Dublin, what a wonderful city! - John Maytham

I came, I saw, I felt, I heard, I was conquered. What a wonderful city!

John Maytham

No wonder The Lonely Planet Guide has just voted it the No 3 city in the world. I spent just less than 48 hours there - well short of the optimum time to do justice to what Dublin offers, but long enough to fall in love, and develop a deep commitment to return.

Image: A pub in Temple Green

A fairly random selection of stand out memories - the warmth of the welcome. Everywhere I went, from hotel to coffee shop to pub to restaurant to museum to gallery to the stranger on the street, I was met by genuine warmth and the immediate desire to help.

The quality of the experience - the food, even at a basic level, is very good, all the coffee I drank rich and rewarding. Their is a focus on quality and the growth of a network of small suppliers of craft goods. There has been a steady increase in the number of craft beer suppliers and the whiskey distillery business is expanding apace - quality entrants challenging the dominance of the behemoths. And the consumer benefits.

Image: St. Stephens Green

The excellence of the curation of exhibitions - all the museums I visited, and there were many, were characterized by easy flow from one exhibit to another. In two rooms, the Dublin Writer's Museum provides a fascinating insight into the importance of writing in Ireland's history - a small country with four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: here a first edition of Gulliver's Travels, there a fascinating collection of letters to and from Bram Stoker, and everywhere fascinating miscellany from the lives and careers of great writers. And don't sit in that chair. That's the chair Handel sat in during the first performance, in Dublin, of his Messiah.

Image: The National Library

The beauty of the place - many of the streets and pavements are broad, almost Parisian. And there are ugly buildings, yes, but relatively few of them. And there are many that attract the eye with their grace and harmony. And Phoenix Park and St. Stephens Green provide a tranquil inner city respite from the cosmopolitan buzz outside.

Ease of movement - because of my limited time in Dublin, I chose to visit only places I could walk to - and that's most of what I wanted to see. Most of the tourist attractions are within a fairly tight walking circle. But there is an excellent bus system, including hop on/hop off options targetting the tourist areas, and an electric tram as well. Dublin is also a bicycle friendly, bicycle aware city.

Image: The River Liffey

The buskers - I don't think I have ever been anywhere where the quality of the busking has been higher. One can spend hours on Grafton Street listening to a wide variety of music excellently played.

It's not a cheap place for people with rands to visit. But many of the museums have free entry, and it is possible to construct a day where that awful 15x equation doesn't eat into your enjoyment. I will be back - to see and experience things I couldn't cram in this time, and to relive, at greater leisure, some of what thrilled me on this visit.


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