Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cab Drivers

The cab drivers here have been great. Friendly and chatty, we have always learned something from them. The first one, who picked us up from the airport told us all about the budget issues the country is dealing with and how the day we showed up was their deadline date to deal with the budget. I learned from her about the Taoiseach, who is head of government but really only like a king. He doesn't do much, he's more of a symbol.

Tonight, we hopped into Brian McCormick's cab and I'm grateful we did cause the guy was hysterical. I'm trying to remember all the funny things but I'm sure they won't really be told right.
He mentioned how people come over here and say they had a Guinness and it was beautiful. He said, "Guinness is an acquired taste. You can't have one and say it's beautiful because it's not. You have to try some over a couple months before you really grow to like it. I know. I've been studying it for 27 years."  He went on to tell us that he's travelled all over looking for the perfect Guinness. That this perfection comes form many factors, the pouring, etc. He said it wasn't uncommon for him to drink 30 pints in a sitting, but that now he's trying to change his life and be better about it. "I've only gone out about 7 times in the past year," he explained, "I have friends who can drink 40"

"How can they do that?" I asked, "I mean, don't they get really full?"

"Awe you just get used to it," he told me, adding "That and you're an alcoholic!" then we all  burst out laughing. I was int he middle of my laughter when I stopped and said straight-faced, "I'm sorry. That's not funny".  But it was and he knew it.

We passed the "stiletto in the ghetto", which it the spire near Henry street which no one seems to know what it's all about and what it's for or what it means.  "here's what happened" Brian told us, "They commissioned this artist $250 million to design this thing, and one night, the artist went into a pub, had a few drinks, and said Fuck It!  Then pulled out a pen and paper and a ruler, drew two lines, and walked off with his $250M.

As we approached Trinity College, he pointed out a rounded building with no windows, or rather, there was concrete where there should have been windows. He explained that "100 years ago or something" the British were taxing for windows, so the Irish filled those spaces meant for windows with cinder block. 

He told us that as it it our last night in Dublin, we should really go out and get to a pub for our last night. As he dropped us off, I asked for a receipt (very easy to get here!). He handed me a strip of receipt paper as long as my arm. It was the receipts from the last day and a half. He knew we were here on work's tab, "Here, hand this whole thing in for a laugh!"

they give me happy hot cocoa from the bar int he hotel at night.

art for sale along the College Green

I loved this orange one

About Last Night. Apparenlty, Saturday night was "The Twelve Pubs of Christmas" pub crawl night in Dublin. That explains the crowd of people dressed as Santa packing into the pubs and wobbling their way down the streets.

Tea time this morning

There are leprechauns here! Along with the Tart with a Cart, Maggie Malone.

bridge going over the River Liffey


a kind of street art I can't say I've seen before.

street performers

street performers

we;vehad great weather while we were here. With exception to the short days, other than today, the sun has come out regularly.

the video team; Alan and Phil


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Temple Bar

I overslept a bit this morning. Woke at 10 and headed out the door immediately. I wandered into Stephen's Green, which is right across form our hotel, and then I headed to some back streets with the hope of shooting around the city a bit. I went for about 45 minutes before I crashed. I was so exhausted.

I headed back tot he hotel, took some Aleve for my sore back, and laid down for about 15 minutes. I rallied and headed of to Bewley's my morning place...and sometimes afternoon!  Got myself a perfect chocolate croissant and a tea and got myself going again.

I wandered the city a bit more before meeting Sarah at the Maggie Malone statue (you know, the tart with a cart?). The afternoon was spent heading having lunch at Queen of Tarts (oh, my good!) and enjoying their company while photographing them in the city. Lunch took a really long time, but it was fun. Looking over the menu, Sarah wondered allowed, "What's a hot, savory tart?"

Without missing a beat, Emily said, "That would be me!"

The whole meal was like this. These young ladies have my sense of humor for sure!  I had them wander the nearby market where they frequent on the weekends, and then we braved the bus system to go to Winter Wonderland. Where there were some crazy-ass rides going on.

I left the girls before too long because while they were having fun, the winter wonderland could have been in Woburn, MA for all it's lack of Irishness. Although the rides were a bit different, for sure.

