This post isn’t really about Dublin. I mean, yes, we went to Dublin, but we didn’t really do anything particularly Dublin-y. We didn’t go to the Guinness storehouse. We didn’t get lashed down in Temple Bar. We didn’t even (to our shame) do anything historical in the centenary year of the Easter Rising. However, this was for good reason. We went to Dublin for one reason and one reason only. We went to see The Boss.
So I can’t really tell you much about the city, although I have learned a few random lessons this weekend:
1) You know they always tell you to get to the airport 2 hours early? Well, I always cynically believed that this is so they can sell you more stuff. Longer you wait in departures, the more completely unnecessary shit you buy in duty-free. (Incidentally, didn’t duty free used to be cheap? You can definitely buy booze cheaper in Asda now than at the airport, tax or no tax. But I digress.) However I discovered this week why 2 hours is recommended. Because occasionally, just occasionally, you need it.
We rocked up at the airport car park pretty much bang on 2 hours before departure. We’d already checked in online so we were plain sailing, I was already looking forward to my traditional pre-tour breakfast pint. We got a bus to the terminal, still got a comfortable 90 minutes, piece of cake. Then security happened.
First we spent a while faffing about with the stupid plastic bags (How the fuck do these stop you blowing up a plane? Are they explosive-proof sandwich bags? If you are genius to make a bomb out of conditioner and shower gel, will a zip lock foil your evil scheme? Why is 99ml safe but 101ml is fucking lethal? I digress again.) So once we’d faffed, we joined a queue. A bloody big one. Of course Manchester Airport, in their endless wisdom, only had half the lanes open in security, on a bank holiday morning at the beginning of half term. “Why would this be a busy day?” you could practically see the bemused staff wonder. Not that this made them hurry the fuck up in any way, shape or form. When we eventually got to the front of the enormous, hot as hell queue, 45 minutes later, we were served (for want of a better word) by a woman who had her customer service training at a Gulag, and whose operating speed can best be described as glacial. After putting all our things through an x-ray machine, emptying them out, looking confusedly at a banana (I don’t believe she had ever seen one before) then re-scanning everything (WHY??? YOU HAVE HAD MY STUFF ALL ALONG! HOW COULD I HAVE SNUCK A BOMB INTO IT WHEN YOU HAD MY THINGS IN YOUR BLOODY HANDS??), we had been going through security for well over an hour and a final call was being sounded out through the terminal. We did make our flight with a little bit of running, and after sending some sarcastic tweets to Manchester Airport’s customer services I felt a little bit better, but I will not arrive a minute less than 2 hours before an international flight again.
2) Getting around Dublin is a doddle. We got the bus from the airport for €6 right into the city centre, although a taxi is only about €25 so it’s worth it if there’s a few of you. Once you’re in the centre though, everything is in walking distance. It’s a nice city to take in on foot too, you’d definitely miss some stuff on an open top bus packed full of tourists.
3) Croke Park is absolutely massive. I know diddly squat about Gaelic football so I wasn’t really that aware of the place, but it is jaw-droppingly big. It’s a three sided, Circus Maximus style affair holding a good 85,000 people. I’ve been to plenty of big stadia before but it still managed to catch my eye. They also have (at gigs at least) blokes wandering about with huge coolers full of beer! It’s €6 for a 500ml plastic bottle of Carlsberg, but it tastes better than the equivalent pint of piss-water that you get for a similar price at Wembley. And they are much better organised too. The crowds are controlled at the tops of the streets near the ground, so there is much less pushing and shoving than your average gig of that size. Very impressive all in all.
4) Bruce Springsteen is a God. I’m no music journalist so it is very hard to describe his mammoth set with any kind of grace, but he can take an audience of 80 plus thousand on an emotional journey like no other can. From the heart-rending “the River” to the elating “Because the Night” featuring a guest appearance from local son Bono, the Boss made three and a half hours fly by. A truly wonderful gig.
5) When you stay in dorms, remember that not everyone is on the same schedule as you. I forgot this to my cost when my dorm mates woke me at 5am as they trotted off to get their flight to wherever their noisy arses were headed next. Needless to say I was not happy, as I had spent a good chunk of the preceding 24 hours quite intoxicated and thus was not feeling my freshest at 5am. Lesson? Bring a) earplugs and b) a face mask when you are sharing a dorm with strangers. Personally I don’t think a taser would go amiss but god only knows how long it would take you to get through security with that.