Dublin: The mad 12 hour Txiki Christmas Challenge – Number 6

6 pieces of Street Art…

Just how much can you do and see in Dublin in 12 hours? On Wednesday 13th December I found out. You can see why I did what I did by clicking here.

And to start with I’d like to thank Jen (Sidewalk Safari) and Scott who invited me for breakfast and gave me some great tips for exploring the city – more about them further down in Number 8!

Over 12 days I’m posting about my adventure with the final piece released on Christmas Day. It’s sort of like the 12 days of Christmas…but not. Some of the posts will be traditionally ‘Dublin’, others a little quirky, one or two a touch contrived, some obvious and others less so. Hopefully all of them will be mildly interesting. The intention is that there is something for everyone. So here goes my Day 7 post – you’re more than half way there!

6 Pieces of Street Art

Not too many words in the post today. Most of the pictures speak for themselves. There’s a real mixed bunch of styles in here and it was incredibly difficult to choose my favourites from the day. But here goes.

#1 The haunting boy on the balcony. It’s a bit worn but a hidden gem that sent a chill down my spine. Just off Merrion Row it’s exactly the kind of tucked away piece that I was hoping that I would find.

Spooky window

#2 A pub covered in Street Art. Google images from May this year show the Bridge Tavern on Summerhill Parade to be a rather dull red colour. In recent months it has been transformed in support of Dublin in the GAA final at nearby Croke Park. But for the presence of a menacing gang of youths just out of shot, I may have ventured inside.

Street art pub

#3 From a pub to a hotel. The Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar is quite literally covered in murals. And given the rather drab architecture of the building, looks all the better for it.

Street art hotel

#4 Sinead O’Connor tribute. This is on the wall of the Hard Rock Cafe on Aston Place. It may be a reference to her ripping up the photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live back in 1992. Or something equally controversial at the time. But Sinead was always ahead of her time. Genius.

Sinead

#5 For something completely different, here’s another recent addition I spotted at Chatham Row just of Grafton Street. I don’t know what I like about it per se, I just do. Maybe the fact that it’s likely to be painted over quite quickly seen by few.

Street art

#6 My favourite piece was also the most difficult to capture. And will have the least impact on screen. So turn your screen to landscape now for a better view.

Street art panorama

It was challenging for two reasons.

  1. The actual width of the mural
  2. The narrow nature of the alley it is situated on

You can find it on Bedford Lane in Temple Bar – have a look on Google Earth to see just how tight it is.

Anyway, I set my iPhone on pano mode, stood at the very left of the artwork, and then shuffled, ever so carefully, until I reached the very right of the piece. It took about five minutes end-to-end, and I almost had to start all over again three quarters of the way through as my nose began to twitch. I managed to hold the sneeze in just long enough to complete the shot.

To say I was pleased with the outcome was a bit of an understatement. It’s just a pity that the aspect of the photo doesn’t lend itself to an Instagram post.

But it makes a cracking temporary header for the Txiki Tales website.

See you tomorrow for Number 5! Oh, and there’s one last piece of street art coming up in the Number 1 Christmas Day post.

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7 Churches

7 Churches

So am I going slightly mad? Can I really count? Is the pope a Catholic? And do bears sh*t in the woods?

No, yes, yes, and probably anywhere they like.

Anyway, there are nine buildings in the collage above but two of them have been deconsecrated over the years. Therefore I did only take photos of seven churches. And I am a bit of a smart arse.

The two that are no longer churches are:

The Church Bar

Top left which is now a bar, rather unsurprisingly called, ‘The Church‘. But I didn’t opt to eat in this conversion at the corner of Mary St & Jervis St. Instead I had a traditional Irish lunch of hotpot at another conversion next door. Called ‘The Tram‘, it was in fact a converted bus shelter.

The tram

Tram interior

Ok, so that’s a complete porkie-pie, but I just couldn’t resist. Likewise my lunch was irresistible. Although the ‘hotpot of the day’ was actually ‘cottage pie’. So who’s lying now? Where I’m from these are two very distinct dishes but when in Rome…or Dublin…

Cottage pie hotpot

Whatever it was, it did the trick on this now Baltic early afternoon and at just under 9€ including the drink, it didn’t break the bank. Travelling solo, this cute little table for one was the perfect unexpected find.

