48 hours in Dublin

Trinity College

Trinity College

If you can look past the pouring rain that seems to nip at your heels everywhere you go, Dublin is incredibly fun. It’s the sort of place that has something for everyone. Museums galore, great restaurants, intense shopping, and opportunities to drink yourself silly on every street.

Seasalt and vanilla at Murphy's

Seasalt and vanilla at Murphy’s

The things I liked the most:

1. Trinity College – truly the heart and soul of this city. It has the majesty of Oxbridge grounds, yet none of the stuffiness.

2. Shopping – Loads of department stores and high street boutiques. A good mix of Irish, Continental European and British influences.

3. Food – Bountiful, generally inexpensive and most importantly, a decent supply of Asian restaurants.

4. Literature – You can’t fail to appreciate the monumental pride of the Irish in their famous authors. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before a blockbuster movie on Oscar Wilde’s trials and tribulation sweeps the screens.

5. Cosmopolitanism – tons of Continental Europeans have set up in this city. If the UK votes to leave the EU, those wanting to experience an Anglophone lifestyle in Europe will likely flock to Dublin.

Things other people like but I skipped:

1. Guinness Storehouse – We walked for ages to get here and were confronted with a massive crowd in a stifling atmosphere. If you’re certain you want to visit this place, definitely buy your tickets online. It’s even cheaper that way. (The demographic of fans is by and large Caucasian males between 18-35.)

2. Museums – probably a smart thing to do on rainy days (i.e. all the time), but with only 48 hours, do like the Dubliners and get on with life!

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They say Guinness tastes better in Dublin…

3. Temple Bar – this is an area chockfull with live music bars and restaurants. Its lively around the clock which makes for a brilliant change from European joints which open only at rigid set hours around mealtimes. You’ll inevitably meander back and forth this jolly site when tramping round the city, but my feet hurt too much by the end of the day to trek back here for dinner. Next time!

A bit of Canadiana ..

A bit of Canadiana ..

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Overnighting at the Kids Hospital

The Accidents and Emergencies Waiting Room for Kids

The Accidents and Emergencies Waiting Room for Kids

Despite what I’ve heard about the Dutch medical system, my own experience has been somewhat contrary to my expectations. When Petit-Homme was born, I was mentally prepared to be ushered back home three hours after delivery as is the norm here, but we ended up staying overnight in the hospital with round-the-clock attention.

Sofa converts into a bed

Sofa converts into a bed

Recently, Petit-Homme was admitted into Juliana’s Kids Hospital. When we checked in, the Kids Annex was only 5 days old and staff were still meandering around trying to orient themselves. Everything was brand spanking new, from the play structures, to automatic glass doors that smashed you in the face if you failed to decipher the instructions in Dutch on where exactly to stand. Free wi-fi, tv channels, and a shiny bathroom in a spacious private room. The ward was far from full, which I found unusual but welcome (maybe because it was a public holiday?). No disinfectant smell and no anxious relatives milling around.

Very Asian-street food looking cart

Very Asian-street food looking cart

The food cart comes round for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You pick what you want from an assortment of bread, hams, cheeses, spreads or warm food. And depending on which staff member you encounter at 3.a.m you may be allowed to pillage the pantry, and excellent coffee/hot chocolate is at your disposal.

I found our stay generally positive. I was surprised however not to receive any documents regarding treatment, nor even a copy of the invoice. In the Netherlands, these things get sorted a lot later, probably because of the compulsory insurance system. You may or may not eventually be informed of the charges. When we checked out (I suppose I should say “got discharged”), the hospital looked alarmingly full. Are humans conditioned at an early age to fall sick on work days?

 

 

Tissues Just When You Need Them

Morning traffic

The other day I was in a hurry. Just like most other days. I decided to give Petit-Homme a glorious chocolate-topped biscuit to eat en route to crèche in his pram. Yes, I’ve embraced the Dutch habit of offering kids chocolate at breakfast, basically because I’m confused. I’m confused because the moment I walk into the foyer of his crèche, I know that the zen in the air (and the menus posted weekly) should transcend me to organic farms and low-sugar, risotto, quinoa, bulgur, granola, hippe living. On the other hand, everyone here keeps talking about chocolate sprinkles. So I decided to compromise and keep the chocolate but ditch the sprinkles.

On the first day of this surrender, Petit-Homme gnashed his two chocolate biscuits with all the salivatory gusto he could muster. The smoking guns disappeared, but numerous trails of incriminatory evidence were left dribbling from his chin onto his bright yellow spring jacket. In short, chocolate lava everywhere.

Without heart we would be mere machines

Back to the original point that I was in a hurry. No tissues, no muslin, not even a scarf. As I stood by the side of the road scraping the goo away with my bare hands, a man driving slowly past in a Giulietta stuck his arm out and I was quite surprised to see a pack of Tempo. He left me cheerfully with the entire pack of tissues as traffic was rolling on. Truly, an unexpected gesture of kindness!

Starting a Vietnamese-themed week

Tiffin Deconstructed

Tiffin Deconstructed

Sometimes you just get a craving for certain types of food, and there’s really no need to be pregnant. In fact, I don’t think I had any sort of real cravings (apart from red wine) during those fabled 9 months of abstention. These days, I find the more people wax on about molecular gastronomy and other painful foodie blather, the more I yearn for good old soul food.

I’m down with another mild throat attack this week, not severe enough to dampen my appetite but it did steer my thoughts towards a giant bowl of hot pho.

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I can’t decide if I’m very lucky or unlucky, when it comes to accessing Asian food. Lucky, if I compare it to flavour-hunting in Munich or Budapest, but utterly forlorn when I think of my first taste of soupe tonkinoise at a heartwarming mom-and-pop restaurant in Paris. Lucky, in that a proper Chinatown exists in The Hague, but unlucky, in that the repertoire is somewhat limited and far more expensive than in North America.

 

IMG_6202Yesterday’s experience at Little V in The Hague Chinatown was a super success. Half the restaurant is made out to look like a Vietnamese village (almost wanted to take my shoes off to play with imaginary chickens) while the other half is trendy dining. The pho broth actually tasted like it had been roiling in a sea of bones, radishes and other zingy treasures.

More to come on my Vietnam –themed encounters…