* The next six posts are about a driving trip Mum and I did through Ireland in May 2005.
TO BE SURE!
Mum and I arrived in Dublin mid-morning, and collected our trusty Toyota Corolla (an automatic). I haven't driven in over 6 months, and that combined with the less-than-clearly signed Dublin roads, extreme traffic, no detailed map of the city's surrounds, and rain, made for a nervous drive into town. But we got eventually there with some kamikaze navigating, a few u-turns and some near misses...:-)
Once we actually found the Tourist Information Centre, we were able to get a map that showed roughly where our first B&B was - at Clontarf, just 4kms from the city.
We had a typical oyrish lunch in a typical oyrish pub, and were quite surprised at the number of people out drinking on a Monday lunch time. Apparently any time's a good time to drink in Ireland.
After walking down O'Connell Street, the main street, we jumped on one of the city's tourist buses and checked out the main attractions. Highlights included Trinity College - a stunning old building that's home to the Book of Kells; then the Guiness Storehouse (although how people can drink that stuff is beyond me!). The Guide pointed out at this part of the tour, that Dublin's largest alcoholic rehabilitation centre was right opposite its largest brewery. Irish logic for you!
The guide then pointed out Kilmainham Gaol, the largest unoccupied gaol in the UK - how's that for a promotional tagline...
We drove through the lovely Phoenix Park, which is the largest urban park in Europe. As well as being home to Ireland's President, it's also home to Dublin Zoo. The guide pointed out that the Zoo has actually had quite a successful lion breeding program, most likely he thought, as a result of the similarity of Ireland's climate with that of the Serengheti.
Winding back along the River Liffey, we passed a pub at an average rate of 1 every 5 seconds. I was starting to feel at home.
After doing the loop on the bus, we found the car and yet again attempted to find the B&B, this time somewhat better equipped. More kamikaze navigating, swearing, squinting at the map, and a phonecall to our B&B hostess for the evening, we found our quaint little B&B and the even quainter Moira.
Moira looked like she was nearing 95, although was probably only 75, had the thickest Oyrish accent, and to be sure, she was lovely. Grand. It was all grand! Moira's house contained the largest collection of sentimental sh1te I've seen in a long time. Absolutely every surface was covered with photos, kitch little souvenirs, dusty antiques, stuffed animals, quaint signs and collections of god-knows what.
She showed us to our room upstairs, which was certainly neat and comfortable. And small. The "ensuite" actually consisted of a moulded shower no bigger than 40cm square and a wash basin. But it as warm and cosy, and had at least three pictures of the Virgin Mary looking over us, plus one of the Mona Lisa for good measure.
Moira helpfully gave us instructions on how to catch the bus back into town (I was *not* driving anywhere near Dublin traffic again that day!), and we got there in about 10 minutes. It helps when you know where you're going!
Even at 6.00pm it was still sunny - the nights are light until 9.00pm and later at this time of the year.
Mum was bent on finding a pub with Oyrish music, and the ever-trusty Moira had given us some tips. The Temple Bar area, just on one of the banks of the river, is great for pubs and restaurants, and within minutes, we were skulling the first of many cidars and listening to two blokes on guitars playing Irish music. Ahh....we were here.
Funnily enough, after several pints of cider and a good dose of Irish accents, you actually start to believe you are one of them. Mum and I started babbling in Irish, and were starting to be very sure of everything...the catchcry became "to be sure", and I guess we must have said that at least a thousand times each during the next five days.
Irish Stew and a typical fry-up completed our first very Irish day in Dublin. The copious amount of cider also meant that we had a few problems finding the right bus home - but that was only because Mum didn't trust my navigating abilities....we got there...eventually...to be sure!