So, as it has eventuated I’ve stuck with my role at the company I started temping with in October. The ‘IT Software company in the Banking and Financial Securities industry’ offered me a contract for the length of my visa in Dublin. I politely declined and said, I’d love to stay until June 2011. 5 days before I plan on hot footing back to my Greek island for the summer.
Now I’m a 26-year-old Gen-Yer and I’m stuck being a Receptionist for 3 more months, but I’ve dealt with it and I’m letting my ‘OMG what are you doing, you should be an executive by now’ side shut the fuck up and I’m instead investing in the copious amounts of free internet surfing time.
Cue – The Reception Report. One of the fundamentel aspects of my role within the company is to pull a report each morning which outlines who in the company (we have an international head count of over 350) is on holiday or travelling. I know you’re now wiping the drool off your chin after the nap you’ve just had, but hold in a minute longer please.
Early in November, I took it upon myself to slip in a little picture of a snow man in the middle of Dublin’s coldest winter. With no fall out from management, I continued to insert little clip art pictures into the email. Then I got to the Christmas party and received a wave of feedback about my ‘little pictures’ making people open the email (getting to read the attachment is the next step).
Long story (longer than I anticipated anyway) short. I have now created an organisation wide expectation that the Reception Report comes complete with a funny/thoughtful/cute/interesting/CEO friendly/inoffensive image/quotes/song lyric/joke EVERY DAY.
I have managed (with more success than failure) thus far to do so. Sometimes I come down in a pile of flames and colleagues don’t hesitate to reinforce my occasional errors. “Animals that look unborn are bad” he commented. OK fine. Next time I’ll make sure the puppy has fur.
But I figure, I’d add my daily contributions to my blog, with or without the rationale behind the entry. That way I get to create a kind of a diary of my time in Dublin and here at ‘IT Software company in the Banking and Financial Securities industry’.
Enjoy. Don’t. Comment. Slag. Contribute. Whatev’s.
Here’s Tuesday, 8 March 2011
As it turns out I didn’t love Brussels. It kind of felt like when I was 14 and Mum still tried to buy me clothes. I could imagine someone somewhere that had no clothes at all might appreciate it, but that someone was not me.
Liv and I embarked on our first lovers weekend away to Brussels, for the most part because the flights were cheap (for me). I took the 7:50am flight out of Dublin* on Friday and arrived into the European Capital at around 10am on about 5 hours sleep, cold and flu tablets and sans lover. Ryanair dropped me at Charleroi airport which is about a 50 minute bus trip south of the city. I figure somewhere along my travelling adventures I’ve picked up a trick or two as I managed to weasel my way through a group of American girls looking at the automatic ticket machine as if it had just hurled on them, buy my ticket and stealthy nab myself a seat on the warm bus ahead of a queue of people who’d been waiting for 45 minutes already. I stuck my earphones in and feel asleep to Celine’s dulcet tones.
Bus trip over, I followed the directions to our hostel, which involved me getting the metro from Brussels Zuid-Midi train station. Enter Mum delicately opening a bag from ‘Shop here if you’ve been through menopause’ and leaning in my direction. Whilst waiting for the metro, I took a look around for the first time and it started. The sinking feeling. Then the metro itself pulled up. A yellowing, filthy, beast of a rail carriage came to a halt with a grunt and a homeless woman with her life in shopping bags hopped out and I boarded with my hyper alertness sensors suddenly raging. A cool calm exterior, I sat on a brown plastic chair next to a local and tried not to make eye contact with anyone. The busking accordion player and his kid wearing moth eaten jeans shoving a mouldy hat in my direction did little to ease my sudden reservations about the place.
With ‘I must not judge a book by its cover’ blaring in my ears, I alighted the train at our stop only to be greeted by a dark, dank corridor littered with beggars and a small light at the end of the tunnel. Little consideration for where the light would take me I took the first exit in sight. Up a gigantic escalator (a little known terror of mine), I finally reached the road and breathed in what I thought would be relief. And then, Mum removed the contents from the bag and handed it to me expectantly. Cue panic. Liv wouldn’t be arriving in Brussels until the following morning and suddenly I was presented with a factor I hadn’t ever even THOUGHT about considering. Brussels was ugly.
After a twenty minute walk in the wrong direction with an obese midget for a bag hanging on my now raw shoulder, I finally found the hostel. Sleep Well (I’d recommend it), was located 100 meters off Brussels largest commercial shopping street. I counted four H&M’s. The guy at reception kindly ignored my makeup free face, unwashed hair and the faint aroma of anxiety coming from my foot tapping under the desk and introduced Brussels to me in a frenzy of map highlighting and descriptions of mango chocolate. I tentatively took the map and retreated to our private twin suite. Slightly reassured for the moment, I flung open our windows to a beautiful grey sky and a concrete school block, with the weird coloured shapes of 5 year olds in its window providing the only visible colour. Less sure again, I closed the curtains. After a shower and attempted nap, I berated myself back onto the streets with my camera and the map.
On Saturday after a delay C/O Deutschebahn, Liv finally arrived in her beige floor length trench coat and slightly crazed by too much coffee too early. Braver, blonder and all together happy to be together (we’re not actually lovers) we took to finding food, wine and somewhere warm. The restaurants in the cobbled streets around the glorious square at the Grand Palace were rolling out their red felt carpets, polishing wine glasses and lighting candles in preparation for the incoming tourists at lunch time. In a bid to escape the rain and the incessant touting of various restaurateurs we took refuge in what resembled a Parisian styled eatery and were presented with a champagne flute of half white and half red wine. It was 11:45 am and it didn’t touch the sides.
