OK, let’s move on to today’s entry on Irish life. It’s a huge topic, but some of the most defining characteristics of living in Ireland are the weather and the traffic in Dublin. So I’m going to focus on those two.
I wrote about this in my very first post, but Ireland has a very cool climate, with summers that only get up to about 27ºC on the warmest days. That said, the winters that everyone’s so worried about me surviving actually aren’t that cold. The coldest it gets is maybe a degree or two Celsius below freezing—which is not even as cold is midwinter in the place I grew up . The characteristic features of Irish weather are the overwhelming cloud cover and the incredibly piercing wind. I joke that it’s cloudy two-thirds of the year here, but that it’s such a beautiful color of gray! LOL The wind is really strong too, so the weather changes minute by minute. Sometimes you feel like you’ve experienced all four seasons in a single day—it will suddenly get cloudy when you could have sworn it was sunny outside just a second ago. Next thing you know it’s pouring rain out of nowhere, and then 20 or 30 minutes later the sun will come out again. And sometimes this pattern will repeat like four times in a single day. Which means that you might pop into a café when it starts to pour and then find the rain completely stopped when you leave. And if you’re having a really crappy day, the opposite is likely to happen to you. Below are some pictures of my crappy day lol
30 minutes later…
It’s so windy that you can’t put up an umbrella. You think you can, but you can’t lol. The thing will turn inside out. Over and over. And then it will break. Yeah, so it kind of makes you not want to try after a while. Another thing that cracked me up was when we had a hailstorm in May. I guess it was just one of those weird weather days. Everyone says the same thing, no matter what country they’re from: “The weather here is crazy.”
Now let’s talk about the traffic. Dublin has the creatively named “Dublin Bus.” They’re yellow and blue double-decker buses that travel all over town. They’ll pretty much get you anywhere in the city—but you can pretty much count on them being late. So you’ve got to leave your house early or find some way to make it to your destination on time.
Dublin does have a train called the Dart, but there aren’t lines running all over the place like in Japan (maybe to preserve the look of the city?), so you can only use it when you’re going to a very limited set of places. It pretty much looks like a Japanese train—and someone told me that it is actually an old Japanese train that the Irish refurbished. So that makes sense.
There’s also a light rail called Luas, and I think it does a lot to make up for the inconvenience of the train. One of the lines was extended recently, which helps, but the construction took four and a half years (they started in June 2013). I don’t know if the Japanese just work faster or if there’s some kind of technology issue, but the people in the project certainly put some hours in lol
Something you’ve got to be careful with when using public transportation is the payment system. Dublin has something called a Leap Card, which is like the ICOCA or SUICA smart cards we have in Japan—you just charge it up and tap it to pay. You can of course pay with cash too, but that’s a total pain if you ride the bus. You tell the bus driver where you’re going when you get on and pay whatever fare they tell you, but they don’t take bills and they won’t give change. So if you’re planning on paying cash for the bus, make sure you have the coins you need before you get on. Here’s my Leap Card (sorry, mine’s pretty beat up lol).
Last but not least, you can always get around this way (sorry for the blurry photo lol)