Charlie P’s – Irish Pub anyone?

Finally it was Friday, the best day of the week. Ok, maybe not the best day since you still had to get up in the morning, but definitely the best evening of the week. All weekend ahead of you and you can sleep in the next day. So last Friday I was meeting Karin, a friend I haven’t seen for ages but one who is always up for new places (remember Figar). This time I took her to a tried and tested/tasted Irish pub which just happened to have a new chef.

Charlie P’s is like your regular Irish pub in every way except that is has a great kitchen. I have been there already a couple of times and was never disappointed (quite a feat). But a new chef changes the rules and one has to go and try again.

We had a reservation for 7:30 and had planned to meet at the bar around 7pm to wait for the table. As it turned out this was not necessary because we got ours right away (that it was the least comfortable one in the Dining Room was nobody’s fault).IMG_9703IMG_9704IMG_9706

Instead of starting with a Guinness (didn’t I learn in Dublin that Guinness just tastes better on the Emerald Isle?) we ordered a cocktail.IMG_9700
Something or other with Gin and it had a lovely spring aroma. I was also into the bucket-like look (just the right amount for a Friday evening). Looks of course can deceive, there was a lot of ice in it. Still it was the perfect start to nice meal.

When we finally ordered the waitress looked happy. I think she had to come over a couple of times and we were still not ready. When you haven’t seen the other person in a long time there is a lot of catching up to do. We took our time updating the other on our life again and then celebrated big changes to come. It is annoying though that one gets so rushed to order. I understand that the place can make a lot more business if people eat faster and then leave their tables (a lot of people were sent away due to full-booking). But I don’t want to get pushed to order the moment I sit down, especially when the food is so hyped. I want to leisurely enjoy myself and take in the whole experience. After all this was not at the golden arch (and anyway there it’s self-service).

In the end I ordered the hake and my friend the soup of the day. The hake was accompanied by sour potatoes, goat cheese and dill. So far for the menu. Turns out it was exactly like described but different than imagined (here we go again with the expectations).IMG_9701 Hello? Anyone looking for the potatoes? They were the pea-sized yellow balls on the plate above. It was really good, don’t get me wrong. But what’s the point on saving on the side dish? I mean it’s not like as if I ordered something outrageous; and aren’t potatoes a staple of Irish food? (It was a great diet dish though, had a pound less the next day despite the beer I had with my meal!).

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The tomato and pepper soup meanwhile was tasty but cold. Karin didn’t send it back but told the waitress later about it. Of course by then there was nothing she could do except tell my friend she should have said so right away. Karin replied that she rather dislikes sending back food since she prefers it without spit in it. The waitress then told her not to worry they would only do that until someone sends his food back to the kitchen more than three times. Good to know, I will never complain! That’s for sure!

While we had our dinner the guests next to us appeared to eat their way through the menu. Everything they ordered looked delicious and generously portioned. So when as their last course they shared a steak with a large serving of chips between them I must have looked like a starving kitten (as I like to imagine myself. In truth is was probably more like a ferocious wolf). For whatever reason they took pity on me and offered me a large potato wedge including dip sauce. And to my embarrassment I took it. Carbohydrates never tasted so good!
Yours, Pollybert

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What I learned in Dublin

As done now on several occasions (click here or here) here are a list of things I learned in Dublin. The list is not exhaustive.

1.) Guinness in Dublin tastes awesome.
2.) There is live music everywhere, really.
3.) Girls in Dublin don’t wear a lot when going out. I was freezing just by looking at them but had to admire their spirit! They were willing to brave the elements to look great!
4.) Guys looked great in Dublin!
5.) But most were drunk by 10pm. Such a shame and what’s the rush?
6.) There is no age limit for a good party!
7.) They have shops which sell e-cigarettes. Why is there security outside? The answer eludes me.

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8.) The saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” is true but only up to a certain point.
9.) Next time I want to buy a souvenir, I will do so right away. No point in going back to the store twice!
10.) One can fall in love with a city. I know I did!

Yours, Pollybert

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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

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.

First night in Dublin

We took the long way to go to Dublin since the direct flight would leave on the way back at 7am. Therefore we decided to pay more and travel longer, just to have a relaxed going home.

Leaving Vienna at 1pm made for a great start. The whole morning was in front of me, I finished packing, read the newspaper and did some washing. That the whole thing then turned super stressful was really the fault of the washing machine.
Never mind, with a bit a of luck I made it to the meeting point on the time and we boarded the plane eventually with a smile.IMG_8244
Even on the plane we still kept smiling since Lufthansa had way better service than expected. We changed planes in Frankfurt which included a terminal change that lead us through one very long and weirdly illuminated tunnel.IMG_8249

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And since most of our flight was in the direction of the sunset, I had to take a picture.

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We arrived in Dublin with a bit of a delay due to foggy weather, something we know very well from Vienna. The airport looked small but well-organized and the Airlink bus, which we had to take to our hotel, was right outside. What I noticed right away, Dublin is a wifi capital. Starting immediately on the bus.IMG_8400

We got off at Christ Church Cathedral which was right next to our hotel, the Harding Hotel. Just 200m and then we could check in. And actually we didn’t get so far that evening. The Harding Hotel has a great pub downstairs and that’s were we regrouped for our first Guinness.

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One Guinness turned into another

IMG_8267 and then the band started.

IMG_8274From that moment on there was no leaving anymore. We ordered our food and ate right next to the bar.
As usual no pictures, sorry it was too good and anyway it was too dark in there. But I have to be honest our first Guinness was a small one, called a glass. Which is very embarrassing because today we heard it’s just for girls…
Not that I am not a girl but actually we had two rounds of small beers trying different ales and stouts and eventually settling on Guinness, in pint size. It’s so good here.
Yours, Pollybert