Wednesday, November 17, 2010

25 Hours with no sleep

Good Mornin'!  I'm sittin' here with my white coffee trying to think how I can possibly sum up yesterday.  I slept like a rock last night and I am very aware, as I type this, that it is only 4:30 am where you are, dear friends and family. |It is 9:30 am here.  So let me type while you slumber.

I jumped on the bus tour after I signed off yesterday and I am so glad I did it!  Yes it made me a very conspicuous tourist but you have no idea how confusing the streets are here in Dublin.  They are NOT labelled at all and you have no idea how winding and twisting they are!  The panhandlers here are horrible, you get bombarded for money everytime you turn around.  I just say no and walk away but one woman kept showing me her baby and hounding me so badly that I ducked into a pub just to escape her.  I was sure glad I did. It was an adorable Irish pub with heavy dark woodwork and an old style wooden bar.  I drank two pints of Guinness and started feeling pretty giddy.  It was at that point I remembered that the alcohol content is much higher here so I didn't drink my usual 4-5 pints!  After I left I kept noting that there are about 100 different double decker bus companies here (take that Ann Arbor friend) and no one really drives much.  I would say only about 20% of the population drives, most ride busses and walk everywhere.  There are no single story busses they are all double decker.  I like them.  I will miss seeing them when I get home.  I don't know why, just will.

When I jumped on the tour bus I was feeling pretty happy but it was very helpful to see where everything is that the map indicates.  Maps are almost useless, just too confusing here.  Well there I was enjoying my bus tour when I had to use the toilet (they are not called bathrooms or restrooms in Ireland, they are TOILETS) to use the Irish phrasing.  Just when I thought my bladder was about to explode the bus stopped where?  At the Guinness Storehouse.  Well I figured since you can tour it, they must have a toilet so I jumped off and went inside.  First thing I see?  Toilets!  Thank heavens, crisis averted.  I then went ahead and took a tour and OMG I was blown away. I have seen lots of tours but this was the best, the best organized tour with most friendly tour guides (even though 90% of it was self guided) and great displays.  I learned all about Guinness and how it was made and I have great pics to post when I get back.   You work your way up floor-by-floor and at the top of the building there is a 'gravity' bar where the entire bar is all round room made entirely out of glass and you can see the entire city of Dublin with mountains in the background.  It's breathtaking to see the mountains with mists around them gently huggling and cradling such an amazing city.  Sadly this bar is only for your free pint you get at the end of the tour, I offered to buy more but they don't sell it there, it's just the complimentary pint.  They said if they sold pints no one would ever leave.  I'm actually thinking of paying the tour price again just to see that view and have another pint but I've got other things to do.  I got two pics of me smiling with my pint so I will be eager to show them to you when I get home and can upload them to my computer.  Guinness grain growing helps employ many farmers and their Storehouse employs quite a few people.  I met a gal whose mum is Irish and she said that she moved there from Nova Scotia and never looked back.  I can see why.  The city is a very hustling bustling place full of interesting people and shop after shop packed together.  I'd love to live here too, my kind of place, if I could ever learn my way around!  LOL

The buildings here are often older than our country and it's amazing to see the architecture.  You can also see bullet holes where the war for the Irish Independence was fought right here in the main part of town!  The Irish are very proud of their fight for freedom but you do NOT discuss this topic as emotions run every high and opinions are very divided. 

I then rode around the rest of the tour and, again, needed to use the toilet so I ended up back at my hotel.  That's the cool thing about this bus tour, it actually stops right in front of my hotel.  I can pick it up anytime. It's 16 Euro for 24 hours, which is pricey but everything in Dublin is expensive.  That's ok it looks like I brought enough cash to hold me over.  I only have today and tomorrow.  Friday morning I will be heading to the airport at 6 am. 

