Friday, June 15, 2007

Into town and daylight at the North Pole

We headed out of Trim in the general direction of Dublin knowing that sooner or later we would find one of the motorways that headed into Centre City. Rolling country side punctuated by massive road work projects and their associated giant trucks flashed by as we made our way east.

Eventually we found the N3 and it rang enough of a bell with me to assume it was the way I knew into town. As it would turn out, I could not have been more wrong. This became clear as the landmarks did not appear and we drove into more and more congestion. Eventually we found ourselves on the wrong side of the River Liffey at the zenith of rush hour.

I turned on my Nüvi personal navigation device figuring it was our very best hope at finding our way home. Emily, the voice of Nüvi gladly complied, asking me to turn on Atherton Place in .3 miles. What Emily didn’t know was that Dublin lacks the street signs necessary to make such a turn with any semblance of authority. Having missed the juncture, Emily issued a curt “recalculating” in her proper Londonian accent and asked me to make another turn. Again, no street sign. By now we were using all the technology available to us – our joint memories, the few street signs available, a plastic coated street map and Nüvi. Even these together, the golden acme of civilization was not enough. So we drove on at 5 MPH hoping that sooner or later Emily would make a recommendation that we could actually act on.

Church Street presented itself and being a big one, it was easy for us to follow her orders. We turned into yet a more complex morass of stopped autos. At this point it became obvious to me that every traffic engineer in Dublin deserved to be taken out and shot, the traffic was just that bad. Sitting watching one car make it through every 10 second green light made it clear that there was a significant problem with light synchronization. Eventually though our 10 seconds of freedom presented itself and we made our way across the bridge. From there it was easy sailing. We stormed down Kevin Street and rounded our way onto St. Stephen’s East knowing that the hotel was just around the park. Emily gleefully announced that we were approaching the Shelbourne Hotel on our right. What she didn’t know was that the hotel was on the other side of some mid-street barricades that prevented us from driving up to the front. The only approach appeared to be from an eastbound one-way street perpindicular to our present location that would require a significant around the block diversion. So off we went a second time into traffic choked side streets eventually making is back around and up to the hotel. The car parking guy grabbed my keys and luggage and escorted us into the lobby.

The Shelbourne is the hotel in Dublin and surprisingly on the Intel approved lodging list right alongside Motel 6 and Extended Stay America. Not to be diminished by this more proletarian company it is a grand hotel. Situated in a beautiful orange sandstone Georgian building, it’s what a hotel once was and should be again. Unfortunately, the personal cost of trying to get to it dampened our sense of awe and grandeur.

The staff was cheerful and friendly and helped us get on our way to our rooms which turned out to be quite pleasant and comfortable.

After a brief rest and refresh it was out on foot to find some food in the Temple Bar area. By now it was 8 PM and Dublin being at 53N latitude meant that the city was still bathed in sunlight. For grins, I have included this photograph taken at 9:12 PM simply to give you a sense of just how bright it is at that time of day. You walk the streets and you think it’s six o’clock, but it’s not. Why they further abuse the situation by employing daylight savings time is beyond me.



Dinner turned out to be some excellent Thai food and that coupled with a nice walk home gave the previous 24 hours worth of travel the chance to finally catch up to me. A coma it was and so the end of a really long, full day.

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