24 June 2011

Only in America...

...would opening a container and using a spoon be too difficult for some.

You got to love my dad though.  Never was a man more willing to pick up anything labeled "NEW!" in the grocery store.

22 June 2011

He could have asked for grapes. Grapes would have been fine.

This really isn't a post, it's just a quick story I thought I'd share with you all.

I was reminded of this story driving to Sentry tonight to pick up some beer and 2 bananas for my father. The beer he wasn't very specific about but he was very clear on the two bananas. 1 banana simply wasn't enough and 3 bananas would just be greedy. I started to think about it on the drive there and I felt a bit uneasy on what the general Sentry opinion of me would be when I checked out 2 six packs of beer and two bananas. I mean, I can't be the only one that is thinking some kinky sex thing with beer floats and banana pasties - and I'm not talking pastry here.

8 years ago I was unemployed so I was doing some handy man type jobs with my dad who is a private contractor. We were on site and my dad needed some duct tape. The house we were working on was also out of toilet paper so he sent me to this exact same Sentry to pick up the items. As it were, I had gotten my period that morning so I also needed to pick up some maxi pads. So I'm at the check out and I look down to notice that all I am indeed buying is maxi pads, a jumbo 20 pack of toilet paper, and duct tape. The cashier kind of raised her eyebrows but it was the bagging boy who had the guts to say, "looks like there's one hell of a party going on at your place."

It's because of that incident that my dad got 2 six packs of beer, 2 bananas, and a lovely 1/2 lb tub of macaroni salad from the deli. I don't even know if he likes macaroni salad but hell if I'm getting any comments again from the bagging boy.

19 June 2011

Coming to America

The Henbot and I are currently up to our eyeballs in America and all that tends to mean...mainly family, friends, Target and more food than you can shake a stick at.   I probably won't have anything for you until our return late this month but I'm assuming you understand.

By the way, were roads in the US always this big?

Just realized that the "roads in the US always this big" comment followed by this photo might make it seem like I was calling myself a huge ass road. Totally unintentional. Probably.

11 June 2011

Dublin - DAY TWO

So, day two in Dublin.

To say that I woke up on my 2nd day in Dublin with a bit of a hangover is an understatement. I believe the text I sent to Andy contained the phrase “rough as a badger’s arsehole”. I suppose it’s fair to say that if you don’t wake up with a bit of a hangover in Ireland, you’re just not doing it right. I spent a good couple hours in bed moaning a bit, eating the free hotel biscuits, and wondering if I could convince the room service people to shower me. It was truly the need for some greasy food that finally got me going.

After checking out, I headed over to Grafton Street to try to catch breakfast at the place the friendly Irish couple, Joe and Mary, suggested. Joe did remind me via email to mention how lucky it was for me that he was in fact a cartographer and of all the people in Ireland I could have met, he was the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in regards to giving directions. I’m paraphrasing obviously. They suggested that I treat myself and go to Bewley’s, which is this gorgeous café with loads of woodwork, café seating in a courtyard type setting with a high ceiling that was either very ornate or had skylights – I would be able to tell you for sure if I was actually able to eat here and not have been told that breakfast was over and it was another half hour until lunch. I feel terrible for waking up so late and thus missing such a fabulous suggestion but perhaps one of you all could go there sometime and tell me about it…just make sure not to show up at 11:30 AM.

Starving and unable to deal with the crowds on Grafton Street with a hangover, I headed down some side streets and found another smaller, less impressive cafe and had breakfast. I’m not going to mention the name of this place because the breakfast was average and they were out of brown sauce which I really do believe is a crime in some parts of the country. I did notice while sitting outside eating my sausage sans brown sauce that not only was I two buildings away from another one of Joe’s suggestions – Pete’s Pub – but I was also two buildings away from a pub one of my Californian\Irish friends back home recommended – the Hairy Lemon. What luck! I really needed a bloody mary.

Still trying to find Ryan's boarding pass on the walls of this place...

Since Pete’s Pub was closed for the bank holiday (another grand suggestion wasted!), I went to the Hairy Lemon where I felt very alcoholic – erm, I mean James Joyce like – by having a cocktail by myself in a very empty pub. In my defense, it was well after 12 PM by this point.

After my cocktail, I left and headed towards St. Stephen’s Green to redeem myself bit, stopping in multiple shops along the way. I stopped in H&M and bought the Henbot a few things, which only increased my missing of him. I haven’t mentioned that yet because I’m a bit ashamed. A couple years back Beth came out to CA to attend Andy and mine’s wedding. She had just had her son, Thomas, 6 months previously and you could see how much she missed being away from him. At the time I was Miss Not Understanding and just couldn’t get why she was depressed when she was only away from her child for 3 days. I completely get that now as its heartbreaking being away from your small child, even for a day. What ends up happening is you see all these parents with their babies, getting to cuddle them and push them in strollers and make silly faces at them and you don’t have your baby to do the same thing. As much fun as I had during this two day trip, it was bittersweet not having the Henbot to share it with. Not that he likes whiskey yet, but you get what I’m saying. Basically I bought more things back for Henry then anyone else and he couldn’t give a toss about presents yet. Seriously, this parenting thing is making me soft.

