Travelogue from Dublin:Shopping, Style & Culture

Harpist

Today I would like to talk about style and shopping – yes, the one that is one of the best female pastimes that is known to man, as in, to humans. I used to be quite a retail-therapist at one time, but no longer.

Tis amazing that any which way one looks to in the nations that one sees these masses of the most sportily dressed but totally unfit populace of both men and women! I personally cannot stand the whole ‘gear’ and do not even own one single pair of sneakers or as they are called here in Ireland, runners or trainers, neither the other parts of the said ensemble. I have done all my life from my childhood varied sports so that I have the fitness without the flaunting gear. Anyway, the said outfit does not feel right on me and it is not in the least comfortable on in ma mind. Others are welcome to wear it as they see fit, pardon the pun.

This nauseous set of outer wear is all that is on the most of the population here as well. There were two or three of the crowds milling on the Grafton Street, the ‘in’ shopping street in Dublin, that did look very smart in their high heels, stylish suits and the handbags to match the other day. There were also a few men that looked so very smart in their ‘real clothes’. These two smartly chic ladies were in a shoe shop where my daughter bought herself a pair of the basketball shoes that are so hip n happening at the moment. The name of the store is good, I think, being called, Office. How handy to tell your significant other that one just goes to the ‘office’ – no need to mention anything about the retail aspect at all! ‘I’m just nipping down to the Office.’ Great. Normally, the ‘office’ is jokingly meant to be the local pub of one in here.

The oh-so-elegant ladies bought shoes, one of them a very, very fabulous pair of stylish black suede shoes for festive wear – I so totally approved of them just my style, too – and the other to my utter surprise got herself, so unlike the style she was wearing, a pair of black leather flats! I was thinking, ‘Darling, Where are you going to wear Those?!’ but held back. Things that one never gets an answer to, but is just left pondering, wondering…Always a killer.

My main former supplier of shoes in this country called, Carl Scarpa, is still going strong on the Grafton Street, in Dublin. The malls off the Grafton Street such as The St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre,The Royal Hibernian Way, and The Powerscourt Town House Centre are excellent to just pop in and to have a lookie or to do some selective shopping and a select cup of coffee, particularly in The Powerscourt Town House on the Suffolk Street. The flagship store in these shores is The Brown Thomas, also located on Grafton Street, where one can shop nigh anything and everything one possibly would desire to have and to hold. There are a couple of great coffee shops in the store as well where many a cup and pastries have been downed by us after a busy spree with friends.

Another great place to chill n sip coffee or any beverage of your choice is The Westbury Hotel off Grafton Street where one can sit in peace and ponder what is and what will be in the most elegant surroundings. It was there that we, as in the daughters and myself, used to wait for the traffic jams to clear before heading down to our home in county Wicklow himself as our chauffeur. It was also in the Westbury that I used to meet my friends who lived in other parts of Dublin, because it was the handiest for them and to me as well to have a lovely lunch or just a glass of wine and something to nibble taking our time as one was not rushed to get off the premises as one is in so many other places these days. There is at times live music as in a pianist and the ambience is tres tres jolie. If you are that way, do go in there and sit down in those most comfy sofas and get the Afternoon Tea or whatever you would fancy, and you will very quickly get the drift in what I’m saying about the place.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

PS.
The picture is taken by me of the harpist in the concert in the Main House in Powerscourt where the concert was held in the Garden Room; so am all cultured, well-fed and well-shopped!!

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Travelogue from Dublin: Coffee Shops

Village Square

It’s your very own tour guide Barbie here again doing her tour in the Emerald Isle – and yes, me cheeks are killing me with all that smiling…!! This time in the ‘logue it’s going to be about the cafes in the locale where I am staying at the moment and also of the cafes that I like elsewhere in this country. Here is a very handy link to touristing in  Ireland and in Dublin, in particular.

My very favourite cafe, Coolbeans, is in Bray where I just step in and really don’t have to have say a word and the things are served to me with speed and the accuracy of the pro. Just marvellous. I hadn’t been in there for two whole years and the staff remembered me name and all as I walked in there the other day as if I had never ever been away at all. Excellent.

There are some other favourite haunts of mine as well such as the Cafe an Seine – yes, it’s very O’ La La, French – which is situated right in the centre of Dublin on the Dawson Street. The pastries are outstanding and the coffee ab fab and the ambience – well, let’s say, very turn of the century as in the 19th century Paris. Another great French place is the cafe called, Cafe des Amis at the Alliance Francaise on the Kildare Street where the food, the pastries, the coffee and the prices are first class. I highly recommend both of these places.

In Dun Laoghaire one of my favourite places for cafes is Costas – a new place in the Pavillion in the centre of the town which is located upstairs of the most marvellous bookstore called Hughes & Hughes. Go n stuff your gullet in there at your leisure and enjoy the fab view! Then there is Walters, where the cappuccino is just right and the food in general extremely good and delicious. The GTI cafe cum restaurant on the George’s Street, that is the main street in Dun Laoghaire, is always great and the service is both humorous and precise. Here is a link to Dun Laoghaire tourism online site.

