pig’s Ear’s little brother and have another totally scrumptious meal (featuring soft as butter guinea fowl and a nice and fatty white wine).
Visiting a new city, inevitably entails visiting the touristy places as well. So we make our way to Temple bar, an area filled with overpriced but lovely boutiques and bars supposedly truly Irish (I doubt this).
At this point, the sun comes out and the city is transformed. From the somewhat Gothic city where fairy tales wouldn’t be out of place and the people are crawling into themselves just to minimise the amount of rain hitting them, to a gentrified, industrial dream where people of all sorts gladly turn their faces towards the sun as they enjoy a pint or two. Or ten.
Buskers come out and strange as it is to say, we decide to have dinner in this touristy area, but’s a bit early, so not until we’ve completely exhausted our legs by visiting the St Sthepen’s Green parc. We try to get into a speak easy, but it’s completely booked. So we spend our night between drinking beer in a pub where people are passionately singing along with a band (So Sally can wait was requested no less than three times) and a very unremarkable pizza place. We laugh at the men trying and failing to “hold on! hang on!” to a bar for 100 seconds to win 100 euro’s, not daring to try it ourselves. And just like that, I’ve forgotten all about the rain!
The best things to do when visiting anywhere, is to ask people who’ve been or who’ve live there, what the best tings to do are. Today proved no exception. The mother of my best friend recommended a hike between Bray’s head and Greystones. It’s a hike of a few hours along the rugged yet idyllic coast and we were up for it.
And by up for it, I mean up quiet early for it. Cradling our coffee’s and muffins, we catch the train to Bray in order to get to Bray’s head and from there to Greystones. And I am again discovering the wonderful feeling a hike in nature gives you. My head gets quite as we hike up a mountain (hill, really), past prickly plants with beautiful delicate yellow flower that are not meant to be crawled through as we painfully find out after backtracking and finding the turn in the road just a couple of meters beyond where we thought we’d spotted it, and along the ocean that in its ever moving state never fails to calm me down.
We walk from vista to vista as we talk about our childhood dreams (what did happen to my dream of becoming an explorer), the near future (new job for me!) and other big dreams we still have. As is customary, we end our healthy walk with some unhealthy fish and chips and make our way back to Dublin.
I suddenly realise, the sun has shone all day. If there are any saints or gods protecting travellers, they must surely be smiling upon us. With our faces turning red from both the sun and the wind (sunburnt in Ireland, really Addy?) we eat and drink and enjoy music at a little rolling kitchens type of venue. The best of both worlds: nature by day, relaxed city vibe by evening and another wonderful day in the pocket.
Our final day should be a leisurely day. We quietly and slowly have breakfast at La petit Parisiènne and then stroll towards St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In New York, its namesake is all white spirals and an anachronism in it’s environment. Here, the heavy grey stones resemble the raw and industrial side of Dublin. They couldn’t be more different, but I like them both nonetheless.
Like most towns, Dublin has a flea market on Sundays and since we walk right past it, we enjoy looking all the knick-knacks. I love spending time in flea markets, but lack the fervour of a true collector. Unlike a man who is rummaging through a tin of coins, looking at each separate coin or the woman who looks at each piece of clothing on a rack for longer than I have patience for. Maybe I collect impressions of places and people like a Japanese man is intently studying a miniature old sowing machine.
We push our legs onwards and enjoy the sight of hundreds of tourists queuing in front of the old Guinness factory. The memorial park and Phoenix park finally push me and my new blisters to the end. Or not quiet, because after taking a bus, we walk around the Docklands or business district until finally we have to catch our bus to the airport.
And all of a sudden I find myself on the plane back home. Outside my window the sun is setting. Behind a warm orange glow is sending us to the dark blue of a starry night. The clouds below us seem like worlds of their own. A down cover ready to catch me if I jump. A dream world that I already long to return to: Japan in just ten days!