Dublin in March

Earlier this week we found ourselves with the opportunity to spend a bit of an extended weekend in Dublin.  On Thursday we hopped the express bus for the city with smiles on our faces and arrived to a storm of freezing temps, blasting rain and whipping wind!  The hotel I had booked is behind the O2 stadium but the bus dropped us at least 4 blocks too far west, so there we were stuck walking through the storm to the hotel.  The wind took Claude’s hat and plopped it right into the middle of the street so we had to wait for traffic to clear in order for him to bolt out into the road and recover it.  By that time it was soaking wet – good thing I had an extra stocking cap on hand!  From there the weekend could only get better.

For this stay I chose the Gibson Hotel, themed after the guitar.  It’s ultra-modern with all the amenities I wanted including being situated at the terminus of the Luas tram line for ease of travel into the city.  While I’m not very impressed with their bar and food service – I had to deliberately make my presence known each time I went in – I did get a delicious and reasonably priced cosmo.  Otherwise it was a comfortable and fairly clean place with very helpful staff.

Friday’s weather was not much better, as a matter of fact it was colder than the evening before and still raining profusely.  I tried to purchase a Luas ticket from the machine at the stop but it broke in the middle of the process and gave my money back.  At that moment the rain got much harder and began to become hail.  I thought something I can’t repeat here and walked right over to the taxi waiting outside the hotel, jumped in and asked the driver to take me to the National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts and History.  He didn’t know which museum I was referring to so I had to use the typical Irish method of road direction and tell him what it was near.  As we drove we had conversation about the job situation in Ireland and I found out that he had a master’s degree in public administration from a university in Poland but driving cabs in Ireland was a better paying job!  He got me as close as he could to the front of the museum and apologized for me having to walk through the rain, but I told him it was no big deal because, “I’m from Galway!”

The museum is housed in an old army barracks and is built in the shape of a large rectangle with a big courtyard in the middle.  The public part of the museum is housed on 4 floors with many different galleries holding all types of items; the exhibitions include Irish silver, coins, curator’s choice, fashion, furniture, soldiers, jewelry.  The variety of items and rooms is quite fascinating!  I took a ton of pictures and ran the camera battery down.  I put them all together in a Flickr set for your perusal.

I was going to go visit the Leprechaun Museum too but I had walked all over the first museum and the weather was so miserable that I really didn’t feel like slogging through it to stand around for much longer.  Finally managed to purchase a Luas ticket from the machine and went back to the hotel where I ordered a sandwich and a soda in the bar and finished the book I was reading (The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry), then looked up restaurants for the evening meal, went up to our room, relaxed in front of the tube and had a small nap.

Being in the capital I decided that we had to take advantage of the variety of restaurants.  Since Claude rarely gets vegetarian choices beyond the standard veggie burger, curry or pasta dish, I chose to look up the vegetarian restaurants in the city center and found three – Cornucopia, Govinda’s and Delhi O’Deli.  I just thought the name was so clever that I chose Delhi O’Deli.  We took the tram into the heart of the city and wandered around until we found the restaurant.  It’s a little hole-in-the-wall diner with a very friendly owner and absolutely delicious Indian food.  Claude’s keen eye had spotted a Parisian bakery as we passed by on the way to the restaurant so we doubled back after the meal and stopped by for a lovely dessert.  We are definitely going to visit both places again.

On Saturday Claude asked me what I wanted to do so I said I wanted to see the Old Library at Trinity College.  We managed to purchase all day tickets for the tram from those infernal machines and headed over to the college.  We walked around Parliament Square for a bit, took a few pictures.  There’s a cool spinning sculpture outside the Berkeley Library, a large golden ball with cutouts (I got a couple pictures of it) that I tried to catch on video but my camera battery gave up the ghost.  We went inside the old library building, then realized that in order to see the library itself we would have to pay the admission price of €9 each because the Book of Kells is housed in this building.   Between the place being jammed with tourists and discussion of the fact that we will be visiting the building with Claude’s parents later this year, we decided to save the money and go somewhere else.  But not before buying a cool book on forgotten Irish words.

And since we were in the area, I chose to take Claude to Cornucopia for lunch.  The food was beautiful and so delicious.  They have a fantastic selection of dishes and a queue practically out the door at lunchtime.  This place will also be on our re-visit list.

