Monday, May 30, 2016

Slanté Dublin!

Rainbow over Ireland

Last year two friends and me made another friend who turned 30 a rather selfish gift: a girl's weekend in Dublin. We intended to go there on St. Patrick's Day, but the high costs made us move our trip into May, in the hope that the weather would be warmer by then.
I was already looking forward to being with those three very special friends of mine again. We could have even spent the weekend just around the corner and it would have been fabulous. But going to Ireland has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl and fell in love with Irish folk music.
The idea of grabbing an instrument anywhere and make people dance and party motivated me to try to learn the guitar once. I have no talent for making music however, so I have never really learned to play it right. The only instruments I can improvise on are my tin whistle and my Native American Flute. Singing along proves to be difficult with those however.
Dublin did not disappoint me, there was live music on every corner, in every pub, basically around the clock. And I LOVED it!

Beautiful weather in Ireland - who would have thought?

When we arrived, three of us from Cologne, to wait for the fourth to make our little shamrock complete, we went - of course- into the airport pub to have the first pints of the trip. While chatting and looking forward to meeting Pauline again we somehow naturally got to talking to the pretty couple to our right and to the English gentlemen to our left. It made me feel like home immediately and we exchanged numbers with the guys from Manchester, who had sailed from there to Dublin with their yacht. Well, you never know what you might need a yacht for, so we thought, they are funny and kind, why not have a drink later. (We stayed in contact the whole weekend and Nigel, Ian and Pete (was it Pete?) invited us over to celebrate Nigels birthday at the local yacht club, but we somehow didn't manage to get there, which might not have been a bad thing, after all it was a very posh club and we were very drunk most of the time...) Still, it was nice to check with them from time to time. And who knows, we might go to Manchester one day and it is always great to know some locals.

Once we were complete, we took the bus to the city. Public transport is not expensive in Ireland, to get to the city center by bus we paid 3.30 €. We grabbed a burrito from Saburritos, (3 Sr. North Earl), which we really enjoyed. Once we had managed to find our hostel, we did not leave again for that evening. We intended to, but ended up on the floor of the room, talking for hours. Which is the best you can do when you reunite with really good friends. It warms my heart to know how deep the connection between us four still is, even though we do not meet on a regular basis anymore like we used to, when we still lived close to each other. Our conversations cover everything, from serious crisis / health / relationships-topics to the weirdest and stupidest jokes and I love that.
(Good we only found out on the last day that you were not supposed to drink in the hostel rooms, but only in the lobby. But then again, I think we wouldn't have cared...)
Breakfast at the Jacob's Inn was better than I had expected, we could choose from cereals, musli, eggs and toast with jam or Nutella. Coffee, tea and juice were offered as well. The first day we got up early enough to join the offered free walking tour.

View from the roofterrace at the Jacob's Inn

Alan, our tour guide in front of Dublin Castle

Our guide, named Alan, wearing a woolen sweater under his shirt (wtf?) and a red head, was very passionate about Irish history and a true patriot, telling us about the Easter Rising and the Irish fight for independence. I already knew a lot about it because of school and university, but it was interesting to hear about it, while standing at the actual places where everything happened. The walking tour of about 2 hours covered most of the sights in the city, be it Dublin Castle, Temple Bar District or Trinity College. The inner city of Dublin is really not big and great for walking. Alan took us into one of his favourite pubs in the Temple Bar District (it is not called after the bar, but the"bar" in the name refers to the strip of land belonging to a guy called Temple) The Old Storehouse, 3 Crown Alley. It is a very beautiful pub and Friday noon there were still space and you could get a beer easily. The weather was a bit cloudy that day, but there was no rain, although the forecast for the weekend had been gruesome.

The Famous Temple Bar - And we didn't even go in....

After the walking tour had finished, we went for another burrito, this time at Pablo Picante, Fleet Street. It is a funny looking place with Mexican masks, looking like a mixture of wrestlers and superheroes. I have seen them before and on tv there seemed to be running a tv show they starred in as characters from the 60s, but I don't really know what they are. The burritos were really good, while the waitress there was probably the only unfriendly person we met in Dublin.

