"Havin’ a bad day, are you?", inquires the bus driver in a thick Irish accent as I run onto the bus, frantically looking for the correct change. I wasn’t having a bad day and I wasn't about to let him turn it into a bad night.
I was trying to remember the bus stop the previous bus driver had told me was the correct one at which to wait when I wanted to return to the City Centre of Dublin. It was somewhere near the base of the entrance to the Clontarf Castle Hotel but seeing how it was already dark, I was unsure of the exact location. I ended up running to three stops in a minute’s time frame as the bus driver clearly was not going to stop at any one of them to let me board.
"You should try sitting in my seat and see what my day is like", continues the driver. Shock and disbelief crossed my face as I was trying to understand this barrage of words coming at me.
"Your day is already over, isn’t it?", the driver keeps talking, albeit I’m not sure what I did to deserve this rudeness. He was the first rude Irish person I'd come across and he was starting to really piss me off.
I tossed in what I thought was 2.40 Euros but ended up putting in an extra .80 cents. I must have put in a 2 Euro piece coin instead of a 1 Euro coin. Since the sign by the entrance clearly stated ‘Exact Change Only’, I did not get that money returned to me. Instead, the driver handed me a slip of paper with two parts – one, the price paid and two, the amount I overpaid with an address where to go redeem my money. Which was somewhere in City Centre – except it was currently closed (a fact he seemed all too happy to announce to me) so I couldn’t go anyways. I wondered what to do with the paper as I continued to puzzle about tossing in the incorrect change.
"You obviously have never ridden on a bus!", the driver shouts at me. No, I thought. In America we have these things called cars, I wanted to blurt back. But I didn't.
My mission was simple. It was the only reason I was in Dublin in the first place. To see Depeche Mode in concert at the O2. I was in a good mood but the driver tried destroying that. I was thinking of a million things I could say to him, but I decided to keep my mouth shut and simply sit down. It would have only ended badly and I was not going to give him the power of destroying this evening.
As I sat fuming at the rudeness of this bus driver, I saw a young lady board the bus. She sat behind me. At one point I turned to her to ask what I should do with the ticket, as I clearly did not dare ask the bus driver anything at this point. The lady was very kind and was surprised to hear of a rude Irish person. She told me that they get that way at times because they dislike their jobs - although at 640 Euros per week salary, one would think you wouldn't be so disgruntled at a job that requires you to sit and drive around all day.
I continued to talk to the lady and told her I was on my way to see Depeche Mode. She helped me further once we arrived at our last stop on Abbey Street by assisting me in buying a ticket for the tram that would lead me directly in front of the O2. On the way, I kept looking up at the map of stops and wondered which one was my exit. I started to panic as I realised the map's locations were all in Gaelic. I looked around for something in English, but did not see anything. The kindness of strangers won out again as I started to exit at the incorrect stop. It was the next stop, the last stop on the line, that was the correct one.
I was glad that one bad was balanced by good deeds and kind words from strangers. I wouldn't let one grumpy Irish man ruin the good impression I had of all Irish people. As I stood there, in front of the O2, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally there. The reason for my coming to Dublin was standing right in front of me.
Earlier that day, I set out on a walk to find 3fE - the coffee house I discovered back home whilst googling 'best coffee house in Dublin'. I headed out from the hotel by foot at 11.00 and then quickly realised that this was going to be a longer walk than anticipated. But I was determined to find this place.
The 2-hour walk was well worth it. As I sat down and waited for my single cappuccino, cranberry almond scone, and vegetable quiche, I noticed the uniqueness of the place. It was not stuffy as the big chain coffee houses - the ones I avoid at all cost. It was different. It was unique. The large tables in the center were crafted out of metal pipes and wood. I took a seat by the window and enjoyed the scene unfolding before me.
Twenty minutes after I'd arrived, the place was bustling. Not a seat could be found. I held onto my seat for quite some time, enjoying the great food and coffee that was before me. It was going to be my only meal until I reached Glasgow, so I was intent on relishing every last bite.
The coffee. It was not bitter at all. It was smooth and creamy and a pleasure to drink. So much so that I ordered another.
The scone. Now that was a true delight. Standing at 2" in height and filling up both of my hands, I marveled at its taste. It was the best scone I've ever had.
The quiche. Initially I had intended on ordering a sandwich, but since this was a weekend, the option was quiche instead. I decided on the vegetable quiche and enjoyed that as well. I even ate the mushrooms, something I never eat at home.
All in all, my experience at the 3fE coffee house was a positive one. I implore you to check it out if you're in the Dublin area. It's a bit out of the way, but definitely worth it. Read up on their story. It's quite interesting.
As for how the rest of the day turned out...quite unexpected. Although I had my reservations about having to sit way up in section H in order to see the concert, it turned out better than expected. The opening band, The Jezabels, were brilliant. I'm surprised I've never heard of them before this night.
Then there is Depeche Mode - a band I hadn't seen since their Rose Bowl concert in 1988. I was in awe as I watched Dave, at 51 years of age, perform with such energy that one wonders how he can keep up that pace for so many months on end. It was a pleasure to watch him, even if it was way up high in section H, row 47, seat 30.
Dublin was never meant to be. It was an afterthought. It was unplanned. Yet sometimes the best things in life are those we don't plan.