Oh sweet serenity.   I wonder if those ducks have any whiskey.

Where was I? Oh yes…St. Stephen’s Green. When I entered the park there seemed to be some sort of Ladies Walk going on. It turned out to be the Dublin Flora Women’s Mini Marathon and when I exited the park on the other side, I ran smack dab in the middle of all the walkers – of course going in the wrong direction. While I could have headed back into the park to avoid being awkward, my brain wasn’t functioning on all cylinders and I just plowed through. A confused young boy actually offered me a bottle of water which I almost took.

Not content enough to just walk?  You can exercise with blue haired ladies.

It was ages before I made it back to a place where no one was wearing a number plate on their chest. I was so confused that I just headed back to the Hairy Lemon for some more James Joyce reenactment.

Listen up England.  Get this in stock soon please before I am forced to revert back to Coors Light.

After my cider, I went to Pablo Picante, a Californian Burrito Bar, and you should too. I loved this place as it not only satisfied my need for Mexican food but it made me so homesick for California that I cried a bit over my Senor ‘Slim’ Delgado burrito. I text Andy shortly after eating telling him that we were moving to Dublin and living over Pablo Picante. For some reason he didn’t go for the idea but I’ll continue to whine about it until he gives in.

Eat Here.

How could this not make you cry?

Belly full of burrito, I did some more wandering. At one point I found myself at the International Bar where I was offered to sing (I declined) and then later at the Stag’s Head where I had a great conversation with the bartender about Liverpool Football (which I know nothing about but bluffed my way through). I’d recommend both these places to anyone as neither were overly touristy and the staff and clientele in both were very friendly. The Stag’s Head in particular is a good bet as you can get a glass of Powers for 4.10 euros which is a goddamn bargain in Dublin.

Listening to the "band" at the International.

Stag's Head before they opened.  No wonder Andrea recommended this place - it comes with a Vespa.

I ended my trip back at the Porterhouse Brewery for some bangers and mash and then headed to the airport exhausted, slightly tipsy, and desperately missing my family. I’m glad I got a chance to experience Dublin again and my opinion of it is much changed for the better. More importantly, now that I know that I can fly by myself and be alright, I’m heading back to the States with Henry this Thursday. Hot damn! All the Mexican food I can eat! If you find me somewhere in Milwaukee with burritos and enchiladas hanging from my ears, don’t bother me as I’ll be doing Just Fine.

08 June 2011

Dublin - DAY ONE

So I went to Dublin and it was good.

The End.

Yeah right. I’m so long winded you know that would never happen. I’m so long winded that I’m going to start off at the airport (with a picture!). No! I’ll start out before then…let’s say 3:30 AM, which was when I got up to get ready. That will actually be important information. I ended up choosing a flight that left at 6:30 in the morning because it was 11 pounds cheaper then the one that left at 11:30 AM. When you are on a budget, 11 pounds is a lot…that’s like, 4 pints of beer! So yes, up at 3:30 AM, visa verified by RyanAir by 4:30 AM…cigarette, cigarette, cigarette, coffee, cigarette…through security by 5:30 AM and very much in Dublin by 6:45 AM.

John Lennon Airport at butt crack in the morning

I had heard nothing but horrible things about RyanAir but it wasn’t bad. Sure, the fees tacked on to my 8 pound ticket were absurd (8 pounds quickly turned to 30). The fact that you have to comply completely with the 22cm x 40cm x 50cm carry on luggage dimensions and that you MUST put your purse and any airport purchases within that one bag and still comply with the weight\dimensions is completely lame. And the fact that you HAVE to print out your boarding pass at home or else pay a 40 pound printing fee…jaysus, that’s just mean. But, if you manage to do all that, it’s fine. There are no seating assignments which can be tricky, but on the flights I had the plane was fairly empty. On the flight to Dublin I was pretty nervous so even though there were plenty of empty rows (I mean, LOTS of empty rows), I chose to sit next to a couple. It turned out that the couple was as nervous as I was and understood when I explained my seating choice. Strangely enough, having the nervous couple next to me made me feel better as it was nice to know I wasn’t the only irrational person on the plane.

Once in Dublin, I took the bus into the city centre. The hotel I was staying at, the George Frederic Handel, had emailed me beforehand to tell me that it might be possible to check in before 2 PM if they had a room available. They didn’t, which was a bummer since I could have really used a nap. They did store my luggage for me both before I checked in and after I checked out the next day so even if this was the worst hotel in Dublin, I’d still think they were pretty swell.

So now it’s 8 AM on a Sunday morning in Dublin and I need to find something to do. I’m walking around in a daze when I miraculously find a hotel restaurant that’s open. It looks posh and expensive (and at 9 euros for a continental breakfast it fucking was) but I was too tired to bother going a step further. I did manage to drink my weight in orange juice and hang out entirely too long in their lounge.

