Friday 1 January 2016

U2ie Tour, Dublin 1 - Catching Up with Friends and Another Show

November 21st

When we stepped out of Dublin airport into the breezy, cold late afternoon, it felt great to be back. It had been almost two years since I was last in this, my favourite, city and I had missed th place. W took a taxi to Smithfield and our lovely apartment. We had a quick turnaround after our arrival as we were both going out to different places. I decided to nip to the local shop for bread and butter so we could have breakfast next day. Well that was my intention. I ended up getting totally lost in the rabbit warren of corridors and the lift kept taking me to a dead end. After ten minutes I went back to the apartment, Debbi said that I'd been quick and I told her I hadn't even left the building! We both went to search for the way out, after another ten minutes we found a different lift and that took us to reception, finally sussed it. However, it was now too late to go to the shop, so we just got our coats on and went out. Debbi was meeting up with some friends and going to a Rush tribute band gig. I didn't really fancy that, it's not my kind of thing,  so I had made arrangements to visit Ken and Elizabeth, friends in Dun Laoghaire.

I took the Luas (tram) to Busaras and walked the short distance to Connolly Station to catch the Dart suburban train. I had a struggle getting tickets out of the machine so asked for help and found the most wonderful railway employee, very helpful and also very funny who went way beyond what he needed to to help me. When I got to the  platform and noticed the next train going my way wasn't due for 30 minutes! The platform was very open and a strong, freezing wind was blowing, I had to pace about to keep warm. When the Dart  came it was toasty warm and I gradually defrosted on the trip south to Sandycove station in Dun Laoghaire. Then I had a short walk to my friends' house.

As usual the welcome was warm. Elizabeth had prepared a lovely meal and we caught up on each others news as we ate and drank wine. Ken and Elizabeth are such genuine people and I've known them for 25 years now, how time flies by! I left just after 10pm and was back in our apartment by 11pm. Debbi was still out, I stayed up a while and then turned in. It felt wonderful to be back.

November 22nd

We had a lie in and caught up about each other's night, then got the shopping in. We had a leisurely afternoon, we have seen all the sights in Dublin over the many, many years we had been visiting, so nowadays we feel no need to do the "tourist" thing.  Later we got a taxi to The Green Hen Restaurant, a wonderful French restaurant we had discovered a couple of years ago. They have a very reasonable Early Eater menu that we took advantage of. We both had Goat's Cheese and Beetroot salad to start followed by Confit Duck, both delicious. I love this restaurant, it's lively without being too loud, great service and reasonable prices.

Afterwards we went home and had some wine and looked forward to the two U2 shows we had coming up.

November 23rd

Gig day! It was cold and windy when we got off the Luas behind the 3Arena. The area is known as The Point Village now and is mainly new (or as in the case of 3Arena a renovated old building) but nearby there are still some old buildings left from the days when this area was part of very busy docklands. We went into the new Gibson Hotel close by, I wanted to see the Bono and Edge painting in there by the Irish artist Fin Dac. We took escalators up to the hotel, the painting is on the first floor it is hug and very impressive, full of movement and energy.

The Fin Dac Mural in the Gibson Hotel
We met our friend Paddy in the hotel, he's originally from Dublin but has lived in the US for many years and had come over for the shows. However, he did not have any tickets! He said if we could get him tickets he would pay for ours for the second night (we already had the first.) I was bowled over, it was a very kind thing to do and he did not know me that well.  Debbi managed to score the tickets so w were now going to two concerts in Dublin.

We went into the Hemi Bar which served Asian food, Debbi and I shared a platter which was ok, but the sauce over the ribs was far too spicy for me. Also, the service wasn't the best, we sat for ages before being served, then there was a long wait for the food. However the place was lovely, it had a central outside courtyard that looked beautiful with all the Christmas lights, though the rain and wind whipping around it made it best just to look at that day! There was also a long outside balcony area that looked out over the arena. Again on a nice day it would be nice to sip a drink out there, but definitely not on a night like this!

We left the hotel and braved the weather as we had to go to the box office to pick up our tickets. For this gig we had Music Generation Zone tickets, it was all a bit chaotic and it took us a while to find the right queue for the box office. Eventually we got inside and it was lovely to be warm and out of that howling wind. We got our tickets and waited a while to get into the arena. When we got in were stunned at how small it was, it's unbelievable that a city like Dublin does not have a bigger arena than this. The place quickly filled up and as the Zone was not higher than the floor I soon realised that I would not be able to see much. And that turned out to be true, so I went to the other end of the area where I could see a bit of the e-stage and video screen. I enjoyed the show but must admit it turned out to be my least favourite and I think my feelings were coloured by my difficulty in getting to see anything, sometimes I wish I was six feet tall! I realised for sure that night that what people had said about the best place to be in these concerts is in a seat was true. It was rather disappointing as when we had these tickets last tour they gave us a great view.

Me, Declan and Debbi
After the show Debbi and I left and met up with our friend Declan and his wife Mary and had a catch up with them, we hadn't seen Mary for a long time. We waited for Paddy to come along and join us but after a while we left as it was freezing cold and that wind was still whipping in off the Irish Sea numbing us to the bone. Later he caught up with us and came to our apartment and we stayed up having a lovely night chatting, eating and drinking as we usually do post gig. I love the touring life!