Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ireland!!: Eurovision in Dublin!

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Saturday - the last full day of our trip. Sigh. After yet another fabulous B&B breakfast, we did a little online research on routes to Dublin and buses between the Dublin airport and city center, then headed out.

The weather was - finally, after days of wondering if it was about to turn on us - completely horrible. We drove a scenic route between Laghy & Pettigoe recommended by the B&B owners, but couldn't see a thing through all the rain. It just poured. We were so glad it was happening now instead of one of the previous days!

We'd read a bit about Enniskillen and thought it sounded interesting, so we decided to make our lunch stop there. We forgot one thing that's easy to forget when you're on vacation - what day of the week it was. It was Saturday, and Enniskillen was swamped with traffic around lunchtime, maybe shoppers from all around as it's a pretty big town. It took forever to get in and out of town and we made several wrong turns just desperately trying to get out of the mess. Plus the rain. Bah. However, the place we stopped, Snackz, was great. It was too early for lunch so we all just got a snack and tea, then ordered sandwiches to go. They had a huge variety of cakes and sandwich fillings. It continued to pour and we didn't see anything of Enniskillen other than the traffic and Snackz! Maybe another day.

We had written a note to maybe visit Tara if we had time on the way back to Dublin. We didn't really know anything about it except that it's known as the former seat of the Irish high kings. I also heard there was a tree there that people tied ribbons to, which sounded cool. It turned out there was plenty of time since Tara is pretty much right on the motorway. There seemed to be a little break in the rain so we stopped.

I guess since we didn't expect to have time for Tara, we were totally unprepared. I had packed up my boots and was wearing cheap sneakers. Damon had on the jacket he wore to the wedding. Everything was grass, wet, wet grass. It was windy and about to rain again. We went directly onto the hill, but there weren't explanations for anything out there, just lots of different-shaped mounds and little signs saying things like "Royal Enclosure" that didn't mean anything without some background, which we didn't really have. What part of all this was real, and what was mythical, what was not that old, and what was stone age stuff imagined to be something else by later people? None of that was clear and it was starting to rain and my socks were soaked through and you couldn't keep an umbrella open out there. Eff Tara! Forget that ribbon tree too. I saw it on the edge of the grass, but couldn't be bothered at that point. We had our lunch in the car, went through a massive to-do to get out of the lawless "parking lot" (we were blocked in), put in enough gas to get to Dublin since the car was at the point of freaking out about being low, and headed back toward Dublin.

Enniskillen, Tara, & Dublin Mai 11

We checked in at our airport hotel, returned the rental car, got confused by the bus options into Dublin, and the finally got on one and got to center, where J checked in at a hotel near Temple Bar. She was planning to look around Dublin a bit in the morning before getting her flight out. Our flight was at 7am so no such option for us! We grabbed some Indian food nearby, then set out to find a bar to watch Eurovision. I just cannot miss the opportunity to laugh at the bizarre costumes and cheesy English live.

After all the Jedward hype on the radio, and considering how easy it had been to find Eurovision in a bar in Scotland, we didn't anticipate the difficulty we had finding a place to watch Eurovision! Granted, being a tourist area serving up live folk music every night of the week, Temple Bar might not have been the best place to be looking, but it was convenient to the bus stop back to the airport and to J's hotel, and we were getting too low on time to try to find another neighborhood. We'd already asked the front desk at J's hotel and just got a derisive sneer. At the first place we asked, the bartender got snippy with us for watching that rubbish and told us they take their music (a fiddler and tin whistle player were already set up in front) seriously there. (What a contrast to the lady in Letterkenny telling us the music was only for tourists. Oh, never mind, it's super-serious stuff. I guess people feel torn about this?) The next couple of places just laughed. The next said they would show it, but without sound. Finally we stopped at a hotel concierge who suggested we try a place way down at the other end called FitzSimon's because they had a lot of rooms/TVs. We weaved through massive crowds all the way there, only to have the bartender giggle a bit and say she was pretty sure they wouldn't show it, but that she would ask the manager. It was getting to be time for the show and we were about to resort to watching it in J's hotel room. After a couple of minutes the bartender came back and told us they were showing it in a tiny side room! Yay!! There was one other couple in there when we arrived, and soon thereafter a crowd of Germans and Austrians also came in for the show. In this setting, Eurovision was actually a pretty good segue back into our German lives. By the end of the show, they were showing it on all the TVs in the bar, and there was even a guy with a Jedhead on walking around. (A cardboard hat with Jedward hair on it.) So, big thanks to FitzSimon's for actually showing Eurovision, although it didn't seem like the kind of place where I'd normally want to hang out. By the time we left it was full of jocks, girls wearing very little, and pervs who tried to grope me in the stairwell. Maybe that's just the story of Temple Bar in general.

After Eurovision, we dropped off J at her hotel and rode back to the airport, then on to our hotel. For some reason we ended up with the handicapped room at the hotel although we didn't need it. It was extremely spacious, although the bathroom was lacking countertops. We repacked everything for airplane travel - liquids in the checked bag, nothing over a certain weight, and so on. It was at this point that we realized the bag with my tweed purse and scraps had been left at the B&B. If only we'd left it in the car in the first place! As of now, it's on its way to me in the mail, and I'm minus even more money in postage. I'm just glad we didn't leave it somewhere where we couldn't recover it!

The following morning we got up at 5 and just did the minimum possible maintenance before heading to the airport. It was packed - and how come all those other people looked so awake and presentable!? And also, why were they checking everyone's umbrella at security? Is there some kind of umbrella terror threat now - anyone know? That one was new to me. The flight was completely uneventful - and it was back to our German lives.

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