After over a decade of not having left the country, my husband and I were able to finally go to Ireland for our anniversary. I had always wanted to get married at Giant’s Causeway, and he had lived in Dublin while going to Trinity College way back when, so it seemed a logical choice to spend time in Dublin and Belfast. I’ll be honest, the whole time we were trying to figure out ways to extend our stay! It also made us realize we are ready to move on, and intend to leave Cleveland and/or the United States by next year.
Ben’s time in Dublin in the early 90s wasn’t exactly awesome; he had an annoying ex-wife and for the most part he immersed himself in school work. So really, this was a trip where I got to have him as a tour guide and he could actually go and have fun, finally. Actually, we avoided all the touristy stuff as much as possible and spent more time in pubs, a few galleries, restaurants and odd places.
Aer Lingus wins the internet for being a rather good flight (international vs domestic seem better and less stingy), and we checked into a little place next to Aviva Stadium. I think I have bad hotel karma; anywhere I stay that isn’t a chain ends up being full of good intentions but lacking in amenities. This place was nice until you actually got to your room, which had a tiny bed not big enough for us both, and it got worse when I experienced the fun of Irish plumbing problems — very “2nd world” as Ben kept warning me it would be. We always stayed south of the Liffey as he said the north side was the not-so-great part of town, so I got to know my way pretty quick as the city is rather compact. Lots of protests for the upcoming visit from the queen, everyone excited about Obama coming, Rod Stewart getting blasted on the train going to Dalkey (the hotel Ben wanted to take me to had been torn down and turned into condos!), and I loved how efficient the public transportation was; just don’t ask for directions because no one could remember how to go anywhere, it seemed. I liked Dalkey a lot, we almost went further down to Bray, or Kilkenny where Ben used to rent an estate carriage house by Bono during the whole Achtung Baby era, but at that point the jet lag had set in. Fun Fact: Bono would do yard work in his leather pants and bug sunglasses! The timing was a little off in that we missed seeing Moon Duo by one day, (a Morrissey tribute night was happening but 3 bands sounded like too much for us to handle) and the Leprechaun Museum sounded awful in a hilarious way. No, we didn’t go. We found that early and mid-week was a good time to be in Dublin; we avoided much of the tourists in Temple Bar and all the other nonsense that happens on weekends. Less crowds meant we could tip musicians to play Oasis songs nonstop, and the beer wasn’t at inflated prices (well, mostly). This didn’t stop the fact that sleazy Italian and Dutch guys were on the prowl and a naive American girl kept leaving her drinks unattended (I watched them for her, but that was a bad move on her part). We hit up the Brian Maguire show at Kerlin Gallery, and some record stores, but were disappointed to find it was all geared towards Thin Lizzy and U2 and not much of anything else. Come on, no Into Paradise even?
After hitting up Bewley’s three times, Kerlin Gallery, Marks & Spencer, witnessing how the worst parts of 80s fashion have gone global, and too much Guinness and coffee, we headed up to N. Ireland for the weekend. I liked the scenery on the train, and how the trains are..well, nice! Only bad part was seeing many sad ponies in people’s yards the further out of the city I got. Little did I know that the rain-sunny-rain-sunny-rain weather was about to get even more ridiculous up north.
Stayed tuned for part deux!