After living in Dublin for a week, I’m getting into the Irish groove. I’m living north of the river, near The Spire, a 390′ tall chrome needle that sticks up in the middle of Connelly Street. West of Connelly are pedestrianized streets with all the big name department stores, mini-malls, chain restaurants, and buskers. To the east, where I am, are neighborhoods with a slightly lower socio-economic profile: lots of discount stores, tattoo parlors, pizza and kabob shops, pubs, and down-market grocery stores. There’s a fair Polish presence, too, with Polski Skleps (Polish stores) seen and eastern European accents overheard. It’s a grand way to spend six weeks. The weather has been mostly in the 40s and overcast.
As you may know, I like a good pint. The pubs in my neighborhood are very traditional and my local, The Celt, is no exception. Guinness is universally available but there are also offerings on tap from local breweries (draft lagers, not hand-pumped ales) and lots of colorful decorations referencing Ireland’s history, rugby, and music. Booze bottles are suspended upside down behind the bar, with one-shot dispenser nozzles. Smoking is not allowed, American Express is not accepted, and “anti-social behavior” is not tolerated. The staff is generally warm and welcoming, and stools at the end of the bar (where I like to sit) are often already taken by the pub’s hardcore regulars. I noticed that IPA here often means “Irish Pale Ale”.
The U.S. is well-liked here, as evidenced by the American flags on pub walls and music on the speakers (including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett). John F. Kennedy is still revered, and his death memorialized. The image below shows a JFK Memorial album and a clock stopped at the exact time the fatal bullets were fired in Dallas in 1963.
There is no sales tax here and self-service cash registers (the “till”) may round your bill up or down if they have no pennies to issue as change. For example, I paid €1.50 for a €1.49 item and got nothing back. If I want to go to the management office, I can get my penny, but I presume most folks don’t bother. Probably adds up nicely over time for the company.
Food is not cheap here in Dublin. A Guinness may be only €6.50 but fish and chips at lunch will set you back another €16.50. On TV, I saw a Domino’s Pizza deal for two medium pizza’s: in the U.S. that deal is $8-10, here it’s €24 or about $26! The Starbucks-style Esquires Coffee shop in my building serves up a large Coffee Latte for €3.65, which is tolerable occasionally. I have to be careful about eating too many meals out!
I managed to get over to the famous Temple Bar area yesterday afternoon, named after the ancient Temple family and the sandbank reclaimed from the river on which it stands. Adding to the confusion, the “Temple Bar” is also the name of a famous pub in the area. Plenty of opportunities for misdirection after multiple pints, mate. The Temple Bar pub is a sprawling place of many rooms and floors, with live music even at 1:00pm on a Monday. The area is notorious for raucous partying at night but that’s not really my scene.
My friend Marti arrives from Paris on Friday and she and I will be playing tourists with some Irish friends of hers during the weekend, which will be fun. More on that later. Cheers.