Saturday, 28 April 2012

Ireland 2012, Part 3: Dubliners Day 1

NOTE: "Dubliners" is not only a reference to those living or born there but also to a collection of short stories by James Joyce which is the selection for the April 2012 One City, One Book, and the reason for the couple's Joycean theme.

Okay, calling it a "day" is a bit of a lie because we arrived at around 10:00am and by the time we got to our hotel, it was nearly lunch. But I shall call it a day anyway.

This will be a very brief photo trip as I was
  • In severe pain from the migraine I got from overheating upon our arrival in Dublin. You'll notice in a previous photo, the one taken on our MNL-SIN flight, that I was wearing a very fuzzy pink coat. I had not ever worn it before but bought it when I saw it because I thought it was cute and would be good for winter/spring. It turned out to be best for winter as the lining is so thick that the layers I put on in anticipation of the chilly spring air became too much for my body to handle. In photos I will eventually copy off friends' cameras, I appear to be completely adjusted to the temperature but the truth is that I was completely oven-baked and could, as a result, stand the cold.
  • In such pain that I mostly neglected to take photos.
First, our arrival.

I unfortunately have no photos of it as I'd only just woken up from the nap I fell into during our AMS-DUB flight but the sight that welcomed us upon touchdown were, to my delight, large hares hopping about in the grass beside the tarmac. Hares. So cute!

The first things I set out to do were to purchase a local adapter for our electronics, and purchase bus passes. This was actually the trigger for my body to begin overheating as I'd bundled up for my brief walk towards Terminal 1 and upon my return to Terminal 2, I'd stripped off my scarf, and gloves. The walk alone warmed me up despite the breeze and by the time we'd hopped onto the Air Coach that would take us to the corner closest to our first Dublin home, Stauntons on the Green.

You may be wondering about what I mean by "closest corner."

The morning of our arrival was also the morning of the wedding rehearsal which meant I was to finally experience the typical touristy thing of arriving in a new place and travelling to my accommodations via public transportation. This makes me sound so spoiled but it is actually true that I'd never ridden public transportation from and to the airport before. As a student, I'd ridden on privately hired buses and later on, when visiting family, they would pick us up and bring us back to the airport by car.

That morning (and again, I wish I'd thought to take pictures) we took the Air Coach and asked to be dropped off at Lower Leeson Street as we'd been instructed to do. I'm quite sure it wasn't as pleasant for James, to be honest, pulling our luggage all of perhaps 50m or so from the bus stop to #83 St. Stephen's South, but I thought it a rather grand adventure to be walking down an unfamiliar road to look for our hotel. It helped that I'd previously seen the map of the area including landmarks and was able to easily zero in on our target location.

If memory serves, we were welcomed by Heidi who checked us in and asked us to wait a while as our room was still being prepared. I'd already seen the church on our way up the street and was contemplating hurrying over to hopefully catch up with the rehearsal when I heard the voices of two others in the wedding party, Ara and Ish.

After some greetings and a bit of confusion as to who had gone where and were going with whom, James and I managed to slip away and dump our luggage in our speedily-readied room. With the boys due at 1pm to head for their stag party itinerary, we said our goodbyes and we waved the boys off as we girls got ready for a light lunch before getting a bit of shut eye in preparation for the hen party.

I hurriedly snapped this photo of the lake as we crossed the
bridge running over it as it reminded me of a Monet painting.
Led by the most Dubliner of our bunch, the bride Kissa, we crossed the road to St. Stephen's Green, cutting across the park, and snapping a few photos as we did.

Although it was already meant to be spring, you'll see in later entries that not all trees and flowers had fully awakened yet but the transition between the two seasons has its own beauty to show. Perhaps the most amusing were the cheery sakura lining the beginning of the path we'd taken, waving us into the park.

Crossing the park took us quickly to the main commercial area, Grafton Street, where various weekend performers and entertainers each had crowds gathered around them. All us girls being hungry, however, we cut across a few roads and headed for Fallon & Byrne where the bride's mum hosted a lovely light lunch.

As their menu changes with the seasons, food items may
vary per visit.
Fallon & Byrne is a grocery on Level 0 with a cozy restaurant on Level 1. It is actually on the list of the couple's recommended food stops and reading the menu, I could see why!

Their dishes include the best and freshest food the season had to offer at prices that, I believe, any average person can afford with an ambiance fit for fine dining.

For lunch, the girls had:

  • Selection of artisan farmhouse cheese with quince, grapes and crackers
  • Salad of shaved fennel, marinated artichokes and candied walnuts with grape dressing
  • Grilled salad of dandelion, tomato, chickpea, and rocket with parsley dressing
  • Salmon, prawn, and crab ravioli with sautéed chard, caper and lime dressing
  • 'Swallows nest' fresh pasta filled with minced pork and chorizo, Béchamel sauce and Parmesan cheese

All for a very reasonable Eur30 or so for 6 people.

I have no idea what cheeses were there but
I assure you, each one was exquisite.

Millet and I shared the large ravioli plate which gave each of us exactly filling portions of the dish.

As none of their desserts enticed us, Kissa suggested walking over to nearby Brown Thomas, a gorgeous store that hosts a wide selection of luxury brands and boutiques including the famous Ladurée. It is, in my opinion, the source for the absolute best macarons ever and the most delicate chocolate confections that please both palate and eye.

There are so many flavours to choose from that it I wanted to just ask for one of everything!
Late night activities anticipated, we walked back home to Stauntons to refresh ourselves. I'd invited Millet over to James and my room for a bit of company only to have James knocking at the door only a few minutes after we had settled down. Exhausted still from our near-24-hour journey, he'd begged off from participating in the rest of the stag party itinerary in favour of much-needed rest and sleep. I, on the other hand, hopped into the shower in an attempt to cool myself down and get a little more refreshed for Kissa's hen.

It had been agreed upon that we would have a mini makeup lecture with Ara before the hen party and we gathered in Kissa's mum's hotel room for the session. Our preparations done, makeup all set, we walked off to the agreed meeting place to join Kissa's soon-to-be-in-laws for dinner.

Naturally what happened at the party stays within just the memory of each of us attending. ^_~ It was highly unfortunate, however, that by the time we were about to have our dinner, I was also ready to just crash. >.<

Saba was the venue selected by Kissa's then sister-in-law-to-be for our meal and thinking back, this was the second time that I'd fallen victim to missing a fantastically-prepared meal from travel exhaustion (the first one happened upon my arrival in France). We had just gotten past the appetizers when I began to feel my head spinning for want of more sleep and by the time they served our dinners, I really couldn't bear my migraine and the nausea that accompanied it.

I asked Katie, our host, if we could present our gifts to the bride as soon as appetizers were over and she quickly agreed having noticed that I could barely keep myself from yawning constantly. When everyone had finished presenting our gifts, I asked the server to wrap my food up for takeaway and, that done, I said my goodbyes to everyone, assuring Kissa's then mother-in-law-to-be that I would be well and ready for a full afternoon of celebrating the following day, the Easter afternoon picnic.

I'll be honest and say that I really could not recall where we'd walked to and from. Thankfully the Lord blessed me with some strange homing beacon that has so rarely failed me in my times of need. Just barely conscious of where I was going, I allowed His loving hand to safely guide me back home to Stauntons, rang up our room to make sure James would be awake and ready to open the door for me when I knocked, and after a quick change and not even bothering to remove my makeup, I dropped right down to sleep.

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