Had an 8:45 pm flight out of Philadephia, direct to Dublin on USAirways.
Arrived at the airport almost 3 hours before flight time, so of course
there were no lines.
Currency exchange rate is 0.62 Euro/dollar at Philly airport; 0.72 would
be a good rate. The official exchange rate is $1.39 / €1.
A stroke of great luck: the third seat in our row went unoccupied, so my
brother and I weren't squashed together into a middle and window seat.
I'm a reasonably big guy, and my brother is an un
reasonably big guy,
so being able to spread out with an empty seat between us was great.
Sun rose on the left side of the plane, not straight ahead, as we approached
Ireland, so I think a great-circle route brought us in from the NW instead of the W.
Arrived around 9:30. Couldn't find the free hotel shuttle (turns out we
were supposed to know to take the green "Paddywagon" bus; it didn't have
the hotel name displayed on it). So after waiting 45 minutes or so
for the free shuttle, we took the AirCoach (€7 each).
Passed lots of townhouses and duplexes, most of them pretty nice-looking.
Bus let us off on south side of Trinity College; hotel is on north side of it.
So a long walk through fairly crowded sidewalks, with us tired and hot.
Got into the room around 10:30, and left home at 4:30 PM yesterday Eastern time,
so that's about 13 hours end-to-end.
Room 318, cozy but nice. We had to ask the maid how to turn on the lights;
you have to insert your card-key into a special switch just inside
the door and leave it there. Probably intended to force all of the lights
off when you leave the room, so you don't waste electricity.
Hotel is decorated lavishly, and the furniture in the lobby is very interesting
The hotel (Trinity Capital Hotel
is built on top of and around a major firehouse
The street (Pearse St) is a major one-way artery through the east end of the
city; at rush-hour it is solid with traffic, and the lights to cross it have
a pretty long wait.
Rested for a while, then out. Got €100 at the nearby ATM; it printed
a totally blank receipt for me. Walked up a couple of blocks to the river,
and stopped in the first decent pub we came to,
(€14) for Chris, soup-sandwich-soda (€8) for me (the small bottle of Coke
was €2.70, or about $4 !). Chris was delighted to get into a real pub
and have pub food and a real Guinness
the red eyes are from the plane travel).
Hung around the river and the
area for a while
Was able to check on something my friend Gary H had said: when he was here 20 years or so ago,
there were piles of abandoned bicycles in the water under the bridges, especially in this area.
He theorized that a person would stagger out of a pub in the wee hours, get onto their bike,
crash a few times, chuck the bike into the river, and stagger home. Nice story, but
there are no such piles of bikes here today.
Seems the toilet signs here are missing a letter:
Short walk across Halfpenny Bridge, then up to Abbey St, down that a little,
back across to the Temple Bar
then back to the hotel. Just to get the lay of the place a little.
Chris crashed for 4 hours or so; I decided to stay awake. I went out for
a short walk around the block, to check out the Tara St DART station.
Later, a long walk east down Pearse St to the canals/docks area
turned out to be a lot longer walk than it looks on the tourist map. There's some kind
of South Dock Festival next week (never could find out more about it; neither hotel nor Tourist Info center
people could find out anything about it).
Lots of nice-looking urban young women on the streets, but they're wearing
too many clothes for my taste (I'm used to the Caribbean, where I live and cruise
on my boat).
Lots of apartments in the canal/dock area, but the buildings aren't too big or ugly,
and small stores are sprinkled around. So the area is done intelligently.
Later, we wandered out to a grocery store for stuff: bought some grapes and
fixings for PBJ sandwiches. Sat on benches by the river and ate, wandered back
to the hotel, ate some more and watched TV (10 channels). We're tired.
The hotel is not quite as deluxe as we had hoped: no air-conditioning in the room,
no vent-fan in the bathroom, breakfast not included.
I went to sleep at 10, and woke up at 11:30 feeling it must be dawn, and I
was ready to get up and go. The time-zone adjustment is going to take a while.