I finally started to get really really tired so I had an early dinner at around 4:30 and decided I'd just go to bed and sleep all night.  I was having a hard time just walking back to the hotel because I was so tired.  I took a long, hot shower, my first since arrival and felt much better.  You have to get used to very low water pressure in your showers, but I was warned about this by people who live in Ireland so I waasn't surprised.  I switched on the telly and I noticed Irish TV is much like ours.  They have an Irish version of the show Cops, all in Irish dialect and with Irish accents, I was cracking up.  They have Science TV all in Irish accents too of course.  So they don't import our TV but, rather, have shows of their own that they spin off from ours (or maybe we steal theirs--who knows?).  I slept until 1 am and then woke up worried I might not be able to get up Friday morning and discovered that the TV has a wake up alarm on it.  I set it but I ended up waking up before it so I'm going to set it for the middle of the night tonight and make sure it wakes me up so I don't oversleep on Friday morning as I will have an early flight to make. 

When I used the lift this morning (lift=elevator) I noticed it talks and at first I thought I was losing it and hearing voices but it announces what floor, which is good for those who are visually impaired.  The street crossings also made a loud beep and then a ticking sound so someone who can't see can know it's ok to cross the street. We need things like that where we are.  It's very weird to see traffic coming from the opposite direction as they drive on the left side of the road.  When I ride I have to keep closing my eyes as the bus will literally squeeze around vehicles with less than 2 inches to spare on either side.  It's quite amushing.

I went to an Irish breakfast this morning but I didn't care for it at all. Something told me to just have the porridge and coffee but I wanted to try the full Irish breakfast.  What's a full Irish breakfast you ask?  Well, it's 2 very large and fatty Irish sausages, one slice of blood sausage (which tastes like old oatmeal with a tangy edge) one slice of regular sausage (which tastes like old oatmeal period), a large serving of baked beans (very bland), scrambled or fried eggs, a couple scoops of minature mushrooms roasted, 2 pieces of toast, a triangle of potato-onion hash brown potatoes, a half of tomato steamed with parsley on it, and bashers (it's bacon but more like our version of thinly sliced ham).  |It also came with 2 slices of toast with real butter (no margarine in Ireland so far that I can see). Needless to say I wasn't impressed (too greasy and too much food!) and will stick with porridge, not being a girl who is much into breakfast anyway. I had a laugh with the coffee.  I was drinking coffee with milk (no cream in sight) and I looked for Sweet And Low.  All they had was this sweetener that literally has all three things in it: Equal, Splenda, and Sweet and Low and it doesn't work very well.  So I will live without sweet coffee!  LOL All coffee is served with both brown sugar and white sugar.  And milk not cream is the whitener. 

I've been a cowardly girl about venturing too far but today NO MORE!  I want to see the south end of the city so I've loaded up with Euros and I'm taking that bus to the Celtic Whiskey Shop where I'm going to overindulge in Irish whiskey today.  I want to see the 'ritzy' shopping district with Irish equivalents of Macy's endures.  So I'm off to the hotel to use the toilet (thinking ahead this time) and then I'm going to do a little south end shopping.  I hope to have lunch at one of two (maybe three?) Irish pubs in the area depending on whether or not I get lost trying.  The Irish people (I hate lumping people in groups) as a whole are VERY friendly and very tolerant of 'tourists' in their city asking stupid questions.  They smile, they are polite, they seem very happy overall but I know economically they are hurting badly.  I passed by two street musicians and a man on his knees with a sign that read 'I'm hungry please help me'.  His face will be ectched in my mind all day today.  It looked very pained.

Well enough of this, time to get out and about and enjoy the day, the time clock is ticking and I need to see so much more.  I may see a few art galleries and/or museums today, depending on how I feel.  I am feeling much more acclimated to the time change and Joe was right, you just have to stay up and not sleep the first day and then you're ok.  I wish I could stay longer but I am getting lonely for someone to talk to!  At the end of the day I wanted so much to 'process' my day with someone, something I always do and no one was around. I was a little sad but I chalk it up to being very tired and having a long day.

Later friends!  Can't wait to relate today's adventure to you tomorrow, my last journal entry before I head home.