Ryanair gets me to Dublin in a B737 decidedly older than the Treviso-Stansted leg, with a far narrower seat pitch. But the flight is only one hour, so no big deal. DUB is a 1970’s concrete style airport in need of extensive renovation: this is in fact taking place, hanging ceiling fixtures and missing floor panels testify to this, but certainly do not give a good impression to the first-time visitor.
I exit the customs area; my Man In Ireland is not there – after a while, I spot his boss, named Ivan. He bears bad news: apparently MIIs father in law is gravely ill, so he cannot meet me. The visit plan has to be rescheduled and Ivan will now take care of me. No matter: Ivan is an urbane 35 year old, he drives me to my hotel in an industrial area outside Dublin, a standard British style establishment with thick red carpet and a tea-making apparatus in the room. On the way, I remark on the M25 style traffic jam on the Dublin ring road (the M50) and the fact that the Irish drive on the wrong side of the road.
I glance at the name tag of the hotel receptionist: he is called Iqbal. His colleague is Siobhan. The global village has arrived in Ireland too!
We start the evening well: a couple of pints of Guinness in the hotel bar. We then get a taxi to the town centre about 20 minutes down the road. No great sights: apparently Dublin has no cathedral as expected in a Catholic capital city. The town center regretfully resembles that of Birmingham: a few Georgian style civic buildings left over from the colonial past and a dilapidated, now being renovated city centre area known as Temple Bar. Apparently there are green squares further on, but I don’t see them.
We dine at a modern restaurant, designer lighting, designer furniture and matching designer prices. But the food is excellent: I choose a Guinness organic beef stew with root vegetables and expect a Shepherd’s Pie sort of thing, but no! I am served a delicious bowl of tasty, tender meat chunks in a beer jus, with a side of potato purée and a golden brown croûte. A good Spanish merlot to drink and a lime and chocolate cheesecake to finish. Ivan generously takes care of the designer bill.
Some typical Irish entertainment follows: we go to Fitzsimmons pub, featuring a Man U vs. Everton match showing at a wide screen video at one end and an Irish folk group at the other end playing on the tin whistle, fiddle, guitar and banjo, with a foursome of tap-dancing girls. A crowd of Italians (!) and Americans look on. Seems touristy stuff, but Ivan assures me that similar entertainment is common throughout Ireland – OK, but maybe not all over on Monday nights. We partake of a pint of Kilkenny’s and a pint of Guinness – then a taxi back to the hotel!