Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Commute Chronicles - Reflecting on the Day

I love how the light reflects on the placid surface of the Grand Canal near Grand Canal Dock in Dublin.  These swans caused a ripple in the water as they swam by.
I enjoy looking out over the water and reflecting on the day ahead.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Commute Chronicles - Grand Canal Ducks

Walking to work one morning, we stopped for a coffee at Foodgame and a cookie from Il Valentino.  We paused for a moment along the Grand Canal Dock.  Before we knew it, three ducks were wandering our way in search of wayward crumbs from our madeleine.   
When they realized we were going to be selfish and eat the whole thing ourselves, they wandered back toward the water.
In the meantime, we walked on and passed this statue of Admiral William Brown outside a nearby apartment building. Admiral Brown apparently founded the Argentine Navy.  I'm not sure what a Dubliner was doing in that part of the world or why he was creating a military power -- it was an interesting factoid nonetheless.
Walking back toward work, we passed our duck friends who had now taken to the water.  What a life!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kinopolis - Polish Film Festival in Dublin

San Francisco had a lot of film festivals but there is one thing it didn't have -- a Polish Film Festival.  With that in mind, we decided to see a show as part of Kinopolis, the 5th annual Polish Film Festival in Dublin.
We saw The Reverse which took place in post-World War II Warsaw.  Three generations of women lived in one household and were trying to marry off the youngest among them.  A promising prospect soon emerged but turned out to be too good to be true.  The relationship results in an unplanned pregnancy and murder before the story culminates in present day Warsaw where we see the consequences of the past.  I really liked the film which gave a glimpse into life in communist Poland in the 1950s.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dublin - Wedding Bus

I wonder who the lucky bride and groom are?  It's a little blurry but this Dublin Bus is dubbed "The Wedding Bus".  
Dublin Bus seems to have some pretty innovative ideas beyond typical public transportation like Wedding Bus and Sightseeing Tours.  Muni in San Francisco could stand to learn from them...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Trinity College - The Book of Kells

The Books of Kells dates back over 1000 years.  It's housed in Trinity College and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dublin.  
We finally managed to wait out the tourist season and decided to go visit the Book of Kells on a cold afternoon in October.  Unfortunately, they don't allow pictures inside, so I had to satisfy myself with a view of the building reflected in this broken globe sculpture. 
One of the most amazing things about the Book of Kells beyond the age of the volume was the intricate illustrations that accompanied the text.  The exhibit also gave a glimpse into life in Ireland and Scotland at the time the book was created as well as the life of a modern Trinity College student.  The tour ends in the Long Room of the Old Library -- a dark wood paneled area lined with busts of famous writers and old musty tomes from floor to ceiling.  What a great atmosphere to study in.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dublin -- Pedestrians Beware!

I've found Dublin to have pros and cons when it comes to walking.  On the one hand, the city is compact and easy to get around on foot.  On the other hand, you often encounter intersections like this one.  Yikes!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dublin - Cake Cafe is a Hidden (Seriously Hidden) Gem

We recently took a walk in search of the Cake Cafe which was recommended by our neighbor.  It was a gorgeous afternoon and perfect for exploration.
The bakery proved to be rather elusive.  We walked about 3 blocks out of our way and then around in circles a couple more times before finally chancing upon this sign.
Once we located this seriously hidden gem, we staked out a table in the courtyard.
The cake and coffee were served on old-fashioned and fancy mismatched china.
The apple cake was especially memorable.
We also liked the art inspired by 'found' objects on the wooden shed surrounding the courtyard.  Everything from keys to money to books to computer parts went into the imaginative creations.

Cake Cafe is definitely worth a look on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  It's located in the Daintree Building off of Camden Street in Dublin 2.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Commute Chronicles - Foodgame

A new coffee shop and gourmet grocery called Foodgame recently opened up near Ringsend in Dublin.  I've been in a few times now (in fact, I'm currently the mayor on Foursquare) and the owner is so friendly and enthusiastic about his business that I'm really rooting for him to succeed.  So far, I think he's developed a winning combination -- an excellent latte that doesn't cost a fortune.
The coffee is 2 euro by default and they often run a promotion where the coffee is free (limit 1) if you order in Spanish or Gaelic.  I love this creative approach.  We had fun trying to muster up enough español to place our order.  We did our best and our broken Spanish got us a Buy 1 Get 1 Free deal.  I like that the owner is a good sport.  Definitely stop by if you live or work in this area.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