Saturday disappeared behind glasses of red wine, giant waffles covered in chocolate and blonde Belgium beers. The evening took on a life of its own as we finally found our groove in O’Reily’s. Yes, I live in Dublin and yes I ended up in an Irish pub in Belgium. Which I think means I’m slowing earning my Irish stripes. A group of unruly, unholy, ridiculously intoxicated men on a stag weekend provided the entertainment, while Shania Twain provided the soundtrack.
Unsure of what Sunday might have to offer us, we tentatively rolled out of bed amongst grumbles of our ever fading youth and a lack of sleep. We gave Brussels another shot. This time, just walking. And ‘Beatling’ – that is being snapped while walking across a zebra crossing in the style of Paul, Ringo, John and George. The ferociously highlighted map took a back seat and camera in hand we found the beauty in the beast. With quiet streets, French styled buildings, old school cafes and pubs, oddly painted buildings, cartoon graphics on walls we found some charm, elegance even. Ending up in what appeared to be wealthier end of town, we stumbled across parks right out of Paris, gothic churches and the Cartier and Tiffany’s of chocolate shops.
Back at the train station to preparing to head back to our respective countries, Detective Mane and Sergeant Crop sat in a coffee shop only to be reminded again of Brussels ugly underbelly as we witnessed a series of scuffles with security and a urinating, pantsless drunk homeless man. The lovers parted ways, and with that long awaited sigh of relief I boarded a train for the airport.
Though somewhat begrudgingly I admit Brussels had a certain something. But like that item of clothing from Mum, I understand that some people might consider it to be beautiful. It just ain’t my style.
Brussels photo album is here .
*Whilst trying to get to Dublin Airport it struck me afresh the cruel irony that is the ridiculous public transport here. I can catch a flight at 6:00am if I want to, but the bust that takes me to the airport doesn’t start running until 7:00pm. Brilliant.
Last weekend I was treated to my first ever Irish road trip with a weekend in Cork or Corcaigh* by my good friend Paul and his boyfriend Dwayne.
Cork is around a 2.5 hour drive from Dublin via newly built motorways. Said motorways however exist sans rest stops. Like I mean none. These motorways are so new, that if you have to wee on the 2 hour journey you have to do it in a bush. So much for that refreshing cola beverage and gummy lolly I was looking forward to. In fact, prior to the roads construction, it took approximately 4.5 hours to get across a country that fits into Australia 109 times. Good job guys. Here I was thinking Gillard was a numpty.
Saturday morning we took off for a day of touristing (the act of being a tourist). We started with a coffee and a bowl of steaming organic oats at Gusto Café on Washington Street in Cork City. I’m giving you the name and location, because good coffee is not synonymous with Ireland (in my humble experience at least).
Cork City, feels and looks more like a large town than it does a city. Built around the River Lee it is a collection of buildings that look as though they were thrown together on a whim. The churches are beautiful and dominate the skyline, but the main streets are dotted with random modern architecture. It’s not unsatisfying, but it feels a little disjointed.
In a building I’d fear you’d walk past without a local attached to your arm are the English Markets. A permanent enclosure that houses stalls with meat and seafood so fresh you can hear the faint echo of a moo.
The University College of Cork, Pauls old stomping ground has an impressive campus with a large forecourt and ivy covered buildings. The perfect setting for wedding photographs, Paul volunteered his services as my photographer for the site.
Late afternoon we took a 30 minute drive to the beautiful medieval coastal town of Kinsale. Nestled between rolling hills and the yacht harbour is a town with streets that beg to be wandered. With cobbled pavements and every building sporting a colour different to its neighbour, even on this typically gray and freezing Irish afternoon I knew this was somewhere I would come back to. I want to eat and drink at each and every café or pub because they all seem as inviting as the next. Kinsale would be absolutely glorious in the summer.
With our tourist activities over for the day, P and I headed in from the wind just as the rain set in. We spent the evening ‘dolling’ ourselves up and drinking white wine before we headed out for a night on the town. Gate crashing two 30th birthday celebrations allowed me a sneak peek of the venues Cork has to offer. From a quiet subdued hotel locale to Corks answer to the Brooklyn in Sydney and then my first ever gay bar experience at Chambers, the evening was one well worth remembering. Fortunately the peculiarities involved in getting cracked onto by a female midget were overshadowed by the misfortune that was Dwayne’s drink being spiked. Thanks to a nifty iPhone locating app, he was tracked down before any further harm could come his way.
On Sunday, with Dwayne safely tucked back into bed, Paul drove me down to another seaside town – Cobh (pronounced Cove – obviously). Cobh is home to the world’s second largest naturally occurring harbour in the world and as one of the major transatlantic ports in Ireland, it played a pivotal part of both the steam boat industry and the mass emigration of Irish citizens in the 18th and 19th centuries. Cobh harbour was the Titanic’s last stop before she met her tragic end. Another (informative and interesting) photo friendly location, the skyline is dominated by the Cobh Cathedral that sits on a hill above the harbour.
After an afternoon in the museum in Cobh, our time in Cork was rapidly approaching its completion. A couple of hours later with bags packed and petrol tanks filled we commenced our journey home.
If Cork was my first taste of Ireland outside of Dublin, I can’t wait for my next adventure. Galway perhaps? Paul?
* Irish is actually a national language. Road signs, information, tv and radio channels all come in both English and Irish. And for the record, it does not contain the words ‘diddley’ or ‘dee’.