Nice: free newspapers in the lobby downstairs.
Totally grey weather.
Got started a little after 9.
Walked across the river.
Passed a church I came to call the "PVC church", because the railings around the door
are PVC pipe:
Caught a red-line tram to Heuston Station to the west (€2.90 return each).
Had some trouble finding the
Irish Museum of Modern Art
, but we found it. Mostly empty; a huge
old former hospital building with a few galleries in it
A few nice things in it.
Formal garden next to it is pretty severe and uninteresting.
Went out the west end, thinking we were heading south, and it started raining.
Walked through a suburb, trying to find the tram line, and finally found
the Suir's Road station, a couple south of where we expected to be. Took
a crowded tram to the Jervis stop, NW of Temple Bar.
Crossed the river
taken at some forgotten time)
into Temple Bar, one of the major tourist areas.
Used paperback books being sold for €5 to €6 at the Temple Bar Market;
seems a bit high.
Lunch at "The Quays" restaurant. Fish-chips-Guinness for me, bangers-mash-Guinness for Chris.
Check plus tip came to €30 (about $42). This place is not cheap.
When we paid wih a credit card, instead of taking the card away, the waitress
brought a handheld Wi-Fi-connected credit-card machine to the table, and ran the card
right there, and had us press a button to authorize the charge. We saw this again in
other places, later. Pretty cool. (And we found that no one accepted American Express.)
Went to Tourist Info center in an old church. No info on the "South Dock Festival".
And of course an Ireland experience wouldn't be complete without ... a Falun Gong protest ?
Into Trinity College briefly, just to scope it out. Lots of tourists pouring in and out.
Back to the hotel.
Later, out to Trinity College, but we had just missed the last tour (we didn't
realize they had a somewhat odd schedule).
Walked down Grafton St
a major pedestrian-only and shopping street, and a major
tourist area. It's totally packed with people; you have to be alert while walking
to avoid collisions.
Walked down to St Stephen's Green,
a very nice and fairly big park
Lots of pigeons,
lots of people, huge trees, ducks and swans and seagulls.
Into a shopping mall on Grafton St, just to check it out and look at some
Very informative directory in the mall:
To a grocery store, then back to the hotel. PBJ sandwiches and banana and coleslaw for dinner.
Had a headache.
To the Tara St DART station, intending to go north to Malahide or Howth, but
found that the Sunday schedule is too sparse. Instead of the "every 20-30 minutes"
quoted by the guidebook, the trains we want are more like every 70-80 minutes on Sundays.
So we shifted gears.
Walked up the river to the Viking/Medieval area. Streets pretty empty
on a Sunday morning:
To Christchurch Cathedral
but they're having services and we're not really dressed for it (and as extremely
we'd probably burst into flame if we set foot inside).
A couple of blocks down
to St Patrick's Cathedral
which has a very nice park. Lounged there for a while.
Back up to the Christchurch Cathedral area to find a toilet and then get a cup
of coffee for Chris.
Some nice street-art:
SE to St Stephen's Green for a while.
Up Grafton St to people-watch and look around. Sunnier and warmer today than yesterday.
Lunch at Bruxelle's pub. Roast pork (€10) for me; banger-mash-Guinness (€16)
Up Dawson St to Trinity College and around it, and back to the hotel.
Out to Trinity College
for the 2:50 tour (€10 each).
Tour guide has a physics degree from here, teaches philosophy here, and has been
here 25 years. He gives a pretty entertaining lecture. The college was built
on a mud plain, making challenges for the builders. Only the top two floors of
the old library are used for books by design; the first floor is too moist. Another
building settled so badly that they had to tear it down and build it anew 30 years
after first building it.
The ancient books (Book of Kells, etc) in the old library are overrated; not
very impressive. But the ancients did find something useful in Afghanistan, unlike us today: they
brought lapis lazuli from there to make blue coloring to use in the illustrated books.
