Hello from Dublin, Ireland (compiled from emails sent Oct 17, Oct 19 and Oct 24, 2004)Note:  You can click on each pic to get a bigger image if you wish.

Hi all,

I had a good trip to Dublin via train from Peterborough to Holyhead in Wales. (check out the town name in the picture below!)

This is a trainstation stop at a town in Wales. Fancy proncouncing that town name? It's in Welsh.

Holyhead has a huge harbor and several ferry services to Ireland. I took a smaller vessel because of my timing, which happened to be the fastest ferry service. It took about 2 hours to cross the Irish Sea to Dublin port. I then shared a taxi to my hostel. The hostel was highly rated on the internet, but I have a slightly different opinion of it. I’m staying in an 8 bunk bed room with 15 other older non-English speaking people and the facilities aren’t too great. The room I’m staying in is joined with another 16 bed room and shares just 2 co-ed
showers. But, boy, is it CHEAP to stay here. Wonder why?

The Four Courts building, across the Liffey from my hostel - the Four Courts Hostel

I lucked out and was able to book on a 3 day southern Ireland tour.

Paddywagon Tours..heck of a lot of fun and Guiness!

Unlucky because I have already paid for the three days I’ll be gone at the hostel since I checked in on a special weekly deal (€90 for one week, plus free laundry). But since I had no idea I’d be able to get anything when I arrived in Dublin, it’s ok.

The Liffey river in Dublin on a nice afternoon

Additionally, as far as countryside touring goes –

Irish countryside..every bit as green as they say it is

I’ve been to Newgrange, which is a historical burial tomb and astronomical observatory. It predates Stonehenge by 1000 years (it was built in about 3200BC), and
is similar to Stonehenge in function in that it has been developed by prehistoric farmers to predict the seasons of the year. The central tomb has been built in such a way with quartz stone so that on the morning of the winter solstice (Dec 21) light shines down a small pathway 50 feet and illuminates the whole chamber. Really a wonder on how they could build it with just human labor and limited tools!

The Newgrange observatory

One of the many satellite tombs near Newgrange.

The entrance to the Newgrange tomb.

Dublin is a fairly squashed, crowded city. Of Ireland’s 5 million people, Dublin has 1.2 million people living in and around it. My hostel is right on the River Liffey which runs through town center, and near quite a few of the attractions I haven’t had the time to see yet or might not until my next trip.

The Bank of Ireland building

Dublin is probably typical of the big British Isle cities in that there isn’t a whole lot of locals people living and working there. As Ireland is experiencing so much economic growth right now and less than 2% unemployment, foreign nationals and other European Union citizens can easily find work. I found Edinburgh and what little I’ve seen in London to be similar. Walking down any main drag you’re likely to hear English, East Indian, Asian, Slovakian, Latin and Germanic languages being spoken. It’s quite a lot more multicultural than Saskatoon, to say the least.

Busy O'Connell street in Dublin. See the seagull perched on the statue of Daniel O'Connell?

Things are slightly cheaper in Ireland than the UK, maybe not to live or rent, but shopping-wise, it is. Yesterday I bought a pair of gloves and a wallet for €19 – I’ll let you do the conversion for yourself. By the way – if you are ever going to come to Europe, don’t buy a money belt – just use your wallet or purse. The pickpocket claims are exaggerated slightly for Europe – just a little extra caution with your money especially in crowded places will get you by.

Dublin along the Liffey at night

A few nights ago as I was out trying to top-up my phone (cell phones on pay as you go plans here keep track of their own credit, you just have to buy vouchers or use a special card to get more calling time, it’s called topping up) and I was lucky to catch a street act on Temple Bar, which is the trendy student area of Dublin with a bunch of pubs and restaurants and shops. Two Jamaican guys were bending ridiculous amounts under a flaming bar in an insane display of limbo mastery. At one point the limbo bar was so low I was sure the guy was either using his butt cheeks or his toes to propel him forward.

The Temple Bar bar on Temple Bar, haha

My last night in Dublin was very uneventful. I was lucky to meet a fellow Canadian who had just arrived looking for work in Information Technology. Ireland is actually booming in computing related work right now, and is the number one world software exporter. So he and I and two French fellows – Sebastian and Olivier, headed to an American
franchised pub. (Dublin is also known as one of the weekend party hotspots of Europe, with the cheap airfare, many Europeans fly to Dublin for the weekend to hit Temple Bar and paint the town red). The karaoke going on at the club we went to was awful, so the group decided to hoof it to a Temple Bar bar and had a good time. I spent the night trying to remember my high school French to the amusement of the French fellows. Apparently what we learn in school is very different grammatically and vocabulary wise than what the French speak. We also had a good political discussion and talked about how the world views Americans, which was fun.

A view of the Liffey at night

I left Dublin in the same manner I came, a ferry back to England. The water was much choppier on my trip back – a little boy at the table next to mine got sick all over himself and I had to struggle to maintain my bangers & mash breakfast, not to mention my footing to head to another table. Apparently it’s necessary to laugh at people who stumble around and nearly fall over on these ferries. (I did my share, don’t worry =p)

buildings in dublin

I just checked my credit and I’ve only got 5 minutes left to wrap up. I’ll leave it at that and email again later from Berlin!

Editor’s Note: Man did I ever drink a buttload of Guiness in Ireland.