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

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Cliff walking in Howth

From the Connolly train station we took the DART to Howth. All over Dublin we saw everything written in two languages Irish and English. Thus also on the train.
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I love that both languages are exactly the same size not giving one language the precedence over the other (unlike in Quebec).

Upon arrival we first took a picture of the map to know where to go. These maps and other signs are all over the island as well, the Irish are really nice to tourists!Handy 731
But first we stopped at the local market for a bit of sustenance, a blueberry scone which was barely edible (still, I ate half of it). And no, a scone is not the same as these cup cakes in the first picture.IMG_8463IMG_8464The sustenance was needed because breakfast had been small and the walk we planned was long. Take a look around the harbor. Can you see the palm trees?IMG_8466IMG_8468IMG_8469IMG_8471IMG_8472

For all poet lovers, Yeats lived here for a couple of years.IMG_8479
And a couple of doors further down we saw an “Emily”. If you want to read the real love story behind it, click here.IMG_8481

We passed the last of the houses and there was only nature ahead of us. The track took us up and down and since it had rained until the early morning there were lots of puddles to avoid. This was no “Handtascherlweg” (an expression I heard shortly before reaching the top of the Sonnblick, a mountain over 3000m high; meaning it was quite steep and rough), but it was well worth it. The view was amazing and all in all even I felt really connected to nature here and usually I am not into these things. The brown stuff you see on the first picture is actually fern and it was totally dry. Very weird.IMG_8482IMG_8484IMG_8486IMG_8488IMG_8490IMG_8491IMG_8492IMG_8493IMG_8498IMG_8501IMG_8504IMG_8506IMG_8508IMG_8510IMG_8515IMG_8516IMG_8518
I hope I didn’t swamp you with these pictures but it was heartbreakingly beautiful walking there and I just wanted to share this with you. We also saw a couple of birds and other animals while walking. So these are for all the animal lover out there.IMG_8513IMG_8519IMG_8535Handy 766

The whole tour took about two hours and we kind of walked a small circle, coming back to the village again from another side. Have you noticed by the way that in Ireland the gorse is still in bloom?

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And then we decided to take a short-cut which sounded like a good idea at first but involved climbing down sideways. Not something I want to repeat.Here the view looking down.

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The amazing view at this point.IMG_8532Looking back up.

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With this steep descent behind us we were back in civilization and ready for something to eat. But this is another story.
Yours, Pollybert

The north side of Dublin

Saturday morning finally the rain had stopped. Actually the weather announced a mix of sun and clouds and it turned out to be true! Yeah, great way to start the day when a day-trip was planned. Here is my view out of the window and you can see the sunshine in all its glory.

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And that was it for most of the morning. Ah never mind, we had a long day ahead of us and more sunshine to come.

We had agreed on a day-trip to Howth a small coastal village to the north-east of Dublin which is located on an half-island. To get there we needed to take either the DART (a train) or the bus. We settled on the train in the end since we found no time-table for the bus.
To get to the train station we needed to cross the Liffey and get to the north side of the city (or so we thought, these guide books are really not so helpful in the end. There were of course nearer stations to our hotel). We used this chance to explore the city on the North side and find some place for breakfast. I took some pictures along the way, so please enjoy.IMG_8418IMG_8420IMG_8421IMG_8424IMG_8426IMG_8429IMG_8435IMG_8436
Dublin also has a tram which astonished me.IMG_8438
Another shopping street on the north side with lots of Christmas decoration. The Irish seem to take Christmas very serious, especially the window decorations all over the city!IMG_8440IMG_8442
A busker out early who played good music (definitely worth supporting)!IMG_8443

Some more impressions from along the way.IMG_8444
The entrance to a butcher shop.IMG_8445IMG_8446IMG_8448
The Charles Stewart Parnell statue on O’Connell Street.IMG_8450

Please note how the arc of the harp is on the left side. It had to be on the left side because Guinness already had the harp as its emblem showing to the right. And since Guinness was founded in 1759 and Ireland got its independence in 1921, guess who had the older rights?

Finally we saw the Spire of Dublin close up.IMG_8452
And one of Dublin’s most famous citizen James JoyceIMG_8455

When we at last stopped for breakfast around the corner from the Connolly train station there were not a lot of inviting places around. We settled on a small café which had exactly two kinds of toasts and something like a mille-feuille. Of course we tried it but it was nothing to rave over.IMG_8459
The coffee on the other hand was excellent and after a second round we were ready to leave the city.
Yours, Pollybert