I headed back to the hotel to wind down and then the film duo who had spent the day shooting different stuff joined me for dinner at a burger joint. When we returned I went down to the bar for a hot cocoa. I had been before. They asks if I want to take a seat and they'll bring it to me and I tell them I'm taking it to my room. They are so incredibly friendly here. Don't know if I've mentioned that!  They gave me the cocoa as a freebie and sent me off with it with it's milk-foam smiley face on top.

Now I am "home" and committed to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. 2AM is insane!

my students at lunch at Queen of Tarts. They crack me up. I really shouldn't be sharing, but you won't tell anyone, right?

the ladies chat it up with a vendor

people on the crazy ride during the Winter Wonderland carnival

check this thing out!

Some photos from Friday

the beautiful doors of Merrion Street

coffee shop

he just looks so worried about being a door-knocker!

if you're wondering what "sprawn cocktail" flavor is, it's shrimp cocktail. Yup, they have potato chips (called "crisps" here that are cocktail sauce flavored.

yes, I needed the layers

at the butcher's shop

locals at the pub

Matt and his pig's head.

Thursday's Photo - off to Howth and back.

hot cocoa at breakfast. Bewley's has become a real hang out for me!

interior at Bewleys. A really great environment and super people-watching!

the train from Dublin to Howth.  Hey, it's green! Some of the first green I've seen in Ireland (although, the trees and shrubbery are clearly built for the Irish weather. They have really stayed green!)

Howth fishing boats. With no one using them.

Back in Dublin. This used to be a real tree, donated annually to Ireland from Norway as a gift for the holidays. This year, it's this funky ball tree.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Howth and a Pig's Head

I didn't get a chance to write about yesterday. It was a long day. Right now, it is 11:30PM and I am waiting for my room service to bring dinner. It has also been a long day.

Yesterday was sort-of a day off. One thing i have found to be the case here is that for the most part, anyone I see here could be seen in America. I had hoped to see some real, I don't know, Irishness?  So, yesterday, when we had a sort-of day off, I went on my own via the DART (train) to Howth (hoath), which is a little fishing village about a half hour north of Dublin. It was extremely cold and I confess I was disappointed. Years ago during my brief visit to Madrid, I took a day trip to Segovia which turned out to be such an incredibly lovely place with it's interesting people, ancient aqueduct, castles and ruins. I had hoped for the Irish equivalent in Howth or at the very least, some real Irishness.

I could have been in cape cod. It was hilly and a it villiage-y, but the thing is, I don't like to photograph buildings for the sake of photographing them. I like the people to be in them. There weren't many people aside form those leaving a church from a funeral. Bummer.

So, as hail started to fall and the wind came in from the side, I got back on the train and headed back to Dublin, sort of wishing I had stayed int he city to photograph it's famous doors. In the little spare time I have had, I ave not seen the city during daylight hours. I mean, when it has been daylight, we've been with the students and I haven't had too much opportunity to look around and shoot the city as itself.

That's OK though. We are here, after all, for the students.

I returned to my room to relax for a little bit and by 6PM, Phil, Alan and I were haded out to meet Sarah and her friends at The Bachelor's Inn restaurant called The Poet's Corner.  The trio had discovered the place by chance and when they first walked in, found that if they paid 20 euro to be "members" they would get one free meal a week. Quite a deal for a college kid.

So, we hung out with them for a few hours, but it was tough. This could have been a pub in Boston. There' was nothing screaming Ireland about it. Again, I see how much we take from Europe.

After that we took the three girls for some Butler's Hot cocoa as a thank you. As it is the queen of hot cocoa makers in the city, they were quite excited. And the cocoa was very tasty indeed.

After they left to study for today's exam, the three of us shot some more at night before heading back to the hotel.

Today wasn't to start until 11, so I planned to get up at 9 and head out to photograph the city during daylight ours. No such luck as I set my alarm wrong. Still, I got a good hour in wandering around during the day on my own and I really enjoyed it! The city is quite different during the day and the doors are in fact really great. So colorful!

We headed over to DCU to meet with out representative, Mary and she helped Alan and Phil find good spots for the kids' sit-down interviews. We had hoped to connect with Matt after his exam today but because Mary didn't realize how important it was that we see him ASAP, he went off to the gym and we waited over and hour for him to return. I know my coworker Alan is very good at what he does, but he isn't  very good communicator.

