Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Straight Outta Dublin

In spite of the self-consciously ironic name of this blog, I do admit that every once in a while my life might actually verge on being a wee bit (just a wee bit) glamourous. Like last week, when I went on an all-expenses-paid trip to Dublin to finish work on a painting I had done for a family there. For two long days I toiled in a beautiful Georgian townhouse at an impromptu easel, fixing cheekbones and shadows, re-painting the ear, the eyes, and the bridge of the nose, to arrive at a resemblance. Happily, I managed to finish the painting to everyone’s satisfaction, and to celebrate I took an exhilarating two-hour walk (at rush hour no less) through the streets of Dublin, soaking up the sights and sounds of this small but very energetic city.

There is always something magical about discovering a new place, and Dublin has magic to spare. In the fading afternoon light I walked across the canal and to St Stephens Green, up Grafton Street where the Christmas decorations were already hung (and the holiday greetings were in Gaelic), past Trinity College and then along O’Connell Street, “one of the widest streets in Europe” (it actually didn’t seem that wide but it was nice to see anyway). I visited the reconstructed painting studio of Francis Bacon at the Dublin City Gallery (amazing!), bought shampoo and ear plugs at Boots, and ate a huge bowl of salmon ramen at a wonderful semi-fast-food Japanese restaurant called Wagamama (exactly the kind of place I long for in Paris). Even the Starbucks had character, with local poetry on the wall and the best morning muffins I’ve ever tasted.

Aside from almost getting killed by speeding doubledecker buses going in the "wrong" direction, I felt welcomed and at home in Dublin. No doubt this is partly because Dublin reminds me so much of Boston and Cambridge, where I grew up. There was something very gratifying about finally seeing the homeland of all those Irish-American kids I went to grammar school with – the ones who used to pinch me for pronouncing my r’s and for not wearing green on St Patrick’s Day (OK, as a matter of fact they would savagely beat me up, but we almost always ended friends). It was wonderful to hear the beautiful music of the Irish accent (so much softer and prettier than the Boston accent), and be treated to such quaint expressions as “don’t bring apples to the orchard” – which is what the taxi driver said when I mentioned bringing my boyfriend back with me to Dublin (!!). Of course, between all the Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Farrell, and Aidan Quinn look-alikes walking around, I might have to take his advice...But seriously, I can't wait to go back.


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