Dream trip Day 117 Bus to Limerick, Irish dancers, submerged boat

Another early morning in order to hit the bus station before noon. 1 last Irish fry up courtesy of Pat and Mary.

We chatted with them a bit, thanking them for the great walking tip. They are quite lucky that walk is a daily option.

A short walk down the road and we were at the mall, bus depot. It makes total sense though, with shopping near by, it gives you something to do while you wait for your bus or pop into a shop if you forgot to pack something.

Standing outside with several people, all who smoked, it suddenly began to rain steady.

Everybody in Ireland had an umbrella within reach and this guy had a large golf style umbrellas to aid with retrieving people’s luggage.

We lined up under an awning and the driver sold us tickets. There weren’t many people going to Limerick today so we had nice window seats.

It doesn’t rain hard, but it rains steady for hours, never letting up.

Luckily, it had stopped raining about halfway through our trip. Ireland sure was pretty and green due to all this rain!

We were dropped off at a small bus, train depot in Limerick and walked to our hotel for the next few days across town.

We began in a busy area full of shops, restaurants and other activities, but soon we were in what I felt was not a great area at night.

I couldn’t place why I felt dirty, target like, but I did walking through a number of small multilevel brick houses.

Luckily our stroll through this part of town was over quickly as we crossed a lovely bridge to get to our hotel.

Rounding a corner we spied a boat in the water but it wasn’t sea worthy any longer.

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The boat’s placement blocking a narrow channel seemed deliberate. We noted its progress each day as it would rain, raising the water level.

We got a heap of info upon check in, from a dinner spot to purchasing a bus tour to the Cliffs of Mohr in the morning.

The Locke Bar where we were recommended was a bit crowded, but we were able to snag a table with a view of the dance floor.

As soon as you enter, to the left was a lightly colored wooden floor where a small band was set up playing Irish tunes.

The band was soon joined by Irish dancers, a couple of lads and lassies, terms they most definitely use here.

Irish dance is one of the most awkward dance style to behold in person. No arm movements it’s all feet tapping, crossing, hopping, a very airborne dance.

As I learned, Irish dancing isn’t ‘river dance,’ that is the name of 1 guy’s dance show but he is for sure the man who introduced this unique dance style to the world.

We got beers and watched the show, each song had a different dance including solo jigs or couples. A fury of feets flying!

Our night was settled, let’s take it easy. We had great seats, they had beer, food and live music so we stayed.

Fish and chips this time, I presume due to the proximity of the River Shannon I felt it to be fresh.

We raised our pints and said cheers, to which a couple next to us joined in, ‘Sláinte!’ they responded, to your health. 

I soon related my tales from my friend from Limerick to my mom. I couldn’t believe I actually made it to his hometown.

We headed back to our hotel after dinner and a couple of pints. It was spritzing rain which was annoying but not enough to soak us.

I had spied a pub across the river from our hotel so I split off from my mom.

Wow I’d stumbled into an extremely local pub. Usually at least 1-2 people will nod or say hello, but not here.

I even had to change places at the pub to get served. Maybe it was my long-ish beard?

It seemed there was a wedding reception or some other formal style event so perhaps it was just a family affair evening.

I had a couple pints, watching the footy highlights on the telly. At least it didn’t rain on my walk home.

Tomorrow the Cliffs of Mohr!

Beer: Stag Bán

Song:  Black 47  Fire of Freedom

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Dream trip Day 113 English market, rain, brewery, rain, fish n chips

It was the weekend so I knew that in most cities on the Island, there would be a market and it would be a nice place to eat and see.

‘Cross the River Lee over into the shopping district past the quays. Seemed a lot of places were called quays here so I looked it up.

quay= a concrete, stone, or metal platform lying alongside or projecting into water for loading and unloading ships.

Warf would the US word I presumed, maybe pier.

This market was great! On site butchers sharpening knives, flanked by beef and sausages on the wall behind them.

We walked around the whole market, from produce, handmade goods and butchers.

The tea room was upstairs and we had just made it in time for breakfast. Coffee for me, tea for my mom.

She worked at a tea room when I was in high school. It was an arts and crafty store, with cold sandwiches.

Full Irish coming my way as well as another discussion as to how one pronounces scone.

Our waiter had an opinion and recommended we use it through the island, ‘they (motioning with his head towards the east, ole England) say it scOHn.’

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I watched a lady sitting across from us having tea and biscuits for breakfast, a bit of jelly, you know. Here I was with basically a plate o’ Irish meats.

At every entrance there are large signs that read: no photos inside the market. A large group of tourists was taking pictures and videos inside. A butcher yelled at them to turn them off, no is understood in every language but especially if said when grasping long sharp knives.

