Saturday, June 28, 2014

The art of riding a bus in Dublin

"To O'Connell Street", I said to the driver after having asked him how to use the new transport cards.
"Right O'Connell or left O'Connell?", he answered with a big smile on his lips.
"Excuse me, what do you mean?"
"Oh, just joking," he said now laughing, "O'Connell Street then. There you go."

Riding a bus in Dublin can be an intimidating thing to do for first-timers in the city and not only because drivers can be that funny. Driving on left side on the road and the English-Irish dichotomy of place names make something as simple as taking a bus a rather confusing task at first. Besides, there are some other subtleties which make riding a bus in Dublin an art rather than an ordinary daily action. But fear not, with the tips I'm be sharing in this post you will master the art of traveling by bus in Dublin as soon as you set foot on the Irish capital.

Dublin

Usually, a bus ride is an easy thing to do. You learn which line to take, check the schedule, wait for the bus, step in, ride, step out and that's it. From A to B, the bus takes you to your destination in a convenient way, just like it does in Dublin. Kind of.

The first difficulty to overcome in Dublin is the language barrier. Google maps and virtually every map of the city will have all street names in English and finding out where you're going should be an easy thing to do. However, when you start checking the names of bus stops and try to figure out where to stop things start to get complicated. Sometimes it is just impossible to know where to stop or how long it will take you to get to your destination because most of the time the itineraries are given in Irish and Irish names have nothing to do with English names, at least for foreigners with zero knowledge of Gaelic Irish. Besides bus times only refer to the start point so it is nearly impossible to know at which time your bus will be due.

The next thing to figure out is how much to pay for your ride. People usually throw some coins in the machine and tell the driver how much to charge. Fees are charged per zones so you're expected to know how many zones you're traveling and how much you're supposed to pay, which is a rather difficult thing to know when you're new to a city or are there only for a couple of days. Anyway, drivers are always happy to help and if you ask them, they will not only tell you how much to pay but where to step out and even give you tips on what to see around. Bear in mind that the machine does not give change so you better put in the exact amount. Otherwise you'll get a ticket refund which can only be exchanged at the central bus office in O'Connell Street. 

So, you're finally figured out which bus to take, where to stop and how much to pay, grand! Now you only have to get through the traffic of Dublin, which can be a real nightmare on peak hours. Thankfully, riding a bus in Dublin also has a pleasant social side to it. When the bus finally arrives people queue to get in it in a quite orderly manner. People step in, greet the driver and tell him or her where they're going to get charged the right amount. Then take a seat, enjoy the bumpy ride until they reach their destination and finally queue again to step out by the front door. And just before leaving, it is only polite to thank the driver for the ride and to wish him a nice day. Eventually, I'm starting to suspect that it's all these courtesies what make buses so slow in Dublin, and not the heavy traffic.

Dublin bus stop

Anyway, technology is making it easier to ride a bus in Dublin. Most stops have now electronic panels displaying real time information, so it is always clear when the next bus is due (almost always). And there's also the Dublin Bus app, which will inform you of the next bus due to your stop via your mobile phone. 

Cash payment and paper tickets are also being phased out by the introduction of the Leapcard, which makes it easier, and also cheaper, to travel in and around Dublin. It works like the Oystercard in London or the OVcard in the Netherlands. You top it with any amount and every time you ride a bus, or tram or train, you check in and the right amount is subtracted. Besides, there's a cap for daily and weekly expenditure, which is great news if you travel often by bus - like I do. If using only buses, the cap is €27, so once you've reached that amount you're not charged anymore for the rest of the week - I usually cap by Thursday, so I can take all the buses I want for free on Fridays and during the weekend.

Finally, new buses are incorporating a back door but most of the time, people still queue to leave through the front door. After all, it wouldn't be nice to leave a bus and not thank the driver for the lovely ride. Yep, riding a bus in Dublin can be a nightmarish experience but also a good one with great views, if you know how to do it and sit on the front of the top floor! Here are some photos of Dublin as seen from the bus.

Dublin river Liffey

Dublin

Dublin O'Connell Bridge

Dublin bus

Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Happy Life Offline

For the last couple of months I have been quite away from Blogland, posting once every one or two weeks and commenting even less often (my apologies! I know that's not nice). First I had moved to a new apartment with Boyfriend in Switzerland and it took ages to get telephone, tv and internet connection installed; and then I had a poor quality internet connection here in Dublin, though all of a sudden the situation seems to have improved drastically and now internet seems to work quite fine in my room. Yay! However, I have to admit that I didn't really miss spending the evenings in front of my laptop or the pressure of having something ineresting to share here twice or thrice a week. Actually I was rather happy and I don't think I am ready yet to give up this new found freedom. Seriously, not being able to be online 24/7 can be a very liberating feeling.

