UK March 2010: London to Dublin

Dia dhuit!

I finished up London with an art day. After sleeping in, talking a short bath and drinking a lot of tea, I wandered to the tube station and made my way back to the city center again. I got off and a short walk later was in the posh area of Chelsea/Sloane Square. And to the Saatchi Gallery and the Empire Strikes Back exhibit. I loved the exhibit. It was a collection from modern, Indian artists. The first gallery started with a piece by Jitish Kallet, who is based in Mumbai. The piece was a speech by Gandhi, spelled out in about four inch high letters that were made out of acrylic made into the form of bones. That was one of the standouts for me. The other favorite was the comic book style work of a Brooklyn based artist, Chitra Ganesh.

After my dose of art, I walked quickly back to the tube station, shielding my eyes from the array of luxe, high-priced stores found in that area. Even taking into account the free admission price at the museum I would've gotten over my head just by window shopping. Plus, I may or may not have purchased a necklace at the gallery gift shop. A piece called 'Love-o-Meter'. When I get home everyone can have a spin (family excluded) and we can see how well it works.

I grabbed lunch on the road and then found myself at the Photographers Gallery. A small, nice photo gallery. For me, the most powerful piece was by Anna Fox: My Mother's Cupboard, My Father's Words. A series of small photos of the treasured and mundane items in her mother's cupboards juxtaposed by angry, violent quotes by her father. The book from the exhibit is about 3 1/2 inches high and in a pink cover. The small pictures, clear and simple. The quotes, unadorned and jarring.

I managed to sneak back to the British Library after this and finish up where I left off the other day, circling around the notebooks of some of my favorite writers. Staring in wonder at the collection of illuminated manuscripts and religious books from a wide range of traditions. A quick walk and a quick tube ride later and I met Janetta. She escorted me through the London bus system where we found a pub, waited for Tessa and then made our way to a Turkish restaurant for dinner and belly dancing.

The next day was also nicely filled with hanging out with Janetta and Tessa. We went to a Farmers Market, strolled through some shops, found our way to a very nice tea room for a simple, delicious tea.

After a brief rest, mainly filled on my part with packing for Ireland, we freshened up and went out to see some live music. A new favorite band of Tessa's Blood Red Shoes was playing. Months ago she scored me a ticket to the sold out show so I could check them out live with her and Janetta. A powerful, two piece, they put on a great show. The space was filled, but manageable. Good time had by all. It was nice to see the night sky instead of collapsing after dinner from sight seeing related fatigue.

The next morning, I had another chance to show off my public transportation skills. I rolled my suitcase through the streets and went from tube to train to plane. After dealing with the always frustrating Ryan Air and the almost always frustrating Ryan Air employees, I briefly relaxed on an over crowded flight and found myself in Dublin. A short bus ride and shorter walk later, I found myself at my Dublin hotel. I'm in Ballsbridge (barely). It's a nice area right outside the center of Dublin. It's nice to know that I am a short run from the American Embassy in case I get into too much trouble. Though, that is just not as easy as it sounds in Ireland. Let's just say, they have a high tolerance for a lot of things.

Shops and the likes close fairly early, but I was anxious to check out the city. I took a short. relaxing bath in the jacuzzi tub and wandered about. I found my way to a pub, they are hard to avoid, ordered my Guinness and settled in on to bar stool. A band was playing, a jazz quintet, they were great. They brought up two singers to sing some American standards. It might not have seemed like the typical Irish pub music scene, but a nice blend of the two countries, easing me into it all. After awhile, the band stopped playing. I sauntered back into the Dublin night, bustling with activity, and found a falafel sandwich and walked back to my new home. I like being a little outside of the center of the city, the neighborhood is peaceful, but in a couple minutes I can be in the middle of as much St. Patrick's Day week activity that I can handle. The room is small, but well-equipped. Single bed, desk, jacuzzi tub and an in-room sauna. I don't remember the sauna being advertised when I booked the room, but what a wonderful surprise. Makes the room smell like cedar, warms up in the time is takes to get through a quick bath or shower. Blissfully silent and relaxing.

Tea and cookies are brought to my room on request. I'm not sure why I should leave. Luckily for the cleaning staff, my Dublin agenda is filled with sites I want to see.

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