Green, Green, Everywhere Green

Rain, sun, sprinkles of rain, sun, rain rain, sun, all in the first hour of our morning, but it continued like this all day.My umbrella was up and down, up and down. It was like an old man who had used an out-of-date dose of Viagra.
Our hotel was booked by Rail Ireland as part of the rail tour we will be taking with them tomorrow, but this gave us two nights in Dublin to settle in before getting up at 7 am to catch the train. The train station is two blocks away, a hop, skip, and a jump even with suitcases. We only travel with a carry-on bag each and I have my computer backpack for my 2 pound netbook and another 2 pounds of camera and equipment.

Breakfast at the hotel was going for 15 Euros additional, making it an easy choice to look elsewhere for our caffeine fix. We found a coffee place in the Spar stores called Insomnia. Their special was a choice of any coffee or tea drink along with any muffin, scone, log roll, or other sweet for 3.50 Euros. Having spent two summer vacations in Edinburgh, I catch myself thinking in British Pounds not Euros, sending chills up my spine when I see the cost of things. Then I realize, it is Euros, which is not as bad. Still, the cost of things here are expensive enough in Euros, let alone BP. For all of the economic depression Charlie and the hotel staff have mentioned, it has not hit the restaurant industry for sure. Looking at menus along the way, food is still expensive.

We were here in October/November 2001 when Ireland, but Dublin in particular was one of the richest countries and cities in Europe. Much of their money was made in computers. Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and others have European headquarters here. Prosperity was green for sure, but came in the many colors of the Euro bills also. Since then, multiple of ten times thousands have lost their jobs, not only in the computer industry, but others as well. Personal or professional space in Dublin was difficult to find and if you could was on par or greater than NYC for rents. In spite of the cost of everything, the city was alive. Restaurants, pubs, and stores were overflowing with tourists, even in the autumn months.

The changes in the economy are tangible. There is a feeling in the air, like a 21st century potato famine. It is difficult to miss visually as well with “For sale” and “For rent” signs everywhere. Office buildings are vacant. Rents are being offered for 15 Euro a square meter. People are being paid to stand on pedestrian streets holding advertising signs for services of businesses down side streets, which may otherwise be overlooked. Our hotel advertises their ‘Rack’ rate on the door as 175 Euros per person a night. Through IrishRail Tours we are paying 99 Euros a night for both of us. Certainly, even without IrishRail, bargains are to be had everywhere just to fill rooms. The rate signs were holdovers from better days.
The day was spent just walking exploring the different areas. Since we have been here before so it was a ‘get our bearings’ journey. The city is no stranger to us, but there are parts we had not had proper introductions to yet. One such place was St. Stephen’s Green, which was new for us, but we only walked the inside periphery. The expanse of the park is twenty-two acres. One of the tourism people gave us the names of three used book stores. This made up our next three stops. Not buying a thing, I did make notes of titles that jumped out at me. So many did so, I felt like a victim of a lynching. We have 48 hour Hop On-Hop Off bus ticket, but it is 2 consecutive days. Leaving for our tour tomorrow, it is prudent to wait until we return to use it to the max.

The pub that Charlie recommended we all attend last night is called Ryan’s and it is just a ½ block from our hotel. We went there for a pint where I discovered Galway Hooker beer. This is my new favorite beer. Ron ate at the pub, but not being hungry yet, I skipped it. We walked to the train station, a few blocks from our hotel to get a visual for tomorrow’s excursion. The fast food place appealed, so I settled for a portion of curry fries for my dinner, but we had to return  to Ryan’s for a nightcap of that great beer. When we return from our tour, we will be on the other side of the city, making this less convenient to get to.

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