Sunshine in Dublin

On our last day in Dublin the sun was out in full and you couldn’t have asked for a better picture weather. We started by visiting Christ Church, the cathedral right next to our hotel. The cathedral boasts in its catacombs a mummified cat and rat, aka “Tom and Jerry” which were found when the organ was cleaned on the occasion of Händel’s (Handel) performance of Messiah in Dublin.
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Good plan but bad execution since the church had its Sunday service and didn’t let anybody in until 12:30. A time where we should get the airport bus. So that was that with the churches in Ireland, only saw the one in Howth.

With a lot of time at our hands what were we to do? We started by touring the grounds of Dublin Castle again, this time in full sunshine instead of rain.IMG_8591IMG_8593See the colors on these houses? Looks almost sponsored by Google.

And then hunger was guiding us back to Dame Street where we came across the Queen of Tarts.IMG_8648The place inside was super small and packed with all kinds of knickknacks.IMG_8595IMG_8596IMG_8599
We ordered tea, which came in a big old pot, salmon for Andrea and vegetarian breakfast for me. Franz abstained from anything but coffee.IMG_8598IMG_8600IMG_8601IMG_8602
Everything was great but the red pepper relish was so delicious that we each bought a jar to bring home, along with some scones! Here they were the real deal and came with butter and jam.

Thus invigorated we set out for another round of walking through the city. We had set our sights on the Merrion Square the heart of Georgian Dublin. The square consists of a park around which artist were selling their paintings and beautiful Georgian buildings. While looking through my pictures just now I noticed that I got apparently so distracted by the paintings that I never took a picture of the buildings. Never mind I found you a robin, something for the bird lovers again.
First stop though was the statue of Molly Malone on the way to the square.IMG_8606IMG_8616IMG_8621IMG_8610IMG_8615

As said before Dublin really takes care of its tourists and this shows in the little details. Since Ireland drives on the other side than Europe mainland all street crossings have these road markers.IMG_8627IMG_8628 For all the ones who wanted to take the other left it even has an arrow.

Since we had to take the airport link at around 12:30 we were on a tight schedule especially in the light that we still wanted to go to the Book of Kells shop at Trinity College to buy some things. The store and the museum opened at noon sharp so we had to time our arrival well. There was only so much to see at the Merrion Square that after a round in the park and watching the houses surrounding it, we decided we needed to warm up somewhere. So while walking back to the college we found the National Gallery of Ireland. With free admission, an inviting looking coffee place and a museum shop it looked like a great choice. While drinking coffee we noticed that it appeared to have an older building incorporated.

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And then it was time for our last stop, Trinity College. Doesn’t the place look great in sunshine? I almost wished being a student again, just to get a chance to spend a semester there. But only almost.IMG_8633IMG_8637IMG_8638

After a quick purchase of a college cup with the names of all its great students on it and a book about the Battle of Clontarf (you cannot own too many books about history) we rushed back to the hotel. Our vacation was almost at an end. Some more pictures from along the way to the hotel.IMG_8640IMG_8644IMG_8645

Then on to the bus and off to the airport. Sitting on top in the first row I could take some last pictures of this beautiful city. I still can’t get my mind around that they have palm trees in the streets (ok, so maybe not trees but similar plants associated with southern climate).IMG_8655IMG_8658IMG_8665IMG_8666IMG_8669IMG_8670IMG_8671

We left Dublin with a little delay but got so the chance to shop some more. Some more cheese and salmon for home. The cheese then got almost attacked by an overzealous German security guy at the layover in Cologne. He had to make sure it was not too soft and in his enthusiasm to check this, he left a thumb print in it. What an end to a perfect weekend.
Yours, Pollybert

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Ireland at its best

Upon our arrival in the village of Howth again we were walking towards the church when Andrea noticed a small delicatessen shop and right away made a detour.IMG_8542The shop was indeed a treasure trove of all things Irish; all three of us fell upon the products like starving maniacs (which we were) and bought an armful of delicacies. But these delicacies are now in my home and already on Monday night I tried the first of three different cheeses. And I can’t wait for Christmas to eat the pudding with brandy butter!

