Monday, March 19, 2012

Dublin for the 6Nations Ireland v Scotland Match

It feels like when it comes to travel for me, when it rains it pours. In this case, today is the first evening The Irishman and I will have to ourselves in our house since March 4th. Unfortunately, we'll probably spend it cleaning and doing laundry but at least that will be more of a normal routine than not. Anyway, those of you who follow me on Twitter know that the day I got back from Doha, I turned right back around and got on a flight that evening to Dublin. We had a three day weekend with The Irishman's family to attend the RBS 6Nations tournament game between Ireland and Scotland. I've mentioned before that The Irishman's dad is quite high up in the rugby world in Ireland and this year is his big-time-big-deal year. If you watch the games, you might have seen him on TV during this year's Ireland matches, and he wanted us to share his honors with him in person. 

The match was on Saturday which gave us all day Friday to hang out and do a bit of relaxing and sight-seeing. I have sort of a love-hate relationship with Dublin; I want to love it like a second home, get to know it with the intimacy I know London and New York. But I never get the chance to really explore Dublin the way I want, to learn its ins and outs the way I want, because we can never quite approach it that way – when we go, we stay with The Irishman's family (why would we stay in a hotel? we probably wouldn't even be ALLOWED to stay in a hotel!) and our time is dictated by family obligations. So my desire to hunt out cool neighborhoods and lovely hidden shops and side streets is somewhat curtailed. 

So now when we go to Dublin I content myself with just trying to understand Dublin, understand its people and really engage with the culture and history. So this trip, I requested a visit to Kilmainham Gaol.

Visits are only in guided tours, which depart every half hour or so and give you a good understanding of the history of the building as well as its famous inmates. The tours are €6 per person, which we found really reasonable, and I was super impressed with how many Irish people were on the tour (rather than just American tourists).

Fun fact: this room has been used quite often in films as it is one of the largest, unused jails in Europe.

Oh look, The Irishman is in a cell! Quick, close the door!

The yard where the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were shot.

Obviously it was a somber outing, but overall a really nice day out. I learned a lot and even The Irishman was impressed by the tour and the experience of the jail museum.

Friday evening we went out for dinner with The Irishman's brother and some friends, and Saturday we woke up to do a lovely 3 mile run down the pier. That's probably my favorite part of visiting The Irishman's hometown: its proximity to the sea. The air is so much fresher and when the sun comes out it is glorious.

After our run, I went for a manicure and then it was time to get all gussied up for the match. This is the second time we've been VIP guests for the pre-match dinner and let me tell you how hilarious it is to walk into a sports stadium wearing heels. On entry to the stadium lot, I saw this very lovely stand:

While inside the President's Ballroom, these ice sculptures greeted the guests:

Out in the stadium:

Because Scotland was playing, Princess Anne was in attendance as the patron of Scottish rugby. She had some very nifty sunglasses on for the duration of the game – despite the fact that it got dark pretty early on in the second half.

And after the game, we attended the post-match drinks reception before heading to the Four Seasons for the black-tie dinner. I know it sounds glamorous, but really it was exhausting. I've never eaten or drunk more over a 48 hour period than in that weekend. I have one picture of me all gussied up but I refuse to post it as I look, well, uncomfortable – and I was because my dress was too tight! Sadly, my discomfort distracted me from admiring all of the players in their tuxes and kilts. Meeeoooow – more than once The Irishman put an elbow in my ribs because I was gawking over the boys. Ooops.

Sunday after the match we woke up hungover and exhausted, but I made The Irishman and his brother go for a walk down to a local park with a food and craft market. We nursed our hangovers with coffee and tasty tidbits (dumplings after 2 days solid of eating? sure why not!) and got some supplies for a nice fry up to rid the rest of the cobwebs.  

And then it was time to go home. Another plane, and another flight and then it was back in our little apartment to rest up for the rest of the week to come.

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