Ireland! The country of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Van Morrison, U2, Boomtown Rats and so many others. Ireland is part of the European Union and has the Euro as its currency, however it is not part of Schengen countries and you require a separate Irish Visa to visit Ireland. This is just as confusing as Switzerland, which is part of the Schengen but neither is it a part of the EU nor does it have the Euro as its currency, it has its Swiss Franc.
They have an excellent sense of humor as can be seen from this delightful sign I saw at a shopping complex. Really made me laugh.
I am sure that you must have seen lots of `Visit Ireland’ advertisements in magazines and papers. It is a short flight from London and was a tempting place to visit. A few months ago my friend the Big Cheese Tax Lawyer told me he had heard that there was a visa waiver and Indians visiting Britain did not require a separate visa to visit Ireland. I did some research and found that this is indeed correct. You can visit Ireland on a British visa till the end of October 2012. We are here for a 3 day break in Dublin. A short 60 minute flight from London City Airport got us into Dublin; we cleared immigration collected bags and got into a taxi in record time with much ease.
This is my view of Dublin. Of course I am wholly unqualified to express such opinions as I am neither an Economist, Social commentator nor have I been in Ireland for even 24 hours! But what the hell.
The ride to the hotel was most un-inspiring. After London, it seemed that Dublin would be rather dull. Everywhere you looked it was signs of a huge recession. Lots of closed and shuttered shops, lots of `For Rent’ signs and by and large, the buildings seem rather run down. I know that from an international standard Bombay is quite run down, but for us Bombayites to go to Calcutta makes us realise how really broken down Calcutta is. It felt the same here. Dublin is simply broken down. Cars are old and of lesser value. I have not seen a single Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Porsche or Ferrari. In London you see them almost a dime a dozen [inappropriate phrase, but you get my drift]. There was just one lonely Audi R8 outside our hotel. Lots of cars have had `accidents’ being bashed from the back, tail-lights smashed, bumpers damaged and trailing or hanging, not much by way of repairs. Taxis are generally old and comprise of mid priced cars – mid priced even by Indian standards, Toyota, Skoda et al.
The shops are much smaller and the brands on offer are at best some upmarket high street brands. There is of course the obligatory Louis Vuitton Store to entice the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans – no Khandelwals here in Dublin, London is as far as they go – but besides that nothing. The top of the range stuff is sold not from own brand showrooms but from local multi brand stores, I guess something like a Harrods or Shoppers Stop in India.
|Grafton Street - The main shopping drag, thankfully pedestrianised|
There are some tourists here, of course no `Desis’ just lots of Americans and a smattering of grim Scandinavian/Germans. For a lot of Americans, Ireland is their hometown, many of their forefathers emigrated to the USA from here, so it’s in a sense a return to their roots coming here. There are lots of Italian restaurants in Dublin, in fact it seems that the largest number of non Irish pubs/restaurants is Italian. There must be a reason for their presence, but I have been unable to find that out.
You may well ask what we are doing here? Good question, After reaching here I ask myself the very same question. There is some stuff to see, the famous Book of Kells, Trinity College, Dublin Castle Guinness Storehouse and more. Lets us see what all this holds in store for us.
|St Patricks Cathedral|
|The magical water that makes Guinness|