And so back to churches, or not as the case turns out to be.

The Black Church

This rather striking example in St Mary’s Place was once The Black Church (although officially St Mary’s Chapel of Ease and now converted into offices). So is this another lie, given that the rather pale stone might indicate otherwise?

Actually no, on a couple of counts. As it was constructed from local calp limestone, it takes on a darker hue when wet. But I like to think that the blackness owes more to history and legend.

  • Local lore says that you will summon the devil if you run around the church anticlockwise three times at midnight – DOH! I knew that I should have made this an overnight break.
  • It is also mentioned briefly in Ulysses by James Joyce, as the location of one of Bello’s many sins.
  • Finally the Irish poet Austin Clarke mentions the local legend of ‘Old Nick’ appearing in his 1962 autobiography titled Twice Round the Black Church.

It really is my kind of church…type building.

And so to the end of today’s musings and the strange effect on the photo on the bottom right of the collage.

St Marys

This is St Mary’s on Haddington Road, very close to the Dublin Grand Canal, just like the one in Venice, only nothing like it at all. So what the hell is that orange glow at the top that I just couldn’t get out of shot? It didn’t matter what angle I tried to get it from.

Was it a message from Him (no, not Dom DeLuise) that I should be more respectful and a little less cheeky? Was I about to be struck down for my irreverence?

Actually no. It was nothing more than the reflection from a street lamp that was positioned just a little too close to the front of the church.

I do promise to be better in future though. Just in case I get sent to the Black Church at midnight.

Txiki Stu

PS Prize of absolutely nothing other than smug pride for getting the 1980s film reference – Rob Catterall, you’re not allowed to take part!

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8 Irish Breakfast Items

Irish Breakfast

I was planning on visiting Lovinspoon for breakfast in Dublin, taking the 16 bus from the airport and stopping off by Croke Park for some early morning carbs. But in the end I got a much better offer.

That’s not to say that Lovinspoon isn’t a quality establishment. I’d had my heart set on visiting this quaint & well-loved eaterie and so stopped in for a coffee at lunchtime.

Lovinspoon

Coffee

The coffee was delicious and the guys serving were so welcoming, keen to engage and find out what I was up to. When I told them of my mini-adventure, they were only too happy to add some ideas of their own. I’d highly recommend this place on North Fredrick Street if you are ever in the vicinity.

My better offer

When I first considered doing something a little different for this trip, a couple of people suggested I contact Dr J (Jen) or Sidewalk Safari as she goes by online. We exchanged a few of messages and then the morning before my visit she asked what time my flight was arriving and would I like to join her and hubby Scott for breakfast at Google HQ. Complimentary breakfast at Google HQ. Google HQ with an 11th floor outside space offering views over the city and beyond.

Hell yeah!

Jen (who works at Google) and Scott were perfect hosts and set me up wonderfully for the day ahead. For anyone who doesn’t know (and I’m sure that there will be one or two out there), FULL breakfasts in the UK and Ireland are something of an institution. Regional variations include different items that make it fairly unique to each locality. I’m not doing an exhaustive list. but you can’t have a FULL Scottish breakfast without the square lorne sausage.

And in Ireland it’s not a FULL Irish breakfast if it doesn’t have white pudding. You know, black pudding just minus the blood. Sounds awful, looks innocent, tastes bloody amazing. I’m sure that aficionados will tell me that I’ve not had a proper Irish breakfast because I didn’t have soda bread, bubble & squeak or tomatoes. But I don’t care – I scoffed 8 tasty items plus a delightful latte without spending a single cent.

Jen, Scott & some great views of Dublin

I spent the best part of an hour with Jen and Scott (who runs the listing site Subscribe Dublin) and we chatted effortlessly about our travel adventures, blogging and future plans.

Three bloggers

They also gave me some great ideas for approaching my day. I’m not sure if they thought I was a little mad, not having much of a definitive plan or itinerary. But hopefully as this ensemble comes together they’ll see that I achieved a great deal even without a firm route in mind.

But half of the pleasure for me was only having an inkling of what might be around the corner. That said, the trip to the 11th floor viewing area really helped in giving me a sense of perspective and an understanding of distances between different parts of the city.

