Dublin: Christmas 2015
The big question for my second trip to Dublin is, will I see it dry this time? We arrived fully prepped for the forecast rain. The ease of getting off the plane and onto a bus for just €6 each sure took our mind off the weather.
Just like my 36 hours in rainy Boston reminded my off my first time in Dublin, now going back to the Irish capital reminds me of its American cousin. Either way, it rains.
Once we’re acclimatised, we pick the driest of our 3 days to go walkabout. I’m still chasing the Oscar Wilde trail as in 1997 and I see it in a different light on a blue sky day. I don’t recall the Wilde statue being in the park last time. I’ve a feeling it may have got there just a little while afterwards. The whole neighbourhood around the Oscar Wilde residence (now an American college) – what the bf and I tagged ‘the American bit’ - was our favourite. It’s clean, residential and free of drunk people.
Dublin is noisy. I don’t know why drunk people are called party people. I’m an occasional party person, but not a big drinker. I saw no police seen during the whole weekend – except in a coffee shop on the Monday – so it’s a nice live and let live environment I guess.
On the first morning, Boxing Day, so many independent cafés were closed so we were glad to find a branch of Eddie Rockets serving breakfast all day. After a 7.30am flight from Birmingham, all I craved was an Irish breakfast. Eddies are everywhere in Dublin – we even saw people queuing up for them on other days. There was no soda bread or potato cake here, but breakfast was good value and fast.
This time I had the full Guinness experience, and have the certificates to prove it! Although the brewery was open to visitors in 1997 and I didn’t feel like it was worth the 20 minute trek out in the rain. This time they have a much newer, all round experience from learning about the history, how it’s made and of course tasting. It's a shame they assume people visiting hadn't drunk the black stuff. It appeared to be the opposite every time they patronised us by asking. We could see why it is the number one attraction in Ireland though. Even the café and restaurant is reasonably priced. We managed to get away with not buying a Guinness oven mitt, chocolate or Christmas bauble from the amply stocked shop on the way out. I managed to down a pint of the black stuff – one of my favourite drinks but in small doses – with our late lunch and sober up by the time the shopping experience came into view.
When I was last in the city, I experienced for the first time in my (adult) life what was referred to as ignorance, rather than racism by my Dubliner friends. I wondered if I’d be the only non-white face I’d see this time around?
Well there are few more and we discovered a whole little china town; teeny tiny but there and yet we don’t see these faces outside of this are. They are not shopping en masse in Brown Thomas which is what the whole of Dublin were doing during our time in this bustling city. I was pondering if it would be the same when we came across a full-on racist argument between two taxi drivers. Actually a one-sided rant from a white middle-aged Irishman to a quiet, black dude who I frankly felt compassion for even if he had run-off with his tormenter’s wife and life savings. You can be angry but there is no excuse for racism and telling people to ‘go home’. He noticed me even though it was dusk as we were waiting for the lights to change and cross the road. I can’t recall the comment but I heard ‘that lady’ and I was the only female around. I’d be glad to get back to my home; tolerant England.
Last time I just got a lot of stares. The same happened this trip, some 18 years later and I certainly didn’t go out after dark then. I only did so now on the arm of my bf but didn’t feel any safer. The party people didn’t help to put us at ease as you never know how a person is going to react when drunk.
The difference between old-school, stand-offish Dublin and cosmopolitan and open-hearted Belfast, which we were lucky enough to visit earlier in the year, is palpable.
Last time, the place I felt I could be myself was Brown Thomas. In the Harvey Nicks of Ireland, it only matters what colour my money is so I loyally returned to his store with glee. BT saved me again. I didn’t buy half of it like in the 90s though.
We breakfasted at Kylemore café as recommended by a local on the Sunday, along with half of the city’s residents. It felt like I was in C&A café in 1984 – which describes much of this city that seems a couple of decades behind the UK. The best breakfast and decent coffee came via 3Fe Café on our last morning, when finally the coffee places started to open up. Thank goodness!
Avoca store was also recommended by several people so we gave it a whirl. We were too full after breakfast to utilise the café or food hall of this mini department store that reminded me of Beales, but still much smaller. I did buy some needed socks, reduced from €24 to 5€. Wo5 spends €24 on knee-length socks? They’re pretty, but not the best quality. Oh I know who, Americans.
Dublin has big influence from America. It seems as though Irish have gone over and bought it back home. There are diners (Eddie Rockets and more), Carroll, a chain of Irish gift shops and a lot of American influenced bars and restaurants. They know their market. Shame I didn’t get to eat potato bread in the capitol!
Hotel review coming