While I was on the coach travelling into Dublin’s city centre from the airport, I couldn’t help recalling that most wonderful song ‘Dirty ol’ Town’. Many a night had found my family swaying side to side, arm in arm, chanting the lyrics from the top of their lungs over pints of Guinness. Remembering the song gave me an enchanted feeling, it made me feel connected to a city which I had never even been to. Ireland is special to me for several reasons, however, and I was eager to experience its most prestigious city first hand. I should first say that Dublin is no longer the dirty ol town of The Dubliners’ remembrance. It has an energy that reminded me of London in some ways, enhanced by the early Christmas displays that shed a warm glow onto the streets as we walked passed them.
The day began in the most appropriate way: with a full ‘Irish’ breakfast. I use quotation marks because, being English, I like to feel that it is England that owns the legendary fry up. And also because I did not have black pudding on my breakfast, the very element that makes the Irish breakfast Irish, rather than English. So, my non-Irish (but very tasty) breakfast down, it was off for an education in the life of James Joyce. The James Joyce Centre is a must for anyone with an interest in his life and works, and while there is a heavy focus on Ulysses, there is enough to interest those who are too lazy (let’s face it) to read that intimidating, if brilliant, text. The centre has been crafted to resemble a house, and it is a pleasure to walk through while learning about Joyce’s life.
From one education to another, our next destination was the Old Jameson Distillery. For a very reasonable price, you can expect a guided tour around the distillery itself, a free drink, as well as a mini lesson in the art of tasting whiskey. I have to admit, I am not much of a whiskey drinker. My most fond memories of whiskey are the few shots I would sneak before a party in my teens. And suffice to say, they were not all that fond at all. Imagine my embarrassment when our super-lovely tour guide explained how whiskey should never be shotted, oh no, but swirled around, over and under the tongue, just long enough to hit all of the different taste buds. While I felt slightly ridiculous, the tasting experience was highly enjoyable, as was the complimentary Jameson’s with Ginger Ale and lime afterwards. Eager for more, I rushed to the (very fancy) bar to order a Cloudy Apple Punch, made from apples, cinnamon, served warm and with a hearty measure of Jameson’s (of course).
Now, the friend with whom I travelled to Dublin had been told of a pub called the Bernard Shaw, one of these super cool hip alternative places that served shisha and pizzas from a double decker bus that looks to have grown from the very hedge of its garden. The Thursday before my escapade to Dublin found me at work (popular supermarket sales assistant) serving an Irish man. When he told me he was from Dublin, I excitedly ask for recommendations, and he described a pub to me that, believe it or not, served pizza and shisha from a double decker bus in its garden. We decided that the Bernard Shaw would be our final Dublin destination, and it was more than worth it. The pub itself has a great atmosphere, but the goods are definitely outside. The bright blue bus looms over the garden and serves not only pizza, but gourmet pizza, real pizza, pizza that took me straight back to Italy. It is a place where one could easily lose track of the time (and, with enough drinks, everything else), and I personally cannot wait to go back there.
My only regret about my time in Dublin was that I did not see as much of the promisingly beautiful Trinity College as I had hoped I would. This was partly due to the darkness that was falling all around by the time I got there and partly because of my complete lack of sense of direction. But this is not of much concern, for I know that I will be back in Dublin again soon; by some funny feeling that comes from the memories of Jameson’s hot apple punch, gourmet pizza, and a desire to just see more.