ALL ON THE WIND
The first thing that meets a traveler in winter Dublin is a man with a weathered face, wrapped in a scarf and waxed jacket, riding a bicycle and carrying a surfboard under his arm. And then another – but already on foot. And then – elderly and gray-haired, but also with a board. Dubliners (and indeed the Irish) are famous for their character. The harsh climate near the sea, eternal dampness, greenery, rocks, years of civil war and IRA terrorist attacks, poverty, economic crisis and famine taught the Irish not to complain under any circumstances, but find joy in simple things: the beach, surfboard, alcohol, long walks through green fields and sublime melancholy, which is poured here in the landscape.
Grafton Street is Dublin’s main shopping street. It is always noisy, flowers are being sold at every step, street musicians play and the main department stores of the city are located – Thomas Brown and democratic Marks & Spencer. The cult episodes of the movie-musical “Once” (Once), for which the musician Glen Hansard, who plays the main role and the author of all music, received the Oscar statuette in 2007, were also shot here. Grafton Street itself is not long, and you can walk through it for twenty minutes, but you can resist the temptation to dive into the side streets, look at old barbershops, where severe bearded people shave with razors and then halt in one of the many pubs to miss a pint Beer or a glass of whiskey is difficult – and not necessary.
Grafton Street is quieter and more respectable than Temple Bar, the other main street of the city, where, in fact, all roads and the embankment of the River Liffey – the central artery of Dublin – lead. Temple Bar is famous for its youthful nightlife, it is always full of life, not overcrowded by tourists, and it leads to the embankment along which it is so good to walk. You can go far: past the Polpenny Bridge (so-called due to the fact that in the XIX century there was taken a fee for the passage of the size of half-penny) to Samuel Beckett Bridge at the docks. The latter is difficult not to notice even on the way from the airport: it has the shape of a lyre, the traditional symbol of Ireland. On the way, there are gloomy pubs with gloomy men sitting in them, the smell of light drugs (these are young Irish people who disperse the winter longing by the river), urban madmen. However, all this does not leave a gloomy impression, on the contrary – the city seems to be only more alive and “real”. Ireland has long remained a non-tourist destination – fewer tourists came here at times than to neighboring Britain. Therefore, life here is not paraded: the Irish rightly believe: either you like it, or – get out.
Until the era of “Celtic tigers” (until the period of the unexpected flourishing of the country in 1990-2000), Ireland was almost completely a closed country – and then it began to slowly open. Especially well its path to reunification with the rest of the world is seen on the example of the gastronomic revolution. Earlier, Ireland was famous only for potatoes, fresh meat and dairy products. The kitchen was simple, but very organic. But in the heyday, a lot of young restaurateurs and entrepreneurs appeared who are ready and willing to develop gastronomy in the country. A special “thank you” (that’s a surprise!) The Irish say to Ryanair, the owner of the airline, Tony Ryan: he allowed the islanders to choose the budget for the continent, or even more, to learn cooking, bring spices and gain experience. Therefore, after the “Celtic tigers” in the center of Dublin alone, there were a lot of small cafes and shops offering farm products. True, the Irish still prefer to order “fish of the day” – it is always seasonal and fresh. In quality of drinks, of course, whiskey, beer or cider – there are a lot of craft varieties, and most of them are very worthy.
The history of Ireland – complex, bloody, not always happy – is reflected in almost every building in Dublin. Wherever you look – something was bombed. Here is the square where the uprisings happened, and the docks remember quite a few great ships. Even the most modest routes in the city center reveal myriad funny stories: for example, the Royal College of Doctors of Ireland. There, the famous crooks and marauders Burke and Hare, the main abductors of the bodies of Victorian Britain, surrendered the loot – the building inspires residents with a holy awe. Even the most useless pubs – and those with a story: they certainly drank some local celebrity. For example, in O’Donoghue’s Pub, the Dubliners band likes to skip a pint or two of Guinness. Every self-respecting Dubliner knows perfectly well that there are no two pubs where this drink will be the same, which means that he chooses “his” once and for all. The paths at the canals (and the city is literally cut up with them and bridges) – and those with history. Two paths almost always go along the canals: one historically preserved for horses that pulled barges, and the second for pedestrians.