Getting My Feet Under Me: Second Day in Dublin

Friday, 19 June 2015
I mentioned the heat, right? I was awake at 1am and had trouble dropping back off … still awake at 4am, still trying hard to go back to sleep. That’s not like me; I’m a good sleeper, usually. But the heat coupled with an uncomfortable bed made it hard. Thought about getting up and starting to type up my notes but I really wanted to be asleep, dagnabbit. I dropped off right after I looked at my watch but was awake again at 5:30. So then I did get up to write:

It’s just so HOT. It’s only in the mid-60s outside but on the fourth floor of a building with no air conditioning (or fans) in the rooms, it becomes very stuffy very fast. I wonder how they keep Americans happy? I mean, I’m REALLY happy to be here and I’m still a bit cranky about the heat.

(Remember, later this day we’d run into an American couple in the elevator who were also grumpy about the heat, but by that time I was zen with it.)

After I wrote a few notes, I lay back down and finally, to my astonishment, fell sleep. Aaah. So we got a late start—but we had no agenda and nowhere to be. Sleep was the right thing to do. 🙂

When we went down to breakfast, the place was packed. Well, June is tourist season, and the place was hopping. I’ve become very used to my quiet house, and my quiet breakfasts watching the birds outside the window. I like to ease into my mornings.

Watching a mourning dove from the breakfast table at home.

Watching a mourning dove from the breakfast table at home.

The dining room at the Doubletree was the opposite of that. People everywhere. We had to be seated first, then we left our newspaper on the table to go through the buffet. When we came back, the Spaniards at the table next to us had just finished snatching our table and chairs to enlarge theirs. Well, good grief, my cranky, sleep-deprived self thought. And then: “Hey!” I said. “That’s our table!” They put it back. 🙂

After breakfast we decided to walk into town. This is the sight that greeted us every day just outside the hotel: colorful buildings and luxury cars.

It’s a car-rental agency, conveniently located near the Doubletree.

It’s a car-rental agency, conveniently located near the Doubletree.

We retraced more of our steps, crossing the canal at the Leeson Street Bridge.

View of the Grand Canal from the Leeson Street bridge, looking west.

View of the Grand Canal from the Leeson Street bridge, looking west.

Gerry pointed out that we were surrounded by quite a bit of Victorian-era architecture. And what in the world was that pipe business on the bridge?

It looks like something straight out of a steampunk novel.

It looks like something straight out of a steampunk novel.

But there was more Victoriana.

Here are some Victorian rowhouses …

Here are some Victorian rowhouses …

… but just across the street, Georgian-era rowhouses.

… but just across the street, Georgian-era rowhouses.

And on the opposite side of the street, Fitzwilliam Hall, a twentieth-century era office building. (I just thought it was pretty with the ivy.)

And on the opposite side of the street, Fitzwilliam Hall, a twentieth-century era office building. (I just thought it was pretty with the ivy.)

I took other photos for curiosity’s sake too.

The dogs caught my eye. As they would. This is House Dublin, a nightclub.

The dogs caught my eye. As they would. This is House Dublin, a nightclub. Remember, you can click on any photo to enlarge it.

We were headed to Stephen’s Green. As one does when one is in Dublin. I’d never gone through the Leeson Street gate—this is the beauty of a very large park: many things to see—so this was my first time to see the Three Fates, who spin and measure the thread of man’s destiny.

“With Gratitude for the help given to German children by the Irish people after World War II. —Roman Herzog, President of the Federal Republic of Germany”

“With Gratitude for the help given to German children by the Irish people after World War II. —Roman Herzog, President of the Federal Republic of Germany”

And then we rested. 🙂 (Well, I rested, and Gerry humored me.)

First official selfie. (Not my best angle, but I’m also not sure I have a good one.) Note we are wearing jackets.

First official selfie. (Not my best angle, but I’m not sure I have a good one.) Note we are wearing jackets.

We strolled through the park, and I took a zillion photos.

“Spring” was bustin’ out all over.

“Spring” was bustin’ out all over.

The pond is a popular place for humans and … seabirds. Just after this a huge swan landed right there. His wings flapping sounded like the blades of a helicopter: whup, whup, whup …

The pond is a popular place for humans and … seabirds. Just after I took this a huge swan landed right … there. His flapping wings sounded like the blades of a helicopter: whup, whup, whup

A pretty view of the pond from the bridge.

A pretty view of the pond from the bridge.

One of these days I’ll map the park and see (and photograph) everything at once. But for now, we were headed to the Fusiliers’ Arch, which is the Grafton Street entrance to the park. I don’t know how I’d missed it before.

It’s lovely. Fusiliers’ Arch, Dublin, 2015.

It’s lovely. Fusiliers’ Arch, Dublin, 2015.

The Royal Dublin Fusiliers—an Irish infantry regiment of the British Army—was active from 1881 to 1922. Forty-one years. During that time the regiment distinguished itself in the Second Boer War and also in World War One.

