Thursday, 17 May 2012

Dublin 3 - More Theatre, Champagne and The Fabulous Tea Room

May 8th

Samuel Beckett Bridge Under a Moody Sky
One of those blustery days with that fine rain that wets you more than you realise.  We got the Luas to Mayor Square - once we got past the Busaras stop I was astounded by the new buildings both residential and retail that had replaced the previously run-down area.  We walked over the elegant and rather beautiful harp-shaped Samuel Beckett Bridge and down the road to Hanover Quay.  The quay was not much different from last time we were there a couple of years ago, partly full of new buildings, partly undeveloped, there were a lot of "To Let" signs around even on the most derelict buildings. Previously each time we visited there were vast changes but the eastern end is barely developed and there's just a big hole where the now cancelled U2 Tower was going to be built. It felt strange, the Celtic Tiger had come to a stop here, literally butting up against the sturdy stone buildings from the past.

Nothing was going on at Hanover Quay so we got some tea in the Spar shop and sat on the seats beside Grand Canal Dock and ate the sandwiches we had brought with us. The rain had eased and it wasn't cold so it was quite pleasant sitting there watching the seagulls taking their afternoon bath in the water.

The Gaiety Theatre 
We went home and made a meal for ourselves before heading out again - this time to the Gaiety Theatre to see a play called Greener by Fiona Looney.  I love this theatre, built in 1871 it is  gloriously old-fashioned with a stucco embellished Victorian  auditorium in gold, turquoise and white with a huge central ceiling rose from which hung a fabulous candelabra.  We were in the front row of the dress circle, which you reach by a lovely wide wooden staircase.  On the landing there is a fake grass settee which was quite funny and totally out of place! Our seats were excellent, around the back of the dress circle were boxes and "The Gods" tier was above us.  It isn't a large theatre and it has a snug cosiness and a sense of the past about it.

The play was good, it starred Pauline McLynn (Mrs Doyle from Father Ted) as the unhappy Noirin and is about two couples, a lottery win and secrets, it is played out on a set of their dual kitchens. Above are two screens where every now and then text messages appear, from the start you realise something is going because of the nature of the texts but it is not until well into the play you realise two of the characters are having an affair.  The play was funny, with some serious stuff, though I feel that the characters could have had more depth to them. The lottery win brings the chance of freedom, both financial and personal for Noirin, but the grass is not greener on the other side and happiness does not necessarily come with what you think you want.

The theme of marital discontentment ran through both plays we saw in Dublin, I feel that A Galway Girl was the better of the two, it was more emotive and the characters beautifully formed both in word and the acting.

We walked down Grafton Street towards the Luas, some people were still performing there.  Once home we opened a bottle of wine and got out the cheese and snacks - a perfect way to end the day!

May 9th

A really shite day weather-wise, as we have been busy since we came to Dublin we decided to have one of our mega-lazy days.  So we chilled out watching TV and chatting and I strained myself and had a wander to the local shops.  That evening we ate in having lovely tortellini and later popped the cork on our bottle of vintage Veuve Clicquot and savoured every drop!

May 10th

Our last day in Dublin, how fast the week has gone by!  We had a bit of a lie in as we had a late night and then went into the city for a while.

That evening we headed out quite early to The Clarence Hotel as we had a table booked in The Tea Room later and wanted to go to the bar first. When we arrived the General Manager Clinton Attwell greeted us and went into the Octagon Bar with us where we were given the choice of a cocktail on the house, how nice! We went for our mutual favourite, a cosmopolitan. The barman added the burnt orange peel and explained the rationale behind it as he did so.  After a short chat Clinton left us and we relaxed and enjoyed our cocktail, trying to sip it slowly as it is so moreish but also very strong!

At 8pm we went into The Tea Room which, amazingly, wasn't very busy, I don't know why because it is now very reasonable in price and serves fantastic food.  We sat down and a waiter came across with two glasses of champagne for us - on the house!  Debbi had told them in an email that it was the five year anniversary of the time we had stayed in the penthouse and Bono had bought us champagne and that had given us the taste for champers.  So it was so lovely that they did this for us, the service and attentiveness at the Clarence is second to none. The champagne glass had a strawberry on the rim and each time we took a sip we also caught the gorgeous summer aroma of the strawberry.

Champagne Slainte!
We had duck spring rolls to start and they were wonderful four large, succulent!  We both had the ribeye steak for the main, this was accompanied by fries and we asked for an extra portion of mash as we both love it.  The waiter asked if we wanted the mash instead of one of the portions of fries but we said we wanted it in addition to them.  When the main came we saw why, the portions of fries were enormous, and they were so lovely and crisp, I'm not the biggest fan of fries (I prefer proper chunky chips) as they usually end up soggy but these were delish.  The steak was very, very tender and I must say, though the one I had a Marco Pierre White's restaurant was good this one was better.

We had to have a break for a while before dessert but eventually Deb ordered a crème brulee (her fave) and I got a lemon tart with chocolate ice cream - had to have my chocolate fix. Again it was delicious, the lemon tart melted in the mouth and the chocolate ice cream was, well, very lusciously chocolatey!

We got our bill and noticed that the desserts were not on it, Debbi called over the waiter who said that the desserts were on the house also, my we were being spoiled, how lovely of them!  It all made it a very special evening for us, thank you Clinton and the Clarence!

May 11th

All packed and ready to go.  Pat came to the apartment at 10am and we swapped the keys for our security deposit and went to a cafe called The Third Space directly under the apartment complex for our breakfast before heading to the airport.  It turned out to be a very good choice, we had two Irish breakfasts of egg (tasty free range), sausage, bacon, tomato, black pudding, white pudding (which consists of pork meat and fat, suet, bread and oatmeal, it tastes nicer than it sounds and is a bit like haggis) with toast and two teas for E10, a bargain.

It was wonderful to spend a whole week in Dublin, we had time to do everything we wanted and immerse ourselves in the city once more. Next destination, Nice later this year!

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