Wednesday, March 13, 2013

More in Dublin

We spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening of our first day in Dublin wandering the streets and seeing the sights.  Our apartment is within easy walking distance of everything in the city center.  Dublin is a clean and friendly city.  Everyone we've met has been incredibly nice.  People are not only willing to help you with directions, they'll even offer to walk you to where you are going in some cases.  When we arrived, very late due to our flight being cancelled, we had to call our host to let us into the apt and give us the keys.  I wandered into a café across the street to use the phone and struck up a conversation with a woman in line.  When I told her I had been traveling for 16 hours and was trying to find a phone so I could get into the apt where I was staying, she got out of line and walked me up the street to her antiques shop so I could make the call from there.  I called to find out that the host's father, Mick Fallon, was waiting for us in the very café I had been in.  Knowing we would be exhausted from traveling so long, he had been there waiting so we wouldn't have to wait any longer.  Mick must be one of the most charming men in Ireland.  With a twinkle in his eye and the knowledge of a seasoned tour guide, he sat us down with a map and helped us to get oriented to our surroundings.

I say Mick must be "one of" the most charming men in Ireland because we hadn't been out walking around very long before we met Jim Kearns.  Jim is a greeter at one of the fancy stores on a touristy street in Dublin.  When it comes to charm, Jim is a wealthy man.  He was wearing tails and a top hat with a fancy green band.  He had rosy cheeks and a perpetual smile that made him look quintessentially Irish.  We made several pictures with him, and I wish I could post one here but they are all on Tanya's camera and I don't have the necessary equipment to sync it to my tablet.

We walked for hours in this lovely city and I've posted a few pics below.  Like the English, the Irish drive on the opposite side of the street.  You'd think this wouldn't be an issue since I'm not driving, but it is very much an issue even if you're just a pedestrian.  In America, you look left before you step off a sidewalk.  Here, you need to look right.  Lifelong habits die hard, and I can't tell you how many times I've already forgotten that rule of thumb.  It must be an issue for many travelers, because most crosswalks have warnings stenciled on the street, "look right" and then in the middle of the street it warns "look left." 

We did not get to a pub last night, although it is on our list of things to do.  Neither of us are really drinkers, but you can't come to Ireland without visiting a local pub.  I'm here for the experience...I plan to eat haggis in Scotland and raw herring in Amsterdam, so I will surely have a Guinness in Ireland.  But, we just couldn't make it last night.  We took the advice of many travelers (including the most famous one, Rick Steves) and didn't sleep when we arrived so we could get acclimated to the time change.  It's a good plan, but by 7:30pm we had both been awake (except for the occasional short nap on the plane or bus) for about 32 hours.  We got takeout at Dublin's most famous fish & chip restaurant and headed back to the apt. 

A note about Burdocks, the fish & chip place: not only is it famous for its tourist clientele (a panel outside lists famous guests including everyone from Tom Cruise to Snoop Dog to Food Network chef Bobby Flay, who they list as an "iron man chef") but every local we met told us we must try it.  It isn't fancy.  Just a tiny place with no seating (take-out only), but you smell the delicious fish frying from a block away.  If you're ever in Dublin you must try it, too!  But be warned that one plate is enough for 2-3 people.  You get two of the biggest pieces of beautiful, fresh cod I've ever seen, a generous portion of chips, and a bag of what the locals call the "crispy bits," pieces of fried batter that have fallen off the cod and turned into, well, crispy bits of goodness.  It all comes wrapped in paper and stuffed into a brown sack.  And, it was fabulous!  They do have a sit down restaurant somewhere in the city, but this is the original and the one the locals use.

A beautiful cobblestone street with pubs, cafes, and shops in the Temple Bar area.

The whole city is high preparation for St. Patrick's Day.

The only bassoon playing street musician I've ever seen.  He was playing "Hey Jude" by the Beatles...and was excellent!

Old meets new in central Dublin.

Burdock's - best fish & chips in Dublin according to the locals.

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