During the past weeks I have been getting acquainted with Dublin, a city almost unfamiliar to me. The weather has been incredibly nice - almost two weeks of no rain and temperatures over 20ºC - and that only calls for lots of outdoors time. I have been exploring my new surroundings, I have been going for long walks in the park, I have been sitting outside basking in the evening sun, I have even made a small trip to the coast. Overall, I have been enjoying life more and also falling for Dublin big time. The city is just gorgeous and I like the relaxed vibe around it. Plus, it lies just by the sea, so it is really easy to daytrip to the coast and to spend a day on the beach. Anyway, ask me in a couple of months about my feelings for Dublin and I might tell you a totally different story, once the weather goes back to its rainy ways. But until then, I will make the most of the long summer days and have fun exploring Dublin and its neighbouring areas. Here are some photos from the past weeks, hopefully showing you how lovely Dublin can be when the sun is out.

Dublin St Stephens Green

Dublin O'Connell Bridge

Dublin St Stephens Green

Dublin Ha'Penny Bridge

Dublin Trinity College

Dublin St Patricks Cathedral

Dublin Iveagh Gardens

Dublin Iveagh Gardens

Dublin Temple Bar


Thanks for all your comments and love :)
Have a lovely week!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Photowalk: Phoenix Park

Looking for a room in Dublin was not an easy task, especially taking into account that I wanted to move in less than a week time since I arrived to Dublin. After seeing a handfull of tiny and overpriced rooms, both in the city centre and the outskirts, I found a pretty and spacious room and moved last weekend. Commuting takes me one hour one way, so I spend two hours a day on a bus; the room is actually quite cold and the internet connection is far from ok. But these are the kind of details you only notice once you're settled in. What I did noticed was the nice location of the house, not far from the city centre and just around the corner from Phoenix Park, Dublin's largest park. And with the amazing weather so far, it is just too nice to go out for a long walk after work or first thing in the morning during the weekends. Right now, I think that outweights all the cons of the house - ask me in a couple of months and I might be already looking for another room because I'm done with long commutings.


Phoenix Park is one of the largest city parks in the world, apparently even larger than NY's Central Park. It is located on the west corner of Dublin city centre and it can be easily reached by bus or tram. Its more than 700 hectares of greenery are home to the US Ambassador and the president of Ireland. Other furry residents of Phoenix Park include the hundreds of deer of a herd that has been populating the park since the 17th century and the animals of Dublin Zoo, one of the oldest in Europe. Several other monuments, among them Ashtown Castle, are some of the sights which can be found in Phoenix Park. In the summer it is the perfect location for a picnic al fresco and there are several festivals taking place there. It is also a wonderful place to exercise outdoors, as there are many jogging paths and also rugby, football, cricket and even polo fields.

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

More than a single park, Phoenix Park is an amalgam of many different gardens and green spaces. It is really huge - the first day I visited I walked for more than two hours and barely made it to the centre of the park. The park is crisscrossed by lanes, so you can also drive to the spot you want to see and park nearby and there is also the possibility of hopping on and off the Phoenix Park Shuttle Bus. But even then, you can walk away as much as you can from the cars and buses and find yourself surrounded only by nature and that's what I like most about it. So, if you ever find yourself in Dublin with some extra time and a good dosis of nice weather, Phoenix Park is well worth a visit.

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Thank you for all your meaningful comments.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cheers from Ireland


Fáilte!

Apparently that means welcome in Irish, though I have no clue on how to pronounce it. It's been already a week since I arrived to Dublin and what a week! My top priority was to find a room as soon as possible and after seeing some of the tiniest rooms ever I luckily found something nice and moved last weekend. After moving my stuff from one room to another I spent a couple of days from one place to another trying to find some nice yet affordable bed linen and random home apparel. I also indulged in a bit of window shopping, as I needed to update my wardrobe workwear. On Sunday I finally had some time to rest and after a superb sleep I went for a relaxing walk in a park close to my new room (photos coming soon). And that was just what I needed before beginning with my new job today. 

Dublin

I would've liked to update you more often on my new life in Dublin but most days I was exhausted. And now that I'm kind of getting myself together internet fails me. The internet connection in this house is terrible. Not reliable at all. So I will try my best to keep in touch with all of my dear and supporting readers and I'll do as much as I can to post often, internet and work commitments permitting. Anyway, new city, new apartment, new job, it totally feels as if I had a new life to myself so I thought it might be nice to introduce myself again to you and tell you some random facts about me. 

Arni of Travel Gourmande tagged me last week in this post to share some personal info to get to know us better, so here are seven fun facts about me - and do not forget to check Arni's!

1.- I'm a secret britophile and love all things British. I had always dreamt of relocating to London but Australia and Ireland, as former countries of the British empire, got a well deserved attention as well. So moving to Dublin feels like a dream come true.

