The Paramount Hotel, our digs for two nights, is in the Temple Bar section of Dublin, meaning it is a tourist destination. To quote our taxi driver on the outbound trip “Temple Bar is full of damned tourists and is shiite if you want to see the real Dublin” Oh well, we already had reservations, so we stuck with our plan. The taxi driver was right, it was shiite. The hotel was originally either a whorehouse or was fifteen different slums bashed together and called a hotel. There was nothing wrong with it, except getting to your room meant walking in ever changing directions up and down tiny flights of stairs at odd angles in strange directions in some kind of triangle pattern. Temple Bar is the neighbourhood and it is somewhat famous from books and movies, which also means it attracts tourists looking for something memorable. By comparison, the Byward Market in Ottawa, or the Distillery district in Toronto would be equivalents, meaning lots of shops, restaurants and bars interspersed with historical structures.
We dined that first night at the Porterhouse Pub, simple fare, as we were tired from our trip across the Irish Sea and retired comparatively early, still on boat time mentally. This was disturbed at 0600 by the sounds of kegs. Bars, of which Temple Bar has hundreds, require beer. Beer is transported in steel kegs. Empties must be removed and full ones delivered each morning to keep the thirsty patrons at bay. We lay there, half dozing and hoping the sound would cease, allowing us to nod back off on a Monday morning. No. It would seem that Monday is the prime delivery day and 0600 the prime delivery time, for at least a friggin hour. Bang, clank, rumble, Bang, clank, rumble. Repeat until you wish to do someone harm.
If we’re going to be up, then at least we can eat, so we adjourned to a joint just across the street that said it had breakfast. Pinocchio’s was the name and yes, they did have breakfast. You could have toast and coffee. Groggily we agreed to toast and coffee, then noticing a large fiberglass Pinocchio head over in the corner, glaring at us the whole time. Why an Italian pasta joint would have a fiberglass Pinocchio head, football mascot sized is the first puzzle. The second puzzle was why do you advertise breakfast if all you have is toast?
Our first stop was luggage. Rob’s rolling bag decided after the miles of travel to blow a handle. The telescoping handle wouldn’t retract any more, so rather than sacrifice his bag to Air Canada in a couple of days, we found a luggage store and obtained a new bag. Since my contribution at this point was to stand around and look handsome, I figured I would help the staff load in a shipment of a couple of pallets of bags that were kindly dropped off in the road in front of the store.
Across the street from the hotel was a place we both noted in our brains for sensible reasons. If we returned home without some kind of treasures for our beloved partners in life, from an epic trip to the UK and Ireland, then we might as well just chain concrete blocks to our necks and drown in the River Liffey now and skip the flight home.
Being practical men we recognize that art is always appreciated. We adjourned to Fab Cow and perused their wares. Francis Leavey is the artist and one of the pieces of his that I had seen before was his single line drawings. They’re stunning pieces and getting to meet the artist is something you should always try to do, because then you understand the nuance and inspiration behind the work. We bought modestly, because of luggage room, but we bought direct from the artist, which is always better.
Francis Leavey is a fascinating artist with a background in Chinese medicine and longish stays in China, as well as study of his art at a very deep level. We compared notes, Francis speaking from how art reflects culture and me speaking how culture is reflected in food. Eclectic and kind is the kind of mix one likes to be near.
Liquor was next on our list, Dublin being home to two magical distilleries, one that actually produces in Dublin and the other that has converted their old digs into an excellent display of the history of distilling in Ireland.
First stop, Jameson’s.