Three days in Dublin

Journal

Three days in Dublin

Fast Friday
“Are you travelling on anywhere after Dublin, Mr Foxx?” the stoney faced policeman asked without looking up from the picture page of my passport.

It was Friday morning and I’d just made it through the metal detectors without having to remove my boots. Either I looked too relieved at not having to take them off and march back through in my socks, or maybe I just have one of those faces. Whatever the reason, the cynic in me suspected he was stopping me more to flex his authority muscle than he was to ensure the safety of society at the other end of my journey.

“No, I’m just going to Dublin for a couple of nights out.” I answered, immediately annoyed at myself for giving him more than the one word answer his passive–aggressive demeanour deserved. It was difficult to contain my enthusiasm for the fun that lay ahead of me, but I maintained a poker face with a hint of a smile.

“Okay, thankyou.” Officer Jobsworth said, handing my passport back with a slow nod and a wry smile that probably meant I’ll be watching you. I kept eye contact for as long as my bottle would hold and returned the nod and wry smile. He looked away first, feigning disinterest.

“Thank you.” I said, and went on my way with a cheesy grin. Oh yes – I was already on fire and I hadn’t even gotten on the plane yet.

Once through the gate and out on the apron I was relieved to see that it wasn’t a propellor engined plane that I’d presumed it to be. Instead, a new-ish looking 737 with fancy upturned wing tips sat poised for the short hop to Dublin. Nice. If I ever end up in a plane crash I want to go down in a blaze of modern technology, knowing that if all that knowhow couldn’t keep me in the sky it was probably my time anyway!

The flight itself seemed to be over really quickly – I had my PSP with me and barely got in a couple of rounds of Worms before I had to turn it off for landing. I always wonder why they make you turn things like that off upon landing and take-off. Surely it’s only going to distract me from the horror of something going wrong and that’s a good thing.

As it happened I’m glad they told me to turn my PSP off, as I wouldn’t have spotted the puff of smoke coming from behind a curtain to the front of the aircraft otherwise. I wasn’t aware that the no-smoking rule didn’t apply to cabin crew. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m considering Ryan Air.

After landing, it was only when the plane came to a halt that I realised why the flight had been so cheap (£10 + taxes). Where we’d stopped could have been considered the outskirts of Dublin Airport – I had to walk for ages to reach the exit. The buses for the city center were right outside, though, so I paid my five euro’s and took a seat on the top floor for the ride into town.

On the way I called Cousin Iain to find out where to meet him, but he told me that he and Steve had gone to some beach with a female friend Steve had an interest in. I was a little bit dismayed by this, because I had never been to Dublin before and Iain had, so I was kind of hoping I could just go into town and meet him. Fliss, fortunately, had printed me out a really good map before I left and armed with that I easily found my way to the Temple Bar area.

Sitting in Buskers bar with the football on, sipping a Guinness and enjoying a plate of Irish bangers & mash, I got to thinking that life was very good indeed. Even if all the waitresses appeared to be Polish rather than Irish. That was weird. Still, without a care in the world I took that in my stride and the time before Iain, Steve, and his companion arrived flew by.

Anne–Marie, Steve’s would-be squeeze, made it clear from the get-go that my choice in low-rent sports bars was well below her preferred choice of venue. She and Steve went off in search for a classier establishment, leaving Cousin Iain and I to enjoy a few beers and watch some football.

When Ian Binnie arrived, the two I’s and I headed off to join Steve and Anne–Marie at some very posh place with leather sofas and no TV’s. It was the kind of place where you go to the bar to order and they say “I’ll bring those over to you”, so you don’t pay at the time and then end up with an awkward bit as you leave when it costs a fortune. Those sofas were comfy, though, and the company was good too. Cousin Iain noted that the toilets were “like paradise”, although, compared to the toilets at Iain’s place, most pub’s toilets are paradise.

With the travelling gang all there, the weekend was starting to gain some momentum – all that was left to do was meet up with Mark. A pint after Anne–Marie had left us, we all bundled into a taxi bound for Mark’s place. It turned out to be a really nice flat with a good bit of green in the surrounding area – well befitting of an all–star aussie architect!

Mark had plans already mapped out for us, with some loose events that didn’t happen, and a bunch of others that did, over the course of the weekend. First on the agenda was a “party/barbeque” that was within walking distance of the appartment – a quick deoderant top–up and we were on our way.

