Category Archives: Travel

Dublin – More places I found by bike

Dublin city centre is well-signed as far as landmarks go. While heading over for the Jameson whisky tour (more on that in another post), I found myself early by more than an hour. This is because my phone refused to update to Dublin time, even though it had figured out that I was previously in Frankfurt. My tour didn’t start until 3:00pm (15:00). So I walked around, following signs to St Michan’s Church, up a set of stone steps. I didn’t know what to expect.

The grounds were filled with gravestones and crypts surrounding the church. I walked through, looking at the stones with names that had long since worn away. Moss and dark grey stone marked the spot where someone had been buried. A life not completely forgotten, with a name not remembered.

As I was looking at a stone crypt, I realized there were a few people in sleeping bags having a nap on the shady side. Funny, my first instinct was not to make sure I did not wake them. Suddenly it was as if I was in their bedroom, like an intruder. I backed away slowly, then headed quickly towards the church.

Around the outside of the church, there were many sets of iron double doors. They looked like the doors outside pubs where the beer kegs get delivered – the kind that open and kegs slide right into the basement. On the walls were the signs – crypts. Both doors were closed, so I opened the one below. It was incredibly heavy when I grabbed the handle and opened it. I had to brace my body against the weight of it. As you might imagine, it creaked with a rusty song as it opened. It clanged resolutely when I placed it on the metal post that held it open. I looked into the darkness. I took out my phone and shone a light into the crypt.

There were white-painted, rough stone stairs going down and bending to the right. The inside was painted white. About 12 steps down was a locked iron grate door, like a prison door. The steps kept winding to the right out of sight. I looked down the stairs and considered. What would the crypt look like? I did want to see. Really I did.

But that door was heavy. There were 12 steps down. I’d be down in the darkness and someone would close the door behind me. Judging by its weight, I’d have a hell of a time pushing it open from the inside. If the person didn’t also lock me into the darkness to face what was in the crypt. Or maybe more to the point, who was in it?

I’d be trapped, terrified, alone, bracing myself for whatever demon, ghost, dead saint,  or holy person had died and was laid to rest that decided this would be a good time to rise. I’ve seen exactly enough horror movies to know this is how it all begins.

So I closed the crypt door. But I was still curious. I opened other crypt door, then did the same thing.

I stand by my decision not to enter.

However, if you find yourself at this church and do brave the steps, let me know what’s in there. I’m still very curious but not enough to go it alone.

Mind the steps, too. They’re uneven as the sign says.

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Dublin – biking with a dash of fairness

My favourite way to get around Dublin is by bicycle, (and Paris, too. Well, really anywhere by bike is my favourite thing).

Here in Dublin is a bike sharing service called Dublinbike.ie.

Since it’s  been really sunny here in Dublin, which is unusual, bikes are a popular way to get around.  I bought a three day card for a few euros, where you can check out any available bikes at any of the many stations which are peppered throughout town and particularly at popular destinations. Short trips cost nothing at all, and longer trips are billed by time. But with so many stations, it’s easy to take them out and put them back – all day long.

Riding around you can discover sculptures like this along the river:

On my way back, I walked up to the bike cue with my 3-day card at the same time another man was walking up to it with his. There was one bike left. We both looked at it and each other. I asked if he was looking for the bike and he said yes.  Me too, I said.

Without missing a beat, he said “rock paper scissors and winner gets the bike”. I smiled at the great way to decide. One thing I didn’t know was that here in Dublin, with this man anyway, first you count to three and then reveal your rock, paper or scissors on what would technically be the fourth go. I had always done it on three. So the first one, I did rock when he was still counting.  I said I had gave my choice away. He said, “No, we go again.”

One, two, three – paper. We both picked paper. Then one, two, three – scissors. What? Then one, two three – rock. We both laughed. Three times in a row we picked the same thing.

I could see he was formulating a strategy and so was I. One more time. One, two, three – I picked scissors and he picked paper.

“You win,” he said, smiling, “I’ll find another, not to worry.”

Rock, paper, scissors made a potentially awkward or competitive situation completely fair. Chalk up one for childhood games.

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