A Wee Trip To Dublin

It’s not very common that me and my husband take a day to ourselves and go visit a new place. Either the weather is terrible, we have no money or we are just too lazy, it’s hard for us to get motivated!

So we both decided that we would try and do something fun together during the weekend, and we organised to go to Dublin for the day. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the capital from where we live, so a day trip is quite doable.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to check the prices of hotels in the area. Because there aren’t many tourists in Ireland, I thought that maybe the prices of accommodation may have reduced.

Luckily enough I found a room in the Jurys Hotel, Parnell Street which cost us €89 for the night, which wasn’t bad at all! We use booking.com a lot so we got €10 off the price, so it actually came out as €80! It was a spur of the moment decision but we decided to book it anyway because it was good value! The hotel is literally just off one of the main streets of Dublin, and it was just a short 10 minute walk to the bus pick up area to get us home.

And I have to say, I loved our weekend away! We both had a great time together and I’m really glad we went!

We arrived at about 11am and we were also able to check in early which was good! For lunch we went to Boojums, a cheap place that sells burritos and things like that. I like the burritos because you can choose what you want to put in it and they are also very filling!

I saw a Chinese shop online that sells Chinese imports so after we ate we decided to walk down there and buy Chinese sauces that we couldn’t buy anywhere else. We had a great time looking at all the imported stuff that we used to come across all the time while living in China. It was great but also it made me miss China as well!

So we stocked up on lots of sauces and then left! We walked around some more until we found another Chinese import shop which we had a wander around. We were surprised when we saw that they stocked Mexican sauces!

Our bag was very heavy so we decided to head back to the hotel and drop it at the hotel. We took another 20 minute break and headed out again, this time we visited the National Gallery of Ireland. I love this Gallery; it’s free, it’s really well run, it’s clean, inviting and they have some lovely exhibitions and paintings. The Gallery closes at 5pm so we then left and walked around the centre where we bought ice-creams (coffee for me and rum/raison for my husband) and we ate them in St Stephens Green.

Becoming cold from the ice-cream, we walked around the park and around the shopping area until we decided to head back to the apartment. We sneakily decided to buy 2 beers in the shop so we could enjoy them in our hotel room before we headed back out for dinner. We were surprised to see that they had an ice-machine in the hotel! I don’t stay in hotels pretty much at all, so maybe this is quite common in Irish hotels, but we definitely used it for our beers!

We saw that there was a Nandos restaurant about a 5 minute walk from the hotel so we went there for dinner. It’s a British restaurant that specialises in spicy chicken and I remember a few years ago everybody wanted a Nandos restaurant in Ireland! Now there are loads of them about, but not where I live!

We enjoyed 2 ciders while there and we were pleasantly surprised at how nice the food was! We were stuffed by the end of it! We left at about 9pm and headed back to the hotel then.

We had a fantastic time together and it really made me consider doing something like it again. I didn’t worry about anything (I’m a terrible worrier) and I just concentrated on the day and it was great.

What I’m also really proud of: I spoke nearly the entire time in Spanish! I said to my husband “Once we are on the bus we are only speaking Spanish”. And we did, well most of it! So I’m really proud of myself!

Because Dublin has a whole array of ethnicities, I don’t feel like I stand out when I’m speaking Spanish, however in the town where I live, with a population of about 40,000 people, I don’t feel very comfortable speaking in Spanish. Not many visitors come to my town, so people would be more surprised to hear a person not speaking English. I suppose I’m afraid that someone would come up to us and shout “Speak English!!” or mutter some racist comment.

I know it’s not my problem and I shouldn’t be ashamed, but to be honest I really don’t want to come across racism against me or my husband in the town that I grew up in. So it’s hard to know what to do!

But anyway, we bought enjoyed our time away and it spurred us to try and get out of the house more and enjoy being with each other!

Where we stayed: Jurys Hotel, Parnell Street Dublin.

What I liked: It was situated really close to everything and you even have the LUAS literally outside the hotel. The bed is really comfortable and the duvet is very warm.

What I disliked: The walls were literally wallpaper so you can hear everything from the room next door. Even if they were just speaking in a normal voice you can literally eavesdrop on everything they are saying. Also the window doesn’t open so you can’t get any fresh air.

Would I stay again: Yes I would, especially if the price is low, however I would ask to be put in a room where there aren’t people next to you, (which can be impossible during high season)

Aisling

Sending A Box Home

Sending A Box Home

After living in China for 5 years, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of things! We are leaving many things here after we leave, as there will be 3 teachers still working at the University, so I’m sure they will make use of them, such as cutlery, glasses and what not. We wanted to send our clothes, shoes and some other personal things back to Ireland though. My Mum has sent about 3 boxes to me; full of sweets, crisps and even some presents! It was such a treat to open to open the boxes.

But we’ve never sent anything from China! Due to the fact that we don’t speak Chinese very well, we would have no idea where to start, and also because exporting things from China is such a hassle, we decided to just leave it. But we had quite a few things that we didn’t want to leave, so we searched around the we found we could send a box with a company called ‘SendMyBag‘.

Everything sounded pretty legit with it, so we decided to try and send our box with them. And from China, the box MADE IT TO IRELAND! Such a relief! But….. we had some hurdles along the way!

First, we met the man who would collect the box. All was good until he asked us what were ‘magnets’ that was on the list. We explained that they go on the fridge.

“Not allowed” he told us in Chinese. We looked at each other… We didn’t know what we could do. So he told us we could take them out of the box. Phew! At least we can take them out, that was ok. (We wrapped about 1 roll of cellotape around the box though, so all that hard work gone because we had to open it again)

Then he asked for my passport…. What? The website didn’t say we needed a passport. So I quickly ran back to the apartment and got it for him.

