A Little Dublin City Exploration

The Arrival of my American Colleagues (27/8/13)
I woke up early to upload my second blog post and to talk to some friends back home at 7:30am because I could not go back to sleep. The internet was much better in the morning because less people were using it. Breakfast is free every day at Abigail’s Hostel where I’m staying. They put out hard-boiled eggs, orange juice (from concentrate), cereal (chocolate Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes), canned fruits (pears and peaches), toast (white or wheat bread), yogurt, milk, coffee, butter and strawberry jam.

A delicious complimentary breakfast served everyday from 7:30am-10:30am

One of my American companions, Ann, arrived at the hostel during breakfast and we were happy to discover that she is in the same room as me, as we booked separately. Before going out on an exploration expedition, we left some of her things on my bed. She got picked up from the airport by a “buddy” from Trinity, who gave her a free O2 SIM card with credits on it for her to use. However, her iPhone does not use a regular SIM card, so we went to Grafton Street to get the SIM card punched out into a mini-SIM card so it would fit her phone. While we were looking for the O2 store, we passed Boots, a pharmacy like Rite Aid or CVS. I went in to look for band-aids because I got blisters on my feet. I discovered that band-aids were not known as “adhesive bandages”, but “plasters” as they are known in England, or the UK. What surprised me is they have plasters SPECIFICALLY designed for blisters. I might not have been to buy band-aids in a long time, but…they make those?!

After returning to the hostel, we sat around and talked until 2pm when my other two American companions, Sam and Kat, found us at the hostel. We sat around and continued our random conversations until 5pm, when Ann decided she needed to sleep, after about 2 hours of saying “I won’t be able to make it to…[insert time between 2pm and 5pm]..”. After Ann went to sleep, the other four of us decided we were hungry at one point and began to think about possible dinner options. We ended up going to the grocery store SuperValu 3-4 doors down. It’s like the Fresh & Easy back home with healthy options everywhere, but still a few pre-made things like a regular grocery store like Ralphs or Albertsons. We ended up deciding on two 12” pizzas, for €5 each, between the four of us. The pizzas looked healthy and simple. While we were at the store, my German companion and I went looking for Q-tips, or – as Americans call it – “cotton swabs”. After my German companion asked me to name it, I asked a store employee. She looked at me like I was crazy. I had to describe it as “a stick with cotton on the ends”. She pointed behind us. Apparently in Ireland, “cotton swabs” are known as “cotton BUDS”. Then back at the hostel, we dealt with the hard part of dinner: we had to bake the pizza in an oven. That oven…was SO confusing. Nothing in American appliances has ever looked this simple, but yet be so complicated, in my opinion. Thankfully, my German companion took over and cooked the pizza for us, since it looked like her oven at home. I took charge of cutting the pizza into slices for us, via a spatula – not fun. After dinner, Sam and Kat did the dishes before we all retired for the night.

The confusing oven with ONLY two dials, one with pictures and one for temperature (in Celsius).

A Day of Searching for Housing (28/8/13)
I woke up at 6:30am to talk with friends in the morning again. I really like this waking up early thing. I’ve missed it in the past few years, being busy with school work and commuting. I’m definitely a morning person. Anyways, it was a lazy day of sitting at the hostel all day looking for housing via various websites we were recommended. For most of the day, it was just my German companion and I, my three American companions took a walk to Trinity before settling down to look for housing or, in Kat’s case, to rest. While we were hanging out there for the day, I met a fellow coworker from my job on-campus this past school year. Apparently she is here in Ireland for a short while during her trip around Europe. It was nice to see a familiar face from home…sort of. During our search, we were trying to figure out the power outlets here and we were sharing one outlet among four people. Thankfully our laptops did not ALL die at the SAME time, but rather just one at a time. The outlets look crazy with a switch next to almost every outlet, though. You have to turn the switch to the off position, top part pressed down, then put in your plug, then switch the outlet on. I was told that this is because the voltage here is very high compared to other places.

My American plug with an adapter (no convertor necessary for many electronics) in an Irish outlet…with switches.

After a day of scouring the web on at least 6-8 different websites, each of us found 1-2 rooms we were interested in, other than Kat. Sam and Ann went on an adventure to look at their rooms, as they had appointments today. However, my German companion had made appointments for tomorrow. While Sam and Ann were out, walking around Dublin, my German companion, Kat and I cleaned up a bit at the hostel before we took a walk on the town. We had some fun just getting lost and walking around. We walked across the Ha’penny Bridge, or Liffey Bridge, which had many love locks on it. We watched an adorable couple be all mushy gushy on the bridge as they put their lock on the bridge.

Left: a couple celebrating their love with a love lock. Right: the middle arch of Ha’penny/Liffey Bridge with love locks on it.

After Sam and Ann returned from their walking adventure, all five of us walked down to temple bar in search of fish and chips for dinner. We got lost a good bit before we found a place to eat. We settled on a small place called Leo Burdock’s. It caught Sam’s eye because it said “traditional fish and chips” on the front. After we entered, he said we HAVE TO eat here because the tip jar said “Funds to kill Justin Beiber”. Also, there was a fake shark with a hat on his head coming out of one of the walls. What silliness. All of the Americans ended up ordering fish and chips, while my German companion had chicken nuggets with curry sauce. The fish and chips basket was GINORMOUS. It was probably at least 12 inches long, 3 inches deep, and 5 inches wide. They gave us a nice nest of fries with a giant, fried fillet of fish, cod to be specific – I think. At the place, they had a side of “mushy peas”. WHAT?!

Delicious Fish and Chips. Yes, that’s one big slab of fried fish.

After dinner we wandered around Temple Bar and watched the night life a bit. On our way back to the hostel, we saw a man with a rainbow-colored bike attracting a lot of attention. The five of us stood on the steps of a business to look over the crowd. He was offering €30 to anyone who could ride the bike across the bumpy carpet. Why was it so hard? The carpet was about 6 yards long and the bike was altered. If you turned the handle left, the front wheel would turn to the right and vice versa. We watched as a lot of people tried and failed. It was good entertainment. Then, we headed back toward the hostel. On our way back, we saw a set-up of head-cut outs so you’d be a leprechaun. Next to it, there was a sign that said “Keyrings €3” in various languages. We got my German companion to pronounce the German translation for us. For the next hour or two, we were trying to say “Schlüssel“, meaning key. Right before we reached the hostel, we went down a cute little street with nice artwork on the walls that seems to be associated with the artwork on the stairs of our hostel.

Alley/street with artwork of Irish playwrights.

After resting some more, we went across the Liffey River to a pub. We went in because there was a Irish woman in the front, who was a customer, who claimed that it was the cheapest beer around at €4.40 a pint. So we went in. It was a very interestingly designed pub. My German companion and Sam each got a pint while Ann and I took sips from their drinks. We ended up getting back to the hostel shortly after midnight.

Word/Phrase of the Day
Mash – short for mashed potatoes

Miscellaneous Pictures/Amusements of Dublin, Ireland

How in the world is this a key?!

This is what the streets look like. Left: cobblestone, on older roads for driving. Right: uneven pavement for sidewalks.

Odd traffic signs. Left: a pedestrian traffic light, obviously never all on at the same time. Right: some signs that show up on the road on one-way streets.

One of the popular pub alleys of Dublin called Temple Bar.

The city centre…the heart of Dublin…with a statue.

The lovely Liffey River, in front of the hostel, at sunset.

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