Saturday morning was sunny and warm. While Rachel attended the last few hours of her conference, I walked up to the tourist office to check the schedule for buses back to the airport. I took a roundabout way that first took me around Merrion Square and then up past the statue of Phil Lynott. Dubliners are known for giving their statues rhyming nicknames, but I'm not sure anyone has yet come up with a name for Phil's.
Waking up early on the weekend is clearly not a popular activity in Dublin, so I had the city pretty much to myself as I walked back to Merrion Square to see the "Fag on the Crag," aka, the statue of Oscar Wilde.
Wilde was a heavyweight boxer when he was in college. Keep in mind that this was boxing in the 1870s, the time of John L. Sullivan and brutal, bare-fisted fighting. You have to admire a big gay man who can fight.
If anyone ever makes a statue of me, I would hope it would be as irreverent as the one of Wilde. He is sprawled out on a rock with a smirk on his face that lets you know that if he were still alive, he would think that you, the person standing there taking pictures of him, are an idiot. Actually, I'm pretty sure that most writers I admire would think I'm an idiot. I would like to think that if I were to get a chance to go back in time and meet Ernest Hemingway, he would punch me in the face. Wilde likely would just tell me that I am uncultured and dull -- he wouldn't even want to make out because I'm too old.
I sat in Merrion Square for a while, reading and watching people walk by. At around noon, the child bride and I went for lunch.
We originally set out for the Temple Bar Food Market, but my shit map (provided by my shit guide book) did not identify the exact location of Meeting House Square. We spent a while wandering through Temple Bar and I know now that we were off by only one street. I suspect that we would have eventually found the market with a bit more wandering, but the child bride had no faith in my navigational skills after the fiasco of getting to the hotel on Wednesday, so she insisted on asking people.
She asked a woman who appeared to be a hostess at a restaurant, but who told Rachel, "I'm not from here." She then went into a hotel to ask, and the Eastern European girl at the counter didn't have a clue.
This was a common theme for most of my trip: people not from Ireland not having a clue what you were talking about. This is my roundabout way of lamenting that they did not speak English, but not wanting to blatantly complain about someone who doesn't speak English because it makes me sound like one of those people who complains that too much government money is spent supporting Welsh education.
In one pub, I had asked the bloke serving us if the pub served bitter (I only found out later that ales and bitter and the like are not terribly popular in Ireland).
"Wha?" he said.
"Bitter. Do you serve bitter?"
I just sat there, twitching. In my head I was screaming: "FUCK! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST OUR FUCKING LORD AND FUCKING SAVIOR ON A FUCKING POPSICLE STICK, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Miller?! Miller?! I'm in a pub, you ass. Do you see me eating Buffalo wings? Is there an American football game on? If not, I don't want to hear the word Miller. I am disappointed in myself that I'm not punching you in the throat right now."
After a few seconds, I was able to force out through grit teeth: "I'll just have a Guinness, thank you."
At another pub, I asked the girl if they served Caffrey's.
"Kilkenny?" she asked.
"Is that the same thing?" I asked.
I would find out later that, yes, it is similar, but all I got from her was a blank stare.
"Never mind. I'll have a Guinness," I said.
On the child bride's third attempt, another hotel, she found someone who claimed to know where the food market was located. This woman even produced a map and pointed out where we should go -- north of the river. Obviously, this woman was completely and totally wrong. Neighborhoods/districts hardly ever span rivers, regardless of the city. But with our reasoning abilities depleted by the continued exhaustion of jetlag, we wandered around a series of less-than-clean streets until Rachel decided she was ready to give up.
I spent several minutes cursing the worthlessness of my guidebook as we walked back to the Grafton Street area, where we found a small pizza place. It is frustrating to know now where the food market is, just as it is frustrating now to know that I should have gone on the Viking Splash Tour, which also went unmentioned in my guidebook.
Indeed, I probably would have written off my Dublin experience as a shockingly disappointing waste of $2,400 (cost of flights and hotel) had it not been for Linus' managing to put together a group of local bloggers and others willing to risk having their skin eaten to meet the child bride and me.
I'm not sure all who were there necessarily want to be visually identified, so I'll simply tell you who was there and you can guess which one they are in the picture: Elisa, Donal, Isobel, Linus, Ken, Mick, and Noel. Lucy had also toyed with the idea of coming up from the Kingdom of Tramore, but perhaps as a result of my exposing the fact that the Guinness in Dublin doesn't taste different than it does elsewhere, she stayed home. In her stead, Linus made sure to insult me.
Things went off better than a number of military operations, with Linus sending Donal and Isobel ahead to a pub called Grogan's while he went to meet us on the only street I had as yet been able to find with any sort of consistency. Once it was determined that Grogan's was too full, the Irish Blogger Recon Team was sent out to find another pub while Linus, Rachel and I ate dinner.
We all eventually met up at Neary's, which is strangely identified outside as the Chatham Lounge. Whatever it's called, I liked it and I enjoyed the company so much that the child bride and I were there a good three hours later than I had originally intended.
More pictures of Dublin taken on March 25