I had to laugh as the sign was only in English and Irish but it clearly had a red circle with a line through an older camera image. Maybe they should use an image of a phone?

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We walked over another part of River Lee, as far as I could see, we were on the right path.

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We passed a small walled garden with some history signs. Seems the city of Cork used to be walled off and we were standing in the last standing section of that wall.

Being invaded, seized used to be a very real threat in this country and about every place I went had some sort of wall, moat or other type of defense.

Inspecting the wall, it was very sturdy, many hours had to have gone into it. Same mentality with houses, buildings. Build the things that matter to last, build them well.

The clouds opened up so we had to fast walk it to our destination, Rising Sons Brewery.

Very cool spot, serves pizza too. I don’t think there are tours of the facilities but the bartender or someone will explain beer and their process if you ask.

It kept right on raining, hard too so a couple pints, nice talk about life and where we were headed on the island. Time passes much faster in good company. It was nice to have someone to talk to, a new perspective.

Once the rain cleared we headed towards the river hoping to see something cool along the way. We passed the opera house and art museum. Think they had Beauty and the Beast running, or maybe Mama Mia.

I don’t go for opera but Europe seemed to be the best place to see one.

We eventually ran out of road along the river so I just walked towards the highest point I could see, a church steeple off in the distance.

There seemed to be more cemeteries on the south side of the rivers, we passed by a couple. People buried here for centuries no doubt. Old lands.

Houses seemed smaller but were a couple of stories tall. Like each floor could be a separate room you know? Really not small if you have a floor to your self so long as no one was going up or down the stairs.

The steeple I’d seen was a very small church when compared with most I’d seen. Likely the cathedral was just for this neighborhood back in the days.

It sprinkled rain on and off our walk as we found another river so we turned left. Cork is 2 islands or isthmus like Florida. Land surrounded on 3 sides by water. There are 2 River Lees and this day takes place walking on the land between the Lees.

As we were about to cross the street I witnessed a transaction rarely seen in the US: a guy was standing in the middle of the road, newsie hat on his head, with a newspaper in his right hand, a bag containing rolled up newspapers was slung low around his torso on his left side. A guy driving by in a small car paused, they exchanged coins, a rolled up paper was then handed over and the driver was off with a wave.

We paused for a few moments at the convergence of the rivers, which was where the port was, home to ships. Nothing actually going on, no crains loading or unloading, just a docked huge ship.

It was still threatening rain so we experienced the Cork mall. My mom was looking for a specific type of material or wool. We walked through a couple of stores but they didn’t have the right style.

Lots of shamrocks, driving caps and family crests on sale in most shops. They needed tourist euros here for sure.

Malls seem the same, though the teens usually minding the stores look perennially bored to the point of doing something, maybe even work.

We caught sunset from the bridge over the River Lee. Stunning view, wish I had a good camera and skill to document. I’d seen plenty of wonderful sunsets and I’ve got them saved in my head. Just need to concentrate and I’m there.

Everyday we passed by a small fish n chips joint, takeaway only, no seats inside. It was basically all fryer haha. Tonight was the night to get some fish.

Thing about the fish over here is you have several options, some I’d not heard of before.

We got a couple very heavy boxes of fish n chips and found an outside patio in front of a pub. I figured if they had a problem with us eating here they’d let us know.

It was very good fish, flaky too. I dipped mine into tartar sauce, I’m not sure what the standard sauce is over here aside from malt vinegar. That is always an option.

I’m not sure how anyone is able to eat all the chips, so many chips, likely a pound o spuds. Thick cut, steak fries is what they would be called in the States. Again, same language, yet different.

We were able to not only finish our meal undisturbed, I was able to procure a pint of Guinness to wash it down with too. Only 1 guy behind the bar, plenty busy inside.

Talking and watching the people pass by. There was some sort of theatre down the street so occasionally you’d see very well dressed people, suits and elegant ladies whose shoes made that authoritative sound on the pavement.

There was also a hostel nearby so you’d see a stag group all dressed up too but in fluorescent yellow/green full length tights. Head to toe covered, no eye holes even.

It is quite a site on the streets of Cork this night.

All good things end and this was our last night. Tomorrow it was on to Killarney!

Onwards!

Song:  the Cranberries   Linger

Beer: Mi Daza XXX the Pride of the South

Dream trip Day 111 Irish wedding party, bus to Cork, Irish BBQ

An early bedtime makes for an early rise. Time for breakfast.

Our room came with 1 meal at the pub. They didn’t have a very extensive menu so once again, Irish fry up it was. A sturdy way to start the day.

