Dublin in the Spring

Last Friday we left Germany and went to Monisteraki, Athens. This week, we’re going to Dublin. Why? It’s Friday and as of last week every Friday I’m taking you out of Germany and depositing you elsewhere, until I run out of places I’ve visited (at which point I may just start making it up). Plus I wanted to give you the chance to read about the worst hangover I have ever had.

In 2010, as I was shivering in Münster and learning the ins and outs of German governmental procedures (not in pursuit of further education, merely to remain in the country legally) a friend of mine was doing the same thing in Dublin. We had previously spent the summer (of our lives) together working and drinking cheap wine on Santorini as a prelude to setting up shop in the colder, greyer parts of Northern Europe.

In March of 2011, after a very long and very hard European winter, I jumped on a plane and flew into Dublin to visit my friend and to see Dublin for the first time. What followed was a long weekend that encompassed one of the single worst hangovers I have ever had, a lot of heavy, moorish food, a tantrum in Primark because nothing fit (nothing to do with the moorish food, obviously) and crashing onto a live music stage after my jigging got a bit out of control. The jigging and the hangover were connected.

You can read about it here:

194 Euros: Part 1

194 Euros: Part 2

194 Euros: Part 3

(I recommend a single sitting, just to get a feel for the pace of the weekend.)

Now, enjoy a few snaps of Dublin waking up from a nasty, bitter winter.
Dublin 2011 261

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194 Euros; Part 3

Day 3

Worst. Hangover. Ever.

Prone in bed, Tam and I try to look at each other through dry, red eyes. Neither of us can speak for a little while, as the room rights itself. Slowly, we croak through the inventory of alcohol, as if in bewildered search of why we have ended up like this. There is no need to act surprised. This hangover was on the cards from bottle number 1.

I stick my head under the shower. Breakfast is calling. That desperate, bodily plea that stems from the instinctive reasoning that shoving something down our gullets is the only way of preventing anything coming up.

We breakfast at Hobart’s which has a meal dedicated to our state of distress on the menu. The Hangover Cure. A bap stuffed with egg, sausage and bacon. As I wait for it to emerge from the kitchen in all its salty, greasy glory, I rest my eyes by gently and continuously focussing them on another patron’s large, full Irish. He notices my ongoing gaze and offers me a piece of toast. I politely decline, even though I want to snort it through my nostrils, I am do desperate for food. He insists, placing it tenderly on napkin on my table. I eat it obediently.

‘Whilst I am mortified to be eating your breakfast,’ I tell him, chewing slowly to avoid any rapid jaw movement, ‘I am not mortified enough to stop. Thank you. These are desperate times.’

We spend the rest of the day on the couch underneath a blanket, watching episodes of Take Me Out and Anything to Declare, the Australian Border Patrol rebranded for the Pom audience. The Australian accents of the over zealous customs officials are harsh and soothing as they coax a French tourist to remove a joint from his bottom.

We move only to order pizza.

Before bed, I ask Tam if it was a big fall the night before, because my arse is really hurting. She looks at me and says ‘the music stopped. You nearly crashed the stage.’

Day 4

Fresher, ready for a coastal jaunt, the mane and crop re-emerge into daylight. The day sparkles – we managed to avoid the lone day of rain by spending it prostrate on the couch – and we skip once more to fetch a coffee from Moda.

Howth blows away the last of the cobwebs with its seaside air and sunshine. We stop in at a little food market that is home to a total of about 6 stalls, all bearing home made produce. We buy sun dried tomatoes in garlic and parmesan, a huge jar of fresh pesto, bread, brie and strawberries and enjoy our lover’s picnic in the sun.

The day oscillates between strolling in the sunshine and sitting in the sunshine. We say hello to the Howth seals who loll about in the water waiting for someone to throw them fish and then take a seat with a bunch of Spanish tourists at the end of the pier. When we decide we’re too tired to continue the stroll/sit oscillation, it‘s a matter of choosing a café.

We go with Panorama, the baby of an Aussie and an Italian business partnership. The Victorian owner heckles us for being Sydney-siders and gives us a Caramello Koala. We buy a packet of Tim Tams to have with our coffee and end up staying for two glasses of Australian white. This is despite vehement proclamations that, post Johnnie Fox’s, I would need some time away from alcohol. That lasted a day. Will power.

We dine that night at Green 19s and I wedge in a burrito and another couple of glasses of white. This is despite the recent 9kg revelation. Will power continues.

I farewell Dublin in fitting, farcical style, but getting in the shower at 3.35am. It pays to change the time on one’s mobile phone if they are setting an early alarm with it. I am alerted to the fact I’m an hour ahead of schedule by Tammy who rouses herself from her toss-and-turn slumber to say, ‘dude, what the fuck are you doing?’

‘It’s 4.45 Tram, my cab arrives in 15 minutes.’