Unfortunately we didn’t realise he meant A COPY of the passport. (The communication barrier is so annoying sometimes), so my fiancé runs back to find a copy…… and comes out empty handed.

So, I run down the road and quickly get a copy of it from a shop, coming back to the van hot, sticky and out of breath, while he opens the box and finds the magnets.

But eventually the man got going in his van, box with him. Time to relax now!

So later that night while we are watching a film, we get a message ‘Due to makeup in the box we cannot send it to Ireland’.

WHAT????!!!! Oh my god!! What are we going to do! I was really about to start crying. All I put in it was some makeup brushes and some powder makeup, they are allowed. I’m thinking like crazy why they couldn’t send it!

Oh….. now I remember, I forgot there were 2 eye pencils in the bag….. 2 measly eye pencils are the reason why we’re going to get the box back and lose our money we spent!! I couldn’t believe it.

But then, another message ‘I can take the prohibited items out of the box, is that ok?’.

YES, YES!! TAKE IT, I DON’T CARE! I really didn’t want to see that box again until I’m in Ireland!

So they did that, and I was just so grateful to them. So FINALLY the box was on it’s way.

We sent it on Friday morning and it actually got to Ireland on Monday! It was really fast! Also I was able to track it on the website which was also good too.

So I found out that it made it to Dublin! Great I thought! It’s nearly home!

I was keeping my Mum up to date on the whereabouts of it so she would know when it would arrive.

So on Monday night I was getting ready for bed and my Mum texts me saying that she got a phonecall from the courier and that she had to pay €89 for something.

Oh god, not more money. We had already spent €189 to send it, why did we need to pay more??!! Maybe it was for customs? But that is ridiculously high for second hand things. There’s not much value in the box at all!

So there I am trying to contact the courier AND SendMyBag about this extra money that I have no idea what it’s for, while looking at the time as it gets later and later.  Thankfully both companies contact me and say they will investigate what the money is for.

I’m in bed trying to sleep but also stressing about this money when my phone goes off and it’s a message from SendMyBag. They said it was a fee for something (which I still don’t understand, something about a double entry) and they will cover the cost of it.

PHEW! I contact my Mum and tell her they are going to cover the cost. I can finally sleep!

It was our first time sending anything out of China, and as you have read, wasn’t plain sailing. But in the end it made it, that’s the most important thing.

So, would I recommend SendMyBag to send stuff home. Yes I would! We didn’t have to prepare too many things for it, everything is stated on the website, they are very prompt at replying if you have a question, and even with the money my Mum had to pay, they were extremely quick at sorting it out. That was great.

My only criticism would be that they didn’t tell us magnets weren’t allowed in the box and we needed a copy of my passport for the driver. Although I’m thinking that every country is different and maybe only China won’t allow magnets to be send out and they needed a passport copy.

Also what we didn’t know was that the price depends on the size of the box. We were initially only going to send a box with a maximum weight of 15kg. We bought a big box though, and when we inputted the dimensions into the website, it came to €189 with a weight of up to 30kg. We were a bit annoyed at this but in the end all our stuff came to the weight of 24kg…. so we definitely overestimated the amount of things we had.

So be aware if wanting to send a box through SendMyBag. The size of the box influences the price.

I also realised another thing…. China is so strict with exporting things!!! We literally were limited to clothes, books and shoes. No pastes, no gels, no food… nothing like that. Not even a watch. (Or makeup as we’ve learned)

So I would certainly recommend using this company, but make sure you know EXACTLY what you can’t send it the box…. or you might be getting a lovely message like we did.

Aisling

A Trip To The Capital; Dublin

Even though my hometown is about (1.5 hour by bus) to Dublin, you would think that I would go up and visit more often, but surprisingly I rarely go! Since I’ve arrived home, I’ve had to go up twice for work reasons, but it definitely wasn’t for a visit! I did what I needed to do, then got the bus back.

I’ve never really thought much about living in Dublin while I was living in Ireland. I just never thought of it like that. Since living in China and living in such a big city as Chengdu, I’ve become used to large cities. Before leaving Ireland, I always thought Dublin was a big city. I’ve never had anything to compare it with, so I naively thought it was big.

My perception now is quite different!

But my two times having to go up, I’ve realised that I wouldn’t mind living there; it’s compact, walkable, not too busy, a lot of places to eat, and it just seems like a nice city to live in.

But… of course there are downsides; it’s a ridiculously expensive city, and rent is very very high… too high for me to afford! So I don’t think I would be able to live there unfortunately!

I think the last time I was in Dublin was a few years ago, and this time I noticed that there are so many more little cafes open! The ones with tables and chairs outside. There are loads now in the city! I do like this, but Dublin isn’t exactly like some city in Spain or France… the weather isn’t ideal for sitting outside. But yeah, there are loads more of these places about!

I was also surprised by how many foreigners there were! Groups of Italians, groups of Spanish, Chinese…. it was crazy! I suppose that I’m so used to seeing mostly Chinese people in Chengdu, that it’s strange to see people of other nationalities! I’m sure many are studying English here.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how small the city actually is! Having to walk from one place to another, I was surprised about how much distance I covered while looking at google maps. In Chengdu, I wouldn’t get very far (distance wise) by walking. So I suppose this showed me how small it is!

So Dublin has changed a little since the last time I’ve been here, plus my perception of it has changed, for the better I think!

再见

爱玲