I think my mom was able to order scones here which precipitated a discussion on pronunciation. It seems quite regional as to whether one says scOHn or scOWN.

How ever you say it, with a smear of butter and some jelly, they were good eating!

A couple of the tables were full of people, a wedding was happening soon. Of course they were already drinking.

The wedding may have been rescheduled from the day before due to the rain.

We made a bit of small talk with some of the party. Soon it was photo time.

One of the ladies asked us to join their group for the photo. We were the only other ones in the pub so why not.

‘Sorry we are so loud, we’ve ‘ad a bit of drink.’ she explained. They were a nice group and we wished them a good day and happy wedding.

According to Eriann, they had a 2 buses daily from Kilkenny to Cork, about a 3 hour trip.

The only problem for us was they don’t put up a bus stop sign indicating the area the bus will arrive, the arrow on my map was off the main road near a mall.

It was quite maddening situation, the bus would block a lane of traffic if it were to stop where indicated, I guess that is how they do things here.

We hung around the general areas for a while hoping to see a bus. We saw a couple of buses pass by,  none stopping.

Finally a bus did stop right where the map said it would, traffic, what little there was, merely went around the bus.

Another difference over here was the fact that the driver could sell you tickets, cash or card with cash being king for most of the Irish.

We settled in and once we were out-of-town, it began to rain. Perfect timing, we had thought to hang around Kilkenny, see the castle but that wouldn’t have been possible in the rain.

Buses overseas do have free but extremely spotty WiFi so I was able to write a bit and watch a TV show. It seems pretty easy to me to figure out how to get internet island wide.

At least Europe, UK had figured out that using 1 cell technology made things a lot easier for customers and presumable cell companies since they could share towers and building expenses.

The rain had subsided upon arriving to Cork. Our route was alongside a river with huge freight ships waiting their cargo.

Our research indicated there was a tour bus that would show us some sites around Cork as well as a stop in Killarney.

On our way to our hotel, we stopped by the tour bus company to confirm several things about our trip, mainly if we could just leave a bus in a city that wasn’t the end point.

My mom really wanted to go on the Ring of Kerry tour along the western coast. The best way or rather the way to do the tour in 1 day is to start in Killarney.

Also on her list, Blarney Castle, just outside of town. On my list was the real Jameson Distillery, also outside of Cork.

The guy at the tour bus office was very nice and answered all our questions and concerns. He agreed with our assessment that staying in Killarney was best option.

We’d be seeing him in a few hours as with any bus tour, early morning is the time they depart to maximize the sunlight.

Our hotel was very nice, it even had a waterfall near the outside patio. Inside it had a small elevator that I had to take my backpack off to fit inside with my mom.

Still early, we took a walk back to the River Lee, crossing over to the other side.

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We just walked down the street until it ended in a line of shops, currently closing for the day. Nothing opened on this side of the river, it was back over to the north side of town.

Now we were walking down a narrow, one way street our hostel was on, a row of shops separated us from the river road. A surprising amount of traffic on this road too.

Tee buildings were very cool around here,  doors between businesses as people lived above the ground level shops. Some of the buildings had 4-5 stories of rooms above them. How cool to be able to walk out your front door to a coffee spot or food option steps away?

Feeling a bit hungry we stopped into the most unlikely place for a couple of Texans in Ireland, a BBQ joint. White Rabbit BBQ, no rabbit on the menu.

Happy to report it was good Q. Tasty sides too, they got cornbread game. There are literally as many different styles of this type of meat cooking as there are US states , so I feel it is hard to say which is truly the best kind.

Texas is mostly beef, sausage, not too sauce-y either. There are good things about both sauce and no sauce. Just roll with it, enjoy where you are and have a taste of how they eat there. Foodcation, haha.

What was interesting about this spot was it fast became more of a bar as the night wore on. Trays of food and beers passed by frequently. The sound of the room grew louder as the tables filled up.

Back to the hotel bar, I had a couple pints talking with my mom. We had an early bus call tomorrow, 8am which meant we had to get up early in order to get breakfast.

Tomorrow on to Blarney!

Beer:  Beamish

Song: Sinéad O’Conner + the Chieftains  The Foggy Dew

Dream trip Day 109 Guinness for breakfast, library tour, Dublin College tour

We were staying in a great 2 bedroom Airbnb. Sometimes these places have a full fridge as well as cupboard but not this one. We were in search of breakfast.

According to my map app the place I’d been before served breakfast so off to Slattery’s we went.

We sat do wn at a different side of the bar than I sat in previously, I noticed signs: Anthony Bourdain say this is the best Irish breakfast in Dublin!

