A Week In Ireland (part three)

Here are parts One and Two if you missed them.

On the train leaving Belfast, the weekend had arrived. Besides groups of guys downing Carlsberg and dropping F-bombs non-stop during the ride, Ben encountered a group of slags in the food car with empty bottles of champagne and signs posted everywhere that read, “Hen Party In Progress”. Oh dear! By the way, I had forgotten about the term “slag” and I have a new appreciation for the fact I can’t find any other word that describes those women so perfectly. In any event, the weekend meant higher prices, but lucky for us we stuck to drinking in the day rather than at night.

Ben always looks so serious doing his ‘model face’…

Needless to say, our 2nd hotel in Dublin (across from the Four Seasons while being amazingly cheap) was part of the Bewley’s family of hotels and was much better than the independent and quaint little B&B we stayed at before. Again, I love Bewely’s! My only complaint is that the beds were meant for small people; our feet were dangling off the end. But that seems par for the course in these parts doesn’t it? This is in an old Masonic school…

Once and a while, we like to look for trouble. We thought we’d find it in Temple Bar on a Saturday night. I regret to say that all we found were hen parties and people getting their photos taken with little people dressed as Leprechauns — it was a bit depressing. The weirdest scene was a full grown man dressed as an Oompa Loompa giving women in the restaurant piggy back rides.  At least we only experienced one horrible meal on this trip, and it prompted us to throw out any restaurant/bar guides that we had. Somehow through the wandering we found ourselves at The Porterhouse by Trinity where I got to try a beer named after painter William Turner. See! I’m all cultured-like when I booze it up. We really can’t go to any city without trying at least one brewery.

Oh hey, look who I found, finally! I like how it’s pronounced ‘Tin Lizzy’ with the Irish accent. There was a big exhibition on Lynott going on while we were there too, his mom just released a book. You’d think his statue would be in a park or at a main intersection somewhere obvious, but no, it’s tucked away off Grafton Street in front of a cafe…

I always get this song stuck in my head.

We almost went on this tour simply because you get to wear a viking helmet as you go along…

Um, whatever! I like how he’s called one of America’s “most celebrated songwriters” and right next to him is Bob Dylan. That’s just damn amusing to me…

Painter Conor O’Mahony is now referred to as my husband’s husband in Ireland because they pretty much became best mates immediately. A mutual love of The Undertones among other shared interests. Too bad it was on our last day, but we had a great time in a small pub in Ballsbridge…

So here are some random things from our trip:

  • Burger King and Coors ads are everywhere.
  • I’ve never seen so many sheep in my life.
  • If you want to know what a slag is, watch the dating show “Take Me Out”
  • I fooled everyone into thinking this is my real hair color.
  • The train stations aren’t as obvious or marked as they are in other cities, so you have to really look.
  • Signage all being half in Gaelic, actually started to teach me Gaelic!
  • That hotel U2 own feels like a Ramada, don’t trouble yourself with it.
  • Are there any good record stores in Dublin anymore?
  • Marks and Spencer is pretty nice, wish we had them in the US.
  • Irish cheddar cheese is as good as it gets.
  • The smaller villages have too many Italian restaurants. I doubt they’re very good.
  • Up here in Michigan and Ohio we get tourism ads to travel to Alabama or West Virginia. In Ireland it’s ads for Yorkshire.
  • Jeggings and leggings as pants is a global epidemic that must be stopped!!!
  • People don’t use their laptops in coffee shops; in fact we saw many people writing things in notebooks and moleskins. Oh, and they talk to one another!
  • This was my favorite thing we caught on TV ever.

A Week In Ireland (part one)

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!