Now, as anyone who knows me will confirm, I have a penchant for t-shirts with naughty slogans. On this particular day (as probably noted by Officer Jobsworth in the airport some hours before) I happened to be sporting a stylish Beaver King design that resembles the logo of a well known burger chain. Cousin Iain had asked if I was going to change my t-shirt before I left. I answered in the negative. Twenty minutes later when we arrived at what was a Church barbeque I really wished I had changed it.

Guys, really, I’m just not a churchy person – the fact we were going to a church was either lost on me or didn’t make it past my religion filter. Anyhow, sorry to the no-doubt endless stream of people at the church who were offended by my claims to be a Beaver King. If it’s any consolation your barbeque food was very tasty indeed, although the smoke did set off a hay fever attack that would bring about a premature end to my evening.

Maybe that’s some kind of sign in itself; don’t wear a lewd t-shirt to church or God will open up a whole can of hay fever based whoop-ass on you.

After the barbeque we made our way into town, throwing a soft rugby ball to each other along the way. We ended up in a traditional looking place that had good music on, but due to said hay fever attack I wasn’t able to last long and was escorted back to the appartment by Mark some time before midnight.

Feeling slightly crestfallen, I got my head down after the allergy medication kicked in. It was a shame the evening had fizzled out for me, but I was confident I’d be on my game for Saturday with a good night’s sleep.

Seppo Saturday
We were up and out pretty swiftly on a damp Saturday morning, taking an MPV taxi to some humongous shopping complex. I’ve been to some sizeable retail developments in my time and this place was among the biggest – a truly sprawling shopping center had us lose each other a couple of times.

Shortly after arrival the Bin Man misguidedly squirted some acidic contact lens solution into his left eye in the belief it was saline. Ouch. While the others went off to book a bowling alley for later, I went with the Bin Man to hunt for an optician. We found probably the friendliest optician lady in all of Ireland, who not only checked the Bin Man’s eye out but gave him some eye drops he would later leave at the bowling alley. A happy ending to that drama, then, despite losing the free eye drops.

Once we were all back together we went for lunch at Eddie Rocket’s, the chain of classic american diner themed burger restaurants. The food was filling and spectacular – probably the best value for money meal of the entire weekend.

The bowling that followed went as expected, with Cousin Iain dominating the proceedings with the confident air of a man who always seemed to have a strike up his sleeve. I was my usual inconsistent self, and the rest of the guys filled in the middle ground. Even the Bin Man with his makeshift eye patch outbowled me. I started to think that was some kind of advantage, like those olympic shooters who have one eye blinkered, the Bin Man was on target time and again as the games wore on.

Being on two duff lanes cost us enough time that we didn’t get the second game completed, though. Shame, really, as I was getting my form back and could have taken a run at Wozza! ;o)

No sooner had the bowling finished than we were in an MPV taxi back to town. Mark had arranged to meet up with some german friends at The Porterhouse, a really nice micro brewery pub, to watch the Germany v Sweeden game. The german lads were enthusiastic and mental in equal measure – it’s a pity the game was a bit of a damp squib.

Mark had to head off to a birthday party after the football, so the rest of us made our way to Buskers Bar, where I’d begun my weekend in Dublin, to watch the Argentina vs Mexico match. Man, with Cousin Iain around you end up watching a whole lot of football no matter where you are!

Buskers Bar became increasingly packed with hen and stag parties as the night wore on, as well as regular revellers. It was only then that I came to notice the benefits of Ireland’s anti-smoking laws. Normally that kind of place would have been awfully smokey, so it was great to spend a few hours in a pub as mobbed as that and not emerge reeking of smoke.

After a brief stop at another bar we made our way to a pub that Steve vaguely knew of, called Bruxelles. It was a long walk getting there, but once inside we were able to rub shoulders with the what I’m assuming were the hard core of Dublin’s rock fraternity. There we were re-joined by Mark, his friend Charle and Charle’s high maintenance girlfriend whose name escapes me. For some reason we ended up standing outside the pub with the crowd of smokers – the downside to Ireland’s anti-smoking laws!

By the time Charle had been ordered to leave with his girlfriend we’d met some nice americans in the form of two sisters and their husbands, all from Philadelphia. We ended up talking to them for ages and they were really nice people. Wish I’d grabbed their email addresses, but there you go.

Seppo Saturday wound to a close after we left Bruxelles in the search of some kebabs that ended up costing as much as the Eddie Rocket’s burgers, but weren’t as filling or as tasty. Another MPV taxi later and we were back at Mark’s place exhausted after long but enjoyable day. I was out like a light.