With full bags we entered this old-looking church which we had seen from above and were astonished to see it carpeted and heated inside. That makes for some cozy church going.Handy 747

Just half a block down from the store was a restaurant that looked inviting right away. After a peek at the menu we settled on this one. Maybe our experience from the morning when we walked for a while and couldn’t settle on anything, finally ending up in café with almost nothing to eat, taught us something? And you know what? It was the perfect place!

With The House we picked a distinguished restaurant that has been successful for years. Something you can see right away when you enter.IMG_8544IMG_8545IMG_8555

While Franz and I studied the menu, Andrea found us an Austrian wine to drink. It can’t get better than this. The Loimer “Lois” Kamptal went excellent with the fresh seafood and fish we ordered. When looking at the pictures now, I am not sure if Franz got asked but Andrea looks perfectly happy with her choice.IMG_8543IMG_8546

From the first I tended to the mussels and Andrea to the seafood chowder while Franz was undecided; in the end he settled for another Irish breakfast which looked delicious. Actually everything we ordered at this place not just looked delicious but also tasted so!IMG_8547IMG_8548IMG_8549IMG_8550
This was the best Irish meal we had so far. And although we were all happy and full we glanced at the dessert menu and of course we found something to try. Andrea and I wanted the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and Franz tried an apple crumble.

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I forgot to take the pictures right away. Both dishes looked so yummy that we had to dig in first. After coffee and a digestive we felt ready to face the road again. If you are ever in the area, go and see this place.IMG_8554IMG_8558

The road was not so long anymore but we still wanted to see the light house. And it gets dark very early here in November. Around 4:30 already I would guess. And since we wanted to take some more pictures, we had to hurry. As you can see when we came back to the harbor it was low water.IMG_8564IMG_8570IMG_8571IMG_8566

And then it was already time to say goodbye to Howth and take the DART back to Dublin.IMG_8576

On the way back we had already figured out how the train system worked and got off at Pearse station which was near Trinity College. While being there the day before we saw some things we wanted to buy at the Book of Kells store. Why we didn’t do that, I really don’t know. Point is, we went back and then the store was already closed for the day. So something else for us to do on Sunday. By now we were dead tired and all I wanted to do was to lie down for an hour. Perfect plan for everyone, we did just that and decided to regroup at 8pm again.

When we met later nobody was hungry, so dinner was out of the question. Since it was Saturday night what better to do than go for a beer. And the Temple Bar district seemed like the place to be for us. Off we went in search of a good bar and got almost slain by the amount of people crowding the streets, the bars and pubs in the area. There was not one place we wanted to enter. We finally went into The Auld Dubliner, a place that had been recommended to me. Two steps inside we turned around on our heels and walked back outside. We had entered right next to the musician and I thought my ear drum had blown. Around the corner was another entrance where we tried again. Franz walked right out again while Andrea and I braved the masses and the noise and got us some beer. Guinness again for all of us, what an amazing beer!

With the beer in hand we took up place in front of the bar where all the smokers met. It couldn’t have been a better place to check out the locals. I love people watching and eavesdropping on conversations especially when a guy tries to land a girl. And if said guy is drunk and the girl sober, all the more hilarious. Really has a lot of comic appeal.

But this fun keeps you warm only so long and after a while we decided to head to a warmer place. We ended up at F. X. Buckley, a steakhouse with a bar on top which had the added advantage of being right around the corner from our hotel. No more beer for us though, we had moved on the G&T. I really like how the storeroom was incorporated in the bar.IMG_8582IMG_8583

Some of you might know this feeling that when you stay out long enough, eventually you get hungry again. So what should I tell you, this happens to the best of us. Such a convenience that next door was a take away Indian place called Siri. We headed there for a late night snack and were surprised how good it tasted!IMG_8586

Sure enough we were up for a night-cap again. Since it was our last night in Dublin there was no point in going to bed early. In regards to the hour we expected our bar to be quiet, but far from it. The place was packed and jamming. Someone had his 65th birthday party in there and the dance floor was rocking. So what were we to do than dance as well and enjoy the party?
Yours, Pollybert

A rainy afternoon in Dublin

Standing in the middle of Trinity College with wet feet and an overall miserably and soppy feeling what’s better than to go for a Guinness? Ha, totally wrong and you don’t know me at all (which is true for most of you). Trinity College Dublin is the home of the Book of Kells, a medieval manuscript from the 9th century. And who can resist such a bookish attraction?

