Until this morning I hadn't tried the much-hyped soda bread. My verdict: disappointingly stodgy, and my view is prejudiced due to the fact that I'm no fan of brown bread. Disappointment aside, we have some exploring to do and head out past the very busy Trinity College area. Nope, still haven't seen the Book of Kells and won't be doing it this time either. Maybe some day when we decide to do all the tourist haunts. Ditto the Guinness Storehouse.
Anyway you won't be surprised to hear that the main thing on my agenda was shopping! And there are lots, and lots, and lots of shops and shopping malls in the Irish capital, with something for everyone.
When in Dublin, you are possessed by this irrational urge to make repeated trips to Carrolls Irish Gift Stores, of which there are many, many branches in the city. Walk through the door and your ears are assaulted by the rolling soundtrack of Seven Drunken Nights, and Molly Malone, and Whiskey in the Jar, Lord of the Dance etc etc. All day, every day. There is this subliminal voice inside your head telling you to buy daft leprechaun hats/Guinness souvenirs - everything from Y-fronts to Guinness flavoured HP sauce, and the ubiquitous, colourful, Wacky Woollies multicoloured sheep which you'll already know about if you saw this post http://europecrazysrandomramblings.blogspot.com/2011/10/wacky-woollies.html
Anyway, whilst Carrolls perpetuates the Irish myth of leprechauns, fiddly music, sheep and Guinness, modern-day Dublin is a different place altogether. The service industries seem almost exclusively staffed by young Eastern European males and females and so far we've hardly heard an Irish voice! The mix of tourists and migrant workers makes for a very cosmopolitan city which is refreshingly different enough from the UK, even though we're only an hour's flight away. The same goes for the radio stations which I tuned into - sure there's the top 40 fodder but there is also a refreshing variety of music, including lots of rock music which you never seem to hear on mainstream British radio.
We explore the area around Trinity College and Merrion Square and check out the parliament buildings, which have some neat topiary going on...
There's a good selection of eating options on and around South William Street, so we have lunch there.
Visitors to Dublin will encounter some well-known statues of the likes of James Joyce and Molly Malone, but I wasn't aware that there was a statue of a more contemporary icon - Phil Lynott - which you can find in Harry Street (off Grafton Street, outside the Bruxelles bar)
After lunch we head back down Grafton Street and inevitably end up at HMV, where I finally purchase Bressie's "Colourblind Stereo" CD. I also buy "Domino Effect", a CD by The Blizzards which is the band he was previously in. Yes, I'm suffering from Bressiemania. I notice that dreary acoustic guy Ed Sheeran will be making an appearance at the store the next day, but I decide to pass on that one.
Eventually we return to St Stephen's Green, where we watch the ducks, and the seagulls pretending to be ducks, and hilariously go in search of a non-existent waterfall. It's a lovely park though and a great place to escape from the city buzz.
St Stephen's Green also boasts a big, fab shopping mall called the St Stephen's Green Centre.
Lots of walking today meant very sore leg muscles by the end of the afternoon, so back to the hotel for a rest before going out for dinner tonight. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst, as poor faithful travelling companion was about to be floored by a nasty stomach bug/food poisoning-type-thing....