Across from the burrito place there was a beautiful looking pub, The Auld Dubliner, 24-25 Temple Bar. It was early afternoon, but when we went into the pub, it felt like ten at night in Germany. People were dancing, singing, drinking together and there was a very good singer, covering evergreens.

Alan had told us to spend a night out at the Cobblestone Pub, 77 King St N, as Temple Bar District is very touristy and not typical Irish. We liked the pub, although the interiour reminded us a lot of pubs we know from the continent. In the small concert hall next to it, there were four very Irish looking guys giving a concert. The atmosphere was a bit boring first, but we just went in and danced nonetheless. Some of their music was really good, twist mixed with rock, inviting to dance. After we had flooded the little dancefloor, not caring about making a fool of ourselves, others joined and after a while we all had a very good time. After the concert we found out that actually, you had to pay to get in, but as we were motivating people to dance and heating the atmosphere, no one really cared. The bass player was flirting heavily with one of us while still on stage and it was nice to chat with him and some friends of the band afterwards. They are called "Vagabond and Thieves" by the way.

Vagabonds and Thieves

The Shamrock in front of the Old Jameson Distillery

We walked home, having a weird conversation about what would be the last song we would want to hear before we die. The discussion ended in all of us singing "Bochum" by Herbert Grönemeyer, as well as the traditional miner's song "Das Steigerlied", dancing through Dublin at night, celebrating the city where we had all gotten to know each other.

Howth Harbour

As we had seen a lot already on Friday and we all love the sea, we decided to sleep in and then take the train to Howth, a fishing village near the sea that Andrea had read about the first time she had been to Dublin. The weather was - very surprisingly - fantastic, with over 20° and full sunshine. We grabbed ourselves some ice cream and went to the pier, to lie down in the sun. I was already thinking of buying me sunscreen - as I turn red like a lobster immediately when I am in the sun - when the clouds came and we hurriedly sought shelter in front of King Sitric Pub, E Pier, Howth, as all the tables inside were taken.

Howth right after the Storm
Hell broke loose and soon enough, water came from every side of us and we crammed inside at a two person table to finish our Fish and Chips. (We failed to eat anything Irish while being in Dublin, which I am really sad about. Ok, the Irish cuisine is not famous, but it would have been a nice opportunity...) Fish and Chips is the most Irish meal we had all weekend.

After the lunch at King Sitric, we collected some coffee about three cafés further towards the station and I can tell you, the café did not look like anything special, but Andrea got the salted caramel ice cream there and it must be some of the best ice cream I have ever had. So creamy, yummie and good! So if you are ever there, check out the kiosk-looking thing with the ice cream and try it. We walked around Howth for a bit, but as the weather promised more rain, we went to Dublin again.

Howth market - Look at all the cupcakes on the right

Now the bad weather stuck with us for the rest of the evening and on our way to the Temple bar District (to check out if it is really that horrible on weekends, to find out - yes it is!) our shoes already got drenched. We found a nice pub to sit down in the middle of the Temple Bar District after a while - already feeling frustrated by all the drunken, exhausting tourists (like us, haha), we stranded at Bad Ass Cafe Temple Bar, 9-11 Crown Alley. There was a duo playing more traditional Irish songs with a guitar and a banjo, taking over the fiddle parts, which was odd at first, but had its very own charme.
Dublin was full of bachelor parties that day and one looked more miserable than the next. I was so happy to have my "hens" with me, we had a great time, inspite of wet feet.

Bad Ass Bar - Cheers

Temple Bar District

On the way home to the hostel we passed a rather dodgy looking pub quite near to the Jacob's Inn, so we thought why not to go in to have a nightcap before goint to bed. And what can I tell you? It turned out to be our best night in Dublin! A trio of young musicians, one playing the guitar, a petuite girl the fiddle and a guy with a beautiful voice, looking a bit like a mixture of a hobbit and Jack Black, playing the Bodhrán, a traditional Irish percussion instrument. They were crouched in a corner, playing traditional Irish folk. And people around were going crazy. Everyone was dancing, singing along, cheering.