Rained hard for 5 minutes as we got out of the crammed gift shop at the end of the tour;
we sheltered in a passageway through a modern building. Then across the street and
into a sweater store. Then down past the national museum, up Grafton St (crowded as always),
and back to the hotel.
Three tries to get an adapter plug from the front desk that would let
me plug in my camera battery charger. But I got it working.
At 7 PM, out and down the length of Temple Bar to Parliament St,
at the border between Temple Bar and the Viking/Medieval area.
Dinner at a Persian place we'd seen earlier. Lamb shish and a soda for me (€10).
Into Temple Bar Square to hang out for a while. Lots of interesting
people to watch, some pretty women, and a band playing on the street.
To Fitzgerald's pub, for a pint of Guinness each (about €4.50 each).
To a grocery store for bread and trail mix and such.
Plenty of groups of lads out on the sidewalks tonight, half-drunk and out to
get totally drunk.
Back to the hotel by 9:30.
Laid sleepless in bed until 3 AM or so.
Chris's 50th birthday !
Out and across the river and up O'Connell St. To the
Garden of Remembrance
Then across the street to the Dublin City Gallery - The Hugh Lane, which
turns out to be closed on Mondays.
Down through a street of farmers-market stalls, to a mall, which turns out
to have a city library inside it. Got a guest card and managed to get 10
minutes of internet access (would have had to wait an hour to get more).
Just enough to check for any urgent email and tell the family back home
that we're alive.
Some pictures of people on the street, just so you can get a sense of what
they looked like:
Across the Liffey River and into Temple Bar.
Lunch at "The Shack" pub. Pepperoni-mushroom-tagliatelle (€10) for me;
fish-chips-coffee (€13) for Chris.
Long walk west to the
(€15 each admission). Turns out
to be a huge glitzy brewery-museum, built in the old brewery building (the
current brewery is a couple of blocks north, and is immense). Tour starts with
a 9000-year lease that Arthur Guinness signed with the city; he was that
confident that the brewery would be a success. Then you wind your way up, for
a total of 7 stories or so, with exhibits showing how the beer is and was made.
The most interesting part was the barrelmaking operation, which employed
about 300 coopers at its height.
Was able to check on something my friend Chris had asked: do some bars use a "resonator"
to make the Guinness foam without "putting a lot of nitrous in the beer" ? I asked
the attendants in the tasting room, and they said there is a device called a "surger"
which some foreign bars use. They pour the pint, then set it on the "surger" plate,
and it vibrates the beer and this does something to it (I'm not clear if it would
give less foam or more, or do something else).
The top story is a bar where you get a pint of Guinness (I had a soda), and
the glass walls give a tremendous nearly-360 view of Dublin. Pretty crowded,
and impossible to get a seat. We enjoyed the view and drank our drinks and
I wished Chris a Happy Birthday.
Up to Phoenix Park
but it was farther away than expected, we were pretty
footsore, and the park seemed to be mostly empty (no focus). So we sat
a bit, sheltered under big trees while it rained, and then headed back
to Heuston Station. Onto the tram (€1.50 each), to Abbey St, and
back to the hotel. Took a picture of the (unoccupied rear-end) driver's compartment
on the tram:
Out around 7 PM. Walked down Grafton St, where I was disgusted to
see that one of the street-entertainments was a bagpiper; I hate bagpipes.
To the "Gotham" restaurant for dinner. I had a biggish personal pizza (€11);
Chris had a similar pizza, antipasto and two sodas (€20). So with tip that
was about a $46 meal. This town is expensive.
Back to the hotel. Lots of serious road-repair going on.
Got another €100 from an ATM; it printed a receipt with about the
top 2 lines of print working, and the rest too faint to read.
Pouring rain. Got two umbrellas from front desk.
Headed to National Gallery
(went a bit roundabout; I misremembered where it was).
Big museum ! Lots of Dutch and Italian paintings, some sculpture, nice drawings by Clarke.