The Cafe Javas are these days in nearly ‘every’ place around Dublin, but in my mind the best of the lot is the one in the corner at the lower end of the Leeson Street in Dublin. They are consistently fab and better somehow than the other branches for whatever reason. The Bewleys’ Cafes were an institution but as the institutions go, they often lose their momentum and this is what has happened to them as well in my mind. Shame.

Tis for now from your guide in the Emerald Isle. The tour continues… Riihele xx.

PS
The photograph is the village square in Enniskerry, County Wicklow taken by me.

Travelogue from Dublin: Eating out & Restaurants

Japanese Bridge

I said in my last logue that I would be writing about eating out in Ireland – and here it comes! The cuisine in Ireland has evolved to be very international indeed. When I think back to the time that I first arrived in these shores and how impossible or nigh impossible it was to get the ingredients to the dishes that I cook; every time it was a treasure hunt of a kind to get them all together! There is a delicatessen cum specialty shop, Cavistons, in Sandycove – just a few kilometres south of Dublin on the coast – that has the most comprehensive selection of all kinds of everything that one possibly could need in the art of cooking.

Yes, cooking is art most definitely. I remember our Home Economics teacher in Finland saying that: ”Girls, do always remember that cooking is art.” And we were like – ‘oh sure’ – but none us gave a smart-alec remark on the same; not even me, because she was a great teacher and she gave us the freedom to experiment and learn a great deal about everything concerning the cooking and the home economics in general. Later in life I did come to see that the teacher was absolutely right in her thinking.

Not so long ago the choices of eating out here were the pub grub of dried sandwiches and soup that had seen better days or the very expensive but not particularly fancy hotel food. Then bit by bit came the other eateries of the more reasonable bistro/ taverna-style places: Vino Pasta is one of the restaurants that I have liked from the moment they opened in Greystones, County Wicklow. Their food is always first class in taste, in presentation, and in the way it is served. Chicken Gorgonzola is my all time favourite in there. Yummy.

The title of the one of the oldest restaurant in Ireland goes to the place where our wedding reception was in Dublin many moons ago: The Beaufield Mews in Stillorgan, County Dublin. – Ireland has no postal codes so the places are in counties.- This place is in the very tasteful old mews buildings with the most gorgeous gardens and with an antique store as well. The evening out always started there with a glass of sherry either Winter’s Tale or Harvey’s Bristol Cream which were our choices. Many happy and delicious hours were spent in the locale by us and our guests. The menu there is outstanding and I have tried the lot more or less so everything there should be first class with the most excellent corteous service. The prices are on the high side on the scale but worth it.

This time most of my eating has been in Enniskerry, County Wicklow village just a few kilometres south from Dublin where I am staying and where there is a great pub of the new style that is more of a restaurant than the old style pub called, The Enniskerry Inn. The food is good and well presented and the service is friendly as well there. The menu is comprehensive and everything is tasty that we have tried in there. The prices are around the 10 to 20+ euros per dish. The desserts are about five plus euros each and the coffee about 2.50 €.

Also in Enniskerry is the Main House in Powerscourt that has two excellent restaurants run by the Avoca Handweavers where one can eat royally and fairly reasonably in the surroundings fit for a king. Most of my photographs of this travelogue have been and are from there. The food is poetically gorgeous; yes, am vaxing lyrical here… The prices are not expensive about the same as the ones that I quoted above which seems to be the price range at present. Here is a handy link to the facilities in the Powerscourt Estate.

Bon Appetit y’all!

Tis for now yet again. I will write about coffee shops later on. Riihele xx.

PS.
The photograph is a bridge in the Japanese Gardens in the Powerscourt Demesne in Enniskerry, County Wicklow taken by yours truly on a toasty hot day.

Travelogue from Dublin: Eating, Food and Such

Walled Garden

About food, eating and the like is what I am going to write a few words in this entry today on the Travelogue from Dublin. The green, green grass of the Emerald Isle makes the cattle and also the sheep to produce the most tasty meat on this planet, I should think.

Before I arrived in Ireland in 1980, I had become more or less a vegetarian because the meat in Sweden tasted absolutely foul so that I couldn’t eat the thing without feeling ill, so my solution to the problem was not to touch the meat at all. I must say that I did feel much better by not eating the meat over there. In Israel and in Finland and any other country I am all right eating the meat, it was just the meat in Sweden at that time that caused problems to me. I have eaten meat again in Sweden while visiting and it was okay for me to eat it with no dire consequences.