In a wonderful change of fortune, the driving rain and wind that characterized my walk from the Airlink bus stop to the Google office on Barrow Street was replaced by some strong winter sunshine, peering through the clouds.

Aviva panorama

Aviva stadium

Dublin panorama

Dublin view

Dublin view

Dublin view

Dublin view

Although Mr Sun was coming out to play, the menacing clouds out to the west would signal some further ‘weather’ of a wintry nature later in the day. But would it stop or hinder my quest?

I am (relatively) Northern, you know…

So that’s it for Number 8. It’s the half-way point tomorrow and time for a little reflection. But with me, that could mean just about anything…

Txiki Stu

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9 Traditional Boozers and Iconic Statues

Day four of the blog about Dublin and it’s a double-header. Rather than restricting myself to just 12 things, I’ve decided to do the odd post with a couple of themes. I hope this reinforces just how much you can achieve in a day. Once again I’ve used the power of Pic Collage to minimise the amount of scrolling through screen upon screen – the free ‘with logo’ version of course as I am a miserly northerner. After all, we all know what it’s like scrolling through someone else’s 300 plus photos that they have posted to their timeline. People don’t need to see every bloody out-of-focus shot you’ve taken – do people realise that digital photography allows you to rationalise your snaps down to the most (relatively) interesting few?

Anyway, rant over. And apologies if that is a little hypocritical given how much I’m trying to write about a bloody day trip.

First up, it’s 9 traditional Irish pubs.

Irish pubs

Now a quick confession. I only sampled the hospitality of five of the venues pictured above. But given the warm welcome received in each and every one of them, I’m sure that you can’t go far wrong if you steer clear of the famed tourist traps of O’Connell Street. Once again this collection is taken from both the north and south of the city. According to research there are around 740 pubs in the Dublin area. To see a paltry 9 is little more than child’s play. However, for more details on what I got up to and the characters that I met, you will have to wait until Number 5.

9 iconic statues

Statues

No, I didn’t rub Molly Malone’s breasts. At this stage of the late afternoon there was driving rain & sleet and I was in a bit of a hurry to make sure the 12 miles would be achieved. Also I suspect that this kind of behaviour could get you arrested in 2017. I did try to emulate the pose of Wolfe Tone but given the need to take the photograph myself, the result was somewhat less than spectacular.

Back to pubs. For those actually making the effort to read this with even a modicum of attention to detail, you will notice that today’s featured photo doesn’t actually appear in the collage of 9 boozers.

You probably understand by now that I’m not going for numerical precision when I think that there is something particularly interesting to show or tell. And so here is a bonus pub photo which will also be making an appearance at number 6. It looked a truly remarkable institution. However given the large number of menacing youths just out of picture I decided that discretion should be the better part of valour and I made my way rather quickly to my next port of call.

Street art pub

So that brings Day 4 of my ramblings to a close. Number 8 is going to be something very traditionally Irish. It’s also something that I was expecting to spend a few euro trying to achieve…but I managed to blag it for free. You could say that it’s my first blogging freebie. I hope it’s not the last…

Txiki Stu

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10 Georgian Doorways

10 Doorways

And so onto something very typically Dublin. I think it was Dr J who suggested this idea. And what a splendid idea it was and so easy to achieve a high number. It links nicely to Number 11 below with the video of the seagull destroying a bin bag on a Georgian doorstep.

Young Tom should be especially proud of me for this one. From the age of about 18 months he would declare that he liked a place, even in less than salubrious surroundings, due to the quality of the doors. I hope he reads this and goes a little crimson!

From the collage above you can see that I went to try and find 10 different coloured doors. With literally thousands to choose from, again it is a relatively straightforward task. To make it a little more challenging I tried to get them from a number of different streets both north and south of the river. It did surprise me just how many areas of the city had well-preserved architecture from the same period.

I thought a collage of the more colourful examples would probably be a little more interesting and less tedious than 10 individual shots (although the resolution isn’t quite the same).

Of course, not every Georgian doorway in Dublin has been preserved or restored with love and affection as in the examples above. The Parkway B&B on Gardiner Place just a few yards away from Croke Park shows just how you can ruin period features with modern additions.

Parkway Door

And then there are doorways that just have an unloved appearance. This one in particular caught my eye – hopefully one day someone will restore it to the glory of yesteryear.

