We had an easy day of getting around Dublin today on the Hop On – Hop Off bus. We left our car in the hotel car park to avoid having to find parking spots and the hassles of getting around. It was actually a bank holiday today and the traffic ultimately seemed a lot lighter than yesterday when we arrived. The bus allowed us to see most of the stand-out spots in the city, but I have to say that compared to other European cities, I find Dublin a little under-whelming.
1. When I go to other cities like Paris, Oslo, London, Edingurgh etc, there always seems to something that stands out and makes you want to say ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’. Nothing seems to stand out at all here and I find the city quite bland. Whilst it has a number of fine Georgian terraces that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the city just seems rather drab. This is not helped by the economy. In the commercial and professional areas there are a a large number of property vacancies. When I asked the doorman about the economic conditions in the country, he simply said “It’s Fooked”.
2. Whilst the book of Kells is the cultural highlight of the city, the most visited site is clearly the Guinness Brewery. It is situated on a 4 acre site on the middle of the city and on the Grand Canal. It is reputed to be the biggest brewery in the world! There is a fantastic animated display of the brewing process which extends across three floors of the old storage building. On the 7th floor there is a bar with a 360 degree view across the city where I could sample a pint of the brown nectar. (Jill and Ruth retreated to the 1st floor cafe for a coffee and jam scone.
3. There is clearly a sense of Dublin being a religious city. There are more Protestant churches than I might have thought and there are a lot of churches clearly visible throughout the suburbs. This is the Anglican Cathedral of St Patrick.
4. On the other hand, pubs are prolific. I have never sen as many pubs in one place as here. There is one on every corner. This one has been in business for over 300 years.
5. There is clearly a high level of pride in Dublin about it’s history of rebellion and independance. It was here that the patriots declared independence from the British and fought a civil war in the early 20th Century to achieve self rule in 1922. There are many statues of key figures in the central city. The central Post office in O’Connell street was a central rallying point.
When I hear about some of the old conditions under British rule, it seems no wonder to me that the Irish revolted. I understand that Catholics were not allowed to vote or to even own land. I remember as a kid that my mother told me to cross the street as I walked home from school past a Catholic Church, but that bigotry was nothing compared to the enmity that existed here. One of the things that I am quite proud of in being an Australian is that we are a very egalitarian country and (mostly) hold people to be equal regardless of race, religion social status.
6. Irish people seem to me to be quite short. I know that since my height is 195cm, most people are comparatively short but as I stand in the street in Dublin, I see very few tall people and the average height of people seems much shorter than that which I see at home.
7. Thank goodness for the current high value of the Australian Dollar. On this trip, a pint of beer is only costing me about $6.40, while on my last trip to Europe, it was costing me a most $12.00
I’m going to be interested to see if these impressions alter, or continue, as we begin to travel around the country from tomorrow.