‘It’s 3.45.’

‘Fuck off.’

Waiting for the Air Coach, I read a sign that forbids cabs from soliciting passengers from the Air Coach stop. Moments later I am solicited by greasiest cab driver alive, who, as it transpires has given himself a route that involves driving around to all the Air Coach stops on a schedule that runs exactly 5 minutes ahead, poaching passengers. Mixed with my instinctive good-girl guilt that I allowed myself to be solicited despite the sign clearly saying it was forbidden, I have a moment of paranoia that he isn’t going to take us to the airport, that he’s actually a serial killer and I have just done what my mother has always told me not to, gotten into a car with a stranger, albeit a car with a Taxi sign on the roof. This could be a rouse. A horrible rouse. My eyes dart around at my fellow passengers. They all look as uncomfortable as I do. It’s either the cabbie’s hair, or they read the sign at the Air Coach stop and are suffering from a similar surge of guilt.

The plane is devoid of beautiful horse riders and I sleep with my face smushed against the wall. It’s sunny at home and it feels good to be back.

Tam texts me and thanks me for an excellent night’s sleep. I tell her she’s welcome.

194 Euros; Part 2

Day 2 brings with it the sun and a blue, blue sky. A couple of cups of tea and a good shower later and we’re out amongst it, skipping down the sunlit paths, heralding the end of winter and congratulating ourselves that we survived the winter. We feel so, so fresh. Life is wonderful.

And so Friday becomes, essentially, a day of indulgence. We kick off with a coffee (2.20 euro, brilliant, Europe‘s most expensive city is actually home to good, cheap coffee) from Tammy’s local, Moda and continue to the park, along with half of Dublin who have rolled up their sleeves, proffering their pallid flesh to the sun. We lunch, with a friend from Germany who makes a cameo, at Lemon Jelly and I reignite my love affair with the classic tuna salad after a long winter of far more hearty foodstuffs. Feeling virtuous – and ignoring the number recently attributed to my weight gain … 9 – we attempt a Spring shopping blitz at Penny’s. It doesn’t go to plan and I am reminded of the correlation between age and my shortening temper. And that shopping, an act which lost its lustre for me a while back, with an extra 9 kg can be even more of a disheartening process than usual. I am depressed by the slaggy shoes sold en masse to 15 year olds with spray tanned legs, depressed by the queue to the change-room, depressed by the full-body mirrors which offer views of me winching myself into sausage skin clothing, I do not want to be privy to.

Obviously, we seek refuge in alcohol, licking our wounds with a couple of mojitos, margaritas and strawberry daiquiris at Alfies. And a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. We watch drunken English tourists in their name-emblazoned jerseys stumble down the path. They’re here for the game tomorrow (in which England will be smashed) and one in particular, takes a nasty tumble and is helped up, tenderly, by his mates, Smiffy and Badger. We don’t know it at the time, but the tumble is an eerie premonition of what’s to come.

Next on the agenda is Johnnie Fox’s – the highest pub in Ireland – and we loiter outside our designated pick-up hotel trying to guess which mini bus we will be alighting. The guesswork ends when a novelty bus sporting a massive Johnnie Fox’s paint-job rounds the corner. We alight and begin our ascent.

Or descent. Depends on how you look at it. Already abuzz from our wound-licking-wine-and-cocktails session, we take our seat in the middle of a party of 43 Norweigan men, and order another bottle of Savignon Blanc. We are in a celebratory mood. It’s Spring, we like food and we are about to witness some good old fashioned Irish jigging. Cheers.

We tuck in to our three course meal and second bottle of wine, denouncing esteem smashing shopping trips and demanding who needs new clothes when goats cheese and mussels in garlic and white wine sauce are the alternative.  We’re spun and whirled around the floor by towering Scandos who are all, oddly, wearing a variation of a checked shirt. We’re on fire. We’re high on life. We’re untouchable.

Then Tammy gets beer thrown in her face. It’s inexplicable and a cruel smackdown seeing as it happens as she is being romantically dipped on the dance floor. Shrieking that her eyeballs are burning, she is whisked off by the waiter, leaving me to seek retribution. The culprit is sitting down – hence the ease with which he beered Tammy, mid-dip. I stalk over, full of wine-laced outrage. My first beer catches him in the face. He beers my chest back. I pick up a beer and tip it onto his head. He lazily gets my chest again. The farce could have continued, had I not been beseeched to stop by an apologetic pal of the original beerer. I acquiesce, only because we weren’t getting anywhere and it was largely unsatisfying, and retreat to the bar.

Later, taking a final turn on the tiles – tiles, which, by the way, comprise a 4 foot squared thoroughfare the Norwegians turned into a dance floor – I perform my final trick for the night, a classic mid-jig fall. In my head, it’s a simple melt to the ground and an equally as elegant rise back to normal height.

Apparently not.

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!’


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.