I cannot and we went inside before anything else and with wet feet on my side (my boots aged about 15 years in shoe years during this one rainy day). There were no pictures allowed at the Book of Kells exhibition but it was well worth my time (see it online here). The exhibition was very well assembled, showing minutiae details of all the major decorations. A beautiful work of art and a miracle that this book survived in such a great condition!
On the floor above was the main library which also drew me to it like a moth to the light. Wow, imagine such a library at home …

The upkeep might be a bit expensive but it would be worth it. Since my apartment could never house such an extensive collection I rather enjoyed looking at the one there. My own pictures are a bit on the dark side that’s why I took a picture of a postcard so you can look at the library in all its beauty.IMG_8356IMG_8342Handy 691
Shakespeare and I
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With the cultural aspect out-of-the-way for the day we moved on to satisfy our baser cravings. The Guinness Storehouse was a couple of bus stations from the Trinity College away, but with the bus on a 20 minutes delay we decided to walk there. Since walking was all we had done that day, what were a couple of blocks more? While walking I noticed large signs all over the city which showed even the dumbest tourist where to go.IMG_8357

Finally the Guinness Storehouse came into view.IMG_8360IMG_8363IMG_8369
The Guinness wonderland is a seven-story building that starts with a shop and the basics of brewing, going on to advertising through the years, then to a tasting room, up to a food mall on the 5th floor and a sky bar on the top floor. We did it all.IMG_8372IMG_8373IMG_8374IMG_8376IMG_8379IMG_8381IMG_8383IMG_8385IMG_8386IMG_8394

On the seventh floor we could finally change our ticket for a pint and I watched closely how the beer was drawn. The difference to your usual Irish pub is that in Ireland they are using a nitrogen combination so that the beer is a lot more drinkable than let’s say in Vienna. I think I tried it once here and the taste is totally different. I liked it a lot in Dublin although two pints are like a meal, really filling.IMG_8395IMG_8396IMG_8404IMG_8407

But a filling beer didn’t mean that we were not hungry once we left the Storehouse. Quite the opposite. On the way back to the hotel we decided to stop for an early dinner at a nearby pub and just eat some more local stuff. On deciding this we were just in front of Bakers Bar & Restaurant, an Irish pub where definitely also the locals stop and have a drink. We ordered more Guinness and three dishes to share: Irish Stew, Bangers and Mash and fried local shrimps with chips.IMG_8408IMG_8409IMG_8410
Yeah, cannot say that this was a success culinary-wise. But it was filling and we were hungry and let’s just not talk about it anymore. Shortly after we finished the meal we left and walked back to hour hotel. We all needed a break after this long day walking through rain mostly, before heading out into the night life.

Our pub crawl saw us walking in the rain* again to the Temple Bar district where we stopped at the Porterhouse. This micro brewery makes its own beer and it was a nice change to the domineering Guinness. The place looked like it consisted entirely of stairs. There were 4 floor levels, all connected by more stairs and bars in between. And of course a band was playing, also between two staircases.IMG_8411IMG_8413IMG_8414IMG_8415

In a way it is such a shame that I was in Dublin and didn’t see my favorite band. But The Frames seem not to be touring at the moment and Glen Hansard is only playing in December! Super sad that I missed that, I really wish I could have seen Joseph Doyle again. But let’s go back to the music at Porterhouse which was good too. What was interesting to see was that most musicians were a bit older. You know on the radio most of the music is from really young people, and don’t get me wrong, lots of it is great. But this was the second band we saw this weekend where the mean age was probably around 45.

Eventually we had enough of the beer and the music and some really embarrassing Austrian tourists who had to sing our unofficial anthem “I am from Austria” and sauntered back to the hotel. And you know what’s great about the Harding Hotel? The bar was still open and we had a G&T as nightcap. Maybe not Irish, but a splendid drink!
Yours, Pollybert

* My guide-book said that Dublin on average has less rain than Nice. I really would like to know where they get their meteorological data from.