Musicians at The Celt

One groom-to-be even came forward and sang "Seven drunken Nights" with the band, which I thought really brave and also not badly sung. It was a great atmosphere and somehow the way I had always thought Ireland to be like. We were thrown out of the pub (The Celt on Talbot Street) along with the band and walked home, badly drunk. (Watching the homepage of the pub now I want to go back there immediately. People were great, it was a cozy place and Irish music does something to me, I cannot really grasp it, but it has always touched me in a very melancholic, longing way.

The Celt

Sunday, our travel home day, we were all rather tired and hungover. I was really sad our trip was over, but I made two vows that day: it was not my last stay in Ireland or Dublin and we will do a weekend trip annually, the four of us. Can't wait for the next one. You girls are the best :-) And thank you for the pictures!

In Düsseldorf I checked the possibilities to see Irish Folk bands perform, but our live-scene is disappointingly small. Spotify helped me to get over my Fernweh a bit. Check out this touching performance in the Royal Albert Hall of the Auld Triangle.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

90 Days Challenge by Mark Lauren Halftime - And some Lindy Hop

I know, I know. I haven't been writing in quite some time.

The reason might be that I had a few days of motivation black hole, meaning I just couldn't bring myself to do the workouts and eat according to the plan. Last weekend we have been on a nice trip with the van, as Thursday was a public holiday here and we had taken the Friday off work. I am proud to say that I managed one workout "on the road", which I did in the van. Space was scarce and therefore it wasn't my best workout ever, but I was glad I did it.

We saw the preparation for a fox-hunt, all the riders dressed up and excited

When I went back to work things went downhill. Every day when I came home I was so tired, I could not even lift my arms, let alone lift myself onto my arms. I collapsed on the couch and fell asleep immediately. Three days in a row. No idea where this came from. Maybe it had to do with the weather changing or with some cold my body was fighting off.
After this short backlapse I managed to get back on track however. My nutrition is also getting better again. We are eating a lot of protein, cooking with veggies and good meat and I can feel that my body has much more energy again. Maybe the bad eating habits a few days before made me suffer from the tiredness. And now I am already at day 45! Wow, halftime! I feel like it is only the start of a longer journey however.

The last three days I managed to go back to my plan and redo the workouts I missed. Yesterday's workout was called "Burner" and I can tell you, nomen est omen. My arms were burning the whole day afterwards. A pretty good feeling after days of laziness.
In the evening I went to a Lindy Hop concert of Meschia Lake and The Little Big Horns. Everybody was dancing like crazy, it was awesome! I have danced some Lindy Hop before, but that was about ten years ago, so you can imagine how much I sucked on the dancefloor! The great thing about Lindy Hop is, that no one cared. People in the scene are really cool and helpful. After some time I got better and more confident. It is so much fun, I want to convinve Mr. Schön of joining me in a class. Cross your fingers that he agrees! Dresses and hairstyles are also great to look at. Some guys even danced in woolen suits or leather jackets. Knowing how hot I already felt, they must have been close to their melting point. But, no pain no gain! I love men in suspenders and with rockabilly hairstyles. Some of them looked so cool, dancing with their beautiful partners. I sometimes took breaks from the dancing, just to look at them (and to take a break I have to admit...). The singer from New Orleans`voice blew me away. Even while talking, her husky voice baffled me. Check her out here. In the video you can see that even without a mic her voice is so strong, unbelievable, as are her dance moves. Really cool! I had never been at a concert before, where everyone was dancing like that. It must be a lot of fun when you perform on stage and see this kind of reaction.

Spring was really pleasant those last few days and we had the first big picnic in a park nearby. The baby in our bunch will soon be a year old already. As his mum is too busy with everyday life I will make him a photo- and memory album of his first year on Earth. I adore the album my parents made for me, which might be why I think this so important. It is great fun to choose the pictures and arrange them, more like in a scrapbook. If I were paid for that I would be happy to do it all day long.
With all the working out and the good weather, there hasn't been a lot of time for knitting lately, but I want to get back to that during the next two days, which are holidays in Germany as well.

Did someone say "barbecue"?

Have a great weekend!