The very first T-bone Steak that I was served in a guest house in County Wexford was the size of the enormous plate where it was amid the garnish and the spuds winning me over to be a carnivore once and again. Needless to add that it was poetry in the dining! The European Union in its quest to be useful to the citizenry came out one year with a ban on the t-bone in the T-bone Steak, so for a good while twas forbidden to sell and to serve, but I believe, it is all right again by the bigwigs of the EU to have and to hold, even to eat it with relish. Excellent.

Ireland is famous for its great lamb as well, in particular, the Wicklow Lamb, that we used to buy at our butcher’s  who also as a farmer grew his own meat with such skill and care that the taste came through in all the meat he sold. The County Wicklow, which in Ireland is my home county, is also known as the Garden of Ireland due to its lush growth and the rolling green hills with the fresh, clean air to boot. I used to roast the lamb in the oven with lavendar (fresh or dried), cinnamon, fresh garlic, pepper and salt drizzled with honey and the best quality olive oil and serve it with the Roast Potatoes – raw potatoes cut in good size chunks, plenty of herbs as in dill and parsley, olive oil and butter with some gorse sea salt cooked in the oven until golden. Then, of course, with the seasons I would serve it the fresh green salad and other salads or in wintertime with the Ratatouille – the French roasted vegetables of aubergine, zucchini, et cetera. Delicious.

And last but not the least is the fish which is plentiful on this island of a nation. Although, the Irish themselves are/were not so keen on the harvest of the seas surrounding them. At first I could not understand why until I was given the typical fish dish on these shores at the time: the smoked cod with the white sauce and the mashed peas from the dried ones, steeped in water overnight and boiled to death! Terrible, absolutely dreadful, so it is. This was the tradition in here for every Friday being a day for ‘fasting’ – as in no red meat to be had on that day.

I had my work cut out for me in changing the thinking of himself and our Irish guests on the eating fish and considering it to be delicious. I grew-up by the vast river in Lapland that made the border between Finland and Sweden, so I am and have always preferred fish as in the wild salmon, white fish and the like to be superior to the red meat. It was served simply but always so very tasty that one could not help but to love it. That same approach I did with the fish in Ireland as well and it worked.

The Irish Brown Bread is well-renown the worldover, and rightly so, because it is so tasty and yummy. It’s fairly simple to make oneself as the ingredients are not expensive neither is it complicated to produce only really requiring the time and the bother to bake it. At present it is my breakfast toasted and lashed with humous and for the choice of the morn beverage at the moment it’s strong herbal tea. So my breakfast is a kind of ‘west meets east’ and grand so tis.

Tis for now. I will write about eating out later on. Riihele xx.

PS.
The picture is of a walled garden in the Powerscourt Demesne in County Wicklow taken by moi on a toasty hot Saturday.

Travelogue from Dublin: Today in Ireland

Sugarloaf in Wicklow

This one of the Travelogues that I wrote last year this time while over there.

Today is the day in Ireland when there is the state funeral for one of the most controversial people in the Irish politics, Charles J. Haughey, who died a few days ago at the age of 80. When I arrived in Ireland in 1980, this man was at the height of his political clout and influence. Here is another link to life of Mr Haughey.

Before arriving here all those 26-years ago I knew the following things about the Emerald Isle: IRA, Guinness and Dublin, nothing else until I spruced up my knowledge of the history, politics, geography and who-is-who in the land. It is always wise and foresighted to prepare oneself if one is changing country and culture to find out about these things as much as is possible as it most certainly will hasten the adjusting to the new life and living.

Having been around a few places these last few days while here, one thing is for sure: the country is even more full of the foreigners than ever before that I can recall anyway. My daughter finds it amusing that I ask the people working in the shops and cafes where they do come from. I am also quick to reply that I am a foreigner myself here. Heli, my daughter’s, comment to me was that in her opinion it would have been easier for me to feel at home in here if it had been so international then as it is now. I tend to agree with her on this.

The new EU states, such as Poland and Hungary, seems to be well represented in Ireland at present. Funny, in a way, because Ireland is one of the few countries that did not sign the Schengen Agreement of the passport-less travel between the EU countries. Yet it is to here the crowds gather to work and to live. Although, Ireland is very expensive to live in everyway, the housing, the medical, the transport all are high and the level of the salaries does not match these for many.

Poland and the other new states in the happy family of the European Union were given a ‘quarantine’ time, ie., restricted entry to the ‘old’ EU countries when they joined in May 2004. It was a bit like ‘Welcome to The Family, but do not call on us’. Here is what I wrote on an earlier entry about the EU.

It is a very handy and practical thing to have the same currency as one moves from one country to the other in the EU; though, some of the old EU countries as in Sweden, Denmark and the UK did not join the common currency of the euro. The Euro has made it dead simple for the populace to compare the prices on the very same products and so on in other EU countries and to realize that they differ vastly from one country to the other. We are being had as the saying goes!

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

PS.
The photograph is one taken by yours truly a few days ago. It is one my favourite scenes in Ireland, the Sugarloaf Mountain in County Wicklow which is just a few miles south of Dublin.