194 Euros; Part 1

It’s an early morning rise to get down to the Dorf by 8.45am. The coffee goes on, I stumble around, narrow of eye and wild of hair. My bag is packed – I travel light these days, no longer having a wardrobe that can actually lead to over packing – and I’m out the door into the crisp morning in no time. I am, to be honest, quietly smug at my own proficiency.

In the cab rank, two drivers are chatting. It escapes my narrow eyes that one has moved into the passenger seat and so I simply walk to the driver’s seat, which, to be fair, is the passenger seat where I come from. Driving is one of those instincts that never leaves you. We all guffaw together, the two drivers and I, as the cabbie slides across to the driver’s seat and directs me to the still-warm passenger seat.

‘In England, that side, yes?’

‘Yes. And Australia.’ I don’t mind being mistaken for a Pom, the go-to race as soon as I open my mouth, but it’s a known fact Germans prefer Australians to English people, so I try and slide it into conversation when I can.

‘Australia! Beautiful!’

Success.

For once, Deutschebahn runs on time and I’m at the Dorf with time to kill. I glide through passport control as an honoury German and weaken at the Italian café. No Panini (any bread roll type foodstuff has been booted from the diet because it is no longer okay to be 9kg overweight) but I do get a muffin with my coffee. Do not question the logic. Booting bread is hard enough in Germany without booting cakes.

I sit by the window and watch a parade of novelty green hats stream onto the plane. It is St. Patrick’s day and posses of German men are all wearing their best (potentially only) green tee shirts and talking excitedly. Clearly they have plans. Then something amazing happens. An extraordinarily handsome man sits down next to me. This never happens. It is a universal rule that if one is flying solo, their neighbour will be offensive or odd or a loud child. But no. This man is tall (German) and wearing a neatly pressed shirt beneath his casual knit and is, frankly, one of the best looking men I have ever clapped my jaded eyes on. He is also holding a horse riding helmet, which he tucks lovingly into the overhead storage. A tall, handsome, German horse rider. I need to tell my mother. The flight attendant, hair generously back-combed to disguise the fact he is going bald, and I are beside ourselves. He sashays past with the duty free cart, his female colleague on the other end, and manages to seamlessly weave the spotting into his chant. With barely a change in pace or volume, he sings,

‘Duty free, perfume, cosmetics, look at the one on the left, in the middle, hot, perfume, duty free, perfume, cosmetics …’

Later, the same flight attendant unwittingly snags the attention of the beautiful horse rider by attempting dialogue with a baby behind us.

‘Hallo. Hallo. What is your name? Wie. Heisst. Du? Does she just speak German? Or German and English?’

The child, as it transpires, doesn’t speak at all. It’s 1.

I tune out his tinny attempts at conversation with the child (’bye bye … tschuss … auf wiedersehen‘) and consider the fact that we are cruising above the clouds and all I can see is blue. It is nice to be above what has shrouded the past 5 months.

We touch down and I turn my phone on to text Tammy. Except the stupid thing needs a PIN and stupid me doesn’t know it. Who remembers phone PINs these days? I curse my horrid little 12 euro mobile with its clicky keys and belligerent demand for a PIN and find a public computer to Facebook her instead. Tammy alerted, I head for the Aircoach. When I ask for a single to Dublin city, the ticket men who is not a day under 70, asks if I am single. Suitably bolstered, I board the coach.

St. Patrick’s day, like any day where the aim is to dress up and get drunk, inspires the worst in people. Spray tanned youths have rifled through their wardrobe and come up with the most scanty, lascivious, preposterous outfits they can, under the guise of national pride. They have also plastered their faces with enough slap to fuel a car. Most people are not in possession of something the precise Irish green and so all shades of green that probably don’t need to be showcased, have hit the bottle littered streets. Teal, khaki, snot, vomit, pea. I am in a tide of phlegm. Drunk, chanting phlegm. I am about to throw a shawl around the shoulders of a fourteen year old who is so cold her hot-panted thighs are mottled, when Tammy and I seek refuge in a café. We decide to wait it out until the worst of the mid afternoon crowds are over and then venture into the city a little later to put our own stamp on St. Patrick’s.

That stamp ends up being bed by 10pm. The first pub we walk into, a student haunt with wooden floors and no furniture, we walk out of forty seconds later. I, personally, have done that dash of feeling self important and knowledge drenched, like I can save the world, cheap beer in hand, Nana’s dress on back, vintage hat sourced from a dumpster in India (where I was learning about poverty) on head.

The second pub we give a better crack, until it becomes apparent people suspect we were lovers in our nook and the curious but ultimately disapproving looks become uncomfortable. The third pub loses us to the lure of food. That and the need to escape the middle aged patron repeatedly pointing at Tammy and booming, ‘now who do you look like? That singer, that singer with the short blonde hair … from the 80s.’

Annie Lennox.

We gorge on Eddie Rockets, home of the most exquisite, juicy burgers with the perfect sauce ratio and go home, rationalising the fact we are not lying in a gutter with the rest of Dublin.

‘I’m tired. You’re tired. We may as well get a good night’s sleep and go out tomorrow night, when it’s not so gross.’

‘Besides, everyone knows even the locals are home and hosed by 8pm on St Patrick’s day. It’s just the tourists left out, right?’

The next day, post burger, I weigh myself and note I have gained 9 kilos since leaving home. It ends here. Pass me the ricotta cheese.

* The title of the blog stems from the cost of my ticket to Dublin and consequently the budget we allowed ourselves for the 4 days. How successful I was in sticking to it is unclear.

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