By 10 AM I had made my way over to the Jameson Distillery. Or what was once the Distillery and but is now just a big place where they show off stuff that used to make whiskey and sell 50 euro Jameson sweatshirts. A little hint for getting more bang for your 13 euro distillery tour buck, after the crap movie at the beginning that goes on and on and on about how John Jameson was the king of the world and boy, isn’t his hair shiny, raise your hand to be a volunteer. When they ask for volunteers of course. If you start shouting, “I want to be a volunteer!” when nobody has asked for one, it is one sure way NOT to be chosen to be a volunteer. And you want to be a volunteer because it’s a volunteer for an after tour whisky tasting. Which is what you want of course, more whiskey, or else you shouldn’t be on this tour in the first place. That said, there are some people who don’t WANT to drink whiskey (we don’t like those people) and there are even more people who don’t want to drink whiskey at ten in the morning. My suggestion to you is that if you do go on this tour, go in the morning, but make sure NOT to get in with the German tour group because they will drink anything at any time in the morning.

Sadly, you do not get to take one of these home with you...or float one home or whatever.

With a bit of whiskey under my belt at 11 AM, what better way to carry on the day if not to continue drinking? My frame of thought was simply “drink, take nap, eat, see some music, sleep again”. Well, that’s what I figured once I got back to the hotel at noon and my room STILL wasn’t ready. I found an old man’s pub just around the corner where I drank Guinness, read the Lifestyle section of the Sunday newspaper, and chatted to the old man bartender about Oprah and Obama. After only two pints of Guinness that the old man must have spiked, I was feeling pretty good and thought this sign read “Crotch End”.


By 2 PM, I was finally able to check into my very decently sized hotel room and tried to take a nap. I tried, I really did. But apparently the hotel room was located in cathedral zone and it being Sunday must have meant it was special bell ringing day and jaysus, there wasn’t a chance in hell of getting a lick of rest. So off I went again.

Made with real Americans

At this point I was so tired, I cannot tell you where I all went. There was a lot of walking and if I saw some thing or some place that looked interesting, I stopped for a bit. It was in this manner that I ran into the Porterhouse Brewery Co. Now one of my blog buddies, Kim, who up until Monday lived in Dublin, had suggested this place to me. Without access to email and with having a piss poor memory for names, I couldn’t remember what the place was that she recommended until I actually stumbled upon it. I’m so glad she suggested it to me and that I actually ran across it as it turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip.

Inside the Porterhouse Brewery Co.

The Porterhouse Brewery is nice enough, with decent food and really nice beers – but that isn’t the reason why I had such a good time here. On my list of All Time Awesome Things is getting the chance to meet and talk to new people. However, I’m a bit shit at actually starting conversations so this doesn’t happen to me as often as I like. But while I was sitting there at the Brewery, this couple sat down next to me and struck up a conversation. It was brilliant as I was just getting to that point in my solo vacation where I was feeling a wee bit lonely. The couple was Irish, which is rare enough in Dublin, and their names were Mary and Joe (Mary and Joseph…Irish…of course). We talked about America and Liverpool and driving in Ireland and a bunch of other things. They bought me a drink and I felt bad not to be able to return the favor as they had to leave. But they gave me suggestions on some places to go and their email.

Mary & Joe, helping tourists feel welcome...well, this one anyhow.

I want to do a quick clarification on my comment above. Dublin is filled with plenty of Irish people, of course, but depending where you are Dublin it’s a lot like America – every place you go the employees are Irish but the clientele is all American. There was one Irish homeless man I got to talking to on the street. His friend came up to him and he told his friend that I was American. Before his friend could utter a word to match his unimpressed look, I said, “Everyone around here is American.” His friend responded, “No shit.” That’s just the way bits of Dublin are. Americans love all things Irish. They come to Dublin in droves. The tourists go to the sites and the Irish cater to them in the pubs. It’s because of this that I absolutely hated Dublin the first time I went there in 1998. I wanted the “true” Irish experience - an experience I realize now (that I live abroad) is a farce. A “true” Irish experience is going to Tesco at 7 in the morning to pick up those nappies that you’ve just run out of. But now that I know that, I enjoyed Dublin immensely. I enjoyed the touristy shit, the tra-la-la bands playing in the touristy pubs. I couldn’t give a toss I was standing with 200 of my fellow country men listening to “Whiskey in the Jar”. It was fun.

I went here...at some point.

...and here.

I'm going to blame my crappy cell phone for the quality of this, but we all know the real reason.

I can’t remember to many details of the rest of my evening. I stayed in the Temple Bar area which is one of the worst touristy offenders there is in Dublin, going from pub to pub listening to music, having pints. I stopped in the kitschy touristy shops and bought kitschy touristy gifts for a few people. I went to more pubs. I honestly got quite off my face intoxicated. I had a BLT kebab-y thing from Abrakebabra which was just as good as I remembered it from 1998 (though I certainly don’t remember paying 6.50 euro for it!). Finally, a mere 21 hours since I got up that morning, I went to bed.

Since this post is growing a bit long already, I’ll continue with Day Two later on this week.