Tuesday, June 14, 2016

All Things Irish -- Phoenix Park in Dublin

Pedestrians taking of the bike lane at Phoenix Park
For the last few years I've been hearing that Phoenix Park in Dublin (created in 1662) is the largest urban park in Europe. Living in Munich with its grand and expansive English Garden, I've always found this a wee bit hard to swallow. So last weekend--when it was pouring down rain in Munich--I decided to set off from our flat across from the Convention Centre in Dublin (which is just about as close to the sea as you can get) to Phoenix Park, which is on the western edge of Dublin--on foot. Hold your applause till the end please.

I like walking. You might even say I love walking. Do you love walking? Dublin on foot is very doable, especially if you use the Liffey as your guide. The river runs west to east through Dublin and is of course the life of the city. It flows past the Convention Centre, O'Connell Street and Temple Bar, under the Ha'penny Bridge, past the Guinness brewery-cum-very-cool-museum, past the National Museum of Ireland and finally (but this is just the beginning) to the entrance of Phoenix Park.

Having a look at Phoenix Park on the map, I see it actually looks bigger than Dublin itself. I'm beginning to think our quaint English Garden, with its 910 acres (I've just Googled it), won't even begin to measure up. It turns out that Phoenix Park boasts 1,750 acres. By the time I reach the entrance, I've already been walking for around 45 minutes. But, again, hold your applause until the end.

By this time, I've also forgotten why I'm here: to see BLOOM, the garden show that's on this weekend. Because I'm always embarrassingly uninformed, I think the entire Phoenix Park will be bursting with flowers everywhere, that I'm in for the most giantest, most floweriest day of my life. And of course I'm totally wrong about this. Phoenix Park is kind of boring when it comes to flowers. It's mostly big open fields where deer roam and massive pop concerts are held, vistas and rolling hills and the occasional bench. It's wilder than I thought it would be. It's less park and more countryside. And, sadly, there's a nice fat road cutting it down the middle.

When I see a sign that tells me BLOOM is only 25 minutes away--I'm walking in the bike lane with hundreds of other people--I remember, ah yes, BLOOM. It's not, in fact, the entire Phoenix Park but only a small bit of the park to the far far far west. Ten minutes later I come to the sign that says BLOOM is only 20 minutes away, which doesn't seem possible unless I've entered a new time-space reality. Ah, wait: for bikes. And I'm walking. And walking. And walking.

Some interesting facts about Phoenix Park while I'm walking:
  • It includes the residence of the President of Ireland.
  • It's home to the Dublin Zoo, the third oldest zoo in the world.
  • It boasts the tallest obelisk in Europe: The Wellington Monument (62 meters).
  • The Deerfield Residence is home to the US Ambassador to Ireland.
  • The Phoenix Park Motor Races are planned again for July 30 and 31 (2016), if you're into that sort of thing.
About an hour later I finally arrive at the entrance to BLOOM just past the residence of the President of Ireland. It costs a whopping 20 euros to get in, so I decide I've seen enough vegetation for the day. I jump into a taxi, not because I'm exhausted, but because I can't wait to get to my favorite Mexican restaurant in Dublin, Mama's Revenge. Nachos with absolutely everything they have. And a cider. A perfect end to a long walk. You can applaud now.

The Wellington Monument
I love taking taxis in Dublin. Dublin taxi drivers are almost always talkative and friendly. I found out from this one that Donald Trump will be visiting Ireland and Scotland soon. We had a grand discussion about how the US has completely lost its mind. Ireland and Scotland, I hope you give Trump a nice welcome--with rotten eggs and tomatoes. Or do you throw something else. Chime in! What would you throw at Donald Trump?  

I must be off,
Christopher

PS: Have you entered the 2016 I Must Be Off! Travel Writing Competition? The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2016. 

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Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Juked, Eclectica Magazine's 20th-Anniversary Best of Speculative anthology, Indiana Review, Night Train, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly: the Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, [PANK] blog, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel, and lots of other good places. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.