Friday, August 16, 2013

That time we decided not to pay for anything: Dublin

Major cities are always quicker to get to, some variation on the "all roads lead to Rome" idea I think. In this case all roads led to Dublin except the one we were hitching on!
We were working off a map and took ourselves to a road that led to the motorway to Dublin. After hanging around for half an hour a local stopped on his way to the shop, informed us that no one went this way to Dublin, and dropped us off at a better spot.

Once we were on the road things progressed very quickly and we arrived in the afternoon. Eleanor goes to school with a guy who has a friend who lives in Dublin, Peter, and as we'd been very forcefully throwing ourselves on everyone's mercy we had Peter's number in our hot little hands. He lives in Temple Bar so we made our way there and, employing hitching tactics, stood with a Peter sign.

I think we shook out every Peter in Dublin. We received offers of accommodation, drinks and requests for photos with various Peters. One tipsy lad even tried to prove he was named Peter by showing his ID - clearly showing his name was not, in fact, Peter.

When the real Peter did show up (having been distracted by some kind of street circus, totally understandable) I didn't believe him! Eleanor mediated and we finally made it to his house.

 Peter lives very close to the Temple Bar so we popped down for a pint of Guinness (I was finally held to that bargain) before following him to work on a pub crawl.

The roof wasn't sure if it was a roof or a garden. I was a fan.

Pretty sure this is just here for tourists. I obliged the designers with a photo. Amusingly this pub is as old as modern NZ! My country is a baby.
 I didn't contribute much to the conversation, focusing instead on making my way through the pint of Guinness. I'm not a beer drinker and won't pretend I enjoyed it, even if the picture below didn't give that away! However, I've now drunk a Guinness in Ireland which is something.
 Then it was off the explore the town with a bunch of other tourists who were also following Peter around. This must be how he coped with E and I so well - he's been trained for it! I was socialising and useless and took a total of two photos, both of the same thing. So below you can see a ginger Irish bartender spinning a foreigner around the floor in a pub. I'm not sure how many clichés that ticks off!
Returning home a little tipsy we chatted and had a singalong while Peter played the guitar. He's in a band by the way, so was actually good at singing and playing the guitar, unlike Eleanor and I! You can check them out here and here if you're interested. 

The next day Peter went to do real life stuff and E and I decided to get our tourist on. First we did laundry in Peter's bathroom sink so he came home to an array of underwear displayed artfully around the room - no one ever said hitching was glamorous! We wandered out intent on visiting some libraries (Dublin has an incredible literary history and we are both book nerds) and very quickly found a walking tour that we joined instead. Prepare yourself for a bunch of fun facts.
This is irrelevant but doesn't it look just like the ball in Civil Square Wellington?

Our guide
 The man in the statue is George Slamon who was provost of Trinity college. He was deeply conservative (read sexist) and is reported to have said women would attend Trinity over his dead body. He symbolically died in 1904 (on my birthday years later), the same year in which women began to attend Trinity!
 This is the bell tower at Trinity college, and apparently if you walk under it while the bells ring you won't graduate.

Trinity college - so pretty!
 A pretty church which is now a tourist information centre.
 This statue has been used for target practice.
 Dublin Castle.
 This isn't an old wall, it was constructed to separate the slums from the castle so Queen Victoria wouldn't have to see them out her window.
 Dublin Castle - the tower is the only surviving part of the original castle, built by King John.
 I've heard both that this is a river eel and a snake. On the chance it's a snake I have a disgusted expression. In any case, they're arranged in Celtic knots.

This also seems a good time to bring up Saint Patrick. Most people know him as the Irish saint who allows us to get drunk on a weekday once a year. Some also know that he legendarily banished snakes from Ireland.
Well, actually he was an English guy who symbolically cleansed Ireland of snakes (read: Pagans) and brought Christianity to its shores. The shamrock also associated with him was used to teach the concept of the holy trinity. 
 Dublin City Hall - the Latin below translates to 'an obedient people are a happy people' - guess which country chose it? (Hint, Ireland doesn't like them so much historically!) The burning castles represent the idea that Dubliners are always ready to fight to defend their city.
 The law nerd in me had to get a photo of this. I'm not sure who it is but the writing at the bottom says "Property has its duties as well as its rights". Sigh.
 These are some of the friezes and the ceiling in City Hall.
 Each of these crests represents one of the four provinces of Ireland. There is a song about the four fields of Ireland, one of which is in bondage (Northern Ireland).

 The colours on the flag have meanings: orange for the Protestants, green for the Catholics and white for peace, hopefully separating the two. It is based on the French tricolour.
 This is Christ Church Cathedral, it is protestant apparently because Henry VIII threw enough money at it to ensure it followed his religion.
 A fun fact unrelated to the image below (which is Christ Church still). Apparently the Irish government wanted to use the harp as a symbol but Guinness had already trademarked it. The Irish government was forced to flip the harp in order to use it. Of course in Ireland, the booze company beats the government.
 I've heard two stories about these colourful doors. The first is that a very drunk man returned from the pub to find his wife in bed with another man and promptly killed him before realising that he was in the wrong house, the council responded by painting the doors. The second is that there was a British ordinance that all houses had to appear uniform (or something similar) so the doors were painted bright, diverse colours in silent protest. I'm not sure which is true though it's interesting that they involve drunkenness and rebellion while being attributed to the Irish!
 This is Fishamble House where allegedly guns were successfully hidden from the Brits. It's since closed down but used to be a pub.
 Then it was back to Peter's before we popped out for the literary pub crawl. This had been recommended to me by Sara - an American I met in Costa Rica, but we probably would have gone regardless - again being book nerds. In Peter's house we met Tiago, a friend of his, and both decided to come along.

 The literary aspect of the tour consisted of monologues or dialogues by the two guides taken from Irish works. They've been doing it for years and are incredibly good, even if some (or most) of the references were a bit over my head, not being as up on Irish literature as I'd like! I've stolen this from the website but feels that the reviewer covers it better than I could:
"Colm Quilligan kicks off the Literary Pub Crawl with a song - Waxie's Dargle, with cheerful lines such as "When food is scarce and you see the hearse / You'll know you've died of hunger" - then takes us from the Duke pub through the cobbled square of Trinity College and into several pubs in a nearby maze of narrow streets. He quotes at ease from Joyce, Behan, Beckett, Yeats and even James Larkin and Flann O'Brien"

 One of them shared a pint with us while we were being classy with wine. Peter is demonstrating just how classy we are being by making sure that you can see the wine.

After the tour we followed Peter and Tiago around on their tour of Dublin pubs. The photos rapidly devolve.

 Again we ended up at Peter's using YouTube to facilitate our bad karaoke (half of us anyway) and 70s funk cravings. I didn't know I had 70s funk cravings until I was given alcohol and a computer. Peter was convinced that since we had an early flight to Paris there was no point in sleeping on our last night in Dublin. Something Eleanor and I both vehemently opposed but which happened anyway.

In Dublin airport that morning we were both a little worse for wear and playing 'spot the shitshow' to make us feel better about our own less-than-put-together state. We made our flight with plenty of time, though I had a little nap beforehand, and our plan to talk about courses for school on the flight completely failed. On leaving Ireland semi-conscious, I've still got to say that there's something to be said for Irish hospitality!

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