What luck! I quite enjoyed Bourdain’s writing (his fiction books are pretty great too) and to this point, I hadn’t eaten at one of his recommendations.

The menu was sparse to say the least, which is likely why they made a great fry up. No reason to make 10 plates that are ok if you can make 1 amazing plate.

It was pretty great breakfast! Bourdain was right and the place wasn’t so full that it was an adventure just finding a table or long cook time.

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After getting up and walking to the restroom, I noticed that everyone was having a Guinness with their breakfast. It was just after 10am.

Why not, I am on vacation and I am not driving today! Much to my mom’s chagrin, I ordered a pint. Twas good!

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My mom really wanted to see the Book of Kells which is housed at Dublin College. The book is a very old, ornately decorated early translation of the bible.  I had no idea it existed so I was intrigued.

It wasn’t too long of walk over to Trinity College. We popped into line and bought tickets for the tour.

We had an interesting walk and talk through some of the grounds. One of the memorable stories involved the old dorms, built separately from the showers. This meant students had to make a run to and from the showers.

Now the tour ended and we headed over to the line for Book of Kells tour. Our guide stopped us and said we’d only bought the college tour. Wait the tour all ready cost over 10€ which we incorrectly presumed everything.

Dejected we sauntered off away from the university. I hoped the overpriced tours paid for some rural kid’s tuition. Maybe the book tour through the huge library is cooler.

We were right next to Dublin Castle so we strolled through the grounds. Most of the castle is off-limits, need those tour €!

Soon we stumbled on a huge library and decided to check it out. This was a free library, essentially a citizen’s collection of artifacts.

What was more remarkable wasn’t the size of the collection, it was the variety. Several countries and time periods were represented in several large rooms.

This guy had to have bought most anything he ever came across that was for sale on his travels. I do recommend the Chester Beatty Library worth the hour or longer stroll.

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Not knowing where else to go, I knew that St. Stephen’s Green was close, there were a lot of directional signs which made finding it easier.

As luck would have it, this was the best place to be during a pop up rain shower. The path was very well covered with trees. We watched the light rain fall on an open field.

We sat at a circle of benches in one of the park’s 4 corners. We talked a lot, sometimes commenting on the passers-by. Lots of important people wearing suits, their jackets flung over a shoulder model style.

Several ladies in nice dresses sat to have a smoke and chat or have a salad dinner.

Many runners whizzed by. It was near dusk, time to walk back while it was still light out.

We got close to the Spire when it really began to rain. Hard rain drove us to fast walk until we were under an awning of a clothier.

We passed by a restaurant, a carvery actually as they are know overseas so we stepped in. It was very long, cavernous place. The front part was mainly bar patrons, the eating tables were more towards the back.

There was 1 guy behind a glass partition, very much like the buffets I went to back home.

He shoveled huge portions of mashed potatoes, roast meats and mounds of fries from out of an assortment of metal trays in front of him.

We were wet from the rain and this food was very warm, very filling in more ways than one.

Mary St is a cool street to walk down as it has many shops, stores and places you can pick up some touristy trinkets.

My mom was tired, we did walk a long ways so she retired to our room. I wanted a pint before bed so off to the Black Sheep I went.

I didn’t realize it but the place was actually closed for a private event. Maybe not closed but 1 family occupied most of the chairs in the pub.

The bartender from last night, he had quite a nice mustache, waved me over. ‘The party is dying down, we aren’t too busy. What do you want to drink?’

I had a couple pints and attempted to mingle in the wedding party, or maybe it was an engagement party, I wasn’t sure, they were elegantly dressed, a notch above formal.

It rained off and on while I was in the pub. I was able to watch the street from a window, pulling a chair up so I could chill.

Soon the bartender waved me over, they were closing up early since there were only a handful of people there that weren’t a part of the party.

It had been a great day in Dublin despite the rain.

Tomorrow it was on to Kilkenny!

Beer: Cousin Rosie’s Pale Ale

Song: Pogues  Dirty Old Town

Dream trip Day 108 Mom joins, Guinness Brewery, the Black Sheep

I was in Dublin for 1 specific reason, to meet my mom! She had wanted to see Ireland forever, but our family couldn’t ever settle on taking a family trip there.

Once I began my dream trip, we corresponded. She mentioned maybe meeting in Ireland and I agreed. I hadn’t planned on seeing the country but then again, I hadn’t planned on seeing most of the places I went.

Take a moment, pause, call your mom, tell her you love her. If you cannot do that think about your happiest moment with your mom. Mom’s do so much for you and we, well I, probably don’t tell them how much I care, how often I think about them.

