We’ve been looking forward to today for quite a while. Arriving in Dublin means that we have ticked every box/city on our tour, and also that we have returned to a city we have visited several times – and always loved.
Our hotel destination was the Westin, just around the bend from Trinity College, a final treat hotel. Now, nothing wrong with the Westin, and we did get a lovely room, but who knew that this was a bank holiday weekend, and a big football weekend? Today it’s Ireland against Barcelona, and there are a lot of people who are here just for that event. Things could get bloody later on today.
And then there is the heartbreak of change. Why hadn’t they just put the whole city under glass and just raised the dome as we cleared the train station? But no. They are setting about to improve this wonderful place – as if things had to keep moving along. It seems like there will be a tram system at some point, but in the meanwhile, things look as messy as New York’s Second Avenue subway construction sites.
But the biggest disappointment was yet to come.
Having unpacked, we were headed right for Bewley’s, the iconic tea shop that we have always considered the treat of Dublin. Their flagship Grafton Street café was opened in 1927, and was fancifully decorated in an oriental style. Great for afternoon tea, breakfast, and any time a cup of tea sounded appealing. Unfortunately, no one sent us the memo that said they closed the café early last year, or somehow we missed the obituary. How dare they! How sad it must have been to see us with our noses pressed against the hoarding, with tears in our eyes. Another dream, dashed to the ground. Another memory that puts us in the category of old-timers who aren’t looking for the latest organic free-trade vegan raw bar. Why hasn’t there been an international outcry? Sigh.
This was a tough pill to swallow. But I did get some relief by being guaranteed a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which goes on sale at midnight tonight. Easons has promised to save me one for tomorrow, so I can stop worrying about that little challenge. Thanks goodness we weren’t still in Italy. I don’t think they really appreciate Harry there.
Grafton Street, which is the main shopping street, is pedestrianized, and looking more like a US mall with every visit. There are lots of young musicians every twenty feet, who grew up on Once, and we wish them luck. All the usual brands are represented, along with the traditional Irish woolens and tweeds, which unfortunately don’t seemed to have changed styles since we were first here years ago. And of course it’s always possible to trace your Irish roots and walk out with your family crest. Having seen the cottage my family lived in, I am quite certain that no wall space was required for a crest.
Trinity College is just across the street, and is a beautiful place. We may have time to revisit the Book of Kells and see the lovely library again, but today we just strolled into the courtyard and enjoyed the serenity that it offers from the bustle just outside its gates.
Disappointments aside, it is great to be back in this lovely city.