Sporty Sunday
Mark stepped up and cooked us all a great breakfast on Sunday morning, with snags, eggs, toast, beans, and fried tomatoe too. He remembered later that he’d forgotten to cook the white pudding he’d bought, but it was a tasty way to start the day all the same.

With the weather outside being warm and sunny it was good to get fuelled up before heading out to Phoenix Park across the road for some fresh air. Sadly we didn’t have a football, just the soft rugby ball from Friday night, a tennis ball and a frisbee. We had good fun chucking those about, though, with a fast paced game of Ultimate Frisbee being my favourite.

Cousin Iain was hungry for some football, so we headed off through the park in search of a game we could join. In another area, dominated by a huge monument, we found a bunch of foreigners (technically we were all foreigners at this time and place) playing a sports bags for goalposts game with one player short – the very opportunity Cousin Iain had been seeking.

The rest of us sat on a small bank in the shadow of the monument while Wozziniho showed the eurotrash how he plies his trade on a Wednesday night back in London town. And what fine entertainment that proved to be!

With cheers of Wozziniho accompanied by a Mexican wave every time Iain got on the ball we were having a great laugh at the expense of a man who looked like he had some kind of ball phobia! Honestly, the volley through his own goal was priceless – I cant believe they let him off with a corner for that. ;o)

After a while some of the players left, allowing myself and the Bin Man to make our debuts, followed a short time later by Mark and Steve as more players called it quits. All of us were on the same side, with the exception of Steve-O. Mark showed some determined play up the left wing, while Cousin Iain and myself took up defensive roles, with the Bin Man patrolling the midfield area.

Although we managed some frantic defending we were conceeding too many goals, so I decided to press forward to counter the goal poaching eurotrash of the opposition. A searching deep ball from Wozziniho had me tracking down the right wing to keep possession. I stood my ground and sent a deft left footed pass back to the Bin Man in midfield just before traitorous Steve-O lunged in wrecklessly, up-ending me and twisting my right ankle in the process.

I said a lot of bad words as I writhed around clutching my ankle like they do on TV. I probably swore more in a couple of sentences than I had the entire weekend, and that’s saying somehing. Steve-O, who has obviously been closely watching the Who, me? style of fouling defenders in the World Cup, claimed he was going for the ball. That would be the ball that was no longer there at the time, eh Steve?!

After the initial shock I waved away the medical treatment and got back to my feet. Some vicious tackles were going in all over by now, so I decided it wasn’t worth picking up a more serious injury and I limped off to re-take my spot on the bank near the monument. A couple of minutes later and the lads called time on it anyway, figuring it would be better to get back to Mark’s place and pack so we could make it to the airport before the England v Ecuador game.

The final expensive MPV taxi journey of the weekend (€40) dropped us at Dublin Airport with a good ten minutes to spare. Quickly finding the bar, we managed to huddle round a table with a serving of Guinness in time for kick-off. The bar was crowded with other people doing the same thing before they caught their flights, so there was a decent atmosphere going on.

After enjoying the match and a few more pints of Guinness we trooped up to the restaurant area and bought a huge veggie pizza to share. I think we were just ravenous by this point, as we wolfed it down in no time – maybe that Guinness isn’t so filling once you get used to it. ;o)

The food over and done with, Cousin Iain and Steve had to go and catch their plane, and Mark had to get back to the city, so we said our goodbyes. The Bin Man and I ended up back in the bar after wandering around the airport for a while, Ian reading a magazine while I played with my PSP to pass the time.

All too soon I was the last man standing, when the Bin Man rode off into the sunset to catch his flight. I took a seat at another table in the now empty bar and watched the Holland v Portugal game until I had to catch my flight back.

As luck would have it I had to take my boots and my belt off at the metal detectors this time, and wander about in my socks while holding up my trousers. I wonder if Officer Jobsworth had phoned ahead and told them to look out for me?

The flight was short and sweet, arriving well ahead of schedule. However, they kept us sitting on the apron for about fifteen minutes as the rain lashed down in Liverpool. When the doors finally opened it was a brisk, wet walk from the plane to the terminal. I was really glad to see Fliss and Elisha in the arrivals area so they could take me home – Fliss had a whole new hair do, which, although damp from the rain, looked quite good on her.

Once home I collapsed onto the sofa, knackered but happy from it all. Those three days were as fine as any a weekend I’ve spent in recent years. Good company always makes for good times – lads, I hope we can all do something similar again in the future. The craic in Dublin was indeed good. :o)