Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Downpour in Dublin

"In Dublin's fair city where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow,through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh.
Alive, alive-oh. Alive, alive-oh.
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-oh." ---- Famous Dublin song
Ryan Air came through for us! For a total of 40 euros we all three flew for a quick weekend to Dublin, Ireland. You know just because it was too cheap a deal to pass up and we had a special rate for a Holiday Inn of 45 euros a night. So we packed our bags and donned our green heading off to the land of clovers and redheads! Oh and of course of Molly Malone!
The skies were bleak from the moment our plane touched down. And this pretty much sums up the weather during our Dublin trip...
But you know what? It didn't matter a bit. Ireland is supposed to be rainy. While the cold wind and rain didn't add to or enrich the visit, we still got to 'drink' (pun intended!) it all in and see and do everything on our list with time to dawdle. The weather actually made Dublin cozier and slower paced - if you can imagine a slower pace with our European travels!

As we wandered the streets we were struck by all the political posters up. The EU elections were underway. The same was happening in Belgium. But the Irish candidates just seemed so much more entertaining. It cracked me up that they plaster their photos so front and center whereas in the USA it is all about emphasizing your name rather than a glamour shot. I mean look at good ole' Mannix below. Don't you just want to run out and cast your vote for him?!?!We set out on our first day in the rain and managed to see both the National Archaeology Museum as well as the National Gallery of Ireland before lunch. Both were surprisingly engaging. Again I was doubtful that an Archaeology museum could be fun, but it was. We saw lots of ancient jewels and also strangely enough many old, old corpses that had been preserved in bogs. I know that sounds gruesome and random, but the museum used the opportunity to teach some Irish history in a pretty creative way. The nearby Art Museum had many great works and the building was breathtaking; it was hard to know whether to concentrate on the unique architecture and design or the masterpieces. For some reason all I could think of before our visit was the potato famine and grey landscapes when I though of Irish artists, but the Gallery proved me wrong. Guess I had been reading too many Frank McCourt novels! There was both color and emotion in the National Gallery works.

Speaking of color, one of my favorite parts of Dublin was all the city doors. There are wonderful posters and postcards summarizing many doors....
...and I just had to chuckle when I saw this 'Knobs and Knockers' store. They take their door hardware seriously here!Finally here are a couple of the doors that caught my camera's eye on a rainy day!
After a museum morning we headed for "The Brazen Head" touted as Ireland's oldest pub. There was a crackling fire in the small bar where we ate. It is a large restaurant, but made up of charming small rooms. The waiters and bartender all fell under Connor's spell. We all relaxed and dried up and filled our bellies with hearty Irish fare. I highly recommend "The Brazen Head" for festive, affordable dining. The place can't help but to make you smile!
We saw many head-scratching things in Dublin. We saw a person being rescued from the river by EMS, historic jail cells and perhaps most peculiar was the number of guys riding galloping horses bareback through the main streets. Just picture in your mind my two-year-old's glee at hearing the clip clop periodically in the cement streets and a horse speeding through just like any other car or truck...
We especially enjoyed walking around and dining in the Temple Bar neighborhood. Irish pubs are captivating, just like the boisterous Irish accents. We tried "bangers and mash" (sausages and potato) - yum, yum! All of the bars are a tourist site in and of themselves in this hip and happening spot.At lunch at The Quay's Bar I was perplexed when I went to the ladies room. On the wall hung this......it is really vendable perfume for ladies. I had to do a triple take to believe that is really what is was. I am trying to think if I was on a hot date in an Irish pub then would I select Giorgio, Obsession, or Opium to drench my body with before reemerging for another beer? How odd!!!
The best part of the trip came when we were playing in St. Stephen's Green. We made the obligatory walk up Grafton Street, the main shopping thoroughfare, and found this public park that reminded me just like the one in the book "Make Way for Ducklings." We loved the playground and after a little while we heard the oom-pah, oom-pah of a nearby band. Around the corner was a concert band playing upbeat, foot-stompin' tunes. Connor ran front and center and danced right along with everyone. She dosy-doed with some other Irish children and absolutely reveled in the music. We won't be able to celebrate the 4th of July here, but this was about as close as it will get.
Dublin is a perfect weekend jaunt from Belgium. You really don't need any more than just the weekend to experience the city. It is terrific and is heavy with culture and history. But most of all it is just a city of fun! Even in the rain!

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