In my life I’d gone from not being able to sleep at a friend’s house across the street to flying to Europe and visiting places that made communication difficult, far far away from my mom.

I was fairly excited by the prospect of helping my mom fulfill a life goal. Our deal was she had a list of several places, cities she wanted to see. My job was to figure out how to get to these places via bus, rail or other means of transportation.

What was the most surprising was my mom adapted to my minimal travel, arriving with only a backpack, just like me. It was a lot bigger backpack but still, having seen many ladies on my trip with comedic quantities of luggage as well as the 1 piece of rolling luggage that was 2-3x as big as the lady carrying it, this was quite minimal.

It is a lot harder being a lady, all the clothes, garments, shoes and things that men, society expect women to have is astounding. I didn’t ever feel under dressed despite having basically parachute pants that zipped off at the knees illustrated the level of expectations between men and women’s fashion.

We met at the Spire and hugged! She did it, she had made it! Now what to do?!

Always good idea to lighten your load and drop luggage off where you’re staying.

To my shock our place was on top of a pub, the Black Sheep. I’d passed by it and made a note to check it out. Now I had my evenings planned, just go downstairs!

My mom was quite accommodating as she doesn’t drink alcohol but was ok with me taking her to the most special of breweries, Guinness!

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This was one of the better brewery tours I’ve been on I have to say. In many ways, Guinness and Dublin are one in the same, at least that is what the tour infers.

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I love the idea that at one time beer, wine, most liquids were shipped and stored in wooden barrels.

 

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For sure the Guinness Brewery is one of the tallest buildings in Dublin affording one a stunning 360° view of the city, provided it isn’t an overcast day.

At the end of the tour is a bar with free Guinness.

There is a process to pour a Guinness as it is very thick and can easily get heady. Begin pouring with the glass at an angle until it is a bit past half full, let rest for at least a minute. No matter how long the line is, you do not pour faster, they’d just line up pints on the bar to settle.

Once a pint was ready, then it would get filled up and have about a priest’s collar thickness of white head. A keen system that always worked, I don’t think I ever saw a pint poured straight through. I also didn’t hear anyone complain about how long it was taking for a pint. You waited for that pint.

It is also so far the only place I’ve seen their Dublin Porter on draught. The Guinness you think of is a stout.

The difference between a stout and a porter boils down, literally, to malts. They are both thicker beers than most people are used to in the US. Both styles, to me, are only drinkable when it is cool or cold out.

I don’t know too many people who would reach for a creamy stout in 100° Texas heat. But in the cool, Irish environment, nothing’s better.

We wandered all over the River area near the brewery until it was clear we weren’t going to stumble upon anything cool.

Heading back into town, we stop into a pub to eat and discuss our strategy for the trip. It was a very nice spot, The Quays, though we were in search of a music pub.

There did seem to be much more of a focus on live music in Dublin than in previous places I’d been. Not so much for the digital playlists here.

Consulting a map, she listed the must visit cities and sights. Using my apps, I located the National Bus of Ireland, Bus Eireann.

The crazy fact is that you could bus from Dublin to the Cliffs of Mohr and back same day as it is only a 2 hour trip 1 way, coast to coast!

There was a place south, Wexford, that made crystal glassware she wanted to see. Cork was on the list, a whale watch to the south, Cliffs of Mohr, were all on the list.

I was excited to just be here! I hadn’t planned on visiting the island so I didn’t get to do much research on what to do, see. It was all new to me anyway. Plus it is cool to hang out with your parents.

Our destination discussion continued as we walked through the city back to our place where we connected to WiFi and did some real planning for the next few days.

I like to look at a map and decide on a location, then see if anything is along the way there, try to break up the trips into 2-3 hour bus rides if possible. I just couldn’t see it being fun hoping a bus around 7am, drive to the west coast and then back around 7pm.

Our plan was set to check out Dublin College and Book of Kels tomorrow as well as Dublin Castle. I’d never heard of this book before so I was in for some learning.

We are all into different things, so I think it is very cool to check out what others are into, especially your parents. Hey they put up with you when you were a screaming kid, so walk with them, go on an adventure.

Around 10pm I headed downstairs to have a pint at The Black Sheep.

So far this is the only place I can think of that didn’t have a Guinness on tap in Dublin.

As I was the only one at the bar I was able to talk to them about some beers they liked and so they suggested another stout they felt was better than Guinness.

‘Quite literally you can get Guinness everywhere in this town and it is a great beer. We are just a place for people who may want to drink something else occasionally.’ the bartender explained.

He gave me a Galway Bay Brewery stout that was similar to Guinness. It was good and besides, I’d already had my daily Guinness. Time to try something new!