Later, when Mary was showing us around the campus some more, she asked "Should I get another student?"

I explained, "Well, we need to meet with Mat to get shots of him doing stuff outside his internship so that we can finish his video, so getting another student won't work"

A light went on and she realized the importance of us seeing him before the sun went down.

We managed to connect with Matt and go with him to the market in Dublin and got shots of him shopping in an open air market with fresh produce. We gave him money to buy what he needed and he decided this was as good a time as any to buy a pig's head.

Yup, a pig's head.  Matt has some restaurant experience back home and know how to cook the thing. So for the rest of the shoot he carried around a very heavy plastic bag with a head in it.

We then took over a room in the university to do an interview and as the guys were setting up the lgihts' etc, the campus police arrived, telling us we needed a permit to shoot. That got all settled and we were able to continue.

Back at the dorms we rounded up some of his friends and took them to their local pub where they frequent to get shots of him socializing there. The faces in that place were great! I only wish I could have shot around in there but frankly. I didn't feel very comfortable just getting in the faces of the patrons there. Plus the light sucked.

Back at the dorm, the BU students were throwing a holiday party. They leave a week from Saturday so it was there last hurrah. Alan accepted a beer and I had to roll my eyes to myself. "So, what else are you going to do tonight?" Alan asked Matt. Just hang out, he told us.

When Matt left the room for a moment, I told he guys that he probably would like to go to the holiday party down the hall but as long as we're here, he's not going to do that.

I was basically saying, "It's 10PM on his basically his last friday night, let's leave the kid alone!"

So, we did. And now we're back, and I'm waiting for Beef and Guiness pie.

The End.
(I'll add photos later. Time for bed!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sunny Dublin Day

Well, I was woken up at 1:30 this morning to the sound of the buzzing again. I called the concierge and he came up to take me to an alternate room. I shuffled behind him in my PJs and stockinged feet, and slept on the third floor until 8 when I had to wander my way back up to my original room on the fifth floor so I could shower and get ready for the day.

Today was more interesting that yesterday. We got a little tour of DCU (Dublin City University) which is where all our study abroad kids are staying. Then, we met up with one of our students, Sarah, and followed her to work in the freezing cold (but very sunny!) weather. The video team had her walk certain streets (over and over) and we shot her riding the bus as well. That was a trip!  All these poor locals minding their own business have their personal space invaded by three nerds with cameras! They were very nice about it.

At Sarah's work we had tea and met her boss and chatted about cultural stuff. I mentioned that I hadn't seen many redheads here in Dublin and that surprised me. A woman who works in the same building told me that a lot of people dye their hair, "There's major slagging for being ginger-haired!" 
Translation, "You'll be harassed for being a redhead"

After photographing Sarah at work, which wasn't too exciting, I left and wandered the city for a bit before it got dark. I had about 45 minutes and I used it to check-out down Henry Street where there were lots of people and kiosks.

One kiosk salesman approached me and asked where I'm from. I told him Boston and he asked about Charlestown; that he's just seen The Town, with Ben Aflec.  He made an observation which I have found to truly be the case "The Irish in Boston are more Irish than the Irish here!"  I couldn't agree more. In fact, aside from some phrases and the accents, I see little difference in the people here and back home with regard to style and manner. Interesting.

I also went shopping at Penny's. Sarah explained to me that a common phrase was "Penny's!  3 Euro!"  Which is the same as saying "I got it at Target for 6 bucks!" when someone compliments something you're wearing.

So, I checked out Pennys and it was basically a Target but cheaper.

I returned to my room to find that buzzing has continued. So, I've been moved down the hall. The room's a little bit smaller, but I'll take it to get rid of the sound of a vaccuum cleaner being left on in the floor above.

fresh squeezed juice. Cool machine!

at right is one of our BU students, but I liked this man's face

I have no idea why I posed with James Joyce. I don't know his work. At all.

Note the bullet hole in the sleeve. It's form some uprising a million years ago or something.

I took a lot of people pictures today. (as you'll see)

all of the following were taken on Henry Street among the shops.

dinner at The Brazen Head, the oldest inn in Dublin. Great food and fun atmosphere!

Beef and Guiness pie. Much better than it looked.

this groups was trying to get a paper lantern to rise up above the flame. When they were unsuccessful, they found another use!