[ What are you looking at? ]
dublin, ireland
november 2009

Okay. The challenge in a trip like this is to write a story afterwards and not mention leprechauns, four leaf clovers, or U2. Or for you high brow types, make that James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett.

[Dublin, Ireland ]

I concede that this cold craggy rock has never been on my list of global must sees. However, my travels are contingent upon my own equation: time + money = globe trek ©. Meaning that when - (not if) - I have the time and the money, I'll make it to almost everywhere.

As I've never sought to visit Ireland, I knew almost nothing about this country. Nothing culturally beyond their customs the world has adopted, and nothing politically that I haven't learned from listening to the BBC. For some reason though, we had the impression that Dublin is a sexy, bustling metropolitan city. We went in thinking it would be
"New York Lite" with Gaelic accents.

[ Dublin, Ireland ]

That's the problem with having had a New York City experience... one then expects any renowned international city to have a constant cacophony of sirens, helicopters, and buskers. If a purported "big city" doesn't immediately set you on edge after landing like New York City does, you will always feel like it's a sleepy hollow.

Thus went our Dublin experience. Our expectations were not in line with what Dublin has to offer. It's not about whether or not you go to certain places, but rather if those places are available for you to go to. What I mean by this is options. In New York City, the possibilities are infinite. In Dublin, the possibilities could be counted on one hand. My wife described the city best with a single word: homogeneous.

After a day of wandering the city, our return to the hotel was marked by my wife's panic. While I was resigned to a mundane experience, she was majorly tweaked and began plotting our escape. I think we'd settled on Paris until it was confirmed that we couldn't undo our hotel reservation. Oh well. It was time to make the best of it.....

[ Dublin, Ireland ]

It's important for me to clarify and not be mr. doom & gloom here. Dublin is fantastic. It's wonderful. If I were a 60 year old pensioner, Ireland would be high on my list. Museums, castles, valleys, green grass. 100% pure adrenaline! That's not to say that everyone is not exceedingly nice. Most everyone we met was very gracious. I can't say that people go out of their way to talk to tourists, but when they do it's unfailingly polite. And there are a ton of landmarks in the countryside. It's just very important that you plan your visit to Dublin. You'll need to find and create your own excitement, because it won't find you.

[ Dublin, Ireland ]

I am not a connoisseur of fine cuisine. For me, food is merely fuel for function. However.... I can certainly appreciate a good meal (when guided to it). Good luck with this in Dublin. Traditional Irish food is absolutely horror show. Dining was a consistent frustration in Dublin. It was either affordable and abominable local fare, or paying exorbitantly for what was essentially a home cooked meal (steamed vegetables and baked chicken or fish). We had high hopes for an "organic" restaurant exalted by guidebooks and the local press. When we arrived, the menu board outside was featuring some scary sausage dish. It only got worse inside. By trip's end, I'd unwillingly compromised most of my dietary tenents due to necessity (sustenance).

[ Dublin, Ireland ]
a Dublin caesar salad

A big highlight of our trip was a visit to the Guinness beer museum. This tour is the best part of Dublin. For the unenlightened, having been to this museum I will brief you on the history of Guinness beer. In 1600, some even bigger Irish hillbilly armed with a pick axe came down from the mountains and highjacked Dublin's water supply. Mr. Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on some property and began "brewing" a flat beer using barley, hops, and absinthe.

[ Dublin, Ireland ]

For the uninitiated, Guinness beer is flat and frothy. At first taste, your impulse will be to wonder why you were served a flat beer, and try to expel it. What stops you is that you'll look around and see other people sipping appreciatively. Then the absinthe kicks in. After that, you're hooked.

Another highlight of our Dublin trip was a tour of the Powerscourt estate in the Wicklow mountains. Insanely graciously, a family friend picked us up from our hotel and gave us a tour of the coastline and the amazing Powerscourt house and gardens. It was all very beautiful and definitely a cool experience.

[ Dublin, Ireland ]

Tips for Ireland...

(1) Desperate for good food, my wife scoured the local gay guides for restaurant recommendations (those dudes typically know good food). You can get a good meal for a reasonable price at a cafe called
the larder. This place is an oasis in a desert of guaranteed stomach disaster outlets.

(2) Check out live traditional Irish music at The Cobblestone. There is no cover charge, and the music is outstanding.

(3) Try the carrot cake. Trust me when I say that it will be a key part of your diet during your time in Dublin.

(4) Begin your trip at the Guinness museum. Like, directly from the airport and before checking into your hotel. We basically salvaged our trip by drinking. If you have one Guinness per hour during your time in Dublin, you'll be all set.