It wasn’t very busy at the bar so I was able to talk to a couple of bartenders about the Irish independent brewery scene. Sadly, it was about the same story as in the US.

Beer and liquor distributors controlled everything in Europe too. Another trend were pubs that looked old and authentic but were actually chains were buying up historic pubs across the country.

It was similar to the Wal Mart effect whereby the pub chain would come in, charge lower prices as well as carrying a couple good beers. Once the family pub closed, up went the prices, out went the independent beers.

Pretty much things had come full circle in that if you were a brewery that wanted to sell beers, you also had to open and run your own pub to sell your beer. This was why BrewDog had so many pubs across Europe, it was the best way to guarantee freshness.

You see whoever controls the distribution and/or warehouses controlled the industry. You piss off one of these entities, well maybe your beer doesn’t get refrigerated or maybe it doesn’t get delivered regularly, but hey, we have this fine similar beer made by huge beer company and we are never out.

The free market is hardly free don’t you see. Most things are manipulated in a couple of companies favor.

All night, we talked beer and they would slide a sample my way. I got quite an education on the emerging brew scene on the islands.

 

Song: Rollerskate Skinney   Speed to my Side

Beer: Buried at Sea

Dream trip Day 107 River Liffey stroll, Beckett Bridge, country music discussion

The room I was sharing at the hostel had a large window that overlooked the back courtyard, a very nice view. The window also faced east so the room filled with each morning, thus I was always up by 9am.

No worries from me though, I just roll with it. A few moments of research yielded another cool breakfast spot a block away.

Aside from its proximity, I chose Bleeker Street Cafe due totally to it’s name, which it shares with a street in NYC where CBGB’s was located, plus a lot of folkies lived on the block too.

There is a Simon & Garfunkle song about the street as well. Love me some S&G!

It was a fine place, cute gal behind the counter, nice coffee too. I went full Irish breakfast and was not disappointed.

At this spot was my first time seeing someone order a beer before 11am. What is odd is mimosas are huge in the States, brunch in general really, just not early beer.

Drinking is still a bit taboo before noon in the US, but not so much here it seems. For sure at this point of my trip, I felt quite all right with my level of drinking. It wasn’t close to what people drank in other countries, far less.

It was a muggy, overcast day so I decided to stroll along the River Liffey, try to get some cool pics. I also noticed in Europe, it was River XXX whereas in TX it was Rio Grande River.

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This was moments after the tram passed over the river. Missed it by a couple of seconds.

 

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The history of Dublin on an under construction building. Brilliant cover up!

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This is the Samuel Beckett Bridge, a modern construct named after the playwriter who was born in Dublin tho he lived and wrote in Paris…in French no less!

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I thought this was a real wooden ship but it is a replica of the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship which sailed the seas to the New World, the world of opportunity, America!

It was such a grey overcast day, always threatening rain, I just wanted to hang out somewhere instead of walking.

I headed back towards my side of town, this time turning left at the Spire, I hadn’t seen this side of the city yet.

It was an avenue of shops, eateries and the odd bar now and again. There was a church that had been converted into a club! It had a very cool glass encased staircase out front.

Seemed more like a heavy bass dance club however, not for me.

I saw a cool spot just as drops of rain hit my head. Slattery’s will do!

A fine old pub. I selected a chair at the bar and ordered a pint. My goal in Ireland was to have at least 1 pint of Guinness per day. Check!

A guy elbows me, ‘You from America or are ye English?’ he was already slurring and it was only a bit past 3 in the afternoon.

We talked for a bit and he revealed he loved, loved country music. He was rattling off names, but stopped at John Denver.

Well he didn’t really stop so much as pause to fully canonized him. ‘The best fooking songwriter of them all!’

Now I grew up listening to Denver and he is great, but the best, no. I tossed out Dylan and Hank Williams names to gauge his reaction. Nope, Denver!

The fact that there wouldn’t be a Denver without Hank, much less Dylan seemed lost on this guy. His arguments grew louder and louder.

For some reason they let him by us a round. We clinked pints and left the music discussion for later. I diverted him by asking what he recommended I see or do whilst in Dublin.

He didn’t quite make it through his pint before calling for another. This time they told him his day was over. Well at least there it was, I suspected he had a couple of spots he went to quench his thirst.

I tried talking to the as always cute bartendress but it was shift change time. She had better things to do than talk to a tourist.

I finished my pint, it was past dinner time now, time to move on.

After walking around for a while passing many small pubs, I ventured into a place called The Library, seemed cool enough.

