Craig and I were enjoying a meal at Nineteen23 a degustation restaurant in the Blue Mountains. Each course was paired with a beautiful wine from the nearby local areas of Mudgee and Orange. We were anticipating a final after dinner drink to complete the meal.
“What about a Baileys?” I suggested.
“Do you remember that cheap baileys type stuff we used to buy in Dublin. It was like $10. What was that called again?”
“I can’t remember, but we used to love that stuff.”
“What about the Dutch Gold?”
We both cracked up. We’ve been backpackers our entire adult life; we don’t fly emirates, do fine dining, or go on big name shopping splurges, even when we were living and working in another country. We were both earning good money in Dublin, but we had travel to save for so we’d often buy a carton of Dutch Gold from the bottle shop. In a country where you have choices like Guinness, Kilkenny, and Carlsberg, walking out with a can of something that was equivalent to KB in Australia was as sacrilegious as not showing up to church on a Sunday.
If you’ve never heard of KB, it’s the same reason why you haven’t heard of Dutch Gold.
Our conversation triggered an intense longing for our life in Dublin. It was the free and easy life. No responsibilities, easy jobs, good money and a pub on every corner. We lived in an apartment behind a brightly coloured green door in Rathmines on Leicester Street. The furthest end of the street led you to the popular greyhound races and the end that involved a 3 minute walk took us directly to the Toast Bar, our local favourite. It was modern and chic and totally unlike our other favourite only 20 steps to the right.
If you didn’t know what was there, you would walk past barely paying attention to the nondescript red door. Like we did for weeks, until one of my teacher colleagues asked if we had experienced Rody Boland’s yet.
It was a cult favourite amongst the locals and the students. Rathmines was a student area, so you can imagine the vibe.
After a bit of probing and description about the red door, I finally figured out where this pub was and walked on through. I’ll never forget that moment. The tiny red door opened into a warehouse sized room that was filled shoulder shoulder with locals having robust conversations amongst stacks of empty pint glasses. How did we not know about this place? How did we not even see people walking in and out?
Dublin is like that. Doors that don’t look like much lead to amazing experiences. We lived in Dublin during the Celtic Tiger,a period of intense economic growth. It was vibrant and happy as people discovered a new wealth. It was fabulous for us, but we were able to walk away. Sadly, as with any inflated market, it’s burst since and I am unsure if the same optimism is around.
It’s hard to imagine Dublin being broody, sullen or depressed.
I’m sure The Temple Bar region isn’t. It was only a 30 minute walk from our apartment to the city. We rarely caught the bus, even when it rained, which it does a lot of. It only drizzles and I loved everything the city offered me on my walks: Georgian homes, cobble stone streets, green common squares, crowded local markets and high end streets, and the Trinity College,
The Temple Bar is the tourist area. It really comes alive at night when the pubs are filled with those on their bucks and hens night eager for pints of the black stuff, Irish music and a bit of Irish dancing. The Irish craic they call it, the good times. When I first lived in Dublin, pre-Craig days, I worked at one of the busiest restaurants in the area. The craic was out of this world.
We finished our meal chatting about my experiences teaching the Pikies and Craig working at the Intel plant where he had to wear a space suit every day so he didn’t damage the computer chips. The day we experienced the hottest day on record and of course we spent it at the pub, out in the beer garden getting burnt. That is one for the record books: sunburned in Ireland.
Living in Dublin was one of our happiest travel experiences. It truly was just about the craic, I don’t remember feeling as carefree since. It’s been 10 years and we miss Dublin a lot.
We settled for herbal tea and coffee instead of a Baileys for our final drink at the restaurant. Over it we planned a return to Ireland in the next couple of years. We’ll hire a car, and drive around the island for a couple of months. First stop Dublin to retrace our steps and find that good craic again.
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Do you have good memories of a place you lived before that brought you a lot of craic and happiness?