Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"In Dublin's Fair City..."

Originally posted on Posterous, April 28, 2012

First days anywhere aren't usually very interesting, thanks to things like getting settled into wherever you're staying, figuring out what's where in the neighborhood, and realizing how tired you are.

I can't complain; we've a small flat in Patrick Street, and very cozy it is: upper floor overlooking the cathedral green—LOVING the church bells!—sitting room, bedroom, kitchen, bath. I prefer this to the more usual hotels or B&Bs. I'd far rather leave scheduling loose, and having to abide by fixed mealtimes (especially breakfast!) is a pain in the backside. A kitchen makes it possible to play hands-on with local food (I still say Wales has the best lamb in existence), and hang out over something to eat with friends for hours without dirty looks from wait staff.

We're liking Dublin enormously, even after just part of one day. The people, every last one us ignorant furriners have dealt with so far, have been incredibly nice. What little we've seen of the city is beautiful, and perfect for hours of walking, which we like better than any other mode of transport when traveling. I'd far rather be able to pause and look at the buildings and people, and listen to the sounds of life going on around me. This doesn't preclude travel by speedier means when more efficient; I just like <feeling> other cities directly. Besides, walking leaves travel open to serendipitous discoveries—fun little shops off the beaten path, small local eateries, and things to see and do I'd otherwise miss.

Today's major fun was a mid-afternoon meal at Queen of Tarts in Cow's Lane. Their site (http://www.queenoftarts.ie/) details the food to perfection....and perfection it was, altogether. I admit I'd cheerfully swim the Atlantic to eat the stuff, but the place itself is just fun. It was hard not to compare the afternoon to a similar one at Maids of Honour in Kew some years ago—not unfavorably to either establishment, I hasten to say (before the English beat me up).

The recommendation of the excellent Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@jbbc on Twitter), the Cow's Lane Queen (there's another, in Dame Street, apparently) is small, and crammed. I wonder if the line ever disappears, though it's worth the wait. Lots of small round wooden café tables and chairs, all laden with flowered china; cheerful waitresses who take the time to chat over the offerings with you; enormous pots of tea (and very good coffee!)...we spent most of the afternoon eating, drinking, and observing and chatting with those around us.

The other folks were a very diverting cross-section of humanity. Next to us was a large group of mums, aunties, and small girls, all dressed up for a girly outing. They were convivial fun, breezy and friendly. Very different they were from Grannie, Mummy, and Isabella-age-six, the group in Maids—informal and outgoing, just really nice people. There were groups of teenage girls, anchored by put-upon fathers, young couples, and middle aged ladies taking a break from shopping. More surprising were the business men in beautiful three-piece suits, and the gaggle of teenage boys in hoodies—neither were the sort I'd've expected to see in such a place. And they were just as friendly and interesting as the more-traditional female contingent—mes hommages to the locals!

One final thing: anyone pedantic enough to need to tell me that the title of this is the first line of "Molly Malone", a vaudeville number written in the US, can go pound sand. /grin

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