Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer in Dublin

It is a sunny18 degrees here under bright blue skies and anyone who can sit outside drinking a pint of Guinness or a coffee, is doing so. Summer has descended on Dublin at last and the euphoria of being able to shed rain jackets, scarves and closed shoes, is shared even by me.

In the first week of July, street planters, which had mostly been disappointingly empty since my arrival, suddenly were filled to bursting with colourful floral arrangements. I never saw anyone working on them so must assume that those same leprechauns who handle street sanitation were responsible. Every main street and restaurant is suddenly bedecked in an abundance of flowers.

As though on cue, tourists are arriving here as fast as Ryan Air can fly them in. They bring much needed money and a vibrancy that is palpable as one walks along Dublin streets, especially at night when young people from all over the world take over the bars and pubs. Many is the night that hubby and I have been woken from a deep sleep by happily intoxicated people below our bedroom window shouting or singing lusty songs in various languages. Living centrally has its disadvantages.

My favourite pedestrian shopping area, Henry Street, which is near our flat, is filled not only with the usual local shoppers, it now also has mimes, buskers, and students being paid to hold signs that tell tourists where they can go for a cheap lunch, a quick Tarot reading, a haircut. Mothers with prams mingle with street vendors peddling cherries and grapes, while elderly men try to get spare change for tap dancing on a piece of plywood or singing an Irish song. Shopping was never so entertaining.

In the three months I have been here I have gone from being a tourist myself, to feeling native. Just the other day I was asked by a French couple if I knew the way to O’Connell Street. I was pleased as punch to be taken for a Dubliner. On another occasion, I overheard three girls query a route among one another so I went over and showed them on a map the best route to take. I am paying forward the kindness that was shown to me when I first arrived.

On the other side of the Liffey, in Temple Bar and beyond, young smokers mill in doorways, music spilling onto the streets from establishments that advertise live entertainment and a set menu. The Early Bird Special is popular here, especially with North Americans who are used to dining before dark. The cycle of 24 hours is very different here; it doesn’t get dark much before 10:30 which makes for a long day. Hubby and I have taken many walks along the river at dusk when the lights begin to be reflected in the water and the bridges are lit up. Pure magic and it’s for free!

My time here is almost done but I will leave Dublin on a high, a mental summer festival that will be remembered till the end of my days. There have been so many highlights and so many genuinely wonderful moments that I will need months to sort through all my memories. As a writer, I can  now confirm that this city makes a great impact on those of us who need to express themselves with words.

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