Monday, August 23, 2010

Mondays Are for Animals

Not all Insomnia coffee shops are created equal. Some are little cafes, while the one today is a bar in a smaller Spar store. The muffins are not very fresh either. With all of the coffee I had drunk in this country, I cannot say I had a good espresso drink yet. Some places even use the same brands they do in Budapest, but the quality of the drink is not close to being as tasty. The water perhaps? Maybe their need a better filtering system of the Liffey? It has been doing a great job for the beer though.

Decisions, Decisions…we had to decide how we were going to get to the airport tomorrow morning. Our IrishRail package included round-trip tickets on public transport, but we need to be at the airport by 6 am. The buses don’t start up early enough. With that in mind, since we could not use the first portion, we took our tickets to the bus office. Ron, who perpetually looks innocent, told the young lady we needed a refund since we could not use the tickets. Technically this was a true statement. What he did not say was that when we arrived, we tried shoving these tickets into the validator, but since it was the wrong bus and had made so many attempts the driver told us to forget it and sit down. After she went off to ask someone one who may or may not have known more than she did, she forked over a twenty Euro note.

Still back to decisions, decisions how to get to the airport. Option 1: take a taxi for twenty-five to thirty Euros. I have nothing against taxi drivers; I drove a taxi for 2 years in Jamestown, NY. BUT, I really hate shelling out money needlessly. Option 2: take the first bus for 5.50 and hope we get to the airport before the check-in closes. Too chancy! There are security and Passport Control counters to pass. Never know how long the lines will be. Option 3: take the Paddy Wagon. Yes, we decided on option 3 for 4.50 Euros each.

With that weight off of our backs, we used the Hop On – Hop Off bus for city transportation. By now, we could have given the commentary ourselves. We went all the way to the 20th stop, which was the zoo in the park. With Ron’s Silver Surfer card, we received 2 for 1 admission saving 15 Euros. Really it only saved us 12 Euros due to a senior concession. Dublin Zoo was opened in 1831, still not huge, but really a magnificent place for animals if they have to be kept in a zoo environment. There were a number of different animals one would expect, but were not here. Those they did have, they had a good number of, like four rhinos that we spotted. We spent almost the entire day watching the animals, but sometimes more fun was watching the children react to the animals.

Before the day passed us by, I wanted to check some computer stores for MS Office 2010. It would have been easier to buy it here than have someone bring it to me from the US. I had concerns that here it would be British English, but they said it was changeable. The cost, however, was exorbitant. I can get a multiple computer license in the US for about 70% of the selling price here. However, although we found a number of bookstores with offers for cheaper books, Waterstones had their usual buy 2 get 1 free offers. With some quick calculations, already knowing the prices and discounts offered elsewhere, this was a better bargain.  We came home with 9 new books, 6 of which were newly on my list as of this trip. I hope they are worth the lugging home.

For the first time this trip, we went back to the hotel for a rest, but that only lasted less than an hour. We went out for dinner, but for a change we went to an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant, but getting there at 8 pm when they close at ten was not the best move. There was an apparent slowness in refilling the trays that were empty, but eventually they did.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a lovely old-fashioned looking pub with a young staff. We were 2 of the 4 people in the place and that continued until we left an hour later. I hope it survives the downturn.

It sounds kind of pathetic, but on the way back to the hotel, we bought Cheddar cheese, a rare or expensive commodity in Hungary. At either the Tesco or the specialty cheese shops, it will run about $10 a ½ pound.  We had it for snacks a couple of days, since we miss it so much. 

This was the end of our mini-vacation.
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