One strange Italian painting with (among normal figures and other things) a
chalice with two eyeballs sitting on top of it. Fair number of cherubs. Irish
paintings by Jack Yeats.
As we were heading for the coat-check to retrieve our umbrellas and leave,
very loud alarms went off, and they evacuated the whole place (found out
later it was the fire alarm). We left our umbrellas there and headed for lunch.
Lunch at "George's Terrace", a restaurant for lawyers and government people and such.
I had pork and potatoes and apple; Chris had bangers and mash. Total €21.
Back to the museum to retrieve the umbrellas, then back to the hotel.
We've noticed that closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras are monitoring everything,
on the streets and in the stores and restaurants and on trams and trains.
Very heavy coverage in the tourist areas and near important buildings.
Out to the National Museum
- Archaelogy. Free admission, so jammed with teenagers.
They had "bog bodies", ancient sacrificed bodies buried in the bogs and very well
preserved by the environment. (Now my new nickname for Chris is "bog body".)
Also a very nice replica of a 20-foot Viking sailing/rowing boat.
To the Tourist Info center
; it's in a converted church);
Chris wants to go on a Wicklow bus tour. But he
found out that they're all completely undersubscribed this week; no more than 4 people
signed up for any one day, and they need 15 or more. So he gave up on that.
Down Grafton St, and heard some nice music along the way. Sat in St Stephen's Green
for 20-30 minutes, but rain started sprinkling. Started to leave, then had to stand
under trees for 5 minutes with lots of other people whie it poured.
Then up Grafton St and back to the hotel.
(Grafton St empty for a change:
; not sure when I took this.)
Out to Temple Bar for dinner. To "The Quay" restaurant again. I had
chicken-pasta and "boxy cake" (not very impressive) and a Guinness, and
Chris had mushrooms and fish-chips and a Guinness, and the whole bill
and tip came to about €55 (about $77). Money is flying out.
Watched the crowd in Temple Bar Square for a while; there was a band again.
Then back to the hotel.
Swine flu is in the news; every death in Ireland or the UK is big news here.
Every time Chris sneezes I make the (poor) joke of saying "probably swine flu".
To Tara St DART station
Bought return tickets to Malahide (€4.20 each).
A 20-minute ride up, then a longish walk into the
grounds, which are heavily wooded. Damp and shady woods
Past a big, fancy playground.
Made a detour to the toilets.
Then to the castle. Found I could use my hands to make the "clip-clopping" noise
that they used coconut halves to make in Monty Python's "Holy Grail"
). The noise
irritated Chris for some reason, so I did it a few more times.
€11.50 each for combined castle and model railroad tour. The castle is smallish
but nice, with lots of interesting woodwork and furnishings. Bunch of tiny cute kids
were going in just after we came out; wonder what the heck they're going to do in the
Just ahead of the rain, went over to the model railroad museum. Narrated layout,
but it was somewhat dark so they could play a dramatic spotlight on the part they
were talking about at the moment, and I didn't like all of the dimness. Out and back
in to see the static exhibits we'd had to rush past to get into the tour, and the
exhibits and photographs are nice.
Out and back to the toilets, then back to town. Tramped up and down a couple of
streets before we found a decent pub, which turned out to be pretty comfortable,
except for the regrettable American music (Barry Manilow, etc).
Burger-fries for me (€8.50) and Guinness-smallsteak-fries for Chris.
We lingered for a while.
Walked down to the marina, then tried to come out through the middle
of it and were forced to go all the way around. Eventually made it to
the station and onto the train and back to town and hotel.
Out later to walk to NE part of the city, which we haven't been to (it's
mostly the financial district). Up to the river and walked along it.
Interesting new "harp" bridge
not yet in service. It's a swing bridge,
swinging open so ships can go up the river. But they can't go more than
another 1/4 mile or so, before getting to fixed bridges and shallow water.