Unloved doorway

And so to my final photo of the day and my personal favourite.

Door 69

I’ll let you make your own mind up as to what I like about it but I’m not known as ‘txiki’ Stu for nothing!

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11 Feckin’ Seagulls

Seagulls

But there’s only 9 in the photo I hear you say. The other 2 are a little further down the page. In truth I probably saw 111 over the whole day, but I only captured 11 on film.

And it was while taking this photo that I encountered something stereo-typically Dublin.

As I crouched down with my phone, a voice from behind called out, “Will yer take it easy dere fella, them feckin’ greedy ba****ds will have da phone off yer in a flash. They’ll try an eat anythin’ the huge greedy feckers.”

I turned round and smiled but the chap had already moved on to interact with the next person along the quayside.

Undeterred, I thought I would try to capture one in slow motion, which actually made it look more graceful than intimidating.

But it wasn’t long before I truly understood what that guy was talking about. Away from the Liffey, just off Merrion Square, I happened upon the noise of the seagull before I saw it. And it wasn’t the high-pitched squeal you might imagine. Instead, it was the peck, peck, peck at somebody’s waste bag.

I hope it was worth it. The greedy fecker.

And so that brings Number 11 to a close. It’s only a short piece but hopefully on the right side of entertaining. Bet you can’t wait for Number 10. I just have to decide what it is now…

Txiki Stu

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12 miles walked

12 miles walked

Number 12 was always going to be miles walked. I had to set myself a fairly tough challenge and so walking around Dublin required the biggest number. Some of the other numbers are still being decided and there are a few ideas that could have but didn’t make the list. More on those throughout the post.

So how far does 12 miles actually get you around the Irish capital?

The answer is more than you might think, but I did cheat slightly by actually walking 14.6 miles in Dublin and 16.9 miles in the day as a whole.

These were the two readings that I took in the morning and evening at Dublin Airport and here is how that translates into my movement around the ‘town of the hurdled ford.’

Map

I’m not going to peak too early and give everything away today. Over the next 12 days you will get a good idea of what a fun-filled, action-packed day it was.

Footwear & Weather

As you can see, while I missed a fair amount, I managed to cover most of the principal areas – a feat which rendered my feet fairly useless the following morning. In general the limbs coped fairly well. Knowing in advance my intentions, I carefully selected my most comfortable pair of trainers.

Shoes

Alas, they are not particularly weatherproof and so my feet gradually became more and more drenched as the day wore on. I bet the Barefoot Backpacker doesn’t have these issues!

The middle part of the day was bright and sunny but the start and end were characterised by driving rain and sleet, together with a morning wind which rendered an umbrella just about useless.

The other failing of my footwear was the lack of grip by the soles on some of the paved surfaces. Number 12 could have equally been ’12 Bambi moments’ as I repeatedly went ‘a**e over t*t’ as they say in northern parts. As a result, you start to walk with a different gait, naively trying to grip the floor like an animal might. The result – more aches and pains. But I’m not complaining – every good adventure should leave at least a couple of scars.

To get an idea of the the worst that the weather elf would throw at me, just take a look at the photo of the driving rain taken through the Airlink bus window in the morning.

Bus

Number 1 could have been ‘1 Landing in a Blizzard’ as out return to East Midlands certainly was, but:

  1. I have other plans for the final post
  2. It happened on the day, but not in Dublin

Ryanair

I must give a shout out to the Ryanair captain – given the circumstances, the landing was exceptionally smooth. All character-building stuff.

North v South

As a first time visitor to the city, let me start by saying that I found it truly interesting, full of character and I had the most fabulous day. I’m sure I’ll be back again for a longer stay, almost certainly with Mrs L.

I’m not going into too much detail just yet but my quick observation of the city centre was of more deprivation North of the Liffey. I never felt threatened as such, partly due to the pace I was keeping up. But there were certain areas that had a grittier feel, a higher proportion of pyjama-wearing locals on the streets and groups of youths offering the potential of menace to others.

I would never shy away from visiting such areas and hope that I can blend in to the background like a social chameleon. This isn’t to gawp at people or draw a condescending opinion on a particular way of life. For me it’s about understanding that a city, and life in that city, is more than the sanitised tourist attractions signposted for the masses.

