This was GLH's first visit to Ireland. For me, it was my first time back in nearly 16 years. I spent a year as an exchange student at St. Patrick's College in Maynooth. (Now called National University of Ireland - Maynooth.)
At the time I lived in Ireland the unemployment rate was close to 50%. Most everyone was "on the dole" and barely scraping by. Many of the young people were lining up to get a visa to emigrate to America, UK or Australia.
In the 90's Ireland became the Silicon Valley of Europe. Prosperous for the first time since the Georgian Era in the 18th century.
I was interested to see how it might have changed.
And change it did. In Dublin I saw Armani suits, a couple of Ferrari's and many expensive boutiques. These are things I never would have seen when I lived there before.
But I was dismayed to see the Anna Livia fountain on O'Connell Street (nicknamed Floozie in the Jacuzzi) had been replaced with an enormous spike pointing straight up into the sky.
Commissioned for the millenium, although in true Irish form not actually finished until 2003, it is the new Spire of Dublin.
It seems the Dubliners are also dismayed by it. At least they were dismayed by the €5 million price tag given the way we kept hearing about how much it cost. In true Dublin fashion it has already been given its own set of nicknames. Such as Stilletto in the Ghetto, Erection at the Intersection, Rod to God, North Pole, Stiffey by the Liffey. Well, you get the idea. Although most just call it The Spike.
However, at its core Dublin has remained essentially the same. The same Working City it has always been. Perhaps a bit of polish, but still Irish through and through.
Although they could have spent some of that €5 million on renovating the airport. It looked exactly the same, only not as clean, as it did 16 years ago. Trust me when I say it wasn't sparkling new then. Airports do not improve with age.
When we checked into the hotel (Westin Dublin) we were pleased to discover we had been given an upgrade. Being a member of a Loyalty Program does have benefits!
Then stunned when we actually saw how much of an upgrade it was. The place had rooms, folks, not just a room. And stairs and hardwood floors and the whole shooting match. Numbering the door was not good enough. Oh no, not for the Westin. Pictured below is the Living Room of the "Westmoreland Suite," our temporary residence in Ireland.
After we checked in we went for a bite of lunch across the street in the Temple Bar neighborhood. At a pub, of course. The best place to get the traditional Irish fare of Meat and Potatoes.
And then I surprised both GLH and myself!
When I lived in Ireland I developed a slight Irish lilt. However, it went away within a week after I left. But when the bartender took our order he asked a basic question. To which I replied "That would be grand." And when he brought our order out, I found myself saying "Thanks a million!"
Good Lord, where did that come from? During the 5 days we were in Ireland I slipped in more and more of the Irish vernacular without even realizing it. Much to GLH's amusement. He loved mimicking me every time I did it.
So in retribution I am posting this photo of GLH "getting his Irish on." See what happens when you mock a blogger?
That evening we met up with Beth, a fellow blogger, at The Bistro. The Bistro is a great restaurant located in the City Centre. This upscale dining establishment most certainly DID NOT exist 16 years ago. It wouldn't have survived in the Dublin that was then. We chatted and laughed over our meals before leaving with promises of a future meet-up in Switzerland.