The holiday season is well and truly over and we’ve all settled back into our Dublin routines: the boys in school, myself in college and Ralph working in town. We’re still on a bit of a high after our wonderful tour around Portugal and Spain over New Year’s. If you’re not from Australia or New Zealand you’ll find it hard to appreciate our amazement and delight that when living in Europe you can fly, or drive, and be in another country IN A COUPLE OF HOURS! Endlessly amazing.
Dublin has been having a pretty mild winter, though quite stormy. December was one storm after another and constant, dreary rain. January has been a bit colder, but with some fine days (or parts of days) and the storms not quite so regular. The boys are still hoping for some snow but so far there’s been just a little smattering on the Dublin mountains which disappeared in a day or two.
Dublin, itself, hasn’t been too much of a culture change for us. We are halfway through our planned stay here and settled in fairly nicely. Like in Brisbane, we’re living in a house in the suburbs so I thought I’d do a light hearted comparison between the two.
Public transport – around where I live it’s pretty bad. The DART (local train) is 20 minutes’ walk away, and irregular. The Bus is irregular and slow. People in Brisbane might find it hard to believe, but the public transport there is actually quite good.
Driving – the drivers in Dublin are extremely courteous. To a fault. They’ll cause a traffic backlog just to let a pedestrian cross the road – and you don’t even have to be waiting at a pedestrian crossing. Trying to pull out of a tricky intersection? Someone is bound to stop and wave you through, cheekily flashing their lights to let you know. Unbelievably courteous. No way that would happen in Brisbane. There they won’t even let you change lanes on the motorway. Nope – not a chance.
Parking – this is where Dubliners seem to lose all of their excessive courteousness. Show a Dubliner a double yellow line and they feel obliged to park on it. It seems to be some kind of psychological compulsion. Does it matter to them that they have now turned a busy, narrow, two-lane road into one lane? Not at all. They don’t seem to see the cars backing up as they run in to grab their latte or stock up on some gubeen cheese. Sure, it’ll be grand.
Most egregious of all is my school pick up. Right in front of the school there are double yellow lines and the words “Keep Clear” painted in red on the road. Does it make any difference? Not an iota. It just seems to be extra-satisfying to the parkers – like getting double points with a difficult scrabble piece. Now Brisbanites might be shite drivers but they do tend to respect double yellow lines.
Coffee – not as crap as it used to be! Dublin abounds with coffee shops. They’ve grown exponentially in number since I last lived in Ireland 14 years ago. I wouldn’t compare the general quality to Australian coffee but if you look around you can find a decent cup. Even a flat white. Dublin is being converted, one single-origin, slow roasted, artisan blended, bearded barista-made cup at a time.
The Beach – yep, you heard me right, Dublin has beautiful white sandy beaches and tiny little swimming coves. The water is deep blue, and of course, freezing all year round. Brisbane has a fake lagoon in the middle of town and a bay full of mud flats.
Hillwalking – you can do some beautiful hillwalks near Brisbane. It’s just that you won’t actually see anything much until you get to the lookout at the top, as you’re usually walking through forest. In Ireland there are views all around as not much grows on the hills here. A few trees lower down the slopes, turning into bracken as you get higher, leave the views unobstructed.
All in all the differences are subtle (if you don’t count the weather) but just enough to remind you that we are, after all, on the other side of the planet.