Bicycling in Kilkenny

Bicycling in Kilkenny

Flying for Free: Part VII

One of the philosophies of the space-a traveler is to make the most of every time and place they are in. There is no need to waste the mone...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Temple Bar

The best experiences while on vacation are often found by accident. For this reason, we try to avoid over-planning our daily excursions. Day 5 of our Ireland voyage was a day set aside just for souvenir shopping, but we had no real plans aside from picking up a few mementos of our trip.

Despite all the travel lore advice against it, we always have a list of people to buy for when we are on vacation. Perhaps that’s not the most prudent thing to do, but since we can’t bring all of our closest friends and family with us on our overseas adventures, we like to bring a little of the places we’ve visited back to them, and of course, a few things for ourselves as well.

I did some googling before heading out that day because I didn’t want to be stuck not finding the very specific items we were looking for. Sure, we could find coffee cups and postcards anywhere, but I wanted to know where we could find a good selection of hurling jerseys  for John and the best place to buy a quality wool sweater for his mom.

Our first destination would be O’Neiils. Since it was in an industrial area a bit far from the downtown Temple Bar area, we opted to take a cab. The driver dropped us just outside the parking lot with the reassuring words, “It’s somewhere in there.”

As we approached the lot’s accompanying strip of shops, we saw an O’Neills sign behind them and to the right. Against our better judgment, we walked down a desolate alleyway towards the sign hoping to find a big store filled with team branded sports jerseys. Instead, we found huge garage type doors with no clear customer entrance.

I started to worry that the cab fare was spent in vain. Did we come all this way to see their distribution headquarters instead of a shop? Thankfully after further investigation and walking around to the other side of the strip of stores, we found the retail shop associated with that ginormous warehouse.

As soon as we walked in the door, I knew we had made the right decision. There were several aisles of specialized jerseys for all ages, genders, and style preferences. Since John didn’t really have a favorite hurling team preference, we aimed for the coolest looking one but then decided it best to stick with the more generic Ireland soccer shirt. This would save us from any embarrassment in case we someday ran into a legitimate hurling fan who might either love or hate the team John’s shirt would be representing. In either case, our ignorance of the sport and its team would most definitely be exposed leaving my husband no other choice but to walk around shirtless until he could change into a Seahawks jersey or something else more commensurate with his Americanness.

From there, we decided to take a bus towards the Temple Bar area which actually refers to the downtown tourist area and not a particular bar or venue. There is a pub called the Temple Bar, and it is touted as a very good and traditional pub, but when people refer to Temple Bar, they are most likely referring to the broader area of tourist geared shops, hotels, pubs, and numerous Starbucks locations.

Thankfully, Google Maps knows the difference, so we were certain that bus #151 was the right one cause that’s what Google said, but what Google didn’t say was which side of the street we should catch it on. Thankfully, most Dubliners are super friendly, and they don’t mind helping out a tourist in need of some clarification.

The fellow bus riders let us know that we’d need to cross the street to catch the 151 to Temple Bar, and that’s exactly what we did. After that, it wasn’t too long before we found ourselves downtown and ready to shop.

We walked from store to store while carefully choosing items specially selected based on each intended recipient’s likes and interests. Along the way, we saw a small phone repair shop. “We should go in here,” I told John. His phone had not been charging properly, and as a result, he had missed several good photo opportunities during our most recent escapades.

The store was not much bigger than my office back at home, and there was one young man sitting behind a makeshift counter amid shelves of various mobile phone cases and other related equipment. John handed him his phone as he explained the problem, “The charger won’t stay in the phone.”

The man used his flashlight app to investigate the charger port. “It’s broken,” he said. Taken aback by his observational brilliance, I stretched my eyeballs in the direction of my husband hoping he could read my thoughts, but just as I started to roll my eyes back, the man continued, “Two of the prongs inside have fallen off. It would be cheaper to buy a new charger.”

I began to wonder if this guy had really received his certificate in phone repair or if he was just a warm body taking up a space, but then he showed us what kind of charger he was referring to. He walked around and opened the cabinet behind us before pulling out a small box containing a white circle about the size of the top of a tin can. He walked back behind the counter and said, “Here, let me show you how it works.”

As he carefully opened the box, a younger woman and her friend walked in the door and approached the counter. She was there for about a half a second before she started to incessantly clear her throat. With each sound she forced out of her esophagus, her approach became louder and more insistent. Trying not to display any notice of her, I imagined that she must have been American because no other culture would be so impatient and rude. I’m sure the same thoughts must have been going through the mind of the man helping us as well because his face mimicked my efforts to purposefully ignore her, but once he got the gadget out of the box, her impatience got the best of him.

“Do you need something?” he said as he hesitantly peered in her direction.

“I just need an electric adapter,” she said as if her need was so much more important, urgent, and dire than anyone else’s.

He gently slammed the bulky, unboxed, and slightly stained adapter on the counter in front of her. “That will be 5 euros,” he said curtly as he diverted his attention back to our innocent fascination at the concept of this cordless charger. The persistent young woman threw a 5 euro bill on the counter and quickly ducked out the door and back into the crowd of tourists passing by that tiny shop.

I immediately spoke the words I had wished I had been brave enough or rude enough to say during her brief and less than 3-minute wait time. “I knew she was American,” I said loudly, hoping she might hear a bit of my commentary before she walked too far away, “Only an American can act so rude and impatient like that. It’s embarrassing. I am ashamed of where I come from when I see people like that.” I went on to say that maybe she should have ordered that little but very important piece of equipment before she had left the United States.

As John paid for his new phone gadget, he breathed a sigh of relief at the realization that my tirade was quickly done and over. We said our thank yous and goodbyes to the helpful phone technician and went back out into the unusually sunny streets of Temple Bar.

(To be continued)

1 comment:

  1. BOO Starbucks and BOO rude people who go to see nice people for an adapter! BOO!