By some strange twist of fate I was assigned by my job to join my colleague at the Dublin Web Summit last week. A strange place to be for someone who still carries around a Nokia 1650 (which I did my best to hide during the summit). This was my first visit to Dublin. I arrived late on Monday and left again on Thursday afternoon, so I only had two evenings to see the city.
On Tuesday afternoon, after a long and surprisingly fascinating day at the Web Summit, I headed into town. The bright sunshine which had illuminated this November day had been replaced by a cool fresh air and a deep blue sky speckled with stars.
After passing St Stephen’s Green (closed at this time of the evening) the streets became increasingly lively. Lights from shops, traffic, facades and even some early Christmas lights gave the city a festive atmosphere and there were crowds of people everywhere. The number of people and amount of traffic was in fact quite overwhelming for what is after all a relatively small city by global standards. In addition to the large number of cars and buses I was constantly caught off guard by the fact that the cars drove on the left, and the lack of zebra crossings. I never knew where to cross and when I finally located the right spot I kept looking in the wrong direction for approaching traffic. In addition pedestrian traffic used the same rules, and I kept walking into people when I tried to pass them on the right as they were moving to the same side.
After some time of being jostled by the crowds and feeling constantly on the verge of being run over I escaped into Oolong Flower Power tea shop for some quiet – and of course some tea!
The tea shop had a large selection of teas (about 300 varieties) but I could not help myself and went for some Earl Grey. Luckily they had 3 varieties so I could still enjoy making a choice. I went for Earl Grey Imperial, a light blend infused with bergamot and orange blossom. It was absolutely delicious! This was what I was hoping to find in Ireland – some good tea (you can read about my usual Brussels tea experience here). I had a lovely time reading and sipping tea at Oolong Flower Power, before my colleague came and hijacked me to Temple Bar for some drinks.
I would prefer to spend all my evenings at a tea shop but I guess visiting Irish Pubs is a bit of a must when in Dublin. We spent the next few hours pub-hopping, beginning with the Temple Bar Pub, which was an Irish Pub to a tee – to the extent that it came over as a tourist trap, which it undoubtedly is. But an impressive one.
I do not drink beer (another reason why a prefer to spend my time in tea shops rather than pubs) but I had cider and a delicious hamburger that evening, while we chatted to people from all over the world, most of whom were there for the summit. In addition to the obvious topics related to tech and entrepreneurship we covered topics such as the European financial crisis, distances in Canada, the possibility of a Brexit, the legalisation of cannabis, the liberal party of Norway and Finnish eating culture. We even managed to meet a real life Irish student in between the multicultural summit crowd. So at least I talked to one Irish person while in Ireland who did not stand on the other side of a counter.
It was well past midnight when I finally made the long walk back to my hotel and curled up under the softness of my duvet.