2.- I totally dislike the rain, which I've found to be a very inconvenient pet peeve when living in Dublin. And I'm sure that London wouldn't be any better. Maybe it wasn't made for me after all ...

3.- I don't drink any coffee at all. Or any Coke. But I do drink tea, a lot. Green tea with lemon or vanilla are probably my favorites but I'm quickly getting used to the dark Irish melange with a cloud of milk. Delicious!

4.- I went to a comprehensive school since I was three until I was seventeen and wore an uniform for fourteen years. And despite my love for fashion I still miss it - it was so easy to get dressed in the morning! Now that I'm in Dublin I really like seeing all schoolchildren wearing their uniforms.

5.- I think my English improved considerably when I started to read British magazines more than ten years ago; I don't think I would've gotten far with the boring grammar lessons we were taught at school. Cosmo UK and Glamour UK has always been favorites of mine and I'm happy I can now get them at their normal price in Dublin.

6.- In an ideal world I would've done something creative for a a living, like script writing or fashion designing. In the real world I've stuck to more practical matters and graduated in Mathematics and later got a master's degree in Econometrics. My job in Dublin is way too maths-related and I'm already fearing a quick burnout ... Anyway, I'm still young or so they say.

7.- When I'm not traveling or taking photos or reading or simply doing nothing in my free time, it is very likely that you will find me learning some foreign language. I think it is a very rewarding hobby and so far I've tried English, French, German, Russian, Dutch and Icelandic. Maybe I should take Irish next - though I've read this one is tough (not that the other ones were easy and in fact I only consider I've 'mastered' English and Dutch).

Well, that's all about me today. I would like to nominate Katrin of Land of Candycanes, Sarah of The Wanderblogger, Rosemary or Rosemary of Elephants, Nathalie of Snowflakes in California, Pilar of Petit Colibri and Kim of A Very Sweet Blog - no rules, just share some random facts about you. That's an easy one :)

See you next time and in the meantime here are some photos of the docklands in Dublin.

Have a lovely week!

Dublin docklands

Dublin docklands

Dublin docklands

Dublin docklands


Sunday, June 1, 2014

The thing about Dublin is ...

... that I'm moving to Dublin. Wow, that's a bomb of a confession, I know. But there you have it. I even find it hard to believe it myself but it's happening. Remember when it told you back in February that life was taking weird turnings and taking me to all kind of unexpected places? Well, now you know what I meant. Everything happened really quickly and I went from being about to move in with Boyfriend in Basel to changing countries again. This is more or less how it happened and the rollercoster of emotions I went through:


Last week of January: We finally find an appartment and we are told that we can move in in March. I am over the moon and decide to stop applying abroad and really try to find a job in Switzerland.

First week of February: Ikea becomes our second home until we can finally move into our new appartment.  Anyway, Boyfriend is told to go on a business trip in two weeks, so the whole moving process is put on hold.

Second week of February: I receive a mail saying that I've been short listed for a position I had applied in Dublin. I don't think I'll get through the selection process but send the forms nevertheless.

Third week of February: Boyfriend is away the whole week. I am invited for an assessment day in Dublin taking place next Monday! I book my tickets and hotel and prepare my trip in less than 5 days. Crazy, crazy, crazy!

Fourth week of February: I am in Ireland for the first time ever! And I fall in love with Dublin. And I think I've messed up my interview so I go back to Basel and take comfort in our new appartment. We receive the key on Friday.

First week of March: out of the blue I receive a phone call for a follow-up on my Dublin application. I receive an offer. Ask for some time to think about it. Not much to think about it actually. I kind of know how unlikely it is that I will find a job in Switzerland and it is a way to good offer to say no.


Somehow, I always knew that the decision was already taken the moment I booked my tickets to Dublin; otherwise I wouldn't have bothered to go there and get myself through that stressful recruitment process. Yes, the decision was already taken but that didn't make it any easier. My heart was growing heavier by the minute, I was confused and I would cry any moment. Some days I felt like the world was smiling at me and some other days and thought that fate was mocking me. Wasn't I supposed to be moving with my boyfriend? Finally settling down and maybe thinking about kids in a year? That's where I thought it was going, however, life was pulling me in a very different direction and I wasn't prepared to take that road.

But I had to and gradually I got used to the idea of moving to Dublin. I eventually found the strength to embark myself on a distance relationship again, this time without knowing how long it'll last. And now you know where I am. If you read that whining post back in February I'm sure that you'll agree with me that my horoscope for 2014 was right. I had to prepare myself for the unexpected.



And that's all for now, next time I'll update you from the gorgeous Irish capital.
Have you ever been in a distance relationship? Any tips to cope?

Have a lovely Sunday!


p.s. I haven't been commenting on my fave blogs or replying to comments that often lately because we didn't have internet until a couple of days ago but THANK YOU for all your lovely thoughts on this blog o' mine :)


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