Interesting big, complicated sailboat (schooner) docked in the river
The tidal range in the river here is about 10 feet. But I've noticed that
the newspaper prints a tide chart showing only the times and heights of
high tide; they omit the low tides. Strange.
Had to wait out some rain, in the shelter of some buildings.
Ducked into a mall
but Chris didn't want to sit in there, on the general principle that malls are to be avoided.
Walked to Talbot St,
ducking rain, and got groceries at a Tesco. Walked through rain back to the
hotel, and it stopped raining soon after we got inside.
Had a dinner of fruit and juice and PBJ sandwiches in the room.
Chris is very tired; he didn't sleep well last night.
Across the river to the tram, and to Heuston Station (€3 return each).
Thought of cheating and going one station more than our tickets allowed (just
over the border into Zone 2),
but as soon as we boarded, our tickets were checked, and the checkers stayed
aboard. So we were forced to be honest, and got off where we were supposed to.
Into the station so Chris could use the toilet (€0.30). I noticed that
a one-day return train ticket to Galway was about €35, and everything
else was quite a bit more expensive; always good to price out options.
To the Irish Museum of Modern Art again, to see an exhibit that opened just yesterday.
Not worth going out of the way for, but this is on the way to our main destination today.
(Saw a well-named childcare place on the way:
And an interesting new building, but hard to get far enough away to photograph:
The new exhibit was tiny but interesting, mostly figures made out of paper-mache
with newspaper-like print on the outside, then pierced with toothpicks and/or
with blood-red insides exposed. All making political statements about various
people or issues.
Out the long driveway to the west gate again, and across the street to
this morning's destination. €6 each. Interesting museum
and tour. Tour a bit crowded, and through tight passageways and into small rooms.
This jail was designed to hold 200 prisoners, one per cell, but at the height of
famine held 9000, partly because it offered a roof and (some) guaranteed food
to prisoners. But it's big claim to fame is that it became a political-prisoner
jail, and after the failed 1916 rebellion against the British, 14 ringleaders
were jailed and then shot here. Each cell where they were held is labelled with
their names, and we heard a bit about each one and how they died. The jail was
closed (not sure when, 1930's ?), abandoned, and then restored (maybe in the 1990's ?).
When they went to restore it, the roof of the main three-story cell-block had fallen
in and there was 6 inches of dirt with trees growing on the floor inside.
Found a nearby pub next to a canal, and had a long, leisurely lunch. Nice place,
except the TV screen was on some rap-music-video channel.
We had burgers (€6.50 each).
Up to Heuston Station and onto a crowded tram. Off at Abbey St, and up O'Connell St
to the Garden of Remembrance. Footsore. Sat a little while.
Across the street and into the Dublin City Gallery - The Hugh Lane
. Free admission,
and a very nice building with great paintings, some old and some modern. Interesting
exhibit on a modern Irish painter named Francis Bacon, including his complete studio,
which he described (on video) as "controlled chaos" (emphasis on the "chaos").
Out and sat in the Garden of Remembrance for quite a while; more people here now,
and we're tired. Rain threatened, as usual. Back to the hotel (saw a very pretty
woman on the way back, dressed unlike most other women here:
Snoozed, watched TV, ate some grapefruit. I have a big blister on the side of
one toe; drained it and hoped it won't get nasty.
I've been taking pictures of interesting buildings:
for my Heineken-drinking friends in St Thomas.
And this one reminds me of the "Crimson Permanent Assurance" building in
Monty Python's "Meaning Of Life":
Also, the Customs Building
across the river; don't know if it's open to the public.
Out to Fitzgerald's pub for pints of Guinness. Have yet to have a real conversation
with any of the locals; most people in here are tourists, and everyone in here
clumps together with the people they came in with. I guess if we stayed for several
more pints and got tipsy and friendly we could start nudging our way into conversations,
but that's not our personalities. Watched a dart championship on the big TV screen,
and it turned out to be quite fast-paced and interesting. Two guys throwing darts,
with no wasted time, bam-bam-bam, almost alway aiming
for the triple-20, with us struggling to see what they'd scored and
what their strategies were. A live audience of 1000 or so drinking and cheering, and the camera
showing anxious wives cheering the contestants, etc. We were riveted.