In order to explore the city further we got on the red tram line and just rode it to the end.  Dublin takes up a lot of space and the little suburbs vary widely, some scruffy looking, overrun with graffiti, some pristine and beautiful.  Along the way we noticed a young man and his friend walking along a path — I saw a boy wearing a down vest with no sleeves and naked arms; Claude saw that the young man was walking a goat!  Later on, after the tram had stopped at the terminus and the driver came out to switch to the other end of the train, he asked us, “Did ye see the lad walking the goat?”  I laughed so hard.  The menfolk saw the strange creature, the mother in me saw the boy risking exposure illness!

When we got back to the city we hopped on the other tram, the green line, and rode it out to the terminus and back.  Again we saw a wide variety of suburbs.  At one point a woman got on the tram with a baby in a gigantic pram and a little one of about 2 dragging his tiny bicycle.  The kid kept making adorable observations all the way in to the city.

By the time we finished with all our walking and riding we were pretty much set to head home.  We went back to the hotel and retrieved our bag, I grabbed a snack and a cosmo at the bar, and we managed to catch our bus home.  During the ride we swore we smelled the skunky odor of some fine weed but couldn’t figure out how someone was managing to get high on the bus without the smoke or getting busted by the driver.  It was wild.  Got home and stopped at a bar we had not yet visited which was located right by our bus stop, had some yummy burgers and watched a little rugby – Leinster beat Glasgow! – and caught the bus home.  After freezing our butts off in Dublin for 2 days Galway was practically balmy.  A nice walk by the sea before getting home was simply lovely.

Dublin is a great place to visit, for sure, but Galway is most definitely home.

— Cindy

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Another Galway spring

Over the last few months we have been adjusting to a new schedule, what with Claude starting his new job – and now spring is revealing itself in all its cold, sunny glory.  The birds are singing regularly now.  One day as we were walking home from our Saturday marketing we noticed a large lump of dirt at the side of the path we take to get to and from the main road.  It looked like it was something that had been dumped from a pot.  It sat there for several weeks.  One day Claude noticed it was sprouting something, so he brought it home and plopped it down in the garden.  And now, lo and behold, it has produced some lovely blooms and promises to produce even more over the next few weeks!

I am still volunteering with Age Action but that’s simply not enough to do.  A friend asked me if I was certain that my visa means I cannot work at all, so I went down to the Citizen’s Information office to ask.  I was put on the phone with a woman at the Integration Office who told me in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed to work for money at all, period.  So I’ve applied to volunteer at several different jobs including as an English language conversational tutor; that one has me excited to meet some interesting people.

The sun has been shining more than it has been raining so people are pretty happy.  There are a lot of them out and about on the Prom every day.  I have fresh daffodils on the mantelpiece all the time now, and today I purchased a little pot of shamrocks.  The spring veggies are abundant at the market.  We have been able to purchase bread again at our favorite stand; the baker had been out of commission with carpal tunnel for a while and his brother had taken over but the bread just wasn’t quite the same.  I’ve been baking a lot of treats, partly in lieu of turning on the heat and partly to have something nice for dessert in the evenings.  Today we bought Claude some new shoes because he essentially broke his last pair.  Getting him to shop is always a struggle but when he’s in need it’s a lot easier.

Somehow we managed to get three 3-day weekends in a row this month.  I love having more time with Claude!  The end of the month holds a number of fun things in store, such as the Galway Food Festival, the Woodquay Market (live animals!) and an evening out to see comedian Reginald D. Hunter.

Happy Spring everyone!

— Cindy

Chives and Shamrock

Chives and Shamrock

Flowerpot blooms

Flowerpot blooms

Peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter cookies

Robin in the garden

Robin in the garden

St. Patrick’s Day

I really need to share this website: http://paddynotpatty.com/

The guy who runs it is very passionate about his subject.

The big day is coming up on Sunday.  I am really looking forward to the parade again this year.  It’s so much fun!

Éirinn go Brách!

— Cindy

Mummers

Mummers

Pipers

Pipers

Town Crier

Town Crier

St. Patrick kicking the banks out of Ireland

St. Patrick kicking the banks out of Ireland