Dublin is expensive and hits you like a brick after exploring the rest of Ireland for a week.
People everywhere; a multi-cultural mosaic like nowhere else in the country. Tourists and tour buses everywhere. The Temple Bar pubs and restaurants along the Liffey [River] overflowing with people during the busy dinner hour.
It’s a party city and we were there on a Saturday night.
We head to the Brazen Head for dinner. It’s the oldest pub in Dublin, and our cabby recommended it. When we arrive we find the courtyard packed yet somehow manage to snag a table inside.
We concoct stories about what unfortunate event happened to the young, well-dressed man sitting outside the nearby window enjoying drinks with what appears to be his grandma and family. His left ear is held on with dark stitches and his faces seems to have been rearranged as well.
It’s here we are joined by who we would later learn is a former ex-NHL’er and his wife. As soon as they sit down he reaches for his phone as asks us if there’s wifi. It’s the token tourist question. We’ve asked nearly everywhere we’ve been for the last week. Discovering they are Canadians from Peterborough we strike up some conversation and soon they are coming with us to the Stag’s Head.
It’s a twenty minute walk and on every corner, our new hockey player friend asks everyone for directions. Keep going, on the left. He’s asked three times about the Temple Bar and I’ve given up explaining to him it’s not “a bar” but the whole street of bars and pubs.
We finally arrive at the Stag’s Head and head upstairs where it’s less busy. This is another great spot for live music but we are a little early so we sit down with some pints and get to know our fellow Canadians better. A little too better maybe since he is spilling details about their personal lives that we are certain his wife didn’t want shared.
In true hockey player fashion, our new friend orders shots and is cheers-ing loudly and starts cat-calling the young travellers at the table across the room.
The group is a hodgepodge of twenty-somethings that we guess are backpackers staying at a hostel together. They seem to be still getting to know one another, some quite intimately and their carrying on soon draws the room’s attention. They’re dancing and picking up chairs and grinding on each other and it’s only 7 PM!
An encounter with one of the couples in the bathroom tells us they’re on more than alcohol. My mid-thirties mothering instinct starts kicking in as two of the guys leave with one of the girls who is particularly intoxicated.
We head to the basement because the live music has started and find this to be a more enjoyable (and older) crowd. It’s warm, loud, shoulder-to-shoulder and the band is EXCELLENT.
Most of the people down here are Irish and we definitely stand out like tourists but we don’t care. We came for the music and it is every bit as good as we have been promised.
The Irish men aren’t shy with their advances and we can’t help but wonder if there is a shortage of available women in this country. Mostly, we’re offended by their comments but we laugh them off and join them anyway. Chairs are at a premium and with our Canadian friends deciding to head home, we want to settle in and enjoy the music for a bit.
A lively group of women in the corner lead the room in a church hymn, and we join in singing, stomping and clapping along. At the end, a tip bucket is passed around for the band.
The guys want to leave and go dancing. We don’t particularly want to join them, but we are ready to go back to our hotel.
As we wind through the busy streets, pub-goers overflowing from the crowded patios and cigarette smoke and other foul doors wafting towards us, we find a spot to duck away and head towards our hotel.
We are only a kilometre from our hotel and decide to grab some food. It’s nearly midnight though and the Taylor Swift concern is obviously over because there are Swiftys swarming the streets and queuing outside McDonalds. Anyone who thinks McDonalds isn’t relevant to today’s generation hasn’t been to one in Dublin after midnight. Or Belfast for that matter.
We opt for Super-macs. It’s Ireland’s marriage of McDonalds and KFC. We’ve learned most of what people order isn’t on the menu, like chips and curry, but we go for fried chicken this time.
There seems to be easy access to every pleasure you can imagine here and it’s definitely the seediest part of Ireland we’ve seen. And we walked home at 4 AM in Belfast the weekend before.
When we get back to our hotel, we crash onto the bed to eat our chicken and google our new Canadian friends. “Wow,” I say to Jenna. “That guy played in the fucking NHL. He was a professional hockey player and we asked him a thousand questions about playing in the OHL!”
We laugh uncontrollably and shut the lights off to the sounds of Dublin revellers outside our window.