When it was over, I went to the grocery store next door, got a few groceries,
and back to the hotel. Chris went to Temple Bar for a little shopping
I have a bit of a headache again.
Out to the DART Pearse Station and headed south (€4.20 each return to Dalkey).
But Chris started feeling sick, and we got off at Dun Loghaire
to find a toilet.
Chris ended up heading back to the hotel; I went onwards.
is a pretty small town, at least the center of it, and the
"castle" is right on the main street
Signed up for the live reenactment/tour (€6), and
I turned out to be the only person on it ! An odd feeling to stand there and
be greeted by a period-costumed actor and then have a bright conversation with
them, as part of the act. They were set in 1610, and asked me questions such
as "was I a friend or foe of their lord ?" and "would you like to hire on as
a bowman ?". First with Rupert the bowman, then Barnaby the cook, then Hester
the barber (which includes doctor and dentist). It was fun and interesting,
but I never had a chance to relax and look around the place and take pictures, as I would
have as part of a group.
Nice views from the battlements. This "castle" actually is one of a set of seven
"storehouses", used to transit goods between the land and the harbor, and protect
the goods and people. But it's a proper small castle I guess: the huge ground
floor is all storehouse, but the next floor is living space, and the top is battlements
with guard-niches and arrow-slits and high stone walls to protect the defenders.
And the spiral stairs are "trip stairs": the steps are different heights and widths
to make them difficult to rush up against defenders, and they spiral upwards clockwise,
so a right-handed swordsman's sword hand is stuck against the center and at a disadvantage
against the defenders above him.
These "castles" were British; there's an opposing Irish castle/tower on the cliff-top a mile or
two inland, but Rupert pretends not to see it, and tells me all about how the Irish
are savage and smelly and evil people.
Rupert had me draw the longbow. The bow has a range
of about 180 yards, and as the first arrow hits the target, a second arrow would be
in mid-flight, and the archer would be readying a third arrow. The bow looks unusual to me:
it's a simple curved flexible piece of wood. I thought a longbow had a "recurve" (not sure
if that's the right word): the middle would have a curve convex to the archer, and
the ends would have curves concave to the archer.
Barnaby the cook showed me some typical foods, and emphasized the lack of
hygiene of the cook and diners. And showed me the garderobe where (among other things)
the guests could hang their cloaks above buckets of urine (or plunge them into the
buckets) to kill the lice.
Hester the barber showed me the chair/table where patients could be strapped down
for tooth-extraction, amputations, and other fun operations. She said there usually
was one cloth bandage, dried and reused from patient to patient, and the way the
red bandage was wrapped around a pole to be dried gave us the modern barber-pole symbol.
to live in the 21st century.)
Checked out the old church and graveyard next to the castle.
Wandered around the town for a while. Real-estate offices show lots of
multi-million Euro houses in this area; even an apartment purchase costs
more than €300,000.
Eventually headed back to the DART station,
but had to stand under trees for 5 minutes to wait out some heavy rain.
Another €2.30 for a return ticket; apparently my short DunLoghaire-Dalkey leg
used up my previous ticket (I asked at the window about this, but didn't ask carefully enough).
Back to the hotel for lunch and relaxation.
I've been taking pictures of interesting or amusing stores:
We've seen this Viking tour bus several times:
Looks like a fun jaunt: they hand out a few horned Viking helmets to the passengers.
Amphibious, so they probably get into a canal.
Later, we went down Grafton St to St Stephen's Green and loafed for a while.
Newspapers have been full of news that Ikea is opening their first store in the Republic
of Ireland, on Monday, I think. There's a store in Northern Ireland (in Belfast), but
this will be first in Ireland. An insane frenzy of shoppers and traffic is expected
for the first few days at least. And Ikea has been doing publicity stunts: yesterday,
they plopped some furniture on the sidewalks in various places, free for anyone to take,
and the newspapers have pictures of delighted people carting off sofas and such.