Funded by public subscription, the arch was erected in 1907 to memorialize the officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted men of the Royal Rublin Fusiliers who fought and died in the Second Boer War. And although some nationalists nicknamed the monument Traitor’s Gate, it should be noted that this memorial is “one of the few colonialist monuments in Dublin not blown up” by the IRA. That’s something.

Detail of the Fusiliers’ Arch.

Detail of the Fusiliers’ Arch.

More details of the Fusiliers’ Arch.

More details of the Fusiliers’ Arch. Click to enlarge.

It’s quite large.

It’s not a wimpy monument.

Nature was calling me, but my Dubliner husband knew exactly where to go: the Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre—what you and I would call a mall. A mall built on the site of an old market.

And just look at what they’ve done with the place!

And just look at what they’ve done with the place!

We wandered a little—I bought a pretty scarf—but our real destination was Grafton Street: I needed to replenish my supply of Molton Brown shampoo (I normally get it at Brown Thomas, an upscale department store) and we wanted to drop by Sheridan’s Cheesemongers on Anne Street.

You can imagine my delight when I looked up and saw a Molton Brown storefront right on Grafton Street—no need to go further down to Brown Thomas! Bought my product, sampled others. Oh my. My husband patiently tarried while I was fawned over by the staff.

From there we nipped around the corner to Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, a store I’d read about and lusted after. Yes, I bought cheese! How could I not?

Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Anne Street, Dublin.

Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Anne Street, Dublin.

Anne Street is just two blocks long … but everywhere you look, there’s something you might explore. Just look: What’s that at the end of the street there?

What’s that at the end of the street there?

What’s that at the end of the street there?

It’s St. Ann’s Parish Church, of course, an eighteenth-century baroque-style Anglican church.

A closer look at St. Ann’s on Dawson Street, Dublin.

A closer look at St. Ann’s on Dawson Street, Dublin.

Just next door to the church is Mansion House, the “official residence” of the Lord Mayor of Dublin. There are public rooms you can tour, and an events venue. I suspect the Lord Mayor throws fabulous parties. 🙂

We did a little more shopping then walked to the cab stand near St. Stephen’s Green, because my energy was flagging. But I had to pause to take a photo of the Bank of Ireland building on the corner.

I love this ivy-covered row of buildings.

I love this ivy-covered row of buildings.

In addition to the bank there’s a restaurant and a men’s club and a lawyer’s office. It is so distinctive, this building, and on such a busy corner, that it often turns up in news stories and movies in which Dublin plays a part. Show this image, and it’s recognized.

Me, I’m just fascinated by the art on the walls. :)

Me, I’m just fascinated by the art on the walls. 🙂

At the hotel we had a little bit of relaxation and quiet time—because we were meeting our friend Robert Doran for dinner. Later we cabbed to the Shelbourne and walked up to Temple Bar. The restaurant we were headed for was Pichet.

Temple Bar is a neighborhood of tight little medieval-era streets just south of the River Liffey, filled with pubs and restaurants and gallerys and so on. Have a look here:

Pichet on the left. The space between Pichet and the oddly shaped building that houses the Bankers (pub) is Dame Lane (an alley, really), and past the tan building is Dame Street. The modern-looking building is actually on the far side of Dame Street. We’re standing on the other side of Trinity Street, where St. Andrews Lane intersects it. (Whew.)

Pichet is on the left. The space between Pichet and the oddly shaped building that houses the Bankers (pub) is Dame Lane (an alley, really), and past the tan building is Dame Street. The modern-looking building is actually on the far side of Dame Street. We’re standing on the other side of Trinity Street, where St. Andrews Lane intersects it. (Whew.)

While I was taking the photo above, a wedding party walked passed us! I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take a photo, because they were all gorgeous, the bride and probably three maids, the groom and his groomsmen, all dressed to the nines. It was hard to tell where they’d come from (parking? a neighborhood church?) or where they were going; it was 5:30 so I suspect they were on their way to a hotel for dinner. The bride … oh! She was wearing a beautiful dark-ivory cocktail-length but obviously a wedding dress, a little fascinator hat, same color … and aqua-blue heels! She looked fabulous and tasteful.

And about that moment, there was the delightful Robert Doran, who I hadn’t seen in two years! Robert is, as we Yanks say, good people.

I love this guy!

I love this guy!

Robert is a freelance editor like me, with a background in book retailing and as an editor with an Irish publisher. In addition, he is a principal at Kazoo Independent Publishing Services, and he’d brought me one of their latest books: Entertaining with Andrew Rudd. It’s a gorgeous book.

We had a wonderful meal (thank you, Robert!), a delightful conversation, and a good time on a Friday night, sitting in the window at Pichet, watching the world go by. This is exactly what I wanted my vacation to be.

On our way back down Grafton Street we stopped at a bookshop so I could pick up the new novel from Anne Enright (The Green Road). I’d mentioned this to Robert and he warned me that in Ireland, fiction—even by hot, award-winning authors—tends to come out in trade paperback rather than hardback. I’d gotten an inkling of this in 2013 when I went looking for the Irish edition of Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic, so it was OK.

Back to the cab stand at the Shelbourne, then home. I was in bed by 8:30 and lights out by 10.

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