Day 3: Manchester, Driving, and Dublin

We meant to get up much earlier in the morning, planning to go back to Platt Fields to see the costume museum and then lunch at the Curry Mile and onward to the Museum of Science and Industry. Unfortunately we stayed up far too late watching TV the night before (still trying to get used to the time change), and ended up missing breakfast entirely. Luckily a manager was nearby, and got us some cereal and milk. The cereal box was translated into at least 5 different languages, one of them Arabic, which was kind of cool.

We packed up, checked out, stowed our bags in their storage room, and headed down the street past a sad-looking run-down park and over to the bus stop. The receptionist at the Luther House was extremely helpful, so we caught the right bus in the right direction. It was a short ride, and we successfully got out at the correct stop. We had to walk another few blocks, but it was a neat walk, with lots of things to look at.

Manchester (or “Manchesta,” if you’re a local) has recently made most of their museums free of charge, except for special exhibits, which was nice for us, as we’ve got a set budget. We decided against the “Dr. Who” exhibit, as it would have cost us about $13 each to get in, and opted for the free parts of the Museum of Science and Industry. We started with a section of the room entirely devoted to steam engines and turbines. Most of the displays were real working machines dating back anywhere from 50 to 150 years ago. Heath (an engineer, for those who don’t know) was in hog heaven. We got a few pictures in the museum of him, and of some of the trains for my dad. I was a little lost in the technical details of some of the machines, and the museum guides were all busy with school groups, but Heath answered all of my questions readily. Yay for having a S-M-R-T husband!

We also attempted to view the textiles section of the museum, but a large part of it was under renovation. The only notable section was a 1940’s film specifically tailored to the English housewife detailing the best way to do laundry using the “new” washing machine, steam press and iron, and drying closet. The feminist in me was screaming, so we got a picture of me next to the sign for the video giving it the bird. I will have to put it next to one of my favorite pictures of Heath standing half-dressed in the kitchen ironing his pants. I will not iron anything at all if I can help it. Blech.

During our journey back to the hotel, we stopped at the White Lion pub, hoping to have a drink and lunch. Right before we got to the pub, however, we noticed a sign pointing to some Roman ruins right in between two buildings and took some pictures there before ducking into the pub. Even though the sign outside the pub said that they started serving lunch at 12, the barkeep said it would be “a bit.” After Heath finished his pint of Boddington, and I finished my pint of Strongbow cider (FRESH FROM THE TAP! NOT FROM A CAN! WOOT!), we realized that food would not likely be forthcoming anytime soon, so struck out for a sandwich shop three doors down. The ladies behind the counter were exceedingly friendly, and Heath enjoyed a BLT (only, the bacon was actually what we would call Canadian Bacon back in the states), while I had a delicious chicken/mushroom/cheese panini. Oh, and we grabbed a Dr. Pepper just out of curiosity because it was bottled in Germany, and it was a noticeable difference from our usual Texas-bottled flavor – not good or bad, just… different.

We managed to get back to the bus station (stopping to take a few touristy pictures along the way), and it only took us two tries to get back on the right bus. Hehehe. This time, we got to sit up on the top deck of the bus at the very front with a great view of everything. It was neat, but slightly disconcerting to be up so high, as it looked like we nearly hit several pedestrians. The only other incident was our exit of the bus: we were on our way down the stairs when the bus made a sudden jerking stop, and I nearly flew down half a flight of stairs and would have face-planted into a wall had I not happened to have had both hands firmly gripping the rail at that moment. We got a few more pictures on the last half of the Curry Mile (including a neat one of a poem painted on the side of a pub), got back to the hotel, and caught a cab (driven by a guy who seemed rather obsessed with the cattle business) to the airport.

On the flight (which I handled pretty well, by my standards) we sat next to two English businessmen, and Heath mostly chatted with them, getting some tips from them about touring Egypt (long story), and about driving in Dublin. Heath was getting more and more nervous about driving. We landed in Dublin just fine (and exited the plane down an outdoor staircase! a first for both of us!), got into our rental car (a Toyota Yarrrrris, source of several bad pirate jokes during our time in Ireland), and set up the dashboard navigational system. And then, we got ready to drive on the opposite side of the road from which we’d been driving since that first shaky drive on a permit at age 15.

Oh… boy… Well, we didn’t manage to kill each other or anyone else. Just a minor curb bump (luckily there was some prior damage there). Oh, and we cut a few people off accidentally. And there was maniacal laughing and screaming upon entering the first roundabout (it’s bad enough trying to navigate those in the US!). Oh, and a bus driver honked at us, so we ran a red light going straight from a left turn lane. Aaand, through Heath’s absolute fear of the right turn system in this country, took quite a bit longer than predicted to reach the B&B.

But other than that, we did just fine. 😛

Seriously, though, that navigational system saved our right-side-driving American hineys. Even if we had exact directions from the door of the Hertz rental to the door of our B&B, I still don’t think we’d have found the place on our own. The street signs in this part of Dublin are on buildings… sometimes. Or sometimes they are on teeny weeny blue signs that you can’t read until you get right up on them. Sometimes the teeny weeny blue signs don’t have street names on them at all – just areas and attractions. Yeah. At the least, we could say that it was an adventurous drive.

By the time we got to the B&B, we were both a little shaken. One of the owners of Acara House, Elizabeth, met us at the door, and took us up straight away to our room, where she gave us keys, and some brochures of Dublin. We both had a cup of tea to steady our nerves, and then took off for a bite to eat.

I’ve been reading the Irish news (and English and Scottish) a bit recently to get up a bit on local happenings. One of the big issues right now is the influx of immigrants from Poland into Ireland. It is causing some of the same problems as the influx of Mexicans into the United States (although the Poles are entering legally unlike a lot of the Mexicans). Being half-Polish, I have a fairly Polish face, and a very Polish nose (that hooked little beak of mine), and I have to admit that I felt a slight cringe at the thought that the Irish could possibly give me an evil eye.

Anywho, I’m rambling. The point is, I was hoping that there might be some good Polish food to be had. Unfortunately, we’ve not yet had a chance to access the internet, so I can’t return to that article to find information about where the main Polish area of Dublin is. And our casual short walk for dinner didn’t bring up anything, either.

Oh, what did we eat, you say? Pizza. But very very good pizza, and divine mozzarella breadsticks (it was truly excellent cheese). My pizza was shrimp – pardon me – prawns, mozzarella and feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and some sort of… green leafy thing that was not an herb on top. Heath’s pizza was everything but the kitchen sink (with really tasty meats). Heath rarely eats dessert, but he wanted the cheesecake, so we shared one. It was unlike any cheesecake I’d ever had in the US – silky smooth, almost like a custard, and slightly more tart. Yummy crust, too.

We walked back to the room as the sun was finally setting (it doesn’t get truly dark here until nearly 10:00 PM at this time of the year). And I worked on routing our discovery of Dublin for the next day and a half (and typing this journal entry). We want to get up early, catch the free breakfast downstairs, and get on the first tour bus, if possible. It’s a hop-on-hop off for one price sort of deal, so we can take as long as we like at any place we wish, and skip any attractions that we don’t want to see. Plus, we don’t have to drive.

Next update will be tomorrow evening, unless we’ve spent too long at the Guinness Brewery. Heh.

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