Today, they have some performance-art-type furniture in various places; we just went
past one in the street outside the entrance to Trinity College
Back up Grafton St, ducking into a phone store for a few minutes to wait out rain. Then past
the hotel to find a pub east of it, not an easy thing to do. First one was crammed,
second was bar-only, but then we found "The Lombard". I had a burger (€12);
Chris had prawns and Guinness and fish-chips (€20).
There's a big U2 concert tonight, in a stadium on the north side not too
far away, I think. First of a 3-concert series here, the end of their European tour,
and it's been in the newspapers all week (especially pictures of "The Claw",
a huge four-legged structure they build in the middle of the stadium, for
a light/video show;
And Dublin is U2's home city; they're from here.
All of the bars and shops are playing U2,
and fans have been flooding into the city. Apparently, tickets still are available (cheapest
is €95), but we're not interested.
Up to the river for a brief walk
taken at various times),
then back to the hotel.
Free shuttle to airport leaves at 7:15 or 9:15; 8:15 would be perfect for us to catch
our 11:15 flight.
So we're up at 6 and onto the 7:15 bus (which has seats really crammed in, quite
a bit worse than airplane seats).
Into the airport, and the flight's listed as 40-minute delay, and lines aren't
moving for a while. We chat with others in line; some are U2 fans who came
in for the concert, and others are Irish heading out to Miami for vacation.
But then we get checked in, go through Security (Chris had a couple of
jars of Guinness mustard confiscated), and find a cafe to sit in and
spend a few of our last Euro's. Chat with a nice 45ish-50ish couple from
Los Angeles who flew here just to attend the concert, and they say it was good.
Saw a cop on a Segway in the terminal, and wanted to take a picture of him, but
that probably would have gotten me arrested.
I've been reading every Irish newspaper I could get my hands on, all week,
and they're interesting. The international coverage is very thin, and even
Irish coverage is strange: five articles on the same story right next to each other,
often with a lot of repetition and not all the depth that the bulk would imply.
But some interesting things: there have been some serious drug-war-type shootings going
on somewhere in south Dublin. Many municipal water systems in Ireland are producing
water that's not quite up to standards. Media here goes wild about the same kind
of "celebrity in trouble with the law" stories we have in the USA (with local Irish
celebrities and athletes, of course). The economic depression triggered a report
on how the government can cut spending, and to everyone's shock the report is serious
and in-depth and suggests all kinds of spending reforms and consolidations and could
really do something to improve government operations, and all kinds of politicians
and interest groups are terrified that these proposals could actually get implemented.
Flight left mostly on time (the pilot announced that we were taxiing past U2's
plane, and we all craned our necks to look out and say "oooh" and giggle),
and went smoothly. We luckily had changed our seats
from middle-window to two aisle seats at check-in (a big benefit of being early),
so we were as comfortable as you can be on a 7-hour flight. Our bags were first
off the carousel at Philly, and we were home by 3:45 PM. We got the shuttle this morning
at 2:15 AM Eastern time (Dublin is 5 hours ahead of NJ), so the travel took almost 14 hours end-to-end.
My brother had 2200 emails waiting when he got back (most from machines
and could be deleted; he's a computer administrator at Princeton University).
Downloaded 217 pictures from my camera (171 keepers). Chris got about 130 out of his camera.
A couple of pictures of me, taken by Chris:
Looks like my credit-card was converting currency at $1.42 / €1, which is quite a fair rate (rate
on Google was $1.39 / €1 before we left and $1.42 / €1 after we came back).
And my ETrade ATM card was converting currency at $1.41 / €1, which is even better (and no
ATM fees). And no unauthorized charges on either card. [Later, my credit card charged me an additional
3% on the total of all foreign-currency transactions. So the ATM card was better.]