One of the benefits of my slippy footwear was that my view had to constantly shift from trying to take in as much of my surroundings to what was beneath my feet. It might not be scientific, but I only encountered dog mess on the pavement (or sidewalk as my new Dublin-based blogger buddy would say it – more about that another day) North of the river. And there was quite a bit. So much so that I did start to wonder if the signs erected were trying to contain fly-tipping or warning local dog-owners.

Dumping 1

Dumping 2

By contrast, I found that my wanderings in the south were in more genteel neighbourhoods. This wasn’t my intention and perhaps it was purely by chance that the roads leading towards the Ballsbridge area were leafy affairs. The biggest problem I had there was puddles rather than poo!

Next up

And so, this is the end of Part 1, or should it be Part 12? Number 11 will be published tomorrow, probably in the morning. Tomorrow evening is our work Christmas Party. Things may well get a little messy and the likelihood of a drunken post making any sense outside of my own head would be nothing short of a miracle. On the other had, it’s that time of year and so I might just give it a whirl!

Any guesses as to the detail of Number 11? No prizes, just the satisfaction or worrying realisation that you might be on the same wavelength.

Until tomorrow, thanks a million for reading…

Txiki Stu

 

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The 12 hour Dublin Txiki Challenge

Just how much can you do and see in Dublin in 12 hours? On Wednesday 13th December I’ll find out.

Origin of the challenge

The start of December and I have to use my final day of annual leave before Christmas. Mrs L and Tom are both at school, the former working at one rather than still studying at the age of…. I’d better not go there! Despite her protestations that I should use the time to clean the house for a change, I have other ideas.

Where could I go for the day? Could I spend next to nothing (relatively)? How much fun can I have? And how can I blog about it in a quirky and mildly interesting manner?

I managed to bag return flights from East Midlands to Dublin with Ryanair for the princely sum of £19.98. Car parking for the day is chuffin’ more than the flights – even discounted I’m being robbed of £25. Thanks East Midlands Airport!

Dublin

I’ve flown into Dublin a couple of times before but never been in to the city. That’s about to change in a big way.

The plan

My flight arrives at 07.40 with the return scheduled for 19.40. That’s exactly 12 hours. Obviously I won’t have the whole time in the city but hey, it fits with the title of the challenge. And I’m sure that the winter weather may have a say in the actual length of stay. It is also 12 days before Christmas and so that got me thinking.

 

Why not do a ’12 things of Dublin’ just like the ’12 Days of Christmas’ but not?! Fellow traveller and good friend Mrs G also suggested that I could release a different element of the blog each day in the run up to the arrival of Santa’s sack. Brilliant, absolute genius.

The Dublin 12

I had a few ideas for different elements that could make up my 12 and I’ve had some great input from the twitterverse. I’ve also had some suggestions from @louisbink that I’m going to struggle with:

11 shots of Jameson can’t make it on to the list because I’ll be driving back from the airport in the evening

And 6 fist-fights with leprechauns might be a bit of a struggle and the physical death of me

So here is the draft, partial list of adventures that I’m planning (yes, I am aware that there are only 11 listed) so far with only one definitive number against any of them. I’m going to need an element of flexibility and besides, there needs to be a little bit of mystery and suspense left for the actual blog.

  • 12 miles walked (and blisters gained no doubt)
  • Liffey bridges crossed
  • Pieces of street art
  • Celtic crosses
  • Pubs beginning with ‘O…’
  • Irish breakfast items
  • Pints (or halves) of Guinness
  • Trinity College something or other!?
  • Modes of transport used
  • Independent coffee shops
  • Sporting stadia – can I get in to Croke Park and/or Aviva Stadium without paying for a full tour??

Thanks to @wanderlustadvocate @kate_frankie @vickyinglis13 @twobritsabroad @travelnpack sidewalksafari and others for all the ideas so far.

And I’m really hoping that I can do something special for the number 1 to be released on Christmas Day. Maybe a meet-up with a famous Dubliner? If anyone has any other ideas or can help in any way, please get in touch, I’d be eternally grateful!

I’ll be tweeting all day from Dublin on Wednesday with the first part of the post going live on Thursday. I hope it lives up to expectations and it brightens the day of anyone (hopefully it will be more than just Mrs L) who stumbles across it.

Thanks

Stu

 

 

 

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