This place was deceivingly large. I was in the very dive-y front section where there were TV’s. Nothing remarkable so I kept walking.

When I went to find the restroom, I learned how cavernous this place was. It opened up into a huge outdoor area. To one side were several pool tables, the other tables had TV’s around them as well as a wall used to project a footy match.

The restroom was huge, a pee on the wall with trough on the floor type situation.

I found  an area to hang out it, no seats available so I too stared at the big match even though I had no dog in the fight.

My gaze was soon dominated by a group of ladies, all dressed in 80’s streetware, askew ballcaps, tracksuits (1 leg rolled up at to the knee!), white sneakers, guy style crew haircut that were high and tight.

They took an incredible amount of shots throughout the evening, getting more and more handsy with each other with each drink.

These drunk ladies were way more entertaining than any game. They actually whistled whenever a cute girl walked by, or would doff their hat and try for conversation.

I want to say they had some sort of workout discussion because  at one point they took turns lifting up their shirts. These ladies were also deceptively fit, very much in shape though you wouldn’t know it from their baggy shirts.

They also fancied Calvin Klein boxer brief undergarments, which is always a very sexy choice for ladies.

I tried talking to a few people throughout the evening, most were more concerned about the pool game or the match on TV.

After a couple pints the time grew late and I headed back to the hostel.

Song: the Swell Season    Low Rising

Beer: Cute Hoor Irish Pale

Dream trip Day 106 St. Steven’s Green, Phil Lynott and Shepard’s pie

Woke up to an empty room. Didn’t realize the showers here were gym style, a row of shower heads in a room for the guys.

This hostel did not have a meal option that didn’t come out of a vending machine, so I searched via phone maps for good breakfast places near and located a tiny cafe about a block away.

I don’t know how I was so lucky with my picks were but this was such a homey feeling small place. I mean the lady behind the counter didn’t greet me so much as she procured a cup and asked me if was tea or coffee time.

Make mine coffee. I don’t think I ever did get tea with milk on my trip though I should’ve.

She brought my coffee with the newspaper, ‘just the parts I’ve read !’ she cackled. ‘and don’t go filling out the crosswords, lad. That’s my afternoon!’

I got eggs in basket, fried egg in the middle of toast. A nice light breakfast.

Several locals came in, she knew them not only by name, but what they usually ordered.

As far as I could tell, it was 1 women doing everything, greeting guests, filling up coffee, tea and cooking mainly egg meals.

An older guy came in and promptly greeted everyone ‘good marn-ing’ with a wave!

It was a glimpse of what I enjoy stumbling upon while traveling, just a normal day at the breakfast spot. Nothing contrived, or an artificial show for tourists, all real people going about their day and I was just a part of it.

I thanked the lady behind the counter for the lovely meal and breakfast experience.

Out into the street, currently under major construction. I think they were putting in rail lines for a tram.

Cross the bridge over to the Temple District, the heart of tourist town. There is a busy bar here I don’t recommend you go to as the price of a pint changes based on how busy they are and it is pretty busy most of the time. Plenty of places to get a proper pint but whatever you like, you should do.

It was a bit warm out so I popped into an old, oaken pub, many a stuffed animal head with antlers adorned the walls. This was appropriate as it was named The Stag’s Head.

Selecting a spot at the bar, I saw there were a couple of partitioned booths at the far end.

They resembled private booths so they could still order but didn’t have to get up from their spot at the end of the bar.

The bar was tended by a female w long curly blonde hair who told me about these things they called a snuggary.

Back in the day it wasn’t proper for men to be seen in public with women who weren’t their wives much less women drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Perish the thought, those aren’t lady like activities.

Sometimes this meant just gender segregation, ladies had to sit unseen behind the partition while the men drank in the pub.

Other times this may mean a couple who are not married to each other but are married may hang out but again, be unseen.

I presume it was mainly along gender lines though, yet now there was a female behind the bar and the sky had not fallen nor had the island slid into the ocean.

 

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The statue was the singer of a great band from Dublin, Thin Lizzy. I knew he was from the city but didn’t know he was statue worthy to others. I was happy to stumble on it.

A few more blocks and I was in a huge green space, St. Stephen’s Green. I do love big city parks and this was one of the best on my trip.

There are a lot of signs all around the park with info about various events that have occurred during the park’s history starting out as a private space for the wealthy, being occupied by insurgents during the 1919 Easter Uprising to a conversion to a tent hospital space during other conflicts.

Once in the park, I came across several large, 2 sided displays with text written by an Irish historian.

The pictures showed places on the island affected by the war as well as stories about Irish exploits in other battlefronts. Only 1 Irish county didn’t suffer casualties during the war.