1916 Rebellion Walking Tour

Our goal is to learn as much as we can about Irish history and culture while we're living in Dublin.  With this in mind, we decided to take the 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour.  Our guide, Lorcan, armed us with a sheet of mug shots showcasing the different personalities that played a role in the story.
We met outside the International Bar in the center of Dublin.
Lorcan regaled us with the exciting and volatile history associated with the period.
Stops included the Bank of Ireland (former Irish Parliament) near Trinity College.
We then crossed the River Liffey.  From this vantage point we could see Liberty Hall which is now the tallest building in Ireland.  It has 16 stories -- one for each of the leaders that was executed by the British after the 1916 Rebellion.  I thought it was curious that there was a sign on the building reading:  "Vote Ireland's Greatest - James Connolly"
We continued up O'Connell Street to the statue of Jim Larkin who founded the Irish Labour Party with James Connolly.
We reflected on the siege that took place outside the General Post Office -- the Irish Freedom Fighters holed up here for 6 days fighting off the British.
We ended the tour at Dublin Castle (maligned by the Irish as an icon of British rule over Ireland). Lorcan pointed out the statue of justice with lopsided scales over the gates of the Castle.
While the 1916 Rebellion was ultimately put down by the British, it paved the way for Irish Independence a few years later.  I highly recommend this fascinating and information-packed tour of Dublin.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dublin - Expats at The Porterhouse

I love the various Meet-ups in Dublin.  They provide a great excuse to go out and experience different pubs and restaurants.  We recently met the American Expats in Dublin group at the Porterhouse in Temple Bar.  
They offer some excellent and diverse craft brews.  I like this huge fermentation tank in the bar that doubles as a table.
We had fun chatting it up with our fellow Americans living in Dublin.  However, we soon learned the perils of going out on a Friday night in Temple Bar.  A Swedish stag party commandeered an area near our table and proceeded to chant loudly while chugging down beer -- it was a novelty the first time but then became progressively more annoying.  If loud binge drinkers aren't your thing (they aren't mine), definitely avoid this part of town on the weekends.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dublin Garden of Remembrance and Writers Museum

A rainy Saturday is a good time for indoor activities.  We decided to visit the Dublin Writers Museum for a good dose of literature and culture.  En route, we passed this interesting black crow crest above a Georgian Door on the north side of Dublin (along O'Connell Street).
We walked through the Garden of Remembrance which is across the street from the Writers Museum.  The Garden commemorates those that died in the cause of Irish freedom.
A plaque stands at the far end of the park near the statue above.

We Saw A Vision


In the darkness of despair we saw a vision - we lit the light of hope - and it was not extinguished - in the desert of discouragement we saw a vision - we planted the tree of valour - and it blossomed.


In the winter of bondage we saw a vision - we melted the snow of lethargy - and the river of resurrection flowed from it -


We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river - the vision became a reality - winter became summer - bondage became freedom - and this we left to you as your inheritance - 


O generations of freedom remember us, the generations of the vision -
The Dublin Writers Museum is housed in a gorgeous Georgian townhome.  
We were welcomed by this beautiful stained glass window.
The ornate period plasterwork is worth the trip in and of itself.
Photographs were only allowed in certain parts of the museum.  I liked this collection of busts upstairs.
Brendan Behan drew from his personal experiences while incarcerated in Irish prisons in his literary works.  He definitely looks the part of the bad boy.
There was a lovely courtyard near the back of the museum.  If the weather had been nicer, it would have been fun to sit outside and have a coffee.
There was also a children's area upstairs with whimsical characters painted on the walls.
We walked from the Writers Museum to Milk and Honey Cafe for a coffee with friends.  En route, I captured a daytime snap of Liffeytown, the art installation on the river for the Absolut Fringe Festival.
I liked this old school sign:  "Why Go Bald".
Milk and Honey offered a great atmosphere and delectable sweet treats.
We walked off our afternoon snack by heading home via Merrion Square Park.  We admired the jaunty Oscar Wilde statue in the park and noted some of his famous quotes.  I chuckled when I saw at the Writers Museum that Oscar Wilde supposedly once proclaimed to US Customs:  "I have nothing to declare but my genius".  Brilliant!