Before leaving Belfast i made a point of taking out more cash, so i could pay for the hostel when i arrive in Dublin. Upon arrival i was fully loaded with pounds and didn't have a single euro with me which of course is the currency they use in the "real" Ireland (Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom). I found the whole situation with money very amusing, but the reception girl at the hostel didn't get what i was giggling about.
Even the cheapest hostels are expensive in Dublin and even more so on the weekends which was when i arrived. My random youth hostel was ok, kind of tired and stale looking, like they all are, except for the bathroom. Big, bright and also very clean. In fact the bathroom was better than in many of the hotels i've been in. Later i found out that the hostel in question had originally been a decent quality hotel which wholly explains the anomaly. The water pressure in the shower was so strong that i had to hold on to the handle on the wall not to be swept off. At that point i wasn't wondering why there was a handle on the wall in the first place, only later i was informed that it was there exactly for that purpose :).
The previous night i got to sleep around 2 am, so i didn't really see who my room-mates were. When i woke up in the morning they had all already left, except for one guy who got up around the same time as i did. There was a bit of polite chit-chat about nothing until the question "Where you're from?" revealed that we're both from Estonia and we can just as well continue talking in Estonian. It seemed awfully funny how two random Estonians beat the odds again. We walked around in the city for bigger part of the day and made plans to meet up again in the evening to go clubbing with him and his friends.
During the day i changed hostels and when i checked into my new hostel i didn't have any room-mates yet. When i arrived back in the hostel around 11 pm to drop off my camera bag before going to clubbing, i found out that my room-mates were group of rather agressive skinheads from Croatia, who weren't particularly happy that some flaky blond chick is disturbing the peace of their Arian brotherhood. Up to that point i had never really thought about hostel dormitories and random people who get mixed up in there. Worse case of scenario in my head so far had been that i get a snoring or loud partying room-mate, i never really even imagined such a clash of cultures.
I stayed in my room for about 2 minutes, just enough to see that we are not going to get along with those guys. I guess i'm not so culturally enlightened as i thought i was after all. Besides the communication problem there was also an obvious hygiene issue with them because the room stank severely, which made me almost gag audibly when i entered the room. We had an en suite bathroom in the room, but if those guys couldn't be bothered to make even two steps towards the shower, then we had a problem in our hands. On my way out i did my best to charm the reception guy - i wanted to exchange my room and though at first he was saying that there are no free beds available, in the end i still got my wish and got transfered right away.
When i met up with my fellow Estonian Kristjan and his friends i was paraded around like a rare monkey - Kristjan was taking great pleasure and pride in showing everyone "another Estonian" and establishing that two Estonians can indeed randomly meet in the same universe. I guess there aren't too many Estonians in Dublin :). The club-tour with Kristjan and his friends was fun, it seemed to be a truly international bunch of guys who all had migrated to Dublin for one reason or the other. One gigolo friend of Kristjan's was trying to prove half of the night that he is not in fact "a male whore" as he put it. Why should i care was unclear for me until the very end.
Women in Dublin dress up for the clubbing as if they're going to opera or smth. OK, skirts and dresses are shorter but the sense of festivity seemed for me the same. It was very refreshing to see almost total lack of babe-meat-market which is pretty much the only form of Estonian partying females in the club scene. Everybody were really jolly and cheerful and i got to drink the best beer i've ever had - Coors Light (turned out to be Canadian beer). It tasted like absolute heaven but i do suspect it might've been because i was very thirsty and generally in an excellent mood.
The Dubliners definitely know how to party but after effects of a drunken partying crowd were also devastating: the whole central city area was full of broken bottles, trash, occasional splash of vomit here and there + very many very drunk people. Fast food joints were crammed with people trying to get some food. The biggest threat i encountered in the nightly Dublin streets was getting scorched by a stray cigarette, the streets were full of packs of women walking around carelessly with cigarettes in their hands and smoking like chimneys.
My hostel was outside the central area so i had a very long walk back after all the clubs closed. It was about 3 am, but since everybody was still jammin' on the streets it was a particularly jolly walk. Due to certain circumstances i was wearing bunny ears and on the way i got a lot of offers including extra fresh lettuce and super-sized carrot (feel free to interpret those kind offers according to your own personal level of naughtiness). I just realized that this thing with bunny ears is a bit of a recurring theme with me, recently there have been an alarming number of parties in the last year or so when i end up with various bunny ears, most of the times quite unplanned and ears in question being the property of somebody else :).
Photo: a little unrelated memory from our 2008 New Year's party. Me and Josh wishing everybody a smashing all brand new year!
A three day weekend actually turned out to be a very good way to discover Dublin. On Friday you see people getting in the groove and preparing for the upcoming Saturday. On Saturday everybody's dancing in the club, chilling in the pub or just being drunk and nasty on the streets of Dublin. And on Sunday the city is kind of quiet and in hibernation. I was walking around during the day, the streets were somewhat empty and seemed that people were taking it very slow. In the evening some pubs were full of partying Dubliners again, but the spirits weren't as high as on the day before and Saturday still seemed to be the "main day" for going crazy and having fun.
My hostel (Citihostels in Charlemont street) turned out to be quite nice (minus the skinhead-situation). Sunday morning when i got down to kitchen for breakfast (included in the price) turned out it had finished already an hour ago. I was very hungry and unhappy, while trying to remember if the reception guy had indeed told me the wrong time or was it my magnificent memory again. In any case, one lady from the kitchen staff took pity on me - she found me some left-over cheese and butter and went quickly to a nearby shop and brough more toast and milk as well so i could still have breakfast. It was really kind of her, i felt all cared for and stuff :).
Dublin is a nice city, i like how it looks and feels though i didn't have much time to venture more to the outside areas. There seems to be a lot of beggars on the streets, holding a cup and asking for a change. I was shocked how expensive is renting an apartment in Dublin. I saw an add on the hostel's bulletin board saying "Looking for a room-mate, rent 350 euros/month". I thought it was a joke at first, because seriously - 5,5k EEK in a month just to share a tiny room with a random stranger?
Even after almost a week of being in Ireland (for the sake of argument i consider Belfast also as Ireland though technically it's part of United Kingdom) i still get confused every time i cross the street and always look in the wrong direction, i'm so glad i'm not driving a car. I was wondering one day if somebody were to gather that kind of statistics about car accidents, which are higher in numbers: foreigners creating a mess on the streets of Ireland & UK due to left-hand driving or Irish/English fucking up in abroad due to right-hand driving?
Dublin seems to be a very international city. If you walk on the streets of central area, you will hear more Arabic, Hindi and other languages than actually English. In one of the internet cafes the guy next to me was playing some RPG and i guess getting actively killed, so he kept screaming "Suka! Suuka!" until he noticed my amused smirk and got very quiet. The Irish in Dublin seem to be jolly and positive folk. Even when completely wasted they still seem to be very accommodating and i would even say kind, at least such was my experience.
People are terrible polite here. It's sometimes even a bit annoying and often unnecessary. "Excuse me ..", "Pardon me ..", "Sorry for .." are the phrases you can all the time hear on the street. OK, i know that we Estonians could learn a thing or two from the Irish but i think there's no real need to say "I'm sorry, could i pass ..?" when you are passing me in the shop and there's more than a meter of distance between us. You and 2 more people could pass without bumping into me so why make everything so formal? They also say sometimes awfully funny things. A girl in the club was passing me by and said: "Could you let me by, chicken?", but she said it with such kindness and care that it seemed equivalent to something like "Could you let me by, dearest?".
I would definitely like to return to Dublin one day but hopefully as a much more wealthier tourist to take advantage of all the pleasures Dublin has to offer.