I thought I knew about the effects of WWII but seeing these changes in person, the physical change in geography due to bombing, was all too real on this trip.

The US may have sacrificed lives, but most of Europe was physically changed, geographically, politically, socially changed by the horror of war.

I lingered reading each photo, learning some of the history of the Irish in WWII.

Nearly on cue, I heard a loud voice. Across a stream a tour guide in full military fatigues was leading a group.

It isn’t too hard to overhear these tours, some of which require money. Since this guy was dressed up, I guessed this tour wasn’t free.

He was also talking about the park’s military history which sadly had seen a couple of world wars as well as a civil war.

Following a path, I circled the whole park a couple of times, walking around it in both directions.

Benches were full of businessmen munching their lunch, university kids talking in a circle, musicians practicing. It is a truly wonderful park, a must visit in Dublin.

I headed north and walked through Trinity College, though uni wasn’t in session at the moment so the fields were empty.

The hunt had begun for a Shepard’s pie, the real version. To me it was the acceptable, adult version of pot pie, which I ate my fair share of growing up.

It was a long walk from the College past my hostel to get to Kavanaghs, but it turned out great! A small restaurant/pub with many local reviewers stating this was one of the best pies in all the city.

I found a table and surveyed the scene. Most people were eating and watching a football match on  TV.

There was 1 guy who waited on the entire floor, dude had probably 15-ish tables, yet he kept circling, grabbing empty glasses, delivering food and still had time to linger for a joke or 2 at a couple of tables.

The table just across from me had some twats seated. I say this because they were arguing about who could eat the most chips, fries. Saying you can eat the most of anything is pretty pathetic if you ask me.

They were young however and having silly contests is just part of that age I reckon. Great! You can eat 2 full plates of fries and gravy, high 5!

The pie here was served with chips, hell every dish I saw came with a side of chips.

Normally this is ok, but the key to Shepard’s pie is the mashed potato lid that turns into sort of a baked, mashed potato thing. It is the savory equivalent of crème brûlée, you have to pierce the tater lid!

It was a potato overload is all. The sole vegetable in this dish were peas. Real meat and potato meal right here.

I’d also had my share of spuds on this trip by this point too. Still this was one of the best Shepard pies I have eaten.

After finishing my meal I decided on 1 more pint to see if the crowd would pick up. It didn’t other than a group of doctors, nurses who took over the bar area.

There was a hospital across the street so that accounted for their presence. I always enjoy the contradictory scene of medical personnel in their work scrubs pounding shots and beers. Do as I say, not as I do, that sort of thing.

Still early, I set off in the hunt for music, any singer songwriter will do. Maybe someone from one of the bands I like will be playing their local pub gig, who knows?

I walked back to the river area and hear a guy singing from out of an open pub door. I ventured in and it felt and looked like someone’s living room.

He was set up in front of a brick fireplace using 1 amp and mic. A narrow walkway between wooden tables, chairs and booths lead to a backroom, then outside smoker’s patio. Even the ceiling here was wooden.

They had beer on tap so I got one and sat in a back room where I could still hear the music. All the seats were full in the ‘living room.’

The singer lead the group in several local tunes I’d never heard but everyone else sang along. When he tried to sing the standard “Wild Rover” he stopped the song several times.

‘Aye c’mon ya! You all know this one and we will do it fooking properly or not at all. No Nay Never, then 4 claps.’

(Start song again, then stops) ‘You aren’t clapping in time!’

(Begins song again) ‘Still shite but improving! It’s 1-2-3-4 da da da da.’

(plays song again) ‘Aye now you’ve got it!’

On the outside tables were empty liquor bottles, mostly Jameson, that had a candle in the mouth. The wax had coagulated into thick stream down most of the bottles. It was a bit of accidental art.

Once the songs ended I moved outside after getting another pint. The smokers patio had a lot more people than inside.

Across from me sat a couple of lads and a couple of girls. The girls were from Belfast and the lads from England, both groups were on holiday.

They were talking about the Troubles and the whole UK vs Ireland issue, delicately at first, though the ladies did get a bit heated. The guys kept their cool as I presumed they were trying to take these ladies home so they didn’t get out of hand.

“We aren’t our government and neither are you! We get on right? That’s all we can do because we can all try to change things at home, but right now, this is how things are so let’s have a pint, a laugh, you know?” one of the lads said while raising his pint for a toast. Cheers!

I didn’t stick around to see if the lads were able to take these ladies home. I was a bit tired from all the day’s walking so I headed back to the hostel for some much-needed shuteye.

Song:  Thin Lizzy  The Emerald

Beer: O’Hara’s