Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dublin day 6: 11,158 steps so far

Another glorious warm sunny day here on the Costa del Dublin. Temperatures up around a blistering 20, people out in their shorts and bikini tops sunbathing. Instead of staying in the big city we opted for a day trip to Howth, ostensibly in search of Dublin Bay Prawns. We began with a huge hotel breakfast. Egg, black and white pudding, roasted potatoes, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato and mushroom, lovely whole meal soda bread with marmalade, a small bowl of prunes, mixed berries and watermelon, and good coffee. And cranberry juice.
We waddled to Pearse Station, stopping in at Sweny the chemist/Joyce museum to talk about Bloom's purchase there of a bar of lemon soap. The man behind the counter talked about the Martello tower and said Joyce had spent one night there. We didn't want to argue with him, but it was actually six nights. At the station we waited for less than half an hour for the train to Howth. We saw many fellow map-walkers on the way, many on the train. There are many foreign accents and foreign languages. It seems other tourists had the same idea.
The train came, we boarded. Lovely modern trains, they are, with big windows for admiring the views. Those views were mainly a pretty green suburbia, and occasional glimpses of Dublin Bay.
It took about half an hour and we were there. Howth is a very pretty fishing village on a peninsula on the northern tip of the great Dublin Bay, and it was jammed with sun-seekers, day-trippers, tourists, children and dogs. The shopkeepers were thrilled with this weather which we Australians just take for granted every day. Here they get maybe 14 of these sunny warm days a year.
We walked up one of the piers, looked at the produce in a couple of fish shops, admired the seal begging food and making up to the tourists, and looked out over the bay.

There was a little trolley tram for tourists, which we are, so we rode it on a very short loop around to Howth Castle. The patter was informative and enjoyable but it ended with possibly the worst joke of the trip. Q: what is blue and fluffy. A: blue fluff. Groan. Definitely the worst joke of the trip. A few snaps of the castle:

It is a lovely little village, and has a couple of Martello towers of its own. They are dotted all along this coast.
The only trouble with the huge hotel breakfast was that even by 2.00pm we were in no mood to eat anything. There was a market selling a variety of goodies, so we bought two small focaccia pizza rolls, a piece of raspberry house cake and a piece of chester cake. We brought those back to the hotel with us for late afternoon dinner. We can't eat anything else, so the prawns in Dublin Bay were safe from us. Everyone else, however, was eating. There were a zillion restaurants, food outlets, pubs, all thronged with people. The air was redolent with the smell of fish and chips and vinegar.
Our return was also on the multilingual train. German, French, Italian. I noted that the train stations were announced both in English and Irish. All the signs include both English and Irish. We hear no Irish spoken (that we can recognise) but the government is making a huge effort, it seems, to reinstate Irish as a living and official language.
We also noted with amazement that there is free wifi on the trains so, we could post our all-important status on Facebook. Things are so different from my trip in 1971, in terms of the number of mapwalkers and the amazing connectivity we all take so much for granted.
Back to our hotel to relax and to pack for our travels tomorrow. Back to Amsterdam. Farewell Dublin. We have had such a great time. And I am now 15% through Ulysses, with time off last night to read a couple of The Dubliners. An Encounter, and The Dead.

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